Archive for the ‘Cartooning’ Category

Sign of the Times

June 13, 2019

My ships keep sailing, catching fire, burning to the waterline, and sinking.

Sigh. As if this racket wasn’t tough enough already.

Just what the e-doctor ordered

May 13, 2019

I’m shocked, shocked, that some people seem to believe that e-bikes are the modern equivalent of the philosopher’s stone.

This just in: E-bikes cure* Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, post-nasal drip, gout, piles, dandruff, denture breath, and the heartbreak of psoriasis (Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy, c’mon, c’mon).

* You will note the caveat buried deep in the piece: “(A)ttaining these health benefits requires tackling the problem of poor street design and infrastructure in America. Everything from high speed limits to wide roads to light timing that prioritizes the flow of vehicles poses a threat to older people walking in their communities … and also creates barriers to people participating in cycling.”

Where’s my gold watch?

April 18, 2019

Bagged and tagged: the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Yesterday I drew the May cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I wrapped a video for Adventure Cyclist.

And now, as El Rancho Pendejo seems to be remarkably free of bikes needing review, it seems I don’t have any paying work to do for a month, when the next BRAIN ’toon is due.

That ain’t a job. That’s a hobby.

Shit. I think I’m retired.

Stand down

March 23, 2019

His Excellency scans The Compound for unauthorized personnel.

Huh. I’ve actually managed to accomplish a few things lately. Go figure.

My April cartoon has been delivered to BRAIN. And my review of the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 — print version and its two-minute video teaser — is all but complete; I’m just waiting for some Salsoid to answer a couple of questions about spec.

Unzip over to Voler to join the team! Use the Secret Code (OLDGUYS15) to get 15% off your purchase. And no, goddamnit, for the last time, it does not come with fries!

Two other review bikes have been shipped back to their respective motherships, greatly enhancing velocipede-storage capacity in the garage.

Sue Barue, The Fearsome Furster, has passed her annual checkup and had a brace of new window gussets installed, so maybe I’ll be able to hear the stereo again.

The cats have been given a vigorous spring airing. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) inspected the perimeter yesterday and collected samples of this year’s grass crop for scientific analysis, the results of which were displayed on the living-room carpet this morning. Miss Mia Sopaipilla took up her station in the clothes dryer, and reported that for reasons unknown the lint filter seems to be full of cat hair.

And now I have exactly fuck-all to do. Nobody’s sending me to Taiwan, or Sea Otter, I won’t have a cartoon due until mid-April, and I’m fresh out of review bikes.

So I guess I’ll just have to ride one of my own. Sucks to be me.

Life in the Fat Lane: Everything, all the time. With fries.

March 10, 2019

If you’re seeing a little more sun all of a sudden, it’s not just because it’s Daylight Saving Time. It’s because the Fat Guy is throwing a little less shade.

The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter turned 30 today, and he’s been on one of those weight-loss programs for celebrity has-beens, the kind where you don’t look quite so porky because hardly anyone ever sees you anymore.

When I turned 30, back in 1984, I was on a weight-loss program of my own. It had occurred to me that I had problems, which included but were not limited to drugs, booze, food, voices in my head, and newspapers, and I found that vigorous bicycling helped me sweat out the cocaine, alcohol and gravy.

Didn’t do shit for the voices in my head, or the newspapers. But what the hell, a guy needs friends. And a job’s nice, too.

Five years later I finally put those friends in my head to work, when I signed on to draw cartoons for VeloNews, which was just settling into its new digs in the People’s Republic of Boulder. I was two more newspapers further on down the road, in Santa Fe, and the voices were telling me that once again my days were numbered, probably because the publisher kept saying things like “Are you still here?”

I’d been racing for a couple of years, and out of an abundance of caution and a desire for some sort of change that involved more than my ZIP code I applied for the managing editor’s job at VeloNews. Didn’t get it. But the honchos liked the cartoons, and the first one they published featured the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter, who debuted in Volume 18, No. 3, cover date March 10, 1989.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Back then the Fat Guy didn’t look at all like he does today. In fact, he looked a lot like me. Long hair and a full beard, both of which gradually went away, and a variety of undistinguished and too-tight jerseys that by the mid-Nineties had stabilized into the familiar yellow-and-red kit with the “Spare Tire Ale” logo on both sleeves, the one we still sell today over at Voler.

The shorts sponsors tended to change whenever I had a notion. Lardasche Jeans. Juan Ton’s Asian Tacos. That sort of thing.

And the dude just kept getting larger.

At one point Fais Dodo couldn’t find his bike (turns out he was sitting on it). At another he had sucked a few smaller riders into orbit around him. Almost everybody was smaller. Entire teams were.

He even tried to sue the bicycle industry for making him a great fat bastard, when it had done the exact opposite for me.

“Yep, cycling did this to me,” he tells the lawyer, hot dog in one hand, sack of pork rinds in the other. “Couple hours in the ol’ saddle and I gotta eat a 7-Eleven.”

“You don’t say,” replies the lawyer. “Sounds like a no-class-action lawsuit to me!”

Every time I revisit that particular cartoon I see and hear John Goodman, playing Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” and not just because Goodman’s first TV appearance was in a Burger King commercial. I just like John Goodman.

I like the Fat Guy, too, and he went with me when I left VeloNews in 2012, not long after the original honchos sold it to the publishing equivalent of a chop shop run by meth-heads. We didn’t go bowling, though. We teamed up with Charles Pelkey at Live Update Guy, where Il Fattini was cast as a gender-bending Fat Lady Singing.

“It’s over!” he’d croon whenever a break got caught.

And El Grande started appearing more regularly in the “Shop Talk” strip I still draw for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, though he’s basically down to walk-ons and cameos behind that strip’s stars, the Mud Stud and Dude. He’s the kind of customer who dollars up on the wrong side of the ledger, drinking all the beer in the shop fridge and grazing the energy-bar display right down to the bedrock.

A customer once asked the Mud Stud if he had any fat bikes.

“Nah,” said the Stud. “We got a Fat Guy, though. Sell ‘im to you cheap.”

Behind him The Large One is mumbling through a cloud of hoagie crumbs. “This shop needs a deli. Maybe a brewpub. A bakery? Funny, I don’t climb so good lately. Bro’-deal me on a lighter bike?”

We’ve all ridden a few kilometers in those Sidis, eh? Any cyclist worth his kit knows that to find the shortest distance between two points you have to cut a few corners, or at least round them off a little.

And lighter is always better, amirite? Fatso is not the Road Runner, so bloody fast that his sheer velocity straightens out the curves and flattens all the hills. He’s Wile E. Coyote with an eating disorder, shopping for solutions at Acme. Or Walgreens. At least he’s out there, putting in the kilometers.

He was the guy the legendary Dong Ngo had in mind when we were discussing the 1987 Trek 2500 on display at the Denver Spoke.

“Who buys this bike?” I asked, stunned by the price.

“You wouldn’t believe who buys this bike,” he replied.

The Fat Guy, that’s who. The last guy who needs one. His eyes were never bigger than his stomach. Nothing was. Or is.

Maybe that’s why the Fat Guy struck such a chord. He wants what we want, which at rock bottom, basically, is more. Or maybe it’s because he seems so obliviously comfortable in his oversized skin.

Oddly, the jersey he covers it with seems especially popular with little skinny climber dudes, probably because people go “Oh, yeah, right,” when they see them wearing it.

But you know what’s really odd? Nearly 30 years to the day after Fatso and I pranced onto the VeloNews stage together, we’re both working for Felix Magowan again. A full circle, that is.

Yep. Felix was one of the honchos back then, and he’s one of the honchos now, ever since Pocket Outdoor Media bought Bicycle Retailer in January. I got my first check from the new owners in March. It didn’t smell like meth, and it didn’t bounce, so I guess we’re all one big happy family again.

We’ve been downsized, of course. Before this latest acquisition BRAIN published 18 issues per year, and now we’re down to 12, which accounts for Fatso’s sleeker shadow, and my slimmer paycheck.

Still, 30 years is a nice long first lap. We may be off the back, but we haven’t been pulled yet. Good thing the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter has been taking his turns on the front. It’s been like drafting the Budweiser beer wagon with a full hitch of Clydesdales.

The wrong Bozos keep getting kicked off the bus

January 26, 2019

Here’s a golden oldie, from my short stint at The Arizona Daily Star. I didn’t stick around to get the sack; I shot out of that place like a rat out of an aqueduct.

As long as we have a cartoon president, how ’bout drawing him up a cartoon Wall®?

We have the technology. Also, the manpower. Newspapers are shitcanning Pulitzer-winners right, left, and center, among them Steve Benson, who was the editorial cartoonist at the Arizona Republic back in 1980, when I scribbled the occasional ’toon for The Arizona Daily Star.

This is nothing new, of course. A J-school prof warned me in the Seventies that there were maybe a thousand editorial cartoonists, tops, and that I might consider expanding my portfolio a tad. This was excellent advice. Because their numbers kept shrinking like a spider on a hotplate, to hundreds and finally dozens.

It was nearly impossible to even make a start Back in the Day® because what few cartoonists there were could be had for chump change via syndication. So the editor of the Frog Dick (S.C.) Daily Lily Pad & Croaker could have Pat Oliphant every day for the price of a tepid cup of Maxwell House at Lulu’s Lunch Bucket.

I still got to draw cartoons, as you know. But I did it as a reporter, as a copy editor, as an assistant feature editor, and like that there. On the side. Onliest time I ever got hired as an honest-to-God cartoonist was when that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling decided I was too dim to be their managing editor but funny enough to scribble gags about fat masters, dope fiends, and Suits.

In a few short years there won’t be any of us. Robots will be drawing all the cartoons. And you won’t get any of the jokes, because they will be by robots, for robots.

“Ha ha,” they will say. “That’s very logical.”

Catbed scanner

December 13, 2018

“Yo, scan this.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla proves something of an impediment to the rumormongery from time to time.

R.I.P., Stan Lee

November 12, 2018

A small sampler of the voluminous output of Marvel impresario Stan Lee.

Zzzaaack! KRAAAAK! FOOM!

Stan Lee, true believers, is no more.

The former Stanley Martin Lieber joined what then was called Timely Comics at age 17 and finally left the Mighty Marvel Bullpen for good at 95.

I was more of a DC kind of guy — Superman, Batman, The Flash, The Atom, and Green Lantern and Green Arrow (as envisioned by Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams — but you gotta give Marvel and Lee their props. In 2018 you can’t swing a dead Catwoman without hitting some Marvelista in the unitard, and DC can’t get out of its own way.

“Batman v. Superman?” “Justice League?”

Gaaaaaaaaaaack! PTUI! BARF!

• Late addendum: I should also note the passing of the HAL 9000. Dave Bowman unplugged the Discovery’s homicidal computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but the actor who voiced HAL, Douglas Rain, soldiered on until the ripe old age of 90. He had the greatest enthusiasm for his mission, which was acting.

Days decrease, and autumn grows

October 10, 2018

Yesterday’s clouds were a harbinger of mildly unpleasant weather,
the sort one expects in October.

It’s that time of year again.

This morning, instead of going straight to The New York Times to see what deviltry Cheeto Benito has been up to while we slept, I cued up Weather Underground to find out what Thor has in store for us here in our little corner of the Duke City.

Also, I was wearing socks. And pants. O, the humanity.

I already miss my summer routine. Reveille at oh-dark-thirty as Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) leaps into my rack. After a brief exchange of the usual courtesies it’s up and into the Columbia shorts, guinea tee and Tevas for the trip to the kitchen, where I burn an English muffin for Herself, pour a cup of joe for myself, and top off Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s kibble.

Next, open the sliding glass doors and a kitchen window. Fresh air reminds me we have two cats who haven’t mastered the flush toilet. But the litter box will have to wait. First, the news. One foul chore at a time, please.

With the international, national, regional and local butt-nuggets exhumed, examined and expunged, and a second cup of coffee to wash down a snack of some sort, it’s time to generate a bit of bloggery and/or paying copy before embarking upon some healthy outdoor activity.

Here we have another indicator of the relentless passage of time, as reliable as falling leaves. Come autumn, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and Adventure Cyclist reduce their frequency of publication, and my income stream — hardly a raging torrent, even in the heart of the cycling season — becomes more of a dribble, the last warm sip from summer’s water bottle.

I delivered the video teaser of my Jones Plus SWB review to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, and yesterday the November “Shop Talk” cartoon went off to BRAIN. Now I’m fresh out of other people’s bikes to ponder, and there’s just one more ’toon to draw for 2018.

And that healthy outdoor activity? Come autumn, it’s as likely to be a run as a ride. This year I started jogging again in July; this lets me sort of sneak up on my knees, give them time to grow accustomed to the idea that we enjoy this sort of thing, before winter winnows our options.

It’s a useful fiction, one that keeps me in shorts a while longer.

Interbike 2018: The dream is gone

September 20, 2018

El Grande, being (ahem) gravitationally challenged, rarely participates in the Sport of Kings. Organizers grew tired of the frantic phone calls from the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The inaugural RenoCross took place last night. Alas, neither I, the Mud Stud nor the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter was in attendance.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of coverage out there at 8 a.m. New Mexico time, though cxmagazine.com has a brief report, results and pix.

My colleague Steve Frothingham had contemplated doing the Wheelers & Dealers race, but his new duties may have kept him in the Show Daily office. The Fake News never sleeps, and it rarely pins on a number.

El Grande did, from time to time. But it usually got swallowed by a roll, crease or fold, and even if he finished none of the judges could see it and thus he never got his just deserts.

Sometimes he didn’t even get beered.

• Next: Relax.