Nov 28, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 6

The mayor of the nearest town called. He asked them to attend a banquet in their honor, and accept the key to the city. Bernhard and Lena chuckled gleefully and speculated about how much money they could get for the phony fossil, if all this interest kept up. Maybe they would even become celebrities, and get to attend Hollywood galas.
They went to the banquet that night, but behaved scandalously. They whispered about the food, as well as the ladies who prepared it, always making sure to be overheard. They scoffed at the quality of the key they were given. Bernhard made a rude gesture with it that sent a gasp through the audience. It was quite a fantastic evening they later agreed, chuckling nastily as usual.

A big-city museum in the east phoned them up. They wanted to discuss buying the specimen. Bernhard accepted their offer of a Pullman sleeping car, as well as a box-car for the bone heap, to take them to the shining metropolis.
"Hi-ho. Hi-ho. We're off to make some dough," said Bernhard.
They had to admit that the accomodations were pretty good. The porters were jolly, yet obligingly servile. Lena ordered Eggs Benedict and it was just the way she liked it (nasty.)

Museum factotums met them at the station with a flat-bed truck for the giant knick-knack. Bernhard and Lena rode behind in a Rolls Royce. They waved to the gawking onlookers, while insulting them beneath their breath.
At one point they asked the chauffeur to stop at a convenience store for cigarettes. Lena was going to lift them out of sheer habit, but the clerk presented a whole carton for free. He shook their hands enthusiastically and congratulated them on their great achievement. Bernhard and Lena snickered.

The factotums unloaded the arts & crafts project into a basement workshop beneath the Museum. Bernhard poked around among some old bones while he and Lena waited.
He knocked his cigarette ash into the brain bin of some ancient creature.
"Looks like plaster to me," said Bernhard.
"Right," said Lena. "A 'reconstruction.' "
"I can't wait to meet these guys," said Bernhard. "They're top cons in my book."
"Mine, too," said Lena. "Real pros, to get away with all this bunk."

The scientists filed down the stairs very sedately. They wore clinical white lab-coats and carried clipboards. Except for one, who wore a pith helmet and bounded down the stairs.
Pith Helmet greeted them with a huge smile and shook their hands profusely.
"Mr. Bernhard! Ms. Lena! De-lighted to finally meet you! This breakthrough of yours is going to revo-lut-ionize the field!"
"Just doing our part," said Bernhard. "Say, any idea how much these things go for nowadays?"
"Oh... er... well..." said Pith Helmet. "We'll have to examine her first... See what kind of condition she's in, you understand... But I should say, oh, $1,000,000 would not be out of the question."
Bernhard and Lena exchanged a quick lizard-like dart of the eyes. They both puffed rapidly on their cigarettes, lost in visions of themselves as $1,000,000-aires.

One of the lab-coated scientists tapped Pith Helmet on the shoulder. He excused himself and went to confer with the group. They were huddled in a circle, mumbling softly.
Bernhard and Lena tried to hear, but they could only make out snatches of the conversation:
"Mumble, mumble... outright fraud... mumble, mumble... phony as a three-dollar bill... mumble, mumble... two-bit cons..."
The blood drained from both their faces. Bernhard flicked his cigarette into the fanged grin of a T-Rex skull.
"Run," he said.
They began huffing their way up the stairs. The exit was blocked, however, by the burly factotums.

"Mr. Bernhard, Ms. Lena," said Pith Helmet, who was standing below them with his arms crossed. "I'm completely dis-enchanted. Anyway, what made you think you could kid a kidder?"
"Uh... Just wanted in the club, I guess," said Bernhard.
"Thought there might be some professional courtesy," said Lena.
Pith Helmet flashed a fanged, lizard-like smile of his own.
"No courtesy among predators, I'm afraid," he said. "The police are on their way... to pick over your carcasses."

Bernhard and Lena were handcuffed and taken to the station for booking.
"They're all fake, you know," said Bernhard to the arresting officers. "You should charge them with 10 times whatever you charge us with."
"Sir, I don't know what's real and what's fake," said the cop. "That's not my job. I just book who I'm told."
"Look at this jail," said Lena as the officer walked off to grab some forms. "It'll be a cinch to bust outta here."
They recognized the mugshot photographer. It was the lady who photographed their bone assemblage.
"I just do this part-time," she told them. "When I get off here, it's back to the Badlands for me."

They made the front page again...

Nov 23, 2016

Finished "The Dinosaur Fakers" --- Available on Amazon, etc.

There's still one more segment or so to post to the blog, but this picture book is available to buy in print form via CreateSpace:

Also on Amazon:

Although I get more money if you buy on CreateSpace... Amazon gives very small royalties I have learned... 89 cents for a $7.99 comic, for example. And all of this assumes you sell $100 of the stuff in the first place, or they won't even cut you a check. So, that's how that works.

But at least you end up with a print copy... Much nicer than trying to read on screen..

Another thing I have learned, incidentally, is that CreateSpace has a $199 setup fee for hardcover books. So, my dream of printing this in hardcover, like one of those nutty little Edward Gorey books, is out the window.

There are other print-on-demand places that do hardcovers as one-offs (like, but they are limited to standard size books. This thing is an oddball landscape format.

Nov 19, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 5

"Why, uh, no, in fact," said Bernhard, sweating nervously.
"Oh, don't ye worry now---I helped plenty o' them dino fakers over the years... Lemme see now... I've some claws and 'orns might be good... An' ye're gonna be wantin' a skull, o' course... Old fish skulls kin be good, jes be sure ye mix 'em up nice..."
"But I tell you," said Bernhard, "we're not.. er.."
"Sure... sure... Ye can trust old Cap'n J. Bob Barnacle ye know... Yer secret's safe w' the cap'n... I'll go down to me watery grave widout whisperin' a word."
"Sure... sure..." said Bernhard. "The bones, please."
"Aye... Now ye're not like them college boys, any fool kin see that... But the Cap'n, 'e don' discriminate. A dino faker's a dino faker in 'is log book!"
"Wonderful," said Bernhard, as a glass snake eye rolled across the wooden floor.

"I can't imagine how we fit all those bones in that little car," said Bernhard when they got back to the motel. They were sitting out by the empty pool, in a stingy patch of shade from some pool furniture. Bones were spread out everywhere, waiting to be formed into some ancient chimera.
"Well, the Cap'n has a way with knots," said Lena. "He would be handy to have when packing for long car trips."
"Or other occasions where tie-downs are required," said Bernhard, with a thin, lizard-like grin. They both chuckled nastily and puffed their cigarettes.
"Well," said Bernhard, who was briefly plunged into shadow by a passing cloud, "shall it be a theropod or a sauropod? I don't know that we ought to stray too far from what the 'big boys' do..."
"Thera-whozit?" said Lena. "Let's just fuck with them on numerology and stuff."
"Oh god, they're so big on the numerology," said Bernhard. "I'm with you on that."

Eventually, inspiration struck. They went through much wire, and many tubes of Killian's Super Bond-O extra strength super glue. When they were done, Bernhard used the front desk phone to call the nearest gazette.
"Hello, Badlands Gazette," said the voice on the phone. "Who is speaking, please?"
"This is Bernhard," said Bernhard. "I want to report a new species of dinosauria... That's right, me and the missus have just come across an old fossil... And I don't mean me! Ha-ha..."
"Now listen here, Mister," Bernhard continued, "This is the biggest scoop you've had all year... Maybe all decade... I'd send your top man out right away, see?"
Bernhard hung up the phone. He and Lena looked at the clerk.
"Are you finding everything to be satisfactory?" said the clerk.

Bernhard and Lena were sitting outside by the empty pool when a lady reporter arrived by bicycle.
"It's about time," said Bernhard. "What took you so long?"
"Yeah," said Lena, exhaling a cloud of smoke at the lady reporter.
"I have another job," said the lady reporter. "I can only do this part-time."
"Sounds like a real dinky operation," said Bernhard.
"Strictly two-bit I'd say," said Lena.
"Is this the fossil?" said the lady reporter, gesturing with her pen at the giant bone conglomeration.
"No," said Bernhard, "I'm the fossil; that's our dog, Fido."
The lady reporter opened her notepad and asked them to describe the find.
"It was nothing, really," said Bernhard. "Any boob would've recognized the 5th meta-tarsal protruding from the cliff-face like that."
"Yes," Lena agreed. "It was so obvious. Even a louse-ridden child would've done the same."

"It does take skill," added Bernhard, "to release the fossil from its matrix. But nothing your average nincompoop can't do with a little practice."
"Thank you," said the lady reporter after a few more questions. She put away her notebook and retrieved a large-format Hasselbad from her bike basket. Bernhard and Lena puffed their cigarettes and stood by as she struggled with the sensitive equipment.
A loud pop accompanied the flashbulb, and that was that:  the story was immediately picked up by the wire service and went nationwide. It was on the front page of every newspaper the following morning. The desk clerk had to keep buzzing them to take calls from reporters, curiosity-seekers, and even the governor of Utah (he wanted them to come find a fossil in his state.)

Nov 13, 2016

"The Dinosaur Fakers" - 4

"Yes," said Bernhard. "But let's not mix the Kingdom of Heaven up in this; might jinx our hunt for dino bones. (Not that they really exist.)"
Bernhard was new to the use of explosives. He was laying the charge based on "feel."
"I'd say that's about yea-right, wouldn't you?"
"How the hell should I know," said Lena.
Bernhard knelt down and lit the fuse with his cigarette.
"Run," said Bernhard.
They ran a good ways from the charge and knelt behind a boulder.
"Oh and plug your ears," said Bernhard. 

 The cliff exploded in a massive cloud of dust and debris. For several minutes a silty mix of pulverized stone and ash rained down on the two miscreants.
"On the plus side---" Bernhard began, but a long coughing fit cut him off.
"WHAT?" said Lena, who could barely hear from the ringing in her ears.
"On the plus side, it sort of blocks the sun. You know, the dense clouds of debris," said Bernhard.
"SO," said Lena, "WHERE ARE THE BONES?"
Bernhard was poking the debris around idly with one foot. An unlit cigarette dangled from his mouth.

Bernhard rushed over to see.
"What?" he said. "I don't see anything."
"No, look," said Lena, whose ears were settling down. "It's like one o' them... Whaddaya call 'em... vertobras or somet'in... You know, back bones, spinal thingies."
"Hm," said Bernhard. "You must have a good eye. Looks like a plain old rock to me."
"No, no," said Lena, puffing on her cigarette with the serene air of the great discoverer she was. "Definitely some sort of back doohickey."
"Well," said Bernhard, yawning, "I don't see anything else. Guess we can call it a day. The rest we can---you know---fake."
"Right," said Lena, expelling a big puff of smoke into the waning daylight. "We'll fake the rest."

With some difficulty, they lugged the stone into their seedy motel room and placed it on the dresser. It looked like a pagan idol of some sort. They lay on separate twin beds, looking at it, chain-smoking, exhausted.
Bernhard casually glanced in Lena's direction.
"No," said Lena. "Forget it. Not tonight."
Bernhard sighed and went into the bathroom.
"Heh-heh," chuckled Lena nastily.
The next morning though found Bernhard whistling as he groomed his oily, pencil-thin moustache. He was wondering, as he often did, if he should let the ends grow out so he could twirl it villainously. The chief consideration against this plan was that his line of work mitigated against being too showy.
Lena was in a good mood too. She was still lying in bed, smoking as always---but very contentedly.
"Forget about your moustache and work out this scam of ours," she said, reading his mind. "That's what you're so good at."
"You're good at something, too," said Bernhard.
"Heh-heh," chuckled Lena nastily, again.

"There's no time like now," said the grizzled and salty old sea captain behind the counter. Bernhard and Lena were standing in his taxidermy shop, a converted old schooner.
"How's that again," said Bernhard.
"To buy a stuffed beaver. Or pick-your-rodent. No time like the present."
"We were actually thinking more along the line of some old bones," said Bernhard.
"Anything in particular?" said the sea captain.
"Oh, a little of this, a little of that," said Bernhard. "Sort of a mixed bag would be nice."
"Dino fakers, ain't ye now?" said the sea captain with a knowing twinkle in his one good eye.
Lena dropped a jar of glass eyeballs.

Nov 5, 2016

"The Dinosaur Fakers" - 3

"And how," said Lena, twirling her tea around with a spoon, "do you propose to get us in that club?"
"We'll hot-wire an auto," replied Bernhard, "and drive to the Badlands of Montana. There probably are some sort of old bones out there. The rest we can fake."
"It can't hurt to try," said Lena, who found her role as lookout to be too much like a real job.
They left the cafe and surveyed the street.
"There's one," said Bernhard. "You jimmy the trunk and see if there's any motoring gear. I'll work on the ignition wires."

The street was dead quiet, nobody around. Everything went smoothly and soon they were on the road.
"I've never been to the Badlands," said Bernhard. "See if you can lift a map at the next fuel stop."
"Right-o," said Lena, as she shielded her Zippo flame from the rush of air.

Several days later, after nights spent in disgusting flea-bag motels, they arrived at the Badlands.
"The name suits it, I think," said Bernhard, who was sweating profusely in the hot sun. They had acquired picks and chisels at a hardware store in Duluth.
"This seems exactly like work," said Lena. "And what's the idea, anyway? Ya just start diggin' and up comes an ichthyosaurus?"
"No," said Bernhard. "The idea is to look about sharply... To peruse the rocks and cliff-faces intently... in hopes that some unusual conformation may indicate the presence of fossilized bone."
"Well listen to the big dummy," said Lena. "Sounds good on paper, but I'd like to see ya spot a stegy stickin' outta some old stone, just like that."
"Nice alliteration," said Bernhard. "But I see one now, in fact. Or, if not a 'stegy,' then some ancient creature's bony rump."
Lena followed Bernhard's gaze.
"I got nothin'," said Lena. "Looks like plain old gray stone to me."
"Then stand aside, wench," said Bernhard, "as I reveal what is surely a magnificent new contribution to human understanding."

Bernhard laid into the cliff-face.
"Ungh!" he grunted. Sweat was dripping off of him in rivers now. His clothes were drenched. The pick-axe made little, if any, impact on the stone.
Lena chuckled nastily. If she had had a thin villainous moustache she might have stroked it; in lieu of that she took leisurely drags on her cigarette.
"Behold... wench..." said Bernhard, summoning his strength for another blow.
"Ungh! Ungh! Ungh!" he grunted, striking the implacable stone repeatedly.
"Heh-heh," Lena chuckled.

Exhausted, Bernhard tried to huddle against the stone in a thin sliver of shade, but the sun was almost directly overhead.
"This isn't working," said Bernhard.
"No," said Lena. "Just as I told you. I suppose it's back to the daily grind for us."
"There is one thing we could try first," said Bernhard.
Lena waited.
"Dynamite," said Bernhard. "I picked up some dynamite too at that hardware store. See can you get it out of the trunk. And don't jostle it too much: I'm not sure how sensitive it is."
"See can you get your own damn dynamite out of the trunk," said Lena, tossing her cigarette on the ground. But she went anyway.
"Say," Lena said, "there's enough sticks in here to blow the whole valley to Kingdom Come and back."

Oct 29, 2016

"The Dinosaur Fakers" - 2

"Worse than that, even," said Bernhard, tilting his head in the direction of the outraged mother. She was talking to a museum docent, and pointing at Bernhard and Lena. "Looks like we're going to get a stern talking to."
The docent was coming towards them now, a broad phony smile on her face.
"Hel-lohhh, there," she said in a fake sing-songy way that annoyed Bernhard and Lena. Both thought about blowing smoke in the docent's face, but managed to restrain themselves.
"We want everyone to enjoy the exhibit," said the docent. "It sounded like you might have some, er, questions that I could help you with...?"

"Yeah," said Bernhard. "I got a question: Who comes up with this malarkey?"
"B-but, sir!" the docent stuttered, recoiling a bit. "Don't you understand? This is science! We are simply presenting... the results... of the, er, top men in the field of paleontology."
Bernhard chuckled his nastiest chuckle and took a leisurely drag on his cigarette. It was pleasant watching this lady stooge flounder a bit. The small audience of bystanders forming around them made it even more delicious.
The docent was beginning to find the silence unbearable.
"Why, uh... like Barnum Brown, for instance," she went on. "Or 'Mr. Bones' as he is known affectionately. He is one of our very top men. It was his good fortune to discover the T. Rex, you know."
"That the one with the little stub arms?" said Bernhard. "Not very convincing. I like that name though: 'Barnum.' Kind of gives the game away right there now, don't it?"

"'Game'?" said the docent. "What 'game'?"
"Like the showman," said Bernhard. "Good ol' P.T. ... Purveyor of bunk... blarney... and bogosity."
"Sir, I really do not think you are expert enough to determine---" the docent said, searching for some conclusive way to end the conversation.
"I happen to know that your 'Barnum Brown' (and his bogus name) is an intelligence asset," said Bernhard. (In fact Bernhard was bluffing: he only guessed that Brown might be an asset.) "That being the case, how do I know all these 'fossils' aren't just casts taken from various ordinary creatures, perhaps with a horn or claws added here and there in Sculpey?"
A great number of children were crying now. Lena chuckled nastily and took a drag. It would almost be worth getting busted by that plain-clothes dick, if it meant getting to see this show.

"Plus the weight distribution," said Bernhard. "Most of these things would have had some serious lower back issues."
"Perhaps that's why they went extinct!" said the docent triumphantly.
"The only stink is the stench of your lies and misinformation," said Bernhard.
The docent gasped. Bernhard and Lena chuckled as she turned away from them with a look of pert resignation.
"Children," she said, "I want you to shield your ears from all this nonsense. There will always be those who spew hate-filled ignorance. We must learn to separate out the good, reliable sources from the bad and untrustworthy ones."
The crowd began drifting away. Bernhard caught a glare from one of the mothers though.
"What?" he said. "We're doing it a favor. It needs to know the truth."

Bernhard and Lena left the Museum and walked to a cafe. They used their ill-gotten gains to buy Reuben sandwiches and Earl Grey tea.
"Say," said Bernhard, as they sat sipping tea. "An idea has occurred to me."
"Yeah? Whaddaya got? Ya big dummy," said Lena.
"This line of work we're in is strictly small-time. I want a big score. Something that will set us up for a long while. Maybe even give us status, prestige."
"That docent was right about you after all," said Lena. "You're a spewer of bilge-water and nonsense."
"I never even had a bilge," said Bernhard. "Anyway, my point is this: I want in on the Dino Racket."

Oct 19, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 1

Starting a new project here...
This is planned to be a picture book when it's finished, probably printed through CreateSpace or some other print on demand place.
But until then, I will just serialize it here...

* * * * *

Bernhard was standing around on a busy corner, looking for easy marks. His common law wife Lena was keeping an eye out for the fuzz.
A man came out of a shop. He was a prosperous-looking man in a gray suit. He began walking down the sidewalk, in the general direction of the mustachioed con.
"Excuse me," said Bernhard, as he gave the man a good jarring and lifted his wallet.
"Mind where you're going," said the man, without pausing.
"Heh-heh," Bernhard chuckled to himself. It gave him an extra frisson of pleasure when the marks were nasty.
Lena whistled. That was the signal to close up shop and skedaddle.

"What's up," said Bernhard, when they met around the block at a pre-determined spot.
"Plain-clothes dick," said Lena. "Don't look now, but he's coming towards us."
"Shit," said Bernhard. "Do you think he knows, or he's just suspicious?"
"What difference does it make, dummy," said Lena. She reached toward her purse to grab a cigarette pack, but Bernhard caught her wrist in his hand.
"Wait," said Bernhard. "Let's slip in here."
The Museum was having a big dinosaur exhibit. Crowds of people were thronging in and out. It looked like a perfect place to disappear and try to shake this plain-clothes dick.

Bernhard and Lena both chuckled nastily when they got inside and saw how jam-packed the place was. "That plain-clothes dick will never find us in this mob of imbeciles," they were thinking.
Lena lighted up, and offered one to Bernhard.
"Thanks," said Bernhard, letting her light his as well. He took a long drag and relaxed a bit. They had had a decent morning. Not spectacular, but they would live to fight again. Then he paused by one of the exhibits. He began to chuckle.
"What?" said Lena. "What's so funny?"
"Don't you see?" said Bernhard. "This skeleton! Or fossil, or whatever it's called. It's pure balderdash."
"Good word," said Lena. "So you're not buying it?"
"It's bunk, if you prefer," said Bernhard. "Take it from an old bunko artist."

"Mommy, Mommy!" said a snot-nosed little boy standing nearby. "That man said dinosaurs are bunk!"
"How dare you," said the boy's mother, glaring at Bernhard.
"But just look at its neck," said Bernhard. "Sure. 'Eighty-eight feet' long. I'm buying that. And did you catch the numerology there?"
"Numerology?" said the woman. "Come, Taylor. We do not associate with madmen."
"They're having you on," said Bernhard to the lady's back.
"Waah!" said the little boy as he was led off.

"And that teeny-tiny head," Bernhard went on. He was chuckling with something almost like admiration at the audacity of the con. "Pumping foliage down that long pipe-line all the live-long day. Heh-heh. Pump! Pump! Pump! Gotta keep that 77-ton torso fueled up! Sure..."
"It does seem a bit fishy," Lena agreed.
"Fishy?" said Bernhard, gesticulating wildly. "It stinks to high heaven! It's rotten as two-day old shrimp! It's phony as a three-dollar bill!"

"Stop gesticulating wildly," said Lena. "That plain-clothes dick might still be around."

Sep 30, 2016

"GoldBug" available on Amazon

"GoldBug: The Bug's Big Jungle Jam" (see recent posts below) is now available through Amazon as a printed copy for $7.99:


(Actually this link is to the CreateSpace store --- which gives me a higher royalty than Amazon itself. Go here to buy on Amazon itself.)

The proof copies (printed by Amazon's CreateSpace) look very good, I think--- they're on matte paper, instead of the annoying glossy paper most comics are printed on these days.

Sep 22, 2016

Interview with a Rogue Paleontologist

By: Tim Rocks

In addition to my cartooning duties, I sometimes venture into the perfervid swamps of journalism. Thus it was no surprise that when a local mid-level paleontologist decided to go rogue and dish some dirt on the whole bone racket, that he should turn to me to help get the word out (I have a large readership; they're just very shy about commenting.)

I've agreed to protect his identity since there's a lot at stake, as you'll see if you read what he has to say---and he's understandably concerned that his turn as a paleo "Deep Throat" could bring retribution from those invested in the status quo Dino Paradigm. "Professor Patella" will be his moniker then---lest he end up a fossil himself!

* * * * *

Me: So lemme get this straight---you don't really believe in all this dino hoo-ha, do you?

Professor Patella: [He sighs. Takes puff of cigarette.] No. No I don't.

Me: The readers can't see your face obviously, since we've lighted you in silhouette---but I've seen it and, frankly, it's got more wrinkles than an elephant's trunk (or brachiosaur's tail, if you prefer.) Is that because you're very wise, or is it the stress of this Big Lie?

PP: The latter.

Me: So tell me about that---how'd you get involved in this big scam?

PP: [Sighs.] It all started when I was a kid, of course. That's usually how it starts. The Paleo-Industrial-Complex hooks you right in with a gut-level emotional appeal. Before you've developed any proper distinction between 

Sep 8, 2016

Front and back cover design, Interior cover

I'm trying to get this comic set up for CreateSpace, becoming a "graphic designer" for a day...

I was really excited about the interior cover design (3rd image below), which would span front and back inside covers; however, it looks like CreateSpace might just force you to leave the interior covers blank. So far I don't see any option for uploading that image.

Also, they have a 40 mb limit on the cover image, and 600dpi watercolor scans just blow through that...