Tuesday, May 31, 2011


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I know I keep changing the way the Peeps say General's name. The truth might be that I keep changing my mind on how their pronunciation should be written, but for now let's just pretend each Peep pronounces it slightly differently, and this is the first time we've "heard" Blue Peep say it.


Monday, May 30, 2011


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Happy Memorial Day, welcome back to Pipe Dope, and many thanks for your patience during my one-week respite. It was a much-needed break and a terrifically productive one, to boot. While I didn't build a huge buffer for this week, I managed to get a bit ahead of schedule and, most importantly, I totally nailed down the outline going forward; while I've always known when and how Pipe Dope is going to end, the road map from here to there has been, admittedly, a bit hazy. Also, within that outline, I did schedule a few more weeks off to give myself a chance to occasionally catch my breath. So then, here's hoping for smooth sailing through to the end in early 2012.

More tomorrow. Yo-ho!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pipe Dope Thumbnails

Apologies again for not posting new Pipe Dope panels this week, but believe you me, the break is doing me good and helping me nail down the roadmap through to the finish line, which will be Friday, February 3, 2012. (Practically just around the corner!) Anyhow, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested in such things, here are my sketchbook pages with thumbnails for the past five weeks:

Some things you might take away from these pages: Weeks 12 and 13 were as much (if not more) about the number of panels each day as they were about what was drawn in those panels. And this past week, in #75, I really didn't know how I wanted to do that sound effect until I was working on the actual panel.

I think with the upcoming Week 16 I might start including the thumbnails in the last post for every week (ideally on Fridays, too often on Saturdays). Just a thought. We'll all know what I decide on Friday, June 3.

I hope you enjoy this peek behind the curtain, and I hope you all come back this coming Monday, May 30 for #76. Have fun in the meantime. Yo-ho!

Saturday, May 21, 2011


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As usual on a Saturday, I apologize for being late with the post. It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to do that "chomp" sound effect, and by the time I decided, the morning was gone and I had a bunch of errands to run. So it goes.

I've been planning this cliffhanger for a while, but I'm afraid the suspense will last longer than I'd originally thought, as I'm definitely going to take this coming week off from posting. I'll try and get some behind-the-scenes stuff up on Monday to hopefully keep folks entertained, and then we'll find out the Peep's fate on Monday, May 30. Have fun in the meantime!

Friday, May 20, 2011


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Chaos on deck! I love that Peep that wants to steer the boat right into Smokey. Not exactly born mariners, the Peeps.

All signs are pointing to me taking next week off from posting, but I'll make the final call when I post tomorrow's panel.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


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Sorry for the late post today. There's a whole lot going on work-wise this week, making it extra tricky to keep up with Pipe Dope. I'm thinking I might take next week off from posting the comic so I can try and get a jump on work and also try to build up that fabled buffer of panels. I'll let you all know for sure when I post #75 on Saturday.

On a bright note, I'm really enjoying drawing the Animal Air Force--I especially like how the guys look on the bridge--and while this particular story of theirs still has a ways to go, I'm looking forward to sharing more of their adventures throughout the rest of the year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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I realized once this was scanned and sized for the interwebs that I'd forgotten to give any sort of definition to General's collar. Maybe I'll go back in and fix that at some point down the line, but for now I'm alright leaving it as is. To me, that's the sort of imperfection that can serve as a reminder that this is made by hand--the mistake actually strikes me as a sign of care.

That might only make sense in my head.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


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Sorry this is going up so late in the day--crazy times, as always. Anyway, the story promised in this panel will begin to unfold next week, which once again is looking to run Tuesday through Saturday. I swear I really do wanna get things back to Monday through Friday, but there just hasn't been the time to get ahead.

Enjoy the next couple of days, and I hope you check back for #71!

Friday, May 13, 2011


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... And we're back! Sorry to be posting so late today, but Blogger's been experiencing technical difficulties, preventing me from posting this morning (I swear I had the panel done on time!) and even making yesterday's panel temporarily disappear. But hey, that's just the world we live in. What's important is that we're up and running once again!

One more panel still to come this week. And fair warning: It's certain to be posted later in the day tomorrow, this time due to my own technical difficulties. Here's hoping it'll be worth the wait...

Thursday, May 12, 2011


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This is one of those panels that's likely more true in spirit than in detail. I haven't seen the space between those garages in about 15 years or so, and the gate is definitely a product of speculation. Also, my uncle tells me Smokey actually had a dog house. Ah, well. The one definitive fact here, I suppose, is that the Witmers did indeed have neighbors.

Tomorrow: the return of General!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


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I know Smokey's appearance has changed a bit from the last panel, but I got a much better handle on drawing him this time out. That's one of my goals with this project, though: to see improvement in my drawing abilities.

Smokey's story continues tomorrow--who knows what he'll look like then!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Starstruck--The Radio Play!

I've got some very fond memories of listening to old Dick Tracy radio plays on cassette tapes while I was growing up. The radio dramas featured talented voice actors, music to set the mood and just the right sound effect to suggest whatever setting the characters found themselves in. (And of course, there were those great ads from the sponsor, Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice--"It's shot from guns!") There's a complicity in audio dramas on the part of the listener that I really dig: Similar to the way a reader interprets temporal relations across panel breaks and page turns in comics, in "radio," the listener decodes aural clues to paint the entire picture in his or her imagination. All of which is to say, I was naturally curious when news reached me that Elaine Lee and Michael Wm. Kaluta's madcap space-opera comic-book-series Starstruck had been given the radio-play treatment by the AudioComics Company. And before I go into detail, let me just say that my curiosity more than payed off--Starstruck proves to be a perfect fit for an audio play.

As Elaine Lee explained in a recent interview with Suicide Girls, before it was a comic book, Starstruck was a stage play co-written by Lee, Susan Norfleet and Dale Place, and it was during the production of the play back in the early '80s that writer Lee met artist Kaluta and, well, the rest is galactic history, so to speak. Much more recently, as Lee, Kaluta and painter Lee Moyer set to work on the remastered edition of the comic (published last year by IDW, and available hot off the presses in a collected edition), the AudioComics Company came calling to see about adapting Starstruck into a radio play. In scripting the audio drama, rather than try to capture the multiverse-spanning scale of the 13-part comic-book series, Lee returned to the original stage play, which takes place some time after the events seen in the comics. The proverbial stage is set in the audio play when Prime Minister Glorianna of Phoebus goes missing and Captain Galatia 9 (played by Tavia Gilbert) and her crew--Brucilla the Muscle (Jennywren Sanders), Erotica Ann 333 (Kristina Balbo) and Sister Bronwyn of the Cosmic Veil (Genevieve Casagrande)--are called on to respond. They soon find themselves face-to-face with Galatia 9's twisted half-sister, Verloona Ti (Denise Poirier), and her nefarious, sniveling cohorts (given voice by James Herrera and Brent Askari). Zaniness, sure enough, ensues.

Bringing the stage play into audio form was without question the right way to go. For one thing, I'm always suspicious of adapting brilliant comics into other media (hence why I still haven't watched the animated All-Star Superman movie). More importantly, though, the stage play's story was appropriately contained for a, well, play. But don't let that fool you--if there's an aural equivalent to the comics' dense visuals, this is most certainly it. Just as the comics' layers of detail reward multiple reads, so too does the audio play reward multiple listens. Indeed, it's impressive to hear how the storytelling devices used in the comics are translated to the radio-play form. A rich use of sound effects (far more impressive than what was afforded the Dick Tracy productions back in the day) creates a detailed, variegated aural landscape complemented by Dwight Dixon's pitch-perfect score. And where each issue of the comic would incorporate "excerpts" from "historical" accounts like Musings on the Events Leading Up to the Great Change and Ordering Anarchera in order to provide readers with pertinent bits of backstory and effectively flesh out what feels like a very real and lived-in multiverse, in the audio play, an omniscient narrator (voiced by Simon Vance) occasionally speaks up to season the narrative with similar background information.

No discussion of an audio play can be complete without mention of the voice cast, and Starstruck's is remarkably spot on, matching what I'd heard in my head while reading the comics to an almost frightening degree. There's a half-crazed energy to the entire play reminiscent of the '60s Batman TV series (always a great comparison, in my book); the acting here often reminds me of Frank Gorshin and Cesar Romero's all-or-nothing, over-the-top portrayals of the Riddler and the Joker, respectively.

For anyone unfamiliar with Starstruck, I recommend you get acquainted first with the comics. But then, just as fast as you can, treat yourself to the radio play, and allow the sounds to flood your mind's eye with visions of Kaluta's art, Moyer's colors and Lee's indelible characters. It's loud, it's raucous, it's baffling, sexy, hilarious and so much more--in short, it's Starstruck. And it's not to be missed.


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Another week down! Sorry this is going up a bit late today, and sorry again for going Tuesday through Saturday--a schedule which, I'm afraid, I may have to follow yet again next week. Every time I think I might have a chance to get things back on track for Monday through Friday, life intervenes. Ah well. So it goes.

For anyone actually looking at this on the day it's posted--Saturday, May 7--don't forget that it's Free Comic Book Day! And for anyone who doesn't know what that is, it's the one day outta the year when, if you go to a comic-book store, you can get a free comic book! (The title kinda says it all, I guess.) I'm planning on stopping by Hollywood's own Meltdown Comics later this morning to check out some of the rad activities they've got scheduled to coincide with the book giveaway.

Alright, then. See you back here hopefully on Monday, but more likely on Tuesday, as Pipe Dope charges full steam ahead into Act 2. Yo-ho!

Friday, May 6, 2011


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It's been awhile since we've seen Buff and G the D, but fear not! More of them soon. See you tomorrow to wrap up this week!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


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More midnight-oil burning on this one. And here I thought shifting this week's Pipe Dope schedule to Tuesday through Saturday would make things easier.

Digging deep into my iTunes, I listened to Farmhouse, Round Room and The Story of the Ghost while penciling and inking. If it wasn't already clear, I've temporarily eschewed the sort of "method" music listening that had me listening to '90s jams last week. But who knows what'll happen tonight...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


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Burning the midnight oil for this one, friends. Literally--it's midnight as I'm typing this.

Pencils and inks were done while listening to a slew of music from Two Gallants.

And now I'm off to bed...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


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Welcome back to another week of Pipe Dope, and apologies again for slipping back to the Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule this week. I'm really, really hoping that next week (which marks the long-anticipated return of General the Dog!) will see me getting back to Monday through Friday. Keep your fingers crossed, dear readers!

Pencils were done partly in silence, partly while listening to NPR news (on KCRW); inks were done while listening to God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs and Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes.

Speaking of what people listen to while working, the question was asked during a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday that featured Daniel Clowes, Dash Shaw and Jim Woodring. Woodring's answer--recordings of frogs--will haunt me forever...