Thursday, July 28, 2011


The Queen of the Plants stepped over the naked woman in the doorway and entered her bleak house. She looked over the white couch, white curtains, white blinds, white carpeting… she walked through the white hallway, past the white living room and the white kitchen and up the white staircase. She looked into the white bathroom and the white bedroom, then descended the white staircase and laughed.

Just then Karen woke up. She lay motionless on the floor and stared up at the Queen of the Plants in terror and disbelief. Her mouth dropped open.

The Queen laughed again. "You’re the boringest yet!" she cried, and laughed some more.

Karen was silent.

Leaving off laughing, The Queen of the Plants demanded, "Get up!"
Karen obeyed.

"C’mon!" smiled the Queen (for she was nothing if not gracious), and led the way out the door.

Karen grabbed a trench coat and followed close behind.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Part 9: A Stalker

IX. A Stalker

Roger followed David back to his apartment building on North 34th Avenue. He followed him up the stairs to his apartment and continued on to the landing above. Roger didn’t know why he was following David, but he knew he had nowhere else to go.

He lay down on the landing and looked through the bars to David’s door below. David entered the apartment with his purchases and the Keebler elf, and closed the door behind him.

Inside the apartment, David set the elf back on his side table, and emptied his shopping bag onto the floor. Just then, there was a knock on the door. David stood, motionless, and stared at the Keebler elf. The elf stood motionless and stared at David.

Slowly, quietly, David crept to the door and put his eye up to the peephole. He took a step back and stared again at the elf, which only stared silently in return.

David opened the door.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Part 8: The Plan

Part VIII: The Plan

The Queen of the Plants was an exquisite planner. She made beautiful maps and long, involved lists, and she delegated the work so that, in under three days, she guaranteed the safe and joyous return of the pink, plastic Barbie lunchbox.

First, the Queen decided that she must (rather against her wishes) attend school the next day, carrying her lunch in a frightful brown paper bag. She walked to school with a serious look, but just a bit of a bounce in her step. She greeted the plants with her queenly (though subdued) greeting and carefully accepted their browning leaves into her backpack (ashamed to have them see the paper bag). She counted every step along the walk to school, careful to avoid stepping on the cracks (though the Queen’s mother hardly seemed worth the trouble).

Arriving in the classroom, she stowed her lunch and coat in her locker and strode into the 5th grade classroom with her backpack on her back. The offending bully was standing in the corner, looking enormously tall and disgustingly fat. The Queen of the Plants marched forward until she stood (all 3 feet of her) beneath the bully’s nose.

"GIVE ME BACK MY LUNCHBOX," she demanded, calmly but firmly, in her queenliest voice.

The boy stared down at her in disbelief, his mouth gaping and his eyes bulging nearly out of their sockets. He coughed, sputtered, and said, "What lunchbox?" in a low, hoarse whisper.

"MY LUNCHBOX," the Queen replied, not lowering her voice, "MY. BARBIE. LUNCHBOX." Her eyes flashed with all the fury of a woman scorned.

Looking carefully around the room, and discovering that none of his friends were present to witness a moment of weakness, he bent low and whispered, "I sold it to a warehouse thrift store on Elm Avenue." Straightening up, he bellowed, "GET OUT OF HERE YOU MISERABLE, PUNY WORM!!"

The Queen ran. She ran back to her classroom, ran up to her teacher, clutched her stomach and cried, "I think I’m going to puke!" and ran from the room. She ran to her locker, retrieved her coat (abandoned her lunch bag) and ran from the school. The Queen of the Plants ran 3 blocks down the street before she had to stop to catch her breath.

Three blocks from the school, the Queen sat down on the curb in front of a white house. There was a white house on one side of her, a white house on the other and a white house across the street. She sat down to think. "Overall," she thought, "that went quite well."

Looking around her, she wondered whereabouts Elm Avenue might be. Looking behind her she saw the white house and its white curtains and white shutters (both pulled tight) and wondered again where Elm Avenue could be. Standing up, she brushed the dirt off her royal garment and stared up at the windows, watching for a sign of life. The Queen of the Plants saw a shadow behind the blinds.

The shadow gave her courage, and she shuffled quietly up to the thick, imposing door and knocked.


Karen awoke and it was daytime, but dimly shadowed inside her bedroom. Her answering machine still showed a big, red "0" which reminded her of jelly doughnuts, which reminded her that she hadn’t eaten in several days. She had no idea what day it was, nor how long she had been asleep. Her pajamas and bedclothes reeked. Stepping out of bed, she shed her white nightgown, pulled the white sheets from the white mattress, and threw the lot in the washing machine. Walking, naked, past her large oak front door, she heard a light knock.

Karen did not bother to find anything to cover herself, but opened the door unashamed, looked down at the tiny visitor, and passed out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Part 7: Encounter

[Once again, this is part of a larger story I wrote many years ago and am just now illustrating. Tell me it's stupid, tell me it's boring, tell me I should be on medication... just tell me something in the comments, please!]

VII. Encounter

When Roger the SweetMan awoke, he began to run. He ran down the cracked and overgrown sidewalk, around the corner and down a narrow, dirty street. He ran and ran until he could run no more, and then he stopped.

Then Roger felt the cold wind, and he looked around him for somewhere to keep warm. He found himself outside the Warehouse Thrift Shop where he had begun his first reincarnation. His only suit was soiled and torn, and all his bones ached.

Entering the store, Roger wandered the rows of dumpsters full of clothes and tables strewn with broken toys, blenders caked with food and torn and soiled books. He roamed around the Warehouse for three hours, watching the customers pick through the rubbish, and wondering what he would do.

While leafing through the second half of a ripped romance novel, Roger was bumped from behind.

"'Scuze me," growled a short little man with a goatee growing to his chest and a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Keebler Elf beneath his arm. The man seemed to stumble under the weight of the decoration, nearly as large as himself, and half fell off his ridiculously tall shoes.

"Oh…Sorry…" said Roger, following the little man with his eyes as he furtively stole through the aisles, picking out odd bits of junk and adding them to a basket he carried on the same arm as the elf.

Now and then the man cocked his head towards the elf and listened, then whispered a few words back, looking around suspiciously to catch any lookers-on.

But the man did not catch Roger, who began to follow him around the store, often turning his back in order to appear to be heading the other direction, sometimes ducking down to hide behind dumpsters, sometimes crawling beneath them to get to where the elf man was going.

When David (for of course it was David) left the shop, Roger followed close behind.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Part 6: Investigation

[Once again, this is part of a larger story I wrote many years ago and am just now illustrating. Tell me it's stupid, tell me it's boring, tell me I should be on medication... just tell me something in the comments, please!]

VI: Investigation

The Queen of the Plants, upon discovery of the theft, burst promptly into tears, and no one could console her. After 45 full minutes of red-faced, runny-nosed, painful, gasping sobbing, the Queen of the Plants was allowed to call home. After 2 hours of repeated calls, attempted consolations, maniacal screaming and no end to the crying, the Queen of the Plants was sent home. Shuffling, head down, along the sidewalk, the Queen stopped for no greetings, salutations or otherwise. She contemplated her loss, reliving the past three weeks of incomparable bliss. Her plant subjects were crushed by her slights and drooped their branches in disbelief.

When the Queen reached her home, she sat despondently upon the porch and began to sing to herself. Eventually, the Queen’s mother came out to greet the Queen, handed her a mug of chocolate milk, and said, “There, there, don’t cry anymore. We’ll find your little lunchbox,” then exited again, satisfied with her attempts at comfort.

The Queen of the Plants was very displeased. Knocking the milk into the garden, she put on a powerful pout and stomped into the castle, up the winding staircase, and into her chambers.


And still Karen slept. She unplugged the phone and the clocks, pulled both blinds and curtains, locked all the doors and slept.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Part 5: The Queen of the Plants

[Once again, this is part of a larger story I wrote many years ago and am just now illustrating. Tell me it's stupid, tell me it's boring, tell me I should be on medication... just tell me something in the comments, please! I mean, no pressure or whatever.]

V: The Queen of the Plants

The Queen of the Plants had a brand new lunchbox. It was pink and yellow with a big picture of Malibu Barbie on the front, and it was plastic so if she dropped it, it would not dent. She swung this lunch box from her left hand on her way to school. This lunchbox did not hide inside her backpack. And this lunchbox had been safely emptied of any lunch.

The old Oak tree bowed to her on the path from her house, and the mulberry bush gave her a (sufficiently humble if a bit too quiet) "Good Day." The Queen was careful to touch every branch within her reach of every plant along her walk.

She whispered encouraging words to them and gave them each a (condescending, but really very sweet) smile. Every wilting petal or brown-edged leaf was carefully plucked and deposited into her (brand-brand-new) lunch box. And Barbie seemed happy to have them.

The Queen's old lunchbox had been made of cheap tin, handed down from her 10-year-old cousin, with a picture of GI Joe on the front. That lunchbox she'd kicked from her home to school and back every day. That lunchbox carried bruised bananas and bleeding jelly and peanut butter sandwiches. And, finally, that lunchbox had been stolen by a (kinder than he knew) bully on the playground.

But now the Queen of the Plants had a beautiful pink plastic Barbie lunchbox. And now that lunchbox held the offerings of all her adoring subjects (the sweating milk and crushed crackers were stored in her backpack). For three full weeks the Queen of the Plants was the Envy of the School, and for three full weeks her life was an 8-year-old's heaven. She slept with the lunchbox, bathed with the lunchbox, even watched TV with the lunchbox, and it became her closest friend. She named it Head of the Cabinet and Advisor to the Queen, and the lunchbox was next in line for the throne, should she fail to produce any heirs.

Then, after three happy weeks, the lunchbox disappeared. The Queen of the Plants had taken to keeping the lunchbox at her side at all times, more out of comfort and love than fear of it being stolen. But Sir Brownbottom, Lord of Gymnasium, requested that she leave it in her locker during Track and Field day. As he was a dear old friend of the King, the Queen assented.

The Queen of the Plants performed poorly on the long jump out of worry for her friend, alone and lonely. She could not reach on the sit and reach, lest the lunchbox be hurt or sad in her absence. And when she returned to the locker at the end of the ordeal, her worst fears were confirmed; the Barbie lunchbox was nowhere to be found.


This was too much. Karen had slept for 36 hours. When she awoke, the light on her answering machine was blinking. She pressed “Play” and there was 1.5 seconds of silence, followed by a rustling, and then a click. She pressed “Delete” and a red “0” winked at her three times. Karen couldn’t remember if David was one of her bosses or not. She couldn’t remember if she had a daughter who was the Queen of Plants whom she sold to an ice cream man for baby stew or not. Karen’s head hurt. She pulled the curtains and went to bed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Part 4: The Elf

David finally left the apartment the next morning, carrying the elf beneath his arm. He returned to the Warehouse Thrift Shop, and slammed the cardboard cookie man down on the wide wood counter. "It’s defective,' he growled, his voice unused to speaking, 'I want my money back.'

The elderly clerk stared at him, her folding jowls wobbling in disbelief. "We don’t do refun’s" she warbled. When David opened his mouth, she pointed nonchalantly to a sign at her elbow that read, "This is a class ESTABLISHMENT: Please conduct yourself Accordinly"

David stalked out of the store, elf in tow, and tromped back to his apartment.

That night, David cleared out a section of the bedroom floor and curled up amidst the piles of thrift store rubbish. He slept only fitfully, rolling back and forth between the precarious walls until a relic finally came crashing down upon his head. With a terrified scream, David threw the Keebler elf across the room, and sat down in the corner to rock himself and cry.

As his sobs subsided, David heard a gurgling murmur from the other corner of the room. Stifling his sniffling, he cocked his head to one side and listened. Through the smothering heaps of trash, he heard the sounds of a wee elf’s wails of misery. Suddenly, David felt guilty for hurting the poor thing, and he crawled over to where the cookieman lay.

"Don’t… uh… don’t cry… little man,” stuttered David, “I’m sorry…"

"Fat Bastard!" cried the elf, and smashed David in the nose.

"OW!! Fuck!" whined David, recoiling into a toaster oven and a Barbie lunchbox. "What the hell’d you do that for?"

"Fat bastard…" whimpered the Keebler Elf.

"Why do you keep saying that??"

The elf sat up, wiped his eyes and shot a glare at David. "I’m just trying to point out that you are fat, and you’re a bastard."

David was silent.


On the morning after the third night of these new and awful dreams, Karen did not get out of bed. Karen lay and stared at the blank white ceiling or the blank white walls or her blank white comforter (which brought her no comfort). She ate neither breakfast nor lunch that day, and no one at the small café on the office building’s second floor missed her. For dinner she ate a bowl of Cap’n Crunch before returning to her bed. At 9 p.m., Karen went to sleep.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dreams, Part 3: Roger

When Karen woke up she was an hour late for work. She did not shower, she did not eat breakfast, and she drove faster than usual in the end-of-rush-hour traffic. When she got to work, she did not pour her cup of coffee; she went straight to her cubicle, slid off her shoes and went to work. She entered data for two hours, then went to lunch at the small café on the office building’s second floor (egg salad sandwich on white bread with pickles, Lay’s potato chips and a diet Pepsi), then returned to work. After work she went home, microwaved a frozen dinner, opened a can of beer and watched television until 9 p.m. At 9 p.m., Karen went to bed.

III. Roger

On morning of the fourth month, Roger woke up and realized that he was tired of the Day Care biz, and even the babysicles were not what they used to be. So, that day he took his leave of the other ice cream men and their burgeoning business, and went on the road, wearing his polyester suit, white suede shoes and SweetMan hat. He traveled on foot, eager to explore the far reaches of the country, seeing sights he had never seen.

But he when he reached the heart of the city it was dark and he was tired, and Roger soon realized that these streets were nowhere for a retired ice cream man to wander unprotected. As the night closed in, so did the walls of the buildings; from doorway to doorway, the former SweetMan bounced like a lost rubber ball. Finally, sometime after 10pm, he collapsed on the stoop of a tumbling down apartment building and fell asleep.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Part 2: David

Just a reminder: for the next month I will be sharing with you a story I wrote more than a decade ago, but am just now trying to illustrate. Please yell at me about it in the comments!

Part 2: David

In a claustrophobic building in a tight little neighborhood of a large and angry city, David Alexander found his first apartment. It had three rooms: a bathroom, a living room and a bedroom. In each room there was a round, yellow overhead light powered by a 60-watt bulb. In the living room it flickered. The walls were papered yellow with dusty orange flowers, and the floors were warped wood. David dropped his solitary suitcase on the stained green rug and muttered, “Furnished my ass.”

The living room held a sunken foldout couch, the rug and a plastic wood end table. In the bedroom was a matching chest of drawers and lamp stand, and the bathroom was empty except for the toilet and a shower head protruding from the opposite wall. “Great,” growled David, “I can take a shower while I piss. How efficient.”

That night David slept on the foldout couch, his belongings still unpacked. The next morning he left the apartment to look for a job. For three days straight he left his home to explore the angry city, and for three days straight it turned its back on him. Every morning he opened the neatly packed suitcase, dressed, folded his pajamas and placed them inside. Then he reached into the inside pocket, removed a plastic pencil box, and counted out his money for the day. Finally, he replaced the box in the suitcase, and latched the case shut.

On the fourth day, David quit his job search at 1pm. He entered a warehouse-sized thrift store and wandered the aisles. With the 20 dollars in his pocket, David bought a poorly matched 3-piece suit, platform shoes and a Barbie lunchbox. That night he put the lunchbox in the empty bedroom, and the next morning he wore the suit to look for jobs. With his platform shoes, David reached the height of 5’5”, and he felt much more confident.

For three more days David Alexander looked for a job. He entered every shop, restaurant and bowling alley with a “Help Wanted” sign in the window, filled out an application, and never heard back. The three days stretched to nine, fourteen, twenty-three… David took to visiting the Warehouse thrift shop every day. He bought a plastic flamingo, three plastic roman-style pillars, nine broken vacuum cleaners, several dirty blenders, a Roto Rooter, innumerable flowerpots and six Slinkies. He stored all these things in the tiny bedroom until, soon, he could not open the door.

On that day he visited the thrift shop and used his last two dollars to buy a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Keebler Elf. This he placed on the fake wood table next to the couch. It was 3 feet tall and supported by a length of half inch dowel. When David stood next to it, the Elf standing on the table, and David standing in his platform shoes, the two were nearly the same height.

The next day David Alexander did not go out to look for work. That day David did not get off the couch. He did not get dressed, he did not fold his pajamas or take out the empty pencil box or latch the pitiful suitcase. That day David stared at the wall. The next day, David stared at the wall as well. On the third day, David stared at the Elf. And on the fourth day, the Elf spoke to him.

"Fat bastard," the Elf said.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dreams: Intermission*

Just a reminder: for the next month I will be sharing with you a story I wrote more than a decade ago, but am just now trying to illustrate. Please yell at me about it in the comments! This part is un-illustrated on purpose.


The dream came back to Karen in vivid black and white while she sat at the breakfast table pouring milk on her Cap’n Crunch. She promptly dropped the carton, spilling its contents across the bright white tablecloth left from Christmas. Karen had never had a dream before, not in twenty-three years of a silently bored existence. Every night she had gone to bed, and every morning she had woken up no more interesting, imaginative or exciting than the day before. Now suddenly this living man and his baby-cooking lifestyle was running around inside her sparse, if not unintelligent, mind.

Karen went to work that day. She poured her cup of coffee, sat in her cubicle’s twisting chair, slid off her shoes and went to work. She entered data for four hours, then went to lunch at the small café on the office building’s second floor (egg salad sandwich on white bread, Lay’s potato chips and a Pepsi), then returned to work. After work she went home, microwaved a frozen dinner, opened a can of beer and watched television until 9 p.m. At 9 p.m., Karen went to bed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dreams Part 1: SweetMan

Just a reminder: for the next month I will be sharing with you a story I wrote more than a decade ago, but am just now trying to illustrate. Please yell at me about it in the comments!

Part 1: SweetMan

Once there was fat, white ice cream salesman who grew tired of bomb pops and began to eat babies.

The old man had been peddling icy treats to kids for 40 years, driving around in his square white truck, listening to the ten second jingle on infinite repeat. Day after day he had bent his face toward them to take the sticky nickels and dimes, and day after day he’d handed them ice cream and a pat on the head. Their joyful grins or spoiled pouts were the same each year, a source of comfort to the childless old man.

Then one day he reached mandatory retirement age and was asked to turn in his pressed white jumpsuit and the keys to his cherished SweetMobile. Roger (the ancient ice cream man) now sat in his little white house with the short, white picket fence and ate Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream from the carton with plastic spoons. He no longer bothered getting dressed in the morning; every day he wore the same sweaty underwear and soiled “SweetMan” hat that he had refused to turn in with the rest of his uniform.

Finally Roger snapped out of his waking coma, dressed in his bathrobe and bunny slippers, and walked to the nearest thrift shop.

With the last of his retirement fund, he bought a dark brown polyester suit, khaki shirt, white suede shoes and a lawn angel. Roger straightened up his apartment and hung out a hand-painted sign that read “SweetMan Ice Cream Man’s Day Care Center.”

Men and women who had bought creamsicles and popsicles from him in their childhood recognized his house and the name, and they sent their children to be cared for by his ice-reddened hands and round rosy cheeks. They left their toddlers to his olive shag carpeting, their preschoolers to his cardboard box jungle gym, and their first graders to his library of 30-year-old Reader’s Digest Magazines.

The babies however… the babies were left to the dark shed behind the garage and his ever-expanding kitchen. Somehow, the mothers and fathers did not notice their missing babies. They scooped up the toddlers, preschoolers and first graders and blithely went home to their pot roast or meat loaf dinners, never wondering why the family seemed that much smaller or there was an extra crib in little Johnny’s room.

So for several years Roger lived on the frozen corpses of stolen infants and the little money he got from the Day Care Center. Soon, however, other ice cream men nearing retirement began to come to him for advice on dealing with the change, and, after careful consideration, he let them in on his secret. The men then flocked from all parts of the country; retiring, near retirement, or simply quitting the sweet-pushing business, they came to him, and in three months the Center had expanded to three buildings with a state-of-the-art play center and two computers equipped with Teaching Tools for Young Children. And for those three months, Roger slept as soundly as a baby.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Daily Animal Doodles for July

The Daily Animals Doodle challenge started by Paper Sparrow continues in July, and I'm going to try to throw a few in there when I can. I'll mostly be focusing on "Dreams," so I hope no one is offended if I kind of half-ass it here and there.

To start off, I'm catching up by combining some animals. Here are days 1 and 2: Aaardvark and Badger.

Zinnia is an aardvark and she is only 6 days old, but she has already made a new friend: William the badger. William is only 4 days old, so Zinnia tells him all the time how things will be when he grows up. For one thing, he will have to start eating ants, because that's what the big people eat. Zinnia hasn't actually eaten any ants yet, but she assures him they will be delicious, nutritious, and make them grow big and strong.

And here are days 3 and 4: Chameleon and Deer

Growing up in Minnesota, I've seen my share of whitetail deer, but since I'm not a hunter or an animal whisperer, I've never gotten really close to one. Who knew they had so many colors going on? Maybe that's why Gertrude, the chameleon, likes Frank here so much. Gertrude is a world traveler, and she has seen 23 countries so far. She's a fan of the U.S. because there are so many different kinds of animals and terrain and things to imitate. However, despite Frank's indisputable beauty she does not like Minnesota, because it is too cold and most of the beaches don't have sand. Frank wouldn't mind if Gertrude moved along either because, first of all, she's kind of clingy and it makes his antlers hurt, and second of all he doesn't like people hanging around his home town talking about how it sucks.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A little about the story you will soon read

Starting Tuesday I'll be sharing with you (hopefully) a story I wrote when I was in college called "Dreams." This may be the only story that I ever felt like I finished writing, and to punish myself I have been trying to illustrate it now for twelve years and failing.

When I first wrote it in a creative writing class in about 1999, the Internets were still the Wild Wild West and also I was 20 years old and didn't think about things like "copyrights" and "long term plans" and whatnot, so for my final project I took a mix of my own drawings, pictures I took and photos I downloaded from the few web pages that were not dedicated to porn back then and cut them up and literally pasted them onto pages. I then took these collages to Kinkos and paid $1 a color copy to make it into a book. I kept forgetting about putting them front to back and what order they should go in, but they also didn't have the copier cards back then, they just let you make your copies and then carry them up to the register to pay, so I probably made about $100 worth of copies but only paid about $35. Still, that was a lot of money for a college junior. I have since lost that copy. Has anyone seen it? Doesn't matter, it's completely unpublishable anyway.

I'm not a very good drawer, but when I focus I can do all right, and I figured out that Paint now lets you sort of cut and paste in a way that's like a collage, so I'm trying that out and not investing in any more glue sticks this time. I also have a scanner now, so hopefully I can do this without destroying any originals.

Another important thing about this story is that it's really too long to be a "short story" (about 13 pages without illustrations, maybe 3o pages with them), so you'll be getting it in sections. Also, that gives me a chance to actually draw them, since I only have about 10% finished right now. Here's hoping I stick with this, and if you like it or hate it or just are concerned for my sanity, please leave comments because I have a feeling my commitment will wane if you don't.

Okay, see you Tuesday!

Daily Animal Doodles Review

Here they all are! I can't believe I made it to the end!