Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
It's hard to get around the juxtaposition when a president who aims to transition federal agencies to all electric vehicles opens up the Strategic Oil Reserves just before Thanksgiving to help holiday travelers stave off high gas prices. It makes sense on some levels. Things can't change overnight, but it sends a mixed message to the public – particularly critics.
That said, it's possible the Biden Administration could use this as a jumping off point to push for an increase in renewable infrastructure. Possible, I suppose, but since what seems like time-immemorial we've been let down by politicians who promise us they can get something done and then leave office before keeping their word.
All in all, the world's pretty complex, and the need for oil during a proposed electric transition just goes to show us all that change won't be easy or fast – possibly more so when it's a matter of true importance.
The hardest part of creating this cartoon was choosing the words to make the point specific. When I heard about the call for 50 million barrels of oil to be released from the reserves, it wasn't long until I was inspired to smash two concepts together – electric and oil. And that resulted in the idea of oil drums which resembled AA batteries.
I loved the idea, but honestly, I'm still not sold on my own execution.
I decided to go with a color scheme similar to a certain brand that features a copper top. I planned to add other markings to the side of the barrels to drive home the parody but, aside from trademarked logos, there isn't much that makes a cylinder scream "battery." In hind sight, I should have parodied the logo as well – creating the text on the right in a font similar to that of a familiar battery brand. That said, such an option could have left the composition too busy. Oh well.
As far as the rendering, I'm pleased with that. The hatching is minimal but does the job, and the actual modeling of light and shadow pick up the slack. I resorted to the central spotlight feature again to close in the composition and give a little depth to the leaking oil. Again, if I'd had more time this week, I might have put more thought and work into the background to give the panel a greater sense of place.
The oil was a pretty easy feature this time around. I went back and studied what I had done in an earlier cartoon (created in July of 2018, but never actually put in print). The lens flare feature became a bit of a running joke to me and my circle of friends in design school, but when I gave it a shot back in 2018, I found rendering shiny oil slicks was one of the few acceptable uses for the feature. The shape of the puddle this time around isn't nearly as dramatic, so I don't think the results were as good, but they're also not ineffective.
This cartoon took about an hour and 45 minutes to complete – like I said, about the time I could spare this week with Thanksgiving taking some of my usual prep time out of the equation.