Stand Up And Draw. (Part Four)

She is @#$%ing tired of scientists continuing to clone Hitler.

Pretty much, so am I.

I figured that I wanted to make clear my stance on nazis of any flavor, “neo” or otherwise. That stance being “they are unacceptable,” which our president seemed pretty unable to say. It continues to be prevalent in the news cycle, this seeming resurgence of racist organizations in the United States, and I haven’t quite worked how troubling it is out of my system.

Neither has Cap, for that matter.

I’m trying to decide whether I’m going to wind down this “plot” or not…in this case, it was artistically interesting to do the composition, so I went with that. The Hitler clone’s position as he is Super Smacked toward the reader, out of the frame, was a real challenge. Generally, drawing in that kind of forced perspective is hard, and worth the practice. In addition, Cap’s position, post smack, with the feeling of motion and shield position was also a big challenge. It seemed worth the effort.

I led with the black and white pencils, because I liked them a whole lot, but I was futzing around with digital color fills, and so forth. I like the way that came out, so I’m adding it as a “B” image. Generally, I tend to share my experiments, and the summer was all about sort of a “retro” page feel, which worked nicely. That “retro” feel grew from this kind of experimentation.

The subtle color zones, in muted patriotic colors make an interesting counterpoint to the bombastic composition.

Tomorrow, though, we will take a look at how the school district deals with a three hour eclipse, and time spent during an average school day in this semester. Amazingly, even being back at school, the strip hasn’t yet hauled itself back on point. Possibly because Cap is amazed that she left Earth for a summer, and came back to find it littered with nazis, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I feel the same way, Cap.

Stand Up And Draw. (Part Three)

Sometimes, this is just what superheroes do.

This took a bit of time to draw, but will be a relatively short post. The whole dialogue on how unacceptable white supremacists and neo-nazi groups are in the United States continues, and there isn’t that much to add to that dialogue. There’s a right side, and a Wrong Side, and they are easy enough for a thinking person to see.

A couple of things though. Let’s all lay off of Nick Spencer, the writer of Captain America right now. It’s just plain not his fault that many of the offensive, racist people at the tragic Charlottesville events chose to wear Captain America inspired outfits. I don’t like the “Secret Empire” plot either, but quite frankly, I doubt that those guys read the book. I actually doubt that a whole lot of reading at all happens with white supremacists, but then, who can say? They are certainly not in my social millieu.

My point…Nick Spencer is a comic book writer. Whether we like his story, or we don’t…it’s what Marvel printed. If people with views that we don’t like took it as permission to wear Captain America’s colors, that’s on them, not the writer. that’s all Mr. Nick Spencer is, a comic book writer, people. The comics community might want to lay off just a little bit.

Artistically, the panel above was rough. It’s hard to figure out how to draw a superhero smacking a bunch of nazis with a nazi. I’m pretty happy with the composition overall, but still have some beefs to work out on that front…expect more smackdown of white supremacists. Eagle eyed readers will note that I didn’t fill in the armband symbols fully…I just couldn’t see through to drawing the hateful, racist symbols.

Maybe as I continue to work through my anger over this, I’ll get there. We will see.

Stand Up and Draw. (Part Two)

She has a very good point.

I have to give credit for the basic composition that I homaged here to the dear, departed Steve Dillon, artist of Preacher, Judge Dredd, and the Punisher, among other projects. The panel referenced above was in Volume Seven of Preacher, named “Salvation.” In it, the Klan chapter of a small town is pretty much set on its @#$ by the protagonist of that series, Jesse Custer, who will not tolerate the sort of ugly racism that the group supports.

Having looked at the news this week with disgust, and feeling like I wanted to produce things viable for #comicshatenazis, this composition very much rose to the top. Ennis (who wrote the dialogue) made the best possible point: the people that are in these right wing, racist groups are possibly the worst examples of white people in America. Thanks for that, Garth.

However, as I write this, the power of good people stepping up to the plate, and using their Free Speech for excellence, is also something I can see in the news, and gives a serious amount of hope in these troubled times.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger used his celebrity to post this video, which not only speaks out against the kind of evil we have been seeing, criticizes those people directly, and advises good people about what they can do to make a difference.
  • Thousands of counter protesters flooded the streets in Boston, shutting down the foreseen “alt right” rally in the city.
  • In Berlin, counter protesters routed a Neo-Nazi rally, with one person there saying “There is only one side, the good side,” as she held up a poster hand drawn with a pink heart on it, against legit Neo-Nazis. President Trump, she said, brought her to the streets of Berlin to stand up against evil, because she was incensed at his commentary. This excellent person is named Eva Kese.
  • Duke University is taking down a public statue of Robert E. Lee, in sensitivity to the issues at hand right now. They say that the statue will be preserved as art, somewhere that will “showcase the complex past of the university, and move toward a more inclusive future.”

There are hundreds of stories like this. Hundreds.

The forces of good, when used reasonably, will always prevail over the kinds of backwards racism that is in the news minute by minute, now. In order to prevail though, it has to act…and it’s really excellent to see all kinds of people leaping into action. In his internet address, Schwarzenegger said something very real to the Right Wing Hate Groups:

“Your heroes are losers.”

Of all of the things packed into that few minutes, that was one of the most powerful. It’s brief, it’s cutting, and most of all, it is true. He speaks of the original Nazis, as “broken men” who lived their lives “in shame”, and are currently “resting in hell.”

Honestly, one can hope.

In addition to what common people are doing, it seems that maybe, just maybe, evil is turning in upon itself (as Weis and Hickman suggested always happens). Is there better evidence of evil turning on itself then Steve Bannon being removed from the White House? He has already returned to Breitbart news, apparently preparing to “go to war” and with a real chip on his shoulder about the presidency. Bannon could very possibly change the views of the presidents base of support…it wouldn’t be a bad thing if these two decided to duke it out in a public forum, because neither of them would come out looking very good at all.

Schwarzenegger asks at the end of his video that it be shared, if you feel that racism and hatred have no place in America. As a result, I’m giving another link to it right here, in case you missed the first one. I don’t think that racism, bigotry, or Nazi ideologies have any place here in America.

Almost fifty years ago, Stan Lee wrote some pretty timeless words of wisdom in his “Stan’s Soapbox” column on the letters page of Marvel Comics. In a time when the world was ablaze with hatred and civil unrest, Stan Lee used his soapbox to make a heartfelt plea for tolerance and understanding in December 1968. He advocated for looking at each other as people and not as our skin color, religion, gender, or orientation. He wrote these words, and Marvel Comics ran them regardless of the backlash they might have caused. It is something that makes me proud to be involved the comics industry.

Excelsior, indeed.

It’s sad that almost half a century later, these words are still relevant. However, it makes Mr. Schwarzenegger’s point. My heroes are people like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Michael D’asaro, Superman, Captain America and Mr. Spock. The list goes on, and on, some real, some fictional. All of them are people of courage, people who stand up when it’s called for, whether it be through writing, art, sports, or just being an illustration of an ideal for us to follow.

None of THEM are losers. They are great people, who have given something larger and greater to our world. We can only try to be a bit more like them, I think…and then, maybe things will start to work out.

Stand Up And Draw.

@#$% that guy.

First off, Tales of Adequacy isn’t going anywhere, True Believers. I know that we have had an odd mid-week posting absence, but that’s just because of these things:

  • School started again, and school has been demanding.
  • I had a punishing migraine headache, and could not easily draw.
  • The events unfolding since the weekend, and the terrible attack in Charlottesville by White Supremacists was something that completely confused me, and I was wondering whether it would really be content for the Webcomic. I tend not to get involved in that kind of politics.

I do, however, viciously endorse Free Speech, not the least part of it is MY Free Speech. I defend people’s right to have the verbal expression of their own views, even if I find them detestable. I do NOT endorse their right to discriminate, intimidate, and attack others, which is the vile abuse of the Free Speech that I love, and we were all so completely shocked by this past weekend.

Furthermore, the current president of the United States (Mr. Donald Trump) failed to condemn the White Supremacists responsible, including the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi groups. The president also has Free Speech, and can chose to NOT condemn such groups. That’s true, as far as it goes.

The fact of the matter is, to a much larger extent it is his JOB to condemn such groups, and their violent actions. When he does not, he is FAILING in that job, and furthermore, showing us who he really is as a person

Former presidents have had to fight actual Nazis, to oppose them in the largest war in history, and later, to haul them before the world court for the execution of much needed justice. Presidents have enforced laws that prevent the excesses of awful groups like the Klan, reining in their actions, and as a result, over time, making them a small fringe group. Quite literally, this is WHAT PRESIDENTS DO.

As the week went on, Mr. Trump showed us in interviews, and failure to Tweet the right ideas, who he really is. This was despite pleas from his own party and aides to take a real stand, and to do the right thing. He failed to do so, and has been defiant in his attitude about it. Quite frankly, he disgusts me almost as much as the White Supremacists that currently feel empowered by him.

James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, slammed President Donald Trump on Thursday for his response to the White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, joining an increasingly long list of business leaders who have publicly condemned the president’s words. Good for them, I condemn his words as well. Heck, I did it above. incidentally, I obviously also condemn the White Supremacists, which should be obvious. That’s a big part of Murdoch’s point.

“I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists,” Murdoch wrote in a memo to staff obtained by Yahoo that addresses the violence in Virginia and Trump’s reaction to it. “Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.”

Umm…right? That seems obvious. We have become a more enlightened society, only to now be backsliding into the worst parts of our history. It’s saddening.

Murdoch added that “what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concerns all of us as Americans and free people.” He put his money where his mouth is, literally. In light of the weekend events, he and his wife, Kathryn, were donating $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League, an international nongovernmental organization that combats anti-semitism.

While all of that was unfolding, comics writer Gail Simone (who I deeply respect and like) tweeted, “Okay, we clearly need a #ComicsHateNazis tag. Please fill this tag with comics heroes beating up Nazis.” Since then, comics fans, creators, and industry personalities have been submitting artwork and quotes to the hashtag, expressing the condemnation of right wing racism that our Chief Executive failed to do.

Yes, it’s just a hashtag on the internet, with fictional examples. And yes, it’s far more important that we fight White Supremacy in the real world, by donating to organizations like the NAACP, having tough conversations with our family members and friends, showing up to protests, calling our political representatives – or just plain REFUSING TO SHUT UP when we see bigotry.

However, our fictional heroes can make us feel less helpless, and it can remind us what we stand for. With science fiction, fantasy, and comics in particular, these imagined worlds and heroes can remind us what kind of person we want to be, and what kind of future we want to create. We need those reminders, and those inspirations, on days when it’s easy to despair at humanity.

Thanks for that, Gail Simone. And thanks for all the comics that I love too.

I hope you like my modest contribution to the cause, in terms of the art and the hashtag. Using Free Speech, and through that, art, to express the things that we will not stand for, the things that we will not tolerate, is a right. A valuable right that we must use, even if we fear for what may happen, if we fear for the future. Courage is about standing up.

Artistically, I didn’t know what to do. I’m uncomfortable drawing Nazis, or Klansmen, even when they are getting punched in the face. That took some time…until I decided that exactly what I wanted to do was depict one of those reprehensible domestic terrorists getting an Old School Superhero Punch. I also felt like I wanted it to be disrespectful…like something that you don’t have to think about, it’s just a casual, automatic response. As a result, we have Panel One, with Cap trying to fix an MP3 player upon returning to Earth. Maybe its some kind of funky Zune, whatever.

In the same panel, we have some kind of Dark Klansman, coming up behind her in a menacing fashion. A clear threatening intent.

Panel Two, she just lays him out without turning around, annoyed. Which is what Presidents should do to hate groups, as well, when they turn to acts of hatred, abuse and terror. Please take a lesson from Cap, Mr. President. She’s just an Alien American, but she tries hard to hold up something called “values.” You can look up what those are, sir.

I thought about dialogue, but couldn’t find it in me to write the kind of things that guy would say in a speech balloon. I then decided that even having Cap saying something dismissive, like “Hey…I’m busy here!” would be too much acknowledgment. I went with a silent smack instead.

I’m going to stay on this topic artistically (with shorter posts) for a couple of days, because its important. If your reading Ms. Simone, thanks for the idea of #comicshatenazis, and the ability to stand up through artwork and enthusiasm. I don’t Tweet, so you might not know about us here at Adequacy…but we are fans.

I’m also going to put pressure on my local representatives, by calling and emailing. I advise anyone with any view to do that, it’s one of the best forms of participation that we have. Even if you don’t agree with me, the point of this place called America is that everyone has a voice.

It can be hard to stand for that all the time, but it matters. It can be tiring, but it’s important.


Dragged back to the Edu-Mountain by Edu-Sorcery!

That’s what the “pupil free day” was like.

One minute, you’re living the good life in your own stolen Constitution class starship. The next, you’re dragged through a magical hashtag portal by some wizard you don’t know, and having to deal with weird, abstract activities and meet new people. You have to hear about places like Roseto, where everything is so perfect, that very little bad ever happens, because everyone gets along so much. Seriously, after the whole wizard portal thing, we start getting into non-fiction, and what my meetings were ACTUALLY like.

My day without pupils was NOT like the Pennsylvania town of Roseto. My new co-teacher never decided to meet with me, and I spend much of the day attempting to move in to my new classroom. That was fraught with small challenges that were irksome, but not major, followed by an absence of the needed technology to do things like run my class in its current state. The internet service was also out for my classes, as well as the computers IN my class not allowing any searches of the internet, because the internet is too dangerous. All of these things were small things, but they added up to a long day which had little, if anything, to do with actually planning and setting up a successful English class.

I had to meet the new principal, and he seemed both friendly and kind. Honestly, that’s not all that hard to do on the first day, which he actually owned to the group, which earned no small amount of respect from me. He also seemed to have a reasonably firm grasp on some of the realities of the school, and of education, and seemed to stand for some pretty good things. All told, I had a decent feeling about him as a leader…but I’ve had that feeling before.

To his credit, he himself spoke about seeing where he was, and how he stood, in a few weeks, and a few months. He had smart things to say about the challenges ahead in education, and alluded to potential enrollment problems in realistic but still optimistic ways. All told, his positive attitude spilled over into my mentality, and I tried to check myself as I was cranky about the changes to my classroom and materials during the day.

The art owes a lot to one of the long time readers of Adequacy, who suggested that irresponsible wizards should just haul Cap from her summer into the setting of the Edu-Mountain, with little to no warning or preamble. I decided to go with a variation of that, which you see above, in all it’s weird, abstract glory.

Preparing For The Big Show.

This pony is looking forward to entertainment at the Edu-Mountain!

“Theatre is a series of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.”—Tom Stoppard

That quote is pretty much how I feel.

Today, Monday, is the first day back at work as a teacher for me. It’s a meeting, planning, and set up day, called a “pupil free day”, with no students present. There’s a whole lot going on for me, and I kind of dread it, not really knowing which way things are going to shake out on some things.

Things will be different with students in front of me…I always enjoy students in the room, and doing the business of actual teaching. The days of meetings, the politics of the adult relationships, those are the things that I find stressful and taxing. Oddly, I need to get a large number of moving parts together to just make that happen. Apparently, I am moving classes…and in order to do that, I will need a lot of classroom furniture delivered, and FAST. In addition, I will need my two laptop carts, so I can get my students set up on their Schoology account systems…which now run my assignment submissions and grade book. That’s very much a “Day One” item. I also have to meet my new co-teacher, and in a perfect world, get some of her support in making some of that list happen.

I’ll have to meet (and initially deal with) a new principal to make all of that happen. I’m kind of dreading that, because as I said…I work far better with my students than I do with adults. I really just need this new principal to green light the things that I need, and then just kind of leave me to do my thing. In a perfect world, that happens, and I can continue to move forward with all of those items on my list without really having to deal very much with people Above My Pay Grade.

I have a car loaded with all of the random things I think that I’ll need, at least initially. All of that stuff is pretty random. The kind of things that are intended to make me feel comfortable in the environment, so that I can be productive and useful. A new speaker for the multimedia system, some action figures for my desk, new posters and wall hangings…stuff that’s intended to make the room feel “lived in.” This is mostly for the benefit of ME, actually…it makes me feel more at ease, and thus do a better job overall. All of that stuff will have to be offloaded from the car today, and at least secured in the new room, for move in.

I’ve met my new co-teacher, and we have had a few, very brief conversations. At the end of the year, when my partner in Tenth Grade English and I were planning, she didn’t really feel like she should come over and contribute, so honestly…I’m not feeling too good about that from “jump.” I hadn’t actually noticed it until my partner teacher noted it to me, and that fact has pretty much nagged at me all summer. Now, it has become a Thing. Not terrific.

That’s where the Show that Pinkie Pie is waiting for is going to lie. All of the adult interactions. Not only do I need to interact with all sorts of new people, the new principal needs to meet several of the entrenched staff. Our outspoken and litigious Union Rep, for one, and some of the Senior Class teachers for another. When principals change, a whole lot of teachers want to “test the limits” much like students do. Some confront the principal, others don’t really do as much as they used to, seeing if it causes a reaction…the ways of “testing” are diverse. That’s a Show unto itself.

I just need this guy to give me tons of class furniture, my laptops, and a moving crew for my stuff. If that gets done, and done FAST, he’s made a friend. No Show needed.

All Good Things… (Part Three)

The final piece for summer.

I have wanted to end the Summer Vacation block with a composition like this for a while now. I always mean to get around to doing more color, and never do, mostly because it’s a huge chore. I like the way this came out, more for her posture and expression than the color, even. There’s a real feeling of a kind of sadness present, which is what I was after.

I also incorporated a bit of the visual process used on the non color, or color tinted material of the summer. To close things out on that retro vibe. I like the way it came out, but given the effort it took, this is going to be one of those “process” pieces, where I show the stages of the piece in progress, as I discuss things related to the process or not, as the case may be. For those you you readers that DON’T like the process art posts, good news…I actually took out stages, to make it more brief.

Even I thought it might be boring to see that kind of evolution over too many steps.

Long after doing all the digital steps, I got the idea of using my graphics editor to make a single image, that would illustrate the process from pencils to final, left to right. Thankfully, I remember that as an idea, and I’ll be doing that in the future.

I actually really liked the unprocessed color image, and that almost became the lead image for the post. It was my real commitment to the visual lexicon of the summer posts that kept me from doing that, but I felt like the unprocessed color image deserved a look:

The difference is one of texture, nothing else.

Some choices had to be made in the color stage. For instance, her “survival jacket” is red, instead of blue. I felt better about how that would look on the page, and felt it was a sort of callback to the uniforms of the Original Series Films. However…that left me the problem of her shirt. I had wanted it to be red, since she has arguably been wearing red all summer. As I approached having to color it…I felt that there was too much red, so I went with switching her to a gold shirt.

That decision was more palatable when I decided on the “mission patch.” In the Original Series, each starship had its own logo, the familiar delta shield/arrow of the show being the “mission patch” for the Enterprise. Instead of the Enterprise logo, she has the stylized Martini Glass logo that was actually inspired by one of the suggestions for the stolen ship’s name. I felt like she would have upgraded her shirt, since she just stole a starship of her own in yesterday’s post.

The jacket was a bit of a hassle to draw, despite looking terrific. It just has a ton of little details on it. I’m trying to decide whether she will be keeping it for a while or not. I call those “creative decisions.” The point of this whole set of paragraphs is mostly to go over those “creative decisions,” as well as explaining some of them. It’s an odd process.

To be honest, I liked the inked image so much, that I almost just stopped there.

The inked image.

I like the inks for their simplicity. I think the pocks that she is standing on are my favorite part…rocks are hard to do because they need to look…well, random. You have a ton of cracks and shadows that need to be there, and it’s just hard to do. In this case, all of the shadows came out great…really uniform in color and pen strokes. Even the shadow of her left leg, in that “Captain Morgan” pose.

Black and white inked art is always pretty elegant in its directness. At this stage, since I try to do one color at a tine, and then do blending, I actually considered a “Sin City” approach, with just one color. Obviously, I didn’t go that route, partially because I think Frank Miller is a tad over rated these days, and did not want to Feed the Beast.

The difference between a pencil sketch and an inked final image is really clear upon inspection of the initial work:

The original pencils.

Obviously, pencils have a softer tone, less bold definition than the inks do. Until you do that kind of side by side yourself, it’s really not as clear how much inking brings to the table. It’s a big deal, and adds a kind of quality that we are used to in the graphic presentation of comics.

Anyway…that’s the final piece for Summer Vacation. The summer has had a lot of action, in terms of the strip, so it seemed just fine to have a quiet moment. I imagine that she has stopped the new (stolen) ship someplace, near an uninhabited planet, or an asteroid, and is taking just a moment…a solitary moment, thinking about what lies ahead. She’s going back to Earth, and the Edu-Mountain, and all of the problems those places have, the kinds of things she’s been trying to ignore all summer.

I’m not sure what she thinks of all that.

Heck…I’m not sure what I think of all that.