Tinfoil Hat Crowd

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 Blueprint
Here is your Official Lost Cactus Tinfoil Hat Blueprint. If you would like a larger prinable version for your very own, drop me a message and I will send you one free of charge.

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?

Made you look.

 

 

Energy Source from the Past Powering the Future

Last night I watched the last couple episodes of the first season of Lost in Space on Netflix. I won’t give away any spoilers or bore you with the details of the rather thin plot. However, I will say that like a lot of times when I sit down and watch a TV show or a movie, I see things that remind me of my Lost Cactus comic strip. One in particular that caught my eye from Lost in Space involves mining the droppings of nasty, prehistoric-looking bat-like creatures for use as rocket fuel to escape off the planet surface before it is uninhabitable. Oh, the drama that ensues. 

Enough about that binge-worthy show, let’s talk more about Lost Cactus—which would make a great show on Netflix—but I digress. Here is a portion of the strips that came to mind. They are part of a larger comic strip story involving Doc experimenting with using dinosaur droppings as an energy source and a well-known venture capitalist catches wind of what he’s up to, so to speak, and wants in on the action. Isn’t that what venture capitalists do? 

So the moral of this story is this: Don’t throw anything away, one day that sh*t might be valuable.

UNCOMMON KNOWLEDGE: The seldom-seen Colonel T-Bone character is a mash-up of Colonel Sanders, T. Boone Pickens and a little of Thurston Howell III’s elan thrown in for good measure. 

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®John Hopkins
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Alien Bug Spores

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.

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©John Hopkins

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. 

Sketchbook Ramblings

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?

Meet Mabel Pennywell – a Lost Cactus character study

The character Mabel who makes her debut in 🐝 LOST CACTUS – THE SECOND TREASURY🌵is a member of the notoriously secretive Pennywell clan like her Aunt Penny who happens to be Lost Cactus’ chief medical officer.

Mabel quick sketches
Comic strip sketches for series of strip featuring Mabel Pennywell.

Here is a rough study of Mabel in her bedroom with her perplexed captives, Bentley and Cato. The series of strips that introduce Mabel are some of my favorites in the book. She is a smart, resourceful and strong character and tough to escape from as Cato and Bentley are doomed to discover.

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Get to know Bentley the Bee

Bentley the Bee knows that government big-wigs, muckety-mucks, lobbyists and assorted fat-cats have large and imposing portraits hanging in the hallowed hallways, conference rooms, chambers and public spaces all over the nation’s capital–all painted at taxpayer expense, typical government boondoggle! This wasteful display inspired him to paint his own self-portrait.??