Friday, August 29, 2008

Kevin and Zander's City Pages Cartoons about the Republican National Convention are in Print!

It's sort of a long story, but both of our Republican National Convention cartoons that we did for the City Pages have finally seen print! Kevin's in the July 9 edition, mine in the August 27 edition. Neither Kevin nor I are big political cartoonists, but the City Pages threw down the gauntlet and we obliged.

Kevin's "X-Cape From X-Cel"
Print Edition Online Edition

Zander's "Five Blind Elephants"
Print Edition Online Edition

NOTE: On City Pages' site, click the text link, not the image link

The people of the City Pages were good enough to put my cartoon in a later edition when an email mixup prevented it from being in the first one. Thanks, folks! You can find all of the RNC cartoons at the City Pages website; there's a heck of a lot of great stuff on there, and our beloved Cartoonist Conspiracy is well-represented.

This is the second year that the City Pages has put together a comics issue; last year's was "Tales of the Twin Cities", and Kevin's and my cartoons ran side by side in that one (as opposed to being separated by 7 weeks).

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Wish Someone Would Invent: An Email-to-Fax System

Fax machines are the last holdouts of a previous generation of technology. With email capable of sending higher-resolution pictures faster, with un-garbled text and a searchable and organizable system for telling who it came from, fax machines have been completely left in the dust, capabilities-wise. Why do they hold on? My theory is that the immediateness of the piece of paper printing out of the machine means you can deal with it in the real world, instead (if it's not your thing) of being on the computer, dinking around with computer things. That makes sense for places like Auto Repair Garages or something like that. It's standardized. So I get it.

But if you start a new business today, no matter how tech-savvy you are, you have to buy a fax machine or have ready access to one so that you can send the one fax a month that has to get to some caveman at a tax office somewhere THIS AFTERNOON. I hate that.

So what I propose is that someone, somewhere, create an email code or relay of some sort so that you could send an email to (for instance), and have that automatically send your text, with any accompanying images, to the fax number (612) 555-1234. Maybe you have to send jpegs of only a certain pixel dimension, maybe you need a specific standardized template so that it'll go to every fax machine, but something, anything, so that I don't have to use our crappy, temperamental 3-in-one to fax, or receive a fax, ever again.

Whoops, that's got to be a record. Dan Olson points me to this site where there are so many fax-to-email-to-fax programs that I shan't even attempt to list them.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Register for 24 Hour Comics Day

To register for 24 Hour Comics Day at MCBA, send an email to:

Put the word REGISTER in the subject line.

Send your:


PUNY "30% More Commercial" Gallery Show this Saturday

"Best known for their animation on Emmy Nominated TV Series "Yo Gabba Gabba" and high-end interactive development; PUNY's twenty-two artists, designers, and programmers throw shit against a wall to see what sticks. For one night only their corporate overseers allowed non-billable hours to be put towards un-artdirected art, interactive pointlessness, and animated mash-ups. On display are secret passions, resume killers, and a clear bias against race, gender, and economic backgrounds..
Is it art or a capabilities pitch? We're not sure they know the difference. Salary DOE."

Live Music by

Mark Fox is a DJ

See a preview of some art from the show here.

First Amendment Gallery
1101 Stinson Blvd
Basement rooms A & B
Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

SpiderBaby Terrance Griep Profiled on Daily Planet

BTA buddy Terrance Griep -- comics writer by day and wrestler "SpiderBaby" by night -- was profiled recently on the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

Read the article here!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Puny: The Great Misnomer

Check out our sister* company Puny Entertainment profiled not once but TWICE in Finance & Commerce magazine.

"Puny in Name Only: Minneapolis Animation Firm Hits the Big Time"

"Technical Innovations Take Time in the World of Animation"

* For those who scratch their heads at the term "sister": Big Time Attic hired a handful of very talented animators in 2005. That wing of the company became so successful that the animators -- under the leadership of Shad Petosky and Vincent Stall -- separated from Big Time Attic to become their own company, Puny Entertainment. Since then they have exploded on the animation & new media scene. Among a hundred other things they're doing, Puny is behind the animation you'll find on Nickelodeon's "Yo Gabba Gabba."

Read all the happenings at

Monday, August 18, 2008

24 Hour Comics Day -- Minneapolis 2008

Mark your calendars for Minneapolis' fifth annual "24 Hour Comics Day" event. The details are as follows:

Saturday October 18, 2008 - Sunday October 19, 2008
10am - 10am

Bring food to share, and art materials for yourself (but know that Wet Paint will have a booth set up so you can buy all your stuff there if you want!)

For all the latest info, check out

Help spread the word by posting/printing/emailing the poster! Choose from:

400 px wide (blog-friendly)
800 px wide
1600 px wide (cartoon is readable at this size)
hi-res black (good for printing)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Influences: Bill Peet

I read just about every children's book by Bill Peet as a kid. One of the reasons I liked his stuff so much was that it resembled the Disney movies that I was borderline-obsessed with. This, of course, is not surprising, since he was a storyboard man for Disney for most of his career.

Despite his having a very active, fluid, and energetic style, one of the things I liked about his books was that they had a calm, Midwestern air about them; the quality of a middle-aged man recalling his carefree youth. Bucolic countrysides, the rare thrill of a fair or circus having come to town, the pleasure of honest work, and so forth, were all well represented.

And like Quentin Blake, I loved that Bill Peet could use just a few lines and create a perfectly appealing face. Even when drawing fanciful things like dragons or sea serpents, he didn't burden them with elaborate detail or ornamentation. Rather, they were cast as people, just like the rest of the characters, and were better served by an expressive face and a loose-limbed body than by beautifully textured scales.

His stories were simple, earnest, believe-in-yourself kind of tales, and their consistency across his entire bibliography formed what were probably some of my first mental templates for stories. I liked the fact that even his simplest stories involved a full cast of characters, each with a bit of a quirky personality, and that none of the characters were immediately cute or approachable, seemingly preferring to be downtrodden, grotesque, or forbiddingly alien.

Peet's looseness and consistency, and his choice of wide angles (typically establishing Relative Position, don't you know), made cartooning an accessible and fun hobby for me, allowing me to think about characters and movement without worrying so much about choking it with detail and design. This notion is what I like to think about when I am at my most creative-- the idea of story, character, and fun being paramount.

Peet died in 2002 at the age of 87.


Friday, August 08, 2008

I Wish Someone Would Invent: "The Act" for Consoles

Have you ever thought about an invention that maybe YOU can't make, but it sure would be nice if someone else did?

I stumbled recently on a site that spoke about an extremely ambitious project by a video game company named Cecropia. Their game, intended to be a bar arcade game, is called The Act, and is a Dragon's Lair-style 2-D animated narrative, controlled not by joystick and buttons, but by a single knob, which simply raises or lowers the intensity of your character's reactions to whatever's happening. Well, not surprisingly, a non-standard, dialogue-heavy, non-golf arcade game in bars (in which a perfect game takes an hour and one could theoretically spend twenty hours solving it) did not test well and plans for a widespread arcade release were scrapped.

Arcade units are apparently out there and available, and there seem to be whispers of plans for this game to come to PCs, but I want this to come out on Xbox Live Arcade.

I loved Dragon's Lair as a kid, and I was fascinated with the idea of "controlling" an animated sequence. I mean, you only choose either the right or wrong decision, and either live or die, but there was something that made it even more thrilling than an animated movie. So let's move it, Cecropia! I'd buy this in an instant on Live Arcade!

So, you want to invent it? Already know about something just like it? Got a reason why it would never work? Got some suggestions? Got your own "I Wish Someone Would Invent..."? See you in the comments!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

National Night Out 2008

My neighborhood had a big shindig Tuesday night for National Night Out, which, for those of you who aren't in the know, is a convenient time to have a big block party, especially if everyone is usually too busy to get together and grill brats in the middle of the street. Our block has a great turnout every year, and some smart cookie decided to bring a Slip and Slide, which was received with great fanfare.

The blurry boy who's running to do the Slip and Slide again 1) didn't quite get the "slide" part and would flop himself down at the beginning and crawl, GI Joe-style, to the end, and 2) loved it so much he asked me if there could be another National Night Out tomorrow night.

We had egg- and water balloon-tosses out in the street, and my poor partner Elisha got splattered with egg twice and water once.

The guy who skimmed $300,000 a year off the top of NNO notwithstanding, National Night Out is my favorite holiday, and our street definitely does it up right.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More San Diego Photos

Here are some behind the scenes photos of the long, arduous process of shooting a 20 second bumper for G4. Oh the grueling days, oh the sleepless nights. Oh the well-stocked catering table. It was the toughest four minutes I'll ever love.

Thanks to Shad for the photos!

On Saturday night, I ended up running around with my old friends from my New England Comics Press days: Ben Edlund and Jackson Publick.

Zander (left) and Ben Edlund

Zander (left) and, Jackson Publick

Zander and the NEC Press crew

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Zander's on G4's Attack of the Show!

Some dudes with cameras and large personalities came by my booth at Comic-Con on Thursday and wanted to film a concluding segment for their video convention report. Would I please sketch while Zach Selwyn wraps it up in Attack of the Show style? Why certainly!

For a larger version, as well as all of the other Comic-Con segments, visit:

Attack of the Show!

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Monday, August 04, 2008

BTA Games: Classic Rock Bingo

Going on a long car trip? Working late on a project? Hanging around with some friends? Let's play some Classic Rock Bingo!

1. pencil and paper (or better yet, chalk- or whiteboard)
2. a local classic rock station (here in the Twin Cities, 92.5 KQRS)
3. three or more people who can stand to listen to classic rock radio
4. something else to do while this goes on

Take turns selecting one band you think will be played in the course of the game. Go around until everyone has selected 4 or 5 bands. These are your bands to listen for. If they are all played before everyone else's, you win!

Wild Card: After everyone chooses their bands, each person must choose one song, by a band that hasn't been named, to be their wild card. If this song is played, you win and the game starts over.

This becomes trickier on a road trip, going in and out of radio range, but I guarantee you this: there isn't a classic-rock dead zone in the United States until you get halfway to Hawaii.


Kevin: Bob Seger, The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, The Doors
Bonus Track: "Lido Shuffle" by Boz Scaggs

Zander: Led Zeppelin, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Deep Purple, Cream
Bonus Track: "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull

Tim: The Who, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Steve Miller Band
Bonus Track: "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer

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Friday, August 01, 2008

A Thought on Comic-Con

I've been going to Comic-Con for 14 years now, and the one thing that's been constant throughout that time is that people complain that "it's not about comics anymore".

There are too many booths about TV, movies, video games, toys, t-shirts, role-playing games, etc, they say. It's gotten away from the purity it had 5 years ago (it's perpetually 5 years ago; a rolling date of when it was still what people wanted it to be). While I can't dispute that comics only make up a percentage of what is shown at Comic-Con, I have to disagree with the gloomy, slippery-slope predictions people make.

Comic-Con is always going to be about comics. It may be silly that everything else's connection to it is through comics' typical genres (sci-fi movies, animated TV shows, superhero video games), but it's an honest, organic evolution, and it's certainly a shared fan base. It just wouldn't happen otherwise. I mean, there was a ton of promotional stuff at CCI 08 about the TV show "The Office", which is about as remote a property as you could possibly have, and yet it fit in perfectly at the con.

Comic-Con also has the biggest Artists' Alley/Small Press section of any convention I've been to, and nearly all of those people is a comic book artist. The Artists' Alley is juried and tightly monitored, so there are almost always popular creators, and almost never empty booths. It's not a flashy area of the show, but it's the best floor-space-to-interesting person ratio in the room.

And the strongest point I could make that this diversification has helped, rather than hurt, comics is this:

Once a year, there is one event that is the undisputed center of the universe for all Western pop culture attended by over 125,000 people. No one dares miss it, and movie, video game, and comic studios and publishers will wait six months to announce new projects there, to great fanfare. And what's this giant omni-media celebration called? Why, it's called COMIC-CON.

That sort of branding of comics in the mainstream media as the wellspring from which all other fun, awesome, exciting pop culture comes more than offsets, in my mind, any perceived loss of comics purity. And if you don't buy that, buddy, I've got four words for you: MoCCA, Heroes Con, SPX, and APE.

Oh, and of course, The Minnesota FallCon.

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