mostly about comments

mostly about comments

What is this?

This is the comments section for the (food) comic website Mostly About Food.

Here you can read my notes on the comics (as well as other subjects) and write your own comments.

What I have been eating lately

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:57:12

(Posted originally on August 30th, 2006)

Here’s one that doesn’t need much explanation (but I’ll give some anyway). It has the sloppiest writing so far, but then again, the whole idea was to quickly get a hang of the drawing tablet and skip the manuscript. I did get some new ideas about how to utilize the tablet and how to make the drawings a bit “cleaner”. These ones turned out very, very sketchy, probably because I didn’t do any sketching first. That could be fixed by drawing some quick lines in grey and then the final picture in black, on a new layer and then just delete the first layer, pretty much like with pencil and ink, but just faster (hopefully).

Unfortunately, lately I haven’t had much time to get used to the tablet or to draw anything with pens, either. The new job is taking quite a share of my time and energy and now I feel a bit guilty for neglecting the blog. I’m quite sure there will be some new stuff by Sunday, at least. Just bear with me, okay?

Pasta Pronto Pronto

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:54:42

(Posted originally on August 13th, 2006)

If the pasta wasn’t all that quick to make, neither was the comic about it. This one took me three weeks to produce! Apparently the production dept. is experiencing some difficulties in picking up the pace after the vacation...

This one is based on true events, from some three-four years ago, when I had just started to make my own pasta. It was a Wednesday and I had a strange idea about home-made pasta being just as quick to make as cooking dry spaghetti. I was probably under the influence of Jamie Oliver, to whom everything is “dead simple and quick”. I don’t remember the sauce that was made that evening, but we had our dinner pretty late. So late, in fact, that Joanna told me never to make my own pasta again on a weekday, after work. I could see her point, so I have been obedient on that one ever since.

The origins of the sauce are a bit more obscure. I don’t remember how I have come up with that, so it might be a result of deliberate product development for comics, or it can be that I have come to think something like it on a day when I have searched through the frigdge and freezer for something to eat. Although I seem to be quite dismissive to the sauce in the comic, I’d say it is a pretty good one. It’s just not awfully creative; mixing shellfish, dill, white wine and butter can’t be considered too revolutionary. But it’s good, so go ahead and make it yourself! (do people try a lot of recipes from food blogs? I am not very good in that, but constantly improving)

The First Strawberry of the Summer

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:38:56

(Posted originally on July 12th, 2006)

This is the new personal favourite of mine. Or at least it's competing very hard with "Ode to Sushi". I am a bit of a nostalgic person so I like to think back to all the good old times: that's one of the rather few ways to make me emotional.

The story in itself isn't really based on a memory of a single day, but it is quite describing of a typical day on the plantation back then. Oddly enough, for some reason I left mom out of this story, even though she was always working there, too. It wasn't until early to mid-nineties that dad relieved mom from cucumber field duty (not that she didn't go to work there after that). I have actually planned a comic series, which takes a deeper plunge into growing vegetables, so be prepared for more stories from our summer place. Today the plantation is way smaller, because nobody in our family has much interest to work that hard to make some extra income. Nowadays it's just fun to go there with mom and dad, pick a little this and some that. At times some city people on bicycles stop by and ask if they can buy some cucumbers, only to become completely astonished when dad hands them a bag with four cucumbers, a few carrots, beetroots and sunflowers, all for free. You wouldn't believe how many thank-yous people can say for a little free flowers and vegetables. Dad, of course, is overjoyed when somebody admires his (or mom's to be correct) sunflowers and shows interest in his little garden. It's all fun to watch, while eating raspberries and some of the last peas, hanging from the near-dead stalks (we're usually there in August, you see). Hmm, why am I writing this here? Should I not spare it for another comic, or what? I really am a nostalgic person, getting all carried away... well, we are flying over there in just a couple of days, so the thought of the summer place, new season potatoes and strawberries straight out of the bush is constantly in my mind.

Drawing - or actually colouring - this one was a tough one. There was plenty of details and small stuff (plenty to me, not so for Geof Darrow, for example :o), which is why I was very fortunate to learn to use the colour replacer function in Paint Shop Pro. That makes colouring a lot faster and easier than using only paint bucket and pencil tools. Development, in baby steps!

Although the layout of page one went a bit wrong (all the short panels on the left and long ones on the right, if you didn't notice: panels three and four should switch sizes to make it right) I am rather content with this one. I feel that sense of progression again, which is comforting. Sure, it has a very conventional layout and artwork and it doesn't utilize the possibilities of computer technology in any way, but at least I feel that the story has a decent flow and structure. I think I will start making my comics more internet-adapted later in the autumn. Meaning, there will be (flash) animations, more clicking of pictures, moving backgrounds, sound and stuff.

By the way, did you count all the different animals in this comic? I'm not quite sure howa lark looks like, but that's the bird on the last panel of page one. I find it extremely enjoyable to watch a lark hovering above a field and to listen to its constant singing. Then it drops down, gets all quiet and after a while, goes back to hovering and singing mode again. I've never understood the meaning of it, but it makes the coffee and sandwiches that are enjoyed after work taste that much better.

Cookbook Awards

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:36:10

(Posted originally on July 11th, 2006)

It brings me joy to finally take part in an internet meme. Probably some day soon I will participate IMBB, too. It is good to have your own thing, but it’s also a lot of fun to play with the other kids on the block, which is why it has been bothering me that I haven’t been too quick to take part in different events, memes and discussions in the food blogging community. The problem is the light speed of the net and my snail-pace production of new material. I am considering very seriously buying a drawing pad or tablet or whatsitcalled, to speed things up a bit. So, the need to participate, to be an active member of the community was my main motivation to do this one.

On the other hand, I am not quite satisfied with the end result. At first I thought that mixing drawings, text and photos and making the layout more like in an “ordinary blog” could be exciting, but now I’m not so convinced of that. It is a bit disruptive. To step that far away from my usual style feels a bit like finding an unsuitably weird ingredient in your food (like raspberries in a chanterelle soup, for instance). Sure, there is no rule saying one can’t use photos or text paragraphs in comics, or that one has to place two to five panels next to each other before moving down is feasible, but this just doesn’t feel Right. I should have worked on it some more, done something to it. It’s the same feeling as when my experimental cooking doesn’t quite turn the way I had hoped for. And yes, I know it isn’t sensible to complain about your creations to your guests or readers but sometimes I just can’t help it.

I have also been quite tired lately, which may have played a part in my crappy writing. I feel like both my English and ideas have gone on vacation. And it disturbs me that my caricature of Anthony Bourdain doesn’t look like him at all (although it reminds me of someone, but who?). I should not try to cartoon actual people; I have never been good at it.

Well, this commentary is really starting to show how I need to get on vacation. Happily enough, in a couple of days I will. Then I can return with new energy, less self-criticism and self-depreciation and more traditional comics, which hopefully contain some recipes for a change...

In other news...

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:27:06

(Posted originally on June 26th, 2006)

Yeah, well, this one won't mean that much to you unless you can Swedish. Sorry for that. As mentioned in the introductory comic, I will see if I can translate the comic to English and publish - at least parts of - it on this website. No, it is not exactly food related, but I don't think anyone would mind, if there were a link to it on far right. And, as stated in the introduction, there is a lot of drinking going on in that story, so it's not entirely irrelevant.

As a whole I am not quite sure what to think of the book. Yes, I am proud for having published an actual book, by an actual publisher and having seen the book being in use at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. That is - I assume - the no. 1 tech university in Sweden, so having people read your book there is something I tell everyone at the dinner table. On the other hand, the book project has been going on for such a long time and has been so troublesome that I am a bit tired of it. Here's how it all went:

After many problems, agreements, disagreements and rearrangements I was sent, as a participant in Site Management Research Project, by a research group at Åbo Akademi University, to this third-world country called Pobrestan in the book (for those of you with Spanish skills: yes, the name is deliberate and describing) for four months to work and observe at Star Diesel's (that - along with every other name is changed, too) gas/diesel power plant building site. That I did. Then, when I came back I drew a 108-page comic about the experience, based on the diaries I had written while at the site. The comic (originally in Finnish) became a sort of organic attachment to my master's thesis, which in turn passed with second-best possible grades in May 2000. (THAT made me a bit too proud, because hardly anybody gets an "Eximia" and absolutely no-one I've ever heard of has got a "Laudatur" - the best grade - for their theses)

So, I was glad for having experienced a great adventure and for being able to put comics in my thesis and thought, that's it, let's get on with the couple of exams I have left, take out the papers and move on to the big world. But then the research group proposed that the thesis should be reworked a bit and published as a book, to be used on project management courses. Of course I was thrilled. To be 26 years old and an academic writer! An author. Cool. What happened was that the biggest research co-operation partner of the research group, Star Diesel said "Over your dead body". The book offers at times a not very flattering picture of the project organization. Meaning, it is not very good PR for the company (which it evidently thought a research co-operation with a university should be). And we are talking one of the largest heavy-industry companies in Finland here. So, in order to keep the research work going, the professors put the book plans on ice and told me that it would only happen if we got a go-ahead from Star Diesel.

The fun thing was that the director at Star Diesel, who put his foot on the book, thought it was a very honest and useful story about that project. So he asked me to some as a guest speaker at their own project management seminars, and I was glad to accept the invitation. I experienced some more or less heated discussions during and after those presentations and after my last presentation I got the company's permission to publish the book. I went back to PBI to tell the good news. They told me to get it in written. I did that, sent them a copy of the agreement, and waited.

In the mean time (we're talking somewhere around 2002-2003 now) the research group had evolved from a research group within a university to a privately owned consultant firm. They were probing for some new customers and the chairman of the board thought it too risky to show them, what kind of material the consultants might write and publish about them. They also let me know that it wasn't really the core business of the firm to publish books. This I found somewhat insulting, the whole book thing being their idea in the first place.

Anyways, I was advised to contact professor Claes Gustafsson at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and see, if he could help. And that was exactly what he could. First, a manuscript of the book was chosen as one of the course books to their advanced project management course and I got to go there to lecture about it a couple of times. Then, last summer, if I remember correctly, he got me in contact with publishing company Liber in Malmö, conveniently just across the strait from
Copenhagen.

And now, it is done. Six years it took, but at least I can say to have published a book. I would like to see it translated to Finnish (because the comic is so much better in its original language) and English (for obvious reasons). I don't expect much income from it, but I'm eager to see if it succeeds to raise any discussion within project management studies, or something like that. I'm just going to have to sell it a bit more aggressively.

A long story, but now it's told. So you may understand, why I am a little tired of a 6-year old comic, the publication process of which has been stopped and revived quite a few times. In any case, I am very glad to have done it and I am most grateful to everyone, who's helped me to publish the book.

Like it was stated in the introductory comic, I will translate the prelude to the book, called "Diesel Power" and put it up on this site for you to read. More about that later.

Thai Esan One

ComicsPosted by Kalle Tue, June 14, 2011 21:25:24

(Posted originally on June 19th, 2006)

This is the one I mentioned in ”Varnish, Wine, Metallica...” being the comic I should have been working on, but which wasn’t very inspiring. For some reason, drawing this restaurant review was like pulling teeth. Maybe it’s that nagging feeling about how I draw too many comics where I play the leading role myself. After all, I am supposed to create more characters like The Licorice Hunter and Ingela of “Cream” series, keeping myself as a guest star only. Not happening anytime soon, vain as I am... Also, my memory didn’t serve me quite well enough, which is why I needed photos of the Istedgade/Halmtorvet area, the restaurant and the portion number 30. So we went there week ago, on Sunday for photo shoot and dinner. The actual story originates from a few weeks earlier, when we went there before going to Tivoli, on a beautiful spring day. Now I’m going to remember to take the camera with me every time we go out to eat.

This one has probably been the most work-intensive comic yet. It is three pages, 25 panels long and required a second visit to the restaurant and some photos to complete. I’ve drawn it over quite a long time, three weeks or so. Sunday last week, before we went there for our photo dinner, we rode our bicycles to the brand new Amager Strandpark, a very large and nice beach park close to our home. While we lay on our blanket on the grass (we don’t like to camp on sand), Joanna read a book and I sketched out the last ten panels for the comic. Every once and awhile I took a break to enjoy the view: shining happy people roller skating, walking, bicycling past us, sailboats, cargo ships, cruisers, landing planes, the Öresund bridge over the glittering sea, the Kingdom of Sweden on the other side of the strait and, of course, all the topless grandmas who were surrounding us (the topless pretty girls were further up north, on sand. I got a good look at them on our way home). And I couldn’t help wondering our good fortune and well-being. It was a gorgeous day, there was this magnificent man-made beach just a five minutes bike tour from us, and we were in no hurry to go anywhere and in a short while we would go to Paradis’ ice cream van for the best ice cream in town. The billionaires of this world could have all the yachts and parties with supermodels that they wanted, but I couldn’t imagine experiencing a more pleasant moment than what we had then. And entirely free-of-charge. Except the ice-cream, of course.

That’s getting pretty far off the point, now. ”Thai Esan One” is the first restaurant review on MAF and I’m planning on drawing plenty of them – as long as I can figure some twist to them. Drawing food portions is hell. Not as bad as hands, but trying to make a lump of rice and the sauce with all its ingredients to look believable and appealing isn’t fun. Also, trying to copy an actual scene from somewhere feels like working under constraints. I get all worked up, when a drawing should be somewhat realistic. That’s why I chose not to draw a panorama picture of Halmtorvet and made the picture from Istedgade more cartoon-y. Yes, it’s cheating, but that way I get my comics done!

I also wanted to add the Cosby Show title song to the last page, but didn’t dare because of copyright issues and because I didn’t think anybody would give me the permission to use it at such a short notice. So you’ll have to hum it yourself.

Comment me with your rhythm stick

ComicsPosted by Kalle Wed, April 06, 2011 22:26:52

(Posted originally on June 11th, 2006)


I’m really in doubt with this one. It starts out okay, but maybe the leather-bondage sequence in the end is a bit too... tasteless? unoriginal? I guess this is one of those situations, when a writer first feels that he has written something really smart and funny, but then breaks the rules and does not delete it. At first I thought the ”whip me” metaphor was funny, but now I feel it’s cheap and juvenile. Ah, well... you can’t get it right every time. At least the begging worked: a whole bunch of people has given a signal that they’ve read it. Although I think the heavy commenting on that one is mostly caused by my World Domination Campaign and that comic being the freshest one after the initial phase of the campaign. More about that below.

Varnish, Wine, Metallica, Salami, Cherries, Cheese

ComicsPosted by Kalle Wed, April 06, 2011 22:06:18

(Posted originally on June 3rd, 2006)


This one is quite self-explanatory, if you can follow it, that is. I was home alone, got bored, started drinking, got the inspiration to draw drunken comics. The logic of an intoxicated person is a bit odd, indeed. Like the thing about varnish and smearing it on the kitchen counter: I didn't draw any pictures about it, but a picture of me standing in front of the fridge instead. I have no clue, why it went like that.

My aim was to draw as fast as possible in order to keep up with my mood. It didn't go as well as hoped, but it was fun anyway. The last page proved problematic: you shouldn't really draw anything that covers the whole page for a web comic. Now my sorry caricature of James Hetfield can't be seen in its entirety. I guess it's called learning by doing.

Oh, one thing. The little devils. They've been kind of my trademark for the last ten years or so. I wanted to paint a decorative board high up on my apartment walls with these joyful but nasty little demons. I never did that but they've appeared in my comics since then (most of those comics are still in my drawer, others can be found from the archives of the student organization at the Åbo Akademi business school). Normally they stand in the background, giving sarcastic comments or are just shown having a good time whenever someone else is miserable.

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