Monday, April 28

Gouging the Planet With My Hands

The garden is installed or implanted or inseedified or something. There are plants were there were no plants. It's topsoil puberty behind our house.

I bought an armful of plants from the hardware store -- tomatoes, squashes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, marigolds (to ward off bugs), and strawberries by request of my son. I sectioned off the garden for him to take care of, and he gets a tomato plants, the strawberries and half the potatoes. He's three. He can do this. If I tell him to pretend he's peeing on the plants by watering them -- and we only pretend this, deputy -- he'll be all for it.

I thought it would take two hours to put everything in the dirt. It took four. I am the pained. The weather was perfect, though. Overcast but warm with a nice breeze. I didn't till the ground this time. Instead I put down weed-blocking fabric and planted the goods in holes I cut into the fabric. I mixed up cow manure, compost, and fertilizer as potting soil and covered some of the taller plants with mulch. It's all done. I hadn't tried to do everything in one day before.

And then I hear we might get hail today. Hail clobbered the garden a few years back, killing a good chunk of the tall plants. I hope this garden is too new to be hurt. Everything is so close to the ground, so they may not be so walloped.

My hands are a mess. They're stiff and achy. But I also think I could crush a mailbox with one hand now. I ran a few miles the day before I worked the garden, and I hope this work jumpstarts my metabolism to whittle away the winter pounds accumulated at the drawing table.

Tuesday, April 22

Gardening Again

We've had a garden in the backyard for about eight years now. I grew up with a grandfather who turned half his huge back yard into a garden. I helped him as much as a grade-school kid could (so not much), but I picked up enough to try my hand at a garden after we bought a house. I had talked about it long enough that I came home to find my wife had rented a tiller and gouged a wide trench for me to cultivate.

That chunk of lawn was previously a mulched bed of plants, an obvious means to reduce lawn-mowing. The dirt was not asked to grow anything other than flowers, and I doctored it to receive vegetable seedlings. It was red clay. It needed chemistry to change the acidity and soil to nurture plants. We started a compost cage and mixed the product with dried cow manure and smooshed the ground into a garden. It went well for the first year. I was delighted to grow potatoes and tomatoes. Squashes will grow pretty much anywhere, so I knew we'd have those for salads. We yoinked the food, let the ground grow over in the winter, and rented the same tiller each spring to rouse the garden back from teh dead.

This year, though, I'm gonna skip the tiller. The soil has had almost ten years of compost, fertilizer, manure, and decomposing plants. It's certainly loose enough to take seeds and plants now. Instead, I put down weed-blocking fabric to burn away the weeds. After about a week, I'll divvy up the garden into sections for each vegetable and make small holes in the fabric for the plants. I'll rotate the crops when we plant. We also have more sunlight after hacking back the tree cover this winter.

For the first time, I'll make a small section for my son to care for his own plants, and he'll get to decide how we cook whatever grows.

I'll always plant roma tomatoes for salads and homemade pizzas. Everything else will be up to a family vote.

Saturday, April 19

Free Comic Book Day

Saturday, May 3, is Free Comic Book Day, where comic stores will have free copies of special issues from dozens of publishers. It's an annual tradition, and a great time to introduce kids to comics, discover your local store, and pick up some great stories for nada.

I will be at my hometown comic store, The Tangled Web, in Spartanburg, SC. I will offer free sketches (with a tip jar), and I can offer a limited window of commissions (b/w or color) before then. Just use the button below and pick up your art piece at the store May 3. Here are some examples to inspire you. I'll close the list on May 1. Email me with any questions.

4 characters max.

Friday, April 11

Walking Dead Shirts

Say, not only do I have new Walking Dead shirts for sale, but Skreened is holding a BOGO sale until Sunday. I also have shirts for Hannibal, Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, Pacific Rim, Hannibal, and more.

I made the designs in Illustrator. The below are the illustrations minus the color fields.  

After drawing the portraits from reference pictures, I pasted them behind frames I created and gave them Latin descriptors.

I have a new appreciation for Michonne's beauty after drawing her face.  Carol, however, remains my favorite. I initially was only going to draw her, but I knew Daryl and Michonne are too popular to ignore.

Thursday, April 10

The Winter Duck

I needed some new sketch ideas, and I solicited notions on Twitter. The first suggestion was Howard the Duck as the Winter Soldier.

This was the sketch that resulted.

I thought it had some potential. I took it home an cleaned it up, lightboxed it, scanned it, and colored it. 

I love comics.