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?
Here at Lost Cactus, we are way ahead of the curve when it comes to lampooning the folly of investing in a company like Facebook.
In this Sunday style comic strip found in the Second Treasury, Ty the Dinosaur is out exploring in the hinterlands around the top-secret base, when he comes across Old Man Clampett. Clampett is a former Wall Street mover and shaker and board member on the Powers That Be*. Now he is an irascible desert hermit who guards his territory with a shoot-first, ask questions later mentality.
Get lost in the eponymous anthologies on sale at your favorite book store. Now that’s an investment you won’t regret!
I will write about the Powers That Be in future posts. It is really cool and will explain a lot of things, stay tuned.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Hopefully not to sound too much like one of those Star Trek geeks, but the venerable Doctor McCoy would often spout off in a pique of fury when confronted with an unfamiliar task, saying something like:
“I’m a doctor, not an engineer, or bridge builder, or well, you get the idea.”
So in the words of the sadly deceased Doctor, I would like to say:
“I’m an artist, not a web developer!”
And it is in that spirit that I’m embarking on my new blog, The Lab, by jumping headfirst into the WordPress pool. It’s not exactly a sink or swim proposition. WordPress seems suspiciously friendly and easy to use. And yet as I come up for air after the initial plunge to the bottom and start floating around, bobbing up and down through an endless tide of windows, options, plug-ins and googles, inevitably things will float past that I don’t like and will want to fix or change. So my dear readers, that is my metaphorical attempt at telling all of you that The Lab is a work in progress.