MUSKRAT RAMBLINGS – Remembrances of Mug Shots past

Muskrat Ramblings

posted by John

Just doing some archiving, which seems to naturally come with unpacking boxes at a (still) new house.

Anyway, without further ado: some photos from a life loived several lives ago. I used to be a music columnist? Srsly? And look: I escaped the 80s mullet-free.

All these shots seemed like good ideas at the time. Now (to me, at least) they all seem slightly ridiculous. (Dates are all plus or minus a year or two. I forget things. Possibly try to block them out…)

1985 (I think)
The Daily Cardinal

My old comic “Wild Life” was the first student daily strip at the University of Wisconsin (as far as I can tell), and by the time I (finally) left university, the Daily Cardinal had a thriving comics page. James Sturm’s “Down and Out Dawg” and Keith Doherty’s “Icarus and Co.” were a couple of the finest. Man, I loved their work. James, of course, has gone on to become one of the most respected graphic novelists in the country. I don’t hate him in the least for dating a woman I had a mad crush on. JAMES, YOU BASTARD!!!!!!

Ahem. Grin. Anyways, I’m not sure what we were hamming it up for here: a special graphics issue, perhaps?

The Daily Cardinal

I think these shots were taken by a Capital Times photographer when I published my fist “Wild Life” collection. I was freelancing a bit for the Cap Times in the mid-’80s, but I think this was taken before I started that.

The Capital Times

In another life, I was a music columnist and reviewer. Now-Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal helped get my foot in the door of the city afternoon newspaper. These are the shots taken for the weekly “Just Rock” column in the Cap Times’ now-defuncy “Weekender” section. The first was the one used as the “Just Rock” (lord, how I hated that name) mug shot, although I always preferred the second.

Leaving the Cap Times

I switched to n actual full-time job at the morning newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal, in 1987. For some reason, I thought a “goodbye, Cap Times” shot was needed for my last column. Meg Theno took this (she, too, eventually switched to the State Journal, if I remember correctly), and it always been one of my favorites.

By the way, hats and coats are probably my favorite clothing articles, and I have far more of both than I actually can use in a lifetime.

The teddy bear seemed like a cute idea. I’d recycle the idea five years later.

Wisconsin State Journal

I think this is another shot that was taken for a story on my cartooning. Possibly when “Wild Life” was syndicated by Chronicle Features. In fact, I think this is the shot that Chronicle used in its PR packets…

Wisconsin State Journal

If you come away from this with no other lesson today, learn this: There are not many ways to do a photo shot with a cartoonist. Paper? Check! Pen? Check. Hey…wait…I forgot that I once used proper ink pens with proper nibs…

Wisconsin State Journal

In 1993 I did a 500-mile bike ride along the Wisconsin River, and wrote about it for the State Journal. This first shot would be the one the State Journal took on the launch of the series. Again with the Teddy Bear. “Poopshovel” was my brother’s college band. They were actually pretty damn good. Check them out at (my brother 0 the band’s bassist – first appears at the 12 second mark).

The second shot was taken in Spring Green, about 3/4 or the way through the ride. I’d lost five pounds at this point.

– John


Copyright 2024 Dork Storm Press