"Celebrating" the Anniversary of the Iraq War

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As of March 20, it's been eight years since we went into Iraq.

You may have missed the celebration, because the U.S. was busy getting involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East.

After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives (and likely ten times that many lives of others), it's difficult to say what we've gained. I was not a supporter of the war. Bush's claims of WMDs seemed dubious at best; and linking Iraq and 9/11 was the height of crass manipulation. Saddam, while certainly evil, was also contained, and in no way a threat to Americans.

Yet there we are, and despite "the end of combat operations," it looks as if we'll be there for years to come. There's no real exit strategy, because we can't leave when things are going badly, and we can't leave when things are finally starting to get better.

On the plus side, it's a great time to be a defense contractor or an oil services company (or both if you are KBR)!


Cartoon originally published Sep. 5, 2005.

Your Guide to the Budget

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I don't understand how the Republicans have any credibility when it comes to the budget. They label themselves as fiscally responsible, but history belies that claim. (And, yes, for fairness and balance, many Dems are also bad.)

As with my last cartoon, it is ridiculous for people who ignored deficits under Bush to suddenly discover them under Obama. Moreover, it is even more hypocritical when you remember that the Bushies couldn't wait to spend the surplus fast enough. If we had saved (or invested) that surplus, we might not be where we are now.

Everyone claims to want a balanced budget (especially easy when you are in the minority party), but no one acts that way. And when we did have a balanced budget in 1998, the Republicans were busy impeaching the president.

Sleep Deficit Disorder

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This one has been churning around my brain for a few months. And really, it could be used to call out conservatives on just about any issue that they conveniently ignored under the Bush reign; but deficit reduction is probably their most laughable hypocrisy. Plus it's easier to make a pun with.

And Obama (et al) are such pussies for caving so easily on this issue. Yes, we need to address the deficit; but let's get the economy moving first. Then it'll be much easier to pay down the debt.

Obama claims that, "like people, the government needs to tighten it belt," but that's exactly wrong. Unlike households, the government is in a unique position to drive the entire economy. Governments should step on the gas (spend) when the economy slows down and ease off (save more) when the economy is going gangbusters.

Remember the hole Reagan and Bush I dug for us? Remember the surplus Clinton left us with? What the rise of the internet did under Clinton, "green" tech can do under Obama if we just use the stimulus money in targeted ways.

RIP United States of America

constitutionYesterday marked the death of the proud experiment to have a government in which people attempted to form a more perfect Union. It was replaced by a group of corporations. I could trace the illness that led to this demise and give a biography of all the wondrous (and, granted, sometime not so wonderful, whether with good intentions or not) acts the country once did, but why bother? Nothing I say or do in this land will ever matter again.

The Sleeper Agent

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Drawing Board This one was inspired by all those emails I got when Obama was running for president that breathlessly tried to warn me that Obama was secretly a Muslim, that he was out to take over the government, that he'd bring chaos to America, and undermine our way of life.

And I'd just think..."Oh my god! He might start an illegal war based on lies! He might send thousands of Americans to their deaths! He might let an American city and its people drown! He might destroy the economy while enriching all his friends. He might explode the deficit while undermining government services! He might spy on American citizens and openly flout the law. He might..."

Well, you get the picture. Republicans have no sense of irony.

It has been awhile since I did a more involved comic, and with Bush thankfully out the door, I figured I shuld get this one in quick. I tried to contain my anger (and examples) to 9 panels, as well as keep the agent a mystery until the end. The dark face is both to maintain his secret identity as well as to hint strongly that the agent is Obama.

This one's a mix of pen and brush, with some Photoshop/Illustrator thrown in for the panel outlines and text. Overall, it's a bit muddled; and I'm not sure you'll get it without the explanation. But overall, I'm happy with it.

Dope

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Drawing Board

As is probably obvious, this "comic" was inspired by the Obama/Hope poster. Frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't seen this already. Surely, someone beat me to the punch. In any case, my first thought was to do one of McCain with the word "Fear," but as that bit of unpleasantness is behind us, I figured I'd get in another shot at everyone's favorite leader.

The comic was done entirely in Photoshop. After lots of "research," I found an image of George that seemed appropriate. That step was probably the hardest. After that, it was really just a case of deciding what to aspects of George's mug should be red, white, or blue. I tried to keep my version close to the Hope poster, but I didn't quite match the colors or font.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with the little Obama "O." I tried making it a frowny/confused face, but I settled on the Ø because it works as both the "empty set" symbol or the "NO" sign.

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with the New Guy

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So How Did You Make That Card?

STEP 1: THE IDEA The first step was probably the hardest. How do you come up with an idea that will be fun and fit on a card? Usually, something finally pops into my head.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next came the sketch. This one started on the back of some scrap paper. I doodled around, trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. Step 2 is really just an extension of Step 1.

Once I had an idea of what I wanted, I sketched the image out "full size" to get a sense of how things would fit together for a card shape. I also doodled around trying to get the right look for the faces.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING Next came the actual drawing. I took a large sheet of tracing paper, and sketched out the image. This is where I worked out all the "issues" that came up. For example, you can see that I decided to cut off these guys' legs (since they don't add anything to the image); and I decided to have Obama wave off the gift rather than take it (because that's funnier). These are big changes (especially when drawing hands), so it's best to work it all out first.

Next, I took a sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a lightbox, I lightly traced the image, leaving all the mistakes on the tracing paper.

Light box

STEP 4: INKING Next I went over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means "tracing," but it's not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. I used a brush to vary the line weights (compare Bush's chin line to his nose line) and to add some depth to the image.

Ink & brushes

Once all the ink was dry, I erased any left over pencil lines.

STEP 5: SCANNING Next I scanned the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file.

STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR

I took the scanned image and opened it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I resized the image to make it card-ready. With Illustrator I created the word balloons and the text. It wasn't that difficult to come up with 12 "gifts" from George, but setting it to music was a little trickier. I also created the back of the card.

STEP 7: PRINTING Then it was off to the copy store to print the card. I had them print 2 images on a page of card stock and then cut the page in half.

STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just addressed, stamped, added something witty like "Merry Christmas," and dropped the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Visions of Christmas Cards Past:

2007: 2007 2006: 2006 2005:

2004: 2003: 2001:

2000: 1999: 1998:

If you didn't get a card this year it probably means we don't love you we don't have your address. Send it to us!

A Brief History of the Last 8 Years

A Brief History of the Last 8 Years click to enlarge.

Drawing Board

Concept Anyone paying attention to politics and even slightly left-of-nutso should have no trouble understanding this comic. Those who don't are the ones I'm making fun of.

Of course, as bad as the right wing has been, the "left" probably will play nice. Let me say that I have no trouble with bi-partisanship (pre-Newt Gingrich), but it really irks me that the Dems allows the Republicans to set the agenda even when they (the Dems) hold all the cards.

Layout I was originally planning on more panels, but decided (once again) that less is more. In fact, this comic could probably be distilled down even further, but I'm relatively happy with the current panel count.

Drawing & Inking I tend to draw too big for smaller paper. So I've started using some 14" x 17" Bristol. Still, after I sketched this one out, I realized that the larger paper was probably overkill---especially for  drawing(s) without any backgrounds. On top of that, I got a smooth finish paper, and when I erased my sketch lines after inking (which was done in pen rather than brush), I pulled up a lot of the ink as well. Argh.

Lettering I'm less happy with the lettering. While I love that I'm able to do all the lettering on the computer, I'm getting a little tired of the LetterOMatic! and Arials fonts. Panels 1 and 5 are especially annoying to me. I wasn't sure how to do the "Obama wins" panel in a simple way. My first thought was to be all fancy with balloons and Obama graphics, but I decided that would detract from the point of the joke. Still, my solution seems overly dull.

Goodbye FISA

In honor of the Democrats (including Obama) who still run in fear of a lame duck president who is hated by 80% of Americans and who have no problem gutting the Constitution by providing retroactive immunity to telecom lawbreakers---and by extension, the Executive Branch---the ArmzRace proudly re-presents the following comic. Click to enlarge. Goodbye FISA

 

All I Really Need To Know

all I need to know I learned from W

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THE DRAWING BOARD

Concept: Obviously, this one was inspired by the Robert Fulgum essay "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." That little write-up has spawned numerous spoofs, and I wanted to get on the bandwagon. This comic had been kicking around in my head for awhile, and I figured I'd better get it finished as the Bush clock is (thankfully) running down.

Layout: I wanted to mimic some of the posters that I had seen of "All I Really..." but add some funny pictures to it. My orginal intention was to have a picture for each of the rules, but it was getting pretty cluttered. Not only did more pictures make some of the wording difficult to read, but some of the images didn't really seem to add a whole lot (of course that problem could be my lack of imagination).

Lettering: Even though this comic is computer-lettered, I'm not real happy with the lettering. I suck at picking fonts, and this is a fairly non-inspired set of fonts. I was hoping to find something more poster-y.

Putting it Together: I sketched out the primary images in my sketchbook. Once I had them where I wanted them, I traced them onto bristol board and inked them with a brush (except for some of the text where I used a pen). Then most of the work took place in Photoshop and Illustrator as I created the layout and moved images and text around until it looked "right."

My original layout was much more cluttered. I had more (and longer) rules, more images, and more text on the images (several of them had word ballons), and use of the letter "W" all over the page as a way to separate images and text. So this comic largely became an exercise in paring things down. I got rid of the Ws---seemed okay. I removed word balloons---not too much was lost. I shortened and deleted some rules---still not too much was lost. And I dropped some images. While I hated to get rid of anything, I really do think that simpler was better.

Later: I may still go back and change some fonts (if I can find better ones), and I may try to make it look more professional overall. Or more likely, I'll decide that I got this out of my system and, like GWB, put it behind me.

The Bright Side

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This joke seemed a little obvious to me, so I won't be surprised to see it elsewhere (but I haven't yet!).

It should come as no surprise that the people who yell the loudest about supporting the troops are the same ones who do the least to, you know, actually support them. The conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital are only the latest revelation of poor planning by this Admisitration in this war of choice. Expect more horrors next week...

How Did You Make That Christmas Card?

Welcome! Thanks for asking. STEP 1: THE IDEA Step one is probably the hardest step. How do you come up with an idea that will be fun and fit on a card? Some people get paid for that kind of thing--and here I am doing it for free. I had several ideas this year.

STEP 2: THE SKETCH Next comes the sketch. I doodle around to try to figure out what works and what doesn't. Step 2 is really just an extension of Step 1. You can see some of the ideas I had here:

A gift from the Dem
Friends are difficult to find… Geting goosed

I had some others, but I may need them for next year.

STEP 3: THE DRAWING Next comes the actual drawing. I take an 11" x 14" sheet of Bristol (a heavy paper), and using a mechanical pencil, I sketch out the drawing. I draw everything out in pencil, trying to make as few mistakes as possible. I use a very hard lead so that the image is very faint if I need to erase. In this case, one of my sketches was pretty close to what I wanted, so I used a light box to trace the sketch onto the Bristol paper.

Sketch
Light box

STEP 4: INKING Next I go over all of the pencils with ink. Some people think this means "tracing," but it's not. Inking adds a whole different character to the image. I use a brush to vary the line weights (compare Bush's chin line to his nose line) and to add some depth to the image.

Ink & brushes

Once all the ink is dry, I erase all the left over pencil lines. In this case, the inked copy looked like this:

Inked version

STEP 5: SCANNING Next I scan the picture into my computer. This process turns the image into a digital computer file.

STEP 6: USING PHOTOSHOP and ILLUSTRATOR I take the scanned image and open it in a software program called Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These program allows me to manipulate the image and make it ready for printing. With Photoshop I added some gray tones and resized the image to make it card-ready. With Illustrator I created the word bubble and the text.

If you look closely at both the original and the finished product, you can see some of the changes I made:

  • Filled in dress with black
  • Made some black lines into white lines (dress)
  • Drew a few sprigs of holly, scanned them, and then copied them multiple times to create the top and bottom border
  • Used several different gray tones on the goose to give it additional depth
  • Copied the goose and put it on the back of the card

STEP 7: PRINTING Then it's off to the copy store to print the card. I had them print 2 images on a page of card stock and then cut the page in half.

Click for larger view

STEP 8: MAILING Then JoAnn and I just address, stamp, add something witty like "Merry Christmas," and drop the cards in the mail. See how easy it is! Anyone can do it!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Visions of Christmas Cards Past:

2005:

2004: 2003: 2001:

2000: 1999: 1998:

Historical Illusion

The Bush Administration is spending lots of energy reminding us how important Iraq is (especially with an election coming up). Unfortunately, their historical allusions are really just hysterical illusions...

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