Build Back Better Bears no. 6 - 12.30.20

Passing the torch. The new year needs to shine! 



Build Back Better Bears no. 5 - 12.23.20


This is, I suppose my wish for Christmas eve. Looking forward to many new and positive changes for the year ahead. "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight..."

Harts Pass no. 517

For the better part of ten years, I have published a comic strip in my local newspaper, The Methow Valley News. It’s a small thing, yes, but making this simple little comic each week is a hugely important artistic act for me.

Each strip feels like the improv game “Yes, And!” I have characters, yes, a trio of wolverines that somewhat approximate my family, but otherwise I take things in from the week, the news, the actual lives of wildlife in the north cascades, and, I try to act quickly to spin out some ideas. Then I commit. I get free and total reign from the editor (accept for the occasional typo), but I do have some deadlines to keep me accountable. Each week I engage with a relatively quick and low-stakes (not much pay) creative process in order to share something with my community. It’s SO satisfying.

Humor is a part of it, but I know for sure that many of my comics are far from “funny”. I also like the writing/drawing challenge and the synthesizing current events or emotional touchstones challenge. And the “synthesizing” part is really important. If children’s books are short, then comic strips are succinct verging on terse. There is so little space and time in which to communicate an idea. It’s a game for sure, and an important part of the appeal. Some days it works, and some days it feels a LOT more forced.

I could go on for sure, but on this final week of a tumultuous year, I’ll keep this relevant with a nod to the feelings of “GRRR-Attitude” that inspired this recent strip.

Covid-19 and the global pandemic clearly inspired most of my 2020 comics. And despite hopeful news of a vaccine we are far from finished with its influence. We need the single-minded grit and tenacity of a wolverine to guide us. We need the fight. We need the willingness to adapt to our surroundings, and we need to keep going no matter what. The wolverine does this for itself and its family. We need to do it for ourselves and for our communities.

Thank you beyond words to the many doctors, nurses, front-line workers, teachers and others who have put themselves in harms way for months on end. I can say with absolute certainty that I am grateful for your service.

A new year awaits. Be safe.



Harts Pass no. 516

One of those ideas that started one way and then finished with something completely different. I was pretty sure that the "12 days" were leading up to Christmas and was going to create some kind of Harts Pass appropriate countdown. That being said, when I learned a little more this is where I ended up :) If memory serves, I also had to rush the Kit drawing in the final panel a bit to stay on deadline... and it shows. Aside from that I'm pretty happy with the way that this one ended up. 


Build Back Better Bears no. 4 - 12.14.20

Uhg. SO. MUCH. TO DO! And at present, the outgoing administration seems to be doing all that it can to thwart the idea of a functioning and stable government. My heart goes out to all that will deal with this nightmare. I hope that we are able to find a level path. 


Harts Pass no. 515

Sometimes when creating my comic I simply scour the news. This past week saw the death of General Chuck Yeager, an American test pilot and adventure seeker who'd have been much admired by the likes of a wolverine. GRRR!


Build Back Better Bears no. 3 - 12.2.20

 United we stand. 

Harts Pass no. 514

If counting and re-counting isn't proof... I have nothing more to say. 


Build Back Better Bear no. 2 - 11.24.20

Strong. Stable. Predictable. THIS is the kind of job creation and reliable work that we need. Eternally hopeful that our new administration can help to get us there and help to get government assistance into the hands of those who truly need it rather than the top-down trickle-down economic handouts that have proven time and time again to be false. 


Harts Pass no. 513

 Phew. My Thanksgiving strip this year got a little crazy. One of those ideas that never quite FULLY found its center and thusly drifts around a bit. Some days are like that :) Anyway, DEFINITELY a different kind of year. A little wild. A little cold. A memorable occasion that we hope to NEVER repeat again (although we could make do if totally necessary.) Be well. Stay safe. Wear a mask and take care of those around you. 


Build Back Better Bears!

I'm painting bears again. It's been a while, and who knows if I'll be able to hit a consistent enough groove to keep it going. That being said. I'm excited to try. Loosely speaking, I'd like to do a weekly bear. I'll post them here and share 'em around. I might even mail 'em out. I relished in a personal participation sort of way the "artistic advocacy" of the #polarbearpostcardproject but something like a #buildbackbetterbears campaign could be a little more broad. The point as always is hopeful. Just a little art to make a statement, to grab some attention, or to call out a need or highlight an action. We shall see. Bear no. 1 is ready to go.


Harts Pass no. 512

This happens all of the time, but our recently forecast 2" of snow turned into 11! No great radar on this side of the cascades but we'll take it when we can get it. Thor's expression is a little misleading here, because we in the wolverine family actually DELIGHT in the surprise blast of winter. Onward and upward!


Harts Pass no. 511

 This was my Veteran's Day strip. When researching the day I was surprised to learn that Bob Ross had an extensive military career prior to his work with PBS... and it also gave me certain pause for thought about the many MANY contributions that our veterans make beyond their service duties. In many ways a military career is not that different from that of a professional athlete. There is active duty, and then there is a huge span of time beyond that prime physical employment. Grateful for the work and the contributions in so many things. 


Harts Pass no. 510

I read this quote in a Biden campaign speech. Its a good one -- both for the necessity of a functioning society and a less partisan government, AND for the kind of community work that needs to happen for the supposedly United States to finally get our act together and to overcome this pandemic. GRRR!


Harts Pass no. 509


Because it bears worth repeating...


Harts Pass no. 508


These next two comics speak for themselves... and I'm glad that they did! Onward and upward. There is work to be done!


Harts Pass no. 507

Among the MANY soon to be announced final hacks of the Trump administration, apparently wolverines DON'T require federal protection under the endangered species act. And neither do wolves... and neither do people really regarding current federal examples for Covid-19 protections.


Harts Pass no. 506

OK, here we go! A little late on the political cartoons but even without a crystal ball I'm willing to bet on this still being relevant.


Harts Pass no. 505

No way that we don't get tired of masks and social distancing, and not eating dinner at a friend's house... but we will! Snow in the mountains. Change is coming. One way or another its a shift in the routine. Even that small little bit is worth it right now. Stay safe out there!


Harts Pass no. 504


Another school-related post. Teacher dads are TOTALLY the best!


Harts Pass no. 503

Hmmm, I seem to oscillate back n' forth between depressing Covid news and depressing environmental science news... Perhaps I need to focus on making this comic a little more uplifting rather than relying so much on social commentary? Alas, its a personal exercise more than anything else. A little cathartic drawing is good for the soul!


Harts Pass no. 502

So one of the MANY lame excuses that I have for slow uploads to my site this fall is that I teach full time, coach after school, and have a kid in school of my own who I am trying hard not to ignore before she ever so quickly jumps the ship and heads out into the world on her own. Covid school is pretty OK for us here. 2 days per week of in-person instruction and then another 3 days at home. The school gets sanitized on WED but as teachers we are in the building M/T and TH/FRI. Most kids are "hybrid" but some are fully remote for various reasons. It's a juggle for sure. A MAJOR juggle! But is WAY better than last spring's fully remote for all and we're just about to start week no. 9 with no Covid activity on campus. Onward and upward!


Harts Pass no. 501

Hard to celebrate when you can't actually hug or kiss anyone... but we're not really sure that wolverines socialize like that anyway :) TEN YEARS OF HARTS PASS COMICS!!! (I must be getting old) GRRR!


Harts Pass no. 500

Wolverines in Rainier National Park! Pretty cool to see them showing up in new places (or at the very least finding them there), but traveling right now is kind of a nightmare. GRRR! Maybe next summer...


Harts Pass no. 499

On a slightly different topic, a bunch more wolves were killed in WA state recently. If all things Covid-related are new and different and unsettling, its good to know that the "same old same" old can also be unsettling...


Harts Pass no. 498


11/11 UPDATE: The repercussions of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally are still being felt. North and South Dakota currently rank among the highest in the nation for Covid-19 hospitalization rates. As far as "representative democracy" goes, the leaders and government officials in both states could do a LOT better to lead by example rather than just expect the people to come to their senses all by themselves! I mean don't get me wrong, the people should be able to come to their senses all on their own... but having someone lead a little is FAR from forcing you into something or taking away all of your freedoms. Give me a break people. Wear a mask!


Harts Pass no. 497

CRAZY numbers of people fled the cities and ran for the hills for local recreation and a sense of freedom this summer. It's impact is lasting... just in case you weren't paying attention.


Harts Pass no. 496

There was an actual rockslide in our little part of the world this summer... and then there is the proverbial rockslide of Covid-19 that has been crushing our ability to find our better selves and get things done. 3+ short months ago and we were ONLY at 150,000 dead. "I just want to cross the valley again and see some friends..."


Harts Pass no. 495

Still WAY too many people not willing to wear a mask. Some people are hitting home runs wearing masks... and some people are hiding behind inane right wing propaganda like their concealed carry permits will be invalidated if they wear a mask (not true!) It's not hard. Keep one in your pocket. Keep one in your car. Keep a buff or scarf around your neck and use it as a mask. My wife and I are coaching high school and junior high runners wearing masks. They do it. So can you. Save some lives. This is SUCH a huge little thing.


Harts Pass no. 494

Hiked a trail this week with a bridge out 4 miles in. You could cross the creek with some effort, but it was not an easy thing. A small metaphor for what we are supposed to be doing with our political divide. Build a bridge. Bring people together. Take two far off points and reduce the distance between. Statesmanship is in short supply. We need real leadership not a puffed up schoolyard bully and we need to build bridges.


Harts Pass no. 493

Lots of hiking for me this spring/early summer. LOTS of wildflowers too. Good to find some positive pops of color in all of the Covid gloom. Feeling very lucky to live where social distancing is easy... but also too far away from the easy ability to participate in important protest over social justice inequities that have persisted for FAR too long.


Harts Pass no. 492

I looked REALLY hard to find a good quote about FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY. And that's what it comes down to, people. With all of our American freedom comes a true responsibility to do what it right for the common good. Get off of your selfish high horse about not wanting to be told what to do. Think about YOUR high school graduation. Think about YOUR first year of college or your first taste of living on your own and going out and into the world. Now think about how your selfish need to indulge your every whim is keeping SO many kids or others from having that same experience. And I'm being young adult/millenial-centric here because you guys need to step up. You might be at a lower risk of getting really sick, but you also might still be contributing to a greater community spread. If people really want to get back to work. If people really want to get their kids back to school. If people really want the FREEDOM to go and shop and eat out and travel with ease again and all of that... then for the foreseeable future (until we get a vaccine) you need to settle down and do EVERYTHING with a nod towards the greater good. You need to put US and WE first. You need to recognize that everyone will be better off if you think about three other people first before you think about yourself. As it turns out, YOU will actually benefit as well. PS John Dewey has a lot of good writing worth reading as well. Nothing super pithy and quotable, but still. Check him out and realize how little we have progressed regarding ideas of freedom and responsibility and race in the last 100 years.


Harts Pass no. 491

Totally pandemic related, and totally school year/summer break related. There is a fine line for sure between what we were doing and what it felt like when we went on break. Like anything else these days a total recalibration of the norms is necessary. Summer IS hotter BTW!


Harts Pass no. 490

I feel like this is one of those where the concept is just a little off. Spring time rains in the north cascades ARE a little rare -- and rarer still as summer looms. It makes total sense to me that Thor would soak it up while the soaking is good, but just like Kit is stating, it seems a little strange. I mean I "guess" there is some humor in this impossibility (you can't REALLY soak up the rain to store it for later) but at the same time the leap of faith for understanding this is probably a little far. You win some you lose some. Next week will be better!


Harts Pass no. 489

Kids, parent, staff, teachers and schools this year made the best of it. "Happy" may be taken with a grain of salt, but it was still and important milestone and things will (eventually) get better. Onward and upward!


Harts Pass no. 489

Black Lives Matter. There is SO much going wrong. What is happening in our country right now needs leadership and compassion.


Harts Pass no. 487

Back from late May and a sneaking suspicion that many of my students might have started losing interest in school... funny that since SO many parents had been wanting more in the way of self-directed educational opportunity.


Harts Pass no. 486

It this time of social distancing, I have been closer to my family than just about anything else. Finally coming around to online social obligations and updates. Apologies for the absence. Hugs to all!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 13

Getting a little ahead of myself, but I've been sitting on Episode 12 for several days now due to problems with uploading... Anyway, no. 13 is out "sequence" but here you go! Just a little drawing challenge where you can turn absolute and totally random watercolor splotches into something almost recognizable :) Give it try, and as I heard on the radio yesterday in a quote by the woman who invented the N95 mask, "If you don't stretch you can't find the edges." 
Push those creative boundaries! 



Harts Pass no. 485

One of those silent strips where I hopefully got the expressions and gestures telling most of the story :) Spring rain is good in the arid west. It seems even a little better this year with the relative suspended animation that is "shelter in place" pandemic-required relative isolation and persistent sameness. Worms in the grass now too for added company!


B.E.A.R Episode no. 11

In this video I demonstrate an observational drawing challenge using sad faces. Sometimes in class we would draw quickly, switch poses, draw again, switch again etc.. The pose or the amount of time given, could get gradually longer, but fundamentally, this is meant to capture MAJOR ideas and then maybe start building on form or shape with a little more time. Dramatic gestures, lines of action, general shapes and relative shapes (the size and scale of how things fit together in a subject) -- these are the building blocks that can help you with almost any kind of drawing :) Follow the two links below and give it a try after watching my slightly time-lapsed demonstration. Enjoy! 

19 MIN OF SPRING: https://tinyurl.com/yc9cmb5p


Harts Pass no. 484

In 1972 my little western town of Winthrop, WA decided to re-brand as a wooden boardwalk, "western" in the old fashioned send of the word, kinda tourist hub. It's generally worked and has been good for business. Like any place with a "code" there are certainly ups and downs - not to mention the fact that "western" expansion into once remote territories had many problems of its own. Putting aside all of that and in favor of a positive spin that might help squelch the politicization of mask wearing, when local business DO get the chance to open up a little more and get back to "norm" we have a ready-made opportunity to have a "costume" (bandana mask) that fits the town sensibility AND keeps the workers and the tourists necessary for livelihood safe and sound. Be smart people. Wear a mask!


Polar Bear Post Card Redux no. 4

The final polar bear post card painting from my B.E.A.R chat video late last week. If you want to see this painting in action take a scroll down the page and play away!

Harts Pass no. 483

Birthday week for Thor! And Kit too, for that matter, one day after dad :) That's a LOT o' miles riding the good 'ole planet earth around the sun. Take care out there. GRRR!!!

Harts Pass no. 482

An Earth Day comic from the slopes of Harts Pass! The four steps listed here are the same used by my wife's Methow Conservancy "School Yard Science" program when they engage with local elementary school students (or did anyway.) School in session or not, you can still engage in similar ways. Have a good week!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 10

A little watercolor demo and the progress painting of a polar bear postcard :) Trying to establish an “art exchange” with other regional schools where my Drawing & Painting class can hopefully make a few smallish “postcard” paintings of their own, mail them off to some other students in similarly isolated “art class” situations, and hopefully then receive some surprise student artwork of their own. We’ll see if we can make it happen!

Weekend Polar Bear Paintings

This past weekend I painted polar bear. It made me happy. Enough said. Enjoy!


B.E.A.R. Episode no. 9

In this video: A DRAWING CHALLENGE! Watch something. Study it. Spend 10-20 minutes just observing. Afterwards, go back to your paper or sketchbook and draw or paint as much as you can remember. Look for shapes. Look for colors. Look for feelings or personality or character. Spend some time on this end as well - 10-20 minutes or more - and see what you can do :) 

Perfection not expected. Practice seeing. Share your results! 


Harts Pass no. 481

Lucky for us we have a new puppy and a nearly seventeen year old who have lots of positive "keep busy" energy and occasionally slow down enough for an excellent snuggle. Take care out there!

Harts Pass no. 480

It's totally true, logging is like social distancing :) And in this case for a similar purpose. The distance between tree makes it harder for a catastrophic wildfire to totally destroy the forest. True enough! Now if only we could rake the ground in between people who are properly socially distanced... THEN we would really kick this Covid-19 thing in the pants!


Harts Pass no. 479

Kit Courageous, defender of childhood and bravest wolverine around! Kit last made an appearance in these pages during the Carlton Complex wildfire in 2014. She is back again to help us through. Wash your hands. Stay in your den. Flatten the curve! Take care out there. GRRR!