You are currently browsing the wood eye category

“And don’t call me Leslie.”

§ August 12th, 2022 § Filed under wood eye § 2 Comments

Sorry, wasn’t able to put together a real post last night, so please accept this fill-in, in which I follow up on this post from last year about my small press days.

Specifically, that post was about the blank “Your Special Monster Friend” box on the back cover of my comic, the inspiration-for-this-site’s-name Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin. I had lamented the lack of records of the handdrawn monsters I’d done for these covers, until my old pal William sent me a picture of his copy (which you can see on that linked post).

Well, this week I heard from another old friend, Ben, who noted he still had his own copy of said comic, and I cajoled, wheedled and whined until he sent me this pic:

So, one more Special Monster Friend added to the catalog: everyone, meet Leslie! Not named after anyone specific, far as I recall, so let’s say it’s named after beloved performer and noted enjoyer of flatulence jokes, the late and lamented Leslie Nielsen.

Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you next week.

Small Press Saturday #1.

§ October 23rd, 2021 § Filed under saturday, wood eye § 3 Comments

So as I’ve mentioned several times in the past, the name of this website comes from a mini-comics digest I published in 1998 (under the “Full Frontal Harvey” banner, a shared local comics ‘zine thing that former coworker Rob started up…name explained in my first anniversary post).

And come to think of it, my date of “death” on the tombstone becomes increasingly less humorous as the years dart by. But anyway, this was a collection of comics ‘n’ stuff I drew for the FFH flagship anthology title Wood-Eye, a scattering of pages from my solo mini-comic Lookit! along with some new material. (Here’s a sample.)

Some of what counted, I think, as new material, and what counted for sure as extra work for me, was the “Your Special Monster Friend” back cover, where I would draw and name an original monster on each and every distributed copy of Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin the printed-on-dead-trees comical book.

However, this being 1998 and not having regular access to a scanner or even a digital camera, I did not document the many, many monsters I drew on these back covers. I do remember that there were monsters named after me, former coworker Rob, our pal and FFH member Fred, and other friends, but I retain no memory of what any of them look like. The monsters, not my friends and me.

But in swoops old pal William (who probably also had a monster named after him) to the rescue, as he dug out his copy and sent me a pic of the monster I drew thereupon. BEHOLD…CHAD:

Thus, at long last, I have at least one catalogued example of a Special Monster Friend in my records, 23 years after the fact.

In which I talk too much about a comic strip I drew 31 years ago.

§ July 7th, 2021 § Filed under wood eye § 4 Comments

So I’ve been in the process of recovering files from ancient (like, 30+ years old) 3 1/2 inch computer diskettes, such as old college papers, textfile back-ups from BBSes I used to frequent, and, yes, my occasional forays into what passed for digital art back then. I posted one sample here from 1991…a silly picture I even used as a start-up screen on my Mac for a while.

And then there was this, a digital comic strip I drew my own self:

My dad had a laser printer at work (an amazing piece of technology no mere college student such as myself could ever hope to afford), so I threw this made-entirely-in-MacPaint drawing on a disc and asked him to print out some physical copies for me.

Printing seemed to smooth out a few of the rough edges, and all the lines seemed a lot darker and thicker. Frankly, I think the printed product looked pretty good…and eventually,. during my Full-Frontal Harvey mini-comics days, I included said print out in one of our publications.

But here’s the image from the original file, in all its jagginess and “humor.” Mostly this was me seeing if I could do a digital cartoon, experimenting with the form, rather than trying to do a knock-out gag. (Figuratively, I mean…Hawk is pretty knocked about at the end there.) And…it looks okay, I guess. I’m no Mike Saenz but I accomplished what I was trying to do.

Some notes:

1. “Hawk” may or may not be named after an actual person I knew. YOU CAN’T PROVE NUTHIN’

2. All the figures in the crowd are the same, just copied-and-pasted over and over again, which I thought was kind of a neat trick at the time.

3. Some work files I made in prepping this strip included something I’d long forgotten about…I had actually written lyrics for Hawk to be singing. They are as thus:

Don’t know why I discarded these lyrics for the gag I ultimately used. I think they’re pretty funny and fitting for Hawk’s sensitive nature.

4. The band’s name “Choleric Wastrels” comes from a handle I used on a local BBS. I may or may not have used that account for some gentle trolling.

5. Why the “F” on the drum kit? I presume that stands for Hawk’s philosophy of “Fair Play,” just like Mr. Terrific.

6. The background in panel six I believe is the standard “brick” fill pattern that I went over with the eraser tool to rough it up a bit.

7. I *think* Hawk’s head shape in panel four is the same one from panel two, just flopped.

8. Somewhere are my layouts for a full (well, 8-page) Hawk mini-comic, in which he witnesses a hit-and-run car accident but somehow gets blamed for it when he tries to chase down the perpetrator. I seem to recall having a good ending to the strip, but this far out I can’t recall it, nor do I have any idea where those layouts may be. Alas, not digital so I won’t find ’em on the floppies I’m perusing…all handdrawn on actual paper, and there is a lot of paper in the boxes I’m looking through.

9. There was a handrawn Hawk strip also in 1990, which had a good gag, but there’s a line from an off-panel convenience store clerk that, in retrospect, didn’t age well. Fortunately the clerk wasn’t the butt of the joke…rather it’s about Hawk’s dichotomous nature of “Sensitive” vs. “Skinhead,” but still, it’ll require being returned for regrooving before reprinting here. Just didn’t know any better at the time.

10. For some reason I defaulted to “nuclear symbol” on shirts I’d draw for my characters. No meaning beyond “it looks cool.”

11. I was going to say that the guitar players on stage look like they’re playing mandolins, but knowing Hawk, maybe they were mandolins.

12. That’s a pretty good trashcan and bag of trash in that last panel, if I do say so myself.

Can’t think of much else to say about that strip. It was fun to make, and frankly I’m surprised I didn’t make more, though I’m finding other examples of digital drawings I slapped together at the time. That includes illustrations I made for the radio station program magazine at California Lutheran University, a school I wasn’t even attending! But that’s a story for another day.

Keeping in mind I actually like the show.

§ October 16th, 2019 § Filed under freak out, pal casie, question time, wood eye § 5 Comments

Pal Casie asks me this:

“I remember that hilarious mini-comic you wrote called, ‘Things NOT to say to a comic book shop employee’. Anything new to add to that list with time and now being an owner of a fab shop?”







“Better than no meat at all.”

§ October 16th, 2015 § Filed under question time, wood eye § 3 Comments

So recently a lost Dan Clowes interview popped up over the Comics Journal site, conducted by one Zack Carlson. Now, I’ve known Zack for…at least 25 years now? Something like that. And back in the early to mid ’90s, a phrase that made me feel five years older even just by typing it, Zack was one of the participants in our local mini-comics publishing project “Full Frontal Harvey.” I’ve discussed FFH waaaay back in my first anniversary post and have even presented one or two of my contributions over the years.

I bring that up as the Clowes interview linked above was intended for the second issue of Zack’s ‘zine Meat Nog…the first issue of which was published under the Full Frontal Harvey banner. And, as the Official Keeper of All Things Full Frontal Harvey-ish, and probably the only person on the planet with a complete set of everything we did, I thought I’d present the cover of the first issue of Meat Nog right here:

At this late date I can’t remember if that was Zack standing in the toilet on that cover, or some other poor sap who let himself get talked into it. Anyway, in the intro to the Clowes interview, Zack describes Meat Nog as “crummy,” which is being awfully hard on it. It’s probably one of my favorite things we put out, filled with funny cartoons and entertaining music reviews, and I’ll slip it out of the Archives once in a while and poke through a random page. Zack’s one of the funniest and most talented people I’ve ever met, and I’m always glad to know he’s still out there being the Zackiest Zack he can be. (And be sure to check out the documentary Best Worst Movie for more hot Zack action.)

• • • • • •

The most recent Question Time isn’t over, as I had a few straggling questions/comments from the Answer Time posts (1 2 3 4 5 6) that I wanted to address:

Colin McMahon adds to tonight’s show with

“Quick note, the DC Harley polybagged variants are all the same ratio. A color, black & white and a pencil sketch version of the cover. The quality of the artists on them will certainly help.”

Ah, yes, thanks for the correction. I was going off my initial annoyed reading of this particular gimmick from a while back, and didn’t double-check my facts. At any rate, it’s still a variant cover, you don’t know which one, which is sealed inside an opaque polybag. It shouldn’t be any pricier than the standard cover, and I’m just beginning to figure out my orders for them now, and urgh.

• • •

MRPRSE wnts t knw

“Yay! I love question time. I know I’m too late for this round but it might make good fuel for a full post: I’d like to see Mike’s Guide to Comic Storage with all your tips and recommendations such as using low-tack labels to seal comic bags rather than scotch tape.”

NEVER TOO LATE FOR QUESTION TIME except for right now when I’m done for the time being after today. Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot of tips, beyond 1) don’t use your comics for coasters, 2) keep ’em cool and dry and away from peeing cats, 3) for the love of all that is good and holy, if you’re going to seal your comic bags use removable labels like these, not tape…don’t ask, just do it.

• • •

Andrew Davison ties it up with

“What happened to that giant Groot cut-out you had when the store opened? What interesting decor do you have now?”

Groot and Rocket are still in the window, but I have some replacements coming soon. In the meantime, for the Halloween holiday, they’re sharing space with a friend:

I also have a few Halloween decorations in the shop, like a glitter-covered skull topped by a giant purple spider sitting next to my register. …Probably should have taken a photo of that for this post. Ah, well, I’ve a couple of weeks to go ’til the Big Day! I can post a picture of it by then.

• • •

Thanks for all the questions, everybody…had a nice turnout this time ’round and I hope, just maybe, everyone learned a little something. Learning something like “Mike sure likes to run off at the mouth,” but let’s face it, most of you knew that already.

Again, thanks a lot, and I’ll see you on Monday.

I swear to God, this is something that actually happened.

§ April 16th, 2014 § Filed under wood eye § 3 Comments

I posted a few scans from my mini-comics works on the Twitters the other night, some of which I’ve probably featured on this site at one time or another and I will eventually track down and link to with my new “wood eye” category. (Wood-Eye being, of course, the name of the anthology comic most of my mini-comics appeared in.)

After doing Wood-Eye for a few years, in 1998 I put together a solo book reprinting my strips from that anthology along with new strips. That book was called Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, which is where this website got its name. (You can read more about my mini-comic days, and see a wee tiny scan of the cover for that book, in my very first anniversary post.)

Anyway, one of those new strips was the following, which isn’t so much based on a true story as an exact transcription, and I don’t think I’ve posted it online before, but if so, here it is again:

I was between finals, walking from one building to another on the UC Santa Barbara campus, when that fella came up and said that very thing to me. I had about 40 cents in my pocket, which I handed over to him because you know, what the heck, and now, a couple of decades later, I’m posting a comic strip I drew about it on my website. 40 CENTS WELL SPENT, SEZ I.

Kinda wish I still had that little “Evils of Money” pamphlet. Wonder what happened to it?

A tale of tragedy and woe.

§ August 9th, 2008 § Filed under wood eye Comments Off on A tale of tragedy and woe.

Another bizarrely disturbing strip by me, from the print edition of Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, 1998:


1. I drew the first page, set it aside for a couple of years, then drew the second page so that I could have the finished story in my Progressive Ruin comics digest.

2. I found that math equation on the internet somewhere. I guess that’s sufficiently complex for the purposes of the strip.

3. I don’t know what the ultimate purpose of this strip is, beyond “sometimes people suck.” Or maybe “animals that can do higher math always get the shaft.” Something like that. Make up your own moral.

4. That poor snake. I remember drawing that deathgrip Tommy has the snake in, in that second panel, and thinking “this is both funny and remarkably pathetic.” Also, Tommy’s a little tall in that second panel. Maybe he’s standing on a crate or a bale of hay or something. He is at a fair.

5. My friends worry about me, sometimes.

Yes, this is where those "Things Not to Say…" posts in the sidebar came from.

§ August 8th, 2008 § Filed under wood eye § 1 Comment

[EDIT: Ignore the “sidebar” comment in the title, there…those links vanished when I revamped the site a few years ago. You can find them here: 1 2 3.]

Straight outta 1996, it’s a mini-comic by me! Please pardon the lettering:


1. Isn’t that a nice paper color? “Salmon” brings out the art, don’t you think?

2. Yes, the name of our mini-comics publishing concern was “Full Frontal Harvey,” named after an overheard comment by some MTV host or ‘nother about Harvey Keitel’s performance in Bad Lieutenant.

3. I have heard every one of these.

4. The “I’m very disappointed” lady was looking for an issue of Stray Toasters we didn’t happen to have at the time, and I can still hear the particular tone of voice she used when she said that, and it still grates. ARGH.

5. Seriously, I don’t know what’s up with what I was putting on the shirts. Except for the “Democracy” t-shirt, which was the name of pal Cully’s punk band.

6. My favorite panel in this comic is the “do you sell comics” one…I swear to God, that’s where the kid was standing when he asked me that. Also: Swamp Thing cameo!

7. None of the people in these drawings are meant to look like any specific customer…except the “I’m very disappointed” lady, who looked pretty much just like that. GAH, that was annoying.

8. The “how much is this comic” panel shared the page with the copyright information, and where to mail your buck and a half for the latest issue of Wood-Eye…and featured my worst lettering ever, so I’m sparing you the horror.

In which Mike is briefly cheered by the thought of a dead dog.

§ July 30th, 2008 § Filed under wood eye Comments Off on In which Mike is briefly cheered by the thought of a dead dog.

So here are a couple of covers I assembled for our local small-press comics anthology digest Wood-Eye, from back in my mini-comics days:

That first one is Wood-Eye #11 from July 1997, and if you’re familiar with pulp magazines or Golden Age comics, you’ve seen this terrible, terrible ad I used to create this cover. As I recall, we had a collection of old, beat-up comics and pulps come in, and just running around loose in the box was a torn-off back cover for a pulp magazine featuring this ad. I couldn’t match it up with any of the pulps in the box, so I ended up just keeping it.

Now, had it been ten years later, I would have scanned the thing and threw it up on the site, here (though I know, without even checking, that ad is somewhere on the internet). But, hey, we were in the midst of our mini-comics-producing mania, and I thought “hmmm, bet I could make a good Wood-Eye cover out of that.” Well, some would say I lost that bet, but that cover still amuses me. And by “amuses,” I mean “depresses me immensely when I look in that poor dog’s eye, as it pleads with me to give it a home,” and then I remember the dog they used for that ad has been dead for decades, and that makes me feel a little better…until I realize what I just thought and fall into depression again.

Okay, moving on….

That’s my pop! Wood-Eye #12, the last in the series, came out in July 1998…wow, a year between issues…I’m almost Frank Miller-esque in my timeliness. Still a better record than Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine, however. Anyway, for that cover I used a photo of my dad from his teenage years, taken from a 1961 newspaper clipping. I think it was from a model-making competition or club my dad participated in at a local sporting goods store, and not from a police report, so I better not see any cracks like that in my comments section.

So, yeah, ten years since the last issue of Wood-Eye. That’s a very oddly specific way of making one feel old. I occasionally think about doing another issue, but…well, we’ll see. As a publisher, I make a good comic shop manager, but doing the comic was fun, if a bit of a time sink and not exactly a money-maker. But there is an undeniable bit of satisfaction in having the final printed product in your hands, even on this exceedingly low level of the publishing scale.

"I — I can’t drink beer fast enough!"

§ August 18th, 2007 § Filed under wood eye § 1 Comment

I spent my Friday at the shop rearranging the toy shelves in the front as well as the shelves of stored toys in the back…cleaning, restocking, shaking my head sadly over the Wetworks action figures.

Anyway, I was pushing a box back onto a shelf, when I noticed it was bumping into something, not allowing me to push it back all the way. I pulled that box out, looked to see what was impeding progress…and found a small cardboard box containing a few mini-comics. Specifically, it contained Wood-Eye #10 and Skulldog Comics #1, both from 1996, published by Full-Frontal Harvey.

I’ve mentioned Full-Frontal Harvey once or twice on this here weblog, but for the folks who don’t remember: FFH was a local mini-comics publishing concern founded by former coworker Rob, centered around the anthology title Wood-Eye (which ran twelve issues). In its four or five year lifespan, about 35 comics under the FFH banner were released, a list of which you can see at this archive of my old website. Featured cartoonists included Rob, of course, as well as myself, Fred Noland, and pal Cully, who was the creator of Skulldog Comics. In fact, Skulldog Comics may be one of my favorite publications from FFH, particularly because of Cully’s fantastic (har har) cover:

That’s Cully’s mighty head busting through the ground. And yes, I’m the one on fire. And that’s a deadly accurate rendition of Fred in the lower left.

The cover for Wood-Eye #10 was, sadly, less impressive…I think Rob and I drew it in about three minutes, and it showed. But the corner box still cracks me up…the box in the original drawing was only about an inch and half tall, and Rob, for whatever reason, drew in a crookedly off-center Eiffel Tower. To fill the empty space, I drew a monster:

We should have just blown that up to full-cover size and used it for the main image. Ah, well.

Actually, looking through my Wood-Eyes and the old site makes me kind of miss those mini-comics days. Maybe a Wood-Eye #13 is in order….

« Older Entries