Monday, November 29, 2010

Search and Research #150

Whew! It's nice to finally get this up! My co-writer Jason and I wrote this whole story arc out back in April, but this final part of the story fell during the busiest time of my entire year...beginning of the fall semester at the college at which I work. That lasted about a month an a half, at which point I had penciled about half of this "super-sized" strip. I finally got myself together and finished penciling and inking this strip. Then I started getting other artwork commissions which demanded my free time, which left me sort of scrambling to do what coloring I could during my lunch break at work. There is so much work that goes into coloring that bits and pieces just doesn't really allow you to make much progress on the overall piece. Anyway...I'm finally done with this one, and it's my great pleasure to show it to you, not only because I think that it's one of the better jobs I've ever done drawing and coloring, but because it's the epic conclusion of the "Evil Copier Saga!!" The image above is sort of bigger than usual for the strip because I want you to have to opportunity to see the coloring details. Below, I'm posting a smaller resolution image in case the one above is really too big to comfortably view on your phone or whatever. Enjoy!

Smaller version:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Almost done!!!

I'm almost done coloring Strip #150!!! In celebration of this momentous event, I have a couple of preview images to tease and tantalize you:

I'm also going to repost all the strips that have led up to this strip, in case you want to review the story. I realize that 4 months is kind of a long time to try to keep a story in your memory. I'm planning on posting #150 on Monday. Until then, enjoy! Strips start below with #141 and move down the page in order.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing...Wai Fai

At one point 4 years ago or so I doodled a picture in a staff meeting of an asian lady with sort of a funky haircut who was carrying a samurai sword. I should pause and a say that ever since watching the first Highlander movie, samurai swords have been my favorite style of sword (although the super awesome sword Inigo Montoya wields in The Princess Bride is a close second!!) and samurai swords and people holding them have been a staple of my doodling for many years now. When I started drawing this strip, I remembered that doodle and thought that it would be super cool to have an "ITS-chick" who used a samurai sword as one of her tools. Thus Wai Fai (which I pronounce as Wi-Fi...get it?) was born. She first showed up in Strip #83 and had made frequent appearances ever since.

I initially designed her hair to sort of look like samurai swords, but after the first few times i drew her, i decided that hairstyle only really worked when viewed from the front...other angles were too hard to draw, so I've been sort of experimenting with other styles for her subsequent appearances. I think I've sort of settled on the style she has in the image below. Marc has been sort of enamored with Wai Fai since meeting her, and Wai Fai shows concern for Marc when he's in trouble, but neither of them seems to be willing to discuss their feelings.

Monday, November 15, 2010


SCOM is possibly my favorite character in this comic strip. He started out in strip #10 as a cantankerous Self Check Out Machine (which is where the abreviation SCOM comes from) who was a bit grumpy and had a penchant for destroying books, but he has become, in my opinion, the central character of the strip. Much like Opus in Bloom County, he was initially a background character who has evolved into a lovable, naive, interesting character through which we can explore the library with new eyes.

By the way, if you have never read Bloom County, please make every effort to do so. Sometimes the references to political and world events from the early 80s might be a little obscure these days, but the characters and art are great and the stories are funny and interesting. Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, is a cartoonist hero of mine, along with Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Bill Amend (Foxtrot).

Anyway, back to SCOM, we soon discovered that he could walk, that he'd been specially made by the CIA to work in the Library of Congress, and that he had a theft prevention system which included twin duel machine-guns and a missile. I sort of started thinking of him as a mix between R2-D2 and Mary Popopins' purse, in that he could contain almost any electronic device within him, and it would sort of be believable. Remember how Mary Poppins fit a whole coat rack into her purse? Remember how R2-D2 had, like, 576 different tools in the Star Wars movies? That's what I'm talking about. Here is a list of things we've seen SCOM equipped with:
- Legs
- Guns
- Missile
- Satellite Dish for missile tracking and TV reception
- Spotlight
- Electric Zapper
- A webcam
- A karaoke system including speakers and a microphone
- A toaster

At one point we had SCOM's guns replaced with a salad shooter and a caulking gun, and his missile replaced with a telescope, which really cracked me up. I drew the image of SCOM below during that period of time, so even though he now has his guns back, please enjoy SCOM trying to look cool with his replacement attachments.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Randall was introduced back in strip #12 to essentially set up a gag wherein we reveal that SCOM has legs and can walk around. I gave him my father's middle name, and my propensity toward messiness. At the time I was drawing this, I'm pretty sure I had the messiest office in our library. I'm doing better, but things do tend to pile up on and around my desk. I hadn't really planned on him sticking around, but it turned out that having a sort of messy, grumpy male librarian can be useful for stories. I'm not entirely sure what prompted me to give him a "mustachio" type mustache, or the weird-looking goatee, but they seemed to go together in my mind. I've move away from curling his goatee the way I drew it in strip #12, but have not removed it entirely.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Opal is the second staff character I created for this strip, showing up in strip #3. She was based on a cataloger with whom my wife was working at the time (she has since changed jobs) who was very cranky, refused to use a computer for almost anything and seemed to despise change of any kind. She is certainly not my idea of all catalogers, and I don't personally know any catalogers with that kind of mindset, but I suppose that the cranky old woman is a little bit of a librarian stereotype. Oh well...I think that her personality is an asset to this strip. I made Boük a cataloger to sort of keep the strip from seeming biased against catalogers. Opal has been working at the library since she was a student there, so she has seen a lot of change. If I ever have her show up in a color strip, I will make the center of her broach a large opal. I'm not sure why I named her the way I did other than it just sounds like a name for an older woman. I love the animosity between Opal and SCOM and try to put them together in situations as much as possible. I enjoy thinking about where else we can put her! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Introducing...Marc Record

Well, now we come to Marc. The first character I created for the strip. I believe that it was my wife who suggested the name, but I can't completely remember. She deals with marc records more than I do (although if you've ever dealt with one, you're ahead of me) and I thought it was a great name. It started my penchant for naming characters based on what they do (with the exception of Opal and Randall) in an effort to appear clever. He's also the only character who has an established last name. Marc works at the service desk, and I see him sort of as a library assistant. I'm not sure if he has an office or not; we haven't seen it if he does, but I haven't really made up my mind about that. He is basically an outlet for the things I think in my head during interactions in the library. I've given him some of my personal interests, such as being a fan of sci-fi and action movies and tv, and his preference for corduroy pants and collared, short-sleeve shirts. That's my typical winter work wardrobe. In color, I typically color his shirt as maroon, which is the color of my favorite shirt. My co-writer Jason has done a very nice job of expanding his personality, and making his snarky humor funny instead of mean sounding. I have to give him a lot of credit for helping me get a good grasp on what his character should be. I've really enjoyed developing his relationship with SCOM, and at this point I think of them as a team, and their relationship as sort of the heart of the strip, as it should be with any librarian and their technology.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Introducing...The Gnome

The library gnome is the character in one of my favorite extended story arcs. I had been noticing that when I would go to shelve the new periodicals after I'd finished processing them, the issues out on the shelves would sometimes be so mixed around that it felt as if someone were purposefully doing the rearranging, and that is what got me thinking about a library gnome for the strip. He first appeared in strip #71 and although he hasn't had much to do since that story arc, I think of him as a recurring character and hope to use him much more. I drew him without a beard and mustache, and with large glasses, in order to sort of separate him from our usual image of lawn gnomes. I retained his pointy hat to at least make him seem a little gnomish. Initially I had drawn him with pointy, clog-type shoes, but abandoned them as they were not easy to draw at all angles. I think he's a good foil/foe for SCOM, since the gnome uses magic and SCOM can't necessarily overcome him only with technology. I think I'll have to make a point to use the gnome more often.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Continuing my effort to have some stuff on this blog while I work on strip #150, allow me to present Elsie! Elsie was the third character I created for this strip, and she was introduced in Strip #8. At the time, my friend Bryan was really encouraging me to start drawing a strip as a way to do something with all these funny ideas we had based on our library experiences, and he was the stacks manager, so that seemed like a position we needed filled in our imaginary library. I wanted to add some racial diversity to the strip, and so Elsie was born. I think that most American research libraries catalog their books using the Library of Congress system, abbreviated LC, and when spelled phonetically it becomes Elsie! As stacks manager, it seemed an appropriate name for her. It has taken a while for me to get a handle on drawing her the way I see her in my head. It's also taken a while for me to find a good way to represent her skin tone. At this point I'm pretty settled in on using markers...they are wonderful! I think of Clair Huxtable from The Cosby Show when I draw her hair. I write her as a sassy, no-nonsense character whom I like pairing with both Marc and SCOM because of how ridiculous they can both be. In looking at this sketch, I must have run out of room at the bottom of the paper on which I drew her, so she doesn't have feet. I hope that doesn't prevent you from enjoying this drawing!

Friday, October 22, 2010


What can I say about the character Boük? He was initially created as a counterbalance to Opal; another cataloger who, instead of loathing technology, was the master of technology. I thought it would be funny to have someone who could control technology with his mind, so I designed him with an unusually large head. We haven't explained what exactly Boük can and can't do in regards to controlling technology mentally, or how he does it...we just hope that people will overlook that due to his large brain. I mean, there's room for 3-4 extra lobes up there! As someone who could control technology, he was a good counter for SCOM, who up to that point seemed uncontrollable. Boük first showed up in strip #42, but was first mentioned in strip #41. I always see him as a snappy dresser, and I don't think I've drawn him without his sunglasses yet. He has the same kind of weak eyes that Bono has. Since he's a cataloger, I thought that Book would be an appropriate name, but the name was a little obvious for me, so I decided to make him Northern European. I did some searches on the word "boük" to see if it was a bad word and as far as I could tell it was okay. I'm not totally sure if it means anything though, so if any of our Northern European viewers want to chime in, please feel free.Ok, I guess that's about it for Boük. Enjoy the image!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


In an effort to keep this blog from becoming a dry, abandoned husk of a blog while I work on finishing strip #150, I'm going to start posting images of some of the characters who inhabit the Harlansdale College Library. I drew these images of them and colored them with grayscale markers a while ago. I had something else in mind for them, but decided that now is the best time to put them up. First is Ayvee, who first showed up in Strip #96 but has only appeared in a couple of strips since then. We envisioned here a spunky, 20-something librarian who is in charge of Electronic Resources (get it? Ayvee...A/V!) I'm not sure why we haven't used her more...maybe because she's still kind of new. Anyway, here she is having fun. Enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Teaser #2...

Greeting dear readers of Search and Research. My heartfelt thanks to you for sticking with this strip through the ups and downs of my weird, yearly schedule. Hopefully the rewards are worth the long, dry spells. Here is another teaser image from the upcoming strip #150. Enjoy!


Wow! Three months. I feel like I should blow some virtual dust off of this thing or something. Three months is really too long to not post something, but I've been busy and this big color strip has been pretty complicated to draw and ink and stuff. I've been kind of snatching an hour or two here and there trying to work on it, but it's really slow going that way.

However, I have finished inking this strip! Finally! I still need to color this, and the paper I drew it on won't stand up to physical coloring so I'm going to color it digitally, like the last one. That will take a bit more time, so I'm not sure when it's going to be ready. In the meantime, here is a teaser from strip! Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Search and Research #149

Here we go! This is the penultimate chapter in the "Evil Copier Saga" and it feels good to post it, having written it around 3 months ago or more. I'm still in the midst of other art projects and general business, and the next strip, aside from being #150, is also a color strip, and a big one at that, with lots of stuff happening, which is all to say that I'm not sure when it will be finished. But, hopefully it will be worth any wait that you, my dear readers, will have to endure. I'll try to post progress teasers here on the blog, as well as other interesting sketches, in the meantime to keep things interesting. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 12, 2010


Ugh...I really did not want to drag this story out, especially considering the enormity of the ending, but I have gotten very busy, and haven't seemed to find the time and creative energy to do the next strip. I have been doing some artwork though for a series of tutorials on Literature Reviews, and thought I would post some of that artwork.A few years ago I helped to create a tutorial about the differences between scholarly and popular periodicals. You can view it here.
I decided to reuse these characters for the new tutorial, and I've been enjoying updating them in little ways and trying to make the drawings look nicer.
So, this is part of what I've been working on, and although it's not a new comic, I hope perhaps it will tide us over until I'm able to finish up this epic story arc we're currently in.
Thanks very much for stopping by!

- Eli

Monday, June 28, 2010

Search and Research #148

Ever gotten about halfway done drawing a comic strip and realized that you wrote too much stuff to fit into a normal sized strip, and you didn't want to have to redraw it all on a bigger paper? Me too! As a result, I really had to choose my angles and shots carefully to show the stuff that was important, which took me a lot of time...I had to sort of leave it for a while and come back with (hopefully) fresh eyes every now and then. I decided to sort of darken in the background when showing Marc and the copier so that the other elements of the panels would stand out. I hope this strip makes sense visually...I really felt more cramped than usual. I draw these (with the exception of the big color ones) on normal 8.5x11" paper, and sometimes that's just doesn't feel like enough room. Ok, well, enough of me rambling. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Search and Research #147

This is a day of celebration! No, not just because there is a new strip, despite some humidity related delays. On this day, my friend, and co-writer, Jason Watts has welcomed his son Tobin Joshua into the world at 8:03 this morning. Tobin is Jason's third child, and first son. Let's all congratulate Jason, and celebrate with him! Also, please enjoy this continuation of "The Evil Copier Saga".

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Search and Research #146

So I made myself a deal. In order to get this story going again, I cannot play Starcraft today until I got done with this strip. This will be the weekly policy until the end of this story. Thank you.

I really enjoyed giving SCOM his guns back, and drawing a companion shot to Strip #92 where SCOM discovers his guns have been removed. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Search and Research #145

Well, I really did not intend to take two and a half weeks to get this strip done, but I suppose that's life. Regular viewers will be aware that summers are usually much busier for me than the school year, and we're now in that summer phase. I'm going to pretend that being distracted to an extreme degree by the upcoming release of Starcraft 2 by Blizzard, and a resulting increase in desire to play Starcraft is just part of that summer busyness. :0) I LOVE STARCRAFT!!! Ok, I feel better now. Anyone else out there like Starcraft?

It's obvious now to me now that I was much more concerned about drawing the figures here than making nice word bubbles. I do think my figure work has been getting better; proportions are more consistent, I'm making myself draw hands more, I'm trying to work on expressions. But...I can't neglect the speech bubbles side of things either. I'll have to keep that in mind. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Search and Research #144

Hello! Welcome back! So, here in Nashville, Tennessee we've had some flooding recently along with a lot of other damage, including damage to the power lines behind the house, keeping me out of power for several days last week. It also affected our internet access. That, and a recently hectic schedule have sort of prevented me from posting this strip until now. Things are slowly getting back to normal now though.

Alright! It feels good to get this up. Where in the world is this story going? Keep coming back to find out!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Search and Research #143

We now bring you the next chapter in the blockbuster "Evil Copier" saga. I suppose it's pretty short for a chapter, but I don't want to rewrite the beginning, so we'll just have to go with that. I'm particularly pleased with the shot of SCOM running here. I always have a sort of difficult time drawing him at angles (despite the fact that he's essentially a box) but I really pushed myself to make this work. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Search and Research #142

As the saying goes, "Beware the copier which has leverage!" Enjoy!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Search and Research #141 *Update*

I just couldn't stand it...that copy machine was driving me crazy!!! I just HAD to fix the coloring on that thing, so I've updated the coloring on the machine to the way I wish I had colored it. I left the previous version up for the purposes of comparison. After all, this strip is still an outlet for my ongoing artistic development, and is the record of that development. Thank you all for reading, leaving comments, and (if you enjoy it) telling your friends.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Search and Research #141

It's always nice to get another one of these done and up after an extended absence. I'm going to admit up front that having finished it, I do not like the way I colored this copier. I hope nobody will be upset when that coloring changes in future strips. Enjoy!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Warm up sketch...

As you may have noticed, it's been a while since I've done any strips. Part of this is because I sort of ran out of ideas for a while, and I wanted to take a break from the little "one off" kinds of strips and try to tell a story. Since I'm a better artist than I am a writer, I need help from Jason to try to make these longer story arcs fit together, but as he wrote in the previous post, he's been super busy. The other part is that I was doing a lot of other art projects, mostly for work related stuff.

Anyway, this post is to let you know that we've written scripts for the next 10 strips, and I've started working on the first one. I hope to have it up on Sunday night or Monday. Because it has been a while since I've drawn the characters, I'm presenting for your viewing pleasure a warm up sketch I did of Elsie to remember how to draw her.

See you in a few!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Is it' a new strip!?! Oh. Never mind. False alarm.

La dee daaaa da dee... Oh! Hey there. I didn't see you there... What's that you say? New strip? Well, Eli and I are staying pretty busy right now. He's got at least one commissioned project going on right now that's consuming his free time. I also am pretty busy. We've been chatting a bit about trying to get another multi-strip story arc going, possibly culminating at or before the next color one (#150). So as soon as we can "sit down" and get to writing, we'll get some more strips coming your way! Thanks for poppin' in.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Search and Research #140

I have very nice handwriting these days, but as recently as my time in highschool it wasn't as nice. My handwriting was something that I had developed for my own use, and it wasn't really intended for others to have to read. I used to work at a pizza place run by a Turkish man who was very big on clear handwriting. It seemed like every couple days he and I would have a little meeting about my handwriting and he would show me the parts of my handwriting that were hard to read, and then threaten to make me fold boxes all day the next day if it wasn't corrected. I have also worked with people who could use a handwriting intervention but I have never been inclined to give one. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Search and Research #139

Another one that is inspired by my real life. Something happened to the water pressure on my street, and I couldn't shower before work, and the only hat I had was a stocking cap kind of hat. I wore that thing all day, feeling super self-conscious and hoping my boss didn't see me. When I took it off at the end of the day, my hair looked like Marc's. I had fun drawing that hair. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Search and Research #138

I have found pens in our laptop bags upon their return to the desk. I have found keys. Once I found $11. I think it must be the pockets...people are trained to put things in pockets, no matter which pockets they are. Usually the pockets around us belong to us, and when we check out a laptop and a bag to a person, it feels like that bag is now theirs, which includes the pockets by default. I dunno, just thinking out loud here. Anyone else found weird stuff in laptop bags when they're returned?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Search and Research #137

We actually did get a request from a guy who accidentally "mailed" a letter in our book drop. Anybody else get weird stuff in the book drop accidentally? Also, I'm pretty proud of these word balloons...they're less misshapen then usual. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Search and Research #136

This strip was completely written by my buddy Jason. That is a rare occurrence because he is a computer programmer and doesn't spend much time in libraries. He'd like to spend more, but the library in his town had the roof collapse over the summer, rendering the town library-less. True story. Due to the fact that I work in a library, I usually come up with scripts about library situations and then shoot them over to Jason who adds a zing to the dialogue that I don't naturally possess.

That's when the movie Avatar came on the scene (heh heh...scene...bad joke. And...cut!) and blew both of us away with the awesomeness of the 3-D and the general sophistication of the computer animation. If you have not seen Avatar yet, please make plans to do so with all haste. Avatar succeeded in inspiring Jason in a way that library's never have, and the result was quite enjoyable. Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Search and Research #135

Ok! Here it is! Thanks again to everyone for waiting patiently while I worked this one out. I really stretched myself in coloring this, and I'll go ahead and admit that I'm very pleased with the result. I've done some photoshop coloring of individual pictures, but never tried to tie multiple panels together with similar colors and other stuff. I don't think I could have achieved these results with my markers, so I'm glad I went with the computer coloring route. I do like the process of coloring by hand though, so I will probably revert back to hand coloring with the next color strip unless I just really come up with something that would be better on the computer.

A couple things that may be of interest to the nerds/film buffs out there. I shamelessly stole the design of the "machine" from The Princess Bride, particularly the little headgear thing, but we'll call it a 'homage'. I also colored the "Facebook Angel" in the facebook colors on purpose, although she is very blue looking because I wanted to add some shading to her body, so there isn't much white on her. The "M" on Monotonoy's shirt is there on purpose, and his costume is colored in gray tones on purpose as well to accentuate his character. I presumed that Monotony would have stolen Super Marc's cape, so it doesn't make an appearance here.

As I mentioned before, I'm already done with the next strip, so be on the look-out for it next week. Because the image above is really, really large, I'm including a smaller resolution image for anyone viewing this on a phone or something. Enjoy!

Monday, February 01, 2010

More teasers...

Ok, so maybe the updates weren't as frequent as I had previously envisioned. Sorry about that. Every time that I thought about posting something I got nervous, as if any of the inked images would give too much away about the strip or something. It seems sort of silly now. So, just to prove that I am actually making progress on this strip, I'm posting a panel that I've finished coloring. I've removed the text, but clearly this is one of the characters that appeared in my previous post, now appearing in his inked, and colored final form.

This strip is really too large to color with markers, as I have done in the past, so I'm venturing into the arena of computer coloring. I think that so far it's looking okay. I'm not sure when I'll have it ready to post. Ironically, I've got a couple more strips that are already inked and ready to go after I get done with this one. It seems that inking the regular strip is far less intimidating to me than a super large one. I say that because this color strip sat on my desk, penciled and un-inked, for about a month while holiday visitors and the busyness of my library work kept me from finding the initiative to ink it.

Thanks to those of you who have been following along. Regular viewers are probably aware that my library work gets so busy at the beginning of each semester that I'm not able to find the mental energy to draw this strip once I get home, and thus there is a lag in January and August. I'm going to do my best to not let this lag extend too far into February.

- Eli