gabby's playhouse

a gabby schulz & ken dahl internet repository

gabby's playhouse

Blood WaterColor Sex Tragik

Over at our “store” we just put up a few of our newer watercolors, such as the one pictured above. They have been freshly culled from our secret sketchbook — a special book we sewed together ourselves out of glue, dental floss, fine watercolor paper and dreams. What dreams, you ask? Only that you buy the things, even though they are just weird stream-of-consciousness doodles to occupy ourselves between doing Actual Work and stalking groundhogs.

This is only half of them, we’ll be back next week with more! Some of them quite natty, if we do type so ourselves.

Not much else going on at the moment, to be honest. We may go to the State Fair this week!


Here’s a page of fan art (click it bigger) that we watercolored for a pal with a shared obsession, in exchange for some sweet brake levers & a pack of fancy watercolors (ha ha, sucker!). It’s our tiny interpretation of the excellent song “Civilisation,” a track off of one of the best albums you’ll never find in a record bin (The World As It Is Today), made by one of the most important bands you’ve never heard of (Art Bears).

Said pal says they’ll put the page up in their awesome bike store, 30th Century Bicycle, which makes us feel pretty cool indeed.

Who let the dog out? Us.

Above is pictured the newest addition to our little menagerie, Lola the dog. Drawn by request last week. You, naturally, are also free to sip of the intoxicating nectar of Pet Art by simply contacting us at the email address at the right of your screen and requesting a commission! A 9″ x 10″ portrait in watercolor and pen & ink usually runs about $85 (cheap!). Of course, if you’d like something else drawn — say, a hedgehog, a house, or sexy people barely clothed in Civil War attire — you may have those wishes granted as well with but a flick of the paypal.

We are also interested in illustrating song lyrics if they are cool or of a band you really love (stay tuned next week for an example of this!) — so if you have any you’d like to see rendered, suggest something our way.

And now, an apology: if you were among the first to order a copy of Welcome to The Dahlhouse & were charged a different shipping amount than promised, we are gushingly sorry — literally every button has been pushed, and every lever thrown, and we still can’t get “Cart66” (the e-commerce plugin) to do as told. This website is definitely taking on a sort of HAL-9000 vibe as of late, but sadly there is no real way to diagnose the problem unless you keep buying books from us! So by all means, keep it up — and thank you.

Oh, PS: if you do happen to get charged an extra $0.75 or dollar for shipping, know that we are including a little something extra for your troubles — and if this outrages you and you demand a refund, we are extremely happy to comply, just drop a line.

new old books

Pictured above is the most entitled, most curious, cutest, and least-respecting of personal boundaries of our roommates inspecting a tall box of old comics product — that’s right, we now have copies of Welcome to The Dahlhouse for sale (cat not included), at bargain prices. Since it’s mostly a novelty that we even have these on our site, a good four years after their date of publication, we’re offering them to you with no gimmicks, no hassle, and $3 postage:


Price: $7.00

picture-wise, there’s not much more we can show you at the moment — all the stuff we’ve drawn recently for other folks is still in transit & we don’t want to spoil it — so we suppose we will just take this moment to thank all the people who have written us very kind, very personal and very encouraging emails in response to our “sick” comic — WHICH, it must be stressed, is not even officially back up on the Playhouse yet! We’re not entirely sure how all of you are getting linked to a page that shows it to you — we assume it’s the result of some other sector of the Interweb Universe linking to it — but we’re glad it’s getting back out there after our Unfortunate Incident with the Playhouse redesign. We assure you that we’ll have the whole thing back up officially, & with comment field appended, sometime soon. Originally we planned for that to happen tonight, as we had planned to be strenuously awake all night wired on the green tea we drank for dinner (NB: we are sissies) — but our roommates blindsided us with some free gourmet ice cream, which seems to have canceled out any of the tea’s potent stimulating effect. So… excuse us as we lapse into a coma mid-sentence into a J.G. Ballard short story. If we wake up to a couple Dahlhouse orders we will be most excited, as this box clashes severely with the walls.

New shit to look at

We just put a bunch of new watercolor pages up for sale in the Store — such as the one you see pictured above. Although it might not seem like we’ve been doing much cartooning lataly, we have been in a training-montage of sorts lately with a new “medium,” watercolors, drawing about a page a day of somewhat random color comics. It’s been nothing special, just expanding the horizons a bit in the hopes that we might be able to use these fancy-pants techniques in future projects. Anyway you’re welcome to the products of this training at bargain prices. To check some out, just click on toward the store and paypal you up some. (Shipping for domestic orders is just $3. If you want more than one email us and we’ll be sure to discount some postage.)

We’ll be drawing more of these until we get our watercolor chops, so if there’s any general theme or direction you’d like to see us lean toward in future pages, we’ll happily consider them — especially if it means you’ll be wanting to buy them up. And if you’ve got any tubes of watercolors laying around you’d like to ship us in trade for a page, let us know — we need more hues, and those damn things are expensive.

The astute (or perhaps dementedly persistent) Playhouse reader will have also noticed that we finally got an old classic, “Gordon Smalls Goes to Jail,” up in our webcomics section. Also, a bunch of people have been asking what happened to “Sick” — we promise that’ll be back up soon! But for now, if you want to read parts 1-17, they’re still hidden away on the Playhouse on one gigantic page here.

do dulls

sorry for not having an enormous blog post this week, we got kinda internet shy after that last rant. here’s a doodle we doodled recently in our sketchbook:

sorry if the sizing is weird! (it might be both too big and too small.) someone bought these two pages from us at CAKE. we of course will have more for sale like this, since we are in The World of Watercolors recently.

you’re in all CAKE

So this weekend we went to a wonderful comics convention in Chicago, called CAKE, that was really great and fine (and already expertly reviewed on other blogs). We debuted our modest little comic Weather and went to a bar or two with some other cartoonists and chatted with many old friends and new cool random people. We also swam in a pool and — if you can believe this — patronized an actual hotel gym… before noon.

However, as we pulled away from the towering Chicago skyline and back into the darkening midwestern plains, our muscles seizing into a post-workout rictus, we couldn’t help but detect the slightest twinge of melancholy stealing over our psychic landscape. We realized that we had been very rude and boring — not ONCE this weekend did we take the time to stroll around and actually enjoy the convention which we had traveled across two states to attend. Admittedly, this was mostly a budget issue — we just plain didn’t have the money to spend on comics, and thus didn’t want to insult anyone (ie, everyone) by chatting them up & then refusing them even a single crappy penny of reward for their noble cartoon efforts. We know how it feels, the subtle searing scorn of snubbery, and are reluctant to expose anyone else to the pain of rejection. We are also happy to avoid any conversations having to do with how broke-as-balls we are and probably always will be, and how we can’t afford to buy any of the media we are ourselves struggling to create.

And so we lurked behind the Secret Acres table, fondling our shirtsleeves, smiling at the revolving parade of acquaintances, crushes, strangers, celebs & exes, and feeling gradually more and more as though we have become a mere observer rather than participant in the grand spectacle of “Alternative Comics.”

You see, dear reader, the truth is that we have no real claim to the mantle of Cartoonist. We didn’t go to art school; we never dreamed of signing a Marvel contract; we didn’t learn anatomy by tracing over copies of Scrooge McDuck; we never impressed the gradeschool girls with pretty pictures. How we even got into this racket is, as far as we can tell, a total fluke.

It’s easy to forget, a couple Ignatz Awards & ego-strokes later, that the majority of our life was spent outside the inky bubble of the Comics Scene. Why, just six years ago we were still living in a 20′ box truck, pulling our dinners out of the trash & cooking them over a portable butane stove. True, we were also drawing comics in this truck — but these were quietly labored over in comfortable obscurity, while waiting for the next transient ShitJob to fall into our grease-stained laps. This was our life. We had no plans for the future, no aspirations of recognition or remuneration. All we looked forward to was more of the same, as we quietly faded into middle age & died of an infected tooth abscess. The idea of making a Career out of Comic Art — mainly due to our own lack of confidence — had not yet even registered in our minds as a possibility. We just drew comics for our own ends, mostly because we couldn’t afford therapy & didn’t have any friends.

But then one thing (a fellowship at a cartoon school) led to another (Monsters), and the next thing we knew, we had gone from feral auto-bum to Award-Winning Cartoonist with a publisher, internet accolades, fans, trophies and a vanity website. We moved to a new city; were introduced to whole new sets of semi-famous friends; accrued a whole new Artist identity. We dressed nicer. We traded our carhartts in for slacks. We even started showering semi-regularly. For the first time in our life, people seemed to respect us, include us, pay attention to us. Attending “cons” suddenly seemed important and normal. We began to feel as though we had a some kind of (small) public responsibility to create comics, when a couple years ago it’d been just a dumb hobby on our time off from throwing pizzas at college kids.

Pretty laughable, we know. Because in spite of how much we’ve enjoyed this voluptuous & intoxicating period of our lives, we are starting to suspect that this cartooning path we’ve recently stumbled down has a shade of martyrdom to it. We’re still and will always be broke & creditless; we’re still and will always be hatching out our comics in cafes and libraries while squeezing eight cups of tea out of one teabag; we’re still and will always be dressing from thrift stores, drinking bottom-shelf liquor, and subletting slums. We’re still and will most likely always be buffeted by gray tempests of doubt, depression, self-hatred and sloth. We still and forevermore will be unable to draw forearms. We’re still walking the demimonde’s increasingly cat-hair-thin tightrope, balancing one false step away from utter ruin over a deepening chasm of a globally bedshitting economy. The difference is, now that we’re a Cartoonist, we find ourselves a little older, a little softer, a little more bourgeois, & a little less able to account for these new gaps in our resume to potential ShitJob employers. Considering how time-consuming the act of comicking is, considering how old we were when we got into this game, and considering we don’t see ourselves illustrating any New Yorker covers anytime soon, this leaves us with some difficult algebra to calculate. Comics readers may be patient, but landlords aren’t.

Maybe it’s just the sixpack talking, but we’re not afraid to say all this is genuinely terrifying, & we see no real solutions at the ready. As much as we’ve loved the ride, on some late nights, becoming a Real Cartoonist seems like the worst thing that ever happened to us. We’ve sold our housetruck, lost our restaurant connections, accustomed ourselves to the pampered refinery of the Artist’s lifestyle. The oven-burns & knife-gashes have faded from our once-calloused hands, precisely at that moment in socioeconomic history when a little thickening could have done our skin some good.

And maybe comics itself was a fluke — this enlightened epoch at the ass end of the American Century that briefly allowed us to indulge our fantasy that American sequential art of the quirkiest variety deserves not only respect, but compensation? Perhaps we’re at the end of civilization itself, witnesses to the final, whimpering chapter of humanity? And if so — if this is a real and imminent possibility — how does one justify, much less accomplish, the act of making comics?

Come what may, we can still say that we have been more than grateful to have played our part as another well-intentioned purveyor of Art’s cultural placebo. And we most sincerely do wish and pray that we may we yet be allowed to do same for many years to come, however that may manifest. However, as much as we would love to do so, drawing another 200-page graphic novel seems at this point to be an all but impossible feat, economically — the years spent drawing Monsters drained us to our last skinny dime, and the ensuing years, while personally enriching, have found us unable to increase or even maintain our portion dollars-wise.

In short, we have lost our way and have no compass for what lies ahead. Will we go the way of so many other cartoonists & give up on the Sequential Arts, squeezing out the last few drops of our integrity on gouache portraits to make next month’s rent? Will we fall off the map & surface a couple years later in a half-assed obit? Will we take up puppetry full-time? Will we dissolve into alcoholism & bitterness? Will we try to get in to some bullshit grad school? Will we compulsively crank out another humiliating autobio comic that renders us even less-eligible of a bachelor than ever? We honestly cannot say. All we know is that we speak to you from a rather dark and mysterious crossroads.

In December, we turn 40. It’s hard to express, to those who haven’t seen it themselves, just how closely this milestone resembles a gravestone when viewed right up close. It represents the calcification of one’s identity; a death of potential that renders all future behaviors inevitable. It’s that time in life when you are forced to realize that Who You Are is, for the most part, who you’ll always be. It’s a time to say goodbye, forever, to Youth’s lascivious eden of effortless beauty and painless dalliance; time to replace the frenetic romance of intentional self-abuse with a grim daily combat against mere entropy. Time to tally up the card & compare your bullshit little Yahtzee score with the other players. It’s a butterly-to-caterpillar moment, a process of externalization, a sort of prep class for the final exam of death.

It’s also an enormous drag. History isn’t kind to artists in my position — trust me, you don’t want to run the numbers on how many of us were still able to “make it,” much less keep from dissolving into tragic, exhausted hackdom, from this point onward. But we’d like to at least give this grave moment the solemn respect it deserves, by actually deciding what the fuck we’re doing with our lives — mostly by making some concrete decisions about whether we’re literally able to continue our little comics hobby, and figuring out how to make the rent from here on out either way. Drastic options have been tossed about — joining a commune; expatriating to Belgium; adopting a dog; selling out; marrying rich. Over the next few months we fully plan to employ the assistance of potent psychedelics toward the end of sorting this all out proper.

Mostly though, we’ll just blab about it on the internet to you. So please, if anyone has any suggestions as to how an old man in our position might best find fulfillment, or bliss, or redemption, or at the very least a way to pay rent while drawing another under-the-radar cult graphic novel, counsel is just a comment field away.

Also, Weather is now for sale, and in a short bit we’ll be putting up some more watercolors. We’ll also have “Sick” back up in a few, to please those who’ve requested it back.

Update: we sold out of Weather, but you can still get it on the Secret Acres site here.

Playhouse 2.0!

Finally! We are back. Sorry for the delay. The good news is we have a new comic to report:

Weather, another Gordon Smalls story. It will be debuting this weekend at the Chicago Arts & Komics Extravaganza — or whatever CAKE stands for. There’s some pretty huge hype about CAKE & we are all caught up in it, glad to be there for the first year of this new excuse to hang out with absent friends and drink a little more than usual.

Thanks for your patience over the past few weeks while we’ve struggled in silence to get the site back up & redesigned — we’ve also been in the middle of relocating to a different city & struggling to make it back onto our feet, despite the financial antipathy of A Certain Bad Person (who sublet us a room & then disappeared with 600 of our dollars, causing the whole house to get evicted). We still don’t have a job, but we do have a new sublet, with some really darling wonderful roommates who share their food, beer & RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes with me.

Here in Columbus the cost of rent & alcohol are low enough to make any unemployed cartoonist blush. The people are unpretentious & nice, which is a welcome change from the daily psychic abuse we weathered during our tenure in The City Which Shall Not Be Named. We’ll spare the parting shot at Mammon, but will admit that it is nice to be a safe distance away from a certain corps of hyper-militarized, post-legal, state-enriched thugs whose name starts with N and ends in YPD.

Anyway, you might notice some changes to our digital geography as well — there’s a new fancy-pants store; and a page where we’re gonna be collecting all the random webcomics we draw from time to time. It’s all pretty skeletal at the moment, but expect it to grow again, gradually, into another Babel-like monument to our own self-indulgence. Of special note this week is the handful of watercolors that we’ve slapped down on the barrelhead on the store page — we’ll be putting original pages from our comics up on there soon, too — in particular, the watercolored pages of our new book.

So mess around and enjoy yourself — and if there’s anything broken, missing or stupid, don’t hesitate to let us know! Unfortunately, our three years’ worth of Playhouse 1.0 posts, links and comments have been swallowed up into the cybervoid — but now that we’re back to our usual weekly regimen of useless, rambling posts & doodles, our hope is that you soon won’t even notice the difference. Happy summer.