Thursday, April 30, 2015

Godzilla Views the Brooklyn Bridge From a Respectful Distance

My son's second grade class is studying the Brooklyn Bridge from now until the end of the school year. It's rare that I can convince my sons of the goodness of a napkin image that is related to school materials, so I couldn't just draw the bridge or any of its historical characters. While adding Godzilla to the image made it more palatable, I also could not depict the usual destructive relationship between the giant radioactive lizard and urban infrastructure.  Let's say that Godzilla is just admiring the bridge's construction.

My older son was definitely disappointed in my portrayal of Godzilla. On the way to school this morning, he reprimanded me for not drawing the cooler 2014 version, and pointed out that the lizard's size in relation to the bridge was not right.... And, "Mom, it's green! Really! What Godzilla is green??!!"

As you might be able to guess, it was very late last night when I drew this and I did foolishly hope that I could leave it a bit indeterminate as to which version I was aiming for. No such luck.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Paddington and Clumsy Ninja

Big headed characters that are popular this week at our house:

Yes, the Paddington movie was released on DVD and iTunes a couple of days ago.  I had been wondering why the hat wearing bear was on my sons' minds, but now I know it must have been put there by  advertising.

Clumsy Ninja continues to be a popular game.  The kids report that they are at levels 17 and 20 respectively...this is out of a potential 99 levels. I can see we have a lot more Clumsy Ninja to look forward to.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Doctor Who and Paddington with Sonic Screwdriver

Time Traveler with Talking Bear Engaged in Self Penetrative Act with Multifunctional Tool:

We had a bit of a resurgence of interest in Doctor Who over the weekend.  When I asked if all the discussions about The Doctor meant that there should be related napkin this week, my younger son replied immediately that I should draw him with Paddington Bear putting the Sonic Screwdriver in his ear.

Perhaps this was a case of unfinished business. There had been a similar request back when the Paddington movie came out, and I had refrained from drawing the bear with the device actually inserted:
select the image to see the previous post

Looking at it now, I don't think it is any more disturbing to see the Sonic Screwdriver in Paddington's ear than it was to see the earwax.... on the napkin, or in the movie.

But on further reflection, I am not certain if my son actually wanted me to draw Paddington putting the Screwdriver in Mr. Capaldi's ear....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Clumsy Ninjas

High Five between Ice and Forest Ninjas:

I  am afraid my sons may have spent an excessive amount of time playing "Clumsy Ninja" today.
It is an interactive game by Natural Motion. One can "train," tickle, tie balloons to...or if you are my sons, let him dangle pathetically a few feet off the ground, legs kicking haplessly, while shouting sarcastically, "Look! He's Superman!"

My sons just read the above and told me that I made them sound like jerks...but they would like me to add that they have discovered that inflicting dizziness and a tornado on the ninja simultaneously results in something that looks very much like break dancing.

This image is drawn on actual sheet of paper, and not a napkin. It was a sort of a test run because in the not too distant future I need to produce a drawing that is considerably larger than the average dinner napkin. I spent a significant amount of time shopping for paper that would behave sort of like a napkin. I cannot say that I had any success. Napkins are a horrible, uncooperative surface to work on, but ironically, (and pathetically) I cannot seem to cope with a less fragile and less absorbent paper surface.

I'm giving some serious thought to paper tablecloths as a medium.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yoda with Sphynx Cat

Hair Matters Not:
A napkin for a kid who appreciates hairless cats and Star Wars more than our kids do.

(Yoda seemed like the obvious character from the Star Wars universe to pair with a wizened, hairless cat: The ears. The eyes. The otherworldly skin folds....)

Our kids often tell me that things are not fair and are too hard for them. They suffer through the many indignities of homework, bedtimes and myriad deprivations involving television, video games and toys  Earlier this week, one of my sons might even have spent 45 minutes bitterly complaining about my refusal to give him a dollar to spend on a video game purchase.

So, yes, there is a world full of kids out there that are dealing more gracefully with much more challenging conditions than my kids are.  Of course I try to help them appreciate how good they have it, but it is a continuing personal and parental challenge, and I am definitely not impressed with our progress so far.

It would obviously be impossible for me to draw a picture for every child who is facing difficult circumstances, but perhaps the very small gesture of doing this one will at least encourage some of the occupants of our house not to whine so much about trivial things....for 5 or 10 minutes, maybe.

And we will hope that the recipient of this particular napkin will someday be in a situation where video game deprivation is his most pressing concern.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lion Parts

These aren't necessarily for lunch, but I was trying to work on my table top lion drawing skills.
And with how napkins might work with an object on the table.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shulk From Xenoblade Chronicles as a Cat

We're really feeling that magenta vest:
Feline/Nintendo cosplay #8

The Xenoblade Chronicles is another Japanese video game that is relatively obscure to the North American market.  But our sons know a little bit about Shulk, because he is playable in Super Smash Bros on the Wii U.

I can only observe that he sports a very busy and peculiar outfit: a magenta vest with multiple doodads and a highly patterned pair of shorts with a strange strappy arrangement protruding from underneath. Except when he mysteriously pops up clad in nothing but his underpants.

I did not know about what my sons call the "Sexy Shulk" appearances when I drew him last night. I just looked at the big techno sword  and thought that was probably pretty cool in the minds of 8 and 12 year old boys. I usually try to avoid drawing overt weaponry on the napkins, lunch at Quaker school and all, so I left the majority of the sword off the napkin. I also wanted to avoid having to translate the knee bondage gear for feline hind legs.

Of course now that I have typed the word "sexy" above and looked again at the image on the napkin with the low placement of the magenta sword handle....well, I am regretting my compositional choices a bit. Perhaps I should not say more than that. Just so you know that I did not make any of this up, the original image is below:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Feline Maxwell From Scribblenauts

Cat with Rooster Helmet and Notebook:
Feline/Nintendo cosplay #7

Scribblenauts is one of my personal favorite games for all of its edifying potential.  Typing nouns in the search field from a vocabulary of over 20,000 words allows the player to summon all sorts of characters and items, from "Quetzalcoatl" to "Barracuda" to "Public Address System."

My sons particularly appreciate the possibilities of words like "Rocket Launcher," "Special Atomic Demolition Munition" and "Gatling Gun."

While Scribblenauts is not strictly speaking a Nintendo game, it is playable on the DS and the Wii U, so I am going to include it in the series here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Samus Aran as a Cat

Armored Cat Suit:
Feline/Nintendo cosplay #6

Samus Aran, "an intergalactic bounty hunter," originally hails from the 1986 game Metroid.
Once again, I am slightly perplexed as to how my sons have become so familiar with this character. The continuing interest in 1980's pop culture in video games that has been communicated to them ("Ready Player One" anyone?) seems bizarre to me.

Remarkably enough, Samus is a female character, although it seems this was originally hidden from Metroid's players unless the game was defeated within a prescribed time frame.

Stuffing a realistic feline physique into her small waisted "power suit" was a challenge. And I felt that I had to draw her bareheaded...

...because when you are wearing your power suit, nobody knows you're a cat... or a woman.

(as opposed to: "On the internet no one knows you're a dog)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kitten with Pearls

Blandishment for a Young Female Person.

The request for "a pretty cat wearing pearls in a forest," perhaps obviously, did not originate with my son.  He was relaying the preference of a person whose opinion is rather important to him.
It is probably best that I not reveal anything more.

As for the drawing, itself: I took it as a challenge to execute the request honestly, but somehow keep the results from being totally fussy and saccharine.

As you can see, I was not equal to the challenge.
I am going to hope that the recipient does not prove to be a sophisticated art critic....or an unsophisticated art critic.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ghost Terrier

Four legged fluff from beyond.

Even since a viewing of "Ghost Busters" a couple of years ago, my older son has had a healthy interest in the topic of ghost hunting. We saw Jordan Wittt at last weekend's comic arts fest and had to check out her web comics about the Organization of Ghost Hunters and the story "The Ghost Dog" in particular.

Our younger son is only mildly interested in ghosts, but dogs are another story. The ghostly canine in Jordan Witt's web comic looks more like a husky, but I thought perhaps we should go smaller and cuter.

Sometimes I can feel myself weakening on the topic of a pet dog. I did really enjoy living with a cat or two during my childhood and early adulthood...and that was even despite the peeing on my mail, the depositing of live rodents into my bed, and the barfing into my accordion file folders full of tax documents. I would like my sons to be able to experience some sort of furry, somewhat gratifying pet.

Cats are out of the question if I want my husband to continue breathing, so that leaves us debating the possibility of a "small, washable, trainable dog." But I can barely manage the care, feeding and training of my sons, and I seriously doubt the wisdom of adding another source of body fluids and bad behavior to our home.

If one were available, a ghost dog would truly be the best solution.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Werechipmunk from "Jinx" Series

Kinda cute... but don't mess with his acorns.

As our younger son took all three of the novels in the series to school, it seemed like time for another "Jinx" themed napkin.

Werewolves play an important role in the Urwald, the enchanted forest of the series. There are several references to other "were" animals like werebears and werechipmunks. And the main character, a boy who has a deep, magical connection to the forest, is derisively referred to as "the werechipmunk" by some of his enemies.

I am not sure exactly what these animals look like or how they behave. While they don't morph into people, the werewolves engage in human-like behaviors; two legged locomotion, speech and the deciphering of ancient texts.  Meanwhile, these werewolves are scarier and more dangerous to humans than the average wolf.

Is it the same case for the werechipmunks? Are they dangerous killers? Can they speak?...and maybe sing in pop bands?...We came to the conclusion that perhaps they were small and endearing, but simultaneously rather formidable and dangerous.

My sons are ready to get behind anything that is cute and furry but still deadly.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Snake from "Metal Gear" as a Cat

Feline/Nintendo cosplay #5, sort of.

Over the weekend, I discovered my older son's keen interest in "Metal Gear," a game that we do not own and he has never played. While we were at the MoCCA Arts Festival (that's the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts) on Sunday, he came across a fan art poster for the game  that he absolutely needed to have. We brought the poster home and infected his younger brother with the enthusiasm for the game. I should point out that this particular character does not actually appear on the poster. An iteration of this "Snake" guy appears in one of the Super Smash games, but not the one we have. In short, Snake's sudden popularity is still mysterious for me.

This morning, my twelve year old son gave me chapter and verse on the details of this game, its history and relationship to Nintendo and the development of this particular character. Sadly, I do not think I could possibly retain, much less coherently summarize the information.  Instead, I will pathetically turn to 90 seconds worth of  Wikipedia reading, and offer that Metal Gear is "a series of action-adventure stealth video games" that feature the "titular superweapon "Metal Gear," a bipedal walking tank with the ability to launch nuclear weapons." Well, what could be more exciting than that?

In addition to Snake's stylish strappy outfit and cool head band,  my son points out that the guy is a clone, and is therefore "extra, extra badass."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Captain Falcon Cat

Feline Falcon Punch:
Cat Cosplay #4

Our sons have been flailing around the house shouting "FALCOOON PUNCH!!" for a long time.  While I did know that this Falcon Punch was "A Thing" not just specific to my kids, until last night, I was ignorant of the source and the wide distribution of the concept.

For those of you even less informed than I, (I'm talking to you, mom) the Smash Bros Wiki explains,"The move consists of Captain Falcon throwing a powerful punch, with his fist engulfed in flames shaped like a falcon. It is one of the most powerful moves in all five Super Smash Bros games."

The question of who is this Captain Falcon guy seems to be recursive, at least as far as my sons are concerned. Captain Falcon is the guy who throws the Falcon Punch.  We don't need to know more than that. I read on the Wiki that he also has a reverse Falcon Punch, and even a Falcon Kick, but these seem merely to muddy the purity of the concept as far as I am concerned.

The falcon punch seems to play the same role as "Fus Ro Dah" in my sons' life...and the internet at large.

It is always fun to imagine possessing an overwhelming force....or failing that, at least to imagine a cat who possesses an overwhelming force.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kirby Kitten

Insipid in Pink.
Cat Cosplay #3

I'm not sure this qualifies as feline Nintendo video game character cosplay. It's certainly not one  of my better drawings. But my older son assures me that the point of Kirby is to overwhelm one's enemy with cute cheesiness, so perhaps it is appropriate.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Feline Robin From "Fire Emblem"

Stylish Medieval Feline Intersexual:
Cat Cosplay #2

While Mario was the obvious next choice for cat video game character cosplay, our younger son requested this character from the Nintendo series Fire Emblem instead. I know almost nothing about this game, but Wikipedia tells me that "The Fire Emblem series is known for its innovation and for being one of the first Eastern style tactical role-playing games, with a strong emphasis on Western forms of medieval fantasy."

The kids made this character's acquaintance through "Super Smash Bros," a melee style game that uses Nintendo characters drawn from the company's entire history. I don't think they know much about Robin besides the fact that he or she wears some cool clothes and has an impressive sword. There has been a long running debate at our house about whether Robin is male or female.  Having done 90 seconds of research last night, I was finally able to resolve the question: In Fire Emblem, Robin can be played as male or female. The main difference in the character's appearance seems to be hair length.

Since the cat doesn't have a human haircut, I guess s/he can go either way.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Feline Link

Kitty Cosplay #1:
Could it have cross gender appeal for 8 year olds?

My younger son has apparently not been receiving much positive feedback about his napkins from his peers at school. He particularly values the opinion of a couple of video game obsessed boys and one diffident member of the opposite sex.

We discussed this conundrum last night: how could we simultaneously impress the cool boys and gain the attention of the attractive girl who is not particularly moved by video games, or, more unfortunately, by my son? The rigid gender roles of the second grade universe don't seem to allow for much overlap.

After a few minutes of brainstorming with his older brother, the only obvious solution we could come up with was cute cats dressed as video game characters.

It seemed clear that Link should be a blondish, pointy-eared cat.  I suppose I should give some thought as to what sort of cat could be dressed as Mario.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bonemaster Skull with Broccoli

Even the evil need nutritious food.

The Bonemaster is the main bad guy in Sage Blackwood's "Jinx" series.  While he seems a fairly reserved and even courteous fellow, we discover that he comes by his name honestly.  He stockpiles the bones of his victims and later proves to be capable of animating the remains in true Ray Harryhausen fashion...And he has done something magic involving his own skeleton.....

But the Bonemaster appears to be the sort of organized fellow who would eat a healthy diet.

My sons are not terribly interested in the concept of healthy eating, but they do eat a lot of broccoli....(maybe just because they like it???)

This is a family secret that I should probably not share on the internet. My sons will resent me for spoiling their coolness and outing them as broccoli eaters, but I don't think this is the sort of revelation that will stand in the way of their future college admissions or employment.

(It has been a while since the last napkin featuring broccoli. You can see the previous broccoli napkins at this link.  There have been quite a few... although not nearly as many as the napkins with strawberries.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Malthus from "Jinx's Fire"

"You can't have a school without werewolves...
Werewolves can be very helpful in dealing with problem students."
         ---Malthus, werewolf

We've been finishing the third book in Sage Blackwood's "Jinx" series.  The basic story is  familiar: a downtrodden orphan boy learns magic while adventuring in a universe populated by human armies, elves, trolls, witches, wizards, werewolves and sentient trees.  The narrative voice has an ease and contemporary simplicity that makes it accessible and appropriate for my kids... ie, it is not "The Lord of the Rings," or "Game of Thrones."  But Ms. Blackwood's series does have an unusual amount of moral complexity for a book written for younger readers.  Even the very sympathetic main protagonist has to take actions that make him quite uncomfortable and he struggles with the fact that his motivations aren't always noble.

And then there are the werewolves... They do generally fight on the side of the good guys. And Malthus is a multilingual, astute reader of ancient texts.  But in a pinch, the werewolves see the eating of humans pretty much as an entitlement.

My sons, of course, are mostly interested in the character of Jinx, the orphan who ends the series with powerful magic abilities.  My eight year old told me that he thinks Jinx's life is better than his own. As usual, I felt compelled to point out that Jinx starts the story abandoned by his step parents to a certain death in the forest. He shrugged. I persisted, "that means he doesn't have a mother and has to look after himself."  My son shrugged again, and remarked that by the end of the series, Jinx is 15 and can take care of himself anyway.

I am definitely looking forward to being the mother of an entirely self sufficient 15 year old.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Peeps

A second silly Easter napkin:

We went to "Full Bunny Contact" again this year.  
The highlight of this "alternative" easter event for my sons is "Shoot the Peep" where one gets to fire a paintball gun at a guy who is dressed approximately in the spirit of the yellow marshmallow easter candies.  Last year the Peep passively cowered behind his riot shield and was relatively easy to hit.  Although he did still have a riot shield, this year's Peep was wearing considerably less protective gear and was not standing still waiting for small boys to target him. 

Thank goodness our kids' sadness at lack of Peep shooting accuracy was upstaged by a subsequent ride on a mechanical bull dressed up as a large bunny rabbit. 

But I felt that maybe the napkin should give the Peeps the upper hand, perspectivally at least. 

Bonnie from Five Nights at Freddy's for Easter

Not one of my better efforts, but the kids seemed to find it slightly amusing.

Previous attempts at the easter theme have been mixed...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sphynx and MagnaGuard

Elongated and creepy, with drapery:
Cats & Robots #15

My sons decided that we could not leave the MagnaGuards out of the robot series. The Wookieepedia (Star Wars universe version of Wikipedia) reveals that they are also known as IG-100's or  "the Self-Motivating Heuristically Programmed Combat Droids." That description makes them sound more philosophically interesting than I remember them being in the "Revenge of the Sith".... not that my memories of that movie are extensive or notable.  My sons like them because, to use a description that they would support, the MagnaGuards are the extra baddass droids.

The MagnaGuard seemed to need a similarly attenuated feline companion.  There are a great many images of Sphynx cats floating around the web, often making reference to a JRR Tolkien character (see Hairless Sphynx Cat That Looks Like Gollum from Lord of the Rings Goes ViralThere are also quite a few disturbing images of obese hairless cats, but I am not going to suggest viewing any of those as they cannot be erased from memory once they have been seen.

Remarkably, I don't think there is a individual Sphynx internet cat celebrity like Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub... or at least not one famous enough that I could turn it up in a few minutes of Googling.

Surely this is a gap in popular culture that will soon be filled.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Screaming Goldfish from "Jinx's Fire"

Our kids are rarely enthusiastic about reading a book that is not a graphic novel, much less one that does not have any illustrations at all.  The "Jinx" series by Sage Blackwood has been one of the rare exceptions. We had to start reading the third book immediately after it arrived in the mail earlier this week.

We haven't finished the book yet, but we did come across a scene where some wizards attack Jinx with flying, screaming goldfish.  This was a very appealing concept....although if it were entirely up to my sons, there would probably be flying, screaming goldfish armed with grenade launchers...

The kids were justifiably not so impressed with my goldfish drawing, however. I got a late start last night and had trouble enough just making them look like goldfish at all, much less weaponized goldfish.

This image seemed to be a missed opportunity... I may have to give some more thought to the concept.
(I noticed last night that there is a band named "The Screaming Goldfish." It seems to be a nondescript German cover band, and was definitely not helpful here.)