My pals over at 826LA are putting together a coloring book featuring some of the stories written by elementary-school kids in their Storytelling & Bookmaking field trips! I’ve illustrated a couple of those books, and I was pleased to learn that one of the stories I worked on was going to be included in the coloring book specifically.

During Storytelling & Bookmaking, a leader guides a visiting class through the process of coming up with a story collectively, calling on kids to supply plot points and asking questions to fill out the story. Another person sits nearby typing out the story in progress, so the kids can read it on a projected screen. An illustrator works to draw pictures that will accompany the finished story. This is all done to try and please the cranky old publisher, Mr. or Mrs. Barnacle (depending on who’s doing the voice), the crotchety attic-dwelling centenarian who’s demanding the production of a new best-seller. It’s a fun experience for both the kids and the volunteers, I participate whenever I have the time!

This story was about an artist king and his buck-toothed best friend, who face off against a wizard armed with an army of orange-slingshotting goats. Pictured are the drawings I did on the day, and my reinterpretations of them for the coloring book.

If there’s an 826 chapter near you, it’s so much fun to help make up these stories with the kids! 

Roll-A-Sketch (by @malki)

offbeat-classes:

While I’ve got your attention, lemme direct you to one of the biggest inspirations for Offbeat Classes: ROLL-A-SKETCH, by David Malki !

Malki ! is the artist and writer behind the webcomic Wondermark, one half of the duo behind Tweet Me Harder, and one third of the team behind Machine of Death. After backing the Machine of Death Game of Creative Assassination Kickstarter, I got a chance to meet him at Phoenix Comicon. At his booth was the ROLL-A-SKETCH board. You rolled dice (already I’m sold) to pick things from lists (please take my money) and get a one-of-a-kind drawing based on what you roll.

My girlfriend got this charming specimen:

And I got the CLOWN + CACTUS + PIRANHA + TANK featured on this limited run calendar:

So yeah, I guess you could say we’re tight. (I mean, you could. You’d be wrong.)

What you can really get out of this is that David Malki !’s mash-up work like this did a huge part to inspire Offbeat Classes, and ROLL-A-SKETCH in particular was the major inspiration for this blog. If you ever go to a convention where the Topatoco booth is featured prominently, do yourself a favor and see if Malki ! is gonna be there. If so, throw money at him until you have some manner of Batman-Sheep hybrid. (Not an exaggeration.)

aw shucks *blushes*

Sometimes you have an idea in the shower, and you are willing to sacrifice everything else you have planned for the day because you know otherwise, it will never get done. This is what I call ‘Chasing your enthusiasm’ and I have rarely regretted it.

WIKIPEDIA DIS RAPS on YouTube

GET THE TRACK on Bandcamp

– Flying magazine, 1914 (still thirteen years away from Charles Lindbergh’s first successful transatlantic flight)
ryannorth:

It’s been a while since I came across one of David’s books, but I’ve been busy!  So busy, in fact, that I thought a nice break would be to sit down at my local library and read some jokes,  But look what I found, (ironically??) placed in the humour section!!
Just a couple of things:
 It’s cool how you call out your competition, but calling people who use Rosetta Stone “Rosetta Stoners” was actually kinda mean
 I thought “laff” was just a “funny spelling”, but inside “laugh” is spelled variously as “laff”, “lauff”, “laaf”, “laaaf”, and “läf”
Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs evolved in different areas of the earth, at different times, and most likely evolved independently, so all that Egypt stuff on your cover is, like, wrong
holy crap, David, this is the fourth time you’ve done this??
finally, and perhaps most importantly, WRITING ENGLISH IN A CUNEIFORM FONT ON YOUR COMPUTER IS NOT WRITING IN CUNEIFORM.
Also, all these jokes seem to be plagiarized from old Reader’s Digest “Humor in Uniform” sections and OH WAIT NEVERMIND I GET IT
[BOOKWAR]

This book is an OBVIOUS FALSEHOOD by RYAN NORTH and I can tell because:
The title’s foward-facing drop shadow doesn’t respect the light being cast by the Outer Glow of the first line OR the numeral. There are a lot of terrible things that I might do in life, but mix up drop shadow directions is NOT one of them;
Actually that’s all I have.
Ryan, in times like these, I’m reminded of the ancient Mesopotamian proverb:

When I enlisted in my teens, I took up smoking cigars to make myself look more mature.
Did it work? Well, one time, as I proudly puffed away at our NCO club, an older 
sergeant growled, “Hey, kid, your candy bar’s on fire.”
- James Bushart, Cassville, Missouri

Well, Ryan, TODAY I must assert that it is YOUR candy bar that’s on fire. For shame.

ryannorth:

It’s been a while since I came across one of David’s books, but I’ve been busy!  So busy, in fact, that I thought a nice break would be to sit down at my local library and read some jokes,  But look what I found, (ironically??) placed in the humour section!!

Just a couple of things:

  •  It’s cool how you call out your competition, but calling people who use Rosetta Stone “Rosetta Stoners” was actually kinda mean
  •  I thought “laff” was just a “funny spelling”, but inside “laugh” is spelled variously as “laff”, “lauff”, “laaf”, “laaaf”, and “läf”
  • Cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs evolved in different areas of the earth, at different times, and most likely evolved independently, so all that Egypt stuff on your cover is, like, wrong
  • holy crap, David, this is the fourth time you’ve done this??
  • finally, and perhaps most importantly, WRITING ENGLISH IN A CUNEIFORM FONT ON YOUR COMPUTER IS NOT WRITING IN CUNEIFORM.

Also, all these jokes seem to be plagiarized from old Reader’s Digest “Humor in Uniform” sections and OH WAIT NEVERMIND I GET IT

[BOOKWAR]

This book is an OBVIOUS FALSEHOOD by RYAN NORTH and I can tell because:

  • The title’s foward-facing drop shadow doesn’t respect the light being cast by the Outer Glow of the first line OR the numeral. There are a lot of terrible things that I might do in life, but mix up drop shadow directions is NOT one of them;
  • Actually that’s all I have.

Ryan, in times like these, I’m reminded of the ancient Mesopotamian proverb:

When I enlisted in my teens, I took up smoking cigars to make myself look more mature.

Did it work? Well, one time, as I proudly puffed away at our NCO club, an older 
sergeant growled, “Hey, kid, your candy bar’s on fire.”

- James Bushart, Cassville, Missouri

Well, Ryan, TODAY I must assert that it is YOUR candy bar that’s on fire. For shame.

rollasketch:

Here’s a great Roll-a-Sketch drawing I did at San Diego Comic-Con this year! POLKA + ZEBRA + CONSTRUCTION + BREAKFAST

But oh no! The recipient (pictured above) accidentally walked away without the drawing! At least I HOPE it was an accident

Do you know him? I’d like to let him know that I’d be happy to mail his drawing to him. Please tell him to email me at dave at wondermark dot com to claim his drawing!

(Source: rollasketch)

“Bank teller, reading the name on my business account: “‘Machines of Death’? What is that?”
Me: “We make electric chairs.”
Teller: “Oh…”
(There is a long pause as she considers this.)
Teller: “You’re not…lying, are you?”
Me: “Yeah, I am lying.”
(The teller laughs with relief.)
Teller: “Ha ha…”
Me: “We make syringes for lethal injections.”
Teller: “…ha ha, yeah, OK. Fool me once!””

—   Perhaps the best conversation I have ever had?????
In 2009, I wrote this comic strip!
Then, lots of people asked for the bumper sticker pictured in the comic – “I was an honor student; I don’t know what happened” – so I made it too!
There is a particular trajectory that sometimes happens with funny phrases. They become popular; then they become common; then they become anonymous.
Recently I was talking with someone who started a new T-shirt website. Their designs were all copies of common slogans, including one that originated with a friend of mine. I pointed this out to them, and they honestly didn’t see the difference between someone specific having created a particular design, and anyone at all being able to make and sell their own version of it because they saw it out in the world somewhere.
Think of any slogan you’ve seen on multiple different T-shirts or stickers, in gift shops, or at conventions, or in truck stops, or tourist stores. Who was the first person to think of the phrase “FBI – Female Body Inspector”? I don’t know how you’d ever find that out.
If you were to put that on a shirt of your own, nobody would stop you. It’s neither novel nor artful, but you could do it all you like. To be unique, you’d have to drill down the parody well even further – e.g., Flannel & Beard Inspector.
But somebody did come up with that phrase, and somebody was the first to put it on a T-shirt, and somebody else did copy them. The phrase “female body inspector” is not trademarked in the United States, according to a USPTO search I just did.
So, because there’s no trademark, and the originator is not vigorously pursuing copyright claims against other versions, it’s essentially impossible now for anyone to claim ownership of it. (Unless someone trademarked a particular visual design incorporating those words – but the only reason I could think of for that would be if it were in a TV show or something, and featured a character or something else from the show.)
Maybe that’s okay! Maybe the culture is benefited by everyone in the world being allowed to make “Female Body Inspector” T-shirts to their hearts’ content. It’s not something I personally want to buy, or wear, or make; I don’t want to hawk anything that I don’t feel is original or artful, and also, come on. But maybe the ability to sell that design royalty-free is what’s keeping horrible tourist shops in business. God bless them, may they sell sleepy-sombrero-man vulgar cactus pots until the earth opens up to swallow them whole.
ANYWAY. I made the above sticker. People rip it off all the time. But yesterday I found a Zazzle seller who went one amazingly lazy step further:

They didn’t quite copy my slogan, they just put my own photograph of the product onto a series of mugs.
Probably they found the photo on imgur or somewhere, and so to them it’s just one more anonymous piece of fodder to be mindlessly thrown onto every imaginable print-on-demand item in the vain hope of making a few pennies here, a few pennies there. The only real winner is probably Zazzle. 
I complained about these other Zazzle products using my slogan, but I don’t know if they’ll side with me – when it comes to copyright claims, trying to prove ownership of an un-trademarked slogan presents a certain burden. I do think this particular claim (about the product above) is a good one since they’re literally using my photograph, and photographs are protected under copyright.
It’s worth fighting because having “vigorously defended” one’s intellectual property is a necessary part of proving in court (if it were to ever come to that) that your IP qualifies for protection in the first place, as opposed to being simply lost to the public commons like “Female Body Inspector.”
Besides spending loads of money on trademarks or truckloads of money on litigation, though, there’s little any of us can do. We can send emails, we can make snarky tweets, we can hover over our ideas like dragons on a pile of gold.
But in the end, speaking completely pragmatically, the best way to ensure one’s creative livelihood even in an age where ideas are so easily copyable is to always be creating, always coming up with new ideas. Staying one step ahead.
It’s with that in mind that I’d like to present for sale an all-new, original mug design. Check it out on Zazzle.

In 2009, I wrote this comic strip!

Then, lots of people asked for the bumper sticker pictured in the comic – “I was an honor student; I don’t know what happened” – so I made it too!

There is a particular trajectory that sometimes happens with funny phrases. They become popular; then they become common; then they become anonymous.

Recently I was talking with someone who started a new T-shirt website. Their designs were all copies of common slogans, including one that originated with a friend of mine. I pointed this out to them, and they honestly didn’t see the difference between someone specific having created a particular design, and anyone at all being able to make and sell their own version of it because they saw it out in the world somewhere.

Think of any slogan you’ve seen on multiple different T-shirts or stickers, in gift shops, or at conventions, or in truck stops, or tourist stores. Who was the first person to think of the phrase “FBI – Female Body Inspector”? I don’t know how you’d ever find that out.

If you were to put that on a shirt of your own, nobody would stop you. It’s neither novel nor artful, but you could do it all you like. To be unique, you’d have to drill down the parody well even further – e.g., Flannel & Beard Inspector.

But somebody did come up with that phrase, and somebody was the first to put it on a T-shirt, and somebody else did copy them. The phrase “female body inspector” is not trademarked in the United States, according to a USPTO search I just did.

So, because there’s no trademark, and the originator is not vigorously pursuing copyright claims against other versions, it’s essentially impossible now for anyone to claim ownership of it. (Unless someone trademarked a particular visual design incorporating those words – but the only reason I could think of for that would be if it were in a TV show or something, and featured a character or something else from the show.)

Maybe that’s okay! Maybe the culture is benefited by everyone in the world being allowed to make “Female Body Inspector” T-shirts to their hearts’ content. It’s not something I personally want to buy, or wear, or make; I don’t want to hawk anything that I don’t feel is original or artful, and also, come on. But maybe the ability to sell that design royalty-free is what’s keeping horrible tourist shops in business. God bless them, may they sell sleepy-sombrero-man vulgar cactus pots until the earth opens up to swallow them whole.

ANYWAY. I made the above sticker. People rip it off all the time. But yesterday I found a Zazzle seller who went one amazingly lazy step further:

They didn’t quite copy my slogan, they just put my own photograph of the product onto a series of mugs.

Probably they found the photo on imgur or somewhere, and so to them it’s just one more anonymous piece of fodder to be mindlessly thrown onto every imaginable print-on-demand item in the vain hope of making a few pennies here, a few pennies there. The only real winner is probably Zazzle. 

I complained about these other Zazzle products using my slogan, but I don’t know if they’ll side with me – when it comes to copyright claims, trying to prove ownership of an un-trademarked slogan presents a certain burden. I do think this particular claim (about the product above) is a good one since they’re literally using my photograph, and photographs are protected under copyright.

It’s worth fighting because having “vigorously defended” one’s intellectual property is a necessary part of proving in court (if it were to ever come to that) that your IP qualifies for protection in the first place, as opposed to being simply lost to the public commons like “Female Body Inspector.”

Besides spending loads of money on trademarks or truckloads of money on litigation, though, there’s little any of us can do. We can send emails, we can make snarky tweets, we can hover over our ideas like dragons on a pile of gold.

But in the end, speaking completely pragmatically, the best way to ensure one’s creative livelihood even in an age where ideas are so easily copyable is to always be creating, always coming up with new ideas. Staying one step ahead.

It’s with that in mind that I’d like to present for sale an all-new, original mug design. Check it out on Zazzle.

themachineofdeath:

SWEET GAME PHOTO 7 (of 50)

Today’s sweet photo comes from Clay!

Clay wins the custom Specialist card above: the character The Puppet Master, who has the special skill of FLAWLESS IMPERSONATION. This might be handy in order to:

  • Forge a note from your mom
  • Sign autographs as a celebrity
  • Do an entire Frank Caliendo routine on stage

Have fun, Clay!

To enter to win one of the 43 remaining custom cards, just tweet a creative picture using hashtag #machineofdeath!

We’re queuing these up and we’re gonna post daily from now on, FOR REALS! So many great pictures!!

One of my favorite recent panels. (From Wondermark #1037, In which a Berry turns Bane)
It was as if his hand moved of its own volition — the weight of the pitcher slowly shifting without prompting like the stone of the tomb on Easter morning. He couldn’t even see the thin plastic straw approaching beneath his line of sight, but he knew it would find its way home, just as he knew how to scratch his own ear, or pick at his scabs, or toss and turn, late in the night every night, at the horrible boils that spread across his body from some unknown, terrible cause.

One of my favorite recent panels. (From Wondermark #1037, In which a Berry turns Bane)

It was as if his hand moved of its own volition — the weight of the pitcher slowly shifting without prompting like the stone of the tomb on Easter morning. He couldn’t even see the thin plastic straw approaching beneath his line of sight, but he knew it would find its way home, just as he knew how to scratch his own ear, or pick at his scabs, or toss and turn, late in the night every night, at the horrible boils that spread across his body from some unknown, terrible cause.