Monday, March 28, 2016

And here’s why

© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

 When I started “Slipped” in 2008, I was still living in southwest Michigan, land of snow due to its proximity to Lake Michigan. I created the strip simply because I wanted to — using as inspiration the newspaper comic strips I enjoyed reading: the adventures strips of the 1930s and ’40s such as “Terry and the Pirates,” “Scorchy Smith,” “Wash Tubbs” and “Little Orphan Annie.” Ongoing tales in which one adventure dovetailed into the next that focused on a few main characters, and with other foes and allies coming and going and then reappearing possibly years later.
And I did it online because it was free.
I’ve moved a few times since then, but I’ve managed to keep the strip alive. I’m not claiming “Slipped” is great art — nowhere near the skill of Caniff or Sickles or Crane —  but for me it’s still fun.
At first I plotted out the stories some chapters in advance. But I learned the Scarlet Sparrow has her own ideas of what should happen next. So I don’t try to get too far ahead in the narrative. (To be accurate, Tyler Wilson is the daughter of the original Scarlet Sparrow, but she has taken his mask and gloves, so she, too, gets to carry that name, I guess.)
She’s also not terribly fond of other female characters hogging the spotlight for any excessive amount of time — that might be why Cartier Tour appears to exiting the main action. We’ll see if she stays gone for long. We — Tyler and me — might have need of her again.
So thank you for reading.
And please, take a look at the latest chapter. The Scarlet Sparrow is about to return to center stage …

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An update

Image & text © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016
OK, so here’s what has been going on thus far:
Cartier Tour (shown above) has had a business disagreement with her employer, Delacroix, who is some kind of demon and who also is, in some way, related to Dargelois, the Scarlet Sparrow’s mortal enemy (and who’s not been seen for some time — status and whereabouts unknown).
Delacroix has indicated Cartier is not human. It’s still to be explained what he meant by that.
Pip, who’s been looking for Tyler Wilson (the Scarlet Sparrow), has decided to take sides and has attacked Delacroix.
That’s given Cartier, moving with catlike grace (that’s a hint), the opportunity to take the wildebeest by surprise. We’ll see if she then repays Pip’s aid.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Sparrow is held captive by the Chancellor, who has somehow learned to control the genetic serum developed by the Unicorns (not real unicorns, they just wear decorative spikes on their headwear). He has grown even larger than when we last saw him, but hasn’t been driven mad — the usual outcome of the serum in such a large dose. (It makes the male Unicorns less than smart, shall we say.)
The Chancellor has taken Tyler to bear witness to the current state of his continued experiments.
All that in coming chapters of “Slipped.” Please take a look ….

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Joined in progress

Cartier Tour image © Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

 Have we talked about Rutu Modan’s “The Property”?
I picked up a copy at the Wexner Center in Columbus, between CXC events last October, and I admit I bought it entirely for its look.
The inside cover, in fact, is what sold me — a two-page spread of pinks, soft blues, grays and greens, an imaginary Sweden in summer.
And as I paged through the novel, I was taken with Modan’s spare but not sparing drawings of expressive people who don’t tell us, or each other, what they’re really thinking as they make their way around Warsaw. You have to track their faces and body language.
But the art is matched by a deeply embracing story: The protagonist, Mica, believes she is in Poland to help her grandmother reclaim property taken from their family during World War II. But her grandmother, prickly even in the best of circumstances, has other goals, which she never explains to Mica.
 In the end, the novel is about living with decisions, with a glimmer of hope salted in. Take a look.
Meanwhile, in chapter 370 of “Slipped,” Tyler Wilson — aka the Scarlet Sparrow — is in the literal clutches of the returned Chancellor, who last time we saw him had grown to gigantic size and was nearly mad, due to an injection of growth serum. But now he’s in control of his faculties and even larger. And he’s threatening to eat Tyler, with extreme malice.
Cartier Tour, on the other hand, is having her own confrontation with Delacroix, the quasi-demon, whom she claims owes her … something.
And then there’s Pip, who has shown up and appears about ready to take a hand — or, paw — in the action.
You can see what’s what by following this link.
And by the way, this month marks eight full years since I launched “Slipped” — two states and two or so jobs ago for me. So thank you for reading, even if you’ve joined the adventures of the Scarlet Sparrow and her friends in progress.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Unfolding mystery, with carrots

© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

 The sloths working at the DMV scene is not the only funny sequence in “Zootopia.” It’s an anthropomorphic version of the old Bob and Ray radio routine, but this certainly still is pretty great.
In fact, many scenes in the Disney cartoon are from other sources, from “The Godfather” to “Chinatown” to Elmer Fudd. Yet this stands on its own as a well-realized, charming movie — and this from someone who has very limited interest in animation.
Of course, “Zootopia” at its heart is an adventure story: A small, cute rabbit and a sly and possibly untrustworthy fox need to solve a mystery in the big city. Go see it. Go now.
Meanwhile, over in chapter 369 of “Slipped,” more of the mystery of why the Scarlet Sparrow was lured to Finland has been revealed. But we still don’t know what the Chancellor has been up to in his remote part of the world. Nor what part Cartier Tour and Delacroix have played — and what’s ahead for them.
Then you can go see “Zootopia.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The jaws of danger

© Michael Chevy Castranova 2016

I came across a collection of WillGould’s newspaper stripRed Barry,” about a deep-undercover cop, in the mid-1930s. It was created as King Features Syndicate’s response to “Dick Tracy,” and it’s just as violent and not very enlightened in terms of cultural relations.
But, boy, could Gould draw movement. No one is still, and every character appears ready to spring into action — even when they’re just standing there, threatening each other.
Oh, and there’s that snappy, breathless dialog: “He has great courage and I know he will not fail us!!” “We meet again, but I warn you, this time I will show you no mercy for your infernal meddling!!”
And this exchange:
“You’ve killed him!!”
“I did … and much too quickly!!”
Note the double exclamation marks!! Every time!!
In this week’s installment of “Slipped,” the Scarlet Sparrow is caught up in her own dire situation — one that couldn’t get more dangerous.