Archive | November, 2012

The great fall of Northwood, Ohio

19 Nov

I was born and raised in Northwood, Ohio (well, technically the hospital was in Oregon, Ohio).  It’s way up north in the state, right next to Toledo.  The city is approximately one by six miles.  The west side of the place is somewhat urban, banked right along the Maumee River.  The east side is pretty much nothing but country and farmland.  And smack-dab in the middle were residential, middle-class neighborhoods.  Anyhow, I’m not going to go into too many details.  Let’s just say I had a very enjoyable childhood growing up here.  Northwood had a bit of everything – a mall, movie theater, sidewalks, restaurants – stuff kids like.  It was the kind of place I could ride my bike along the streets all day long without a helmet and not worry too much about anything bad happening.  The place seemed to be, I don’t know, thriving in my perspective.  Kind of a big-little area with a nice mixture of country and city.

I moved out of Northwood after 5th grade.  I was gone for three years and then went back there for high school.  After high school, I was outta there again.  Never went back.

Northwood, as I mentioned, seemed thriving those days up til 5th grade.  When I went back for high school, the city seemed to halt sorta.  Not much growth.  Occasionally, something new might pop-up, but really, it was the same places that were there as a child.  And many more of those places seemed to start shutting down.  The only real new thing was a Burger King, which was exceptional to have as a high schooler.  Those Whoppers can be mighty tasty after a Friday night football game.

The mall there used to be hopping with all the spaces filled with book stores, arcades, clothing places, etc.  Tons of people ventured there on the weekends and it had everything.  Again though, in high school, stores started closing up and I would notice less and less people.  It was still a mall though with a variety of stores.  Nothing like in the 1980’s – which were the prime memories growing up with the busy mall.  But, it remained something of substance.

Well….

A little over a year ago, I decided to swing up to Northwood on an Ohio visit.  Not to see anyone or meet people.  Nope.  I just wanted to drive around the area and see what was shakin’.

You ever see the show, The Walking Dead?  Okay, Northwood resembled it a bit except without brain-sucking zombies walking around (although there were some pretty creepy transients walking along the highway).

I was surprised.  I guess not shocked, but surprised.

Listen, we had a recession.  I know Ohio got especially hit hard.  But a little over a year ago, most places seemed to be rebounding.  Dayton, Ohio (where I usually go to visit) was growing substantially with new restaurants, stores, etc.  But Northwood?  Yikes.

I’m writing this post because today I learned that one of the stores I used to frequent quite often as a child is now about to close.  It was The Andersons at the Woodville Mall (the name of the mall).  And not only that, the entire mall is closed.  The only other open store is a Sears (and if you read the thread on the post about Andersons, it seems as though it’s basically doomed at this point).

Above:  Want to open up a department store?  Well, this lot will soon be available.  Act now!

Also, one of the first jobs I ever had at sixteen was at the Pizza Hut on Woodville Road (yeah, named the same as the mall) just closed as well.  I ate there on this visit over a year ago, and there was a lady working there that was actually employed there when I was sixteen years ago.  I didn’t remember her nor she me (I mentioned I worked there before, and that’s how we got talking about it), but she said to me then that the entire area was going down the drain.  The Eastgate Shopping Center, which was the strip mall behind Pizza Hut, was basically vacant.  It, like the mall, used to be somewhat busy.  Dad and I used to go there for ice cream at the Baskin Robbins and there was a comic store there I went into on quite a few weekends.  All gone.  And vacant?  Well, I think it all was.  Except, there were a lot of pretty green weeds popping up everywhere.  Those were new.

Listen, I know things shut down.  Stuff changes.  But seeing the sad state of Northwood was a bit – well – sad.

All these places used to be packed with business and people.

The Pizza Hut I used to work at was swamped from the second I walked in until I left.  The phone there rang off the hook and I was constantly cooking pizzas.

The mall was always bustling with activity.  Everything from pinewood derby races from my Boy Scout days (like, in 4th and 5th grade) to buying Ninja Turtles at the Woolsworths store.  My friends and I would spend every weekend looking forward to going to the mall arcade and wasting quarters.  Or, even buying candy used to be a thrill if we could round up fifty cents from underneath the couch cushions.

The neighborhoods there had a lot of ‘For Sale’ signs scattered about them.  Back in the day, I knew pretty much everyone in those houses up for grabs that now sit empty.

At any rate, quite frankly, I don’t see it rebounding anytime soon.  Yes, I haven’t been up there in over a year, but just by reading the article on the Andersons closing and the mall, I’m guessing it’s just getting worse than better.   Doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to settle into Northwood these days.  Although, I believe the Burger King is still there, if that’s enough reason to move to the area.

My old grade school and high school even looked like it might need an upgrade.  It looked the same – just more tarnished and dirty.  I don’t think the parking lot has been repaved since I graduated in ’97.  I’m sure my lousy high school transcripts are still there, too.

Above:  I believe that lettering was there when I went to school here.  In need of an upgrade?  You decide.

Sometime I’ll make another trip up there.  I can kind of guess that I’ll see a totally vacant mall (or it will be bulldozed by then), more overgrown parking lots and more vacancies for houses.   I hope not – really – I wish the area nothing but the best.  But, I can’t see it being the Northwood that I remember back in the day.  A bit sad, but then again, I was one of those residents that left there as well a long time ago.  I guess I wasn’t alone.

I’m not usually a sentimental kinda guy.  No, really, I’m not.  But, it seems as the more I age, places that I grew up around are starting to disappear.  Natural, I know.  But…

My grandmothers/grandpa houses are no longer places to visit.  My old hangouts are all shut down or non-existent.  And places I used to venture to I no longer have a reason to go to, so chances are, I really wont see them again.

So, oh well.  This is my sentimental post for the week.

I guess I’ll just have to focus on places of the now.  If  my current home in St. Petersburg ever starts to look like Northwood, I’ll be sure to head out of town before the local Andersons closes.  (Oh, wait – there isn’t an Anderson’s here.)

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I’ll be Santa in no time

16 Nov

I’m usually not one to follow trends.  No, really – I’m not (except for stuff like Facebook profile, blogging, etc. – okay, so maybe some trends).  But, I decided to attend an event that rolls around this time of year called Movember.

As an “official” Movember website defines the name and event:

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of mustaches on thousands of mens faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for mens health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives.

I am mostly doing it for fun.  Of course, it’s great to bring awareness to things, but I’m not raising money or anything like that.  It’s mostly just to – well – grow a mustache.

I’ve opted so far to the full-grown beard.  Not the Grizzly Adams kind – but a slimmed down version.  And you know, I kinda like it.  It’s grown on me.  Get it?  Grown.  Okay, I’ll stop now.

Above:  Possibly me in about a week.

I’ve always been a straight-razor, clean-shaven person.  I never really tread into beard territory.  Not too sure why, either?  At any rate, I’ve transformed a bit.  Now, I somewhat look like I’m not a pre-teen and maybe an adult.  (Acting like an adult though, well, that’s a different story.)

So, here is me on day, um, I’m not sure.  I started a bit early and shaved also.  I keep it ‘trim’.

Above:  No, this is not a mug shot.

I was going to go for the Tom Selleck look, but I don’t know…

Above:  The ‘stash on Tom might not work, but I might go for the hair.

Anyhow, I’m planning on keeping my Movember through November.  And don’t laugh.  I know it’s not that long (the stash) – yet.  It’s still kinda growing in since I messed up and shaved the sucker too short a week or so ago.  But, I can assure you, it will get thicker and more obvious soon.

Hopefully no new trendy months pop up where guys color their hair or something.  That might get weird.

So, I hope everyone is having a good Movember!  Ladies, thanks for kissing us guys with the scruff.  And guys, good luck raising awareness.  As for me?  I’ll just consider myself not as trendy as those who shave theirs off after this month is over because mine will remain canvassed across my face.

Evil toasters everywhere

15 Nov

Recently, a viral video has resurfaced quite a bit over the social network community.  It’s a segment from NBC’s Today Show from 1984 featuring a lady (from Florida, of course) that – apparently – had a possessed toaster.

I saw this and I couldn’t believe the contrast of comparisons to my MAD Magazine feature, Twisted Toaster Tales.  I can’t say I ever saw this feature before creating my strips several years ago.  At any rate, the two go hand-in-hand.

Check it out.

Above:  My kind of toaster.

Here is one example of my work.

Click Image to Enlarge

And who says toasters aren’t evil?

Exclusive sneak preview

14 Nov

Okay, it’s not that exclusive.  However, I thought I would share some new book art that will be coming up in Tommy Blaze’s and my new book, Knocking on Heavens Door.

All the new art is done, everything is ready to go to press.  199 comics and more.  Currently, at this exact moment, we’re waiting to hear from the publisher about getting a pre-Christmas push to get it published a few weeks before then.  It will make a great stocking stuffer!  (As long as you don’t stuff it too hard so it, you know, wrinkles the book to death.)

I’m excited about this.  It’s funny, because the material is quite opposite of what I typically write (just yesterday I was writing about poo and for MAD Magazine), but Tommy does a great job as a comedian making this work. I am merely a partner and illustrator.   And the book is funny.  Plus, I’m happy with most of my drawings.  There are some in the book from four years ago that I could probably redo much better, but oh well.  For a freshman effort, it’s great.  And we have more ideas and books with the publisher planned after this.  This is kind of our introductory book to KOHD.  Worth the cover price, none the less (although, I’m not too sure what that price is yet).

So, here is part of a new page spread.

For those that don’t know, Knocking on Heavens Door is about the misadventures of six-year old Spencer and his best friend who happens to be – well – you decide.  If you would like to join the fun, you can find KOHD on Facebook HERE.  The publisher is setting up a website shortly as well.

Above:  A fall cover for the book.  Why?  Well, because it’s fall.

Poo drew this?

13 Nov

Once again, I seem to have irritated anyone that things potty humor is immature, awful or outright disgusting.

My Break of Day cartoon from this past Sunday garnished some mixed reviews it seems.  Several comments led me to believe that they will stop reading if one more like this shows up.  Honestly though, most people seemed to enjoy it.

Here is ‘the awful’ cartoon:

I like it.

Despite apologies to cartoonist, Dan Reynolds (he had a similar comic I wasn’t aware of) I think it turned out great.  (Again, I refer people typically to THIS POST on when a comic I do has been done before or something – but he had a very similar cartoon and I really respect Dan’s work and didn’t intend to do such a similar one.)

Listen, again, I make no apologies about my cartoons (well, except to Dan).  I draw what I laugh and at think is funny.  Take it or leave it.  Of course I appreciate all readers, but the only way a cartoonist can do what he does is by creating stuff that works for him/her.  In my case, typically if I laugh, I put it out there.  Easy as that.

I mean really, is this that bad?

I just find it amusing that this light-hearted cartoon about a drive-poo is so awful to some, however, it’s rather tame compared to – oh- the local news, for example.  Yet, it can rouse up some people to the point of cancelling their subscription to Break of Day or stop reading.  I mean, I didn’t show them eating the number two, did I?

Let me add that I love feedback.  I really do try to keep things tame enough so that readers enjoy it as well.  Obviously, I try to keep consistency in my feature and hope that it is enjoyed.  But, anyone that knows me, knows I tend to throw a curve ball out there once in awhile.  I draw and write stuff for MAD Magazine for Pete’s sake!  Now THAT stuff is, well, read for yourself (by the way, I’m not too sure who Pete is).

Anyway, this was my “mixed reviewed cartoon of the week”.  We’ll see if another one tops the list.  The week isn’t over, so you never know!  I might have a moo goo gai pan comic that could beat this one out.

Another random post after weeks of not having one

12 Nov

Yea, it’s been awhile – again.

I’m going to try to get back to posting on here regularly.  My lack of self-discipline to sit back and write something more often has really downgraded my blogging score.  If I keep this up, I’ll have fewer readers than – well – some other guy.

Lots of events have been happening (you know, as usual).  I’ve been trying to get all my work done before Thanksgiving, since I’ll be gone a bit.  Also, I’ve wrapped on the new book and it’s about ready to be sent to the publishers (hopefully this week).  AND I’ve been trying to go to the gym often.  (But, the whole gym thing is only, like, fifteen minutes or so when I go, so there’s not much of a time excuse thing with that.)

While I’ve been away from the blog, I did notice that I’m still getting a lot of hits regularly from fans of elevator buttons.  Here, check this out:

Above:  Search terms for this blog.  Elevator buttons still a major source of traffic.

Something else (if you’re interested) are my holiday cards that are waiting to be bought.  I thought I would mention them on here in case you haven’t picked yours up yet.  No, I’m not trying to ‘sell’ you anything, but if you want to check them out, maybe they’re something you would enjoy.  Not too sure.  Anyway, they’re available through NobleWorks.  Just go to the site and in the search, type in ‘Nate Fakes’ and you’ll run across several of them.  They’re sure to add some holiday cheer to anyone that is unfortunate enough to get one!

I guess that’s about enough ran-dumb-ness for now!  Listen, I’ll get back on track at some point.  I like to write and even though usually I don’t have too much insightful information to write about, it’s fun to do and I do have several things I can post about and have wanted to.  Just that freaking discipline thing to sit down and write more.  Boy, I gotta work on that.

In the meantime, if you know of anyone that loves elevator buttons, please refer them over here to Nate’s Ramblings.  I might have some special elevator button post on here soon.