One - The Crossing Guard


     Well, the reviews are pouring in!

     Actually, the first mention I've come across of my Daily Grind pages is from Jeff Bent, one of my fellow Grinders. On the old version of the Daily Grind Message Boards, he wrote that he "remained sickly fascinated and disturbed by Michael Payne's story of a violent cat(?) that a snake drugged and seemingly forced into work as a crossing guard and who is now investigating a crosswalk ghost(?). What does it all mean? The jaggedy pixels and ball-point blue are like sandpaper for the eyes, but I... can't... look... away!"

     Being the pedant that I am, I had to write back and say that Jolene is a squirrel rather than a cat, but I stopped short of asking where he got the idea that Jolene was being forced into this job: after all, at the beginning of the current story, she's the one insisting on going back to work despite Howlett's misgivings...

     But I would like to thank Mr. Bent for the kind words--and make no mistake, to me, they are kind words indeed. I mean, not only is the story apparently digging its claws into him, but, well, "sandpaper for the eyes" is kind of what I'm trying for with the art on these pages.

     As with all my stuff, I'm drawing on George Herriman and Krazy Kat for inspiration, most especially the look of the strips Herriman turned out near the end of his life. I'll quote, if I might, from Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman by Patrick McDonnell, Karen O'Connell, and Georgia Riley de Havenon (Abrams, 1986), pg. 85: "The very last years took Herriman's scratchy style to its extreme. Perhaps because of his arthritic condition, instead of drawing, he actually scraped or knifed out a good portion of the whites from the black-inked surface. Those areas on the originals resembled woodcuts or scratchboard drawings in effect."

     Now, I wouldn't trust myself with an actual knife, so instead I use a #2 Rapidograph pen and a beveled-edge ruler to snap out lines as straight and sharp as a knife's edge. It's not the same, but judging by Mr. Bent's reaction, it's causing the same strange effect in at least one viewer...