Thursday, November 29, 2007


I got some new pens and paper the other day. The paper is just a cheap sketch pad, but at 11" x 14" it's big enough to draw a comic-sized page with bleed at 125% real size. I almost went for the 14" x 17", which would let me draw at 150% real size, but I don't really have the desk space to even use that, so I decided not to bother.

The pens include the Japanese Pentel brush pen that everyone loves. It's fun, but it does put down a ton of ink and I'm still pretty shaky with it. The bristles are really infinitely better than the crappy felt-tipped "brush" pen I was using before. I also got some smaller sizes of the regular Pigma pens, and then I stole a Sharpie from work.

I just wanted to block out and draw a full page on one sheet, and I think Peter inspired me to do a little baseball scene. I'm not working on a longer baseball story or anything: I just wanted to try out the format, and a squeeze play seemed like something I could portray on a single page that would cohere in the absence of a larger narrative context while also giving me a couple interesting backgrounds and figures to draw from a few different angles and positions (nh).

I'm not sure the three bottom panels really make sense the way they're drawn. It might work with color (panels brighter than the background?), or it might be something I'd have to do over.

Update: Those last three panels kept bugging me, so I went back and fixed them. I cut a piece of the same sketch book paper down to fit in my printer, blew the image back up to 125%, and just printed out the bottom part, landscape mode, in very light cyan. I only reinked the panel borders and the parts inside the old panels, then scanned it back in, lined up the new layer, and erased the unneeded lines.

I should have done this as a new post, rather than an update, just so I could title it "Back to the Old Drawing Board...Literally!" Oh well. I just noticed that I left the catcher as bare line art, and it looks kind of out of place. I'm not planning on fixing that, but if I do then I guess I have a title for the blog post.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Whee, baseball!

After brunch yesterday, a couple of my usual cronies went by to play with Gabe's Wii (nullus). Peter immediately noticed that the sports game had a baseball mode or level or whatever.

Andrew: Oh, Baseball's really boring.
Me: I know baseball's boring. That's why I like it.

Needless to say, Peter and I played at the first opportunity. He took an early lead with a single-run homer in the bottom of the first. I tied it up in the next inning and left a man stranded, but then fanned three batters to end the inning. I went scoreless in the third, and then Peter stepped up and won the game with a two-run walk-off home run. Pretty dramatic! I believe I hit for .222 and struck out five or six batters.

One funny thing was that Peter was striking me out throwing the same outside breaking balls that earned him so many K's in the wiffleball park.

I was also no good at Boxing. Video games!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

More Baseball, and other stuff

Peter came over on Tuesday night with the second disc of Ken Burns' Baseball and we enjoyed it alongside some beers and Middle Eastern food. The further hijinx of tremendous asshole John McGraw—on the one hand carrying a piece from a noose used in a lynching for good luck, on the other (?) hand trying to sneak a black player onto his team by calling him "Chief John Tokohama," supposedly an Indian—were of course entertaining, but the highlight for me were the clips from a DeWolf Hopper recitation of "Casey at the Bat," a poem whose charms have always eluded me.

The pictures in the Wikipedia entry show him as a young man, and it says he was only thirty when he first performed the poem. But given that that was well before the turn of the century, I suppose it isn't surprising that by the time the film used in the documentary was recorded, he was pretty creepily ancient. I wish I could find a YouTube of it, but his lipstick alone is spine-tingling, and that's before he even begins his Cryptkeeperly melodramatic delivery. Ugh. I can't tell if the repulsiveness of the performance indicates the wide gulf between what was then and what is now considered entertaining, or if rather it suggests an element of the freak show in vaudeville that modern audiences only look for in reality television.

Hm, Wikipedia also says Hopper had (at least, I suppose) six wives. Interesting that as I watched the clip, some of my thoughts were along the lines as "so sad that this is what gays once had to resort to to make a living."

On the topic of oldish film clips (and gays, and tremendous assholes), a blog discussion of a debate on 9/11 conspiracy theories led me to discover clips from one of a series of debates between William Buckley and Gore Vidal during the 1968 presidential election. So many awesome things about these.

First, I love the rhetoric. Buckley's intimations of treason are of course not so different from what we hear from the bloodthirsty right today, with standard issue red-baiting standing in for contemporary accusations of Saddam-loving and terrorist-loving. But Vidal's side, damn. I realize that this one debate, taking place as it did during the unrest of the Chicago Democratic Convention, is unique even for the time, but the idea that the whole issue of the debate is framed from the beginning as essentially "yes or no: we are now living in an authoritarian police state" speaks volumes. Coming from a world in which Russ Feingold's is a champion of the left for quietly opining that perhaps millionaires should not be able to buy their way into political office, it's refreshing (and depressing) to see that national television once made room for a genuinely left-wing point of view. Vidal is still around, but he's so old

Second, there is the part where the two "nearly come to blows," as it seems to always be described. It is basically just Gore Vidal calling William Buckley a "crypto-Nazi" and then Buckley calling Vidal a "queah" and threatening to punch him, but it is awesome. Again, you have to love the willingness to casually accuse someone of harboring fascist tendencies. Try to get a public intellectual (do such beasts still roam the world?) to apply the f-word today to even such a worthy target as, say, Rudy Giuliani. Here's the episode from YouTube:

Finally, it's fascinating to hear conservative cant from a source other than a faux cowboy jes' talkin' common sense. This predates the conservative movement's rebranding as an ideology of the working man. It's the same apologetics for the rich and powerful, but actually voiced by someone who is unabashedly rich and powerful. Which should be the most straightforward thing in the world, but because of how successful the right wing has been in burying the realities of the movement, it comes across almost as a put-on. Clearly this upper-class twit cannot really be a Nixon supporter.

Also while looking for those videos, I found a two-part debate from 1969, between Buckley and Noam Chomsky. The subject was US imperialism and interventionism, and how the two might be distinguished, if indeed they can be. Again, you have to love Buckley's shameless effete upper-classness. Chomsky comes across, appropriately enough, as a real professor type just trying to get down to the hard facts of the matter, in stark contrast with Buckley's high-flown rhetoric. It's in two parts:

The old-fashioned days, guys. So awesome.