Process: A.D.-“Dining with Strangers” crossover

Last year Anthony Lacey of the fabulous blog Dining with Strangers approached me for an original illustration of himself and Brobson Lutz, the esteemed “Doctor” character from A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. (Anthony had met the Doctor in New Orleans—sharing a meal with him at Dr. Lutz’s favorite restaurant, Galatoire’s—and profiled him for his blog; and they have stayed friends every since.) Anthony’s plan was to present the finished illo to Dr. Lutz as a gift when Anthony was down in NOLA for this year’s Mardi Gras. Always happy to do commissions—and revisit one of my favorite A.D. characters—I of course said “yes.”

To get started, we agreed on a size and format, and Anthony sent me a couple of photos from their meal, as well some recent interior shots of Galatoire’s—which of course hasn’t changed at all in recent memory. Taking those reference photos as a basis, I first worked up a sketch for Anthony’s approval, which I executed on my Cintiq tablet:

Anthony having approved the sketch, I moved on to full pencils—which zoomed in on my two subjects a bit more (and moved the Doctor’s left arm up on to the table)…

For the inking stage, I realized I wasn’t happy with the placement of the Doctor’s hands, which were being blocked by the Galatoire’s serving dish in the foreground. So I “moved” the dish a bit to the right. In addition, because the background of the picture is so busy, I made sure to ink Anthony and the Doctor with thick brushstrokes, while inking the background in much thinner lines. This helped “pop” the main subjects. I also fine-tuned details throughout the drawing…

Finally, for the color stage, I wanted to be a little more “adventurous” than the limited palette which defines A.D. But again wishing to bring forward the Doctor and Anthony, I colored them with “hotter” and more saturated tones, while keeping the background elements more limited in palette. I then applied my “patented” texture pattern on top, and… voila! 

I printed the final illo on a nice ragstock paper at 11″ x 14″, and sent it off to Anthony, who had it professionally framed. From what I heard, the unveiling was a big success, and the print is now hanging in the Doctor’s house amidst his eclectic art collection.

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I Dreamt That I Was Dreaming

I dreamt that I was dreaming.

I dreamt that I was dreaming that I was a man in a chicken cart. I had brown hair and a little brown mustache, and I made people meals of chicken and rice and salad that they brought back to their desks to eat.

I dreamt that I was dreaming that I was a man in a chicken cart who was in a band. It was either the Police or the Who or Led Zeppelin, I wasn’t sure which, but I had to get out. But I was trapped in the chicken cart.

I dreamt that I was dreaming.

Hitch-22

Journalist Christopher Hitchens was a fellow guest of the Sydney Writers Festival last month, and we shared the same hotel, the Sebel Pier One. The establishment offered us guests a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning ’til 10 am, and one morning, just after ten, I was leaving the restaurant to see Hitchens coming in. He looked the part: puffy, rumpled, slightly hung over.

Even though the kitchen staff were putting away the food, much of the spread remained, and Hitch busied himself putting a plate together. The maître d’ ran over. "Sir, sir! Breakfast is over!"

Hitchens paused for a second and eyeballed the maître d’. "No, it’s not," he declared, and he went back to loading up his plate.

"No, sir," the maître d’ huffed. "Breakfast service ends at ten o’clock. It’s after ten. Breakfast is over."

Hitchens gave him another look, served himself some eggs, and chuckled. "You’re going to have to work a lot harder than that to keep me away from food." And with that, he found a table and began eating his breakfast.

Co-op Convert

This year I finally joined the Park Slope Food Co-op and I’ve decided I actually like working there. For years I had avoided joining, while enjoying the fruits (literally) of Sari’s membership, but I was forced to sign up about six months ago.

I grew up in the lefty/hippie enclave of 1970s Southern California, and my mom even shopped at a co-op out there— called "People’s Food," naturally. Years later, when I went to Oberlin College, I wanted nothing to do with their strong co-op movement. I was turned off by the hairy, crunchy, unshowered ethos of those places, not to mention that I was too preoccupied with other aspects of college life to think about actually working for my food! Flash forward many years later, and those were the same reasons I didn’t join the Park Slope Food Co-op. Now that I’ve been a member for a while, I’ve certainly encountered my share of smug, ideologically driven co-oppers, but the vast majority of members are "regular folks" who enjoy being part of the community. Like Sari & me, they just want a place to buy cheap, fresh food, and don’t mind donating three hours of their time once a month to get it.

I’m in the shipping & receiving squad, and basically I unload trucks, stock shelves, and crush boxes. It brings back fond memories of my Red Cross deployment after Hurricane Katrina.So much of the life of a freelance cartoonist is about "selling yourself," "putting yourself out there," and "expressing your vision" — it’s a relief to let go of my ego, to just be a cog, as it were, working for the "greater good." I’m also grateful that my co-op duties involve physical labor, enabling me to get out from the desk and the drawing table. And the food really is good.

The Senses: Humor

Scene: Muslim bodega, 11 p.m.

The guy in line in front of me had bought a six-pack of Budweiser, so as I plunked my carton of Vanilla Swiss Almond on the counter, I asked the cashier if he wanted to see i.d.

He smiled in bewilderment. “For ice-a cream?”

I chuckled. He chuckled. He thought it about it for a minute.

“Maybe some day,” he mused, as he gave me my change, bagged my purchase, and sent me on my way.