Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cartoons of Yesteryear, part 2

This cartoon is a follow-up to the post I made yesterday, featuring cartoons that I drew in my younger years. This is from a short series I drew my freshman year in college (2001), and looking at it now I'd say that it most closely resembles the sort of cartoons I draw now. I still like featuring my friends and people I know in fictionalized situations, and I still think physical comedy is funny. And I hopefully always will.

There's not much setup to this comic. The fire alarm went off in our dormitory a lot. Several times a week some weeks. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cartoons of Yesteryear

I went home to eastern Kentucky to visit my parents the other weekend. When cleaning out my old bedroom while I was there, I uncovered a trove of my old cartoons, little comics my friends and I drew in middle and high school. There are literally HUNDREDS of them, drawn at school before, during and after class. I must not have been challenged enough in the Kentucky public school system. Go figure.

Anyway, I had to do some serious vetting: of the comics that weren't HORRIFICALLY politically incorrect, downright awful or pointless out of context, I picked out a few to share from throughout my cartooning career.

This is the oldest of the bunch, drawn when I was in 6th grade (1994ish). Frosty was my dog when I was a kid. Everything I absorbed as a child found its way onto a piece of 8.5 x 11 typing paper back then.

 Yes, it's senseless. No, it isn't funny. Give me a break, I was twelve. 

The next cartoon was drawn when I was in 8th grade (1996ish). By now I was starting to discover what was funny and what wasn't (I watched "In Living Color" in syndication every night- No, my mom did not know). Also my teachers and friends were making consistent cameos in everything I drew. 
I now separate my cartoons into two categories: "pre-ears" and "post-ears". I also evidently couldn't draw a straight line to save my life. Good thing I got my degree in architecture!

The next cartoon is from high school (1998, 1999 perhaps). My cartooning style was beginning to blossom. I'd also determined that senseless violence on inanimate objects was the pinnacle of visual comedy. 
Credit goes to my friend Brad Given for creation of the Beebo character. As you can see, I still hadn't learned anything about lettering (and God bless you if you can consistently read my handwriting- to this day I'm unsure how I passed English class). I also included a little banner at the top featuring the title (and sometimes the sequential number) of the cartoon. I'm unsure why I did this, but I still catch myself doing it from time to time.

Yes, there is a cartoon drawn on the back of this one (you can see it on the scanned image). But I didn't draw it- my brother Graham did. I'll see if he wants to share that one.

I have another cartoon that I did my freshman year of college (2001), but I'll save that little gem for tomorrow. Hint: It involves me and the crazy antics of my college roommates. Until then!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Net- and self-publishing and other hyphenated words

Even if you’re not a musician, artist or writer, I recommend that you read this article (or at least items 5 and 4). Mostly because, if you don’t, you’re not going to have any idea what this blog post is about.

5 Common Anti-Internet Arguments (That are Statistically BS) (new window)

In case you have trouble following directions, the long of the short of that article discusses how the internet is fundamentally changing the way that artists have to create, market and distribute their media in the digital age.

I have to admit, I’m a little torn on the issue. On the one hand, paper books are all I really know. I don’t own an e-reader, and all of my favorite books I still own in physical form. On the other hand, the vast majority of things I read (articles, news, blog posts, even the Bible) are done on my phone and on my computer. Not to mention the fact that I maintain and post to this blog fairly often. In fact, my hundredth post snuck up on me before I even realized it. I threw myself a tiny parade in celebration.

 Anyway, back to the topic at hand. How does the digital world affect hopeful artists/writers/musicians like me? I’ve been effectively distributing my creative media for free on this blog for years, after all. Why should I expect to ever be able to make a living on my writing?

Well, if the above article is to be believed, I only have to have faith in the internet populace at large. That’s right- you, dear reader. The idea is that people don’t steal from their friends, and if content is good enough, they’ll gladly pay something for it, rather than steal it. But try to make readers (or listeners or viewers as the case may be) pay an exorbitant price for crap, and they’ll bury you alive. I really, REALLY want this to be true; if it is, it will only make artists strive to create better and better content. I’m just not sure I believe it.

 I’m currently trying to get published the old fashioned way- writing agent letters, sending queries, following up with media publishing companies. So far I haven’t had any luck. Should I begin self-publishing my work, selling it online for a pence and, if it’s well received, continuing as such? If any writers (or readers of such work) are out there, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"I Love You"

I know what you're thinking. "Oh, Valentine's Day was three days ago Aaron, isn't it a little bit late to be publishing a love story?". First of all, no, because love stories never go out of style. You cynics. And second of all, this isn't a love story. It's a story about a teenager and a hard realization. Enjoy!

"I Love You"
Aaron Matthew Smith - 17 Feb 2012

Chrissie sat on the couch, her face hidden behind a book. She was watching her sister Faith, seated across the room on a big wingback chair, tapping frantically on her laptop. Occasionally Faith would glance up at her, but Chrissie would always duck behind Grimm’s Fairy Tales just in time. She was so sly. 

Finally Faith finished typing and sat her laptop aside. 

“Mom,” Faith called, “I have to meet Jeremy in twenty minutes, ready to go?” Their mother said something from the top of the stairs, car keys jingling. 

“No reading my journal while I’m gone,” Faith threatened, pointing at a spot between Chrissie’s eyes. Chrissie snapped at her finger like a dog.

“You’re not the boss of me,” Chrissie said.

“Chrissie, no reading Faith’s journal,” their mom said from the door.

Faith grinned triumphantly as she and their mom headed for the car. 

“You’re not the boss of me,” Chrissie said to nobody. She picked up her sisters laptop. Faith got hers when she turned fifteen. Chrissie still had like nine months to wait. Their parents said that Chrissie would get her own for Christmas, but in the meantime she had to share Faith’s. 

Share a computer. With her sister. What was she, a hobo? 

She sat down and opened the icon on the desktop called “Faith’s Journal- CHRISSIE KEEP OUT!!!!!!!!!”. The program opened- two pink hearts, one with a lock and one with a key, popped up on the screen. Two words blinked in the middle of the hearts: ENTER PASSWORD.

Crap. She should’ve thought about this. Of course Faith would’ve put a password on her journal. Ever since Chrissie listened in on that phone call between her and Jeremy, it was like Faith didn’t trust her anymore. Faith had to be the worst sister in the world. 

This couldn’t be too hard. Their mom had taken Faith to the mall to meet Jeremy and some of their friends- they’d be gone for at least an hour. That was plenty of time to guess a password. 

Okay Chrissie, think. What would Faith use as her password?

J-E-R-E-M-Y, she typed. Nope, that wasn’t it.

Maybe there was a clue in the phone call she’d listened in on. She tried desperately to remember, but that was like a month ago. She tried a couple of Faith’s friends’ names- M-E-R-E-D-I-T-H, A-B-B-Y, J-I-L-L, but got nothing.

This was no fun. She could be guessing all night. That was when inspiration struck- the last words that Faith had said to Jeremy on the phone, the words that made Chrissie gasp and got her caught that night.


The pink hearts twinkled and spun as the program opened. Chrissie cheered. The program opened on the entry her sister had been writing when she’d left. She leaned forward in her chair, as if the secrets within would somehow be juicier if she was closer to the screen.

It turned out that her sister’s secrets weren’t really all that great. Something about her and Jeremy at her locker that day… they shared a locker? That was dumb. Some girl looked at him in gym class, and Faith didn’t like it… Oh, it looked like Meredith was dating some new guy named Jake (Chrissie had never heard of him). 

Let’s see… Ugh, Faith wrote something mean about her in here. She was not a pest! And… uh-oh, she was going to tell their mom that Faith had called her that word. Mom said that was the worst word you could call a girl. Chrissie wasn’t sure what it meant exactly, but she knew it was bad. 

Huh. This wasn’t as much fun as Chrissie’d hoped it would be. She hadn’t really known what she expected to find in her sister’s journal, except that reading it would be totally awesome. But it wasn’t all that awesome. In fact, it wasn’t really awesome at all.

There was another entry about her… mean!?! She was not mean. And… nosy? Well, Chrissie would admit that she was a little nosy, but only because Faith kept trying to hide stuff from her. Wouldn’t that make anybody nosy? 

Something strange started to happen as Chrissie scrolled back through the entries from that week, and then the week before. First she started to get bored. Then slowly she started to feel bad. There was another entry about her. And another, two days earlier. None of the entries about her were nice. Was this really what Faith thought about her? 

She glanced at the words across the top of the screen- “Faith’s Journal- CHRISSIE KEEP OUT!!!!!!!!!” practically shouted at her in the title of the program. A cold, hard lump, like a piece of frozen iron, settled into the bottom of her stomach. 

Oh, no. The things that her sister wrote about her were true. She was a nosy pest. And even though she didn’t know exactly what that word meant, right then she bet that whatever it was, she was it. 

She closed the program and clicked the laptop shut, but the cold lump in her belly didn’t go away. She laid on the couch and pulled a pillow over her face, but the words she’d read in her sister’s journal were still bouncing around inside her head. 

Nosy. Pest.

How long had she been like that? Had it been her whole life? How had she not noticed it? Why hadn’t anyone told her before? 

Faith’s told you before, a tiny voice inside her said. She named her journal after it for goodness sake. 

Chrissie laid there for a while. She lost track of how long. Finally the noises bouncing around in her brain got so loud that she felt like her head was going to explode.

An idea struck her. She threw open the laptop and opened the journal program again, but this time she clicked the button that said “Create a new journal”. After a few minutes of setting it up, she opened her first entry.

My name is Chrissie. This is my journal. Today I learned that I’m a nosy pest and another thing that’s even worse. I don’t want to be one of those anymore.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Banner Ad Purgatory"

Do you ever spend all day online (of course you do) and wonder, "Wow, all this content sure is great! How can this possibly be free?" (Of course you don't). Well, the dirty truth is that it's not free, but you're not paying for it with money. You're paying for all that delicious content with tolerance-dollars.

All those free news websites, opinion pages, article and video web pages make their money off of advertising. And you get access because you're voluntarily exposing yourself to those horrible ads. 

You know, by making fun of these ads, I'm probably doing the jobs of the advertisers for them. In fact, I ought to be charging THEM a fee to make fun of their work. This comedy doesn't grow on trees, folks. Anyway, these ads are all taken straight from the web pages; with the exception of a little cropping to make them fit here, I haven't altered them at all.

Let that sink in as you read on. 

 I can only assume this fruit makes Americans skinny by choking them.

After carrying around cleavage like THAT all day, how could you NOT be exhausted? 

Wait... are banks giving mortgage breaks to survivors of domestic abuse? Because someone needs to call the cops for this poor woman.

Seeing as how this appears to be the same guy in both of these ads, I'm going to guess that his miracle muscle building secret is Photoshop.

There's a Micheal Jackson joke in there somewhere, but I just can't find it. The implications of 50% unemployment are too Mad-Max-y for me to focus. 

AAAGGGHHHHH!!! Forget teachers- Kentucky needs exorcists! AND FAST!

And finally, these two are my absolute favorites. 

I like to imagine that these two woman have super powers, and are involved in an epic interplanetary battle. Middle-aged-African-American-Light-Head woman, from the planet Grantopia, fights Freakishly-Tall-Eldery-Asian-Viking Woman for galactic dominance of grants to help people return to school. 

Assuming of course they qualify for said grants. That's always the kicker.