Thursday, October 17, 2013

Houston's seasons are weird, but have personality

I've heard Houston has just two seasons - summer and January. Makes sense. Still, if you look closer, the city actually has four distinct seasons, each with its own personality. Sure, they don't match your standard image of the seasons, but they do exist.  I'd describe the personalities like this:

Summer the Barbarian

Holy %$#!!!! Brutal, relentless, oppressive. Talk about anger issues. He's like Yosemite Sam - just more competent and pumped with steroids. Equipped with a bottomless bag of humidity and a club of heat, he beats down any inkling you have of venturing outside. Every once in a while, he whips up a hurricane just to make things interesting. When this guy comes to town, grab the wife and kids and hide in the cellar. Wait....crap....we have no cellars.

Fall the Player

Smooth and cool, this guy floats in with a wink and a point. His light touch and cheesy grin cause women to erupt in fawning giggles. Actually guys too. I know - it's embarrassing! Nobody can get enough of the guy. Careful - he's unreliable. At least at first. After a few days in town, he slips out without a word, leaving everyone depressed. He even leaves the gate wide open when he goes, letting the Barbarian back in. Yet when he returns, all is forgiven. No matter how many times he repeats the inconsiderate pattern. It's shameful. But no one cares as long as he comes back.

Winter the Plain
He's Clark Kent without all the drama of Superman. Mild mannered and calm. Seems nice enough, but every once in a while  shows flashes of a cold, dark side. But just when you start wondering how many bodies he has in the trunk of his car, he lightens up, offers a warmer smile and you feel silly for letting your imagination wander. Regardless of your suspicions, seeing weather elsewhere makes you appreciate this vanilla character.   

Spring the Beauty (who makes bad choices)

She is one super lady. She's kind. She pretties up the place with wildflowers and bluebonnets. She's a breath of fresh air. She's so perfect you want her around forever... but the longer she stays, the more you sense something just ain't right. Then you find out. That's right - she's dating Summer the Barbarian! You warn her that he's no good, but it's too late - she's in love. You see them together more and more. He starts to dominate everything they do. Her flowers wilt, the air gets heavier. You tell her to leave him - "What about Fall? You two would make a great couple," you insist. It's no good, she can't escape. Finally, she just disappears. Rumor has it that the Barbarian ate her.      

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Memories of 9/11

Most of my cartoons are humorous - or at least they're supposed to be. But cartoons aren't always meant to be funny. Some cartoonists sum up a political point with a few pen squiggles better than all the hot air a politician can muster. Other cartoons pick at your emotions or goad you into to buying a box of Count Chocula.

I'd describe the one I did on Sept. 11, 2001 as personal therapy. I didn't plan it. I didn't sketch it out first. I just drew because I didn't know what else to do ... and I had to do something. Now I drag it out every September. It's not some sort of masterpiece or technically admirable. But every line, every ink blot, every scribble bring that day back to me. I remember where I drew it, the amount of sunlight filtering into the room, everything.  But mostly I remember how I was feeling - a bizarre mixture of shock and horror ripening into anger and defiance. Sounds more like the stages of grief than a recipe for cartooning. And maybe that's what it was.

So every September I take a look at it and allow all the feelings to rush back - at least for a moment. It doesn't comfort me. Quite the opposite. But sometimes that's what we need. Sometimes we just need to remember a moment for what it was.

Click on image to enlarge

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Are dogs still man's best friend? You bet!

Someone told me recently that I do a lot of dog cartoons. Never thought about it, but I suppose that's true. I like dogs. I have a dog.

I think one reason people like dogs is because they like us. Other species just aren't that into us. And for good reason. The human animal tends to be fairly narcissistic. So when we come across another animal that digs us too, we melt. Other good news is dogs don't seem that particular. They don't care what color we are, where we land on the political scale, how much our waistline is growing or what language we speak. In fact, they seem to like us more than we like us.

But dogs don't stop there. They also like our stuff - tennis balls, automobiles, ice cubes, sofas, toilets. Except for the vacuum cleaner and the rectal thermometer, they seem to be on board with all of it.

Somewhere along the way, though, the human-dog relationship transcends all that.

My dog has managed to worm her way into many of my thoughts and a good chunk of my activities, so it seems natural that dogs make regular appearances in my cartoons. Still, I think the main reason is because I try to draw from the heart. And that's where I find my dog, curled up in a circle, with both dog and human savoring every minute she's there.

Click on cartoon to enlarge

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Admiral Ackbar's analysis

Growing up as a Star Wars nerd, I've probably drawn those characters a million times from about age 6 through... well, what's today? As a result the cartoon below really is a Star Wars nerd production because unless you were obsessed with the original films, it probably won't make any sense to you... and even if you do get it... well... it's just weird. I apologize in advance. 

Remember you can always find more cartoons on the Beckhead Comics Facebook page and Twitter.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Every dog yaks

Long after I did this cartoon, I began thinking - where in the heck did the "sick as a dog" idiom come from? What does it actually mean? 

A quick Google search led to an explanation that "sick" is more related to "vomit" in British English. So, if you're sick as a dog, it's serious enough to involve toilet hugging. Not that dogs do that. In fact, their relationship with a toilet typically involves more intake than discharge. Another site suggested it meant feeling ill, but being unable to vomit. Since finding the truth on the Internet is about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack (great... one more phrase to ponder.. wait... no, that one is actually pretty obvious), we are left up to our own conclusions. I mean unless you actually want to do the research.

All I know is that on more than one occasion I've seen my dog do the vomit walk - hunched over, walking slowly, eating an occasional blade of grass, and then -  yak! All better!  huh.. I wonder why we refer to a long-haired bovine to mean vomit...  

Remember, if you just want to see cartoons without all the yakkity yak, check out Beckhead Comics' Facebook page and Twitter.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lost cartoons finally see daylight.

They had been sitting there for years. Buried under a layer of electronic dust and sulking in the shadows of my hard drive. They made no noise. They bothered no one. They are four cartoons I did years ago but, for one reason or another, must have decided they were unworthy of publication. I discovered them last week while cleaning out some folders. Seems sad. They went through the same process as my published cartoons. They were born out of the same combination of ink and hope, only to be dismissed and eventually forgotten.

But that changed yesterday. To their surprise I dusted them off, added a bit of color, raised them above my head and placed them gently on my Beckhead Comics Facebook page. The lovable losers knew they weren't perfect. Maybe they couldn't generate as many laughs as their published counterparts. But from the top of the page, they could finally look down on the rest. They were finally on top.