Christmas Madness

Tis the season, not so much to be jolly but to be massively behind. John and I are in major catch up mode to get strips out so blogging will remain light for the next couple of days :-)

Hope everyone was Merry Merry !! 

Kreative Blogger

Many many thanks to Margaret Shulock for naming the Edison blog (and the whole site in general) for a Kreative Blogger award.

Margaret is one of the Six Chix (whose strip and blog I read regularly) and an incredible lady. You can read about my visit with Margaret this summer here.

Part of the award includes naming 7 blogs I would give a Kreative Blogger award to and linking to them. I'm pretty much sticking with my blogroll (Between Friends, The Mad Blog, Bizarro Blog, Cul de Sac, Pooch Cafe etc.) down at the lower right but I'm adding one and sort of reinstating  one. 

First, is the blog for Fiddlehead Yarns. This is the blog for a yarn store near me and, though it is local and you probably won't be popping in for yarn anytime soon if you don't live around here, the blog is always interesting anyway. And inspirational - you may find yourself having to run down to a yarn store near you to get knitting, crocheting, etc.

Secondly is the wonderful blog for Kieran Meehan who does the King Features strip Pros and Cons as well as single panel cartoons and fabulous paintings. I had to take Kieran's blog off my blogroll because somehow it would never load right or update but I read it regularly and you should really check it out. 

Also I am supposed to list 7 things people don't know about me. This is tough because thanks to blogging and the internet I think everyone pretty much knows everything about everybody these days - we are the paparazzi now - but here goes:

I am an addicted knitter since 1980 (when you couldn't get any decent yarn - only acrylic - man, how times have changed.)

Even though I play classical music for a living, my radio is always tuned to rock or NPR.

A piece of English Toffee (my favorite candy) once cost me $1500 when it pulled off a dental crown which was subsequently lost.

I was a classically trained ballet/modern/jazz dancer for 12 years.

When my mother advised me to take French in High School (because every musician should) I stubbornly took Latin instead. (This was to backfire on me mightily when I went to France to study harp knowing only "Ballet French" - honestly, you can only get so far knowing things like "Fondue means to melt" and "Tondue means to stretch")

I am allergic to fish.

I cannot abide beets.

Ultraman Flap

OK so the emails are coming in. We know, we know, we know about Ultraman. We knew it would be a problem before the strip ran. The company that readies Edison strips for publication reminded us about the name and it was decided to change it to "Captain Amalgam". That change was to be effected by the production company and it obviously did not happen. To Ultraman fans everywhere we apologize.

Produce Drawer of Death or "I Need a New Fridge"

So it's the holiday season and that means guests. 

And that means cleaning. 

Not just cleaning. 


As in everything.

Everything as in all three bathrooms - including the medicine cabinets (you know people open your medicine cabinets), all the mold and mildew in the shower (you know they look at that too - I don't know why, but they do), the toilets (including under the lid - a place the boys in my life should understand some people will see), behind the toilets and the pedestal sinks (ugh!.. my very least favorite - it's where all the dog hair not only gathers but somehow congeals), and the ritual placing of the fake towels (you know the ones - the ones no one in the family ever uses so they'll look nice for company - and the "company" thinks they are also too nice to use and so they sneakily wipe their hands on the shower curtain).

Everything as in moving all the furniture when you vacuum because someone might actually change the position of something and discover what's lurking under there much of the year.

Everything as in all the doors and door frames and light switches and kitchen cabinet knobs that apparently have not been cleaned since last Christmas. It's amazing how much grime builds up in these places without me noticing it. When I suddenly become aware of it about, oh.. Dec 6th, I am stunned at its obviousness and our slovenliness. For a brief moment, I worry that this grime will have been obvious to any and all other guests we may have had throughout the course of the year. Then, like the blissful forgetfulness that follows labor pains, I put it out of my mind until next December.

Everything as in the stovetop (never, I repeat never get a black enamel rangetop - shows every last water spot and grease speck) and the oven door and the dishwasher door (goddamned stainless steel). 

And, finally.... everything as in the inside of the fridge. Yes the inside of the fridge. Because not only is this the time of year for many guests, it's the time of year for many guests to help you. They will be in the kitchen helping get food on the table and fetching things in and out of the fridge for you and JUDGING YOU.

Which brings me to why I need a new fridge. Because not only is my fridge of an unknown age (it came with the house 12 years ago and it was probably at least 15 years old then), my fridge is frightening. Frightening because it makes a variety of unsettling noises  - hisses and pops and growls and grumblings - it's like something out of the Shining. When I open the door, I expect to hear "Redrum!" or else see those animal things from the fridge in Ghostbuters. And frightening because of all the death it contains. Dead soup, dead bowls of spagetti, dead half eaten yogurts, dead jars of crystalized jam, dead chinese food, and dead produce. 

Now the produce is in a different category of death. Most of the dead items in my fridge consist of optimistically placed leftovers. (You'd think after 24 years John and I would know which types of leftovers will actually get eaten and which ones are doomed to become a ritualistic sacrifice to the refrigerator gods. Yet we continue to put all supper leftovers in there blithely assuming they'll turn into lunches.) These I at least have no problem eventually throwing away - they never taste as good as when they were new anyway and they grow fascinating varieties of mold. But the produce represents a bigger failure. The produce represents a quest for healthy eating. Salads never made, vegetables never served for dinner, oranges that, while they looked juicy at the store, have turned out to be little rind covered balls of sawdust.

I try, I really do. Every trip to the grocery store I buy all these healthy fresh foods with every intention of consuming every bit of them. So where does it all break down? Why are these foods not getting eaten? It's not that we are junk food junkies - we love to cook and these  are foods we actually like to eat. 

No, the fault lies with my fridge and the produce drawer of death. My theory is that it is all the fault of the design of my "freezer on top - fridge on the bottom" refrigerator. First of all there are two produce drawers - one that says "moist cold" and one that says "vegetables and fruit" and the fact that I cannot for the life of me figure out what is supposed to go into the "moist cold" one if it isn't vegetables and fruit. Second is the fact that the drawers are tinted like sunglasses and you cannot see what is in them without opening them. This, of course, means that, unless you open them constantly, stuff is pretty sure to be going bad in there. Thirdly, and here is where we get to the new fridge part, the produce drawers are all the way at the bottom of the fridge. I practically have to get down on my hands and knees to even get access to them. Talk about out of sight out of mind. So what I need is... drumroll please... one of those new refrigerators that has the freezer on the bottom and the fridge on the top with the lovely french doors and the produce drawers right smack dab at eye level. With clear plastic that I can see through to boot. 

I am absolutely, stupendously sure that this will solve all of my fridge death problems and we will eat healthy evermore. And, I won't have to clean the fridge this year for company :-)

Are you listening, John?


This one really got me today. It is so true.

Ice Scrapers I have Made

Let me start by saying that I live in the Northern Midwest. Not only that, I have lived my entire life in the Northern Midwest. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Chicago, Wisconsin. This means that I have experienced Winter. And I really mean Winter

So, round about December, there is really no excuse for A) being unable to assemble  a matching pair of thermal gloves or mittens B) not knowing where anyone's snow pants are C) not knowing where any boots are and - most importantly - D) not being able to find a single ice scraper.

The explanation I offer for  A is that my children think all gloves and mittens are there for the taking. So they take them. And they never bring them back. No matter who they might actually have belonged to. This has led me to view the school lost and found as a sort of glove and mitten exchange where I can - for a brief moment in time - borrow a pair of mittens to replace the ones my child has donated - for a brief moment in time - to your child.

The explanation I offer for B and C is that I carefully put these items away into storage - usually in about July. July because, in Wisconsin you might still need your boots and snow pants in May, and by June - when you are just about sure you don't need them anymore - you still might. And by July you are tired of kicking the boots every time you enter the back door. So I put them away - each year selecting a new foolproof "I can't possibly forget where I put them this time" location. 

By August I have forgotton where that is. By September I don't care. By October I know I should care but still don't. In November the temperature will be 65 and sunny on Tuesday and, without warning, a blizzard will descend on Wednesday - followed within 36 hours by subzero temperatures. (This year Snow took a pass on November and sucker punched us this week with over 17 inches falling in Madison on Tuesday. We were told not to expect this sort of thing this year as we are supposed to be having a balmy "el nino" winter.)

Which brings me to D  - Ice Scrapers. Unlike the first three, ice scrapers fall into a completely different category. Rather than put them in with seasonal items we must acknowledge that they are really in the ball point pen/comb/nail clippers/brush/scissors category. If you are wondering what all these things and ice scrapers could possible have in common, I'll fill you in. These are items that - no matter how many of them you may own or how many you may buy to have on hand - you will never ever be able to actually find one when you need it. 

Douglas Adams had an interesting theory on the subject - at least when it came to ball point pens (which he calls "biros", both dating himself and pegging himself as a Brit). He opined that there was a  planet composed entirely of ball point pens on vacation and that, whenever they felt like it, they simply slipped through an interdimensional corridor and sloped off to their alternate planetary home for a little R & R, reappearing when it would be the most convenient to them and the least convenient to you. I agree with this theory wholeheartedly. I just think Adams didn't take the theory far enough. It definitely includes at least all the items I mentioned above and it most definitely includes ice scrapers.

Which is why, every winter, it is entirely not my fault that I don't have any.

Which brings me to what I use instead. To date I have tried: 

Books (whatever is in the car trying to get back to the library - obviously hardcovers work better than paperbacks) 

Credit Cards (relatively effective as ice scrapers, no longer very effective as credit cards afterward) 

Spatulas (really ineffective - the plastic ones don't have enough of an edge and the metal ones scratch the windshield)
CD cases (very effective and my scraper of choice yesterday - I would however, recommend removing the CD first as snow gets inside the case) 

Tupperware Lids (reasonably effective unless they are circular) 

My Shoe (utterly useless - I was really desperate), and finally 

Repeatedly pushing the button that puts de-icing liquid on the windshield and trying to sort of melt it off through an anti-freeze windshield wiper combo while cranking up the defroster inside the car. This last takes forever because the car takes so long to heat up. It also pretty much shreds the wiper blades.

So, tomorrow I'm off to buy approximately 25 ice scrapers in hopes that one or two of them will be handy. I'm sure they will all have disappeared by Christmas.

Mother Goosed

John is part of an exciting book project titled "Mother Goosed - Twisted Rhymes For Modern Times. This is the first book to be published by the new non-profit Southport Publishing and launches this Saturday November 14th. You can find more details and all things "Mother Goosed" related at the official Mother Goosed Blog. Here also is a calendar of events for the launch of the book. And here is the interview John and his colleagues Chet Griffith and John Bloner did with the local NPR station this morning.

The above cover art is the work of Dianne Levesque.

What happened to the Striptoonist?

Does anyone know what happened to the Striptoonist? I was really enjoying this site - it was so nice to see someone posting their favorites rather than their "unfavorites". I hope it comes back - otherwise it perpetuates the "the internet is only about snark" argument.

Occasionally I Write Stuff

Comics news has been slow lately so I'm posting some of my "non comic strip" writing. I'm not sure if I'll ever illustrate this poem or push to publish it formally anytime soon, but I have taken the trouble to copyright it. 


It wasn't a terribly special sock.

It wasn't striped or brightly colored. 

It wasn't hand knit, nor was it made of fine or exotic materials.

Not alpaca wool, not silk, not carefully harvested sustainably produced bamboo fiber.

It wasn't a fashionable sock - inviting all to admire the sophistication of the ankle it adorned.

It wasn't a high tech sock - wicking away sweat and other nasty fluids in an effort to maintain a perfect and harmonious foot hygene.

No - it wasn't a terribly special sock.

But it was an important sock.

In fact the most important kind of sock.

The sock that is... missing.

That was all, it was missing.

But somehow the fact that it was missing was everything. 

The fact that it was missing was the tipping point.

She knew that, if she found it, all harmony would restore to the cosmos.

Her corner of it anyway.

Her children would become bright, shiny, and successful - winning Nobel prizes, changing the world. They would be the sort of organized capable people who did great things. And, most importantly, they would pass this organization gene on to the next generation of bright and shiny grandchildren.

And the glory would be hers.

Because she was the root.

The genesis of all the bright, shiny capableness that was to come.

She had taught them everything.


It was missing.

And if it remained missing - well, the result was chaos.

The children would drop out of school.

They would never earn more than minimum wage.

Hell, they might even end up in prison.

And then, worst of all, they would pass on that hopeless, helpless, unorganized, incapable genetic material until the end of time.

Because she was the mother.

And they always blame the mother.

Copyright © 2008 by Anne Morse-Hambrock, all rights reserved.

Can Facebook Bring Profitability to Comics on the Web?

Facebook has been gradually adding more and more services for which they charge a fee. The latest is a partnership with Lala and involves sending people songs for a 1o cent fee. It looks as though the micropayment idea is alive and well on Facebook - could this be the future of profitability of comics online? 

I have long advocated a micropayment system for online sharing of comics. I hope the syndicates are busy hammering out agreements of this sort and that revenue will stream back to their comic creators. I can tell you I would much rather send a friend a comic than fake flowers or some of the other things folks send over the internet :-)

Throw Away Panel 9/13-10/25

I meant to post these two days ago. Sunday's strip features a strongman tower similar to one which first appeared in the throw away panel from 9/13.  (Although the throw away for this week was just a simple mallet so I'm posting from the body of the strip instead.)

As you can see, it got a lot more elaborate as it became the focus of the later strip.

I Hate Halloween

I hate Halloween. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. But it's definitely not my favorite holiday. 

As a kid, it ranked right up there with my favorites. Probably only third behind Christmas and Easter. With those two, Halloween completed the trifecta of candy holidays. As in "You, the child, will receive copious amounts of sugary treats on these three days of the year. The other 362 it's back to unsweetened cereals and whole grain bread." (My mother was a health nut - never any sign of a Hostess Twinkie or any other Hostess product within 20 yards of our house. Maybe this is one reason Orville gets to eat so many of them.)

When did this change? When did my aversion to Halloween begin? I'll tell you. 


I can tell you exactly because that was the year our first child turned four and our second child turned one.

That was the year I met the other moms. 

The ones who sew

The ones who would never be caught dead buying their kid a Halloween costume. Who equated parental love with a willingness to make oneself nuts making a perfect homemade Trick or Treating outfit extraordinaire. 

Now I am creative and artistic and can paint and crochet and knit with the best of them. I can even sew. Sort of. Basically I sew rectangles. I can make pillows and tote bags and valances and can even sort of slipcover cushions (I didn't photograph the back of these - you would see how much of their perfect fit is owed to the glories of duct tape). But sewing things that actually have to fit on curves and around ankles - well, you can't duct tape the kid into the Halloween costume. I think they call DCFS on you.

Not only did this group of new friends make perfect costumes for their kids, they also made them for themselves. Every year for about ten years we were part of a group that had a big Halloween party where everyone had to wear a costume. And this brings me to the other reason I now hate Halloween. 

I hate dressing up in costumes of any kind. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I gave it a good shot the first year we went to the party - John and I made everyone bird costumes. (Though coloring bedsheets with spray paint - not a good idea. Massive toxic fumes. Fortunately only on our costumes - the kids were in non toxic yellow jammies or something). 

I think I even came up with something pretty good the following year. But then something snapped. Then the party became, for me, a sort of game where I would see how little I could do to dress up. 

Non-costumes I can recall: 

The Artist - I threw on a grubby "painter's" shirt and carried around a palette and paint brush.
The Farmer's Wife - the same jeans and shirt and shoes from the previous year - I ditched the painter's accessories and put my hair in braids.
The Poet - I dressed all in black,  put on dark, dark lipstick, and wrote up about 20 fortune cookie-esque poems to be handed out upon request.
The Princess - I put on one of my old Bridesmaid dresses.
The Harpist - really a cop out - I just wore what I usually wear to a gig. 

and my personal favorite:

The Failure of The Women's Movement - this costume also included my then five year old daughter. She went as a princess and I put my hair in a bun, found one of my mom's old June Cleaver type dresses from the 50's, and a double strand of fake pearls. I got this idea only days earlier when attending a Halloween/Birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. I kid you not - every girl at the party was a fairy or a princess and every boy was The Hulk or Spiderman. How far we've come :-)

John, on the other hand, excels at making costumes. Except for the year he went as a painting (when I was the painter - get it?) he usually puts a lot of time and talent into costuming.  I especially remember the year son number two wanted to be a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. John made this out of a bicycle helmet. It took days.

And here is the infamous R2D2 costume. You can read all about the genesis of this over on John's recent lab notes.

So, in closing, I'll wish you all a Happy Halloween. I'll happily buy $40 worth of candy and pass it out to the neighborhood children, and you too, if you stop by. 

Just don't ask me to dress up.


Perhaps I find this so funny because we own a little terrier like this and the strip is so true :-)

Also, this gives me an opportunity to give a little shout out to Patrick McDonnell in general as I consider him to be a genius at color. When I started doing the color for John I looked around the comics at how color comics generally look. I checked out "The Art of Patrick McDonnell" at the library (our paper does not carry Mutts, more's the pity) and I was thoroughly blown away, both  by his art work and his use of color. If I can contribute color to Edison that is even one tenth the quality of Mutts I can die happy :-)

Beer Day

Today must have been beer day. We didn't get the memo.

Killed Cartoon

Check out John's lab notes for a cartoon he was unable to run recently.

I know it may seem redundant to post here about posts there, but I do it because we just cannot get the comments to work on that part of the site. One of the reasons we added this other blog was so that readers could post comments - John does check this blog regularly so if one ever had any comments to pass along to him, here (or his site email) is the place to do it :-) 

Comics Kingdom (Again!)

"There's no such thing as a free lunch". 

That's a pretty old saying, and I'm not really sure where it originated, but it's still true. Pretty much nothing is free. It may be free for you but someone, somewhere is paying. You may not personally pay for every meal you eat, but someone else is - either your parents or your spouse or your employer or even your local charitable community if you're eating at a homeless shelter. If this is not true for you and you really are eating for free and not through the charity of someone else, I can only assume you are stealing food to eat.

The same is true of your entertainment. Unless you are deliberately stealing the movies and TV shows you watch, you have two choices: either pay for the content directly through a subscription service like cable (or even go straight to the movie theater) or else watch network or public television, both of which are subsidized - one by supporters and pledges, one by advertising. Even if you are watching things on Youtube or the internet, I challenge you to find much entertainment out there that doesn't come with advertising. 

So how does this tie in to Comics Kingdom? I'm getting to that. For years both cartoonists and the public have lamented the small number of comics in newspapers, not to mention complaints about size and legibility, which are ever shrinking in an effort to reduce costs. Many papers engage in comic polls to help them decide which comics to run as they try to please readers without spending too much money on the comics page. For years, folks have told their newspapers they not only don't want to drop any comics, they would actually like to have more comics in the paper. Whatever newspapers would like to believe about which section of their product is most important, comics still draw readers more than anything else. 

So here's your chance. If you still prefer to read your newspaper in print, go ahead and keep doing that. (I love the portability of my paper, as well as how easy it is to cut things out and save them - without using up  my own printer paper and ink) But if you are one of those people who now gets all their news online, please consider clicking one of the links below and checking out the papers who are carrying comics kingdom. And if you find that you really like being able to read every comic king features carries (while having the expense of producing the comic supported by advertising) while also being able to get to the host newspaper's other content as well, keep going there daily. And, if you like what you see but would rather read your own local paper online instead, contact your paper and ask them to sign up for comics kingdom. And if you really want to support the comics, be sure to click on some of the ads on that page. (Remember, it's not readership that's so down right now, it's ad revenue. Clicking on these ads will encourage future advertising on these sites - allowing you to continue to view content) Now is your opportunity to show papers how readers start their day reading comics and then turn to other sections of the newspaper.

One disclaimer: So far, the revenue for artists from comics kingdom is more mysterious than the revenue from dailyink. This means that the best way to support the comics you like directly is to continue to subscribe to dailyink. The fee is small, (I mean, come on, $15.00 for a whole year of as many of King's comics as you like!) the feature is convenient - delivered to your emailbox every morning, and revenue is directly shared between the distributor (King) and the creator.

So here are links for all the comics kingdom papers of which I am currently aware. If you know of others, pass them along and I'll add them to the list, as I intend to update this post regularly. In the spirit of brazen self promotion, these links will take you directly to Edison first - after you arrive you can browse to your heart's content. And please take a minute to vote for your favorites using the stars in the lower right hand corner. You do not need to be a registered comics kingdom user to do this. 

The Oregonian (Portland)
Times Picayune (New Orleans)
News Leader (Springfield MO)
Birmingham News (Alabama)
Spokesman Review (Spokane WA)
Post Standard (Syracuse NY)
Patriot News (Pennsylvania)
Journal News (Hamilton OH)
Western Star (Lebanon OH)
Oxford Press (Oxford OH)
The Republican (Massachusetts) 
Longmont Call (Colorado)
The Monitor (McAllen TX)

One more quick note - some of these sites seem to work better with firefox than they do with safari. If you experience problems accessing the site, it may be your browser. I'm sure either King Features, or the paper in question, or both, would be interested to hear about any difficulties accessing their content.


So many good ones today, but these two got my biggest laughs.


I absolutely HATE it when this happens! Can you see it? Can you? Bet it takes you all of a nanosecond. And yet I didn't see it until reading the strip on dailyink today. In the words of Homer "Doh!"

Gill is Back!

He's baaaack! One of John's and my favorites strips is Gill by Norm Feuti. The character has been on hiatus over the summer but is now back and part of a new, updated website for all Norm's projects. You can find all things Norm here.

Smaller Than a Dime

I came across this post by Tom Richmond the other day. In it he shows a portion of an illustration he colored. He spent over 20 minutes on it, later to realize the final image would be smaller than a dime. This came to represent a waste of time on his part and he has since changed the level of detail in his coloring. I absolutely understand his reasoning and accept his decision, especially as Tom frequently works on large, very intricate illustrations. 

Only, here's the thing....

Pretty much everything I color turns out smaller than a dime :-)

I easily spent 20 minutes coloring all this food (some of you may remember it from an earlier post). And, if the dime in these photos doesn't give you a proper sense of scale, to the right of Orville in the second picture is the head of one of the kids from family circus. 

After reading Tom's post, I gave some thought to my coloring process - should I really be scaling back on detail? I decided no. I made this decision based on the fact that, unlike a lot of illustration work that will be primarily viewed in print, what I do is seen every day mostly by people on the internet. Very few of John's print papers actually carry the dailies in color. Not only are the images larger on dailyink and comics kingdom, they have zoom features on those services. It is true that the images have their resolution seriously reduced to save on bandwidth, but I'm going to stick with the detail for now.

Copying the Striptoonist

I'm taking a page out of the book of the Striptoonist today. This made me literally laugh out loud this morning. (And do a spit take all over my keyboard)

Stay Tooned

Just a reminder that the latest Stay Tooned Magazine is out. We got ours the day before yesterday and is it ever jam packed with great stuff. Get your copy today before they're all gone!

Summer Road Trip Part 2 - Toronto And The Demise Of A Laptop

So once I left Sandra I headed to Toronto. My plan was to spend the night and do some sightseeing in the downtown area. I had heard so much about the terrific art community there and was looking forward to exploring it. I also had hopes of going to the ROM - Royal Ontario Museum. Particularly lucky for me, I was going to be there on a Wednesday when admission is free :-) After downtown Toronto, I had planned to visit a store in Unionville where they sell Spanx. Let me stop right now and say that, if you are a woman who ever needs to feel "un-fat" or wears nice clothes for a living and is sick of the 3-4 rolls and lines that appear up and down your back in a nice dress, you need to discover Spanx. This is a company that has truly changed my life. However, the down side to Spanx is that there are very few places where you can go in and try them on and they are expensive enough that you really don't want to find out after the fact (and $) that you got the wrong size or that the item you thought would work great under that outfit actually doesn't. So this was also going to be a highlight of my day.

Well, there is a saying, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans".

I got to the hotel all right and the room was lovely and there was free wi-fi and I was happy.

The next morning, while downloading my Niagara Falls pics onto John's laptop, it froze. I tried to force quit everything and it refused. Then it started clicking. Then the screen went all blue. Then it started BEEPING. Like something out of Dr. Strangelove. Click, whirrrr, BEEP. Click, whirrrr, BEEP. Click, whirrrr, BEEP. Click, whirrrr, BEEP. 

Context: THIS IS THE COMPUTER JOHN WRITES ALL HIS STRIPS ON. He has NEVER let me borrow it before. Is everything backed up at home? I HAVE NO IDEA. I thought I was going to faint.

I thought to myself "a city the size of Toronto must have an Apple Store" so I got out the GPS unit and did a search. Thank goodness I had that unit. It not only told me there was an Apple store but gave me directions to it. (Its estimation of my driving time was a wee bit off - it seems to be unfamiliar with the gridlock traffic of Toronto) Well - no sightseeing in Toronto for me. No Museum. It was off to the Apple store. While en route I did get to see Toronto's Chinatown and Little Italy. 

An hour later I get to the Apple store only to see the place is packed and the big screen where they announce appointments to see a "genius" has the next available appointment listed as 6:00 p.m. (It is currently 10:00 a.m.) NOT GOOD. I must have looked like hell because pretty soon a nice manager lady approached me and said "Are you OK?" "Actually, no", I answered. I then proceeded to incoherently describe my series of noises and problems and tried not to fall apart. I must not have done that very well because she next asked if I need a hug. Here's how bad off I was - I said yes.

She says that, even though the "geniuses" are all booked up, she'll see what she can do and we take the laptop out of its triple padded carrying case. "Oh," she says, "this one's pretty old. I'm not sure how much we'll be able to help." 


My Sunbeam mixer - that still runs perfectly great - is approximately 70 years old and this 4 YEAR OLD  computer is too old. Again, I thought I was going to faint.

"He has Applecare" I offer hopefully.  30 minutes later I will find out that the Applecare expired in July of 2008.

She sees what a mess I am, tries to calm me down and takes it into the back. When she returns I find out that a "genius" best guess is that the hard drive needs to be replaced.

"Does your husband have everything backed up?"

"I don't know, can data be retrieved off of the old hard drive?"

"Yes, but it's expensive."

"How much?"

"Well - at least a thousand dollars."


"How much to replace the hard drive?"

"Probably about $350."

Gulp again.

"And I'm afraid that, because the unit is so old, we don't have the part in stock and would have to order it. How long are you in Toronto?"



Well, I tell her that I have a reservation for that night in Kingston and she contacts a tech in Kingston to see if he can fix it while I'm there. He can do the work but doesn't have a replacement hard drive. I tell her I'll be in Syracuse NY the following day and she contacts the Apple Store there to see if they can help. While they also don't have the part, they can order it. Unfortunately, it cannot arrive before I will be in Olean the day after Syracuse. I am unwilling to abandon my plans to visit Margaret Friday (see previous post) so, at this point we decide to give up and I'll just take the best care of it that I can until I get back to my home turf where we can deal with things better. Even though she wound up not being able to help me, I cannot say enough in praise of this woman - she really tried everything she could think of to fix the situation. I wish I had thought to ask her name.

So scratch happy day in the Toronto area. I DID make it to that Spanx store and I did get to try things on which turned out to extremely helpful in narrowing down the bits of their product line that work best for me. I also left with two beautiful pashmeena shawls and a cool scarf, which rescued the day a little bit. Also, while walking around Unionville, I happened upon this sign. 

I was in a hurry to get to Kingston so I didn't go in - now I'm dying to know what a "cake gallery" actually is :-)

So most of the day was awful because I knew I was going to have to tell John everything at some point. I decided to wait until after I checked into the bed and breakfast in Kingston and got myself settled. Waiting turned out to be a good idea because the B & B was WONDERFUL. If you have any reason to go to Kingston Ontario you should stay at Arabella on the Lake

When I arrived, the host was not there but had put an envelope on the door with a letter and my key. She said there was lemon cake on the sideboard and I could put on a pot of tea if I liked and to make myself at home and use the fireplace or the hot tub if I wished. There was a beautiful deck with hot tub right on the shore of Lake Ontario, a fireplace in both the living room and my guest room, a small fridge with bottled water in the room, comfy plush bathrobes. I was in heaven. Not only that, the place is small enough - only two other rooms - and the other guests were all out to dinner, so I had the whole establishment to myself, which was exactly what I needed on the heels of the day. I settled myself in tried to shake off the worst of my anxiety (lemon cake, tea, and hot tubs help a lot in this area) and braced myself for the call to John. 

As it turned out, I really should have called him earlier and saved myself some stress because he was absolutely wonderful about the computer, said he was pretty sure anything that wasn't backed up was unimportant, and felt terrible that I had been so stressed about it. He truly is a wonderful man and a great husband. My biggest fear was that I had lost several scripts for upcoming strips (he had pulled these off before I left) or that there were all his big graphic design jobs on it. That was really my biggest fear because once these jobs are complete, they represent hours and hours of production work and are next to impossible to recreate. Fortunately, when John upgraded his graphics computer last year, he stopped putting these accounts on the laptop. Talk about relief. 

So the bad news is that I did not enjoy Toronto. The good news is that it will give me an excuse to go back, and take John with, and truly explore what I am sure is an awesome city. At least I already know my way around and know a good hotel! 

And I will definitely be returning to Arabella on the Lake - here are some pics.

My room. Fireplace #1 is on the right hand wall and the deck is through the patio window/door.

The front entryway.

The kitchen.

The kitchen another view.

The living room with fireplace #2.

Part of the back deck. The deck from my room and the hot tub are out of frame.

I did take advantage of these chairs as the sunset progressed. And not too may bugs either :-)

The water was actually not too cold. This was the perfect amount of beach for wading a little.

I tend to fall out of hammocks so I did not give this one a try :-)

I was in the "sunset room" which has a personal deck and window to this wonderful view.

Thanks for everything, Donna - I'll be back!

Meeting With Cartoonists Part 3

 Margaret Shulock (Six Chix, Sticks, Snuffy Smith, Apartment 3-G)

After a couple of days tooling around the Lake Ontario, I made my way down to the Allegheny Mountains to visit Margaret Shulock. As you can see from the above list, Margaret is one busy lady! Along with her own strip, Sticks and being the Tuesday Chick for Six Chix, Margaret also writes for Snuffy Smith and Apartment 3 G. You can see a blog post she did about writing for continuity strips here. I really don't know how she does it - it's challenging enough producing your own strip but writing a strip like 3-G where you have its long standing character arcs etc. already in place is a whole other animal. I had never met Margaret in person but felt I knew her a little through our blogs and some emails and such so I took a shot and asked if she'd be up for a visit. I'm so glad I asked because we had a great time. I stayed there literally all day :-) and never felt as though she was itching to be rid of me. That either means it went well or I am socially clueless :-) I should mention that Margaret's friend Peg also dropped in for a time and we got to visit as well. Peg is a weaver and jewelry maker and you can find her blog and her beautiful work here and here. Peg and I discovered a mutual affection for scarves - I knit and crochet mine, she weaves hers. I also occasionally make jewelry but I have to say nothing as nice as Peg's.

I had such a nice time at Margaret's that I, again, forgot to take any pictures. Therefore, Stephanie Piro (another extremely talented member of Six Chix) has given me permission to "borrow" some of the pics she took when she visited Margaret a couple of weeks earlier.

If you follow Margaret's blog, you know all about this black mailbox.

Margaret with her dog Gaby and fellow Six Chix cartoonist Stephanie Piro in front of all the wood MARGARET HAS CHOPPED HERSELF. 

Thank you again Margaret - I had a lovely time and I'm going to think of you especially every time I put a log on our fire.

BTW, John wants to know where you got your fabulous axe - his is on its last legs.

Meeting With Cartoonists Part 2

Meeting Cartoonists Part 2 - Sandra Bell Lundy (Between Friends)

14 hours after arriving home from Minneapolis, I piled the two younger kids into the car (just enough time to do laundry and repack for leg 2) and headed out to Buffalo New York. My sister graciously invited my kids to spend a few days at her place in CT, giving me an excuse to drive around and explore the Lake Ontario region.  So my sister and her husband and I took the kids to Niagara Falls after which I got to cross into Canada and meet with Sandra for lunch. Can you still call it lunch if you stay until almost supper time? Because that's what we did :-) We met at the historic Angel Inn at Niagara on the Lake - I heartily recommend you go there if you've never been. They have great food, terrific ambience and history, (a ghost also I think, if you spend the night there) and waitresses with the patience of saints as you sit in their station for hours. I think we talked about everything and I had such a great time. I cannot thank Sandra enough for taking so much of her valuable time to play hooky with me :-) After we were done, Sandra helped set me on my way to Toronto where I was spending the night (more on Toronto in a later post). Unfortunately, I did not think to take a single picture :-(     so these pics of Niagara falls will have to suffice. 

Summer Road Trip Part 1 - Meeting Cartoonists

Meeting Cartoonists part 1: Party at Tom Richmond's House. 

Pictured left to right: The Lovely Anna, Tom Richmond, Cedric Hohnstadt, Me and John, Jerry Van Amerongen and Linda Houden, Nicole and Kelly McNutt, Mike Edholm, Roxanne Prichard and Jim Horwitz.

My 3000 + mile summer road trip began when John and I and the kids went up to Minneapolis to take son #1 to orientation at the University of Minnesota, where he shall spend the next four (hopefully only 4 - we can't afford 7) years becoming an engineer/productive member of society/taxpayer. That's if there are any jobs in four years. Let's all cross our fingers, shall we?

Anyway, we were so very, very lucky to be able to co-ordinate with Tom Richmond (Mad Magazine and NCS 2nd Vice President) and his lovely wife Anna at a cook out the same weekend at their home. Making it also an informal meeting of the NCS North Central Chapter meant that we got to meet and hang out with many  folks from the cartooning business and their families. 

It was  a wonderful party with great company, great drinks (Tom's famous Mojitos) and even greater food (All prepared by expert cook and supreme hostess Anna) and we had a terrific time. It is always fun to meet in person folks whose work you have admired and also some you have only encountered through places like the Daily Cartoonist. Also I find that conversations among cartoonists are never boring. In fact, there are so many razor sharp wits around, laughter is almost continuous. So thank you again to Tom and Anna for opening their home and yard and thank you also to all those who took time out of their busy lives (and some who drove considerable distance) to attend - we had a truly great time! (More pictures etc. can also be found here and here.)

Tom Richmond and our #2 son.

Kelly McNutt and his wife Nicole.

Tom and Jerry :-)     (Jerry Van Amerongen)

Back to Blogging

Well, I'm back to blogging I hope. I have Jury duty this week so it might still be sporadic. I was excused for the day so that means I will probably do several posts today in my copious free time. I spent much of the last 4 weeks traveling and then settling kids into new routines - some of which I will be writing about but in several installments as there was so much. Coming up: Summer Road Trip part 1 - Meeting Cartoonists.

Who is the Striptoonist?

Who is this "Striptoonist"? I have no idea but I am thrilled to see a blog that gives kudos to strips rather than snark. I really hope this site catches on - keep up the good work, whoever you are. And thanks to Piers Baker's blog for alerting me to the existence of the Striptoonist in the first place.

Stay Tooned

We have a new button, over in the right hand column, for the wonderful magazine "Stay Tooned". Brainchild of John Read, this is a fabulous magazine for anyone interested in comics or the comics business - if you have a loved one in the cartooning business, get them a subscription - you can never start looking too early for great Christmas gifts :-)

The current issue - number 4 - has a special focus on Mad Magazine and legendary artists Jack Davis, Sergio Aragones, Paul Coker, Duck Edwing, Tom Richmond. Ted Rall, Scott Nickel and John Kovaleski. This issue also features the first installment of John's "Journey to Syndication" story (originally published in John's Lab Notes). John feels incredibly honored to be sharing paper with such giants in the industry.

The first three issues are sold out and can only be purchased as part of a full subscription set for new subscribers so you better grab issue 4 (just available as of September) before they're all gone.