Unfriendly Skies.

Cap is really upset about meetings followed by meetings today…!

Yesterday’s peaceful flight image kind of needed to give way to this sort of thing. That fighter plane might be a jet of some kind…it’s why I didn’t really draw the whole plane. It lets you, the viewer, decide what kind of fighter plane it is, at least to some degree. I mean, it does have only one rudder, and it isn’t that big a plane, so there are limits to what you can impose on it via your imagination.

Also…jets are big, even fighters. It was tough concieving of how Cap would just deal with a jet. It was hard coming up with a proper visual for just punching it, it seemed more like your would have to kind of…fly around, playing the plane’s game. Sure, she flies faster, but she sucks at flying. Like…beyond bad at it. That’s why she’s really awkwardly “three point landing” on the back of the plane, after clearly failing to do more than damage it with earlier flying attacks of some kind. Maybe she threw the Axe-Hammer at it as she went by, I don’t know. I didn’t think too hard about it.

I also didn’t think too hard about that clearly Old School German Flying Guy. He even has the big scar, from Schlager Fencing. I just needed some kind of Air Bad Guy, and he came out. Probably as the result of reading tons of “Peanuts” when I was young, since Snoopy is always in conflict with an unseen Red Baron. This guys looks like the spiritual successor of that Red Baron, clearly henching today for Hesh, or the Dark Lord, or someone else crummy.

Why is Cap clearly involved in some sort of struggle that is guaranteed to annoy her, but not really challenger her, or make her break a sweat? Because that’s what meetings feel like, there’s just sort of a bunch of motions that need to be gone through, whether or not there are more productive things to do. Like dealing with that jet fighter, there are just some basic things that need to be Dealt with as a teacher, especially right now, that seem to take up more time than they should. Most of these meetings could be sent as an e-mail, to just as much effect.

Today is a short day as a result, with my students taking a quiz during the day. The quiz should be simple…if the students put together notes, they can use them, and the questions are mostly plot driven. In other words, if you read the article, you should do well. If you took notes, it should be even easier. With all of that said…many of my students didn’t come to class last week, to read or take notes. We will have to see how that goes.

I’d really like to be putting effort into a joint project with chemistry…except again, we are schedule for meetings with no agendas at this time.

Drawing this was fun, and we needed some action. It was both challenging and cathartic, which is sometimes the point of the strip.

Flights Of Fancy.

I’m trying to be more positive about my commute in this week.

I also wanted to draw Cap practicing flying. It’s pretty hard to draw people in flight, because I feel like I know what it looks like, but in reality…people don’t fly, se the references are really weird. The perspectives and postures are kind of…off, in a way that is hard to work out.

With that said, I’m pretty happy with this piece. Cap looks like she’s enjoying being in flight, which she rarely does. The birds were a real hassle, in part because I didn’t want to draw a whole lot of feathers. I spoke to a student about that recently…that I don’t really like drawing wings, because of the need for layers of feathers. Here I took a minimalist approach, with just the outer fringe of feathers, and the general tone and shape of birds.

I have exactly ZERO idea what to expect from school this week. Will my students show up, the week before Thanksgiving? Will they show up, only to leave right afterward, in some kind of protest? Both are equally probable, especially with the lack of actual protests for the students to go to last week, but the preponderance of walkouts.

I drew this on Sunday night, trying to get a mindset of peace going into this final week before Thanksgiving. I wanted to come into school with as positive a mindset as possible, and in doing so, decided to focus on Cap’s power of flight. Of all her powers, I think it’s the one that she uses least effectively, and is definitely the one that would be the most fun. There’s probably something psychological to be said about that, in terms of me, her creator.

I’m not going to think too hard about it right now. Instead, I’m going to be happy with the sketch, and to attempt to have the best Monday possible.

Obviously, a pretty short post today, True Believers.

No Time For Riddles.

A quick weekend sketch…about the weekend.

With this quick sketch, I get back to the weekly total for Adequacy, despite missing Thursday! So…YAY to that!

It’s sometimes tough to come up with content, and also tough to keep up to the growing quality standard of the strip. This week has been pretty rough in a weird way, and I really didn’t feel like focusing on that. Instead, we have things like this post, with Cap and some kind of sphinx friend just catching some z’s. This weekend has been mostly about that kind of thing for me, rest and “self care” as my principal phrases it.

I’ve managed to get in a bunch of Magic, as I had mentioned in a prior post about the week. I’m currently very competitive in Standard, with the previously mentioned (see yesterday) deck called “Your Deck.” It’s a blue deck, and only blue…so even though it doesn’t have any sphinx cards in it, this seemed on point. Sphinx creature cards are usually blue, white, or both blue and white. See? That’s why the whole “lazy sunday” art, with a big ol’ sphinx.

I don’t have much else to say about the weekend, except that I am mildly dreading going back to school for the next week. It is the final week before we go on Thanksgiving break, so there’s that. With work being kind of depressing, I find myself looking more and more at the “between spaces.”

Henching Problems.

He’s pretty adorable for a henchman.

It’s Saturday, and the week of school is over. That is a very good thing, because this week, school was kind of a joke.

Friday. as with the other days of the week, about half the student population just left. There was joking around about it being in protest over the current DACA case in the Supreme Court, but honestly…students were just leaving and going home. Or to McDonald’s. Interestingly, the students who stayed behind were highly motivated, and in fact, kind of glad about the massive exodus.

That’s because very few of the students who left were activists…they were overwhelmingly students who were just looking for an excuse to not be at school.

I thought about drawing Cap in an empty landscape, or some other kind of thing like that, but it just didn’t feel like something I wanted to draw. Partially because I agreed with the students that stayed for class. With truly smaller class sizes, and only the students that wanted to be there, class ran really well. Really well.

I pushed forward with content, and made serious headway. In deference to the idea that the other students need to try to pass, I didn’t add any written assignments, only a serious amount of reading that we discussed and explained in class. If you missed the explanation because you were at McDonald’s…that was a choice. It might be harder to do, but the reading was on the class web interface, and could have been done independently. I’m trying to be fair.

So what’s with that fish guy and his plushie Bolas, for today’s art?

Glad you asked. That’s an adorable version of Augur of Bolas, an empirically good Magic card that I don’t play with, because I don’t own any copies. He’s a merfolk (fish person), that lets you get cards from your deck. He also hunches for Bolas, the Dr. Doom of Magic: the Gathering. Since Bolas is exiled to a prison dimension inside that weird gem that hangs between his horns, that Augur of Bolas is pretty cranky. You can’t hench for a guy who has been exiled to a tiny dimension.

I’ve been playing Magic a lot this week, both with a Merfolk deck (see why I was thinking about fish guys?), and a deck that I call “Your Deck.” It call it “Your Deck” because it waits for the other player to play good cards, and then takes them away. Perhaps the most awesome play of this during the week had me stealing a Bolas from a legitimately scary deck, along with all of its other very scary cards. So I was thinking about that, and the Bolas plushie.

I’ve also been down, so I wanted to draw something adorable to raise my spirits. That got us this guy from the Adorable Zone.

Before anyone comments…the Bolas plushie doesn’t have the gemstone between his horns on purpose. He doesn’t have the gemstone in the Prison Realm, either….because the stone IS the Prison Realm. This Henchman takes his stuff seriously, so his stuffed toy is accurate.

He was also super fun to draw.

Onward with weekend things!

Confrontation And Confusion.

Tamiyo is understandably confused here.

Time constraints had me miss the time for the Thursday post, as well as some meathook realities. I really wasn’t sure what to draw, having been somewhat unsatisfied with work. I also didn’t have any content just suddenly jump out and grab me, prior to the deadline for Thursday, so I elected to not knock myself out trying to make it.

On the actual school day of Thursday, a huge percentage of our students elected to walk out on classes in the morning. It was fascinating to watch this unfold, on my conference period at around ten in the morning. The initial group of students was almost entirely young men, all with attendance and grade problems, leaving gym class. They thought it was all kind of a lark, a sort of morally justified “ditch day.” Once they made their departure, many students chose to follow them, seeing the basic lack of discipline. They thing is…there was no protest of any kind to go to, they all just went homre, or out to lunch.

That took my average class size from thirty six down to nineteen. I elected to just push forward, and…we got a whole lot done. The students that missed class, for whatever reason, will just need to catch up. Or not, as the case may be.

It was depressing, a bit. Cutting the classes in half, and letting the students that didn’t want to be there self select themselves out, radically improved productivity. It seemed to say something ugly about the basic premises of public education, so although I’m writing about it, I didn’t feel like drawing about it.

Instead, this is a Magic: The Gathering piece. The current competitive environment is dominated by a card called “Oko, Thief of Crowns.” Oko is a three mana planeswalker that can turn his opponents best creatures into 3/3 elks, with no abilities. That might be the most frustrating element of the broken card. About seventy percent of all competitive decks in the Standard format are Oko decks right now, or decks prepared to deal with Oko decks. It makes for a very, very boring Standard environment that is not fun to play in. At all.

That explains Cap’s anger at the 3/3 Elk, and Tamiyo’s confusion. Cap is clearly mad about the whole 3/3 elk problem, and ready to pick a fight with a woodland creature over it. Tamiyo, though, probably wouldn’t understand why Cap is yelling at an elk, and possibly gearing up for a suplex. I don’t mind broken decks…sometimes they are very interesting. I do get bored playing against the SAME decklist, player after player after player. It really lays out who is a net decking scrub, and who isn’t.

I actually own Oko as a card, and don’t play it. Mainly because I don’t really want to be “that player,” that hops on the “hot card” bandwagon. You know, like a net decking scrub. I play the way that I play, regardless of the game “meta.” A net decking scrub looks at list after list of popular, powerful decks, and just copies the decklist. That’s why the Championship this weekend had hundreds of Oko decklists, and the game has a Problem.

Depressingly, most of the Magic players also left school for no real reason yesterday. It made the lunch time game very small, but I finally got to make my Marit Lage deck do what it is supposed to. That was satisfying, and the table talk was fun.

There were of course, no Oko cards at the table.

Out To Lunch.

I expect to be having this conversation later today.

On Tuesday, I should have had a normal day of school. I was writing about that in yesterday’s post, in fact. It didn’t happen.

Just after ten in the morning, I was on my conference period. I had a whole lot that I needed to get done. I heard a weird commotion outside, and went to check up on it. I saw some wandering students, and thought that it was something for supervision staff to step in on. As I prepared to call it in, I noticed that it was a large number. I knew there was supposed to be a field trip, but I thought that they had left already. I closed my classroom door, and elected to follow the growing group of young people.

As I saw them leaving through the front gate, I again thought, “field trip.” I didn’t think it was that large a field trip though…I just hadn’t signed too many permission slips.

When I heard students yelling outside, I knew what it was about. As the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for it’s DACA orineted case, students were “walking out” in protest. I had heard that this might be happening through the news. The thing is, on our campus….students aren’t really activist by nature. As I watched the departing happening, I stopped to talk to students, asking what they were walking out in support of.

None of the students that I talked to knew, and I spoke to a few dozen. It was a source of great humor, in fact, and many were open about the fact that they were just going to go home, or get lunch with friends and then go home. It was depressing, because I knew that elsewhere in Los Angeles, students were marching with signs, in an organized fashion, to make a point. Ours were just ditching class, or as a few said to me, “just curious to see what was happening.”

A fine point was made about this when students from a nearby charter school marched south on our street, in front of the school. They were in neat lines, they had prepared signs, and were chanting various slogans in unison. They were “about the cause,” and I regretted not being able to speak with any of them, in order to compare their level of “being informed.”

For the remainder of the day, my classes were basically empty. I had meant to speak to struggling students about a plan to get their grades up…but none of them were there.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

Despite all of this, I didn’t actually get Italian food.

The title of the post is from a Billy Joel song, and obviously very much “on the nose” here.

This was mostly an exercise in settings, and illustrating them. It’s amazingly hard to do well, and here, I really busted out all of the proverbial stops. Visual reference, the use of zip a tones, pastiche and/or collaging. It looks great as a result, but was a massive artistic undertaking for one day of strip. I could have gotten the week done, in fact, for all the per panel effort, but intead we have this.

The last panel is an effort to emulate the style of manga artist Hirohiko Araki, who does “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.” Jojo is a lot of fun to read, and downright weird. The art is pretty incredible, and really profits from often having complex, real backgrounds for the action to take place in. The work on backgrounds is so completely important, for instance, Gerhardt’s work on backgrounds in Dave Simm’s “Cerebus” reall adds to the quality of the book. In many ways, it might account for a large amount of the book’s artistic reputation. I’m rambling now, about the importance of backgrounds in comic art, but really…it’s why I did this piece.

It is more panels than I usually do, and definitely more panels horizontally. It just came together like that, on the digital side, and I went with it.

With the lack of a true “Monday,” I didn’t want to do one of my recent “Monday” posts, where Cap just doesn’t want to go back to the Edu-Mountain. With that said…I was really NOT looking forward to this week in school. Last week went by weirdly quickly, but I wouldn’t say that it went well. It just…went. Today has no meetings scheduled, so that’s a small mercy…it’s just a regular day of school. With any kind of luck, we can push forward with getting some real content done.

I really wanted Italian food, though. I went out to a place near me, and…the experience was not positive, at the hostess station. As a result, I decided to go to another restaurant, which was alas, not Italian. Maybe next time.

Urza’s head is something of a challenge in a dining environment, as Cap notes. Wat do you do with him? Put him in a chair, and he can’t see anything. Also…how does he eat, anyway? He has no hands. If he does eat…umm…how? He has no stomach. He was a bit of a puzzle, but Urza, Cap and Gideon have been kind of a trio this semester, so it seemed mean for her to just ditch him.

Those kinds of questions are way more interesting to me right now than the business of an evil commute, or a school where the students and administration seemed to have “tuned out.” Go figure.