Category Archives: art

American S.W.A.T. & the New Warrior Cop

Radley Balko’s must-read article on inspired this webstrip about U.S. police mission creep; i.e. domestic law enforcement’s militarization, lack of training, & willingness/eagerness to sidestep around America’s Fourth Amendment.

An excerpt:

By the end of the 2000s, police departments were sending SWAT teams to enforce regulatory law. In August 2010, for example, a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black-and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area…

(P)olice held barbers and customers at gunpoint and put some in handcuffs, while they turned the shops inside out…

By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps… (b)ut in the end, thirty-four of the thirty-seven arrests were for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor…

(P)olice didn’t even attempt to obtain a legal search warrant. They didn’t need to, because they conducted the raids in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite the guns and handcuffs, under Florida law these were licensure inspections, not criminal searches, so no warrants were necessary.

The article is excerpted from Balko’s “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.”

Canada is but a few years behind the ‘progress’ of our southern neighbours.


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Star Trek / Magic the Gathering Mashup

Here’s a gag that, without explanation, appeals to a niche audience.

Beebles is a race of characters from the Magic the Gathering trading card game. A friend has referred to MTG as chess & poker combined, “but more fun” (don’t shoot the messenger bro).

The various iterations of the Beebles characters reference a wide range of fandom, from Peter Pan to Futurama.

I think Bouncing Beebles is a reference to the Star Trek episode ‘The Trouble with Tribbles.’ And so, when my local comics & gaming shop Jack’s on Queen had 28 Bouncing Beebles cards in the drawer & a Star Trek GN on the shelf, the above photocomic became a compulsion (don’t sue me bro).

The link also features an animated .gif, my preferred expression of this idea. But this companion static image version is my obligation, because COMICS!

Shout out to Nathan Agar for his help sorting the cards.

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Octopodes’ Pie

The non-repro blue pencils & inked lettering of a panel of an octopus as it navigates landmarks while swimming through its underwater neighbourhood.

The Navigating Octopus, from ‘The Post-Vegetarian Omnivore,’ by Wm Brian MacLean

It is a Herculean Heraclean effort not to correct grammar…

…or at least not do it too much.  I’m a stickler for some words & phrases. ‘Regardless’ (not irregardless), ‘cut the muster’ (not mustard) & ‘couldn’t care less’ (not could) come to mind. An acquaintance called me elitist for my now-antiquated insistence on ‘an historic.’ Le sigh.

I drew this octopus with nine tentacles, so one needed to go. #5 has been outlined by an artist's knife, & a layer of Bristol board is about to be peeled away.

Tentacle Strangulation, pre-edit

I have a new one, which is in scant common usage. Sure, it has faded into obscurity…

…but that didn’t stop me from recently correcting someone before I could stop myself. (Sometimes when I try, I fail.)

I like ‘octopodes.’ B/c it’s right, dammit! And ‘octopi’ is really, really wrong.

The suckers of an attacking octopus, drawn in non-repro blue pencil.

Perfectly round octopus suckers are for suckers.

So, if you can suffer an Anglophone to say ‘octopi’ when they really mean ‘octopuses’ (or better yet ‘octopodes’), you can suffer this cartoonist a few tentacle suckers that aren’t perfectly circular. Also, I’m glad I don’t remember my dreams any more; they’d certainly be filled with snapping cephalopod beaks & blood.

Did I mention I was working on a horror story? (It was accepted! YAY!)

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Sketch Cover: Hulk Did the Mash

Hulk Did the Mash, a sketch cover by Wm Brian MacLean

A few friends encouraged me to embraced my childhood love of superheroes & do a sketch cover.

But who can be bothered to just draw a pose? I mean, maybe I could bring myself to submit to the drudgery, but only with many beers before, during & afterwards.

And so, I hope you enjoy this mash-up of the best Thes I could think of: The Honeymooners, the Monster Mash & The Indestructible Hulk.

I learned a little something about Marvel’s sketch cover comics. The past few months have seen me eschew white-out in favour of an artist’s knife. Peeling away a layer of Bristol board to make corrections isn’t perfect (nothing is), but pigment doesn’t soak into white-out–before it dries, I smear it more often than not when inking a strip–and white-out doesn’t soak into the paper anyway.

But sketch cover illustration paper doesn’t peel worth a damn, & correction fluid works like a dream (nice & smooth, though pigment still smears if I’m not careful). I’m glad to learn this the first time out, but it would have been useful information going in.


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Maple Syrup Art Show

Photo courtesy Blake Crittenden.

It was an informal show. On March 4th, Elmvale celebrated its 48th Annual Maple Syrup Festival. It was a sweet taste of spring, as they like to say, and we SGAAers added our artwork to the proceedings.

Among the various locations, Rob Howard opened The Conservatory one last time before his family moves to Peterborough. My work showed alongside that of Ila Kellermann, Sunny Crittenden, Lisa Bostlund and Thomas Quint. Coffee and conversation with old family friends helped to diminish my general daytime discomfort.

On the formal side, the SGAA is planning its 2nd annual autumn studio tour (that link shows 2012 data, and is therefore obsolete).

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Mashup Culture

This is a concept described in Jonah Leher’s (now-shamed) Imagine, that creativity is essentially a function of the brain when it takes two or more previously encountered ideas & recombines them into something unique.

Nowhere is that more obvious than when money’s on the line, in the commercial arts. Familiar recombinations saturate popular music. I have an example from television (which certainly are not the first examples of these traits).

First, here’s the opening credits to The Sopranos. Notice specifically the second verse after 1:03 where Tony’s driving through residential Jersey (itself a recent iteration of a classic).

Then notice the washed out effects, ‘gritty’ font, & overlapping & jittery visuals (starting roughly at the 1st chorus) of True Blood’s opening credits.

They’re combine into the visual style of Justified’s intro (sorry, this is the only clip YouTube has; it has the correct images, but a replaced soundtrack… with a bit of cussing, so be warned).

To quote Elton John (quoting perhaps TS Elliot or Pablo Picasso) when complimenting(?) Prince:

Good artists borrow, great artists steal.

I read that in People back in the 90s, so it’s _gotta_ be true.

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Illustration as Problem Solving

Jillian Tamaki blogged recently about talent versus follow-through, determination as the key factor in becoming a professional illustrator, & the difference between drawing & illustration. The idea I liked most:

I actually think that most people don’t realize or think about the difference between Drawing and Illustration. They think they’re the same. They’re not. Drawing is an act, whereas Illustration (as I define it) is a profession. Illustration *can* involve drawing (it can expand beyond drawing too, obviously), but it’s actually the act of thinking and problem solving. (emphasis hers)

Many self-criticisms swirl in my head after reading her post, but I do readily identify with the above paragraph; thinking & problem solving are my favourite parts of writing & conceiving stories for comics, before the slog of editing, then sweating over a drafting table.

(The slog is worth it, BTW.)

Via Jess Smart Smiley

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