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June 29th, 2009

Return Of The Cartoonist

Life happens.  My cartoon pages have been terribly neglected recently and I apologize to those of you who enjoy that part of the site more then this one. 

When I included the political cartoon page, my goal was to do one a week.  I was frustrated then, and still am, by the disinterest of mainstream political cartoonists in the gay rights struggle.  They were not nearly so reticent about racial equality in America, although now that I think of it, the women’s rights struggle also got pretty short shrift from them too…at least among the male cartoonists.  Most of them are pretty terrible at dealing with issues of gender.  Witness Pat Oliphant, who I mostly admire for his style and willingness to let a cartoon deal with a subject (like racism) passionately.  That’s a rare quality in a political cartoon these days, and getting rarer.  But he once portrayed the equal rights amendment as a Wagnarian fat lady, decked out in a ridiculous Brunhilde costume. 

It’s gotten better in recent years, as the gay rights movement seems to have finally found acceptance as a legitimate issue in mainstream news.  But it’s still not great.  Some prominent and well respected cartoonists still can’t seem to get beyond treating the whole subject as a joke. 

Now I’m hardly the only gay cartoonist out there.  There are many others, most of them a lot better at the drawing board then I am.  But I still don’t see anyone else out there taking on this subject in the traditional political cartoon format.  What I see are many excellent multi-panel cartoons…often done in a slice-of-life style…documenting our lives and our struggle.  The best of them is Howard Cruise, whose artwork is a level of draftsmanship I will never be able to touch.  He is an amazing story telling, as are cartoonists Robert Kirby, David Kelly and Robert Triptow who all contribute these absolutely wonderful gay slice-of-live comics.  Cartoonist Willie Hewes, who I came to know through the Love Won Out protests, did an absolutely stunning zine style comic on the topic of forced conversion therapy, and she continues to produce first rate comics on gay issues. 

These are not a trivial things.  The more the stories of our lives can get out there where they be seen, the more our heterosexual neighbors can see us as human beings, and not the monsters we’re made to be by the religious right.  But none of them do political cartoons in the traditional form.  Single panel, black and white, whose impact comes largely from the imagery it uses to convey a point of view.  You take one glance at it, and it hits you squarely with its message.

As I am a gay man myself, and in love with the political cartoon as an art form ever since I was a teenager, I consider this topic my particular beat.  But the cartoons have been absent for quite a while now.  That’s partly because my personal life has been relentlessly crowding out my time at the drafting table.  But also because I just got tired of being angry all the time.  Another reason I started the political cartoon page, was to have a way of venting a little of the anger I always seem to be carrying around with me.  You live a life that is constantly under attack by massively financed right wing anti-gay machines and it’s hard not to be angry all the time.  What I discovered was that simply researching the material for each week’s cartoon just made me angrier.  After a while, I got tired of being angry all the time.

I’d wanted to see if I could sustain a weekly output.  I found that I could…the material was, unfortunately, abundant…but it became less and less rewarding.  But I never quite stopped altogether.  I have dozens of cartoons that never made it to the scanner.  Things I drew intending to post here, and then never finished because I lost steam in the middle of it.  

Well that’s about to change.

Several weeks ago, during a Baltimore Guerrilla Gay Bar event, I met Steve Charing, editor of Baltimore OUTLoud.  He’s invited me to contribute a political cartoon to his bi-weekly newspaper.  I just turned in my first one and hopefully it gets published in this week’s edition.  Now I have a steady gig, and I’ve got the drafting table all fired up again and I’m hot to go.  I’m going to finish off some of the cartoons that never made it to the scanner and post them here over the next few weeks.  And I’ll be posting the cartoons I send to OUTLoud, a week after they appear in the paper.

The bi-weekly time frame of OUTLoud gives me some breathing room, but at the same time I want to see if I can get back to doing these on a weekly basis.  Again, regrettably, there is no dearth of material for me out there.  But don’t expect one every week for now.  The bi-weekly OUTLoud cartoon however, will continue for as long as Steve wants me in his paper.  I really appreciate his giving me this opportunity.

Hopefully, this will also kick-start A Coming Out Story.  If I don’t knuckle down on that one I’ll still be working on it when I’m 100.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Return Of The Cartoonist

February 17th, 2009

Those Little Things That Brighten Your Day…

I was just going through the server logs and found another visitor to my cartoon series, A Coming Out Story, who came here via the following Google search:

coming out story garrett

This isn’t the first time it’s happened either.  I’ve had roughly…oh…a half dozen or so occurrences of someone coming here looking for my cartoon specifically.  That is, some combination of the cartoon name and mine used as a search string.  They don’t know where on the web to find it I reckon, but they know the name of the cartoon and they know the name of the guy who is doing it.

That’s just…amazing.  Considering I am not advertising this cartoon At All…  I know it’s been picked up on some cartoon aggregators…most notibly the list at gaycomics.free.fr.  I get lots of traffic from there every day…mostly people who just check the main page to see if a new episode is up.  For them I’ve just added a set of better progress bars to the page, so people can see how things are moving along, and be reassured that the cartoon hasn’t been abandoned because I am so slow at getting out new episodes.

But this is new.  I get hits all the time on "coming out stories" or "coming out" or "gay coming out story" or "gay teen coming out story"  But only recently…in the past four or five months, have I had any of those searches include my name…it’s always my last name…in the search string. 

That’s just…amazing…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Those Little Things That Brighten Your Day…

January 8th, 2009

Let’s Hear It For The Internet Tubes

I was noticing in the server logs this morning that someone came in from an ip address at the University of Maryland on the following Google search string:

coming out comic garrett

Well…that made my day right there.  Someone went looking Specifically for my cartoon series, A Coming Out Story. They didn’t know or couldn’t remember the title exactly, but they knew what it was about and at least the last name of the guy who did it. 

Nice.  Cartooning was the first love.  I gave up hope that I’d ever make a living at it for pretty much the same reason I gave up on being a professional photographer.  I’m just not competitive enough, and when I was younger too timid, shy and scared to try making a go of things as a freelancer.  Ironically, I ended up spending most of my life freelancing in other fields, only one of which, architectural modelmaking, even remotely touched on my artistic skills.  But there it is.  I gave up dreaming about seeing my cartoons in print anywhere.  Then along came the internet and I could just put up my own web site and see if my stuff attracted anyone.

It does.  I have put zero effort into advertising anything I do here and yet after just a few years I get hits on my cartoons from all over the world.  Not a torrent of hits.  But the steady nature of what I do get is more rewarding then you can imagine. 

Which is why I’ll be spending the weekend down in the art room…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Let’s Hear It For The Internet Tubes

December 9th, 2008

Episode 11 Of A Coming Out Story…

…In which our teenage hero discovers that the parts that make up a brain aren’t necessarily on speaking terms with each other.

 

Click on the image above to go directly to the new episode…or Here to go to the series main page.  I did a little review of the panels I put up over the weekend and yesterday, made a few minor corrections, and started sending out the email notices.  If you didn’t get one and want to be put on the mail list let me know.

If you checked in yesterday or Sunday you should know that I shuffled the upcoming episodes around a tad and there is a different one now listed as coming next.  I’ll do the one on how I got my camera bug later…it doesn’t really fit at this stage of the story. 

The series divides into three parts really.  The first part is the one I’m still on right now, which is about how all these sexual feelings just suddenly seemed to start happening to me out of the blue and I started getting all twitterpated over one of my male classmates and all of a sudden I was just flailing around with all these really strong new feelings I was absolutely not prepared for, didn’t understand, and didn’t really want.  The second is how I stumbled around trying to avoid having to deal with the realization that I was really sexually attracted to guys, and that I was actually falling in love with this one particular guy.  And finally, how I finally came to terms with both of those things and how I moved from confusion and denial into self awareness and pride.

I have about 70 percent of all this scripted, but obviously I’m still working on it as I go along.  For one thing, I added a bunch of material to this episode after I started working on the pencils and wasn’t really satisfied with it.  But I really need to kick up the output here a tad…or I’ll still be working on this when I’m 90.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Episode 11 Of A Coming Out Story…

December 8th, 2008

Episode 11…Finished…Finally…

I just put the last of the pages up for episode 11 of A Coming Out Story… 

Whew…

Now I’m off to bed.  It’s late…I’m tired…  But…satisfied.  It’s a good sign when I can still stay up late working on this, and be chuckling to myself while I’m finishing it up…

More later…  For now I’m just happy to finally have this one behind me.  I really hope I don’t get this blocked ever again on this project…

I’m going to wait another day before I send out the email notices.  I want to look it all over tomorrow morning with fresh eyes first, just to make sure there isn’t anything major I want to correct first.  Then I’ll send out the email notices.  But for all you folks who read the blog…it’s all there…finally…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Episode 11…Finished…Finally…

December 7th, 2008

Episode 11, Inch By Inch…

I was hoping to have episode 11 of A Coming Out Story up by the end of the weekend, but I just couldn’t.  I got to a point tonight where I knew that if I kept on going I wouldn’t be paying enough attention to what I was doing, so I broke off.  I still have two pages to go, and half of one left to finish.  But it’s looking good for tomorrow.

In the meantime, since this one Has taken so long, I’ve gone ahead and put up what I’ve finished so far. I’m so embarrassed that this one has taken me so long to get done, that I feel like I owe everybody who has kept on pinging this site for a new episode.  So I went ahead and put up what I managed to get done tonight. The rest won’t be up until late tomorrow (Monday) though.  So you can decide if you want to see what’s done so far and be left hanging until tomorrow, or go ahead and peek now. I won’t officially announce the new episode until it is all done.  At which point I’ll send out the notice to my mail list.

And…I have a complaint.  Firefox for Linux isn’t displaying the PNG files I put up correctly.  At least not the version I’m running here at Casa del Garrett on Mowgli. I was being so careful to get the web files just right…and they looked great on Bagheera (the art room Mac).  Then I come upstairs to Mowgli and bring them up and they look horrible. I’ve no idea if it’s a graphics library issue on my particular machine or what.  But the panels seem to display just fine on Firefox running on MacOS and Windows.  They also display just fine in the KDE Konqueror web browser that’s running on Mowgli.  So it isn’t the files I have out there.  If the lines look a tad fuzzy in your browser let me know what browser you are using, on which OS, please.  I may have to change the encoding on them if there is a big enough problem.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

November 30th, 2008

Whew! Pencils And Inks Done! Finally!

I have finally…Finally…finished the pencils and inks for episode 11 of A Coming Out Story!  And it only took me…what…a year and four months?   That obviously wasn’t an actual year and four months worth of work.  For the longest time I simply could not go anywhere near my drafting table, for some reason I still don’t really understand, other then so many stresses in my life just all came together all of a sudden and I just couldn’t even bear to look at my work area down in the art room.

But it’s coming together now.  I still have some work to do in Photoshop…adding the panels and text and touching up this and that.  It’ll be the touching up that takes the most time, because I want to get things as right as I can before I put anything up.  This episode comes to seven and a half pages.  That’s two rows of drawings per page, at about four panels per page.  But some pages had more then that.  I think I did 29 panels in all for this one.

I have it all scanned in.  Now I have to polish it up and put it online.  I’m hoping to get that done by next weekend.  Finally.  Yes…I know…I’ve promised finish dates before that I’ve let slide.  But the heavy sweat work was the pencilling.  That part of it really gives meaning to the phrase 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.  Actually, I’d say it was more like 2 percent verses 98 percent.   But now that’s done, the rest is just a matter of cleaning up.

I actually had to go back and re-do some of it after I’d been away from it for so long.  I wasn’t satisifed with many of the earlier panels and I re-drew a lot of it.  Then I added two more pages to the beginning of it.  But those two pages came out of my pencil pretty fast, compared to the rest of it.

The next episode may run to as many if not more panels, but I think it will go quicker because it tells a story more then this episode does.  The drawing for 12 will be a lot less repetative then 11s was.  You’ll see what I mean when I put 11 up.  Finally.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Whew! Pencils And Inks Done! Finally!

November 5th, 2008

Trophy

I rarely sketch out my cartoon ideas before I begin work on them.  Nearly always, I picture it in my mind.  I have a good imagination.  Maybe too good.  I can disappear into it for hours at a time.   My political cartoons begin as imagery that just comes to mind as I read about, or think about current events.  Occasionally I’ll grab one as it passes by, and work on it, entirely inside my brain.  When I actually start to draw something, I almost always approach the paper seeing what I want to draw clearly and exactly in my mind.  This is pretty much how I draw and paint everything, the only difference being when I paint I will do a quick color study first. 

As the fight over California Proposition 8 approached voting day, I had two cartoons already done inside my head, one of which I hoped I wouldn’t have to draw.  Had the vote gone the other way, I might have just waited until the weekend to do the other, more light-hearted one.  It might even have stayed on the drawing board, like so many other half-finished cartoons have this past year.  But this pretty much expresses how I feel right now, and I just had to get it out now.  I have nearly two months of vacation time stored up at work, and I took the day off (mostly…I still had things I had to do from home) so I could get this out of my system…

 

Copyright © November 5, 2008 by Bruce Garrett
All Rights Reserved.

Link

 

It’s horrible to say it…but I have a new-found interest in doing these now.  And…more spare time to do them since I’m not visiting people I know down in Washington every Friday-Saturday now.  But that’s another spill-my-guts-out story for another time…

by Bruce | Link | React! (5)

October 22nd, 2008

Progress…

Since last Monday I’ve finished half a page on Episode 11 of A Coming Out Story.  It’s slow work when all I have is the weekday evenings.  Tonight I was only able to finish one panel, but that got a page done and I can see the end of the pencil work on this one in front of me.

A few panels are some of my best pencil work so far.  There’s a close-up of a young me with my head on the pillow at the beginning of this one that I’m especially happy with.  And one pencil of the object of my affections that gets him pretty well right, as I remember him strolling through the hallways of my old high school.  I’m getting good now at drawing my main actors with a few simple lines.  We’ll see how well they translate into inks.

I’m able to have fun again with the whole situation I’m relating in my story.  I think now, that part of my cartoonist’s block this past year has been that it wasn’t fun revisiting it, because I was living it all over after again having found him again after 35 years of searching.  That shy seventeen year old is still there inside of me, and I’ve been walking on eggshells for over a year now, stressing all over again about what he thinks or doesn’t think of me.  It’s crazy…I’m a grown man now…but there it is.  So trying to get my sense of humor back about that part of my life so I could work on the story just hasn’t been do-able.  I’ve been stressing almost exactly like I was 35 years ago.  Maybe some day when I’ve finished A Coming Out Story, I’ll do one about how finding your first crush turns you back into the kid you were all over again, and all the things in your past you thought you’d settled and resolved you only thought you had.

The other thing that may have got me motivated again is a couple books I’m reading written by gay men who were imprisoned in Britian back in the 1950s for "homosexual offenses" or "gross indecency".  I’m into a book my Peter Wildeblood, Against The Law, in which he gives an account of his being caught up in the Montagu scandal of 1954 and his subsiquent imprisonment.  Part of what I want to relate in my own story is how it was I managed to navagate my way to self acceptance without hating myself, and how easily it could have gone the other way for me.  I was lucky in so many ways, but mostly in that.  Because I fell in love, and because the guy I fell in love with was a decent, good-hearted guy who was good to me, I never hated myself. 

But that was purely accidental.  I came of age just after Stonewall, and just before the APA removed homosexuality from it’s list of mental illnesses, and the popular culture all around me constantly told me I was some sort of disgusting, degenerate monster.  It was seeing my sexual orientation in the context of being in love, that saved me from that.  It was pure luck.  And I was fortunate also, very fortunate, to be coming of age right when the modern gay rights movement was taking off, just after Stonewall.  Ten years earlier, and I might have been locked up like Wildeblood was.  Or sent off to a mental hospital.  That would probably have killed me.  It killed a lot of people. 

And the hate is still killing people.  When I was a gay teenager, gay kids got absolutely no adult guidance while making that difficult transition from child to adult.  The only thing we were taught then was that it was tragic, if not utterly disgusting, that we existed.  It is barely any better nowadays.  The religious right is fighting a furious, bitter, scorched earth battle to keep gay kids from accepting themselves and growing up to live healthy and whole adult lives.  We have to hate ourselves, as much as they hate us.  One thing I want to try to do with my story is get across the message that gay kids need to be loved, like all children do.  They don’t need to be taught to hate themselves.  It is a crime against humanity, to teach a child to hate themselves.  Reading Wildeblood’s story reminded me of that other reason why I wanted to get my own story down, in my own way.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Progress…

October 20th, 2008

A Breakthrough Of Sorts…

For some reason I was suddenly able today to sit down at my drafting table and finish two pages of the next episode of A Coming Out Story.  Just…bang, bang bang…one panel after another…just…came out of me.  The first hour or so of it was very difficult, but there was none of the reluctance to immerse myself in the storyline that I’d been experiencing for the past year or so and after a while it just kept coming.  Two pages of good quality pencils.  It was as though I’d never stopped drawing it a year ago.

I’ve got another two and a half pages to go and the pencils are done.  After that, the inks should only take about five or six working days and the Photoshopping another two or three.  By working days, I mean solid four hour stints at the drafting table.  That’s a working day when all I have to give it is the time I have after work, or weekends.

I have no idea where all this just suddenly came from.  I’ll probably be pondering it for the next few days.  So much has happened since I started this little tale.  So much, just over the past couple months.  But I was able to churn out pages of this thing during other times of stress in my life.  For some reason I just couldn’t so much as bear to look at this thing for a long, long while.  Now I can.  And…it’s fun again.  I think that’s probably the biggest thing.  I was banging out panels and quietly laughing to myself at the humor in the storyline as I drew them.  It was a fun I haven’t had in a long time.

I’m going out for a brief walk now.  I need to take a break.  But I feel as if I could do some more when I get back inside.

I’ve lived with this creative urge inside of me all my life and I still don’t understand it.  It comes and it goes in its own good time is all I can figure.

[Update…]  Did two more panels before turning in for bed tonight.  I keep this head of steam up and I’ll have the next episode out the door before the end of the month for sure…

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 23rd, 2008

In Which Bruce Tries To Draw Like Jack Chick…(part two)

Explanation Here.

  

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Which Bruce Tries To Draw Like Jack Chick…(part two)

July 17th, 2008

In Which Bruce Tries To Draw Like Jack Chick…

Wow…  It’s really Work trying to draw this bad… 

 

…don’t ask.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

February 13th, 2008

Take Two Aspirin And Repeat After Me: “It’s Just A Cartoon…It’s Just A Cartoon…It’s Just A Cartoon…”

Good for them!

Danish Papers Reprint Muhammad Cartoon

(AP) Denmark’s leading newspapers on Wednesday reprinted a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked deadly rioting in Muslim countries two years ago.

The papers said they wanted to show their firm commitment to freedom of speech after Tuesday’s arrest in western Denmark of three people accused of plotting to kill the man who drew the cartoon, which shows Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

The drawing by Kurt Westergaard and 11 other cartoons depicting Muhammad enraged Muslims two years ago when they appeared in a range of Western newspapers.

It’s worth remembering that the cartoons in question barely got noticed until a Lebanese-born Muslim living in Denmark, Ahmad Akkari, began waving them around the middle east, in a dossier into which he’d inserted a number of cartoons that the Danes didn’t print, including one that portrayed Muhammad as a pedophile, and a photograph of a Danish man wearing a pig mask, taken during a Danish pig calling contest, that Akkari had re-captioned as being a photo taken of a Dane mocking Muhammad as a pig.

Akkari’s activities in the middle east arguably helped get the Danish embassy in Lebanon burned down.  When Israel later began attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon Akkari decided the Danes weren’t such bad folks after all and he hot-footed it back to the nation he helped rouse passions against, via his Danish residency and passport. Nice guy.

The sweet irony of angry mobs rioting and burning down embassies over a bunch of cartoons depicting Islam as a violent fanatical religion was, of course, lost on the protesters.  That kind of thing will reliably go past zealots of any faith, or none.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Take Two Aspirin And Repeat After Me: “It’s Just A Cartoon…It’s Just A Cartoon…It’s Just A Cartoon…”

December 5th, 2007

A Few Fundraising Ideas

Peterson Toscano is in town today, to do a performance of his Doin’ Time In The Homo No-Mo Halfway House at Goucher College, and I had a chance to hang out with him for a bit this morning.  One of the things we discussed over lunch was fund raising ideas for Morgan Jon Fox’s documentary on the Memphis Love In Action protests, This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.  I’m already in it for several grand, helping out in a way I’m not completely free to discuss, so between that and my new car I don’t have a lot of money to spare for a while and I explained this to Peterson and I guess his imagination is much better then mine because he suggested something that never occurred to me, but which should have because it’s obvious.  I can help raise money for the documentary, by auctioning some of my artwork on eBay.

Not that I’m a world renown cartoonist or anything, but some of you may appreciate owning the original artwork to some of my political cartoons, and in particular the cartoons I’ve done about Love In Action.  I’m also considering selling some of the original artwork to my cartoon series, A Coming Out Story, but there’s a catch to that.  The political cartoons really do look pretty much as you see them on the cartoon page.  But all I can sell of the work I’ve done for A Coming Out Story is the final inks on Strathmore board. which look somewhat unfinished.  All the cross-hatching and the word balloons for that one are done in Photoshop, after I’ve scanned in the inks.  The exception to this are the first four or five episodes, plus My First X-Rated Movie which I did with my old dip pens.  They’re almost completely finished cartoons, including the word balloons (which are empty because I just cannot hand letter anything).

The Mark and Josh originals  are the same, except I do the coloring in Photoshop.  What I can do with those is sell the original, along with a high-quality print of the final cartoon, printed to the same size as the original artwork so they can be framed side-by-side.  100 percent of the proceeds would go to Morgan to finish the documentary.

One other thing I could do, is auction off an original political cartoon, on any topic the successful bidder chooses.

I’m just in the thinking stages of this, so don’t send me any requests or bids on artwork just yet.  But I wanted to float this out there to see how much interest there might be in this.  When I get the next episode of A Coming Out Story posted, I’ll ask the folks on my mailing list how interested they might be in owning some of the original artwork for the series.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

August 17th, 2007

Sketchbook Pro It Is…

So I decided.  Manga Studio is way to complex and its workspace far too cluttered for me to concentrate on a sketch with.  Maybe I can us it in some other part of the work flow…like the layout for instance.  Its page layout and panel formatting features look really nice.  And its got an amazing array of texture screens that I still want to try out.  But for creating the initial sketches, it just doesn’t cut it.  For my hand, none of the others come close to Sketchbook Pro.

At some point I’ll start producing some cartoons with it.  Right now I’m still in a learning curve.  I’ll post some more sketches along the way.  When I do a complete cartoon in the computer I’ll let you all know which one it was, so you can compare.  Hopefully, the only person who notices the difference will be me.  As in, no more stacks of layout paper on my drawing board…no more cursing at jammed up Rapidographs…no more inhaling fixative fumes…no more erasers that tear up the paper…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sketchbook Pro It Is…

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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

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