You Owe the Government $516,348

Allow me to veer off the artistic path for a moment…

According to this USA Today article, if we wanted to pay off the Federal Government’s debts right now that’s how much every American household would have to pay. If you don’t happen to have half a million in spare change lying around, how about an installment plan? You could pay $31,000 a year (or $2,580 per month) for 75 years and that would do it.

If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, you might find some comfort here. You’re spending peanuts compared to the debts the government is racking up for you.

Does this concern anyone else? The next time you hear a politician complain that we aren’t spending enough on this or that program, ask yourself…Isn’t the government spending more than enough already?

I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

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From the Archives


Last year I used Apple’s iPhoto printing services to print a small paperback version of my portfolio. The prices are reasonable, the printing looks very professional, and it’s been a great way for me to promote my work in person or target desired clients through the mail. I’m down to one copy left so its time to order a new batch. I thought I’d update some of the artwork, and in the process I came across these sketches that somehow never made it onto my blog or website.

I was approached by a manufacturing supply company whose mascot is a cartoon pig. They were looking for ideas for a new sidekick character to partner with the current mascot. They wanted someone who was stupid and/or mischevous. The idea was that he would always be breaking safety rules (either intentionally or not, that part hadn’t been decided). His humorous mishaps were intended to teach employees and customers about product safety.

Unfortunately the project never got past the early sketch phase. But these are some of the designs I had submitted.

Update

Greetings, faithful blog reader. Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I’m in a bit of a time crunch. I’ve taken on a large project that I’m super excited about. I can’t say too much, but thanks to a referral by the guys at FunnyPages Productions I’ve been hired as a character designer for a new animated tv show that will be airing soon (this fall I think) on one of the major networks. The show is funny, the concept is clever, and it’s produced by a company that I’ve always wanted to work for. In many ways it’s my dream job.

There’s only one catch. The gig will likely only last a couple of months and then its back to regular freelancing. Which means if I turn away my regular clients now to focus on the show, they won’t be there when my involvement with the show is over. By then they’ll have found other artists. That would not be good. So, I’m essentially trying to work two full-time jobs for a couple of months. Fortunately I have a very understanding and supportive wife, and because I work at home I can take short breaks throughout the day to spend time with her and our baby girl. But for now I won’t be posting as often as I have been. But there are plenty of great art blogs listed to the right to tide you over. Give them a looksee!

In other news, I’ll be down in Orlando next weekend (May 24-27) for the Reubens, the annual get-together of the National Cartoonist’s Society. It’s a weekend conference on cartooning capped off by an awards banquet. The awards (Reubens) are named after one of the NCS founders, I think. I’ve been an NCS member for several years but this will be my first time attending a Reubens weekend. From what I hear its a ton of fun, and the event is attended by some pretty big names in the fields of cartooning, illustration, and animation. Personally I don’t put too much stock in awards when it comes to the arts (Oscars, anyone?). When you reach a certain level of excellence, there’s no real way to single out one excellent artist as “more excellent” than all the others. But it should be a fun weekend nonetheless.

Finally, I’ve discovered a new website called Illosaurus that seems to be a great collection of resources for illustrators. A lot of it is UK-centric, but the site is helpful nonetheless. Check it out.

Review: Spider-Man 3


It’s 3am and I just got home from the midnight premiere of Spider-Man 3 at my local Imax theater. All I can say is “Wow!” These guys sure know how to make a good movie. In fact, this may be the best Spider-Man film yet.

First, they’ve topped themselves in the special effects department. The action scenes and sense of vertigo were pretty amazing in Spider-Man 2. Who’d of thought the bar could be raised any higher? Of course, it helps to watch the movie on a giant Imax screen that is six stories tall and completely fills your field of vision. Still, the eye candy was pretty amazing.

But what really makes it a great film is the story. In the classic Spidey tradition, Peter Parker’s personal life is a mess during most of the film, even pushing him into heartbreak and depression. But unlike the previous films, this time his problems are mostly his own doing. Parker spends part of the film wearing a special organic black suit that “feeds” off of him like a host. The suit heightens his powers and gives him a rush of exhileration, but it also draws out the worst in his human nature. I don’t want to give too much away, but Peter does some pretty awful things and his bad behavior has very real and tragic consequences. Yet given the circumstances his actions are understandable and we sympathize with him even when he is being a total jerk. There are also some humorous chuckle moments sprinkled throughout the film which keep it from taking itself too seriously.

The movie also explores powerful themes like revenge and forgiveness, and even the importance of self-sacrifice in marriage. In one scene Peter decides to propose to Mary Jane. Before giving her blessing, his Aunt May tells him, “A husband must put his wife’s needs ahead of his own,” and asks, “Are you ready to do that?”

Even the three villians are sympathetic (well, two of them are anyway). When I first heard there would be three villians I rolled my eyes, fearing the writers were running out of good stories to tell and instead trying to pad the movie with over-the-top action. I needn’t have worried. While the movie does ask you to suspend disbelief–I had a hard time believing that a living, breathing human being could be made entirely of sand–somehow the movie’s larger story draws you in to even the most implausible moments. I think that’s part of the appeal of Spider-Man. He’s a superhero who deals with very real problems we can all relate to. Despite having super powers Spider-Man is very flawed. As are we.

The first Spider-man film had an underlying moral theme (“With great power comes great responsibility”). This film also weaves a morality tale. Towards the end of the film one of the characters tells us we all have a choice in how we respond to our difficulties. We can either do the natural thing (be bitter, hold a grudge, get revenge), or we can do the noble thing (forgive, put other’s needs ahead of our own). Forgiveness and self-sacrifice are powerful Christian themes. If we are honest, when someone hurts us our sinful natures prefer bitterness and revenge. Why is it the right thing to do is often the hard thing?

I happened to have a few Are You a Good Person? mini-comic gospel tracts on me. So as we left the theater, I stood outside the door and handed them out. “Did you get one of these?” I would ask. Due to the movie’s themes, it seemed like a good thing to do. I was pretty nervous, but amazingly most people took them and some even asked for more. Maybe watching a cool superhero movie put people in the mood for reading a comic book?

Anyway, go see Spider-Man 3. And if you can, see it on a giant Imax screen. This Spider-Man truly is amazing.

MicroCon 2007

Last weekend Minnesota’s comic book fans once again descended upon the state fair grounds for MicroCon, the second-largest comic book convention in the state (FallCon being the largest). As usual I was there displaying my work and hobnobbing with some of the North Star state’s most talented artists.

Paul Fricke (left) is a local freelance illustrator and all around nice guy. Among his many current projects is a children’s book about bedbugs, which is a fun concept. Paul used to ink for DC Comics way back in the 20th century. On the right is Len Strazewski from Chicago, who used to write for DC. In one of the comic book bins Len found an old issue of “The Fly” that he had written and that Paul had inked. He was kind enough to give it to me as a gift, signed by him and Paul. Super cool. (Or should I say, “Super Fly!”)


I shared a table with the very talented Sherwin Schwartzrock. Sherwin is a great guy who has given me a lot of great advice throughout my freelance career. Give his website a looksee.


These are two of the guys from Big Time Attic, Kevin Cannon (left) and Zander Cannn (right). No, they aren’t related. But they are talented. Zander won an Eisner award for his graphic novel Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards. Their blog is also worth a read.


Terry Beatty is an inker on Batman. Brent Schoonover is a local freelance illustrator. Both a very nice guys.


I saw this and had to snap a photo. Some local reporter was interviewing Superman. Not something you see every day. (Isn’t that Lois Lane’s job?)

Finally, don’t forget that Saturday May 5 is Free Comic Book Day. And if you live in the Midwest, mark your calendars Oct. 6-7 for FallCon, Minnesota’s largest comic book convention.