From Oregon

Volume 13: Winter 2008

Here I (still) am in Corvallis, Oregon.

Another quiet year, except that I did do one or two interesting things.


In April, I finally got to do something I’ve wanted to do for years: meet my favorite comic book creator, Larry Marder. He’s the writer & artist of Tales of the Beanworld, a most unusual comic. I’ve loved it ever since I first read it going on twenty years ago. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any new issues of Tales of the Beanworld in fifteen years.

When I learned Mr. Marder was scheduled to appear at Stumptown, Portland’s indie comics show, I put it on my calendar. Attending was the highlight of my year. I’ll spare you the full story, instead just noting a few surprises:

[A bit of background: when I was learning HTML in 1995, I created the BeanWeb, a Web site for Larry Marder’s comic. It’s been online since, though it’s gone through two or three different hosts.]

  • During his hour-long talk about the Beanworld’s past and future, Larry Marder personally thanked me for writing the BeanWeb. That meant a lot to me.

  • After the talk, Scott McCloud(!) also thanked me for the BeanWeb.

  • Back in the dealers’ room I got a chance to talk with Mr. Marder. He said he refers to the BeanWeb regularly, which surprised me.

  • The most surprising news of all was that the last change of hosts for the BeanWeb was an indirect spur to the Beanworld’s new renaissance. I hadn’t known Larry frequented the site. One day, he tried to access it at the old URL and found the link broken. With the Beanworld’s biggest online resource apparently gone, he decided to take a friend’s advice to start a blog. That in turn helped renew his dedication to the Beanworld. In 2009 a huge new Beanworld story is to be published; I’m proud have played a minor role in its creation.

I was walking on air when I left Stumptown. How many times in life do you get the chance to help someone follow their bliss?


There were two amusing side effects to meeting Larry Marder:

  1. I found I’d unwittingly made a transition: suddenly I was no longer just a Beanworld fan, I was “that guy who made the BeanWeb”.

  2. During the ride home, I realized that my average degree of separation from people in the comics world had dropped precipitously. (Both Larry Marder and Scott McCloud know a lot of comic creators.)

A New Skill

In the spring I joined a role-playing game set in the 1920’s. It’s been fun, and inspired me to try something new. Since the characters in the game were university students, I decided to make them some library cards. That’s an easy enough task with modern word processors and document layout software, but I wanted to do it the old-fashioned way. A friend with a print shop invited me to experiment, so one afternoon in the fall I visited his shop. Over the next two hours, he showed me how to set lead type. I designed the library card, pulled the type from the cabinets, set it, and printed it on three different hand presses. It was a fascinating experience, and contemplating the end result still makes me happy. Feeling the impression in the paper that the lead type made... neat.

Digging in the Dirt

I spent time gardening. The volunteer tomatoes went nowhere, the sunflowers lasted until mid-December(!), and the canary vines were a surprising success. It’s the end of 2008 and the crocus bulbs I planted a month ago are sending up shoots. I hope next year’s garden is even better.


At the end of the year I received a hand-me-down iMac, which will eventually replace my (loud) Windows XP machine. I expect there will be some wailing and gnashing of teeth during the transition. I’ll still be able to run XP software in a virtual machine, so I probably won’t have to give up much. Learning to do Windows-specific tasks on the Mac will be the hard part.

(Does having a Windows XP machine, an iMac, and a Linux laptop make me a triOSexual?)

Last updated 5 January 2009
All contents ©2008 Mark L. Irons.

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