Mini-Vacation

Hi folks, just a quick note to say that the comic is taking a little vacation this week. I need a couple days to recover from ten days on the road and get life things in order before I can return to delighting you with terri-bad puns. Regular strips will most likely resume on October 2.

Want something to read in the meantime? Perhaps something combining cute animals and silliness? Then I highly recommend revisiting The Fluffington Post. I’m quite pleased to say that I wrote for them once upon a time. (Look! I have proof!) Even though the site’s on hiatus now, it’s still a top-notch source of furry funniness.

An Ode To Poetry

I’ve let my inner Weird Al out to play a few times for the comic. Sadly, the first several cases were rush jobs to be used as filler, not something I actually put more than 10 minutes of thought into. That turned around with the caroling mini-arc in December (which begins here at #191 and still makes me chuckle). I wanted to do more strips in a similar vein, because I am a firm believer that a more Weird Al-esque life is a better life.

The grand scheme was to spend much more time crafting clever avian pop song parodies. The reality is that strip #255 also came together in not much more than 10 minutes, an irony which I can’t help but appreciate. I’d had the nugget that Bird would go ahead and do the Bird thing of Bird-ifying a song, but then Dog would respond and take the one-off into a discussion about poetry.

(Side note: this isn’t the critters’ first brush with poetry. Eagle-eyed observers may recall some verses at the very very beginning of Bird’s job hunt way back in #62. Normally I wouldn’t retread prior ground, but it’s just too fun to write limericks.)

Because poetry is great! Really!

It’s an art form that still seems to carry a bad rap. Maybe it’s a holdover from our days of writing terrible, angst-ridden rhymes when we were teenagers. (Don’t lie. You know you penned some godawful stuff back in the day.) Or it’s something our English teachers mishandled over the years. Or maybe some of us, like Bird, just haven’t found the poets who’ll speak to us.

I can’t say what the reasons are for each reader, but what I can say is that poetry isn’t something you need to fear or deride. It isn’t even something you need to overthink. You can just enjoy it for enjoyment’s sake.

That’s how I landed on the poem for #256. I had a few ideas about what Dog might recite as I started the arc last week, and while I was working on the bookending panels, I was totally convinced that it’d be Shakespeare. Classic, reasonably familiar Shakespeare, an easy entry into the poetry world. But the best comedy usually stems from honesty in the unexpected, right? So as I was researching sonnets, I had a eureka moment of the poem I should use.

It’s called Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

I love that it’s a poem about beauty, about freckles, and about flaws that are not flaws. I love every word, how they’re both aurally and visually vivid as each one flows into the next. I love how it upends the expected structure, taking out a whole line and a half because that’s the kind of reverence you give divinity. I love how my heart swells when I read it, every single time.

Seriously, the right poem will literally move you to wax poetic. And yes, it might seem very ridiculous but my reaction there is also deeply true and real. I think poetry is about that emotional reaction, how a handful of words creates so much nuanced feeling.

Want a poetry suggestion? Hit up Dog and Bird on Facebook or on Twitter and I’ll happily yammer about something I love.

Tl;dr – the world needs more poetry. Also more Weird Al. Get on that, world.

Art Imitates Life

Fun fact: the story arc of strips 219-229 (begins here) was inspired by real-life events.

It all started when my car flooded. I had no idea what to do, and I’m about the least car-savvy person to have a drivers’ license. It would not be an exaggeration to say I lost my shit. Was the car ruined? How expensive would it be to fix? How the hell did I fix it? Could I drive it to a mechanic safely or would I get shocked and die when I turned the ignition?

After multiple panicked freak-outs, I reached out to a few people who all managed to calm me down in their own ways. They gave me their time, their patience, and their knowledge of what parts of cars have electrical wiring.

A waterlogged car isn’t usually the end of the world. But a flooded home might be. In a few years that seemed to see a surreal number of natural disasters, I watched countless efforts for aid. Some were structured and expected, like Direct Relief, but others seemed to materialize out of thin air by sheer force of compassion.

Games Done Quick is one of my favorite charitable organizations. It’s one of the most joyous things the Internet has ever seen and each event is a highlight of my year. The biannual marathons benefit the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders, but the team mobilized a near-instant disaster relief marathon to help the recovery effort after hurricanes in Texas. It also wasn’t the first time people banded together in the name of charity and playing video games really, really fast.

One of the core ideas behind Dog and Bird is that while the critters are studying (and frequently misunderstanding) humans, they’re unknowingly exemplifying the best of humanity. When someone needs help, you give it. That’s just as true to be whether it’s a single person who needs a sympathetic ear in a bout of anxiety or a whole population trying to fight against centuries of oppression.

Few things give me as much hope as humans’ ability to care for each other. So here’s your reminder to care.

Not So Much Visibility (Of Critters)

Sorry folks, but the comic must go on a bit of a hiatus. When duty calls, even the most devoted purveyor of puns must leave the joking aside to answer it.

In the mean time, go check out #VisibleWomen and the related hashtags as mentioned in the prior blog post. Or maybe just revisit some old story arcs of the critters! Remember that whole squirrel conspiracy thing? (It’s totally real. Just wait.) And the Winter Olympics ones, while recent, were pretty fun. Or go way retro and re-live Dog’s discovery of human dating habits. Marvel at the in-jokes about The Bachelor and try to ignore the lack of speech bubbles!

Strips should resume again on April 5. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your best puns in the meantime. Inspiration is always welcome. Til then, my friends!

Visibility

I know it’s unusual, but there will be no new comics this week. Things are going to be a little wild over the next few weeks for my various works, so I’ll need a little extra time to get the next arc written and finished up. Normally I’d keep posting the cute fourth-wall fillers, but I think I just need one fewer thing on the ol’ to-do list right now.

But I wouldn’t leave you hanging with nothing happy to look at! So instead of anthropology and puns, I’m sending you to one of the best things I’ve seen on Twitter. It’s the #VisibleWomen hashtag. The campaign started as a way to promote women working in comics, and the latest wave just happened last month. Check out the hashtag for piles of portfolios by wildly talented individuals. I guarantee you will find something that inspires you. And who knows, maybe you’ll stumble on a new favorite comic too.

There have also been similar efforts to get more eyes on other less-represented populations in the field, including both gender and racial identities. #VisibleWomen was the first I saw, but I’m in favor of any moves to improve representation in creative work. So keep both your eyes and your mind open. Who knows what fresh awesomeness you’ll see.

Regularly scheduled critter cuteness will ideally resume on March 13. Til then!

PyeongChang 2018

Aren’t the Olympics wonderful? I’ve been marathoning pretty much any and all the events ‘round the clock. Thank goodness for vods, or I’d look just as zonked as Dog.

My favorite part of this Winter Games has definitely been the halfpipe snowboarding. The whole sport seems to have a refreshing amount of camaraderie. The riders usually had hugs for each other and smiles for the camera after their runs, good or bad. Even the commentary duo (at least the pair on the event stream) had kind things to say about each and every athlete. It was exciting to see the whole international crowd being so driven to perform their best while still keeping that bright attitude. Besides, it seems to be an unspoken prerequisite that all snowboarders are total cuties. What’s not to love?

I’m happy to have Dog and Bird learning about this unique event. I think the comic was running during the 2016 games in Rio, but I was in the middle of the critters’ most narrative story arc and so they never got to talk about them. Given what a fascinating slice of humanity they reveal, expect a few more strips putting an anthropological lens on the Olympics. I promise there won’t be any more quips about competitive guacamole eating. (Unless the IOC gets back to me…)

Let’s Get Physical!

Last week was an exciting milestone for the critters. With Dog and Bird reaching 200 strips, this has been a perfect time to reflect on where the comic came from and where it’s going.

First things first, the comic is continuing! Tune in here every Tuesday and Thursday for the latest antics and puns. I’ve got a couple story arcs on the back burner that should be coming to the forefront this year. Will Bird ever find a vocation? Want to see more of Hoo or Mama B? Is there really a squirrel conspiracy? All will, at some point, be revealed!

Second, I am going to try something new this year. Dog and Bird has been an online project for two and a half years. Over the course of 2018, I’m going to work on a zine. Yes, that means Dog and Bird will be taking a physical form for the first time ever!

Why would I do such a thing? Mostly, to see if I can. Learning how to write for the contained space of a twice-a-week comic has been an incredible challenge. I’m excited to try something a little lengthier, just to see how it goes. Plus, I’m just a retro person. Once something’s put in print as a physical copy, it just takes on a different life for me than it can ever have online.

I don’t have tons of details to share at this point, but I am committed to making it happen. All I can say for now is that the zine will be a completely standalone narrative arc for Dog and Bird, and it will have all the same cute zaniness of the usual comics. Watch this space; whenever there’s share-worthy news, you’ll find it here.

Cheers to an exciting year ahead for all of us! <3

Two years

I posted the very first strip of Dog and Bird on this date in 2015. It’s so gratifying to make something that’s all my vision, my humor and to keep it alive for this long. I’m proud of the milestone and of the progress the comic has made in two years.

Because wow, has it changed. At the beginning, the art was rough. The joke setup, when it existed, was accidental. The image quality was real, real bad. But any time I look back at those first days of the comic, it still makes me very happy. I see a spark of genuine joy in my early efforts, and that’s why I keep putting in the slow work to keep improving. I do this for my own satisfaction, but also to carve out a little corner of the internet where people can find some happiness.

Thanks to each of you who reads the comic. I’m delighted you also found a little joy in what I do.

Onwards and upwards, critter fans!

We’re back, baby!

In case you haven’t noticed, the critters are back to their usual silly shenanigans! Yay!

I’m really glad to be getting back in the swing of things with the comic. Keeping the story running for over a year felt like a huge accomplishment, and I’m already excited about what’s in store for the next phase of Dog and Bird. Think of it as season two. The sophomore album. The bigger and better (at least in terms of image quality) version of what you’ve seen.  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy making it.

Pause

The comic is going on a break. I’m not sure how long the break will be.

I still really like Dog and Bird as characters and I want to keep telling their goofy little story. As you may have noticed, however, I’ve barely been able to keep up with posting twice a week. And given how many ideas I tried out over the course of 118 panels, I’d like to take a little time to think about what worked and what didn’t. So consider this the end of the comic’s first chapter.

If I had to guess, I’d say Dog and Bird be back around December or January. I will probably pop in occasionally during the interim with blog posts about the cool things I’m reading or looking at, so please do toss me a follow on the socials. And with any luck, the critters be funnier (and punnier) than ever when they return. Thanks as always to the folks who have supported me and the comic; I can’t wait to have something even more delightful to show you soon.

Cheers!