September 5th, 2016

Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season — And Deadlines…

by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker

After a storm in 2011, this large pine in our neighbor's backyard just barely missed my studio. After a storm in 2011, this large pine from our neighbor’s backyard just barely missed my studio.

Hurricanes may come and go, but deadlines are always with us.


Last Thursday night, Hurricane Hermine drew a bead on Tallahassee, Florida, where I live and work. Our power went out almost immediately as Hermine went to work kidney punching Florida’s Capital City. Tallahassee has lots and lots of trees. A great deal of them are large southern oaks decorated with beards of Spanish moss, plus there are a ton of loblolly pines everywhere. In fact our front yard alone is home to twenty-three 80ft-tall loblolly pines. So whenever a big storm strikes, the city’s trees come down as if there was a lumberjack convention in town — and the trees take miles of power lines and utility poles down with them. Replacing all that power grid infrastructure can take a few days if not more.


Happily none of our front yard National Forrest made the move from vertical to horizontal this time around.


So you may be asking, how does one meet deadline without electricity? Nowadays as with the aftermath of Hermine, I pull out the generator to keep the refrigerator, a few lights, and my studio computers working. But before I got our gasoline-powered generator, and before we made the switch to producing Dustin digitally a couple of years ago, getting the strip done on time took a little innovation and a lot of D-cell batteries.


The strip used to be inked by hand. And to preserve the pencil sketch, plus save on all that erasing, I used a light box technique where I taped the sketch to a nice piece of bristol paper, and traced over the pencil lines in ink on a light box. Light boxes don’t work when the power’s out. Sure, I could stand and draw against a large window using outside light, but that only works during the day, and plays heck on your back, neck, shoulders and feet after awhile.


So channeling McGyver, I cobbled together the working light box you see below using our kitchen’s glass topped cafe table and one of our battery-powered hurricane lights.

IMG_0736 When conditions got all stone age in 2011, I “made fire.”

My little temporary light box setup in the kitchen. My little temporary light box setup in our kitchen.


Now that Dustin is produced digitally, all I have to do is make sure the Wacom Cintiq and Power Mac have juice by cranking up our emergency generator. This is how I worked for the past three days. Sadly the Hermine-hit trees around town also pulled down all our cable service, so I was without internet too. Once roads were made passable again, and I was able to make a gasoline run for the ever thirsty generator, I’d also seek out some working wifi to email sketches to Steve plus file the finished cartoons with King Features. Sitting in some air-conditioning for a little while was nice little bonus.


As of late last night, power had been restored to shouts of joy and much dancing around the house to close the windows here at Chez Parkair. So all is back to normal this morning. The AC is keeping things livable, the fridge is humming away, computers and internet are doing their data thing… and instead of a loss of electricity interrupting deadline, wasting hours on Facebook is interrupting deadline — like normal.

hermine-landfall Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel.




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