Tag Archives: old art

Growing the Gallery

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My bedroom walls serve as a gallery of my Paffooney artwork.

I have been collecting pieces of colored-pencil Paffoonery for a very long time now.  I am a life-long scribbler and doodler.  You are bound to build up an ocean of old drawings that you could easily drown in if you live that way long enough.  I recently found a few more in an old scrapbook I had squirreled away in the library between cartoon books.

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These are all drawings I did for my three kids when they were little.  I suppose that gives them sentimental value.  They are all imitations of copyrighted characters.  But I am not selling them.  I haven’t actually stolen anybody’s intellectual property yet.  But it makes a good filler post as I continue to rest and work on other things.

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Filed under artwork, blog posting, humor, nostalgia, old art, Paffooney

Where Does Creativity Come From?

Ima mickey

Okay, I hooked you in with a title that sounds like I actually know something and somehow have some expertise to share beyond the usual brain-drippings of a noodling writer-type idiot.  Unfortunately I don’t.  I am a practicing creative person.  But do I know how it works? I do not.

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I suspect that it has something to do with my actual life experiences.  I am not God.  When I get a creative idea, it is made from known things.   I don’t snap my fingers and make a snerflkuppie, the first one that ever existed, and give it actual substance and reality.  Okay, metaphorically I did just make the first snerflkuppie… It is about three feet tall, has glossy purple fur and three legs.  Four puppy-like eyes, a wide mouth, and no nose… I dare you not to try and picture it in your mind’s eye.  But there isn’t one skipping about in this universe.  I can only take known things and recombine them in unique and surprising ways.  My novels are about kids doing kid stuff… you know, like time travel, being kidnapped by aliens, uncovering werewolf plots, and making magical cookie people.  Stuff that really happened.  And I am a former teacher, so I have experience knowing real kids.

Urkel

If you think kids you see depicted on television and in the movies are realistic, you have never played a video game with a real kid.  You have never had them tell you what they are really afraid of.  You have never come to the conclusion that they actually know a whole lot more about sex than you do.  And kids are not afraid to try something new for the first time (unless, of course, the thing they are going to try is what their parents want them to try for the first time).  You take liquid one and mix it with powder two, watch it fizz, and then drink it.  You don’t know if it will taste good, turn you into a muscle-bound Mr. Hyde-type monster, or blow you up like a firecracker.  But you made it yourself and you are going to try.  We generally think of kids as being creative and undisciplined.  We expect time and experience to take the unruliness, as well as the creativity, out of them.  It is the thing we refer to as, “growing up”.  But I think being creative is, to some degree, remaining a child.  I am a child because I continue to hold play-time in high regard, and do it as often as I can.  Writing words on paper, or on my laptop, is playing to me.  Drawing pictures with pen and ink and colored pencils is also playing to me.  Fortunately mixing chemicals from the cupboard like a mad scientist and testing them on my sister is no longer playing to me.  (And that, Nancy, is just a joke… I never actually did that… I think… I hope…)

The Car Chase of Life

The metaphorical car chase of life… with an old dog behind the wheel.

So, there you have it.  The ultimate answer.  Where does creativity come from?  I do not know.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, humor, insight, metaphor, strange and wonderful ideas about life, writing humor

Fairy Tales and Dragons (with pointillism)

Going through my old drawing portfolio, I found my children’s book project from my undergrad college years.  I have no idea now looking at the illustrations what the story was even about.  I lost the actual story, and I never made a cover for it.  But here is a look at old hopes and dreams and a way of seeing the world that begins; Once Upon a Time…

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I have no earthly idea what the heck this story is even about, but I do like the pen and ink work, and probably couldn’t repeat it if I had to.

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Filed under artwork, cartoony Paffooney, fairies, goofiness, humor, Uncategorized

Beloved Books

While visiting home in Iowa, I re-connected with an old family friend.  It was in the farmhouse upstairs bedroom where I was being quartered as a visitor.  It was an it, not a him… a book, not a man.  It was a very old book, published in 1938.

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Yes, the Ittle Red H is a child’s picture-book.  Of course the first time I saw it, it was titled The Little Red Hen .  It was in much better shape then.  I was a beginning reader back then.  My mother and my two uncles were the first beginning readers who began reading this book.  It was in very good shape after it passed on to my generation at grandpa and grandma’s house.  Does that mean it was my fault that it got all child-chewed and doggedy-eared?  There was, after all, my cousins’ kids, and my cousins’ grandkids in between there looking at the book and possibly eating it too.

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Members of my family learned valuable lessons from this old book.  We learned that you can tape pages back together as long as you retrieve the page-parts from the child’s mouth before they actually get swallowed and digested.  We also learned that a Red Hen can still bake bread even though the top of her head has been removed.

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Alternating pages were printed in black and white and pink ink.  I can remember studying these pages for a long time and wondering why sometimes the duck and the goose were pink, and other times yellow, and other times black and white.  I think that may have taught me that color doesn’t matter… it’s the character of the character that can be recognized in spite of pink ink.  A very profound realization I do believe.

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I also learned that ducks and geese are richer than chickens, as determined by the fine clothing and the fact that their noses are held high in the air.  Monocles in duck’s eyes mean that ducks are supposed to be smarter than chickens too.  Apparently if you are smart and rich, you don’t do any of the actual work, yet expect that you are going to get to eat the bread anyway when it it is baked.

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You can tell by the many tools and the grouchy face on the Red Hen that she is a chicken and expected to do all the work, even though she has kids to support and is the same pink color as the duck and goose sometimes appear.

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When the Red Hen is in full color, she’s kinda brown in color.  That is certainly telling too.

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I love the comical comics in the illustrations of this book.  I traced them and copied them many times in my misspent youth.

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Perhaps I have blathered on a bit too much.  Maybe I should just shut up and show you the rest of this precious old book.

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As I go back and edit and re-read, I am just guessing, but it may be easily apparent that I was watching the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup while writing this loopy post.  But it is, after all, mainly about using my meager photography skills to preserve this beloved old book.

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Filed under humor, old books, photo paffoonies

Notes from the 70’s; the Master Plan

I have wanted to be a writer and cartoonist from childhood onward.  I didn’t really begin in earnest until the last few years of my teaching career with retirement looming directly ahead.  Now I have made the leap off the cliff.  I retired a year ago.  I did everything short of bankruptcy to put my accounts in order, and transformed myself into a starving artist.  I have a full retirement from Texas, subject to a grandfather clause (no relation to the Santa Clause) that allows me to receive enough money to live on for the rest of my life (thanks to the trick of being a teacher back before George W. Bush and Rick Perry came along to pillage Texas education and reduce what they pay those lazy, lousy teachers for their lifetimes of service).  Of course, I must try to limit my expenditures as much as possible, because… well, it is a teacher’s pension.

Norwall

But my plan from the 70’s, begun in high school and carried out through college and my teaching career has allowed me to stay on track to create something massive and complex.  My story ideas have been collected over time and are all based on a very simple rule… “Everything is connected.”  Every story I now labor to put into prose mentions other stories and has story fishhooks in it to catch readers and pull them into something else.  Most of my work is set in farm-town Iowa in the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s.  I made them all a part of the 20th Century on purpose because the personalities the characters are all based on were a part of my life then.  Certain elements run through all the stories.  Let me explain a few.

1.  Some characters appear in many stories (sometimes as a main character, and more often as a supporting character.  The French boy who sings karaoke beautifully and makes his cousin’s bar business a success by entertaining people there appears in two stories that happen at about the same time.  Both of those stories are still waiting to be written.  Tim Kellogg appears in my stories from the time he is but a twinkle in his parents’ eyes until he becomes the leader of the infamous boys’ gang of liars called the Norwall Pirates.

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giant bat2.  Most of the stories are centered around members of the Norwall Pirates.  They are a group of small town boys dedicated to adventure, telling lies, and seeing girls naked.  Much of the magic, science fiction, fantasy elements, and just plain hallucinations in my stories are the fault of boys who tell stories and lies so well that sometimes they believe them themselves.

3.  Character arcs that begin in one book will often continue in another.  Sometimes I go back in time and explain something that happened much earlier.  The Pirate’s club first appears in my novel Catch a Falling Star set in 1990.  The origin of the club is told about in Superchicken, a novel I have blogged about, but not yet published.  That story happens in 1974.  Valerie Clarke is introduced in the novel PDMI Publishing LLC is currently working on, Snow Babies,  which takes place in Winter of 1984.  She is the leader of the Pirates in the finished, but not yet submitted novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  That story spans 1988 to 1991.

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4. Much of my nuttiness was originally created in the 1970’s.  Even though the stories were given a setting much later, all the illustrated Paffoonies I have dropped into this post were drawn in 1977 and 1978.  I keep these cartoon character model sheets in one of my magical tomes, the Norwall Book, a loose-leaf binder full of drawings and junk carefully preserved in plastic page-protector sheets.

So, this is all the proof that my leap off that cliff into retirement will either make a very big splash or hit the rocks very hard.  It will be very something.  And I hope to live to see it… especially to get all of the stories I can possibly finish written and published… with a ghost of a hope that my own drawings, cartoons, and illustrations will count for something.  So, now my plan is revealed.  Let the enemies plan their counter-moves, and may the devil not move the water at the bottom of the cliff.

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Filed under humor, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Buried Treasure

Spring cleaning is how I have spent at least a portion of my lonely invalid’s Spring Break.  I get to walk the dog and clean the house while my family is enjoying the somewhat chilly beaches of Florida’s panhandle.  Well, it isn’t all misery.  As I was cleaning in the library upstairs, I came across a set of drawings from the 1980’s that I had been looking everywhere for.  You have no idea what kind of treasure exists under stuff until you start putting stuff in other places.  I picked stuff up, and low and behold… treasure.  How long since I last moved that stuff?   I have no idea.  Stuff moves around in the library constantly.  Some of the books fly off the shelves in the middle of the night, I swear it.  But this stuff wasn’t books, so it was becoming a permanent accretion of stuff.  Not yet icky stuff, but it was painter stuff, brushes and oil paints and mixing bowls and acrylic paints and linseed oil and all kinds of stuff that can become very icky in an upstairs room in Texas with no air conditioning.

So, let me give you a look at what I found before I start trying to turn it into writer’s stuff and Paffooney posts.

Bobby

This first picture is called Bobby, because Bobby Zeffer sat for the portrait of the boy.  (You are aware that I don’t use people’s real names in my work.  So, Bobby, if you read this post and see this picture, you will have to remember that it is really you.)  (No chance of that, though.  Bobby is not illiterate, but I know he hates to read.)  I could also call it Horatio T. Dogg, because that is the name of the talking dog detective who smokes a pipe and wears a hat and was the main character of a mystery novel that became too silly to finish.  It turned out to be one of those stories where I reached the point of having a Tyrannosaurus leap out of a wormhole and eat all the main characters.  I gave up on that story rather abruptly.

Long John Silver

The second picture is rather obviously Robert Newton playing the part of Long John Silver in the Disney version of Treasure Island.  I was still in my twenties when I drew this.  I was inspired to try my hand at further portraiture because the picture of Bobby turned out to actually look like him.

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The third picture is the reason I was desperate to find these old drawings.  It is one of my prescient pictures.  I drew it in the 1980’s from an image that haunted my dreams as a young teacher.  I later realized how remarkable it was while I was teaching in Cotulla in about 2000.  The girl was in my seventh grade fifth period English class.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to dig this picture out and stare at her face.  Almost twenty years before, six or seven years before she was even born, I drew this girl, and it looks exactly like her.  I became even more mystified by this portrait when the boy walked into my classroom last year.  He was from Africa.  Eritrea to be precise.  He was a wonderful, soft-spoken, highly-intelligent boy with a deep Christian faith in God.  I almost went crazy searching for this picture so I could compare what I had drawn to the real boy.  It turns out he has a bit less hair in real life and a small scar above his left eye.  How did I not see that in my dream?

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The last picture was designed as a cover for my graphic novel Hidden Kingdom.  I have recently revisited that project and I am thinking now more strongly than ever of trying to finish it.  I can do a lot of drawing with my arthritic hands as long as I only do a little bit at a time.  And this whole drawing thing, this raging addiction, has finally become fun again now that I am retired and have the time to do stuff.  Not icky stuff… Treasure!

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Filed under humor, old art, Paffooney

Today’s Purely Pencil Paffooney

Life on Mars

This pencil drawing was done in 1980, before I wrote my first science fiction novel.  In fact, I had only written one and a quarter novels before this, both things hopelessly horrible, flawed, and discard-able.  So, I hope you gain a goofy insight or two into the kind of nonsense young Mickey had in his head when he was still in college, and only a student teacher.

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