Sunday, May 30, 2004

May 30, 2004
The big Betty Birthday Bash came off yesterday afternoon without a hitch. Must have been 75 people in Betty’s community rec room. Brad stayed up all night (he got four hours sleep) and made both green and red mole. He got some good advice from Mad Coyote Joe, who sent Betty’s second son to a Mexican food market down on West Thomas Road to get the authentic ingredients. Brad told me he spent four hours on the red and four on the green. Besides me and a couple others, most people picked the Kansas City BBQ sauce out of a jar. Sigh. There’s the real truth of the world, especially modern America. You go to all the trouble to make something from scratch, the old fashioned way, and most people still prefer the cheap mass produced version. This sad truth applies to food, housing, movies, art, music and every form of apparel.

Kathy gave a speech, tracking her mother’s life to the present (she’s 80) and Carol Radina had us play games to loosen everyone up. She had her kids, EJ and Cedes, come around and put a name on our backs and we had to go around and ask strangers questions to try and guess who we were. After a good hour, I was only able to determine that my mysterious back person, was a guy, an actor, he wasn’t from America and he is known for pretty outrageous behavior—”Kind of like you”—someone added as a helpful clue. “Pee Wee Herman?” I asked excitedly, but no, that wasn’t correct. Hmmmm, an actor, wild and crazy, known for other things besides acting. Finally, Kathy took pity on me and guided me with a couple well place clues to Ozzy Osbourne. I was so steamed—Ozzy has a tv show, but I’ve got news for you people, he AIN’T ACTING!!!!!!

Kathy, of course, had George W. Bush on her back, in more ways than one (she guessed it after three questions: “Does he think he’s a cowboy? Is he surrounded by evil advisors? Is he an idiot?”). And Deena came with her boyfriend Mike. I shook his hand, told him to turn around so I could look at his name. “Am I an animal?” he asked me hopefully. I said, “You’ll have to ask someone else.” The name on his back was Bob Boze Bell.

Speaking of animals with my name, Buddy Boze Hat Killer got another three hats last night. Fortunately, I saved two of them before he could brand them with his distinctive crown shredding rip-saw incisors. This is the final straw (or should that be felt). I worked late in the studio last night and when I closed everything down Buddy was sleeping on his chair and I looked at him and said, “I’ll let you stay in here if you’ll promise to be good.” What a foolish idiot I am. By my estimate he has destroyed at least a grand in hats (he seems to prefer Tom Mix Stetsons and they each run $300 and up).

Now that I’m once again drawing every day, I’m rekindling my lifelong ambition to create a series of graphic novels about the world I grew up in. O. Henry type short stories combined with graphic imagery about renegade Apaches, Navajos and Hualapais, deadly gunfighters, the Mexican border, Route 66, Honkytonk drumming and peopled with all sorts of depraved desert dwellers who I’ve either met, married or known. I visualize it as Mark Twain meets Al Capp (Li’l Abner). I’m always looking for outside inspiration and concepts.

A new issue of How: Design Ideas At Work, was floating around the production area on Friday. It’s one of those specialty mags that sells for $9.95 ($14.95 in Canada!) and gives step-by-step instructions and trade secrets on HOW (get it?) to illustrate, maximize creativity, etc. As I was leaving last night, I saw it on Gus’s desk and purloined it.

This morning as I was looking for creative ways to not work, I picked it up and scanned its pages looking for inspiration (graphics I could steal) and I ran across a piece called, “Storytelling” by Terry Marks. Among the gems:

• Know where you’re going. Where do you want your audience to end up? You’d better have your trip planned out.

• Know your character. Character is plot; it drives the story. If you don’t know it intimately, you can’t tell the story.

• Every element needs to be clear. Each piece must speak to the audience and be unambiguous.

• Simplify and connect. Cut what’s distracting. If it doesn’t add, it detracts—so subtract it.

• Exaggerate. You want to make a point? Let people know. Did you ever notice how big the knife is in “Psycho”? It’s huge; larger than normal. And it works. I haven’t showered since.

• Distill. You want to assert something quickly? Use a symbol. Better yet, create a new one or allude to one. Symbols are mighty.

• Contrast. You ever notice how something never looks so blue as when it’s placed next to orange? Juxtaposition and contrast—push your meaning.

• Pace. Don’t slam your audience with info, be coy and reveal it slowly. Everything is like dating: too much too soon can blow the whole shooting match. Be suave. You have a voice. Use it.

Great stuff. You can check out Terry Marks at the 2004 HOW Design Conference

Got a new poll up. Who is the best movie cowboy ever?
• John Wayne
• Clint Eastwood
• Tom Selleck
• Sam Elliot

You can click right here to vote.

“The easiest way to convince my kids that they don't really need something is to get it for them.”
—Joan Collins

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