Carl Rustung

Catching up

Missed the last weekly update, so this one’s extra long: It’s got Mayan art, victorian architecture, a drawing timelapse video and Mississippi towboats.


Yet another vertical town, this one in ruins. (Still the same “backgroundy” feel to this, I’ve got to start thinking about foreground and give these drawings some focus.) Looked up some ancient “new world” architecture and art, since I had no idea what I was doing, and tried to copy some Mayan stone heads.

Good couple of weeks for the sketchbook, filled another pair of pages, too:

The victorian gothic house is a 15 min. doodle I made while looking at a Google images, it’s almost how I pictured Hill House when I read the novel.

Interesting how this style has become synonymous with “haunted house”:

After World War I, America turned its back on Victorian design even more vehemently. Returning soldiers saw death in the once uplifting factories and bright dreams of their Victorian fathers, and began to portray Victorian houses as ghostly remnants of a corrupt past.


In the 1920s, writes Burns, Victorian structures became a kind of shorthand for fear as artists began incorporating them in literature and theater. Murder mysteries were set in empty Victorians—and as more and more were torn down in real life to make room for modernity, they took root in the imagination instead.

For the dragon, I used a photo by Zhang Kechun as reference. (Check out his website, the photos are amazing.)

Comic-making practice

Inked another panel (twice) and tried shooting a time-lapse of it. Have to practice keeping the drawing within the frame, but it turned out okay for a first attempt!

Wrote a whole post about how I went about drawing spherical reflections (it’s impossible), passing the sketches back and forth between physical and digital to get them right. It’s a fun way to work! (See also: “Dancing the Flip-Flop” by Robin Sloan.)


Ant colony memories

Super interesting article about emergent ant behavior. Ants are fascinating, always a fan of comparing ant colonies to our own brains.

The Finnish myrmecologist Rainer Rosengren showed that when the ants emerge in the spring, an older ant goes out with a young one along the older ant’s habitual trail. The older ant dies and the younger ant adopts that trail as its own, thus leading the colony to remember, or reproduce, the previous year’s trails.

(Also: Radiolab’s episode about emergence is one of my favorites.)

Mississippi towboats

Wild article about some insanely badass people hauling barges on the Mississippi.

Because they typically lack propulsion of their own, barges strike bridges with some frequency. Sometimes they sink; once, a rice barge sank to the riverbed, and when the millions of grains hit the water, they expanded, warping the steel walls of the barge. Other times, they break loose and Jenkins’s deckhands have to go chasing them down like cowboys roping cattle. “You have no control out here,” Captain Deckard says. “You ride the river and just hope you’re in the right spot when you need to be.”

Peter Thiel: Back to the Future

Review of Ross Douthat’s “The Decadent Society: How we became the Victims of our own Success”, outlining “four aspects of decadence: stagnation (technological and economic mediocrity), sterility (declining birth rates), sclerosis (institutional failure), and repetition (cultural exhaustion).”

“Repetition” names the condition of our culture, endlessly remaking remakes of remakes. Whereas the fifties, the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties all had distinctive by-the-decade styles in design, clothing, music, and art, from the nineties to now feels like one big remix.