Building Blocks

July 11, 2005


This classic A&J comic strip, from 15 years ago, is the first in a worthwhile little sequence. As usual, all the strips can be accessed by clicking on the link beneath the cartoon. The coloration of the strips in this period was mediocre. I have never laid blame directly on the anonymous minions who colored my work after I’d submitted it to my editors, and I am not doing that now. To be honest, theirs literally was a thankless task. I am chronically up against deadline, which didn’t give them much time, and I did not provide a lot of guidance myself. (We’re talking about coloration of daily strips here, not Sundays.) For a long time, the coloring was not important to me. This might seem strange, but I have to admit I was stuck in the past. At that time, not a lot of newspaper clients demanded colorized daily strips, and they paid the bills. The Web was, well, the Web; it wasn’t important to me. Newspapers still pay the bills, for now, but I’ve come around on this. A lot of editors now expect color comics seven days a week, and many, many people view my work on the Web. It grows more important every day. Plus, I decided it is a good idea to put my best foot forward wherever I go. I now color the daily strips myself, although I still work on deadline and don’t give myself time to do my best. Karma truly is a bitch.


14 thoughts on “Building Blocks”

  1. I thought today’s strip (7-21-2020) was going to be about Arlo taking pictures of Janis as she was bending over…Frankly it was funnier this way!

    It does bring up a pet peeve and that is the inability of people to do the mental math. But as I have aged, I have learned not to trust my brain, especially when distracted, so I always calculate the tip on my phone. It is just a habit that I have gotten into since once when I started to leave a restaurant and the server seemed upset. I stopped and asked to look at bill and I had short changed him. I quickly made the correction and gave him a bit more.

    This week my brother posted a brain teaser math problem which was X+Y x Z – W + T. Many correctly gave the correct answer of 104 and my brother admonished them as they forgot their elementary school arithmetic! My step-sister brought of “order of operation ” and my brother complained that he had never heard about it and it must be “new math”. Well I put my 2 cents in and because I am 7 years younger, he told me that they must have changed it when I went to school!

    Eventually he called me on the phone and he said “Oh I think I know the problem. I only took Algebra 1 and that was taught in Algebra II!” At that point I said “No, but you know what, you have absolutely no reason to understand order of operation at this point in your life, so don’t worry about it.” My brother has an advanced degree (obviously not in math or the sciences!) and he has always had difficulty understanding very simple concepts. He is both intelligent and stupid at the same time. In order to talk with him, I need to be very creative. I worry about him as he is developing health issues (soon to be 71) and listening to Doctors is very difficult for him.

  2. I kept reading the archive though the first part of October, 2005. I wish I hadn’t, at least for now. An article from February of this year states that the total economic loss from Hurricane Katrina was about $250-billion. In June, Forbes Magazine estimated that the Coronavirus pandemic will cost the US over $8-TRILLION over the next 10 years due to damage in the economy. The hurricane killed 1,833 people directly. Covid-19 has killed over 138,000 people as of today– that’s an average of about 860 people every day since March 1st.
     
    I have friends here in Texas from New Orleans that never moved back. It was probably 10 years before one could say that they had fully recovered. I saw other news that said that 9th Ward still hasn’t really recovered, though New Orleans tourism overall has been up for a few years. Given the scope of the losses financially, in life, and in confidence, I wonder if we will ever truly recover and get “back to normal.”
     
    In our comic world, the pandemic has been sort of a mild inconvenience to Arlo & Janis. Are Gene and Mary Lou still in business? How are they paying bills with shutdowns and loss of customers simply because people are staying away? Will they lose the farm because they can’t pay the bills? Sure, it’s only a comic, but real people are facing those issues every day now.

    • I’ve said this sort of thing before, but it’s still true: What really bugs me is the failure of reporters and/or editors to provide “the rest of the story” concerning the shutdown. I’ve yet to see the stats for suicides, deaths due to domestic violence, etc., because of the shutdown. Why aren’t those being reported?

      • The stats you mentioned are probably not obtainable accurately unless the victim and/or perpetrator left a note or ‘fessed up. Something which could be determined with reasonable accuracy is the number of recovered viral victims. Such would provide a little extra modicum of hope for those newly positive.
        If possible, I’d like to see stats include (for given area) total cases per 100,000; cures per 100,000; still active cases per 100,000; and deaths per 100,000. Obviously, for smaller regions, one might use a reference number less than 100,000.

      • TruckerRon,
         
        I think you are right, that the crisis will cause an increase in mental health issues and suicide. US News & World Report discusses this and lists some higher-profile examples. The article says that previous crisis situations have resulted in more suicides but also says the data is very slow to be collected and published. Here’s a quote:
         
        Suicide data is also notoriously slow to materialize, meaning it will likely be years before hard numbers are available on the number of deaths by suicide during the early months of COVID-19. Some suicide crisis lines, including in the San Francisco Bay Area, have reported a surge in calls during the pandemic, although Pearson notes that an increase in calls doesn’t necessarily indicate an increase in actual suicides – high volumes can also be a good sign, if it means more people are reaching out for help.

        “From where we sit, it’s just really hard to know about the deaths,” she says, “and we can also imagine that coroners and medical examiners are overwhelmed, so it might take even longer.”

        https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2020-05-22/experts-warn-of-a-surge-of-suicides-tied-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic

  3. I know you are old school, but the coloration actually helps me sometimes “get it”. the coloration helps to bring out a necessary nuance that makes the point of that day’s comic. And even though I read your comics first in the local newspaper, I still enjoy it on my big monitor … since I am getting older. 🙁

  4. Re the 7-21-20 real-time cartoon: Based on the type of tape Janis is using, she must be measuring off a fairly large area. A little late for putting in a garden. They already have a patio. Perhaps Arlo has promised her a swimming pool in exchange for her not giving up her two-piece bathing suits.

  5. I went a bit further than the end of the “renovations” cartoon series above and came across one of my personal favorites, July 18, 2005. I remember commenting previously that the wind-up alarm clock my father used to wake him for the last 20 years he worked had an honored place in my living room. (It still does.)
    Of course, for the almost 25 years he lived after he retired, he continued to awaken at 5:00 AM without the clock. Yet I’m sure that seldom having to set it was meaningful to him.

  6. Coloring always mattered to me. I loved doing coloration, especially botanicals. I had a deep appreciation for those impoverished women who colored for pennies in sweltering attic holes.

    Not to say your colorers were were so abused or as talented

  7. Spent the afternoon traveling memory roads, shucking, cleaning , cutting and scraping corn to freeze.

    Splattered with sticky sweet corn kernels I was 16 again, sitting out on the back porch with a wash tub of corn to vut. Temperatures hover in the 100s and sweat runs down my arms and legs. Flies circle and I swat when they land on me.

    I don’t need to freeze two quarts of corn for Ghost and me. It’s holding on to the memories.

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