The one big win.

The aftermath of my father passing away inevitably involved my mom selling their house and moving into a smaller place of her own.  This process led to the often reluctant clearing out of old items from every nook and cranny in that house (60 years of marriage leads to the accumulation of a lot of stuff), and the eventual discovery of the box of every assignment, story, art project, report card, and school-related everything.  Most of it ended up getting tossed because I'm not that sentimental about school things but my 8th grade science fair medal went on the small keep pile and I'll tell you why. 

My 8th grade science teacher was a jerk, the sort of guy who didn't just yell or discipline his students, but would outright bully them. He hated the project my partner and I made (something about growing plants through hyrdroponics in the absence of usable topsoil) - and not even on the basis of the actual information; mostly just that our stupid posterboard wasn't neat enough or something.  He made us stand there after we finished and proceeded to belittle our us and project in front of the whole class, and then actively encouraged our classmates to make fun of us verbally and in their written comments (one of them literally said nothing other then "Your shirt is dumb and so is your haircut," which the teacher enjoyed).  Finally, he gave us a D.  Science was our last class of the day and we walked home humiliated and feeling about 6 inches tall.

We went into the schoolwide science fair the next night a little discouraged, to say the least.  We stuck it out, though, explained our project to all the students, parents, and judges that walked by... and were completely gobsmacked at the end of the evening when they announced we won 2nd place in the life sciences category (1st place went to a kid who demonstrated the circulatory system using an actual cow's heart... a little gross but, you know, valid decision there, can't fault that).

This was a big win for me.  Not just because we got a medal or anything, but middle school was... a tough time.  Three long, awkward, terrible years, and victories were pretty much non-existent.  Overcoming the mockery of not just students, but a teacher(!), who really should have known and acted better not just on that day but every day, that was huge.  If I was only going to get one moment to shine in that entire period of my life, that was a hell of a moment to have.

The next day, we went into science class, put our shiny new 2nd place medals on that teacher's desk and said "we'd like to renegotiate our grade." 

He looked humbled, to say the least, but still tried to argue that second place merited a B. 

We held out until he relented and gave us an A-, because fuck that guy.

Literally Anyone Can Make Comics: The Anything Vegetable

Katie Cook put out the call for guardian plant spirit designs for her excellent webcomic Nothing Special, and this was my contribution. 

Eggplants are such utility players; whether you need a vegetable or a meat, they can step in to do the job. I like that kind of versatility and willingness to help.

Plus, eggplants are funny, man.  I can't explain why, they just are.

Also, their Euro name, aubergine, is just such an awesome word.

Also also, of course it's wearing glasses.  I imagine that any spirit surrounding my life has vision just as bad as mine.

Family Portrait

We lacked a decent family portrait, so I figured I'd create one in my preferred medium.  So clockwise from the far left that's me, the kid, the wife, and the dog.  I think I did a pretty decent job capturing our likenesses if I do say so myself, but I'm still not 100% satisfied with the wife's hair here... her hair is more of an darker, auburny shade of red.

For my dad.

My dad passed away a few weeks ago.  It has been difficult, but I've been comforted by the support of more people than I can count, especially at his memorial service where a few hundred folks came through to tell us all how great he was and how much he'll be missed.  If that's not evidence of a life well-lived, I don't know what is.

My siblings and I all gave brief eulogies.  This was mine:

I don’t think Dad was one for formal “teachable moments” - I certainly don’t remember too many occasions where he informed me he was actively going to teach me something, but that doesn’t mean I never learned anything from him. If you spent any time at all in George Doughty’s orbit it was inevitable you’d pick up something. So here are ten things I learned from watching Dad through the years… mostly things learned from emulating the example he set, and maybe just a couple from doing the opposite.

1. Never turn down a free beer… I think this one doesn’t need any elaboration.

2. Formality has its time and place, but it’s a barrier between people in everyday life - Dad  was never Mr. Doughty, he was always George. To his friends, my friends, everyone he  ever met. It’s easier to get along if you just establish a first-name basis from the start, and Dad was all about getting along.

3. Baseball just sounds better on AM radio - FM and digital radio just sound too polished. That constantly degraded AM background hiss is a crucial part of the ambiance.

(3a. Just a reminder that no matter how you’re consuming a game, rebroadcast in whole or in part without the express, written consent of Major League Baseball is prohibited.)

4. Be your loved ones’ biggest fan - If you’re in this room, I can guarantee you that Dad has celebrated with you, congratulated you, cheered you on, watched you play ball, watched your kid play ball, or just generally been proud of you for one accomplishment or another. Please know that was genuine, and that whatever day or days that may have occurred, you arguably had no bigger supporter in that room.

5. Admit defeat when trying to fix something - this is one of those opposite examples I mentioned… if it’s not going well, BACK AWAY. Put the tools down. Pay someone or call in a more qualified friend or relative. Your family will thank you.

6. Attempt to understand and indulge your kids’ every weird interest - Dad was a sports nut and, for the most part, I was not. So rather than try to change me, he actively sought to understand the things I was into and supported them. Comic books? Definitely. Video games? Sure, here’s a dollar, go to the arcade while I talk to everyone in the mall. Star Wars or Star Trek? Not my thing, but I’ll watch them with you and talk at length afterward about how much I actually enjoyed it. And just as my dad had at least a basic idea of which superheroes were Marvel and which were DC, I now have a pretty good idea of Pokemon power sets and Smash Ultimate fighter special moves.

7. A brain that’s a sponge for allegedly useless trivia is never a bad thing - not only does it help inspire some interesting conversations, but I’ve won a lot of free beers and coffees that way.

8. See the world and its people but always retain an appreciation for where you’re from - never forget that for a guy who always claimed he never cared if he ever left the state of Maine, nevermind one whose idea of destination travel was Milo, he managed to see a whole lot of the country and the world while he was in the Navy, and some of the stories of his adventures getting from place to place during that time in his life were clearly some of his favorites to tell. But at the end of the day, Maine was always in his heart and where he belonged, and he celebrated that.

9. Always go above and beyond for your family - they hold your heart and the vast majority of your soul, so look after their needs as well or better as you would your own.

10. And finally… no matter what the critics tell you, even if one of those critics is your youngest son telling you that you could use a few lessons, sing your heart out all day, everyday.

See, Dad? I was always paying attention, even when you thought I wasn't. Thanks for everything.

Literally Anyone Can Make Comics: The Return of the Aliens

Hey, look, it's the aliens from the very first strip. Maybe they've learned something about interstellar harmony?

SPOILER: They have not.

(Click to make it cosmic-sized. And as always, apologies for my shit-tastic penmanship.)