My five page comics
story “Follow the Moon” has been accepted for publication in Oh,
Comics #27: Moon, an anthology edited and published by Bob Corby over
at Back Porch Comics. The anthology will debut at SPACE (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo), April 27 & 28, 2019. I will not be
at this convention (I tabled in SPACE 2017 and loved it) but my work
will. My contribution to the Moon issue is likely to be my first
print publication of 2019—unless Carlsbad Caverns National Park
sends the Junior Bat Biologist book I illustrated in 2018 to the
printer first! I think that "Follow the Moon" is one of the best
comics I have ever done. I plan to find more venues to publish it in.
However, a book full of Moon stories is a great place to start! In
the story, I bring together several topics that fire my
passions—marine turtles, Native American legends, and our friendly
natural satellite. As is often my process, it started with a single
drawing... this one... and later on, I searched for the story behind
the image. And I found it.
The fourth panel of page two:
And that's all I'm sharing online. Buy the print version (online sales of the anthology will start after SPACE 2019) to read the full story.
I recently finished a set of four illustrations of ice age mammals for Bering Land Bridge National Preserve! (Or I THINK I finished them; I won’t be able to hear from my editors again until after the government shut down.) Here is one of them, the Yukon Horse. Happy Holidays!
I have a black widow spider living just outside the back door of my residence in New Mexico. Two nights ago, I checked on the spider while returning from watering my garden. I noticed there was a second spider sharing the web—a tiny one. A male black widow! For the first time, I was seeing live a phenomenon that is featured in all the books about spiders. The male black widow puts everything on the line in hopes of mating with the female, who is twice his size and inclined to eat him. I watched their dance, with the male hovering in the web atop the female’s abdomen. I disturbed them by getting too close while attempting a photo, and sent the female scampering back to her protected corner behind the outdoor electrical outlet, where she can hide from outsized dangers such as me. Meanwhile, the male dropped like a stone, until being caught by his silken life line. He climbed up the thread, to continue his quest. All my photos of their love ritual were coming out blurry, so I gave up, and left them in peace.
The next night, I flipped on the light outside. The male spider was dead in the web. The circle of life. Only time will tell if he managed to seduce the female long enough before her hunger took over. We will see whether the female produces an egg sac.
A beetle flew into the web, perhaps drawn to the light. The black widow spider sprung into action, trussing up the insect in silk, her rear legs working rapidly to wrap the prey. The unfortunate beetle didn’t stand a chance. It received a quick death, as the spider’s bite paralyzed it then liquefied its insides. The fortunate spider consumed the nourishing innards-smoothie, and would live on, and might even make baby spiders. There was no way not to feel sorry for the beetle; all living things want desperately to stay alive—from microbes to ourselves. The circle of life in a beautiful, heartless world.
This one's rainbow of color has made a good study in marker for me. I've been working in color a bit more recently in part to build some skills and confidence, because I'm at work on an illustration project about bats, for the NPS, in color. More about that soon! I'm glad to find that I didn't forget everything from my painting courses at Denison University, even though most of my art in the subsequent years has been black and white.
For another gouache experiment, I turned to the devil of the sky. Or, the creature that seemed that way to a younger me—the tarantula hawk, the largest and most powerful of the parasitoid wasps. Other species of parasitoid wasps target cicadas, caterpillars, and ladybugs. The tarantula hawk goes after a large spider that eats mice and small snakes. Despite being much larger than the wasp, the spider is outgunned. After the wasp paralyzes the tarantula with a sting, it’s larva eats the spider slowly, while it is still alive.
As a child, I loved spiders and kept a pet tarantula. In the picture books about spiders which I read and re-read, I skipped over the part about the tarantula hawk, after reading it once and being horrified.
Tarantula hawks are common in the desert where I work, and I’ll acknowledge that their blue-black iridescence can be quite pretty. Virginia’s state insect is the eastern tiger swallowtail. Pennsylvania’s state insect is the firefly. New Mexico’s state insect is the tarantula hawk.
I am a storyteller. I draw comics featuring robots, frogs, turtles, guinea pigs, and giant monsters. I am a Park Ranger for the National Park Service, where I tell Native American legends and stories from science and history. I am a graduate of The Center for Cartoon Studies (Vermont), and Denison University (Ohio). My most valuable educational experience was The Homestead at Denison University.
This blog, updated 1-4 times per month, contains some of my comics and drawings, as well as stories and essays on comics, books, films, science fiction, politics, environmental issues, sustainability, outdoor life, wildlife, survival, and anything else that I feel inspired to draw or write about.