Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Suzanne and I have some fun plans for New Years Eve, so I'm going to keep this short and take a quick nap.

Rather than risk the ribbing I got last year when I left up my Christmas banner until — what, February? — I thought I'd knock this one out quickly. I was at work late last night waiting on some approvals and did this to pass the time. Took me a while to come up with an idea until it occurred to me that my favorite character has gotten short shrift on the blog, considering my affection for him. Some silly, chrome-plated interloper keeps getting in the way. So I decided to give ol' bullet head a shot at the center seat for a while. And wouldn't ya know it...

Happy New Year, everybody. Let's make it a great one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hulk Smash...Your Presents!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I certainly did. At the last minute (and due to the possibility that I may get called in to work through the weekend) Suzanne and I decided to go in different directions for Christmas and visit our respective families solo. It's the first time we've been apart at Christmas since we've been married and I won't pretend it wasn't difficult. But it felt right that I should see my parents this year. Mike always came up to their house for Christmas each year while I was in North Carolina with Suzanne's family as the Wieringos always got together for Thanksgiving. It was a great arrangement while it lasted but...

My folks have spent the last two Christmases alone and, while they tried to behave as if it wasn't hard on them, Suzanne and I thought they might just be putting on a brave face. So since my job was throwing a monkey wrench into our usual plans anyway, it worked out that I got to hang out at the original 'Ringo Ranch this year. The surprise snowstorm threatened to derail my trip (They live in the un-plowed wilderness of rural Virginia.) but I made it in alright. And it was great. Mom tried to kill me with food and so my vow to make it out of the holidays weighing less than I did going in didn't quite hold up. If I see another slice of chocolate pecan pie before June, I'm going to throw up. Dad and I played two marathon sessions of Cribbage (a tradition) and I finally got the better of him, "skunking" him twice.

For me, this is what Christmas is all about. Not the shopping or the wrapping or the decorating. In retrospect, those things are never as bad as I fear they will be and I won't lie and say I don't like getting presents because who doesn't? But for me, it's all about getting to hang out with my family without pressure or worrying about rushing out the door to work the next day. And having snow on the ground for once was a real pleasure. We had such a great time.

I just wish Mike could have been there with us, obviously. We really missed him a lot this year. We're at the point where the surreal aspect of him being gone has faded and the naked fact of his absence is sinking in. I think this was the first year where I didn't see something and think, "Oh! I should get that for Mike!" More like, "Damn. Mike would have liked that."

Suzanne and I got to have "our" Christmas when we got back (within an hour of each other.) Suzanne was overly generous, as always. I hope I did right by her. She's been extremely busy this year and circumstances were constantly conspiring to keep her from shopping or decorating. She loves Christmas like nobody I've ever met and the fact that she wasn't able to enjoy it as much this year was frustrating for both of us. Each year, I hope next year will be better. I guess we'll see. Crossing fingers now.

I started this drawing before the holiday but could never spend more than two minutes at a time on it and never got around to finishing it. The holidays are usually fairly busy where I work but this year felt especially brutal, particularly in my department. The entire agency had cleared out Wednesday but those of us still at work were going full steam ahead until well into the evening. When I came back to work yesterday, I saw it on my desk and thought, "Well, that was a waste of time. It's after Christmas." But I liked where it was going and I had some quiet time around lunch and went ahead and inked it. So I hope you like it and Merry (belated) Christmas.

See you next year!

P.S. (Oh, and I won't go into it for fear of embarrassing him, but I owe Brian Mulcahy a GREAT BIG PUBLIC THANK YOU this Christmas. Thank you Brian! That was surprising and completely unexpected. And very much appreciated. )

Friday, December 18, 2009

No More Grinch

I won’t bore you with the usual “Wah, I’m so busy” crap this time. I’ll just say that I’ve had a rockin’ new issue of RUE MORGUE sitting on my bedside table for three whole days and have yet to read so much as a paragraph. Draw your own conclusions.

And since I have been so (you-know-what) I haven’t been doing much drawing. I did recently finish the ‘HAPS page I was working on but not much else. But I haven’t posted in a while and since I’m a little saddened at the news of our local grocery chain (the over-priced but oh-so-worth-the-money Ukrops), I thought I’d post a quick and happy story.

Though I’m a bitter, Scroogie old man, one of the things that helps me get in the holiday spirit is our yearly tradition of picking out an “angel” from the Salvation Army Angel Tree they put up at the agency. Suzanne and I tend to go overboard but we can’t help it when we get an angel that’s a “good fit” for us. That was the case this year. My friend and studio-mate Patrick is one of those guys who’ll give you the shirt off his back if you need it and he’s the guy that organizes the tree every year. He’d just come in with the yearly allotment of “angels” a few weeks ago and I was watching him sort through them at his desk.

He laughed, “Wow. This one was made for you.”

I looked at it and it was for a young boy. Often, there are very specific (and sometimes, um, optimistic) gift suggestions. But in this case, all that was entered was “Anything with Spider-Man on it.”

“Gimme!” I shouted. Off to the races.

Suzanne got him several outfits with some really cool Spidey designs on them and some adorable Spider-Man shoes in his size. I hit the toy section and got him a couple of action figures including Spidey and the Tarantula villain (one of my favorites growing up) and a Spidey-on-a-bike thingie. We got him some other age-appropriate stuff and my Dad even got involved when he found out what we were doing, buying some puzzles and coloring books. But something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was driving me crazy. I wanted to get him a dvd with some cartoons but couldn’t be sure his family had a player.

Finally, Suzanne and I had one of those lightbulb moments at the same time. We ran to Nostalgia Plus and bought this:

It was the weirdest thing. It felt so right to be giving one of Mike’s books (not to mention the last work he completed) to a little boy that loves Spider-Man. Mike’s been with us in a big way this holiday season and I feel like, wherever he is, he’ll be watching that little boy on Christmas day, hoping he likes the book he drew for him.

So, Happy Holidays, folks. I can say it and actually mean it this time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bah, Humbug!

It's that time of year again and I've decided to put up a new, not-so-festive holiday banner. As I was drawing it, I was patting myself on the back for how clever the idea was. It was so clever, in fact, that someone beat me to it. I was looking for Ghostbuster reference when I stumbled across a description of an episode of THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS in which the gang goes back in time and unwittingly "bust" the ghosts visiting Scrooge on Christmas Eve. I was having so much fun with it that I said, "screw it" and finished it anyway. I hope you like it.

Oh, and happy *@#%ing holidays.