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USB Flash Drives

As you can probably tell from this strip, I have a lot of friends who are graphic designers. And no matter how old or young, rich or poor…all graphic designers seem to share one attribute: they all own a USB Flash Drive that looks like it escaped a nuclear winter.

The cap is gone, the outer casing has slowly been yanked off with use…and now, all that’s left is the USB port connected to a barely-hangin-on circuit board. They’re storing all their work on a device purchased from Sanford & Son.

But that’s the nature of the beast, I suppose. These things are put together as cheaply as possible, using butterfly wings, scraps of paper, and the dreams of a child. Even casual use makes them fall apart.

On a related note…Sheldonista Jose C. has alredy e-mailed me suggesting
this little baby, and I have to say it looks pretty neat.

Sheldon on the Emerald Isle

Lots of colleges across the U.S. and Canada have been signin’ up to have Sheldon in their school paper for free…but today we got our first “overseas” addition.

That’s fun in-and-of itself…but I mention it in the blog only because the school’s location will make my mom happy: it’s Trinity College, Dublin.

Now, “Kellett”, as you can well tell, is not an Irish name — but my mom’s side of the family is from County Kerry…so this’ll go down well on that side of the clan.

Aaaaand, this is a great opportunity for me to take that Guiness Brewery Tasting Tour from eight years ago as a write-off, right IRS? That’s legit, right? Even though that sweet old lady gave me her extra drink tickets? Right?

In related news, we’re still signing up colleges that are starting back late, or who just voted in their editorial staff, so you’re not too late to join up (…and Univ. of California system, I’m looking squarely at you…I know you started back this week. So UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Davis, or my grad-school alum, UCSD….I expect to hear from one of you!)

And remember, if you’re a student or an editor who’s interested in having Sheldon in your school paper, it’s as easy as an e-mail! We can have you set up and runnin’ Sheldon by tomorrow!

How to talk your husband out of growing a mustache…

Sheldonista Dave S. sent me what might possibly be the coolest contest I’ve never heard of: The World Beard & Mustache Championships.

If there is a bigger, dopier style of mustache than the “Imperial”, then I’d like to see it.

But here’s my question: at what point in your life do you go “You know what? I’m tired of dating or of being attractive in any way. I’m past that. Instead, I’m gonna grow me an Imperial.”

Free Shipping on Sheldon Books

Bargain time!

From now until Sunday, September 23, U.S. readers get free shipping on any three-pack of Sheldon books!

This includes the standard three-pack of awesomeness, and the special edition three-pack ,including an Artist Edition!

If you haven’t yet taken the plunge on Sheldon collections, this is a great way to do it. I’m immensely proud of how high-quality the books have come out, and I know you’ll dig yours. So head on over to the Sheldon Store, click the “free shipping” option, and get ’em while the gettin’s good!

(Reminder: to qualify for free shipping, your order must be headin’ to a U.S. address.)

Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Today’s oblique reference to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is completely random, I know. But it did generate one funny e-mail from a Sheldonista:

“Today I want to thank you for some cool synchronicity. My fiancee just started her bachelors classes…and one of her first assignments is to research the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Since I work in the reference department of a library, I thought I’d help her a bit, but I’d forgotten to ask her to write it down this morning. I had, in fact, just about forgotten the whole thing, when I read today’s comic and recognized the name. 😀

I thank you, sir, for a very timely reference.”

Sheldon: helping couples remember their “honey-do” lists since 1998.

Bringing Up Father — Followup

Thanks to everyone who kindly e-mailed me about George McManus’ work. Though very few folks had heard of him or the strip before, I had a lot of folks tell me they’d seek out his pre-war collections in their library — which is wonderful!

There were enough similarities in enough e-mails, though, that I thought I should recap on some points.

1.) Lots of kind Sheldonistas sent me links (such as this, this, this, this,

this, and
this)….but you just have to trust me that none of these shows the apex of his genius, in the 1930’s and 40’s, when he was at the height of his game. It’s like looking at early Monets or lesser works from Picasso: you get a taste of the genius, but not really.

2.) A few of you pointed out that the strip can be seen over in the “Vintage” area of dailyink.com. But, it’s buried behind a paid subscription wall, thus ensuring that 99.9999999% of people will never see it, hear of it, or choose to pay for it to find out what it is they’re missing.

Subscription walls: old media’s answer to the question,”Hey, what’s this internet thing? Bob, type up a memo on carbon copy paper and have it on my desk by morning.”

3.) After McManus died in 1954, the strip was continued by other artists, hired by the syndicate. So if you’re a Sheldonista that remembers the strip in your paper…it probably wasn’t McManus. And as a lover of comics, I can tell you that that most definitely makes a difference. When a different artist takes over the same strip…it’s never the same. It’s like reading “The Grapes of Wrath, Part 2”, by Bobby-Joe Padoluski…who the publishers hired to keep the series going.

4.) If copyrights weren’t an issue, I’d scan the best images from my “Bringing Up Father” books to share with you in the blog. But since that’s not possible, I’d suggest perusing your larger regional or metro libraries — you may get lucky and find a few yellowed book collections from the the 30’s and 40’s. I hope you do: they’re well worth the effort.

Bringing Up Father

Are you familiar with the pre-war comic strip, “Bringing Up Father”? If you’re not, you’re not alone. It’s one of those strips that’s largely been lost to history. People remember other pre-war strips, like Popeye, Blondie, The Katzenjammer Kids, Buster Brown, or even The Yellow Kid, but almost no one remembers “Bringing Up Father”. Sadly, there’s not even good links I could point you to, online — the really good stuff isn’t on the web. It’s sitting in crumbly, 70-year old books that no one reads.

A fact which bums me out, as a cartoonist. Because George McManus, the artist behind the strip, may have been the finest draughtsman to ever sit at a cartoonist’s desk. And I say that with Bill Watterson and David Low books sitting not two feet from me. George McManus…could draw. Like the wind. He could craft images in ways few cartoonists — alive or dead — ever could. He was, simply put, one of the best that ever lived.

And now, in 2007, so few folks have even heard his name in passing. It’s such a bummer. SUCH A BUMMER.

It’s a reminder of the fleeting, passing imprint we leave on this world, perhaps. That he could be so huge, so immensely huge, in the 30’s and 40’s, and now be forgotten. That he could be a millionaire at a time when that meant wealth beyond wealth, that he could have three films made from his strip, and now is found utterly forgotten. Dust in the wind, I suppose. A shade of Kubla Khan.

But! To my point!

I have a secret passion for collecting original cartoon art — with pieces going back to 18th-Century Hogarth and Gillray prints. I have Bloom Countys and Doonesburys and Beetle Baileys and Dennis the Menaces and a whole bunch more. They’re my secret, nerdy love.

It’s why I get so excited whenever anyone chooses to buy a Sheldon original. I know what it means to want a piece so badly you put it up on your wall…in your home…as an expression of you. I do it myself, with the originals I’ve loved. So, when someone chooses to put my stuff on *their* wall….well, I’m on cloud nine.

But still! I am stepping away from my point!

Which is, original art. Specifically, George McManus’ original art.

Though I’ve tried, numerous times over the past decade, to buy this or that McManus original, for various reasons and at various times it’s never worked out. But this weekend, I was able to look at another collector’s extensive gathering of McManus original Sundays…and it was amazing.

Humbling, and awe-inspiring, and amazing.

There were minute-long stretches where I was literally dumbstruck, looking at his line-work up close.

It was so amazing that’s it’s taken me a couple of days to process it all. And now, shaking off the awed silence that comes from seeing the work of a true, true master up close, I want to do this:

I want to publicly thank George MacManus — as stupid as this sounds — for being so utterly and fantastically brilliant in life. I look at your work, and it makes me want to pick up a pen immediately. I look at your work, and I want to dash to a drawing board, as though having just held your artwork will somehow — dear Lord, somehow — imbue me with a tenth of your skill. I look at your work, and it makes me want to dive back in time to your studio, to stand quietly by your side and see how you did what you did. To see the amazing techniques that you developed…techniques I’ve never seen in any other work since.

I want to thank you, long-dead, long-forgotten George McManus. You work continues to live on, and continues to inspire me, 53 years after your death. May you rest in peace, you genius of the craft.

Web 3.0

I woke up with a revelation this morning: Do you know what Web 3.0 is going to be? It’s going to be *everything* Web 2.0 currently is, but with the added bonus that everyone will stop saying “Web 2.0” all the time.

I look forward to Web 3.0.

In other news, a Sheldonista e-mailed me with the funniest Sheldonsoft-related link that I had overlooked….namely, when Sheldon meets the
guys from Google.
The frame where they’re doing quadratic equations still makes me laugh.

Also! And for no particular reason, here is the
best Smurf strip I ever created. Because every day should include a random Smurf joke of some kind.

(…also, linking to a smurf strip helps balance out my “pop culture nerd” / “history nerd” scale. After Sunday’s Benjamin Disraeli toon, it was tipping pretty heavily one way.

10 Years of ‘Toonin

1997. The term “weblog” is coined. Netscape is the browser of choice for 72% of users. Titanic crashes into theaters. And David Willis posts his first “Roomies!” comic.

2007. It’s now called a blog. Netscape hit an iceberg of its own. And our hearts are still going on for “Shortpacked!” — the popular daily comic that arose from Willis’ first comic production.

On the Web, ten years of regularly-updated entertainment is a significant achievement that precious few can boast. Blank Label Comics is proud to salute David Willis as he celebrates his tenth anniversary in webcomics.

Shortpacked! is ringing in this occasion with two special events. First, its first book collection, Shortpacked! Brings Back the Eighties, has arrived and is ready for order! Second, Roomies!, It’s Walky!, Joyce and Walky! and Shortpacked! are commemorated with a limited print, seen on the left. See The Shortpacked! Blog for details!

To help celebrate close to 3000 strips, here’s a Top 10 List of the all-time favorite storylines year-by-year from David Willis:

1997: “Obligatory Flashback Sequence”
1998: “Liberation and the Modern Joyce”
1999: “Beer Necessities/No Regrets”
2000: “Puppy”
2001: “Guess Who’s Coming to Denver”
2002: “Round Two”
2003: “The Best I Could Do”
2004: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
2005: “Mrs. Greg Killmaster”
2006: “The Drama Tag”