My wife made a Mini-Malki

This is pretty amazing. My wonderful wife (a professional puppet fabricator) surprised me with this, yesterday.

(The T-shirt is by the great Prang Quako, by the way.)

Strivey’s Last Day

Modeling a lovely Survival Kit bag! Photo by Carly Monardo.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Emerald City con in Seattle! We had fun at the TopatoCo Castle and especially at the TMH Live pre-party. I’m very much looking forward to sharing the video of the event with you, as soon as it’s ready!

I also wanted to give a special thank-you to Shari for this wonderful sketch:

You may remember Shari’s spirited prequel to this comic. These are the sorts of things that arise when I livestream the comic-makin’ process! We get to chatting while I’m putting the comics together, and every little piece that goes into the work gets an elaborate backstory. Shari’s piece made me wonder just how Strivey got himself into that pickle in the first place…

It was an ordinary day for Strivey. He’d heard there might be some lettuce underneath the back porch of the big blue house, so he took a wide, ambling stroll around the side of the building, finding sure footing in the grass as the sun paced him. He liked to time his walks with the sun this way, keeping steadily in that pleasing light, and he fancied himself an escort for that old yellow friend, showing him the way across the old footbridge over the course of an afternoon, or around a large tree, or behind a big blue house.

But today, as they walked slowly and carefully together, the sun managed to tangle itself behind a stand of scraggly branches, and no amount of Strivey’s coaxing could urge it back out. It happened this way often, to Strivey’s chagrin and despite all his urging, and usually it took all night for the big lunkhead to free himself and meet Strivey sheepishly back in the morning. Strivey would shake his small, wrinkled head, and the sun would start to shine brighter and brighter as if saying “I know, I know,” and then they would go on a long walk again.

Today was no different. So by the time Strivey reached the deck behind the big blue house, it was dim; and even though the dimness of evening is never the best time to look for lettuce that might be hiding, he’d come this far, and he was hungry. He peered about in the deck’s corners and crevices, and when nothing was evident beneath the deck he managed to make his way on top of it, and then from there into the house itself, and from there down a long hallway and into a room which was emitting a bright glow as if the sun had beat him there. “That crafty devil managed to sneak in ahead of me,” thought Strivey, as he nosed his way through the doorway.

The sun was smaller in person, a tiny glass figure shouting fiercely at a woman’s leering face. Immediately Strivey knew something was wrong — for his friend’s light, though bright, was not warm, having been trapped within this bulb of glass like a genie captured in a bottle, and the woman was the trapper.

Strivey tried to turn back and flee, but he was, after all, a tortoise, and a sprint back toward the hall took him about twenty minutes.

Next up: Comicpalooza in Houston, TX, March 26-28!

Copperplate Valentines

Marksman Owen writes: “I was inspired by your steam-powered heart T-shirt to create these two hearts. Less anatomically correct but more suitable for Valentine’s Day. They were something of a success with the ladies too.”

Great work, Owen! Also: let this be an instructive moment to all you Lotharios out there. Owen reports success with the “ladies.” Plural. The lesson is not to try and split your heart between two (or more) loves; it’ll never work. Your true love wants, and deserves, the whole of your heart. So give it to them!

…And then make another heart to repeat the process. The secret is in the number of hearts you have. Let us be like that famous Don Juan of the animal kingdom, the ten-hearted earthworm, and cultivate as many loves as our biology (or clockworks) will allow — then secrete a viscid egg sac into our clitellum and slide that junk right off our segmented, slithery body. Ah, love!

Flying painting by Carly Monardo

You know those days that come around every so often that plant flags in your life and scream, “You’ve come this far, there’s no turning back now!”? Some call them milestones; others, churlish reminders of mortality. I just use the colloquial “birthday.”

Well, I had one. And my wife surprised me with this lovely painting she’d (secretly) commissioned from our friend Carly Monardo. (Click the image above for a closer look.)

The painting is of me and my dad. Anyone’s who’s read my “One More Chance” essay may have an inkling of what this means to me.

It’s hanging framed in my office right now, and every glance at it hits me with a miniature poke in the soft tissues. It’s amazing what one work can simultaneously symbolize:

My relationship with my dad, whom I love and miss terribly;
My wife’s cleverness and thoughtfulness;
My friend’s artistic talent and in a broader sense, the friendships I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had in this exceptional career;
And even the idea of synthesis in general — it’s a picture of me now, flying over the California coast where I live now, with the version of my dad and even the specific airplane that I remember from years ago.

It’s a reminder that we’re who and where we are because of many different factors that have propelled us to this place — and we’ve been molded and shaped and tempered by those who’ve loved, encouraged, supported and yes, even fought with us along the way. All those days were hammers and all the people blacksmiths, and we ourselves are yet glowing brightly.

dangit if Dad had been a metalworker that metaphor woulda worked PERFECT