Otter Disaster Designs - Pop Culture Themed T-Shirts

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Heavy Metal Heritage: Hit Parader Magazine

As a high school headbanger I had no internet for keeping up with my favorite bands and the town I lived in was so small it didn't have MTV, so there were few ways to find out about new bands or even what was up with the bands I followed.  I actually used to bring videotapes when I visited my sister Traci in college because she had MTV, and I'd record Headbanger's Ball to see videos of my favorite bands.  I'd play those tapes over and over.

With no access to MTV, and living in a part of the country where the odds of hearing my kind of metal on the radio was impossible, I had two outlets remaining for learning more about 'my' bands.  The first was the very reliable 'word of mouth'.  If you had a buddy who liked a band you could always borrow the records and sample their music for yourself.  If a group was good, you could then go out and buy the cassette or you could fire up the dual cassette deck and do a little peer to peer music sharing, analog style.  The other information outlet I relied on lived on the racks of the local grocery and convenience stores, the heavy metal magazines.  They had names like Rip, Circus, Creem, Metal Edge and my rag of choice, Hit Parader.

I never subscribed to any of these mags, but I would pick them up off the newsstand at the grocery store or Stop 'N' Shop (later C-Mart), if one of the bands I liked appeared on the cover. Hit Parader was always on the stands, where Rip and Circus were only occasionally available, and Metal Edge was expensive if I recall.  I don't think I ever saw more than one or two issues of Creem in my life. So Hit Parader was usually it.

Hit Parader heavily focused on the 'hair bands' of the era, and I read the magazine in hair metal's heyday from about 1987-1991.  I think they were legally obligated to put Brett Michaels (of Poison), Jon Bon Jovi, or Vince Neil (of Motley Crue) on the cover 9 months out of 12.  When Iron Maiden or AC/DC made a cover you could bet I'd buy it.  In fact I specifically remember having this issue featuring Angus Young of AC/DC on the cover:

I loved the magazine for being the only source of music news I could get my hands on.  My sister Pam had a subscription to Rolling Stone, but it rarely featured metal even when metal was extemely popular, so it wasn't good for my needs.  In a addition to news, Hit Parader had lots of filler in the form of pinups.  My bedroom was plastered with pictures of AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Tesla, and of course the lovely ladies Doro Pesch, and Lita Ford.

The magazine was also well known for intellectual debates, like 'Who Rules Heavy Metal?':

These debates often played out in Hit Parader's letter page where a metalhead would write in and explain in very passionate terms why Dio 'rules', and Ozzy 'sucks'.  The editor of said letters page would then usually make fun of the writer.  Poison vs. Motley Crue and Metallica vs. Megadeth were also extremely popular in these diatribes, and seemed to account for about half the letters published in the magazine in any given month.  

My other favorite thing about these metal mags were the ads for upcoming releases.  I'd often see some horrific image coupled with a scary band name, and a release date.  I bought at least a few albums based on these ads alone, music unheard.  One album I specifically remember buying was 'Another Return to Church Hill' by Artch.  I remember the ad being a black and white image of the albums cover, and I thought it looked totally cool, so when I saw the cassette shortly after seeing the ad I bought it immediately. It was a decent power metal record, and while I don't have it anymore I do have an MP3 of the title track.

I just learned today that Hit Parader  ceased publication a little over a year ago, Circus and Rip are also gone, but Metal Edge still seems to be in publication.  Maybe those high prices paid off after all.

Otter Disaster #29 - 2009: See You...(My Year in Review in 4 Panels)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Geeksmas

I had a very nerdtacular Christmas this year. Various gift givers indulged my love of comics this year and I was lucky enough to receive the book of Genesis as illustrated by R. Crumb, Vol. 1 of the complete Bloom County, a volume of Moomin by Tove Jansson, and a Pearls Before Swine collection. I also received a Lego Star Wars Encyclopedia with a small Lego kit. Mrs. Disaster gave me a Wally West Flash ornament, the complete Brisco County Jr. On DVD, a Mach 5, some small JLA figures, and of course Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Thanks everyone! Oh, and to top it off I'm blogging this from my new phone thanks to my mom!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gorilla my dreams and other monkey puns!

Anybody who reads comics for any amount of time will almost certainly run across hordes of gorillas, chimps,  and other miscellaneous simians.

I was recently thinking about a duct tape based t-shirt design idea, and as I considered the term 'duct tape' my mind deleted the second 't' and I began repeating the phrase 'duct ape' which led to this t-shirt design, better than, and completely different than my original idea:

You can purchase the shirt HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I always suspected this was how it worked: Tetris God

Having wasted many otherwise productive hours playing Tetris, I was pleased to find this video explaining how the 'random' pieces are chosen:


Monday, November 30, 2009

Ask Me About My Secret Origin - 3 Shirts at Otter Disaster Designs

As a big comic book fan, I've always loved the stories about how superheroes became superheroes. I'm working on a series of T-Shirt designs based on those 'secret origins'. The first three are now complete and available for purchase at the Otter Disaster Designs shop.

The first design is inspired by the nuclear origins of Marvel's Incredible Hulk:

The second is inspired by the chemical and lightning birth of the Barry Allen Flash:

And the third was inspired by origin of the first modern superhero, and Last Son of Krypton, Superman:

I'm aiming for something iconic, but non-specific, in the realm of homage and tribute. I want to evoke the origins of certain heroes without referencing them by name...for obvious reasons. I have a few other 'secret origin' shirts in the works, that will be available over the next month or so.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Context is Everything #27: The Suicide Doctor

Here's a dumb joke that's been rattling around in my head for a while, finally made into a strip:

Context is Everything #24, #25 & #26 Otters, otters, otters.

I've been a bit Otter obsessed lately in my Context is Everything series at Bitstrips...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Otter Disaster Designs on Facebook

Otter Disaster Designs now has a fan page on Facebook.

Follow O.D.D. HERE!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

T-Shirts from Otter Disaster Designs at Cafe Press

I've recently opened a Cafe Press Shop to sell original graphic T-Shirts.
I was doodling a few days ago and created a lovely little brain in a jar. I present to you the original doodle and the finished design (click picture for larger):

Here are links for Sci-Fi, Monsters, & Robots, Rock & Metal, and Comics & Humor themed T-Shirts. Their are permanent shop links below the Otter Disaster header at the top of the page. Check 'em out and if you like the designs buy one! If you think someone you know would like one of the designs, pass it on (or buy it for them, Christmas is coming). I'm hoping to post at least one new design a week.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maiden Bitstrips: The Flight of Icarus

Here's a Bitstrips version of the single artwork from Iron Maiden's Flight of Icarus:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Human Action by von Mises in Comic Form

Ludwig von Mises’s Human Action adapted in comics form...saving for future reference.

via Lew Rockwell Blog

Sunday, October 4, 2009

24 Hour Comics Day 2009: Finished!

I began my 24 Hour Comic yesterday morning at 9:00 am and finished at 6:30 am this morning, falling 8 panels shy (152) of my intended goal of 160 completed panels. Using the first random track to come up once the challenge began, I ended up titling my comic 'I Don't Wanna Rock 'N' Roll Tonight'a song by the Donnas. This was a much more specific title than last year's 'Perfect Gentleman'.

It was a much different experience this time around, as I knew what to expect from the challenge, and my approach to it. Just like last year I found that the most difficult stretch was hours 9 through 12. Fatigue starts to set in around then, and you still haven't reached the halfway point, so it gets pretty grueling in that period.

I also noticed some parallel elements with my comic from last year, possibly as a result or rereading that comic earlier this week. I probably shouldn't have done that.

I have apparently missed some sort of calling as a writer of dramatic Romance Comics, as that is what I deliberately wrote last year, and accidentally did this year (in a backhanded sort of way). It's funny the way these things run off on their own. I had a little trouble getting the story off the ground this time, as I'd intended to take a somewhat episodic comedic approach, but the drama swallowed up the comedy right at the halfway mark.

There is a particularly dark and uncomfortable scene that bugs me for the cruelty shown by 'Frank'. Late at night you can tap into some pretty weird bits of the subconscious, and this stuff often flows out without much thought.

Once again a really rewarding creative experience. I will most likely do it all again next year.

Here is the first part (of 26):

Sunday, September 27, 2009

24 Hour Comics Day is Coming October 3rd!

I am participating in the 24 Hour Comic Challenge again this year. Once again I will be using Bitstrips to complete the challenge, and once again I've modified Scott McCloud's parameters specifically for Bitstrips.

Last year I targeted a minimum of 144 panels (6 finished panels per hour), but I finished with about 3 1/2 hours remaining. This year, I am aiming for a minimum of 160 finished panels (which breaks down to a little less than 7 panels per hour or 20 panels every 3 hours). McCloud's web comic rules for the challenge say 100 panels, but Bitstrips allows you to copy and paste characters, props and backgrounds so many of the art chores are greatly simplified, speeding up the process.

Last year I randomly titled my comic using a song title chosen at the start of the challenge by the shuffle function of my media player. This gave me the seed for the story that would emerge. I liked this random element so much that I will do the same this year, and have already built an iTunes playlist in excess of 24 hours.

24 Hour Comics Day is next Saturday, October 3rd. I will be starting my comic at approximately 9:00 AM MT.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Stately Spoiler Manor is now Major Spoilers Adventures

I made my first Major Spoilers strip as a bit of a goof back in May (inspired by MSP Podcast #94) and posted it at the Major Spoilers forums. The podcast proved to be a great bit of Bitstrips inspiration, and I made several more, creating a series called Stately Spoiler Manor.

On July 12, Stephen, the proprietor of, invited me to produce a weekly strip to be featured every Friday at the Major Spoilers main site.

The strip has been now renamed Major Spoilers Adventures (it's just a better title).

The first strip debuted on July 24th with the second appearing yesterday. I'm very excited to be producing this strip, as I find the site, and especially the podcast a great source of inspiration, and Stephen, Matthew and Rodrigo are great personalities that translate very well into comic characters. You can read the first two strips HERE.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Maiden Bitstrips: Two Minutes to Midnight

Two Minutes to Midnight was the second Iron Maiden Song I ever heard, and I own the 12 inch single.

Original art.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Otter Disaster: #24, #25 & #26

Bitstrips has begun doing a 'Theme of the Day'. The first two strips were 'theme' strips. The third is based on a true story from when Mrs. Disaster was out of town.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bitstrips Coming Font Feature: Possibilities?

This strip by dk1 created a bit of a stir last week:

It got everyone very excited about using different fonts. The feature was quickly disabled due to bugs in how it worked but it got me thinking about some interesting possibilities.

Bitstrips does not currently feature custom objects, but if the new font feature is going to allow a user to utilize fonts installed on their own systems a world of possibilities is opened up. I realize this could be a big 'if'.

Using any number of software packages (like Fontographer) that allow for custom font design or even sites like YourFonts or FontStruct a user could create custom dingbat fonts for use as props in Bitstrips. Their use would obviously be more limited than the proper Bitstrips props, but would still be extremely useful. As a font based object, you would be unable to layer a given 'font prop' the same way that you would the banana prop. I've dummied up an example of how these 'font props' could work. Click image to enlarge:

I would create a detail 'letter' as the lower case, and an outline 'letter' as the upper case. This would allow you to layer the 'letters' to create an outline and/or multi-colored objects. This would get extremely complex in the case of clothing, as you'd have to create 2 'letters' for every pose you would want to use, and even then it would only work for a given body type. In the example above you'd have to make 3 different 'letters' just for the poses shown. If the character faces the other direction, then that is additional letters you'll have to make within the font. If you have a series where you would use the objects frequently it could well be worth the initial work involved. It would also allow a creator to have some very distinct objects to make his or her work stand out. On the other hand, a creator could share his 'font props' via email, or possibly some sort of central site (a wiki maybe?) for download by any interested Bitstripper.

Until true custom objects arrive, this could be a really neat option to add some clothes, vehicles, weapons, even crosshatching and shading to one's artistic arsenal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Stately Spoiler Manor: The Tour!

Here's a strip I did touring Stately Spoiler Manor, the headquarters of the guys over at It's in celebration of their upcoming 100th podcast. Read the strips to find out when!

Congratulations guys! Nice work, here's to the second hundred.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maiden Bitstrips: No Prayer for the Dying & the Eddie Smiley

Here are 2 recent additions to Maiden Bitstrips, my series that recreates Iron Maiden artwork using Bitstrips.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review: Watchmen the Movie

Watchmen the Graphic Novel has been called unfilmable, but I saw Watchmen the Movie on Saturday night, so the statement is at least partially untrue. What makes Watchmen the Graphic Novel so great boils down to three things: the plot, the characters, and the way the story is told.

The movie does a decent job adapting the first two, but the third is simply impossible. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons utilize the unique elements of comic story telling to elevate a good plot and great characters to a masterpiece of the comics medium. Watchmen the Movie is akin to Citizen Kane the Graphic Novel. Orson Welles used the unique elements of film to tell his story in a way that sets it apart from any other medium. A good writer and artist could adapt Kane, tell the story with all the necessary elements intact, but it wouldn’t be a comics masterpiece, just as Watchmen the Movie is not a cinematic masterpiece.

I think the movie looks great, the effects are good (especially Dr. Manhattan, and Rorshach’s mask), and the set pieces are great, creating the alternative world of 1985 in a believable way.

I think the movie is well cast, at least in terms of the major characters. Robert Wisdon as President Nixon is a little jarring and sometimes unintentionally comedic with the nose appliance, but as a secondary character this doesn’t bother me too much. I think Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II gives the best perfomance in the movie. He certainly captures the characterization of Dan from the Graphic Novel as I always imagine it. Jackie Earle Haley as Roshach also gives a good performance, although he plays the character far more intensely, than the oddly detached, but grim character I always see in my head. Everyone else is good to passable, with no real complaints.

The movie makes a major change to the ending as presented in the graphic novel, but it is so faithful to the spirit of the Graphic Novel, that I can’t say I’m anything but impressed. The decision to make Dr. Manhattan the threat from beyond that drives the world to peace is a beautiful solution to a problem that might have sunk the entire movie had it stayed true to the printed page. The decision to do this also streamlines the plot for the sake of a bearable run time, and allows the creators of the movie to do away with numerous subplots that would have been necessary to set up the original ending. I liked it, and it worked.

The only real complaint I have about the movie is the tendency to use dialogue verbatim from the comic. There are numerous examples of this, and it was always very apparent to me when it was happening. A friend who attended with me (who hasn’t read the book) noted that sometimes the dialog seemed off somehow, and I explained that some of the conversations were word for word out of the comic. Sometimes what reads well on the page, sounds odd when spoken aloud.

Good effects, a few fun action sequences and some really disturbing violence coupled with really good characters make for a good movie. I think fans of the Graphic Novel will enjoy it for what it is, which is a good adaptation of a story told in print. Unfortunately for the movie, the story is not what makes Watchmen the Graphic Novel great, but the manner in which that story is told, and that could simply never be adapted to film.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Teasers for Bedlam: Sinister Placement

Here are some teasers for a new long form Bitstrips series (as opposed to the gag strips I'm accustomed to):

Past Disasters