Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Musings at 39- Time

No matter who you are, we all have one thing in common. It doesn't matter your gender, your job, your family size, your income or anything else. One crucial component puts all of us on an equal playing field.

24 hours in a day.

No amount of money or condition of life can give you a single second more.

What you DO with your 24 hours is what makes us different. Are we setting goals and striving ahead, or just treading water and wasting valuable minutes?

Yesterday I got up at 6:30 and took a half hour walk with my wife. I answered my emails, showered, ate breakfast and got to work at 8AM (an hour early as always). I left 11 hours later (YES, I work an average 50+ hour workweek). I came home and 'decompressed' by surfing the net for about a half hour, then put in 90 minutes working on my comic script, sending some reference shots to my artists, and answering more emails. I went to bed around 9:30 and spent an hour doing Sudoku on my DS, then read a couple Cerebus comics while watching TV, and fell asleep around 11:30 for 7 hours of sleep.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Clearly I wasted at least 2 hours yesterday. Some would say more than that, but that's my personal conclusion. Two hours that I could have inked some artwork, or pencilled something for Megazeen. Two hours that I could have spent bonding with my kids or talking with my wife. Two hours I could have spent with a friend or ministered, or prayed. Yup, didn't squeeze that in either.

At 39, I am realizing the desperate need to cherish the hours in a day.

Changes need to be made.

The picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post, just so's you know.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Colossians- The Art Team

Last month I talked about my personal series, Colossians, an idea that's been developing for way too many years, and is finally coming to fruition in ways I had never dreamed.

When I had re-written Colossians after a dismal first attempt in Cross Press Comics, I had mentioned that I thought Kneon Transitt woyld be the dream penciller on the project. He blew me away by pencilling the first 13 pages based on a quick plot synopsis I sent him. Later I convinced him to draw the other half of the story that would complete the first issue. I've been inking it slowly ever since, splitting my interest between that, Megazeen and, unfortunately, too many video games.

The project came back to life when Hale Burckinh expressed interest in coloring the pages. But as we proceeded, it occured to me there was a major problem- that the first issue was just a start, and that I did not want to leave it hanging. The initial story arc would take four issues. Kneon was already wrapped up in other projects, and I would never be happy with my own style to complete it myself.

So, I began to ponder, were there three other artists out there that would complete the dream the way Kneon and Hale had begun it?

The answer is coming from three outstanding Megazeen artists. I'd be hard pressed to find three nicer, more capable guys, each uniquely suited to draw their particular issue. I will reveal their names and share some work as I receive the first completed page from each of them.

I know I'm going to need more help before we're done. Colorists, inkers, help with the scripts. But we're rolling ahead full steam now. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your help with this project. We're gonna blow their minds!

Things That Make Me Happy

Sea lions and elephant seals, especially if they're performing in a show (because I remember my Dad laughing at them).
Free ice at a hotel.
The Country Bear Jamboree (because I remember Dad laughing at it).
Buying cheap junk at comic shows and thinking they're treasures.
Drawing or painting something really well.
Bad 80's music on the radio.
Time spent with friends.
PB&J with Fritos (because Mom made it like that).
Watching Forrest Gump every time it's on TV (it's a rule in my house).
Going to church on Sunday morning.
A good "City of Heroes" session (a rarity).
Pink Floyd's The Wall.
My Mom's fruit salad.
The smell of a new action figure fresh out of the package.
The Gong Show (because I remember Dad laughing).
The "Head-On" stick near my bed that helps me sleep.
My massage chair.
Gorillas, Chimps and Orangutans.
Being outside at night when it's quiet.
Petting my dogs.
My wife's continuing interest in me.
The stories my kids tell of their adventures at school.
My dad's laugh.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Yoda's my hero.

Watercolor painting this is. At a dear fan's request, painted it I did.

I have some stuff I really, really want to share about Colossians, as well as some stuff I've learned on my continuing journey through Cerebus. I'll get to that tomorrow. Deal?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Musings at 39 - The Crazees

When I was about 18 or 19 years old I was at DMV getting my license renewed. On my way out there was a guy sitting at a table, with loads of Christian literature on his table. He called me over and asked if that cross I was wearing meant something to me, which I proudly agreed that it did.

He then asked me make a donation, and to sign a petition that would make Satanism illegal.

Now, I'm not the smartest guy I ever met, and I was a fairly new "born again" believer so I wasn't loaded with ammunition. I knew that I didn't like the idea that people worshipped Satan and did witchcraft. I also wasn't the most politically savvy guy, but I knew enough that something, something was wrong here.

I told him that our country was founded on religious freedom, which guaranteed the rights of the bad with the good. I told him that many of the practices he was citing as examples (animal sacrifice, child abuse, suicide and drug use) were illegal already anyway. I told him, therefore, that I was not comfortable with where my money would be going.

He rebuked me, saying that it's a good thing that Jesus didn't just do things he was "comfortable" with.

It was that day that I learned that some Christians are crazy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Two Things that Matter

There are only two things that really matter.
1-We were created to glorify God and ought to live that way.
2-When we don't, we can seek Jesus' forgiveness and get back on track.
Anything we say or do that deviates from one of these things is at worst a sin, and at best a waste of our time.

Cerebus the Aardvark

When I was in high school/early college I collected Cerebus comics, picking up back issues sporadically and regularly reading new issues as they came out monthly. In issue 112/113, Dave Sim ripped into a Christian who passionately tried to share the gospel with him (I think "There REALLY is a hell" was in the letter). He also posted a picture of a self-proclaimed witch. I dropped the series at this point, as my frail new belief couldn't tolerate it. That, and this was the tail end of the wordy "Walking on the Moon" series that lost a lot of his readers. That, and I needed cash for a new jacket.

Many years later, a friend of mine found an issue in the dollar box at a con and gave it to me, and I became curious once again. I went on Ebay and Lone Star and grabbed up the Swords volumes, then all the regular issues, and I've been reading it from the very beginning, in rapid fire succession rather than month-long gaps.

I don't know how to talk about Cerebus without getting gushy about it. Dave Sim is a masterful storyteller and a risk-taking pioneer. Reading it as I am, I am floored by the tightly knit storyline, in which characters and minor ideas from the past continuously have an effect on the story later. Cerebus is both riotously funny and shockingly tragic at times, sometimes turning on a dime from page to page. The ideas and events are thought-provoking, the pacing unprecedented.

I'm so glad I picked it up again, and this time through I find Sim's commentary far for enlightening and informative than irritating, particularly his thoughts on the comic industry and creator rights. I can still disagree with his take on religion (his early atheist ponderings eventually developing into monotheist or universalist), but now I can seperate that from my pure enjoyment of this series. That's part of growing up. Thanks Dave.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Musings at 39

It has dawned on me, rather depressingly, that the days of my youth are nearly gone, and that I must confront the fact that, somewhere along the way, I grew up and am growing older.

In less than nine months I will be 40.

I will say that, at nearly 40, I'm fairly pleased with my accomplishments and my general state of happiness. I'm married to an awesome woman, and have two terrific daughters. I've been to college and beyond, and have a successful business career. I've also had many unique opportunities to pursue dreams, through radio, comic books and even preaching. We've got a house and a couple dogs and we're virtually debt-free.

I think the part that gets under my skin is that life is slipping by, the girls are growing up, the hair's getting grayer and I'm far more tired than I was. Not that it's all bad- I do find my wife hotter than ever.

Realistically, I probably don't have as many days before me as behind me now, at least in this world.

So, what to do about it? And what have I learned?

I will be pondering these questions regularly in my "Musings at 39" entries, earnestly seeking assurance that I am not quite dead yet.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike Wieringo

Mike Wieringo passed away at the tragic young age of 44 today.

Ringo was the artist who, along with writer Mark Waid, restored my faith that the Fantastic Four was indeed the World's Greatest Comic Magazine. Their work earned the FF back their title in my opinion.

His work was outstanding. Simple, elegant, he made you feel like these guys were right in your living room talking to you. I got to meet him at Wizard World in 2003, and told him that I thought his run on FF was the best EVER. He quickly told me he could not accept that compliment. I admired his humility but I meant what I said.

Of course his work went well beyond that, with the Flash and Spiderman, as well as his own creator-made series Tellos (which was getting set for a possible relaunch). Ah Mike... this sucks. We'll miss you.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Magic Our Way

So my family and I have returned from our vacation at Disney World in Orlando, our third straight year and, if I'm counting right, my tenth lifetime visit. My wife and I will hopefully chronicle our trip in some detail on another board, so I won't go into incredible detail here, but it was an awesome trip.

There were many, many good times, but a few stand out. One of them is a somewhat hidden gem at Pleasure Island called the Adventurer's Club. What a hysterical concept. It really defies description, but if you get down there take a chance on it one night. You'll thank me.

Another real treasure is the Animation Academy in MGM Studios, where a Disney animator teaches a class how to draw a character. We got to do Goofy and Stitch this year. Special congratulations to our instructor Timmy, who's moving on to the Imagineer program. This guy was awesome, passionate about what he does, very talented and over-the-top enthusiastic. He deserves every bit of success he gets. I wonder how many of us could be like Timmy if we'd not allowed the harshness of the rat race to jade us.

Finally, this guy in the picture was at Cinderella's Castle three minutes before the fireworks, freaking out because some little kids sat in front of him on the sidewalk. Very intimidating, screaming for Disney security in his mouse ears. That kind of entertainment you can't buy.