Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Unga Deve!"

I had a mellow Christmas at my brother's house, this year. I didn't have to worry about going to different places to appease many people, nor did I have to go all out to buy presents for people who are ungrateful.

I love the fact that my brother finally has a kid. Sean is becoming a character. He is starting to talk a little, repeating things that others say and running like a bat out of Hell. He is calling me Unga Deve almost as much as he calls me Mama.

Yeah, I guess I have to wait a little for him to get me a beer.

Christmas Day was the first day since I had my car accident in which I had the whole day off from work. I also will have New Years Day off and plan on a city visit. I enjoyed the day with a good meal not involving turkey. Nice roast fillet of beef with horseradish potatos. I brought He Brew beer to annoy my aunt

It worked.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Videos

Now that Christmas is near, here's a group of rock videos from acts who did Christmas songs.

Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" is a lightweight sonng not nearly up to the impact of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas(War Is Over)" but has grown on me in recent years. A cute video from the late era of Wings.

This video is "Father Christmas" by the Kinks. It rocks really well and has been a modern annual standard on classic rock stations.

The next two videos are identical, except towards the end when the lead sing is revealed. It's Hall and Oates doing "Jingle bell Rock" Both Oates and Hall take lead in each of the videos. This used to be on MTV a lot in the early days. Oates cracks me up, his facial expressions are a hoot.

Speaking of the early days of MTV. Billy Squier sings his Christmas hit "Christmas is the Time To Say I Love You" with the whole gang of MTV's early days including all the original VJs. I wonder if anyone in the crowd became a media mogol.

Next up is Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" They didn't hit it big in America, but was very popular in Britain. This song rocks a real treasure.

These Boots Were Made For Walking

1993 was a turning point in my life. It started with me working two jobs. One job was in a pub in Magnolia, the other was a sleazy nightclub in Pioneer Square called Celebrity. I had enough time left over to work on Pipe Dreams, but I was slowing down a little.

In March I quit my cook job, and decided to focus on the club, where I made more money and went full force on Pipe Dreams. The club didn't inspire me much, I was still using my ideas from New York and my days at SVA. I was slowing incorporating my Seattle experiences in the strip. I was friendly with my co workers at Celebrity and went to after hours clubs afterwards. It wasn't to last.

I made a visit to my friends in NYC and they were all making strides in their careers. I was falling behind I thought and when I got back to Seattle I was going to make some changes. Instead, changes were made of me. I lost my Celebrity job in a convoluted way.

I spent the summer of 93 collecting unemployment and taking a lot of time looking for work. I briefly dated a woman named Sheila, another named Dory. I worked two weeks at a coffee stand covering for a friend of a friend. I was hanging out with an irresponsible couple with two kids. They partied a lot, I baby sat the two kids and watched their two cats give birth to 12 cats only to have ten of them die. They were behind on bills and so the father bought a pure breed Akita.

I had to get away from this, I succeeded by moving into a house with a neighbor friend along with some Jaycees. funny enough it was cheaper than my apartment. $203 dollars a month! And two roommates had cheaper rent.

I hung out with these guys, which had a positive effect. I met a new girl at an Octoberfest. A cutie pie named Sonya. She was sweet and loved my work on Pipe Dreams. I was encouraged by her enthusiasm and took some of her advice. Her sister wasn't into it as much but really liked the troll "Don King" gag. In January 1994, I finally got a job at a bakery.

Pipe Dreams was moving along. The son of the couple I hung out with pointed out how big the boots of my characters were. I didn't notice. My intent was to have Julian wear Doc Martens. It was an exagerration that carried to the other character's sneakers.

Besides that, I was expanding my cast to include the family members of Skat. His parents, his brother, based on my family. Skat's aunt and cousin were more loosely based on real people. Skat's cousin was racist and homophobic. It didn't work. He was obnoxious and not funny.

I look back on this set of strips and am sorry that I have not been syndicated. The jokes that were maybe funny back then are irrelevant now because of the changes.

Other than the boots, my artwork was pretty ambitious. It was looking good layout wise, my dialouge was getting better but still was forced sometimes. At least I was dating someone who made for some good editing. A new girlfriend, a new place to live, a new job, things may work out after all.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Is Anyone Out There?

When 1992 turned to 1993, I was stating to get doubts about how good Pipe Dreams was. I sent out three sets of strips to 6 syndicates and was getting generic feedback. I was trying to figure out on my own what was good and what wasn't. I continued to get better on my art and my character designs.

I had to take on a second job to pay for my spartan lifestyle. This took some time from working on Pipe Dreams but the fact that I worked at a nightclub made for some inspiration for some edginess in the strip.

The problem is I was now holding back on some of the more scandalous aspects of the group. I was now calculating on what I needed to change to get syndicated. I stopped inferring that Skat was an alcoholic. I was making short gags rather than story lines.

Yet, I made a mistake. I introduced gay characters. Not that there was anything wrong with introducing gay characters. I just didn't do a good job at it.

I based it on two people I knew back in my SVA days. I was casual friends with one guy and only knew his boyfriend from occasional visits to Sloane House. He was a "Flamer" type, not much different from the character I introduced but, it didn't work. I wasn't friends with anyone gay at the time. If I had done it 7 years later it would have been different.It may have been the difference in being syndicated. I don't know because the syndicates did not say why it was rejected.

Or maybe it was the introduction of Rusty Limburger. I wanted my own version of Rush Limbaugh to give Doonesbury's "Duke" character a run for the money. Rush was at his peak back then, A successful radio show and a TV show that looked like it was going to be a phenomenon. The problem I had was I hate Rush Limbaugh, and have absolutely no respect for him. That would be okay for occasional references. As a creator, you need to have some sort of like or respect for the character to work. Besides soon Rush would be irrelevant.

I made one change to one of my characters that worked. I cut Buck's hair. I based Buck's design on my friend Mike's "super mullet" days. Mullets were getting out of style then, (Billy Ray Cyrus excluded) Besides I thought having two long haired charters were redundant, so I cut his hair.

The gags in this set along with the artwork was almost at my peak, one problem though...

I was making my characters boots too huge.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I got my new Scanmobile. It's a Hyundai, made in this century no less!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Makes Me think...

I think about how I can't wait for the year 2007 to end. It hasn't been a good year for me but it's nothing compared to what my friend Mike is going through, losing his new born son. My thoughts are with him and his wife, Diane.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's A New Cartoon, Coming Right At You

Video representaions

So I have been enjoying doing a weekly karaoke session at a place in Long Branch on Tuesdays. It has an enjoyable activity that has been lacking since I moved back to Jersey. It has a young crowd that's not creepy. Probably because it's a college crowd. Anyway, last week I sang three songs. These three songs are represented by these three clips.

The first song I sang was "Heroes and Villains" A weird Beach Boys song represented by a Brina Wilson clip form 2005. Beach Boys songs are hard with Karaoke mainly because it's hard to figure out what part of the harmonies are going to be represented by the words on the screen. I had not done the song before, so it was a challenge, a challenge I couldn't achieve I'm afraid.

The second song was one I've done many times,"Black Coffee In Bed". It's a song I do if I flop on previous songs. A "safe" song. I love the video of the song, very 80's, in a good way, unpretentious.

The third song I did was one I've been wanting to sing for a long time, "Laugh Laugh". I did not know the host had it and was excited about singing it. It's a song from the 60's by the Beau Brummels or as I knew them as a child, the Beau Brumstones from the Flintstones. I was hoping to find the Flintstones clip, but this typical 60's clip will do.

Enjoy the clips. This will be a regular feature.

I bet you can't wait.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reality Interferes

Pipe Dreams and All Artwork and Characters copyright 1992, 2007 Stephen T. Scanlon

The Artist At Work

1992 rolled along. It was a good year for the most part. I was in a city I loved. I was working on Pipe Dreams and making good progress. For most of the first half of the year I dated a woman named Donna. It was my longest relationship at that point of my life. I had a small group of friends

I hung out with at a bar called the Old Peculiar in the Ballard section of Seattle.

I had started my third set of Pipe Dreams strips when Donna and I broke up, she had started seeing my friend Jeff and I had a hard time dealing with it.

Jeff ultimately was better at consoling her after the motorcycle death of a friend of theirs. Since it affected both of my relationships, I had left everyone behind and became somewhat of a recluse in the following months. I worked on these strips and made a mistake in subject matter.

I introduced the character of Nick.

No big deal. I clearly based my other characters on specific friends in my life. I left my friend Inkboy out, so I created Nick. I had not gotten to the point of making effective composite characters, however Nick had represented a composite of Inkboy, Pro and Jeff. What do they have in common? Well, I felt they had "stolen" girlfriends (real and imagined) from me. I though it would be cathartic to write and draw about it.

I was wrong. I was a mental mess that late summer. I had slowed down a bit in my drawing Pipe Dreams. I was getting my second set of rejections around the same time. So I was starting to have doubts. I still was getting the generic rejection letters, some of which the only change was the date the letter was sent out.

So, I mixed in some silly gags I have saved up with a character driven storyline that really didn't work out. I had done about 40 strips in the first two collections of Pipe Dreams. This time I only did the minimum required 30.

Not only did I introduce Nick but I introduced Calvin, my "urban" character based on no one I knew in my real life at the time. I need someone outside the circle to represent the real world. Dirk being a bartender was a catalyst to meeting up with people of all kinds of stripes. I made him a veteran. He would appear a few times in future Pipe Dreams, but I have put him aside for the time I would be syndicated.

Still, my artwork was getting better. My characters were consistent looking at this point, and I was starting to get better at dialogue. I was at a loss at what I needed to do to curry favor with the syndicates. I thought that it should be in the newspapers. I thought it would be nice to get some editorial advice. I can't imagine that Pipe Dreams was so bad that any flaws couldn't be worked out. Especially when I see most of the newer comic strips that have been introduce the last 15 years.

There is anger in these strips, without constructive criticism I would continue this trend for a bit longer than I was smart to do. I had yet to be discouraged. I still had only a part time job that paid for my spartan lifestyle. I loved the freedom to continue to work on Pipe Dreams I felt I was getting close...

It's just a matter of time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm On a Roll...

I had sent my first set of strips out to the syndicates early in 1992. I had been influenced by both Calvin and Hobbes and Doonesbury. I was dating a girl named Donna. I was on top of the world.

I had not waited for my first set of comic strips to come back from the syndicates to work on my next set. For one thing, I thought I had rushed the first set too much just to get them done.

Still, I thought it was important to get them out there. To get feedback, to understand what I need to do to improve Pipe Dreams. I had continued to refine the character's looks. I made dirk less boorish and more like a beefy lug. Gritko's hair had a graphic look to it, I thought it had the potential to be iconic. I had Skat's glasses take on an impressionistic look. My second set of strips introduced 6 new characters, and two characters in previous one shots had expanded into part time characters.

Two of them never appeared after this set of strips, two others only infrequently.

I introduced Gentianne,

a character based on a friend from SVA. I didn't know what to do beyond the set of strips in my second set. I realized after I sent these in that I need to slow down on introducing new characters. However, one I introduced was dear to my heart and that was Anais. I really didn't base her on anyone in particular. I had wanted to make a contrasting female character to Rachel. Rachel, being a brunette, tall and slim would need someone who was blondish, short, and curvy. I had not quite refined her yet, her nose was not quite right.

These set of strips were better drawn, more confident than the first. The story lines were a little better, though I had yet to get out of the habit of doing long winded dialouge. I liked the way the strip was looking. I love the energy and the experimentation. I had a few storylines worked out that would be expanded greatly when I get syndicated.

Still, I had the wacky storyline with Skat's aunt coming back to life. I had the iheritence money angle as an excuse for Skat not to work. The ultimate slacker, as what was the sign of the times. I worked with a woman named Sue, who was a typical stereotype of the crusty waitresses. Her look was iconic enough that I thought it would be a good character. Her personality is much like a composite of at least three of my aunts.

When I was near finishing these set of strips I had gotten my first set of rejections back from the major syndicates. Unfortunately, they were of generic nature giving no clue to what I need to do to improve.

No matter, I was on a roll. This would be the set of strips to get me syndicated, I know it. I just wish the first strip they would see wasn't this lame one...