The CPO training continues, and Kurt is trying to explain the reason for Thomas having car sickness. Thomas, however, is clueless. This is the obvious reason why Kurt is sitting on the other side of the bus.
This particular strip has quotes from two books that captured my interest during my high school years, and in many ways, compelled me to write humor based on philosophy. The first quote comes from the “Inferno” in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, which Thomas has been reading since the beginning of this story. The second quote comes from Blaise Pascal’s “Pensees,”which translates in English as “Thoughts.” One might say the takeaway from this is how we acquire so many truths from experience, and yet we don’t seem to change. Dante writes about how the wise view the loss of time in the 14th Century and Blaise Pascal in the 17th century writes about the vanity of youth. And here I am writing words through Kurt’s thought balloon that jokingly jab, but also tie the two together. This comic proves two points about Kurt’s youthful existence: He is “very vain himself,” and also wise, in that he is annoyed about the loss of time. It also shows that even though he may be conflicted, he has some understanding of God. Interestingly enough, after writing this cartoon, I realized the quote from Pascal is from the section called, “The Misery of Man Without God.” How’s that for a philosopher comic?
Dry jokes never get old. My architecture instructor wanted me to draw this cartoon. It was an old military joke that always made his father laugh. I felt that my other cartoon series, “Ivan the Terrible”, which I do every now and then, was the best way to portray this joke. The neighborhood setting with the other kids sort of brings out that inner child. After all, my brother and I used to play military war games in our yard and I bet some of you did too.
When I presented the cartoon to my instructor, he said he was going to have it framed. Had I known he wanted to hang it, I would have put it on something better than copy paper. Yeah, I have a really bad habit of doing this. I told him I could put it on higher quality paper. ”You do that, and I’ll pay you for it,” he replied. So I am now officially working on a commission for my teacher. Is this a conflict of interest? It could be, so I’ll wait until finals are over to complete it. That way I can’t flunk if he really hates the final product! And I guess I’ll be finding more opportunities to do my cartooning while in school.
This comic is rolling out on Tapastic this week! It’s kind of sweet…. in a goofy way. Truth be told, I did wave my arms back and forth just like this because the sensor is up high and registers movement coming towards the door. If you stand still and try to push the door open, it won’t budge. Meanwhile, high school swimming is kicking in full gear right now at the pool and even though I’m not working as many hours, I still get plenty of comic material. Darn! I just can’t get a decent break!
School seems to be going pretty well or so I think. My instructor probably thinks I’m crazy, because I decided to put additional words in the callouts of my drawing assignments just to see if he would catch my mistake. The callout or description given was, “bolt welded to I-beam” but I wrote, “bolt welded to I-’Jim’ beam.” I know he found the extra word, because with an amused grin on his face, he asked another student if he was also going to pull the same stunt. The student just looked at him in a bewildered manner. This may very well be the reason why I was handed an additional drawing assignment to do on my own. This way, I would have less time to put silly quotations in the drawings. Did I mention that I am crazy?! Oh yes, I did. Anyway, I’m really enjoying my studies.
It is true that pumpkins float in the water. Because of this, the pool where I work has an event called the “Pumpkin Splash” every October with lots of little pumpkins floating in the water. However, putting anything else in the pool this season is probably a bad idea. We already have lots of high school swim teams coming in, so we barely have time to squeegee!
Bernard is one of the more innocent lifeguard characters among the staff of my fictional City Park Pool, or so it seems. If Thomas is set up to do something, Bernard is usually at the forefront of the scheme, while hiding behind a cartoon panel somewhere. Thomas probably didn’t realize that this was a setup, but he was quickly convinced after Ellen yelled at him for his brilliant idea. Or was that Bernard’s brilliant idea? We may never know.
Who draws the cartoonist’s cartoons?
Sometimes illogical experiences can throw Kurt off balance. It is true that when anyone (including a lifeguard) is swimming, there has to be a lifeguard present. In response to this bewildering rule, I began jotting down other professions that might have similar restraints.
It is entirely possible that I chose the wrong profession to be in. One problem with being a cartoonist is that you can’t rely on anyone to document something funny. You have to do that yourself. You have to create the gag as you see it in your mind.
Currently, there are some 50 gags jotted down in my green notebook in which there is very little time to put them on paper. And it isn’t going to get any better, because more ideas keep coming to me and I keep writing more gags on those pages.
So the time has come for me to revert to more drastic measures. Basically, it boils down to two solutions: I either need to cut school or work hours, or I just need to isolate myself from life so I don’t get any funny ideas. Do you know how hard it is to ask people not to be funny? Some will just burst out laughing. I must find a way to manage my time better. But seriously, could you please just stop being so funny?!
Suits and Guarders
Whenever lifeguards at work are given unwanted tasks by supervisors, the game of “nose goes” always seems the best way to solve it. If you are curiously asking yourself what a strainer basket is; it’s that thing that catches all the hair and lint. Protocol dictates that we clean it with gloves. But it’s difficult to manually pick the stuff out sometimes, so I just use my bare hands. After the chlorine has stripped it of all it’s germs, I figure it’s just as clean as touching one’s nose. I certainly hope no one is eating while reading this blog!
Ivan the Terrible
Here are a couple of “Ivan the Terrible” cartoons that I am posting mainly on Instagram. I created this comic prior to “Suits and Guarders” as an exercise to develop my drawing style. It has served me well in the long run, and is a great way for me to create a gag in very little time. (It appears that Ivan ran off with the "L" in the word Terrible. That little rascal is into everything.)
Don’t ever tell me a story….because it ends up in a cartoon.
Kids always have something to say. They will come up with answers to questions with a vocabulary they’ve scavenged, and scraped together and are trying out for the first time. And it’s impressive how accurate they can be compared to adults, often because we are afraid to tell the truth.
I’m usually not able to hear what kids discuss when they are in the water, mainly because they just scream at the top of their lungs and the echo at an indoor pool only distorts the sound. But it’s fun to envision what they might say, especially if it’s something philosophical or something so complex that you question if it really is a kid speaking. You know the kind of discussions where Calvin and Hobbes go for a long walk in the woods and you say to yourself, “Why would a six year old discuss a subject like free will?” You know it’s highly unlikely, but very possible and that makes it funnier because a six-year old said it!
The credit for the first cartoon goes to my aunt who was telling stories about kids that have said funny things when she was teaching. The other cartoon came from a lap swimmer who was in the locker room when it happened. You see, no story is safe with me. They all turn into cartoons eventually!
We are all creatures of habit. If we haven’t been taught to hear or acknowledge instruction, we will make mistakes. Kurt is making the argument that bad decisions should have consequences, but not every deed in this world will be punished. This cartoon was created from a story that really should have scared me away from lifeguarding, but because it was told from a humorous perspective, it convinced me that I could overcome stressful situations.
About 10 years ago, I overheard two guys discussing the trials they encountered while lifeguarding at an outdoor pool. These two were obviously best buds, but it was clear that they were trying to one-up the other, even if it meant a little bending of the truth. One of them started explaining to his friend about the pool deck having a slight dip where water would collect. Kids would run back and forth, time and time again not heeding his warning to walk on the pool deck. Eventually a kid slipped and began bleeding “everywhere” he said, exaggerating with big arms. Or so the story goes.
Don’t worry gentle reader: Apparently, the kid was able to walk away after a little first aid and ice. When this guy finished his story, I remember the words he exclaimed quite vividly,“I truly felt bad for the kid, but there was also a part of me, in the back of my mind, that said, ‘I tried to tell you!’ ” And now you see why I chose Kurt for the strip.
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Kurt and Liz are at it again, and it doesn’t seem that Kurt is giving up any time soon. I am amazed at how Liz hasn’t blown her top yet. Does she like to be picked on? We may never know.
I was hit with a guard tube once, and yes, they do hurt. No, It wasn’t a girl that hit me and it wasn’t even a reaction to something I said. A coworker and I were rough-housing between downtime because no one was in the pool. If you want to keep a guy out of trouble, just keep him occupied, even if that means going to the pool to swim during the slowest part of the day. You will be doing your town a great service just by doing this. When guys are bored out of our skulls, we will start entertaining ourselves with dumb games like throwing bricks at our heads, holding our breath or hitting each other with guard tubes.
Starting this week, I have eight cartoons about Thomas and Jonathan who are working on English projects for school. While we don’t know the scope of these projects, we do know what they are studying. We can imagine that Thomas is writing a paper and it appears Jonathan may be acting for his project. So for the next few weeks, you will be entertained by lifeguards quoting 14th and 16th century literature on the pool deck. I love some of the gags that I created for these strips. Several of them were inspired by my own study of Chaucer and Shakespeare. Enjoy!
Go to Tapastic
After taking three gap years to pursue my dream to be a cartoonist, I have built enough time, material, and knowledge to take the route towards education. Along with a couple of auto mechanic courses, architectural technology seemed the best possible solution towards being able to work with my hands and still get my pencil and paper fix. Before school, I was on average, working 25 to 30 hours per week, giving me plenty of time to cartoon and spend time with family. Now that studying is attached to my priorities, the ability to turn out comics won’t be as fast as before but the dedication to “Suits and Guarders” is still strong.
Even though I may feel like nothing is getting accomplished or that my progress with the cartoon is slow, it won’t be a total loss. In the end, I will be able to tell you what material your house is made of, whether it meets fire or structural safety codes AND if your car will pass inspection the next time it’s due….Can you imagine a cartoonist telling people how to follow rules? Did you ever think a cartoonist could be this clever?!
Ian Johnson was born with a crazy cartoon character perspective on the real world. “Suits and Guarders” is loosely based on his life as a lifeguard and swim instructor at a local pool. Any resemblance of characters in this work to persons, drawn or imagined, is purely coincidental.