A Big Valentine to Comics

Today, April 1st, is the day that Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder’s long awaited feature-length documentary, Stripped, premieres  on iTunes!

Stripped_filmI had a chance to see an advance screening of the film in October and I can’t recommend it enough to both cartoonists and comic lovers alike. It brings together some of world’s best cartoonists to talk about the art form they love and its possible future as newspapers continue die.

Dave and Fred interviewed newspaper cartoonists like Jim Davis (Garfield), Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), Jeff Keane (The Family Circus), and Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac), as well as the new stars of the web like Scott Kurtz (PvP), Ryan North (Dinosaur Comics) and Matt Inman (The Oatmeal). And, probably the coolest part of the film,  there is an audio interview of the reclusive Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes), who also drew the amazing poster for the film. There were over 70 interviews conducted for the film and the directors wove them into a compelling narrative that is informative, inspirational, and heartfelt. It is really is a work of love and, as Bill Watterson said, “a big valentine to comics”.

So here’s the big thing you can do to help—

  1. Because I know you’re going to really enjoy this film, get over to the iTunes store today (Link) and buy the movie. It’s only $14.99, which is less than taking a date to McDonald’s for diner and desert (I know what you do), and you’ll have a good time and help Dave and Fred be the #1 movie on iTunes for the day. For $14.99, you can really help out a couple of indie filmmakers and all round nice guys get a little attention for a project they’ve spent several years creating.
  2. Help spread the word! Even if you can’t spend the money, please help spread the word. Link to this post or strippedfilm.com on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever you favorite flavor of social media is. Every post will help these guys out.

Thanks! And please let me what you think of the film in the comments below.

2013 NCS Divisional Award Nomination

Hey Red-heads! Wow! What a week! I’ve was busy working on the new pages for Chapter 5 when I got the call that Red’s Planet has been nominated for a National Cartoonist Society Divisional Award in the category of Online Comic – Longform! Very exciting!

Also nominated are with the very talented Jenn Manley Lee for her sci-fi epic, Dicebox, Dylan Meconis for her historical tale, Family Man, and the legendary Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL) for his adventurous story of the first human to leave Africa, Tuki.

To check out the nominees in all the NCS Divisional categories, click below.

Update from 30,000 Feet

Hi Redheads! As write this (typed on my phone, by the way, so please excuse any typos or grammatical horrors), I’m 30,000 ft in the air over the Pacific Ocean. Since my last post, I’ve had the crazy adventure of moving my family from Los Angeles back to Florida, starting a new job, and taking my first trip to Japan to visit the headquarters of the company I’ll be working with over the next year. So as you can imagine, there hasn’t been much time for comic work.

It will be a few weeks before chapter five starts up, but I don’t want to leave everyone with nothing to read or view, so for the next few weeks, I thought it would be fun to dig through some old drawings and take a look behind the scenes at the long history of one of the cast, Tawee.

Believe it or not, I’ve been drawing Tawee for nearly 38 years! I created him when I was 9 years old in the summer of 1975. As I was growing up, every summer I spent at least a week or two at my grandparent’s house in the small town of Greenville, Georgia, just a little over an hour southwest of Atlanta and just a stone’s throw from a town called Woodbury, which these days suffers from a problematic zombie infestation.

Greenville was a great place to spend my summers. My grandparents house was a large old home built by one of my ancestors in the late 1800s. It sat on a large piece of property covered in pecan trees, muscadine vines, and a single plum tree, all of which provided ingredients for my grandmother’s homemade breads, pies, and jams.

This magical place was one of the earliest muses of my early creativity. I would spend hours lying on the living room carpet drawing and creating with paper supplied from my grandfather’s print shop and vast quantities of tape. It was here that I drew the first picture of Tawee, but I have to admit, he wasn’t technically a sole creation, but a collaboration of sorts.

Many times I was joined on these summer vacations by my cousin, Andy, who was a couple of years older than me and much more, shall we say, energetic? Well, that’s what we called it back in the 70s, today we just medicate kids like Andy. For the most part we got along great; for the first few days we were the best of friends — by the end of our stay, not so much.

On this particular visit, Andy was exceptionally antagonistic. He told me about an invisible pet fly that he and his friends had at school who would fly around the room when the teacher wasn’t looking or something like that.

“There he is right there,” he said pointing to the ceiling.

“I see him!” I said, eager to be a part of the fun.

“Unh-uh!” He would snap (it was always “unh-uh” which has much more attitude than the simple “no”). “Only I can see him. He’s on that shelve now.”

“Oh, I see him!”

“Unh-uh! He’s on PaPa’s chair now!”

And so it would go. The long game of keep away the imaginary friend from Eddie. I’m sure Dr. Freud would be amused at the irony.

I don’t remember how long it lasted, but at some point I had had enough. I sat down on the living room floor and drew what I imagined Tawee to look like: round head, grey skin, overalls, white gloves — cause,you know, that’s what cartoon animals have. I don’t know why I thought this is what an imaginary, invisible fly looked like or why I didn’t feel it necessary to give him wings, but when I was happy with the drawing, I carefully cut it out, flipped it over and drew his backside as well. Then I placed Tawee safely in an empty cigar box and closed the lid.

The original drawing of Tawee, the imaginary, invisible fly.

The original drawing of Tawee, the imaginary, invisible fly.

“I have Tawee in this box,” I told Andy, holding the box tightly closed.

“I wanna see him!” Shouted Andy with excitement.

“Unh-uh. Only I can see him” I declared.

In time I did share him with my cousin and Tawee became the centerpiece of a fantasy world that we built on together for many years.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the evolution of Tawee the cigar box fly to Tawee the comic strip character.


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2,000,000 Page Views and Counting

Last night, Red’s Planet quietly passed 2,000,000 page views. There were no bells or sirens or fireworks; but there was, and is, an immense gratitude to all the Red-Heads who have stuck with the story so far! Thank you all!


Taking the Week Off

Hey Red-Heads, a lot of work-work has piled up recently and I need to take a a few days to clear it all out of the way so I can get back to my regular 60-hour work week. And it seems this would be good time to leave Red and Tawee for a bit— they’ve  just  found this amazing valley with a high probability of food and water (with maybe even a side of green eggs and ham). I think they’ll be just fine for a week.

But, I don’t want anyone to feel completely cheated, so I leave you with a pic of this awesome Bobalux maquette! It’s sculpted by the lovely and talented Janelle Bell-Martin, former Disney Feature Animation artist and good friend.

See you guys next week!