Bedbug Evolution

My latest Bedbug dream image. I don't know who this guy was, but he started chasing me with those axes when I trespassed on his property. He only let me go when I promised to buy him a CD by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
Just for kicks, I've posted the sketch stages, from teeny thumbnail scribble to anal-retentive finish. Consider this a cautionary example.


Embracing My Roots

Self-promo image drawn around the time Mel and I moved to Spartanburg to live on the Holt family farm.

Decisions, decisions...

Promotional postcard for the fine folks at Art-0-mat, drawing by me, design by Clark Whittington. Art-o-mats dispense original works of art by way of refurbished cigarette machines, including the paintings of my wife-person, Melissa Earley. Learn all about the Art-o-mat plan of world conquest here: www.artomat.org.

A portrait of Right Wing Jesus, drawn shortly after the election of G.W. Bush.


New Doormat, TX. site!

A cornucopia of classic recordings from Caleb Fraid's Dorrmat, TX. label on a brand spankin' new website. Caleb still has my long-lost Four Hankie Triumph cassette available, plus our notorious Lyrix Xchange splitter tape. Also starring Charlie McAlister, Ribeye, Michele Glaw and many other musical lunatics. Have a gander: http://www.doormattx.com/


Just for the hell of it, here's Stephen Hawking reading the "Cups" story below.



Runneth Over with Cups

Long ago – they tell me it was 1973 – the 7-11 convenience store chain released a series of Slurpee cups with images of DC Comics super heroes printed on them: http://www.glassnews.com/images/dcchecklist.gif. These were cheap, plastic cups in which the neon-colored concoction of syrup and crushed ice was dispensed. Usually, the cups featured a never-ending parade of sports stars, which held no interest to an avid indoorsman like me, who spent most of his free time coloring or playing with bugs. Having developed a growing interest in the cartoon likes of Superman and his cape-wearing ilk, I was very excited that this form of merchandising was taking a break from the Aarons and Clementes to serve up a few men in tights. Draw your own Freudian conclusions.


Gone But Not Forgiven

It’s hard to determine if the condemnation of Robert McNamara is fully deserved or merely convenient. Mind you, I’m no Bob apologist. McNamara was instrumental is selling the Gulf of Tonkin incident as Congressional justification for the war in Vietnam, even though the evidence that U.S. Naval ships had been fired on was flimsy, and was eventually concluded to be non-existent. The Left despised McNamara for his technocratic number-crunching, which treated body counts as negotiable overhead, with apparently no grasp of the moral implications. In due course, the Hawks blamed him for the design of limited police actions in lieu of full and decisive military victory. Regardless of your view of the Vietnam conflict’s ultimate failure, Robert McNamara shoulders the blame. And maybe he should.


Half-Mast: Jesus of Neverland

I hated Michael Jackson. I hated him in the way every young sophisticate turns his nose up at popular culture when he enters his teens. Jackson was the cherry on top of a huge mound of ‘80s mall culture; Pac Man, Care Bears, New Coke, Rubik’s Cubes, parachute pants and Casio keyboards, kiddie crap now all sun-faded and broken on thrift store shelves. He was the King of Pop, anathema to a kid embracing drugs, punk rock and adolescent alienation. He was the definition of “heavy rotation”, his 15-minute Thriller video being the one bit of MTV programming that could force video-addicted youth to change the channel. He was a media-inflicted rash that wouldn’t go away.


A quickie portrait of Karl Malden, dependable character actor. I managed to throw this one together on the fly, scratching out the drawing in ballpoint and utilizing the scanner and good old MS Paint at work. Pablo Lobato suggested he needed a "butt nose". I tried it, but I just can't do that to poor Karl, whom I liked. I try not to engage in cruel and unusual caricature. If you're looking for that, hit up some of those guys at Disneyworld.


Escape from the Planet of the Angels

Even in 1976, at the height of her stardom, it was considered trite and superficial to like Farrah Fawcett. But everyone did, of course. All the guys had that ubiquitous poster, all the girls were blow-drying their hair to Farrahesque perfection. And how cold-hearted would you have to be NOT to like her? She was thin, blond and cute, with an impossibly toothy smile and a twinkling, little girl charm – the perfect blend of innocence and sex appeal that has forged America’s Sweethearts for generations.


Husker Did

Husker Du: Bob Mould, Grant Hart and Greg Norton.

The rock and roll biz, as we all know, has always been about selling teen angst to other teens. Subsequently, rock musicians are expected to be at the height of their creative powers at around age 18. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid barely old enough to plug in his Marshal. Sure, there’s the fluke Lennon/McCartney prodigies that can spew pop masterpieces between math classes, but most kids that age don’t know an A chord from their assholes. Pop songs ain’t rocket science, but expecting the average garage band to sound sweet enough for FM is a tall order. There’s a 99% chance your band is excruciatingly shitty.


Bye Bye, Buzz

The Evitt sent me the above image, using one of my Infinite League drawings and some gimmicky website or other. I like the effect of seeing Ash art appearing on these old television sets, as if I had my own Saturday morning cartoon in 1976. In reality, I’ve never had that kind of opportunity to be Part of the Problem. But I have to confess the sight of these crummy old TV sets has me feeling overwhelmingly nostalgic.


Two-Toned Memoir

Color version of a black and white classic. Not an easy task eliminating all that crosshatching on the original. (Click for bigness.)


Half-Mast: David Carradine

It is 1974. I am five years old. My brother, 9 years my senior, has just finished watching his favorite television show. He enters our shared bedroom to engage in what has now become a weekly, post-prime time ritual. He stands with feet wide apart, his arms slowing whipping the air, his fingers in tight, claw-like configurations. He says nothing, his eyes gone trance-like. He slowly tiptoes toward me (being careful not to “tear the rice paper”, you understand), moving in to strike. He will now proceed to pummel me senseless for the remainder of the evening.


America in tatters?

Someone, several years ago, burned a flag somewhere in our neighborhood. I don't know whether it was burned ceremonially or in protest, but ever since, I've been finding bits of the flag like those above regularly in our yard. I'll leave it to you to determine the symbolic significance of this.


Antique Thrdgll Musix

Here's a little unpublished number from around 2001, one of the last recordings committed to tape on the old cassette 4-track. An awkward instrumental called "Pat Doesn't Have a Mink Coat":



Yes, 2009 is shaping up to be the year of the Ashley portrait - perhaps this was the positive change the Obama campaign kept promising?. Here's the Grumpy One's mug done up Atari 2600-style by bead artisan extraordinare and domestic life partner Melissa Earley. I look like I'm made of styrofoam pellets, just the type of makeover I've always longed for.

Who will step up to render the next portrait of Ashley Holt? Come on, people. Never let it be said that when the torch was passed you did not heed the call...or some such Kennedy-esque motivation. Round head, beard, big "Andy Rooney" eyebrows and you're done. Get to work!


His Brownness

B&W and color versions of just-completed self-portrait. I think I've captured my eternal bitterness and snobbery pretty accurately. This being one of the few pen and ink (ie - Flair pen) pieces I've attempted in recent years, I went way overbaord with the hatching, which looks good on the original, but closed up severely when I scanned it. Ah, whattayagonnado?
A bit more realism than usual on this one. I'm not sure why - it just came out that way.


Salve Arm Adventures

I'm still working through this season's midlife crisis. While I'm trying to decide if I'll ever make any sort of art ever again, enjoy this lost episode (click to swell):


"You kids get offa my lawn!"

Portrait of Screaming Ashley by the legendary JJ Ohlinger.

(No, I am NOT missing teeth. Mr. Ohlinger has given me excess gums for reasons I know not.)


Suspenders and a bra?!

Lumberjack illo for this year's FLUKE anthology. (Click to gigantify)


Online commentator Benjamin D. Brucke tries to point out the hypocrisy of my argument that Dave Sim can't draw hands...and inadvertently creates a thing of beauty.


Symptoms Include: JJ Ohlinger

Portrait of the infamous JJ Ohlinger; artist, impresario, matador and onetime Queen for a Day contestant. Those who consume the free food of Greenville's numerous art openings will recognize JJ by his world-renowned midget toss and angelic rendition of "Papa Don't Preach", no gathering of the arts community being complete without them.

Be sure to check out JJ's award-winning artwork here, featuring portraits of all his sexual conquests.


A Toby by Any Other Name...

(I'm late, but I'm still at it. Click to supersize.)



While awaiting Obama's Socialist Utopia to save us all from economic doom, I have been forced to accept a soul-sucking, full-time job with an 80-minute commute. This, I'm afarid to say, does not bode well for my plans to document the year of 1977 in caricature form, nor engage in many creative projects at all, practical or otherwise. It does, however, give me the perfect opportunity to engage in one of my regular nervous breakdowns, in which I completely reevaluate my pathetic life's goals, perhaps giving up art entirely for the billionth time to become a nun or a racecar driver or both.

While I'm climbing the walls over this existential conundrum, please at least TRY to enjoy these animated insanities written by the completely batshit Troy England Evitt III:


Ev created these with the endlessly-entertaining moviemaking site, www.xtranormal.com

Thrdgll Communiques will resume shortly. Avoid panic buying.


Giving me the business (while possibly stealing it away)

Comics Journal message board regular Paul Salvi is making me nervous. Noticing I had omitted the Superboy actors from my Krypotonians of the Silver Screen collection, he decided to fill in the gaps by doing an effective Ashley Holt impression. Great, more competetion, just what I needed. Here's John Haymes Newton and Gerhard Christopher, both Superboys from the syndicated show of the early '90s.


The Powah; A Play in One Act

(Conversation I had with Melissa first thing this morning:)

Ash: I dreamed that you were fighting for farmer’s rights.

Mel: Yeah?

Ash: You went to work at the Chapman Center (local arts center where she works in real life) and you came home all Jane Fonda’d up, with buttons and leaflets, talking all kinda “power to the people” stuff.


Anti-social networking

Well, I deactivated my Facebook page. It was kinda cute playing "look how fat they got" with photos of people from 8th grade for a few days, but I just couldn't take it anymore. Facebook's format encourages (almost demands) the most base, trivial idiocy imaginable. You'd open the "wall", whatever that is, and be greeted by crucial updates about the lives of your so-called friends like, "Becky Tinkertoes is washing dishes" or "Wallace Chumpchange is wondering what kind of socks to buy". I was sorely tempted to write something along the lines of:

Stephen Ashley Holt is contemplating the meaninglessness of a Godless universe that includes death, famine, disease and the copyright stranglehold of the Walt Disney Corporation while listening to Wagner and slowly and methodically stabbing himself in the forearm with a pencil.

But Facebook won't let you post a statement anywhere near that long. Its format inspires only short, clipped, W. Bush-style exclamations - "Kenny likes milkshakes" or "Theda go night-night now". Frankly, it brought out the worst in me. My contributions to the Facebook arts were rather mean-spirited and I apologize to those with wounds that won't heal.

Come on, people. We're living in the information age. We could be expressing grand new visions for life in the new millenium, sharing our deepest, innermost longings and perceptions, or constructing manifestos around great scientific and technological breakthroughs. People, we can allow caricature portraits of figures from 1977 to span the globe at the speed of light!! But instead you're telling the world that you just watched Seinfeld and ate a taco.

This is not the information superhighway that Al Gore had in mind.


Gilmore No Mo'

(Click to biggify)

This one's early, but who could wait to draw the ultra-dreamy Gary Gilmore?

Not long before his execution, Michael O'Donahue wrote a special Christmas song dedicated to Gary's case, sung by the cast of Saturday Night Live. The transcript is here: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/76/76jgilmore.phtml


Symptoms of '77

As you can see from the post below, I've embarked on an insane project: spending the year chronicling the events of 1977 with caricatures. Like you, I also assume that this task will never be completed - such are the empty promises of the blogosphere.

Why '77? Well, the first entry, the explosion of punk rock in the form of the notorious Sex Pistols, is just the beginning. 1977 was a banner year for ridiculous pop culture, the peak of the Me Decade's self-obsessive opulence, a Washingtonian experiment gone South and a virtual feeding frenzy of tastelessness and triviality. All this years before Reagan and Mr. T. I believe 1977 to be the year that American culture went into permenant recession - when we turned from the mirror of social relevance that marked the '60s and early '70s and decided to just party like it's 1999.

Join me in the Retroverse as we try to learn from the history we are doomed to repeat.

I hope you like long hair and sideburns!

The Filth and the Filthy

(Click to enbiggen)

Yma Lives!

Damon Devine, caretaker of the official Yma Sumac website (and former caretaker of Yma herself), has added my portrait of the Queen of Exotica to the homepage. Delve into the rich life of this mysterious and etherally talented superstar: http://www.yma-sumac.com/

Hear the Voice!

Please enjoy the high octane artwork and inspired testimony of brilliant, lunatic visionary, James Garlett. His peculiar brand of humorous wisdom makes me laugh until I wretch forth the demons. He's one of my all-time favorite sentients.

Rantings from the Pulpit