Saturday, March 18, 2017

See you in SPACE

I will be exhibiting and selling my comics work at SPACE (Small Press & Alternative Comics Expo) in Columbus, Ohio, March 25-26! Debuting at this show, GUERILLA FOOTBALL: A QUEST BY A CYBORG HORSE TO MAKE HIMSELF WHOLE—a 44-page one-shot science fiction comic book, wherein a transhuman cybernetic horse and orang-utan team up to steal a priceless historic football in hopes of selling it to raise funds to buy themselves human bodies. Their quest is fraught with peril; opponents include the cybernetic football player of the future! I will also be selling just about every other comic book I’ve made or contributed to in the past 14 years, including FROG STORIES, AWESOME ‘POSSUM 2 & 3, etc.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bigfoot relaxes

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest....

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Inauguration of the Resistance

I was in Washington DC on the historic dates of January 20 and 21, 2017. I attended various events, including the Women’s March and the Festival of Resistance.

At 12 noon on January 20, a cold rain began to fall.

In the afternoon, at McPherson Park, Michael Moore led the crowd in a chant of “Welcome to the shit show!” while the BOOM of flash bang grenades erupted from nearby streets. Haze from teargas filled the air. Confrontations were happening, between cops armed with weapons and protestors armed with the dream of a brighter future. The protestors engaged in civil disobedience to call out and resist the agenda of President Donald Trump. Their bravery earned them injuries from both cops and Trump supporters, who don’t share their commitment to non-violence. It also earned them time in kennels and jail cells, and bogus charges of felony riot, to be fought in court. Moore cheered on the resistance, and called for more.

At The Women's March, I found myself in an ocean of humanity. A crowd so dense that one was sure to lose their group unless they all held hands, and so expansive that only an aerial photo could hope to depict it. My pictures only show small fractions of the crowd, and yet it's still a sea of pink hats. Powerful women from Gloria Steinem to Mother Earth were present; and men who believe in equal rights were well-represented too. After I drove from West Virginia, rode a bus from Pittsburgh, slept on a church floor in DC, and walked and ran across DC (and once managed to ride a sardine-packed subway--public transit was limited and difficult to use in the chaotic weekend of protest), I thought that I had a good story about the challenges I underwent to attend this march. Then I met people who had come from New Mexico. A far longer journey! Three times as many people attended the Women's March as the Inauguration. Sister marches, similarly packed and overflowing, happened all over the United States and all over world. Marches happened in all seven continents (yes, Antarctica included.)



Welcome to the resistance. January 20 may have marked the beginning of the end of American democracy, and perhaps the end of civilization, whether by means of war or environmental degradation. However, one thing is clear: millions of Americans have committed to defending our values and our planet, and won’t go down quietly. In the courts and in the streets, the fight is on.

The funniest sign I saw all weekend was at the Women’s March. It said: “Trump approval rating: 32%. Paul Bart, Mall Cop: 33% -”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Dark Day Approaches

The animals sensed that a storm was coming, and many would not survive.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Girl Power of Mothra

My beautiful friend Raven will soon give birth to a baby girl named Indigo. In celebration of this genesis, I wanted to give Indy an icon, to tell her that there is no limit to what she can be. Naturally, my first thought was Wonder Woman. However, the Amazon princess is controversial as a feminist symbol. I found another character: Mothra! When I re-watched Mothra vs. Godzilla (AKA Godzilla vs. The Thing, directed by Ishiro Honda, 1964) with my friend Lesley, she gave a perspective on the mighty insect which I had not realized in my youth. Mothra symbolizes girl power, in a variety of forms—from the sonorous and elegant magic of her miniature twin princess allies, to the overt strength, courage, and perseverance of the great moth herself. Mothra also has characteristics of a mother goddess diety, with her transformations—from egg to caterpillar to moth (who sometimes produces a new egg and continues the cycle.) While most of the Kaiju are lone wolves, Mothra keeps up a social network by way of her telepathic connection to the Shobijin (the miniature twin princesses from Infant Island.)  In Mothra vs. Godzilla, the Shobijin summon Mothra to rescue humanity from a rampaging Godzilla. To protect both the world and her own mysterious egg, Mothra has Godzilla on the ropes for most of the fight, generating hurricane winds from her wingbeats and raining poison powder from her wings and body. The tables turn when the Godzilla catches Mothra with his nuclear breath. Though the mother insect goes down in flames, her egg hatches just in time, and the twin caterpillars are born warriors, who evade Godzilla's deadliest weapons and encase the nuclear dinosaur in a silken prison. In subsequent film appearances, Mothra remains a brave and formidable combatant who goes mandible-to-fang with the toughest monsters in the Toho universe, such as King Ghidorah and Godzilla... and sometimes emerges triumphant! Described as "a monster of principle and peace" in the Official Godzilla Compendium[1], Mothra is the most consistently heroic of the Kaiju. In the varied films, she defends Infant Island, Japan, and the Earth. (In contrast, Godzilla's role fluctuates between villain and hero, hence he and Mothra are sometimes allies instead of opponents.) Mothra may be the second most popular Kaiju after Godzilla, with the second highest number of film appearances, and a long history of drawing crowds to films in which she appears. Lesley is not alone in her admiration of the great moth. A poll in the 1990s found Mothra to be the most popular Kaiju among women[2]. This prompted Toho to make another movie featuring confrontation between Mothra and the Big G, Godzilla vs. Mothra (AKA Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth, directed by Takao Okawara, 1992.) Okawara described Mothra as "a very feminine monster"[2] and portrayed her as a defender of Earth's environment from an extractive corporation. Mothra has longheld connections to Mother Earth and the ancient past, celebrated in the song that the Shobijin (who are renamed the Cosmos in the 1992 film), sing to summon their goddess defender. Luckily for me, Mothra is not human at all. Thus I can draw her without having to worry about body type!

1. Lees, J. D. and Marc Cesani (1998). The Official Godzilla Compendium. pp. 137. ISBN 0-679-88822-5 
2. Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 184–90. ISBN 978-0-7864-47-49-7

Mothra is trademarked to Toho Studios.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

An eventful year

My family has a tradition of sending a traditional Holiday letter/ Christmas letter out to friends and family. I'll share here the section that I penned about me. (Don is my dad and Sue is my mom.)

"Ross began the year in Portland, Oregon, with some hope of finding a permanent home there. He worked part-time teaching at an after-school program in nearby Gresham, where he led youngsters ranging from Kindergarten through fifth grade in a variety of scientific projects and games, most notably growing a fruit and vegetable garden. He also volunteered as a Crew Leader for Friends of Trees, guiding teams of volunteers in forest restoration at city parks and schools.

However, none of this led to a longer-term job, and in May Ross crammed all his stuff into a Subaru once again, and returned to a second season of ranger work at Yellowstone National Park. This time, his station was Norris Geyser Basin—the oldest, hottest, and most frequently changing hydrothermal area in Yellowstone. Norris is home to Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest geyser, with major eruptions three times the height of Old Faithful and manyfold louder and more violent. However, Steamboat is unpredictable, with intervals between major eruptions ranging from four days to fifty years—making it far less friendly to a tourist’s schedule! On his talks and tours, Ross stood before Steamboat and invoked fear and awe by telling the story of its latest major eruption, which happened in September 2014. Generally, Ross enjoyed the rustic environment of Norris—with its 1930s buildings and limited staffing—which contrasted with more developed parts of Yellowstone such as Old Faithful and Canyon Village. He applied DIY skills to electrical outages and dilapidated boardwalks, and responded to medical and enforcement situations while rangers en route from Canyon maneuvered their vehicles through the busy summer’s perpetual traffic jam. He gave old-fashioned evening campfire programs at the Norris Campground without the aid of powerpoint. His chosen topic for said programs was “Survival Stories from Yellowstone”—an increasingly relevant subject in our changing world! He attended the 100th birthday celebration of the National Park Service at Mammoth Hot Springs, and a three-day class about Native American Plant Uses (led by ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk) at Lamar Valley. He went on backcountry hikes with friends on days off, visited waterfalls, and met wildlife such as bighorn sheep.

After Yellowstone, Don joined Ross for a road trip back home to West Virginia. Ross now assists with the move to North Carolina, and reckons with the huge volumes of paper which he left in the basement and his bedroom.

Ross’ alma mater The Center for Cartoon Studies had its 10th anniversary celebration this year. Before the reunion in Vermont, Ross and four of his former classmates (coordinating over Facebook) created a comics anthology called Pioneers, about the trials they faced as part of the school’s first-ever class. Ross completed two other comics this year—Guerilla Football, a science fiction work starring a cybernetic horse and orangutan; and Resurrection: the Real-Life Superpowers of Frogs and Mosses, a nonfiction work about the staggering abilities of amphibians and bryophytes to recover from desiccation and freezing. For this story, Sue lent her expertise on mosses especially. It will be published in the natural science comics anthology Awesome ‘Possum Volume 3. Many friends and family made donations via Kickstarter to fund the book’s publication."

Pictures from top down: Ranger Ross gives evening program at Norris Campground (photo by Dane Van Orman); Ross at Country Creek in NC (photo by Sue Studlar); Ross, Steve Bissette, and Sean Morgan in White River Junction, VT (photo by Carl Studlar.)