Six Ways To Relax And Put A Terrible 2016 In The Rear-View

We’ve had a rough year, no doubt. We’ve lost so many of our cultural touchstones — David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen. There’ve been earthquakes. Fires. And politics? Well, let’s not even go there.

Let’s just not.

We’re all in need of some time out and some self-care. Is work getting you down? Maybe you’re thinking about how your parents are Trump supporters. Are you feeling that sickening churn deep in your guts again? Well, no more. Time to open yourself up to all the joy this world has to offer!



Incredible beaches

Summer’s upon us! That can only mean one thing: hit the beach! Will it be a long, dusty road trip with a refreshing, icy-cold cliff-dive at the end? A traditional snags-sun-and-surf local dip? Maybe it’s cocktails and a cheeky tan with the girls!

You’ll have your pick, from the twinkling swells of Bar Beach in Newcastle to the astounding geological formations of the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck in Tassie.

You’ll probably avoid Cronulla. It reminds you of those race riots that happened there — which reminds you that your parents are, in fact, supporters of Donald Trump, who fanned the flames of race hatred to win the US presidency.




Music is all about soul, and no festival is more soulful than the venerable Bluesfest, which returns in 2017 with an almost unbelievable lineup. Each year there’s something for everyone, but the 28th Bluesfest is almost like a whole music festival especially designed for each of us!

For you, it’ll be Mary J. Blige, Mavis Staples and your secret crush — headliner Neil Young. The boy will no doubt dash off for big doses of Madness, Jethro Tull and Patti Smith (well… you’ll probably join him for Patti)!

And you might just catch a favourite “classic” act, like Santana or Rickie Lee Jones. You remember your mum playing you her Rickie Lee Jones albums when you were just a tiny kid!

A little tear wells up as you remember the beauty of Rickie’s songs… and the ugliness of Donald Trump. It was bad enough when Mum changed from a believer in abortion rights to a person who could support John Howard and George W. Bush, but knowing she can get behind a man who’s known to dud contractors, mock the disabled and encourage violence against reporters is almost too much for you to bear.



Organise a crafternoon

Living rooms and cafes across Australia will be bustling with crafts this summer… and you’re invited! Why not start your own “crafternoon” with your friends and neighbours? Cross-stitch, drawing, origami, even jewellery and accessory making can be easy and fun!

Dad’s current favourite hobby is crafting his own bullets in the garage. He does a lot of target practice these days. He believes an uprising is coming amongst the Muslims of the world. He believes many things, especially when they come out of the mouth of Andrew Bolt or Cory Bernardi.



Virtual reality’s coming of age

For a change of pace, strap on some goggles and try out one of the new generation of virtual reality devices! The new upgrade to HTC Vive makes it completely wireless, Oculus Rift has a shiny new port of Minecraft, and Playstation VR’s got the upcoming Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, if you’re game to step into a nightmarish horror world!

You’ll struggle, of course, to find a more horrifying world than the one you live in currently. A world where the president-elect of the most powerful country in the world has a right-hand-man devoted to mainstreaming white nationalism, and your parents — Jewish parents, mind you — are OK with this.



Meditation and mindfulness

Your mother actually said the “Nazi stuff” is “the one thing about Trump she’s not thrilled about”. Because everything else about him is so wonderful.

“What about everything I was taught about the Holocaust?”, you ask. “‘Never Forget’ and all that?”

She grins. “Hillary’s no better.”

“Is Hillary getting on board with actual neo-Nazis?”, you ask?

She grins again, because you are a silly rabbit.



Sizzling summer reads

There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a book. Preferably one written a long time ago. Avoid television. You don’t know which Dancing With The Stars host might come out as bigoted.

Don’t read Facebook. It lies. Don’t read think-pieces. And if you do, don’t read the comments.

Try to keep on speaking terms with your parents if you can.

But don’t read this email:

"Straight to the rifle range"

That’s what dreams are made of

Lisa Dempster wrote a cool article about achieving your dreams. I just want to provide a short rebuttal.

1. Know what you want

I know what she means. I want lots of things. Often it’s tempting to grab low-hanging fruit because it’s close by (the very reason Sarah and I leave fruit in random places in our house. It goes mouldy).

My solution is to grab that low-hanging fruit and eat it. Usually it tastes great! I am actually talking about goals and tasks now, not fruit.



I fit the low-hanging banana tasks in around the chicken parma that is my goals. Occasionally I make a mistake and barf up a little bit of banana, then apologise.

2. Recognise distractions

Distractions are great. Being distracted by the fruit takes you away from your big stupid parma-goals, and may give you the perspective you need to realise that the parma is less delicious than you thought.

3. Be selfish

This I disagree with:

No one worth knowing will be upset with you for choosing to focus on doing things that will bring you satisfaction and happiness. (Not to mention, successful and motivated people are generally pretty damn awesome to be around, so being selfish about goal-achieving might actually make your relationships better!)

All your good friends and family will think you’re an arsehole if all you do is work and talk about your parma-goal and how focused you are all the time.

If I laser-focused on my parma-goal (or on real parmas) and let nothing stop me, I’d never see my wife and she’d be justifiably angry at me. And I’d be super fat.

You do actually need to allow for time in your life when you are not being successful or motivated. I call this “ridin’ the fruitscape”.

4. Be organised


5. Trust the process

This is absolutely true, and otherwise known as “Don’t be a bitter shit”.

In conclusion, I think I can safely say that Lisa eats far too much parma, and must really have some more fruit.

“Bret Braddock” drafting

I spoke on a panel at the Emerging Writers Festival last week and gave a little presentation on how I draft an episode of The Bret Braddock Adventures (a weekly webcomic about a lousy workplace you should really be reading).

They let me put up some images of the stages in doing one of these comics. I don’t reproduce them here to suggest anyone should work the same way, more because I’d never thought that much about my drafting process and was surprised at how much rewriting I do between roughs and final inks/shading.

Before I started on the new series of Braddock comics I plotted out an arc on little cards. They’ll change and switch order and be added to over time. But I know I’m trying to get to a particular ending within about forty pages.

This is the rough of the first new episode, #43. It recaps the previous episodes. It’s badly drawn, badly posed, overwritten. It was partially done on public transport. This is how I write the first draft.

These are the pencils. I use a blue pencil so I can ink over the top later. At this stage I tightened up the layout and drawing, e.g., in panel 3 I’ve separated Bret’s nasty daughter out more from the other characters. In every panel, words have been changed (and usually cut), even his speech bubble at the top right.

Inks are done, hopefully the drawings look OK. I used to fix everything digitally, until Ben Hutchings told me real men use paste-ups and liquid paper.

You can see in panel 2 of the roughs that Bret and Sally are facing 3/4 reverse. In the pencils I slipped and didn’t pay attention, and drew them looking more profile. Luckily I noticed and fixed this in the inks.

Lots of the lines have changed at ink stage. You can see that Bret’s line in panel 5 and the TV exec’s line in panel 6 have changed at every stage. I’ve probably still not fully happy with panel 5, but if I’m going to get one of these done a week I generally have to let it go at some point.

When I’m doing the grey shading I’m trying to smooth over any parts of the strip that aren’t clear, like making Sally pop out more in panel 6 by shading in the other characters. In that panel I’ve also tried to use the greys around the speech bubble pointers to make it clearer who’s speaking.

Thanks to Lisa and the EWF for getting me up to talk! And in such a swanky room, too.

Transmedia Vic Conference Day

What’s transmedia storytelling? It’s what we used to call “multiplatform”, or “cross media”.

Essentially, I think it just means “stories told across more than one platform”. Like a TV show that does little online videos that fill in a bit of backstory. Or those nifty games I’ve talked about before that were staged online and in “real life” as part of the marketing for movies like The Game and Donnie Darko.

Anyway, I went to the “conference day” of a thing called Transmedia Victoria today along with a lot of other arts type people, and listened to some pretty good speakers, some of whom had beards. As I sometimes do at things like this, I took some semi-pictorial notes:

It’s probably best if I don’t try to clarify anything in there, but I’ll just point out that the speakers didn’t necessarily say the things I’ve attributed to them (unless I used “inverted commas”). And the drawings are all pretty bad (but I like my renditions of Steve Peters and Stephanie Salter). I noted bits of info I found interesting, or that I wanted to translate into simpler language for myself.

Speakers were all worth hearing, and ranged from interesting to fun to, actually, quite inspiring. Thanks to Christy, Sue and the other organisers! Back for the workshops day tomorrow.

Get An Animated Christmas Card From Nakedfella Productions For $500

It’s the end of the year, which can be a slow period for freelance animators like me. So I thought I’d offer to make your company’s animated Christmas card for only $500.

I like making funny cartoons cheaply. Would you like one, made just for you, to send to customers/clients, wishing them a happy holiday season? If you don’t, this idiotic ad may not convince you, but it took me ten hours to make from start to finish. Imagine how expensive proper animation can be!


This is a limited offer. It ends December 25, 2010. For $500 I’ll write and produce a short (< 1min) cartoon greeting card. I reserve the right to alter the $500 quote if you suddenly decide you want a tracking shot of a ludicrously complex dragon twisting in on itself (or similar). We're talking funnies here, not Disney.

Here’s another good example of what I can do for you!

Call +61 (0)422 509 144, or e-mail me!

IMPORTANT EDIT: I will include a $50 (FIFTY DOLLAR) discount if you let me include a dugong in your cartoon.

Tweeted on 2010-03-31