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Thank you for a wonderful year…

It’s always good to take stock of the year we leave behind… and my overwhelming thought as I head into 2008 is how much I have to be thankful for from 2007.

This past year represented a huge life change for me. I stepped away from a steady, 8-year, corporate job at Mattel Toys to dive into my lifelong dream: Cartooning full-time.

As you can imagine, it’s been exciting and terrifying and exhilarating all at once…. and has given me the best year I’ve ever had.

The most fun has been the interaction with the tens of thousands of Sheldon readers all over the world — you guys are awesome. I’ve had e-mails from Sweden, Germany, Norway, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, UK, France, Spain… and even one from China (though that last one might have been spam). And time and again, Sheldonistas prove themselves to be thoroughly funny, kind, and, let’s be honest, attractive people. Thank you for being awesome, and thank you for the 10,000 kindnesses you paid me over the year: You made 2007 a year of thanks.

There is much to share with you about the year to come, but before I get too much into the hustle and bustle of what’s-coming-up, I wanted to make sure I thank you.

So, my friends, I thank you. Thank you for making this li’l cartoonist immensely happy.

Coffee Mug, Revisited

I’m a little floored by the response to the “perfect coffee mug” post.

Folks sent in links by the dozens…they pointed me to stores and ceramic artisans….they wrote me about the inherent benefits of this or that type of mug. And, most amazingly, I got dozens and dozens of e-mails from folks offering to buy, hunt down, ship, *make* (which I found particularly kind), have made, or even send me pre-owned mugs that matched my description.

And I have to be honest: I feel a little embarrassed that that post would garner that response. That wasn’t my intent… to cause folks to want to buy/make/ship stuff.

My wife, who is far wiser than I in every measurable way — looked at me as though I couldn’t see the obvious and said, “What kind of response were you expecting? Of course nice people are going to offer to do that when you write about your ideal mug!”

Husbands: Not-particularly-bright-when-it-comes-to-basic-human-interaction.

Needless to say, I could never ask folks to spend any money or time procuring me a silly coffee mug, but I thank everyone for the kindness behind the offers. And, it makes me aware of two things:

1.) Sheldon readers are really nice people, who will offer to pitch in even on an oblique call for help.

2.) I should blog about “needing” an iPhone or a Segway. (cough, cough)

Anyway, out of the 47 mug-links sent in, here are a few that most closely matched what I was shootin’ for:
and just because it’s ridiculous:

(Interestingly, librarians had the best links…which once again proves the old truism that if you need somethin’ found that needs searchin’, ask a librarian.)

Also interesting: How many people e-mailed in saying that my Platonic Ideal of a coffee mug wasn’t possible because a 4″-tall mug with a cylindrical shape and a diameter of 3 3/4 to 4″ couldn’t/wouldn’t/shouldn’t hold 16 fl. oz. Alternative measurements offered included 10 oz, 12 oz, 20 oz, 24 oz and, most disturbingly, 6 oz. (Math: America’s Tricky Friend.) Sheldonista Kaleb B. sent in this funny tidbit on the matter: “In a mini-“MythBusters” like experiment, my dad and I tried to show that the reason you can’t find the perfect mug is that it’s physically impossible (i.e. can’t hold enough liquid with your measurements). However, we were proved wrong. His 4″x4″round Tigger mug from Disneyland fulfills all of your requirements, including holding 16+ ounces, except that it has a logo. Maybe you should take a trip to the “Happiest” Place on Earth and find yourself a new mug, then paint it.”

Also, also! Sheldonista Danny B. e-mailed me with the coolest possible solution to my mug-search: His home-made Albert Einstein mug. Check this puppy out:

Thanks again to everyone that wrote in: It was fun seeing how many other coffee-mug-o-philes there are out there!

Angoulême Comics Festival

A quick note for Euro-Sheldonistas: I notice that France’s Angoulême Comics Fest is coming up at the end of January. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend attending. I once thougt that San Diego Comic-Con was the be-all, end-all when it came to comics, but Angoulême — and, I’ve since come to learn, Japan’s Comiket — are right up there.

I won’t be in Angoulême this year, much to my chagrin, but I highly recommend it to any and all that can make it. There’s a wonderful celebration of the art of “La bd” (“La bande dessinée “, the comic strip), at Angoulême. And if, like me, you’re used to cartoons and comics being looked at as “low art” or “something for kids,” Angoulême puts it in a whole new perspective. The festival is an amazing forum of comics, fans, signings, art shows, critical forums and in-depth presentations, and some of the most amazing comics collections you’ve never seen in the English-speaking world.

So if you can, check out Angoulême Comics Fest.

The Perfect Coffee Mug

There is, in my mind, a perfect vessel for coffee. A Platonic Ideal, if you will, of what a coffee cup should be.

Let me give you a parallel, so you know what I’m getting at: Have you ever been to a friend’s get-together where wine was being served? But your friend’s collection of 8 wine glasses are all used up, so you end up with a repurposed Burger King Kids Meal mug, or a throw-away plastic party cup, or some weird, heavy, steel beer-stein? The wine, it’s odd to say, doesn’t taste quite right. It should taste just the same, but it doesn’t.

Well, oddly enough, I find the same is true of coffee. The wrong mug or cup can kinda ruin it. But the right mug or cup can make it sublime!

Well, I’ve had this image of the perfect coffee cup in my mind for years now, but I can’t find the darn thing anywhere. That’s why I half-jokingly called it a “Platonic Ideal.” I can *see* the mug in my mind’s eye, but can’t *find* the dang thing in any shop I check.

(Before I go any further, I should make abundantly clear that I know how ridiculous this entire blog post is. It’s ludicrous that I’m even writing about this. I know this. I’m aware of this. But it’s kind of maddening to have created an un-procurable mug in your mind, and find that no shop anywhere carries it.)

Here’s what I’m looking for:

– Both the base and the rim share the same, perfectly circular diameter of 3 3/4 — 4″. The wall of the mug, therefore, is a cylindrical and smooth all the way ’round.

– The wall of the mug itself is pretty thin. This would no doubt mean it was fired from a pretty high-quality ceramic. But I find it very odd when I have to mouth an inch-thick of ceramic just to get a sip of coffee.

– The mug sits about 4″ high. Something about small coffee mugs makes me feel dainty.

– The volume of the mug is about 16 fl. oz / 500 ml. Granted, this is a lot of coffee…but for some reason, I always seem to want more than an 8 fl. oz. cup.

– There’s no ornamentation on it: No dancing kittens, or “Starbucks” logos, or Christmas bears, etc.

– The handle can easily fit three fingers through it. Four would be awesome, but I’ll take three. I’m not having tea with the Queen Mother in 1854: I don’t want to have to “pinch” my handle.

I’m imagining that I’m going to end up having to travel to Germany or northern Europe to find my ideal mug. I remember walking through German shops in Berlin and Nurnberg and thinking to myself, “The Italians or the French or the Cubans might make the best coffee, but MAN, the Germans have all the best accoutrements for it.” Something about the German design aesthetic — when it comes to kitchen wares — just so nails it for me. Such clean, beautiful lines. They really do beautiful work, design-wise.

I need to start a website, clearly. “Specific – Coffee – Mugs – for – Cantankerous – Cartoonists.com”


I want to thank all of you who have been sending me Christmas photos of folks unwrapping Sheldon gifts or readin’ their Blizzard books. I’ll be honest: Working as a cartoonist, I’m mostly operating in a vacuum… I never get to “see” the people who are reading and enjoying Sheldon. So the recent spate of pics has been fun, and very appreciated. Thank you!

(…this one was sent in by Sheldonista Jessica S. Looks like they got an Arthur, Oso, and Gramp in their Artist Editions.)

Seattle Folk: Emerald City Comic-Con!

If you live in and around Seattle, fun news: I’ll be up there May 10 and 11th, for the big Emerald City Comic-Con.

Emerald City Comic-Con was a blast the last time I went up there, and Seattle has a huuuge Sheldon audience (the biggest in the U.S., interestingly) so it’s gonna be really good fun to get up there.

I’ll be exhibiting with my three buddies from Halfpixel, and we’ll be doing a joint panel-talk on the “How To Make Webcomics” book. Those three make me laugh like nuthin’ else, so I’m looking forward to it.

So if you’re in or around Seattle, make plans to attend — it really is gonna be a fun ‘con to go to.

“How To Make Webcomics”

I saw this featured ad at the Image Comics site, today, and got really excited:

Pre-orders for the book from stores are blowing my mind: They’re far, far exceeding our hopes — which is awesome. You never know, when you sit down to write a book, whether folks will respond. Happily, it looks like there’s a lot of interest for it!

And in more good news, we’ll have copies available in the Sheldon store in late January!

Glornaks on the Road!

Now that all the
store orders from the last few weeks have arrived at their destinations, folks are starting to e-mail me pictures of Glornak stickers on their cars! It’s been fun to see ’em on roads around the world, like this one from Oklahoma:

…make a cartoonist’s day: Send me yours when you get the chance!