Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Frugal Santa

These pots cost 77 cents each at Home Depot and the Creatix airbrush paint (the opaque, not the transparent variety) runs about $4.50 per bottle. Using miniscule amounts of paint you can cover a lot of area with dip pen and brush. Try to keep the paint thin, as opposed to mounding it. Then use the microwave like a kiln. After a couple minutes, your pots should be waterproof. I've never tried the airbrush--maybe that would work, too. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Rare One

It's unusual to make my youngest daughter LOL with a drawing, so here goes...

Monday, August 12, 2013


Rough Sketch for T-Shirt Design done in Quill on Nexus 7
Thanks to all who contributed to the S. Clay Wilson Trust Fund! We disproved Gary Trudeau's claim that the internet is "an income-free zone". And what is money, if not time, compressed into energy?
  As cartoonists, we have the ability to tap into the collective psyche of our reader/viewers. Our unique talents can also be pressed into service for the greater social good (besides mere "self expression") when circumstances warrant it.
  I hereby propose that we form an image bank of copyright-free designs that can be disseminated for the purpose of raising public awareness of the imminent catastrophe that our food supply will endure if this pandemic bee die-off continues.

Sign enamel on aluminum, 24" x 30", 10/13

  Now that Colony Collapse Disorder is the current Time cover story, this sketch of mine, done in response to anti-GMO blogs several months ago, is very much mainstream. I would like all concerned cartoonists to send me a jpg as an attachment (lo-res please) of your custom design with the simple slogan:
SAVE THE BEES ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  My next post will feature all designs received (and I'll make this one print-worthy). Include your contact info should a high-res version be needed. At that time I would hope that anyone with social networking skills will help send the images out to any potential sources that might fabricate posters, t-shirts, magnets, mugs, etc. If you have finished product, so much the better. Beyond mere sloganeering, there are many tangible things that individuals can do to fight this imminent agricultural catastrophe. Nobody is going to make money on this deal, but maybe we'll help in the effort to insure the future of the avocado. Plus almonds, apples, asparagus, broccoli, blueberries, onions, cucumbers, celery, plums, watermelons and tangerines. Despite the likelihood of massive crop failures, though, we could still be able to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Rest assured that the humble peanut and grape may survive this blight without pollination.

Friday, July 19, 2013


The immortal Wilson will be 72 on 7/25. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of comics, he is one of the original Zap artists who stoked the Underground comics movement. Several years ago he had a near-death experience--a traumatic brain injury--that left him in a severely diminished state. His wife Lorraine Chamberblain has become his full time caregiver despite her own medical issues, which are daunting. Her job description during these difficult years includes not only the physical and emotional work that must be done for Wilson's survival, but the mind-numbing task of dealing with the state medical bureaucracy. Though they live in a rent control apartment there are many other expenses besides housing that must be covered. In a recent letter which I will paste below, Lorraine mentions that "the trust fund is dismally low now, which worries me a lot. It pays for some medical bills, meds, the phone, cable, Internet and cleaning supplies & clothes, etc. Way more going out than coming in."
  By requesting that you contribute to his trust fund, I am challenging the concept of free content, which seems to tbe main currency of the internet. I will sweeten the deal by offering a FREE vintage 8-pager (the second ever published, my 1972 "Underground Cartooning Course") as an incentive. Go on to my Etsy site ScribeArt listed in the right column, and you'll see that it has a retail value of $20. Either buy one and I will forward the funds to Lorraine, or send a check to her directly and let me know. The check/m.o. should be made out to
S. CLAY WILSON S.N.T. (special needs trust)
P. O. Box 14854
San Francisco, CA 94114

for Paypal contributions and further news, visit
from Lorraine 7/17 
Here's a photo I took of him in the back yard last week (shown above). It was a gorgeous day, and he was happy to sit and watch the little girls from upstairs have a tea party while I repotted a plant. We were out there for a couple of hours, and he smiled the whole time. Today, however, he is extremely wobbly, and nearly fell over twice on his way to the bathroom. He seems to be staring off, too, which is worrisome. I'm calling his doctor, as the shunt in his brain may need adjusting. Or maybe he is just a little tired today. I will make an appointment for him to get checked out.

He hasn't been able to draw for a long time now. He can do nothing for himself. He watches movies. That's it. I try to keep him cheery and clean and feeling loved, but when I put drawing materials in front of him, he usually just looks at it. A few months ago, he drew what may have been clouds, or possibly talk bubbles for a cartoon. They were kind of close together, pointing every which way. He used a red pen. After a couple of hours I took it all away, as it was making him a bit sad. 

He understands more than most people might think, but if a person talks too much, or changes the subject too fast, he gets confused. One time, when we were walking along outside, I had been blathering, and I asked him if he understood what I was saying, or did it just sound like "gobbledegook". He answered, "Gobbledegook". Disappointing to say the least! But I continue to talk to him throughout the day, telling him what I've been doing, where I went, etc. He likes the attention. When people visit him, if they just talk to him like they would anyone, he will often smile or give a belly laugh. So I know he gets a lot of it. If a visitor is uncomfortable and tongue-tied, he will just stare off and refuse to smile or respond. That has happened a few times, making an old friend feel even more uncomfortable. But they shouldn't take it personally. He can be really grumpy sometimes. You just never know.
I encourage people to call him just to say hello and tell him what they're up to. He can't really talk, but he responds for a minute or two before handing me the phone. It always makes him happy, even if it's just for a minute.

He has become pretty frail. It is really hard to get him to cooperate and walk with me around the apartment, much less out on the sidewalk. Outside, the sounds of the traffic or people walking past sometimes scares him. It is almost impossible to get him to walk for more than a few minutes. He will just sit down. I have to bring the wheelchair when we go outside, and he wants to sit in it after getting only as far as the corner. The sidewalks are uneven and very dangerous, so he could trip quite easily. There is just no way to keep his leg muscles strong! When I have him pedal on the machine, I have to sit in front of him and nag repeatedly, or he just stops. He only does it for a couple of minutes before he stops no matter how many times I remind him to pedal. You can see the dilemma. He is getting weaker and weaker as the months and years go by.
But he is kind of happy a lot of the time. I spend a great deal of energy trying to keep him feeling positive and cared for. I never want him to feel lonely or sad. But of course, sometimes I want to just run into the street, screaming, as anyone taking care of someone with dementia must feel. A few months ago one time, when he'd made a terrible mess, I said "If you are playing a practical joke here, it is the longest-running one of all time and belongs in the Guiness Book of World Records!" He just laughed, then looked confused. Of course he's not faking! But he used to think other people, like his mother, (who died of Altzheimers and failed to recognize him in the end), were. 

I am becoming a little more crippled myself these days, as now my right hip is going. I can't put my own shoe & sock on, and often yell in sudden pain when I am walking or sitting down or lying down or standing up or just get the idea. I can no longer go up stairs with my right leg at all. I need hip replacement, but just when I could arrange it is still a dilemma. I would have to put Wilson in the hospital. He is only allowed to be there for 30 days, or SSI will not send our checks. Then we would lose our apartment, as we're already living on pennies. So I'd have to bring him home within 3 weeks and start taking care of him again til midnight every day. It's difficult to take care of him with the back & hip pain I'm already in. Plus, I prefer to go see him every day when he's in a facility. He won't let anyone else touch him or give him his meds 4 times a day! So I have to go help. (Although sometimes the nurse will call and put him on the phone and I've been able to talk him in to cooperating). Oy much to consider!

I've invited some of his friends over for a little birthday party on Sunday, the 28th. The real day is the 25th, but that's a Thursday. I'll give him a little celebration on that day myself. So he gets two parties this year!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Wine/Old Bottle

In a nutshell, the "daily" format--consecutive panels in a rectangular
block--was traditionally a much denser visual artform than we see
today. As newspaper readership began to falter during the '80s, ad
revenues became critical for survival. So the generous scale allotted
to the standard daily strip was cut back. The reduced format made the
more detailed strips difficult to read. There is a certain point at
which text becomes too small to read, so the balloon size had to
remain fairly close to its traditional scale while the art got reduced
to more basic elements. Through the mandate of their accounting
departments, newspapers gravitated to the modern version which
emphasizes writing over art. It is my hope that the digital age will
enable the pendulum to swing the other way.
In some recent experiments with this form I came to the realization 
that the tablet format is becoming the most common way that news is
delivered. So why not comics, too?! By having a vertical division
exactly at midpoint, one can produce a two column strip that fills
 the parameters of a standard tablet screen. Though my inked
strips are done the traditional way, I reformat them as digital art.
The trick is knowing when to use Photoshop as a finish tool, and most
difficult of all, when to leave it alone. The above first appeared at the site which I shared with Brian Hagen and Dan
Schubarth. This and other original inked strips are 
now available on my Etsy site.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Brush With Death

Here's one from '05, ten years after the incident depicted--with very little artistic license.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Using A Tablet As A Lightbox

This is a departure from the usual posting of older work because this is the first piece in which I explore the potential of the tablet as a substitute for the old-fashioned light table. I use a humble Nexus 7, which only has a screen that measures 3.75" x 6". But that's enough to handle most single panel work.
  I began the strip the usual way--with a series of disjointed little doodles, intelligible to nobody but myself. A basic continuity of ideas was determined, then the continuity got broken down into basic frames. After a motive was determined for each panel, the dialog suggested itself. 
  What is new about this strip is that once I had the basic poses conceived as stick figures, I drew directly on the tablet in a bare bones program called Quill. By toggling the scale and size of the scribing tools, I was able to arrive at poses that had the maximum dramatic effect, then finesse them to a degree that would have been very tough on the drawing paper had I used a pencil and resorted to several erasures.
  The great thing about using a tablet program for doing roughs is that once you have arrived at the optimum sketch, you can tweak it to exactly the scale that you want by pinching the image. The one proviso here is that it only works with 1-ply (Strathmore 500 Bristol); also a thin piece of glass is needed to put over the tablet while the tracing is being done. Otherwise the tracing will toggle the image. Okay, there's one more annoying thing: you probably have to do this at night with all other lights off. But chances are, you're working at night already...
  This method provides a seamless way of accessing imagery from the web, too. That Diogenes portrait I did at the top is a tracing two times removed from the excellent source material that I had. And that was only one of a dozen beautiful images that I could pick and choose from!  I'm glad that I learned the traditional way, though; even this method depends on a tactile relationship with the drawing tool. I know this discovery is not for everybody. But before you reject it out of hand, I think it's worth a try.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Homestyle Bookburning

One winter afternoon in the early '50s, two of my father's sisters came to our suburban Chicago home on a rare visit. One bore a gift for me, perhaps from her son, my older cousin Billy. It was either a Tales From The Crypt or a Vault of Horror comic and featured a putrefying skull floating in a vermilion pool on its lurid cover. Though I don't remember the exact title, I remember the EC brand in one of the upper corners. Thoroughly steeped in harmless DC and Dell comics, this was the first "Entertaining Comic," let alone horror comic I'd ever seen. Screaming and hyperventilating, I threw it across the living room. One of the aunts picked the offending object off the floor and guided me to the fireplace. Joined by her sister, they stood and solemnly watched as the source of my discontent was purified in flame.
  But neither lady was around to comfort me a couple decades later when I was provoked to the same level of terror by Cousin Billy's film, The Exorcist. By then, I'd learned to hide my emotional life from the general public, thanks to a raging case of OCD.

If you ever come across the watercolor drawing of this image, please contact me immediately with the details. It is stolen property. Thanks...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Not-For-Profit Two Pager

This RAW piece from the early '90s was informed by my experience at the Sacramento-based California State Fair where I was the official sign painter for four years in the late '80s. The hectic job lasted through the cruel summer months, when the mercury often soared beyond 100. I was just a notch above the dicey carny folk who set up and staffed the rides and attractions. We were all itinerant tradesmen, grateful for the work.
  It sure payed better than this particular cartooning gig. I still don't even want to think about the "man hours" I put in on this labor-intensive piece. It was an experiment in constructing a double vision storyline as a premise for the resounding  punchline. I think this one was written backwards. When there's a lot of details that have to be covered in the action and narrative of a strip, starting with the last panel really helps to hone the continuity down to the essentials. Bottom line, sign painting still pays better than cartooning