Frazz by Jef Mallett follows the adventures of an unexpected role model: an elementary-school janitor who's also a Renaissance man. While he's sweeping the hall, he's whistling Beethoven. Or Lyle Lovett. He paints the woodwork in the classrooms; he paints a Da Vinci on the cafeteria wall. He's a trusted authority figure who is every kid's buddy. He took the janitor's job while he was a struggling songwriter, and when he finally sold a hit song, he decided to stay on at school. Frazz appears in 200 newspapers worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune and Detroit News. "A few years back, I wrote and illustrated a children's book," says Mallett. "When I was traveling around reading it at school assemblies, I noticed that often, the most respected, best-liked grown-up in the building was the janitor. And I thought, 'Hmm, there's a comic strip in that.'" Often praised for its intelligent wit, gentle spirit and effortless diversity, Frazz won a Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council in 2003 and 2005 for excellence in communicating values and ethics.
Each year “Inspire Your Heart with Art” Day falls on Jan. 31. While the origins of this holiday are unknown, it’s a day to appreciate art, whether it’s painting, sculpting, music or something else entirely.
Although comics are, without a doubt, an art form, when someone mentions the word “comics” (which happens quite often around here), the adjectives that generally come to mind are “humorous” or “amusing” -- not “inspirational.”
Zen Pencils is the exception. Cartoonist Gavin Aung Than’s beautiful, elaborate drawings take inspirational quotes from famous philosophers, comedians and writers, and turns them into heartwarming cartoon stories.
If you’re looking for inspiration (or even if you’re not!), try reading Zen Pencils. Personally, I think Inspire Your Heart with Art Day was created specifically for this comic.
This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anythng; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.
We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.
"Charles M. Schulz, the creator of 'Peanuts' and a Northern California resident, met Mr. Turner in the early 1960s and became a friend and mentor, said Andrew Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. 'They were the same age, they both were in the war — they just clicked,' said Mr. Farago, who has curated shows of both men’s work. In a conversation one day, Mr. Turner lamented the lack of black characters in newspaper comics, and Schulz suggested he try to do one..."
From a recent profile by R.C. Harvey in his Rants & Raves column:
"All the while, he mulled over an idea for a comic strip. Peanuts particularly engaged him, and then once when Charlie Brown appeared in a Civil War cap, Turner pondered: What if Charlie Brown were Black? And what if the cap were a Confederate cap?...He was the first Black cartoonist to produce a nationally distributed comic strip..."
The San Francisco Chronicle published this profile in conjunction with a retrospective of Turner's work ("...a jazz fanatic who works at night listening to the music of Dizzy Gillespie -- model for Wee Pal hipster Diz -- Duke Ellington, and Jimmie Lunceford."). Below is a 2009 Keith Knight tribute which refers to the same exhibition:
Dogs in comic strips always grab my attention, especially when the dog is best friends with a human. My favorite human-dog duo is Red and Rover. Not only do they go on space adventures together, you can tell that they are best friends. After learning about some of the other human-dog duos, I wanted to see which comic my dogs and I best reflect.
Red and Rover by Brian Basset
I have been taking care of my dogs, Gus and Gomer, while my parents are on vacation. Before this one-on-one time with them, I thought we were best friends. After spending a week alone with them, I think they are out to get me.
Just in the past week, a loaf of bread has gone missing from my kitchen counter. There has been a squirrel casualty in the backyard. The garbage has been gotten into … twice. And they have barked at anything that moved outside.
Marmaduke by Brad Anderson
All that I ask is for my dogs and I to get along instead of them treating me like I’m a stranger in THEIR house. Why can’t we just sit in a box together and go to outer space? Or sit on the couch and discuss the news?
The Duplex by Glenn McCoy
I now understand the types of relationships my dogs and I share. I have a Marmaduke and a Garfield. Gus is constantly getting in the trash and trying to escape out the front door, and it’s a given that Gomer is part feline. He gives me the side-eye from across the room and I can almost see the thought bubble above his head, filled with snarky remarks.
Garfield by Jim Davis
Although my dogs and I may not have a partner-in-crime Red and Rover-type relationship, we somehow are making it work. Which comic do you think best represents you and your pet? Comment below!
I recently took a stroll down the Lego aisle of Target for my annual check-in on how much better kids these days have it than when I was young. Some findings:
1) Kids these days have it better than when I was young.
2) Holy macaroni, are Legos expensive.
3) Legos seem to possess a range of emotion on their faces far more nuanced than the single, placid gaze worn by the Lego men of my youth.
4) With those emotions comes quite a bit more sass than I think is necessary for such gentle playthings.
5) Also, some of them appear to be robots, monsters and robot-monsters. My record will show that I've always been a big supporter of all three concepts, but commingling those things with Legos seems to work against the general esprit de corps that I remember. As far as I knew, all Legos ever wanted to do was build a town entirely out of police stations, race tracks and monorails. They introduced a little skeleton man at a certain point, but he always struck me as a skeleton who was born a skeleton, instead of a decomposed version of a formerly ambulatory Lego man. Look how happy that skeleton man is in that first link! He's down for whatever!
6) Where my brother and I had to gnaw apart stuck bricks for hours to have enough pieces to make angular, mismatched dinosaurs or whatever, it seems like a lot of the heavy creative lifting comes pre-molded and based on an existing franchise, right out of the box. I guess I'm okay with this, but for us, squinting enough to make a mound of red rectangles appear to be a sleek, terrifying T-Rex was a key component of both of us stumbling into our afternoon naps. At a certain point, closing our eyes altogether and dreaming of dinosaurs was preferable to straining our imaginations to pretend we had any ability to forge them at all.
7) Having to make every single bit of our vision out of disparate pieces feels like it allowed for more art than just buying a dinosaur-shaped dinosaur. It was a grubby, preadolescent staging of the ongoing debate of abstract vs representational art. To be sure, our souls were stirred by the act of expression.
8) Legos all talk now. I've worked hard to view societal and generational differences as evolutions, not degradations, but I'm unable to accept this. Legos don't talk. They're little and helpful and sharp to step on. Their silence is directly responsible for their effectiveness in lacerating parents' bare feet when hidden in the carpet.
9) I should really put my thoughts about the state of Legos into list form, but wrap things up once I realize that I could theoretically go on for thirty or more entries. I'll stop around nine.
In conclusion, Legos have outgrown me more quickly than I have outgrown them. I'll miss you, youth.
All is not lost, however: It seems that despite the creative discouragement inherent in prepackaged Legos, modern man has made great advancements in treatment and therapy for Lego Mania. Yesterday, I came across thesecreations by a fellow named Tyler Sky, whose ingenuity and vision teamed up to forge these Calvin & Hobbes-inspired Lego tableaus. Apparently, they'll be on display at the Oakridge Mall Lego store in Vancouver, Canada next month, which sounds like a great way to check up what kids these days are up to without causing the existential crisis I had in Target.
If you'd like to take a look at Tyler's creations in mega-huge resolution, you can do just that by clicking here. If you'd like to enjoy classic Calvin & Hobbes comics containing snowmen which dovetails nicely with these Lego creations, your first step is clicking either here or here. I guess things are pretty good all around for everyone.
I just wanted to call your attention to a couple of adventurous extended storylines taking place in the comics pages right now, in the middle of a blizzard.
The first is taking place in Heart of the City, starting with the (above) 1/13 strip and continuing through the next couple of weeks. I got a sneak peak at some of the later strips in the series, and found it to be one of the more moving storylines I've seen in "Heart" or any other daily comic in quite some time.
The other is happening right now in Pooch Cafe, and also started with the 1/13 strip, though where and when it winds up is anybody's guess. Guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out.
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