Superheroes are pretty pathetic if you think about it. And the more powerful they are, they more impotent they seem to be at effecting any real change. Let's face it, instead of spending hours punching bad guys as Batman, billionaire Bruce Wayne could do more a lot more for Gotham by creating some Green jobs for the unemployed.

Of course, it’s not too big a leap to say the same about any real person, especially those whom our society deems “important”: millionaires, politicians, celebrities. Imagine if they used their vast resources to make a real difference instead of just further self-aggrandizement. Maybe if we had more heroes in real life, we wouldn't have so great a need for them in comics (or film for those of you who don't read comics).

That said, I would absolutely fight crime in other universes if I had the opportunity.

What Do You Think of Spider-Man?

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Growing up, it always drove me crazy that the Marvel Comics heroes would stay in costume while partying or hanging out by the pool. It made no sense to me that they wouldn't wear civilian clothes while off duty.*

As I got older and became more interested in character than in punching, I looked on these off duty scenes as a great opportunity to develop the characters. Alas, the heroes either talked about work** or something relatively neutral. I suspect that the writers feared that too much human interaction might turn off their action-oriented readers.

But juicy conversation topics are a great way to reveal personality traits and round out a character. Ultimately, a character's quirks make you care more about her/him. And nothing says more about a person than the way s/he talks about you behind your back.

These are the kinds of scenes that I'd like to see more of, and I suspect that having them would make superhero comics more accessible.***

* Obviously, it's harder for readers to recognize (and for Marvel to trademark) a guy in his civvies. ** "Work" being defined as "whom they are currently punching." *** There are lots of great character-driven comics; but most of them are not in the superhero genre.

All characters appearing in the above comic are (C) and TM Marvel Comics.

Your Guide to Fine Art

Click to enlarge. The cool thing about art is that it works on an intellectual level and on a visceral level. You don't have to understand the golden mean to appreciate the balance it creates, but the better you do understand it, the deeper your appreciation of a piece of artwork can be.

That said, it's possible to over think a piece. Aesthetic appeal often comes down to the basics.

My Summer Vacation

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Drawing Board My original plan was to use word balloons, with the characters saying

1: "Are you sure there are fireworks tonight?"

2: "Yes, Yes. Any minute now."

But then I decided that this looked a little like a typical New Yorker cartoon. And, since I intended this as a thank you card to Mark's parents for hosting me in the Hamptons over July 4th/birthday weekend, I figured they might appreciate the New York flavor. So word balloons become a caption (in Times New Roman italic, naturally).

I was a little concerned that the joke might be harder to understand without the extra exposition, but JoAnn got it immediately, so that helped confirm that it was a good choice.

Good Call

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I like Curt Conners. I think he'd be a good supporting character in the Spidey comics. But that's not how he's used. Nope, if you see Conners, you can bet you'll see the Lizard in an issue or two. A fight ensues, and then Conners disappears again for a few years.

Not that the characters in my comic have anything to do with Spidey. No, my comic is about completely different people.

I was originally planning to have a big title on this one. But it seemed less and less necessary, especially as the end of the month deadline loomed. But because I left room for it on the original page, I actually made my panels too small. I had to heighten them a bit in photoshop to get all the text to fit. That's why the word balloons are a bit funky.

I wasn't sure whether to color this one or not, but I figured I'll never get better at it unless I keep practicing.

Thanks for the assist from the AR gang.

Mind Reader

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FaceBook is okay in small doses. But mostly, the signal to noise ratio is so low that it's really a waste of time for me. I have no idea how people spend hours on it. To me it's just so boring. When the comments aren't inane they are infuriating. And why do all these people who used to hate me now want to be my friend?

Still thinking of tweaking this one some. But essentially this is what I intended. I'd still like to think of a pun-title; and I'd appreciate feedback on whether the 2nd panel is clear. I'm not sure whether the comments are inane enough. Does it need more/less? Should panel 1 contain "deep" thoughts, or would that be overkill?

Tired of the Heat?

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Drawing Board I suspect that no one will appreciate this comic (especially people born before 1965 or after 1975), but I had been giggling about it for a couple of days, so I had to slap it together. This is a mix of pen & ink and Photoshop. It came out pretty much as I envisioned, although I would have liked to have figured out a better layout for the text.

How It Works: Prayer

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Drawing Board

I have this crazy idea of doing a mini comic of "How Things Work" that spoofs and/or critiques any number of social phenomena. However, given that I've managed to do 2 comics on the idea in the last 8 years, don't hold your breath. This is the other one.

As to this comic in particular, I've always been a little troubled about the whole fate vs. free will issue, and throwing in God and prayer only muddies the waters further. Let's face it, the internal logic of most belief systems is fuzzy at best. I have no doubt that prayer can offer meditative and palliative help for some individuals, but that's not exactly the same as bringing the magic.

With this comic I wanted to try a new inking technique. You squirt the ink directly on the page and then spread it around with your brush rather than dip your brush in an ink well.  The tecnique had mixed results for me, especially as the ink had a tendency to spray rather than drip nicely. I suspect with a better squirter and a comic with more black spaces I might have more luck. This particular comic doesn't really require much black---I sorta made up the black backgrounds in order to try out the technique (although I kind of like the effect).