Neutral

Like I allude to in this week’s Dustinland comic, it’s so funny watching every parent try to raise their kid gender neutral. I tried with mine. You know, no pink or blue. Dolls or trucks. That sort of thing. It’s a nice thought. The funny part comes when you realize it doesn’t seem to matter much. Kids just gravitate toward what they want, no matter what you do.

I have a friend with two boys. He’s a big time comic book nerd. His boys are following in his footsteps. They then had a girl. Not only did they try to raise her gender neutral, if anything, she was surrounded by action figures and super heroes, so it was basically the reverse. The result? Today she won’t leave the house without a princess dress.

My kid was the same way. I never told him what to like. He just went for trains, trucks, “shooters” and every other cliche boy thing. There’s just something in there, in their DNA that makes boys and girls like certain things. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t leave it up to them or that we shouldn’t fight against traditional gender stereotypes. That’s all good too. But future parents — be ready to not be too surprised.

Happiness

I could go on and on about the subject of this week’s Dustinland comic. After all, happiness, that’s a big issue. In some ways it’s THE issue. But I just spent an hour and a half on the subway due to signal problems, and then another 30 minutes on hold for customer support after I couldn’t sign into my server to up date the site. So now I’m grumpy! Oh the irony!

I do think there’s something to the eastern approach though. Simple pleasures. Low expectations. That’s the way to go. Then you are easily appeased, rarely disappointed and occasionally pleasantly surprised. Easier said than done of course. And that whole meditation thing, man that’s hard! And time consuming. It probably works but it’s hard to get around to it. And even 15 minutes of sitting in silence feels like 60 minutes, so it’s not something I look forward to. Probably just something to suck up and get over. I think it’s proven meditation is good for your health. Eh, I’ll put it on the new years resolution list, just like I did last year.

If I had the energy, I’d go into the whole first world problems, it’s all relative thing here, but I won’t because I don’t feel like it. Actually, ending this post now makes me happy, so there you go.

2 Live Cru

Not sure how popular this latest Dustinland comic will be, as it combines wine snobbery and late 80s rap, but hey, I enjoyed it.

Spoiler alert: Tawny ports are wines, made from red grapes, that are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. Grand cru is a regional wine classification that designates a vineyard known for its favorable reputation in producing wine. “Me So Horny” is a song by rap group 2 Live Crew on their album As Nasty As They Wanna Be. It reached No. 26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1989, despite/due to the explicit nature of its lyrics.

Color Therapy

Despite the feel of this week’s Dustinland comic, I love the whole adult coloring book thing that’s been super hot the last year or so. It’s like monks making those sand tapestries or whatever they’re called. Very eastern. Mindless meditative art is awesome. Hey, that’s one of the things I love about drawing comics. Yes, the first part of it is anything but mindless. But once it’s written and pencilled, the inking and coloring is relaxing. And mindless doodling, that’s even better. Just getting lost in your art… I love that more people are doing it, even if it’s “just” coloring.

But it is funny to see my wife using coloring books more than my kid.

A Meaty Resolution

I know no one really wants to be lectured by me about their eating habits, but sometimes I just have to drop the silly stuff for a week and hit on a more serious topic. Climate change weighs on me heavily, nearly all the time, and I’m always looking for ways to address the issue in my comic without being boring or preachy. Not sure if I achieved my goal with this week’s Dustinland comic, but I had to at least try.

I think meat is really something no one connects with global warming, even though it’s a huge issue. Even being climate change, there’s also all the pollution created by things like giant pig poop ponds, there’s the rainforest deforestation that occurs in order to make more grazing land for cattle — it goes on and on. And what really concerns me is that current diet fads are actually pushing people to eat more meat and less grains. Now, whether it’s better for you or not is not my concern. My concern is that we as a species cannot continue to eat so much meat — the planet simply can’t support it.

I know a big reaction to this will be “but I like meat, it’s so yummy, and I don’t care about the world enough to stop.” Or there will be people who really feel that way but don’t want to admit it to themselves so they’ll dig up some Fox News style “proof” that there’s no global warming or that even if there is, meat is actually good for the climate, and up is down, etc…  But hopefully there are a few reasonable concerned people who might not have realized just how bad meat is for the environment, and if even one person thinks again next time they’re about to order a burger, that’s a good thing.

Oh and one last point: At the end of the strip, I discuss how no one has to STOP eating meat completely. I bring this up not just to make it all feel more doable and less daunting, but also to prevent the usual black or white only comments that accompany the usual “we can’t do anything about climate change” arguments. You know, “oh, so why don’t you live in a teepee.” That sort of thing. The idea that we can either be cavemen or do nothing. It’s a ridiculous ploy I see over and over again, while in reality, we don’t have to completely alter our lifestyles and drop out of society. If each one of us would take even a few small steps, it would make a big difference. Maybe not the whole difference, but it would help a lot.

Parenthood New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year everyone! This final Dustinland comic of 2015 highlights what’s in store for all the parents of small children out there – and it’s not a late night of dining, dancing and drinking.

Enjoy and thanks for the support! See you all in 2016!

Your Side

I have a much deeper comic in mind regarding the subject of this week’s Dustinland strip, however, I have been reading this book about Bob Mankoff and New Yorker cartoons, and it has inspired this one-panel approach. Perhaps a bit darker and more graphic than what you’d find in The NYer but hey, you gotta have your own style.