Sorry I haven’t been blogging. I wrote a book instead.

Yep, that’s right. I wrote a book over the last six weeks or so. It’s called “Awful Activities: A Jumbo Compendium of Stuff to do for Immature Adults.”

awful activities ron ruelleWhat did you do during that time?

Oh, you didn’t write a book? Well, then, shut yer yap.

To say I “wrote” a book is a bit of a stretch… I wrote and drew a book. Does that diminish or enhance your views of my accomplishment? Well, let’s frame it this way… Did you write/and/or/draw a book in that time? Okay, then.

So it’s an activity book with one big illustration and a caption on most pages… you, the reader, are supposed to fill in the rest. Wow, so one big doodle and a few words, and suddenly I’m William J. D. Shakespallinger? Of course not. Let’s be honest, this book is rotten and naughty and lowbrow and kind of stupid. I admit, I aimed pretty low here. Does that mean I’m embarrassed by it? Hell no. It was still a lot of work, and I’m supremely proud of this thing. Despite the low ambitions, I think it’s pretty dang funny. And it should bring a lot of snarky happiness to folks worldwide. In fact, I expect it to by my best seller to date. Is that something to hide from? No. It is not.

why did daddy become an atheist

Here’s how it came to be… In December, I was thinking about attending an upcoming comics show in Denver, DINK, the Denver Independent Comics Expo (Most of the letters in “DINK” appear in that title, just roll with it…). So I psyched and prepped myself to finish a graphic novel that had been in hiatus in time for the show. I was… INSPIRED!

what is betsy buryingAnd then… I didn’t get accepted to the event. Crud. But do you think I threw a pity party? Hell, yes, I did! It was a multi kegger of a party with taquitos and many pizzas!!! But eventually I got over it. Then a few weeks later, they announced the next round of folks who could get into the show, and I was in! Woohoo! Except I had lost all momentum as well as a few weeks of drawing on the book, and had to weigh the costs of buying a table. And in even the most optimistic scenarios, I was unlikely to finish the book I had been trying to finish with the quality of art and storytelling that I had hoped for. So, screw it.

Dang. Enter Charles Brubaker, one of my cartoon pals who I have known for a long time despite not actually ever meeting in person. He’s from Tennessee, y’all, and needed a place to stay for the show, and long story long, I agreed to share his table in exchange for room and board and transportation (bonus… on the way to Denver, we get to use the HOV lanes for free with an extra rider in the car!).

offensive cereal spokescharacterSo yay, I was still excited about the show, but had lost several weeks of drawing time for the book. Now what? Well, when they aim low, I aim even lower… I had been toying with the idea of an adult coloring book for awhile, and thought I could make that happen in short notice. The idea evolved into more of an activity book, which requires fewer crayons so that’s a good thing.

Important note… quickly cranking out a piece of work does not fully equate to shoddy production values, half-assed creativity or cynical exploitation. Sure, my new book has all of that, but I actually cared deeply about giving the reader the best lowbrow entertainment I could manufacture in a month. And I’m damn proud of it.

awful activities ron ruelleSo let me ask you again… what fantastical piece of art or pop culture did you create in the last couple of months? I believe everyone… EVERYONE… has one at least good book inside them. One novel, one comic book, one cookbook, one manifesto, one collector’s guide to the world of Stretch Armstrong toys (I would sooooooo buy that book!). Or maybe one album or one painting or one poem. It can be something heartbreakingly beautiful that will bring the world to tears, or something that makes us all slam on the brakes and confront the lie that is our reality face to face, or something lowbrow and stupid that sells a lot of copies and makes people happy for a few minutes. Whatever.

Awful Activities” is my latest offering from my canon of excellently crafted and/or hurriedly scribbled comics. What’s yours?

trailer trash talkAnd now for something truly inspiring… I dedicated this book to some friends who are writers, but who haven’t quite gotten around to publishing that first book. Hopefully this will provide a motivational boost to get over that hump. Here are links to their blogs and/or other online creative outlets.

Tina Foster Caldwell writes from a vintage camping trailer parked on the back nine of her fabulous estate. Sometimes the trailer ventures out into the world. Do not cut her off in traffic.

Sally Holland is a journalist who lends her sense of truth to assorted fables, fairy tales, and fantastical stories.

Joe Wolfe-Mazeres is a music writer, radio host, and novelist who prefers writing acoustically on an old IBM Selectric because it makes his words sound warmer and more authentic.

Renee Gordon writes mostly about her two sons: smart, creative little firecrackers who tend to find the loopholes in any instruction or logical argument provided to them.

Every one of these folks now owes me a signed first edition of their books.

“Awful Activities” is available on my website. But you figured that out, right.

Postmodern Postmortem: “Waffles and Beer” by Ron Ruelle

An exciting new art retrospective has opened at the Museum of Ron’s Basement, called “The Acrylic Art School Images of Ron Ruelle.” Today we will focus in depth on his signature piece from the “Painting and Mimosas” phase of his career, Waffles and Beer as seen below:waffles and beer

This is believed to be the only copy in existence of this painting, though other interlopers have attempted to recreate it, retroactively and proactively. To say whether any other version is better is a moot point. This is the one and only version done by Ron.

Overall, this is a tremendous departure for an artist primarily known for his cartoon work. Generally speaking, Ruelle has traditionally utilized black lines to separate areas of color in his art, as well as clear areas containing words that represent “spoken” utterances from the characters (or in some cases, objects) in the art.polar bear eating ice cream in snow

None of these techniques were used in Waffles and Beer, with the artist bravely reaching outside his comfort zone (or area of competence) by even attempting such a piece.

The sheer size of the piece, 457.2 by 609.6 (mm), is a theme borrowed from his comics era, in which original art has been created at such large sizes but ultimately intended to be viewed from great distances such as to minimize flaws. An earlier phase that began in the early 1990s reversed this trend by rendering small comics in very large, blurry, sketchy lines that magnified the flaws; even with mixed reviews, art from the “very large, blurry, sketchy lines that magnified the flaws” phase of his career can sell for large sums. Observe how the piece looks when viewed from farther away:

waffles and beer

The necessity to shrink the art or see it from a distance is a technique that has been used throughout history to help viewers better understand art. One is reminded of “The Mystery of the Shrinking House,” a fictional adventure featuring Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators (or more controversially, Hector Sebastian, a name Hitchcock apparently used when he wished to disown his works.) A look at the cover of this book at normal size reveals little. However, shrinking it down, and in turn, shrinking the house even further sheds new light on the story, as the red and white awning on the house becomes increasingly obvious with the shrinkage. Observe this book cover at two different sizes:

three investigators

As the awning on the house becomes the only distinguishing feature, it’s apparent that a sideways chunk of the awning is the clue that holds the secret to a hidden art masterpiece. An article about a piece of art that needs to be shrunk to be appreciated, contains a reference to a book with a cover that needs to be shrunk to appreciate a hidden piece of art.


I also apologize for yelling in the spoiler alert. It’s hard to take back what I said and how I said it, because it’s hard to uncapitalize something once you’ve read it.

As for “Waffles and Beer,” this piece jumps off the controversy bridge with its name, as the original inspiration for the beverage in the painting was orange juice, or possibly a mimosa, but the title of the painting suggests it was changed to beer at some point. Observe the hyperrealistic bubbles, not seen in orange juice, possibly seen in a or orange juiceThe painting also goes off the perspective rails at first glance with the giant, hovering fork and knife, which suggest they are at great height, unable to cast a shadow over what must be a very large waffle. fork and berriesAlso, the details buy a ticket on the hindsight train, with the berries seeming like they should be bigger, unless they are the size of, say, large dogs, and the waffles are the size of a house, if that house were not shrinking like the one on the book cover..waffle and berries

Things also spin off course from the textural merry-go-round when looking at the golden flakiness of the waffles… will syrup be added, or would a pat of butter, some powdery white substance, and cow-sized fruit be enough to make this an important part of your nutritious breakfast? If you look closer..waffle and berries

Closer…waffle and berries

Too close!waffle and berries

Then, the artist’s good manners leap off the judgment pier when it becomes clear that he is already eating, but has not placed the napkin on his lap.napkin

Finally, the reader is run over by metaphorical bumper cars, by the simple question: Do the waffles and beer signal a literal desire to have waffles and beer for breakfast, or something deeper, such as the desire to consume these delicacies for a later meal such as lunch, dinner, or even tomorrow’s breakfast?

The artist leaves that interpretation to you, as he has reached his total required word count and wishes to be left alone with his late night snack of beer and waffles.