Archive for January, 2006

Bailing the GOP… Again

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 23, 2006

This week’s comic is about our representative from Grand Rapids, Vern Ehlers, being brought to the forefront to sort out this lobbying scandal business. Rep. Ehlers is very much in the mold of one of his predecessors, Gerald Ford. That is, he’s a righteous fellow who prefers to work behind-the-scenes but will loyally, if reluctantly, do what his party asks him to. In this case, as with Nixon and Watergate, the power-hungry GOP stinkers need their good brother to post bail.


Scandal? Is That Like a Dice Game or Something?

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 16, 2006

This week’s comic relates to a whole bunch of Washington crappola with a dash of West Michigan hypocrisy. I don’t know how much you’ve been able to follow along with the Jack Abramoff/lobbyist scandal, but it summarizes as this: the amount of swindling is almost too dense to comprehend; to save our mental health most of us have avoided the details and simply comforted ourselves with the thought that Mr. Abramoff is going straight to Hell and taking a goodly amount of congress with him (not that Tom Delay wasn’t already heading that way).

Right. Well part of all this is an Indian casino gambling connection and an ongoing effort by a local tribe to build a new casino here in West Michigan. I personally don’t want it because it’s stupid. (You’d expect a more reasoned logic from me, wouldn’t you?) Others in West Michigan don’t want it here because of its sinfulness. But then many have no problem with going to Detroit to gamble there. See? Too much to think about.


Bleke & Rinck in Shecky Auchter’s Comic

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 9, 2006

The fact is that there are only so many jokes in the world. And when I say “the fact is” I mean, “I don’t really know if this is true, but it sounds more authoritative when I say it that way.”

I’m guessing musicians run into a similar dilemma — there are only so many notes, a seemingly limited number of variations of pleasing combinations; how can one expect to come up with something completely new? It’s intimidating. And so it is at times with cartoonists and a blank sheet of paper. How am I possibly going to come up with something new?

Well for this week’s comic I was in this very spot. Coming off a lovely and relaxing holiday break, my mind was at ease, I wasn’t particularly uptight about anything, and I actively considered taking up the practice of afternoon napping. (Soon thereafter, the boot hard drive on my work computer crapped out and I quickly returned to uptight, angry, and sleepless.)

But in my happy state, no new ideas were coming and recognizing the futility of forcing it, I defaulted to the trick of using an old joke a new way. And it’s pretty appropriate anyway because the subject itself is something of an old joke: a big city public school system, facing declining enrollment and state funding, must make some tough decisions to stay afloat and relevant. Invariably, strong personalities clash over how exactly to go about this.

So there it is. Not the best comic I’ve ever done, but a reasonable effort. What more can I say? Take my comic … please!


Parasitic Invaders of the Great Lakes

Originally re-published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 2, 2006

The things I put myself through for you people! I tell ya…. When I go to draw a comic, I often have to collect pictures of what I’m going to draw. If it’s something I’m familiar with (cereal boxes, Farrah Fawcett posters, gangly-middle-aged-bald white guys), I can draw it right out of my head. But for less familiar items, I like to have reference pictures.

So for this week’s comic I had all sorts of photos of nature’s physical depiction of vile, our friend the sea lamprey, taped all around my drawing board. Sea lampreys are parasitic eel-like things brought to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels. They’ve adapted themselves to Michigan lakes and now delight in attaching themselves to game fish, such as trout, and sucking the life out of them. They are black and slimy and have sort of an open wound for a mouth that latches on to flesh and gives death hickys. BLECH!!!

I was okay when I was drawing them; I go into a kind of a zone and see only lines and how I want my drawing to turn out. (I imagine that’s how doctors get through having to examine really disgusting things. I’ll ask next time one them has to look at my feet.) But after walking away from my drawing table and returning, my eyes would fall upon these poor emaciated fish with leechy tubes hanging off of them and my stomach would lurch.

But I don’t want to be too much of a martyr here. Truth is, I have sometimes avoided ideas for comics that I know would send me on searches for repellent creatures that I’d be happy never to view. You haven’t seen a Michael Jackson comic from me lately, have you?

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Office Fun During Holiday Week

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 26, 2005


What Dads Want for Christmas

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, December 2005