THE BLANDIES

During my first year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I approached the editors of the weekly student paper, “The Spectator,” and convinced them that I should be their editorial cartoonist. Not long afterward, I also somehow persuaded them to publish my stripped-down anti-comic, “The Blandies” — using an appropriately nondescript pseudonym: Ray Bland.

“The Blandies” quickly became an established part of the paper — and, eventually, the campus bookstore even sold T-shirts and sweatshirts with an iron-on “Blandies” design.

It came as no surprise that the comic had some detractors; It was an anti-comic, after all. The real surprise, for me, was that it actually developed a devoted fan base.

Here are a few of the earliest examples of “The Blandies”:

ROTATIONAL AMBIGRAMS

A few years back, I got interested in creating ambigrams — typographical designs that can be read from more than one direction. (In simpler terms: They look the same whether you view them right-side-up or upside-down. A different type of ambigram looks the same if you view it in a mirror.)

One of my rotational designs, for “Vegas” (below), is included on Wikipedia’s “Ambigram” page HERE.

I also produced rotational designs for “Maui,” “Nassau,” “Dubuque” (the Iowa city where I got my first newspaper job), “Tampa” and Tampa’s entertainment district, “Ybor City.” Although I enjoyed the creative challenge, I never really figured out a sensible way to use the finished designs. Sure, they could be printed on a T-shirt or a baseball cap, but you wouldn’t really get the full rotational effect unless the wearer happened to do a headstand.

I just ran across this rough sketch that I’d done for a funky rotational design of “Wisconsin” — my home state. I was envisioning it as a colorful emblem on mugs and other tourist gear at the Madison and Milwaukee airports, right alongside the Cheddarhead hats, Bucky Badger bobbleheads and Cow Pie candies …

Ah, well. One more project that didn’t go anywhere.

(Maybe not such a bad thing, in this case.)

JUKEBOX THE GHOST

Meet Yep Roc recording artists Jukebox the Ghost (“Schizophrenia,” “Hold It In”), depicted here as the “POP BOYS” — Tommy, Ben & Jesse:

And check out a few of their songs and videos at www.jukeboxtheghost.com

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