Search Results for: rats

Rats! Episode 01 – How did I get here?!

A long time ago (back in 1989, to be exact), in a galaxy far, far away (Blacksburg, Virginia), there was a 20-year-old college student who had nothing better to do with her time than sit and draw cartoons about the Virginia Tech Cadet Corps, of which she was a member.

No, I’m not kidding, I was actually a cadet in college. I wore a uniform everyday, had room inspections and PT, and I even had an Army ROTC scholarship.

I was a lousy cadet, which should surprise no one. Back then, I had yet to develop a passion for fitness, so all the running and push ups and hauling around of 50 lbs of equipment on my back was pretty much my own personal version of Hell. And you just know I had problems with authority. Plus I had no prior experience with the military, in spite of the fact that my dad was career Army (every time he discussed work, yours truly pretty much tuned out). That meant I was completely clueless about things like saluting and marching and singing jodies, etc. Yet in spite of all that, I somehow made it through four years of ROTC and the Cadet Corps, which was like being in a military academy tucked inside the civilian student body (probably somewhere around where the gall bladder would be… get it? Tucked inside the student body, near the gall bladder… oh never mind).

The four years I spent at Virginia Tech were some of the most exhausting, frustrating, and painful times of my life. And yet they were also hysterically funny. After two years in the Corps, I started drawing cartoons about what it was like to be a rat; that is, a freshman cadet. No matter how much I advanced through college and the Corps, I always felt like a rat — confused, hopelessly lost, distracted, and frazzled. Not much has changed since those days, really.

I drew four years worth of Rats! for the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times. That was two strips a week for nine months of the year. Last weekend, I dug through my closet and found all my old strips. Some are in pretty bad condition and need serious restoration. Most are just fine, though. None of these have ever been published anywhere but in the CT, and then not since 1993, the year I finally stopped drawing Rats! and got married and moved on with my life.

I hope you enjoy Rats! You’ll be seeing it here every Thursday until I run through all the original strips. I figure that should take three years. I’ll be running the cartoons in chronological order, so what happens in the strip probably won’t match up with what’s going on the real world (i.e. strips drawn for Christmas or Spring Break will appear when they turn up in the order they were drawn, and not necessarily at Christmas or Spring Break). So sit back and enjoy. You’re about to get a sneak peek at four of the wildest years of my life.

Bitchcraft! Episode 01 – Birth of a new horror!!


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It’s here! It’s finally here! A new webcomic!! Mich and I began thinking about this little project sometime shortly after Intervention last year. The idea really took hold of me shortly after I had my ACL reconstructed and I was on those really fun pain-killers!.  It’s taken months to get our characters put together, and I’ve spent the last couple weeks trying to figure out how I wanted to photograph and layout the actual comic, but here it is, the very first episode of Bitchcraft!

The little Mich character (in the loverly W&M sweater) was knitted by Mich, and I crocheted the mini-version of me. The hair matched my hair color when I started this hair project. It will change as time passes, don’t worry.

Just to let you know, this webcomic will not be like The Adventures of Cynical Woman. ACW has become more family oriented over the last couple of years, which is great because it’s an autobiographical webcomic and I do have a family (yes, I do!). But Bitchcraft! is meant to be very different. It will not be family friendly, so don’t read it to your kids. Instead, it will be evil. Very, very evil. Because that’s what I want it to be.

So enjoy the first episode. I will work hard to get the second one up next Friday. And yes, Rats! will eventually be returning. Now that I can walk again, I plan to get up to my office and start scanning in more strips. So lots of comics all around! Enjoy!

ACW Episode 202 – Smile!

I am barely surviving cookie season. Our first weekend we had four booth sales out in the freezing cold. Princess couldn't feel her feet after four hours of selling cookies outside a Mexican restaurant. This past weekend I had to work on another three booth sales – two for Pixie's troop, one for Princess'. I write these posts a few days in advance so I'm just going to assume that I'm dead dog tired.

I apologize for not getting up the usual posts for “Rats!” on Wednesdays and for not having anything interesting to post on Fridays. I'm just too slammed with work for Girl Scouts to keep up with the usual schedule. That and the fact that I am still recovering from the ACL reconstruction have really taken a bite out of my productivity. I think next year I should just clear my calendar of everything except Girl Scouts and the webcomics.

We've got one more weekend of booth sales coming up. If I survive that, then I've got one more week to gather up all the paperwork and finish this cookie business off. Hopefully after that I'll get a couple days to recover and then I can get back to a more regular schedule.

We'll see.


ACW Episode 188 – Knee Surgery!

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I had planned to post this earlier today, but then I went to physical therapy for 2 hours and when I got home I crashed for 3 hours and then I had to spend another hour doing all those physical therapy exercises again. So now I'm exhausted again and collapsed back on the couch. Fun!

The good news is that I can feel my girl parts again. Yay!

I don't know what I'm going to do about all my other regular posts, including Rats! as I can't get up to my office to scan anything in now. It was tough to deal with stairs before but it's impossible right now. I'll see what I can work out, but you all may just get stuck with whatever weird stuff I come up with while I'm recooperating on the couch.

Anyway, have fun. I'm going to crash again now.


ACW Episode 186 – Bath Time!!

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Yes, this actually happened. No, I did not kill the small child. And yes, I am counting this as 4 points for PerCaDraMo because I have a bum knee and it's slowing everything down!!! So there!

I have no idea how Pixie managed to spill that much water out of the tub, but when I went screaming upstaris, there was more bath water on the floor than in the tub. In fact, there was almost more bath water in my yarn than in the tub. Almost, but fortunately I was able to move very fast in spite of my screwed-up knee. Frighteningly fast.

Speaking of my knee, I found out on Friday that I tore both the meniscus cartilage and the ACL in my right knee. So I will be having surgery in two weeks and then I will be on crutches probably for… Weeks? I dunno.

But before the surgery, I'm going to get up into the office and scan in plenty of Rats! comics as well as plenty of art for the Very Scary Art website so I can get back to posting on a regular basis.

Anyway, that's what's going on around here.


PerCaDraMo for 14 November 2012 – Meet Foxy Moxy!

Hey! I know I missed yesterday's PerCaDraMo. This drawing was in progress but it wasn't quite ready, and I needed to get some sleep so I finished it today.

Anyway, here is Foxy Moxy. I drew her in Adobe Ideas on my iPad. The idea was to create a cute little fox with a lot of personality and I think I succeeded. I have ideas for this character, so that indicates success to me anyway.

I'm hoping to be back to the regular blogging schedule next week, meaning Rats! will return along with something for Friday. I may go back to Flashback Friday, or I may do something new. I'm toying with the idea of turning Fridays into a new art day, and showing off a new sketch or craft item each Friday. We'll see.

Anyway, this is Foxy Moxy!


Episode 99 – Just a short walk in the woods


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Two miles is a loooooooooooooong way to walk if you’ve got to haul a ton of equipment on your back. It’s one of the reasons why I always hated going out into the field. I just didn’t have the stamina to carry a heavy pack and a rubber duck (the nickname for the fake M-16s we had to carry) up and down a mountainous road. Plus we always went out into the field when it was freezing cold. And we had to eat MREs, which in general were pretty gross back then. And we had to pull guard duty half the night, and then would get attacked by another group of cadets at some godly hour of the morning. And there was always some officer breathing down our necks, screaming at us, “What are you gonna do NOW, cadet?! The enemy’s called in mortar rounds! What are you gonna do?! Die?! Is that your plan?!”

So no, I didn’t enjoy going into the field. And I didn’t care much for camping in general except when I went with my family, and since my dad spent 21 years in the Infantry, it was pretty much just like going out on a field training exercise.  Except maybe he didn’t yell as much.

Then last April I ended up taking 7 Girl Scouts on a local camping trip. I stressed over this dang trip for weeks. Since I was the volunteer in charge for this outing, I had to plan all the meals, buy all the food, figure out how we were going to get it all cooked. I had to put together the packing list for the troop equipment we’d need and another packing list for the girls. I knew it was going to be cold and muddy that weekend too, and all the while as I prepared for this trip, I kept having flashbacks to my days in ROTC.

Naturally, I was miserable the day we headed out for the camping trip, but the girls were really excited, and I was determined not to pass on my loathing of camping to them.  This was something they wanted to do, so they should enjoy it and I shouldn’t rain on their parade.  Then in all the hustle and bustle of setting up camp and feeding the girls and participating in the classes the service unit set up, something really weird happened to me. It actually got to be kind of fun.

The thing was, I knew what I was doing, unlike my 20–year-old self back in ROTC. I knew how to set up camp and I knew how to get the food cooked, and I knew how to keep the girls busy and get them from one activity to the next without losing any of them and I knew to make them drink water and wear bug spray and sunblock. I knew what I was doing. And I was doing it automatically, without having to think about it. Because I was trained to do it in Army ROTC and in the Army Reserves.

At one point during the weekend, one of the older Girl Scouts from another troop gave me a really funny look.

“What?” I said.

She shook her head. “I don’t know what it is, but you look like you belong out here?”

“Say what?”

She shrugged. “You’re not wearing camo or anything, but you look like you belong out here doing what you’re doing. Like you know what you’re doing.”

“Oh. That might be because I spent some time in the Army Reserves.”

“Yeah! That’s it! Hey, they let you in the Reserves with hair like that?”

“Uh, no…”

It’s strange to me how much I fall back on my military training these days. I wasn’t a career officer, and I certainly wasn’t an Infantry man. But the training I had was intense enough that it still hangs with me. And it’s come in handy now that I find myself leading a troop of Girl Scouts. As much as I did not enjoy my time in the military, I never would have expected that to happen.

Flashback Friday! X-Toons


“X-Toons (Rough Draft)” by Helen E. H. Madden, date unknown

A long time ago, some time in between when I drew the “Rats!” comic strips for the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times and when I began drawing “The Adventures of Cynical Woman” webcomic, I did a very short series of comics called “The X-Toons.” Basically, it was comic fan art for the X-Files.  I drew them by hand and then colored them in Corel Photopaint. I uploaded them… somewhere online. I can’t recall where I might have posted them, or who I might have shared them with. This was before blogs were popular, and before the term “webcomics” even existed. I think I drew a grand total of five of these comics, and I’ve probably got them tucked away on a disk somewhere. I’m just not sure where.  The above sketch is an early rough draft for one of those comics. If I can find the final product, or any of the other X-Toons I did, I’ll post them here.

ACW Episode 155 – It’s Over! Or Not…


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I apologize for being late with today’s comic, and for missing Friday and Wednesday’s posts entirely. I knew it was going to happen, and there was simply no way to avoid it. We were down to the last few days of Girl Scout cookie season and yours truly was pretty much buried in paperwork and bank deposits. I have never been so sick of cookies and money at the same time in all my life.

Fortunately, cookie season is over. We got everything turned in on time, all the cookies sold, and now I don’t have to deal with this mess again for another nine months.  Yes, I will be cookie mom again next year, unless some fool-hardy soul decides they really want the job instead.  The fact is, cookie sales is how a troop earns money to do things like go camping, participate in community events, help with charity projects, etc.  Keep all that in mind the next time you see a Girl Scout cookie! Those cookies do an awful lot, and not just for the girls but the community at large as well!

Princess’ Brownie troop will be using their cookie money for a couple of camping trips coming up, of which I am in charge of one.  I’ll be taking 10 little girls out to the woods and trying to keep them fed, safe, and occupied for 3 days and 2 nights. Thankfully, I won’t be out there on my own. The entire service unit is participating in this encampment and I’ve managed to team our troop up with a troop of older girls and more experienced moms. I’ve had camping experience, but that was with the Army Reserves, which I understand is very different from camping with Girl Scouts. We’ll see which one I enjoy more!

Pixie’s troop will also be at this encampment, and I’m sure that’s going to be interesting. I don’t envy her troop leaders. Those Daisies are quite a handful.

Anyway, I’m working to get back on track with the blog and the rest of my life this week, so you should see both Rats! and Flashback Friday posts here at their usual times. As for the color in this week’s comic, let me know if you like it. I’ve developed a serious fondness for markers, and may continue to color the comics if I can work it into my schedule. It is extra work, but I like the results. Let me know what you think, and as always, enjoy!

ACW 145 – C is for…

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Some of you may remember that last year I was the cookie mom for Princess’ Girl Scout troop. Well, guess what? I’m cookie mom again this year! AND this year Pixie is in Girl Scouts too, but in a different troop because she’s a Daisy. Before you ask, no, I did not volunteer to be cookie mom for two troops. I’m not that crazy. But I am now faced with the prospect of taking two little girls door-to-door through our neighborhood to sell Girl Scout cookies, and then delivering them again later on, which means I’m going to have to be careful not to get Pixie’s cookies mixed up with Princess’ cookies and vice versa, all while keeping track of cookies and money for Princess’ entire troop. So yeah, I am at least that crazy.

Anyway, moving on. You may have noticed that this week’s “Adventures of Cynical Woman” is showing up on Monday instead of it’s usual Tuesday spot. That’s because things are changing. I’m switching gears this year to devote a lot more time to art and cartooning, and part of doing so means tightening up the blog schedule. Instead of doing “Move It Mama Monday” on Mondays, I’ll be posting the web comic instead. On Wednesdays, I’ll post “Rats!” instead of “WIP Wednesday.” And on Fridays, I’ll continue to post “Flashback Friday,” which will be about artwork I’ve found in old sketchbooks of mine. There will be the occasional announcement post about any upcoming events like conventions, or about new products available in the Zazzle store, or about any stories I get published, etc. But otherwise I’m sticking to the cartoons and art posts for this year. My hope is that if I get fast enough with the cartoons, I’ll be able to post more of them as time goes by, but I’m going to have to work up to that. As for “Move It Mama Monday” and “WIP Wednesday,” those will no longer be regular features on the blog. I know some folks really enjoyed “Move It Mama Monday,” but I haven’t really had anything new to say about exercise and fitness in a while, and when I do, it’s usually something I’d rather say in the web comic anyway.

So, there will be changes here, starting this week. And you’ll see more stuff showing up in the store. And if you see me at conventions this year, like at Marscon this coming weekend, you may see some new stuff there as well. It’s all good. It’s part of a grand scheme, and I think this time next year, we’ll all be able to look back and realize this transition to more serious cartooning was the best thing ever!