Here is a recap of all 31 Inktober drawings in one big collage. Tons of fun and lots of drawing and crosshatching with my weapons of choice—Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens! Some of the later pieces I added color either with watercolors or right in Photoshop using my Wacom Cintiq display. Can’t wait to do it all over again again next year! Check out my instagram to see all of them at full scale.
While reading Lost Cactus you may recognize familiar faces throughout the First and Second Treasuries. At Lost Cactus, we treat our guest stars with the utmost courtesy and respect and happily oblige their celebrity-fueled requests—no matter how extreme. Given the parodic nature of the comic strip art form and the various misadventures we put our guests through, we feel it is the least we can do.
Here is a partial list of guest stars that have graced the pages of the First and Second Lost Cactus Treasuries:
Scully and Mulder
The Marx Brothers
How do you see all of these famous faces inside these comic strips? Buy the books! Pretty simple.
Perhaps one day you’ll discover yourself guest starring inside one of the hysterically funny Lost Cactus comics—like Scully in the picture below. Try not to look so surprised. In the case of Dana Scully from the X-Files, it was bound to happen eventually.
Scully makes an alarming discovery while reading Lost Cactus.
Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury showcases the continuing exploits, capers, and shenanigans of the comical cast of characters. You’ll also discover shared universe short stories, tall tales, urban myths, random brain scatterings, and intelligence deemed too explosive for public dissemination, until now. Remember, the truth is at Lost Cactus.
This humorous essay on the terrifying and interesting subject of how the tinfoil hat has emerged as the symbol of personal and group paranoia appears in Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury, available for purchase everywhere you buy books. Enjoy. And if you are among that special group who feels the need to wear one on occasion, following the blueprint instructions will fashion a darn fine tinfoil hat.
It’s curious how a simple object can over time become emblematic of a particular circumstance, and from that day henceforth, be the iconic representation of said situation. Take the cigar, for example. While smoking is frowned upon in just about every corner of the world, inexorably, cigars are happily passed out to celebrate all kinds of life events from newborn babies to World Series victories, and everything in between. Hence the phrase, “Give that man a cigar.” Most of the time, bringing forth an actual Cuban is not required, the mere notion of the celebratory cigar is satisfactory. However, iconic items are not always in commemoration of a happy moment in time. They can also portend dark and sinister events, such as in the case of that harbinger of doom, the tinfoil hat.
Tinfoil Hat Crowd
Let’s take a closer look at the infamous tinfoil hat. It conjures up visions of a society that is imperiled and vainly attempting to protect itself from plotting and conniving government entities, or maybe even extraterrestrial beings telepathically breaching minds from beyond Earth. Spooky. For the most part, you don’t necessarily need to wear a tinfoil hat all the time to be considered a paranoid person who’s afraid of everything. However, can a properly-fitted tinfoil hat perched atop a distressed noggin help, even a little? Let’s find out. If we’re successful in this endeavor, we can take a puff off that victory cigar, or if you happen to be one of those staunch anti-tobacco types, a bubblegum version will suffice.
Let’s start with a little housekeeping: No tin is used to make a tinfoil hat. Aluminum foil replaced tin post the second war to end all wars as a much cheaper and more accessible material. But as for hats, the name tinfoil stuck, maybe because it rolls off the tongue much easier than the multi-syllabic and infinitely more accessible metal with the atomic symbol Al.
Now that we have that minor issue out of the way let’s move on to who would wear such a ridiculous contraption, and why. Well, let’s say we have a person that’s bombarded daily with all sorts of fear-mongering and hysterical rants from TV and the internet. And to begin with, this person was already a little concerned, i.e., paranoid, that evil government forces are tracking their every move. Then they discover on some wacky internet posting that the government may also be reading their thoughts! After their freak-out has subsided to merely cowering in the corner in a fetal position with all the blinds drawn and every appliance unplugged from the sockets—just in case the toaster is a camouflaged recording device—they devise a plan to inhibit this outrage from occurring ever again. The freaked-out individual sneaks into their kitchen, trying not to be seen or heard, and fumbles for the drawer containing that roll of foil they last saw sometime around Thanksgiving. With beads of sweat pouring down their forehead, hands shaking like leaves, our subject rips off a few yards of the shiny material and clumsily commences forming it into a bowl-shaped hat. Then the crumpled mass is perched atop their fevered head, and with that accomplished, they wait. If villainous men-in-black are not pounding at the front door within minutes, then they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their tinfoil hat must be working. Success! Now they can enjoy that victory cigar. Wait a minute; no they can’t. There is a no smoking rule in the building. Of all the luck!
So, tinfoil hats can be de rigueur for paranoid misfits belatedly trying to halt their brain pans from being siphoned by faceless, ominous government entities, and aliens that can only have bad intentions. But what happens when entire segments of populations feel the paranoia creeping into their groupthink. We see this all the time. Fed by an undercurrent of urban myths, conspiracies, and a total distrust of anyone perceived as being in charge, modern society has become fixated on privacy rights, foreign hackers, and outright spying. It’s practically all we talk about: Movies and TV shows predicated on these conspiratorial themes are the mainstays of our entertainment. Meanwhile, entire industries have sprung up based solely on our insistence that we’re targets of sinister plots by horrible unseen forces.
And never to be outdone, elected officials spend a goodly amount of time reassuring us that we have nothing to fear, but fear itself. Then they leverage these same runaway fears to enact laws and regulations that limit our abilities to think and act in a free and open manner. Do you want that kind of overreach? Too late, you already have it. The point here is that it’s not the symbolic metallic chapeau, but the underlying mentality that constitutes what I refer to as the ‘Tinfoil Hat Crowd.’
Wait just a minute. Is there a tiny drone hovering outside your window even as you finish reading this essay?
There is a recent surge of UFO stories in the news from rock-solid, reliable sources and serious-minded individuals stepping out of the shadows speaking about their strange encounters. Could there be a Lost Cactus connection? Read on.
You’ve seen it without knowing it. Remember that wild news in December about a secret Pentagon UFO program? And those grainy military videos showing radar images of unexplained phenomena — white, Tic-Tac-shaped objects that appear to fly at remarkable speeds, at impossible angles, without wings or exhaust? Former Blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge helped ring the alarm about those things.
Creating a brand new comic strip is not too dissimilar to being the dictator of a tiny middle European nation that no one has ever heard of before.
Like a lot of those little countries, my comic strip didn’t exist a few years ago, and who knows what’s in store for its future? However, I cast aside such dark and foreboding thoughts and rule my imaginary Lost Cactus comic strip in an autocratic, albeit benevolent fashion. What’s disheartening is breaking through the clutter and demonstrating to folks young, old, and every age in between, that acquainting themselves with my Lost Cactus comic strip is worth a small percentage of their precious time.
And why is Lost Cactus worthy of a small notch in a prospective new fan’s daily timeline of important stuff? Well, for one thing, it’s funny. And who doesn’t like to laugh? I know I do. It’s why I became a comic strip fan at an early age. Humor has always been of paramount importance in my life and sometimes to my detriment, I discover it in the oddest of places. To abbreviate what would otherwise be a long story, through a creative process that involved mining for humor in uniquely different settings and situations—a process that I originally began in earnest in 2013—I now rule my small country, Lost Cactus. To my knowledge, this highly-classified quasi-government base hidden in the far reaches of Southwestern desert is about as far afield of where one would typically expect to find comic strip humor as one can get. Did I mention Lost Cactus has everything from aliens to dinosaurs to a genetically altered bee named Bentley? Well, I guess I just did.
Recently I had a table promoting Lost Cactus at a small press and comics show in the mile-high (in more ways than one) city of Denver, Colorado. I met some fantastic people, young and old, all there because they love comics and fan art in general. However, I believe I was the only artist exhibiting anything even remotely close to Lost Cactus. And not to brag, but if I don’t, then who will? Many who stopped by my table curiously, almost daintily, picked up the sample copies of my Lost Cactus Treasuries 1 & 2. After briefly flipping through the pages, they would have a hearty chuckle, and then inevitably turn to their partner to show them what they just read, spawning a quick smile, and more times than not, a reach for the wallet to quickly purchase one or both books. I sold a lot of books!
As the show progressed over the long weekend, I also received a lot of genuine compliments that money can’t buy. The one I heard a lot that I take to heart and cherish the most is when people made a comparison in style between Lost Cactus and my all-time favorite comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes. As show attendees and other exhibitors came up and inquired what Lost Cactus is all about I developed an elevator pitch that seemed to resonate: Lost Cactus is like Calvin & Hobbes in style and a humorous take on X-Files in substance. I winced at the name-dropping every time I said it, but it worked as people could quickly relate to what Lost Cactus is all about:
A classicly drawn 3-panel strip that spoofs paranormal, urban myths and under-the-radar government agencies to great comic effect, published in beautifully designed full-color anthologies featuring a shared universe of short stories and humorous essays that expand the Lost Cactus mythology beyond the finely inked comic strip panels.
So if you’re looking for the humorous comic strip ramblings of a put-upon hipster and his precocious talking dog/cat, you’re in the wrong country. You are in Lost Cactus. There are no roads that lead to Lost Cactus. You will not find it on Google or any other map. Its inhabitants are all sworn to secrecy. And presidents, since its inception 1947, have all been kept out of the loop. You know the reason: plausible deniability.
Since today is Alien Day I thought it appropriate to introduce this alien-themed strip featuring Bentley the Bee’s gut-bursting new alien offspring.
First some background for those unfamiliar with Lost Cactus. The Lost Cactus National Laboratory is tasked with studying all kinds of dangerous life forms delivered to the base from near and far. Among the contagions, viruses, microscopic blood suckers and deadly life forms delivered to Lost Cactus for study from our intergalactic partners are particularly contagious creatures called Alien Bug Spores. The inquisitive Bentley the Bee makes contact with these same bug spores and soon thereafter suffers the consequences in a scene reminiscent of the infamous gut-bursting scene featuring the late John Hurt.
Here’s the liner note from Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury that accompanies this strip kicking off a hilarious story arc featuring Bentley coping with parenting a fast-growing xenomorph character named Junior.
‘In the 1979 horror classic, Alien, none of the actors knew what was about to happen to John Hurt’s character in the famous chest bursting scene. The director, Ridley Scott, wanted the fear on their faces to be real. However, the fact that the set was sealed off in plastic and the crew all wore raincoats should have tipped them off.’
About the Lost Cactus Treasuries
The Lost Cactus comic strip treasuries deliver more than just the laugh-lines. The backstories, trivia, thought-processes and inside baseball comic strip sausage making are also set below each strip providing the reader with a wealth of uncommon knowledge. Lost Cactus is all about educating, enlightening and most of all entertaining its readers.
The process of creating a comic strip universe involves a LOT of drawing and I have a stack of sketchbooks jam-packed with sketches bolstering that rather obvious statement.
These sketches range from barely legible scribbles of story ideas that breached my fervent imagination in the middle of the night and then sketched in a bleary-eyed early morning hurry before I forgot them, like a dream, to nicely rendered little works of Lost Cactus artwork. Most of the time you’ll find my latest sketchbook positioned beside my keyboard so I can draw in between time-consuming computer tasks or while taking breaks from the day job. These sketches are much more methodically rendered with my favorite Faber-Castell PITT artist waterproof ink pens in high-quality Moleskin-style sketchbooks. Sometimes my sketchbook ramblings morph into strange stream-of-conscious compositions like this recent example that I finished with some watercolors.
I have drawn this way for as long as I can remember and it is a great way to let the imagination fly. This one features a couple of new characters I am working on for my next Lost Cactus project. That is all I will say for now regarding that little tease other than can you find ‘The King’ in this picture?