Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keep your hands and arms inside this comic.

Ahoy, there!

This week's comic for involves the tumultuous rise and fall and rise of the value of the Bitcoin.  Over the past several months, the Bitcoin has seen a pretty dramatic fluctuation in value.  The crew at asked me to draw a comic that depicted this fluctuation as a roller coaster ride with Ben Bernanke at the controls.  Here's the sketch:

If there were an actual roller coaster based on the Bitcoin at say, a county fair, what would it be called?  Bitcoin Blastoff, of course.  The sign was a fun little element to include, mostly because it seems like every carnival ride sign was designed in the 80s.

I also thought it would be a whole heap of fun to draw Bernanke as a carny.  I've drawn Ben Bernanke a lot at this point, so adding a little variety to his getup was a way for me to be excited about drawing him yet again.  It's said that humor is usually predicated on the unexpected.  And what's more unexpected than seeing the ever-reserved, conservatively-dressed Bernanke as a poorly-clad carny, smoking a cigarette and emblazoned with tattoos?  Nothing, says I:

It was, as predicted, fun to draw.  However, as I was drawing it, I had the thought that it might not go over well.  And that ended up being the case.  They liked the cartoon, but didn't think it was a great idea to depict Bernanke in such a fashion.  It didn't bother me.  I knew the risk before drawing it and was willing to accept that risk.  Here's the revised version:

A word on smoking: Back in the day, smoking was cool because marketing.  And also because people didn't know what it was doing to them.  And so, the image of a cigarette was one that came pre-packaged with a lot of other ideas about image and culture and sophistication.  These days, I think a cigarette is still an icon, but one of a much different flavor.  We know how detrimental it is to smoke, which is why I think the image of a cigarette is now one that's shorthand for people who don't really care about anything anymore.  And that's powerful, too.  That's one of the reasons I still like to include it occasionally in my illustrations.  It reinforces certain characterizations.  Cigarettes aren't Dorothy Parker anymore.  They're Charles Bukowski.

Anyway, overall, this comic is so-so.  I like the color, but I'm not crazy about the scaling or the composition.  And this isn't my best likeness of Bernanke.  His eyes are too close together and his nose isn't quite right.

I'd give this one a 2-corndog rating.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

This is what it sounds like when doves cry.

Here's the latest comic for  It has to do with Janet Yellen's vetting in front of congress as she prepares to take over for Ben Bernanke.

The idea, thought up by the crew at, deals with the fact that Yellen is seen as a kind of "financial dove", but she would like to be seen (at least for the purposes of the vetting process,) as more of a financial hawk.

I was asked to draw Janet Yellen as a dove dressed up like a hawk.  That's a bit mind-bending, if you think about it.  Drawing someone as an animal and still trying to keep them familiar enough to be recognized is no easy task.  Particularly if that animal is a dove.  A dove has a beak, not a separate mouth and nose like we do, which makes the translation tough.  Birds aren't animals we typically anthropomorphize the same way we do other animals.

And then I had to show she was dressed as a hawk.

This is one of the more unusual comics I've ever done.  But it was SO odd that it ended up being kind of fun.  To be perfectly honest, it's not one of my favorites.  I'm just not all that satisfied with the drawing itself, the composition, or the lighting.  I'll go ahead and use the same excuse as always, which is that if I'd had more time I would have done better.  Maybe.  But some weeks, I'm able to turn out a comic that I genuinely like in the same amount of time.

Then again, none of those comics involved me drawing Janet Yellen as a dove dressed as a hawk.

All in all, I'd say my performance on this comic is a few twigs short of a nest.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Yellen like a felon.

Hey, look: An comic!

It's been several weeks since the last one, and I was glad to get back into the swing.  The one day deadline is a bit of a grind, but I like that they're challenging and they keep me sharp(ish).

This week's subject deals with the ascension to the FED throne of Janet Yellen.  She has a long list of bona fides and will likely do a fine job in a difficult position.  The subject is also about the "tapering" of Quantitative Easing, which has been the cause of much debate, hand-wringing and market uncertainty (wait...has it been the cause of uncertainty?).

The comic itself (as always, penned by the team at, is a reference to "The Karate Kid", the 1984 classic movie in which Ralph Macchio learns martial arts from his enigmatic neighbor, played by Pat Morita.  80s montages, moral lessons, and jean jackets ensue.

The drawing: More fun than a Kenny Loggins concert.

Yes, I drew Bernanke for the 16th time (that's the actual number), but I got to draw him doing karate and looking sensei-like.  I imagine, assuming my work with continues, I will draw Janet Yellen just as many times.  Probably not wearing a karate uniform every time (I'll keep my fingers crossed, though).

I also enjoyed drawing the environment.  I've never drawn a dojo before, so it was new and interesting.  Also, this comic ended up being a lot lighter in color and tone than most.  I'm not sure if that has more to do with the fact that financial officers hang out in tomb-like buildings all the time or if the darker colors are more indicative of my troubled psyche.  Maybe both.

At any rate, I'd give this comic four Crane Kicks.