A couple of weeks ago friends invited me and the frau up to a resort in Kissimee, Florida. That’s right near Disney World. Very nice. There’s no doubt in my mind about why people from up in the frozen North come down here for a break. Out the window:And right down the road is Celebration. It’s a planned community by Disney, although I understand that some other company is taking over. It’s very nice. Mixed residential…And a very pleasant little downtown nestled around a lake. It was Valentines Day…
Cortez, Florida, is a very old fishing village on Sarasota Bay just across from Bradenton Beach (Anna Maria Island) When I was a kid the only bridge to the island was from Cortez. It was a rickety old wooden bridge. When the bridge had to be opened to let boats by, it was done by hand by the bridge tender. It was a turn bridge, if that makes sense. There was a socket in the bridge which attached to a pivot, and he would put his pole in the pivot pole and walk around in circles to open the bridge. In Cortez you still buy the best and freshest seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t know about the other Gulf states, but here in Florida it is definitely number one. When I was a kid and gill nets were legal, the fishermen would often let us pull their nets to shore, and when we were finished they would give us a fish for helping. In those days there were fish out the wazoo. My old man went out regularly, and they never failed to come back with a locker just crammed full of fish. Those days are long gone. Now fishermen have to go out a couple hundred miles for grouper. And believe me, there’s no better fish for dinner. If you ever come to West Florida, be sure to order a fried grouper sandwich. By the way, Cortez was mentioned in that movie “The Perfect Storm”.
Here are some shots…
This is the Star Fish Restaurant associated with the Star Fish Market, where I buy lots of seafood. It’s very popular. This time of year when all the snowbirds (Northerners) are down, it’s hard to find a seat.
Here are some Spencer Sundays from 2004:
I’m down here spending the winter in Florida where I grew up so many long years ago. And I’ll tell you what, weather wise it’s the most beautiful winter I’ve ever experienced. Since late September we’ve had at most a week and a half of stormy weather. Just beautiful sunny days, not too hot and not too cold. As a matter of fact, the past five months has had the best stretch of weather I’ve ever experienced no matter what time of year. when I was a kid down here, the winters were much colder. Highs in the 50’s F was typical. No kidding! Who knows, maybe global warming has some positive aspects. Until the icecaps have melted and we’re snorkeling down here. You never know. Maybe the Sahara Desert will turn back into grasslands again. Maybe Atlantis will rise out of the ocean. Maybe I’ll win the lottery.
Went to St. Petersburg a little while back. Downtown St. Pete is really cool. If you’re ever there be sure to visit the Dali Museum. I took some pictures of stuff on Beach Drive, along the Tampa Bay shoreline. These are bronze sculptures by a local artist. The colored light thing is someone else. Pretty neat…
Ok, here are some stand alone gags from this time of year in 1995
Whoopie! Well, enough of that. Those guys make too much money anyhow. How come a world class cartoonist (me) is on food stamps.
Check out the sinkhole in downtown Bradenton. It’s in a parking lot. Looks like it’s been there a long time. Hey, if a car hasn’t been swallowed up and buried up yet, to heck with it.Frau Grace likes to play with my food. Here’s my salad last week:
I like the anchovy lips. As a matter of fact I love anchovies. I go through a can every two days. There’s a village down on the heel of the Italian boot on the Adriatic. I read that there are 300 people living there of which 60 are over the age of 100. Ok, don’t go down there looking for a hot date. You couldn’t speak the language. But here’s the thing: What they eat tons of are anchovies and rosemary. I got to start eating rosemary. I’ll drive them nuts in the nursing home. The teeth are pecans. Kind of look like my teeth.
Here’s some more Sundays. This time from this time of year way back in 1990. Sorry, I don’t have color files for these. You may be interested about why the first three panels sometimes aren’t really part of the story. That’s because different newspapers use different formats when they publish. The strip has to make sense if you drop any one of the first three panels, or if you drop the entire first line of three panels. Believe me, it’s a real pain in the butt. I could do much better work if this weren’t the case. I would love to do just eight panel Sunday strips.
That’s just north of Clearwater. Turns out I had an unbirthday last week. (I don’t have birthdays any longer. I haven’t aged in fifteen years.) Dunedin is a very nice small town. We went to The Livingroom. That’s a terrific restaurant in downtown. The food was wonderful. On the outside of the restaurant is a pet mural. You can pay to have your pet’s portrait painted into it. The proceeds go to some animal charity:Here’s a closeup. You can see one portrait is waiting to be finished.
Check the ceiling lights. They’re shaded by lampshades.
Thanks so much to Ann, Rosemary (Ann’s sister) and Arthur and Marthur. (Art and Martha spent a couple days with us here in Bradenton.). And check the cake. Turns out that Rosemary and I share the same birthday. So they split the cake down the middle. How about the piranha?!
Enough of that. Here are some Sundays from 2000. At the time I was doing a bunch of comic book work, and these were inked by Jay Scruggs, a terrific cartoonist in his own right. Notice that the lettering in some of the strips is very regular. I made some font suitcases, and then I wrote a little program that would alternate the different font sets as the dialog was typed in. I think the hand lettered dialog is much better.
I thought that you might be interested about what goes into putting together my comics. I don’t just start drawing. First I have to come up with the gags and a story line if there is one. I think a lot, and if I’m lucky I come up with a basic gag. But that has to be translated into a something which will fit into the newspaper with the right timing and the right format. I also often have to create new characters. That’s the easy part. The drawing isn’t very hard, that is, unless it’s complicated in that I have to make clear what’s going on given the tiny space in a cartoon panel. Writing the jokes and laying them out is the hardest part. Here is typically what I go through in preparing a weeks worth of strips. In this case it’s a story where President Trump asks me for advice on how to run the country. Most of it is about getting the dialog to say what I want it to say. I write and rewrite trying to make it work.I’m not a good caricaturist, so it takes me a very long time to work out a depiction of someone that you can kind of recognize. Here’s the Trump that I finally settled on:Not real good. I know some caricaturists who are so damn good! The best I ever knew is Klas Danielsson. Brilliant man. For example he was the Swedish Jeopardy champion. And he used to translate my comics into Swedish. My story about President Trump will start March 6
Enough of that. Here is a story from the US election in 2008. By the way, I predicted the nominees. I’m psychic, you know.
A few yers ago I posted a little video I took of Bob the Cockroach in the Men’s room at the Clam Factory in Cortez, Florida. My elderly cousin, Al loves to go to the Clam factory, Before his stroke he was there every night of the week except Sunday eating raw oysters. On Sundays whe went to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton and ate raw oysters.. He’s nuts about raw oysters. Hes always trying to pick up old ladies. His pickup line is “Do you like raw oysters?” It doesn’t work. I take Al to the Clam factory on Tuesdays when they jam. People love the joint. The music is kind of loud for me. Here’s the jam from last Tuesday:
People have been asking me if I intend to publish more book collections in the future. Yes, I do. I hope to get three more Ernie/Piranha Club books out this coming year. I also want to publish two single panel books, one of which will be fuol of science cartoons. When I first started cartooning I had an inside track since I was a PhD physicist (yes, it’s true), and I sold lots of cartoons to science publications.
Here are some Sunday strips from 2009
The Village of the Arts is a neighborhood which is a short walk from downtown Bradenton, Florida. Local artists live there and have their studios and galleries in the old little houses. I drove through there today. It was Sunday and all the galleries were closed. Take a gander:
Today Frau grace and I took a walk through The Robinson Preserve in Palma Sola right near Bradenton, Florida. I had never been there. It brought back memories of my childhood. The Robinson preserve is salt barrens. Very little is left from the days of my childhood on Anna Maria, but walking through the preserve brought back memories. When I was a kid on Anna Maria Island we had two places to play. The beach or the JUNGLE. I’d come home to the trailer all covered with mud and scratches, and my mother would say “Where have you been?” and the answer was THE JUNGLE. It really was a jungle too. Like this:
This is typical of the open areas where we played. At big high tides, this will be under water:This guy fishing off a bridge told me that he had caught and released at least twenty fish in the previous hour. Black drum, snappers (I’m guessing mangrove snappers), sheepshead. This year has been great for fish. I haven’t seen so many mullet since I was a kid. Here’s a panorama of a bayou:
I have to take it in to some computer jock on Tuesday to see if we can bring it back from the dead. It’s a 31 inch IMac from 2010. But I have my 2013 AirBook. I’m such a competer savvy guy. When I was in college so many many years ago the University computer (Florida State) took up the entire basement of the physics building. (I was a whiz on my Deitzgen slide rule) Now a laptop can do more than that big old dinosaur could. When I was a grad student we fed our programs into the computer with punch cards. I wrote programs with hundreds of cards long. You don’t remember the old Univac Computer, do you?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and I wish for you a healthy and prosperous 2017!