Bragging on my Kids: The Adventures of Ordinary Rachel (by Sunny)

Sunny loves comic books and strips and graphic novels so much that she’s decided to create her own.

Okay, that and because I challenged her older sister the Math Class Chibi Doodler to draw a weekly comic strip with me this summer, and there’s no way Sunny was going to be left behind.

“Ordinary Rachel” about an eight year old girl whose uncle is a superhero who takes her on adventures, even though she doesn’t have any powers of her own (she thinks).  She knows about her uncle’s secret life, but her parents don’t.

Rachel also has a talking ball for a pet.  Presumably, her parents DO know about that, but Sunny is a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan, so maybe not.

She–Sunny, not Rachel—drew these freehand with MS paint all by herself. She spent hours on it and I only helped with technical stuff, like panel size, file options, and getting the tails of the speech balloons to point in the right directions.

These panels are black and white, in case you’re wondering, because she plans to color them last, “like they do with REAL comic books, Mommy.”  She further states that it has nothing to do (Mommy) with the difficulties in using the “Color Fill” tool when your lines don’t touch much.  Really.

I can tell you that the pet ball will be purple. Or pink.

I’m campaigning to call him “Plinkle”, but I don’t get a vote.

   Slide OneI love how you know exactly what this character is doing,
even if you might be a little worried
that she’s taking a nap after laying a ginormous egg.

This confusion will clear up once the egg ball starts talking in panel eight.
Or no, actually it won’t. Never mind.

slide 2

The item to the left is a dresser, which is recognized
because Sunny never closes her drawers, either.

I like Rachel’s nightgown, here.  Very post-modern.

slide 3

 Sunny is always a little miffed that her swimsuit isn’t where she wants to find it,
so she’s just writing what she knows at this point.

This includes the parental nagging, I’m afraid . . .

Notice the reaction lines?  I’m so proud!

slide 4

I love the way she drew this character,
and also that she’s wearing her swimsuit to go hang with superheroes.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

And see how spiffy that right hand word balloon looks (ahem)?

Her style probably owes a bit to Patrick McDonnell at this point (especially his Doozie), but that’s not a bad thing at all—in fact, I think it’s pretty good for a not-quite third grader.

Seriously, how cool is this?

That’s right:  pretty darned cool.


Random Thursday: Documented Super Webstrippers

Made you look!

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

This  is one of the few Random Thursday that doesn’t contain a whole lot of random elements.

Which kind of makes it random, in a way.



My New Favorite Webcomic Ever™: Supercakes

Artist and storyteller Kat Leyh did a short comic on her tumblr about two women having breakfast.

They’ve been dating for a while, and Mo has just about worked up the nerve to ask May something.

And then May’s pager goes off and they end up having this important conversation while she rushes around getting ready for work and Mo quietly freaks out in the other room.

It’s real, it’s adorkable, and it’s got a twist.

Pancakes by Leyh

May and Mo are superheroes.


“Pancakes” did so well that Ms. Lyh did a few more shorts about this lovely couple, and now May Ai (Tank) and Mo LaMarck (Shift) have their own website.

I like the way the superstuff is woven into the storylines, without being the focus of it.  Don’t get me wrong—the worldbuilding is solid, and the various superabilities aren’t just a gimmick,  but the people, and how they connect with each other, are far more important.

And I really love the wide range of diversity and the overwhelming theme of acceptance in these stories, which including the juxtaposition of May’s upbringing, which was incredibly supportive, and Mo’s,  which really, really wasn’t.

Luckily, May’s family always has room for one more.

This comic doesn’t update very often, because Ms. Leyh is hopping busy—and no wonder—but when it does . . . it’s super.


Strippin’ Out Loud


Stripped is a documentary about comic strips.
The artists who create them,
the readers who read them,
those who are worried about the future of  an industry originally based on newspapers,
and those who have pixelated the problem all the way to the bank.

Have a trailer:

 And also one of the  really cute ads Sequential Films did to kick-up their Kickstarter campaign.

It worked: they asked for 33,560 and ended up with $77,550.

Feel free to smack anyone who claims that comics are irrelevant in this day and age upside the head with a rolled up newspaper.  Or a laptop.

Your choice.


Time Suck of Webcomic Awesomeness

Those unrepentant enablers at just came out with another list—this one of seventeen highly rated and COMPLETE webcomics.

No waiting.  No frustration.

Just read ’em through from beginning to end.

Click the graphic and let the feasting begin.

iO9 17 webcomicsA friend of mine sent me this link because she doesn’t want me to accomplish anything for a solid week.

Challenge accepted.


The X-Files meet SHIELD meets Edward Lorenz*

Imagine a world where gravity starts messing with you as you walk bounce fly swim to school.

Where a wormhole might open up in your kitchen.**

Where the laws of physics have turned out to be less reliable than election year promises.***

A world where the unusual has become so same old, we’ve made it the new normal.

Where a very special Federal agency is trying to protect us from the things that go
non-Newtonian in the night
and figure out what the hell is happening.

And where it all might end.

Federal Bureau of Physics

The first graphic novel of this amazing comic is out now
—and on its way to my house, via the wormhole known as the USPS—
but I like this cover better.


John Green Flosses with the Funny Pages

It’s true.



So . . . What’s YOUR favorite comic/webcomic/strip/graphic novel?


*Chaos theory, strange attractor, butterfly effect guy.  Can’t help feeling a connection there, you know?

**I’d love this—our garbage disposal has never worked right.

***Cheap shot.  Sorry.

Thank you, Darby Conley!

Sunny is learning to read, and, like her sister before her, she likes to practice with comic strip collections.

This seems to bother those people who confuse literacy with literary and librarian with pretentious outdated stereotype.

Without getting too much into it, comic strips* are a great literacy tool.  They’re dialogue heavy, with interesting images to reinforce meaning.  They generally contain either a punch-line or a dramatic statement as a reward for reading.  And they’re short.

None of the collections we have in the house—or at least on the lower shelves—are particularly adult-oriented, so the hardest part is trying to explain the jokes, especially when they rely on sarcasm, irony, or  a solid knowledge of best (or worst) business practices and/or global socio-economics and political grabassery.**

Which isn’t to say that I don’t occasionally wish for a longer storyline and maybe more in the way of text.

So when Sunny presented her current favorite Get Fuzzy collection at bedtime, I sighed and asked her if there wasn’t anything else she could find in any of our bookcases before giving in to the awesome persuasive power of a small, stubborn child wrapped in a furry bathrobe with purple penguins on it.

I was skipping around, going for the quick funny so I wouldn’t have to put much effort into it,*** when Sunny put out a hand to stop me from turning the page.  “What’s this one, Mommy?”getfuzzyDMV

“Well,” I said, “They’re waiting in line at the DMV—”

“The what?”

“The Department of Motor Vehicles—it’s the place where you get your driver’s license renewed, and your new license plate stickers and  things like that.  And it’s usually a long wait in line and sometimes people get impatient, and Rob has Bucky in a baby carrier so . . .  Um, it’s not really a joke, more of a reminder about how it feels to—”

“Do you do that?”

“Put the cat in a baby carrier? No, Toby wouldn’t like that.”


“Actually, I don’t have to go to the DMV much, because driver’s licenses don’t need to be renewed for years and I can order a new sticker or my license plate online—OH, MY GOD, IS IT OCTOBER?!”

And I abandoned my startled child to tear apart any area in which I might have stashed the renewal notice that came last month and which has evidently evaporated off the face of this earth.

So, this morning before I clocked in, I called the Office of the Secretary of State, and threw myself on the mercy of a very nice lady,^ who gave me my registration and PIN number, without making me walk three blocks to look at my license plate number.  Thus armed, I went to the cyberdriveIllinois site and started to fill out the online form . . .


Turns out, the coverage date on my insurance card had lapsed a wee bit.

So I picked up the phone called my Insurance Agent and the very nice lady over there^^ faxed me a new temporary card and promised to get me the real ones in the mail ASAP.

Somewhat shaken and profoundly grateful that I hadn’t needed to produce a valid insurance card in the last two weeks, I managed to fill out the rest of the form and enter my credit card information without incident.

I’m now completely street legal—or will be by the time my current sticker expires.

I also owe Mr. Conley big time for drawing that particular strip, and for creating Bucky Katt, whom Sunny inexplicably adores.

Don’t knock comic strips, y’all.  They’re lifesavers.


*And comic books, too, of course

**Which is why we’ve asked her—and her sister—to hold off on Doonesbury for a while.

***Alert the Mommy of the Year Committee.  I’m sure they have a file on me by now.

^Seriously, Jess White, you have some great people working in your Public Inquiry Division.

^^State Farm, you have awesome people, too!

(Get Fuzzy is the work of the brilliant and hopefully non litigious Darby Conley, who owns the image above)

Random Thursday, with 76% more Technology Content

After much debate and a desperate e-mail to the fabulous and infinitely patient Sarah Wendell over at Smart Bitches, I’ve decided to get a Sony Touch.  I thought I might spring for the Daily Edition with free 3G and WiFi, but I’ve decided that it’s not worth the extra bucks.  All I want is to conserve shelf space by keeping as many virtual reference books as possible and save on chiropractors by not lugging my manuscript or Netbook around in my bag when I want to make notes or edit on the go.  Don’t need bells and whistles for that.

Besides, I’m beginning to think that WiFi is the root of all time suck . . . Wow—that sounded a lot dirtier than I thought it would.


My family is on a Shel Silverstein kick right now.

I love all of Mr.  Silverstein’s  work with the sole exception of Runny Babbit.  I’m incapable of reading it the way it’s printed on the page and trying for more than three minutes gives me stabbing pains in my left eye and a queasy stomach.

Naturally, my children adore Runny and his aneurysm-inducing adventures , so I have passed the responsibility for the reading of this book to the other adults in our immediate vicinity, in addition to Fox in Socks* and Amelia Bedelia.**


I was searching the 1930s newspaper microfilm the other day and caught sight of a one-panel cartoon called The Girls, which features ladies of a certain age and outlook.

In this one, the lady was trying on hats in a shop and telling her impatient husband in the caption, “No, I’ve made my final decision.  Now I have to make every decision that comes after that.”

It may have been microfilm-daze, but that sounded incredibly profound to me.


Twitter-training this afternoon for the library’s new feed!  Judging from the verbal staff observations around here, it’s just as well our tweets are moderated by the PR department.  Our library already has over 200 followers.  I have no idea whether that’s good or not.

The training was so interesting that I thought about reactivating my personal account, which I let lapse after three days of absolutely nothing to say—stop laughing.

I don’t know if I need to be on Twitter right now—I do follow several people, just not through an account.  Blogs are honestly more my speed.

If my phone could do anything but make phone calls, I might consider trying again . . . but on second thought,  see unfortunately-phrased time-suck comment above.

Plus, there’s a certain observer-mindset that comes with twitter . . .  I’d like to think that if someone fainted in front of me, I wouldn’t be too busy tweeting about it to help them.


Someone left a gold glitter pen at our public desk a few days ago—we had a crowd of junior high school students on Saturday.  No one called to ask about it so it’s mine.

It has an incredibly smooth flow, which is my excuse for using it for everything from initialing order forms to taking meeting minutes.  I’m planning to go to the office supply store and see if there are any available without the glitter, but if not, well  . . . do they sell navy blue or black glitter pens?

This isn’t a mid-life crisis, by the way—I don’t have one of those scheduled for another forty years.  You might want to stick around—it’s gonna be a doozy.  And mostly likely will not involve glitter pens . . . though I’m not entirely ruling out their use.


If you hover over my avatar in the left-hand corner up there, supposing I haven’t changed my blog theme, you’ll see the name of the song I’m currently whistling or humming under my breath. 

See?  Who needs Twitter? 


*Except for the Tweedle Beetle Battle, which in our household is traditionally done in Rock Horror-style chorus.

**After seven years, I’m tired of Amelia Bedelia—but these books  seriously drive my mother up a tree. “She’s just so dumb,” she wails, when presented with one of Miss Bedelia’s adventures by one of her insistent grandchildren.  “Any normal human being would stop and think.”   I believe that my mother’s secret reason for supporting early childhood literacy is so kids will quickly learn to read this series all by themselves.  Silently.