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. 

Wild Wild West

Well I'm back from my two week road trip. I'll be blogging about it later but right now it's deadline time and I am madly coloring strips to send out. I'm taking a tiny break however because, as I color, I usually have the TV on - most frequently to METV which broadcasts old TV shows almost exclusively - and I had to acknowledge the debt we owe the station when it comes to material. Fans of the strip know that today wraps up a two week storyline revolving around the 1960's show Wild Wild West which starred Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. As it happens I am currently watching (or rather, listening to) "The Night Of The Juggernaut". With all the old shows currently available on METV and Netflix, don't be surprised if other shows turn up in Edison's Holographic adventures in the future :-)

It also turns out there is a great WWW fan site here. Enjoy!

Back to Work!