Comics


I admit that I have a bit of a thing for comics. Nearly all cultures have strong traditions of linking stories and art, be it for entertainment or transmitting information. The styles differ tremendously, of course; we write legends into constellations and asterisms, illuminate manuscripts, scrawl on alley walls, and fill cathedrals with elaborate tales in colored glass. Rising literacy rates have not decreased our artistic impulses, but it has rather allowed us to more skillfully combine words and images to tell a story.

It isn’t terribly surprising that artists have chosen to throw digital creation and/or distribution of their work into this mix of tools, and there are some interesting philosophical debates about how best to mediate the audience’s interaction with a digital story. One of the beautiful things about presenting art in a digital format is that the creator has somewhat more control over that interaction than with a print comic (which I still greatly enjoy; it’s just that I like trying new things), and some stories work better in one format than another. It’s a fun evolution to watch!

There are some hugely talented authors and artists out there, and many of them offer their work for free online. Of course, the standard cautions about the internet apply here as anywhere, and the excellent content can be drowned out by the din. Depending on my work schedule and level of tolerance of the computer (an inverse relationship), I go through phases of trying out new comics or just keeping up with my favorites. Several cycles of creation have gone into the current collection of links, which now has its own page (check out the tabs up by the Snowday Gallery).

All of these stories are well written, with quality art and solid plots. The styles, genres, and premises are diverse, but all are PG-13 or friendlier, so I hope you find something you enjoy!

Post Script: I have a comparable collection of excellent hardbound books that you can find by visiting my Library Thing page. It isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a decent start.

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As a preface to this sketch, I must say that if you are unfamiliar with Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrigg Court, you should fix that. This here is a little bit of fan art for one of the many fantastic personalities surrounding the Court.

My brother and I grew up with stories of the trickster Coyote, so it was initially strange to see him in the context of such a European comic. However, he lives up to his reputation beautifully, with his own agenda, humor, and questionable ethics.

Sometimes I get the impression that he is the only character who knows precisely what is going on. Ever noticed how the tricksters and fools are the wisest, most perceptive people around? That’s Coyote all over.

So here’s to the Trickster!

Coyote

Coyote
(click or visit DA for better resolution)

This was drawn and inked when I was in London this summer, were I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Siddell at the MCM Comic Expo. He was kind enough to draw Boxbot and Mort for me, so this is something by way of a thank you. (Fortunately that sketch was one of the few that wasn’t stolen during my move! It now has pride of place on my book wall.)

The original for this is ~3.5×5.5 micron on watercolor paper. Someday, it may even be painted. Pigs could fly – though the wingspan would be ridiculous – but for me it’s back to lab and lecture. Pretty soon we start working for the Echo clinic, as well, so it may be some time before the next update. Tutaonana baadaye!

Life in intensive histology is trucking along.

Having an incredibly cool lab to rotate in – albeit with an uncommonly light project – is helping. We spent about 20 min of lab meeting trying to think of how to reconstruct fractal collapse patterns, then moved on to brainstorming how the B vs. T1 vs. T2 switch might be controlled, and wound up talking seriously about Klingon, fractal cake, and the impossibility of melanin pencils. I think it’s safe to say I’m in love with these people.

Still, there is a good chunk too much work to get done at any given time for histology, and it’s driving us all crazy. In self defense against defensins, a group of us slammed shut our books on Friday night, piled into my car, and trundled on down to New Roc City to see the Dark Knight in action. This was clearly the best choice.

Despite the Batman break, my brain is still pretty fried. Reading about the different percentages of mucous and serous acini in different salivary glands will claim me again in a moment. Before it does, however, I’d like to share some of what I was working on earlier today. Since I don’t have a scanner here, these are just cruddy photos, but I thought it would still be fun to post. The marine piece was a ton of fun at all stages and is pretty much finished to the point of cutting it off the block and mounting it. The Tempest piece has a little ways to go before I’m happy with the contrast. Any thoughts?

Tempest (in progress, small photo)

Tempest (in progress, small photo)
Yes, Ariel was truly imprisoned in an oak, but I chose a pine for both the play on “evergreen” and consistency with mediterranean flora. Well, that and how much it opened up the composition.

Sea's Revenge (small photo)

Sea’s Revenge (small photo)
The color palette here was strongly influenced by Dulac. The subject matter is another story entirely.

I’ve been absent for a while for a number of reasons (moving, starting full-time at the hospital), but the least pleasant is that I’m in the final stretch of studying to take America’s most notorious exam. I’d been hoping to take it at the end of June. However, I overestimated the availability of testing sites, and wasn’t able to find a testing center within 3 hours drive of Saint Louis, a city where 10% of our metro area population is college/university/graduate/medical students and there are two major medical schools, that provided tests on the weekends (or even, on the earlier dates, on weekdays).

After checking out as many test dates as I could, I finally settled on a Thursday in late July in Springfield, IL. It means I’ll have to miss work (which will go on record as “unconfirmed sick day: migraine”) but, if I wanted to take the test on a Saturday, my site options were Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, or Kuala Lampur. I think Sydney and Hong Kong may have been offered on one of the earlier dates, as well. Apparently the rest of the world hasn’t caught on to the idea of the full-time job.

At any rate, regular posting likely will not resume until after the test. In the meantime, here’s a mad science-y image to distract you:

NextGen

If this doesn’t make much sense, google “next generation sequencing” or check it out on wikipedia. It’s pretty crazy stuff. Dead useful, too.

I need to apologize for two things:

1) I’ve been out of commission for several weeks due to mad science, and have neglected my update “schedule.”

2) Now that I am finally posting an update, it’s an inside joke.

Just kidding. I have to say that I drew this as a bit of personal amusement at how confoundingly simple and idiosyncratic humor can be. This is actually just one panel from a comic I was going to do about infuriating inside jokes, but since crazy science has been keeping me at work until the grand hours of the evening, it’s just isn’t going to get done. Here’s the gist of the comic, however:

How many times do you find yourself surfing the net, reading blogs/comics/facebook, when you come across an impenetrable run of comments all based on some inside joke that you couldn’t possibly have heard? You poke around for a bit (if you’re really dedicated) and perhaps ask someone to explain, but they’re usually to busy tittering to tell you what the hell is going on. Sooner or later you get pissed off and leave the site. Familiar, yes?

For my first several weeks at the lab, all one had to do to make the other techs crack up was keep a straight face and growl “Tarrrrrrrr.” I had no idea what was going on. After another few days of people laughing at my blank stares, Dana took pity and had Chris explain what was going on.

Believe me, you don’t want to know, either.

Chris' Tarr

So I was cruising Kate Beaton’s website, and suddenly there was a hole in my life of which I was hitherto unaware. It has now been filled, mightily.

Aaaand we have more science with this week’s Autclave comic. “Malaria Mommy” is what we call whoever has active cultures in the TC room. I learned from Chris, our TC specialist, whom we give a hard time about being a bad mommy. He’s not a bad mommy at all, but he’s such fun to josh that we give him a hard time all the time. Don’t worry, he dishes it right back at us :). Some day I would love to do a full comic series about all of the crazy things we talk about (the secret of flow cytometry, the Age of Pisces, tempo-challenged music, Southern Fried blots…), but there would never be enough time. Every day provides at least a handful of punchlines.

Anyway, here’s our latest promo poster:

Malaria Mommy

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