My “gallery” at the Mall of America


The Mall of America has a neat place called Underwater World, where you can actually walk through an underground glass tunnel and watch sharks and other exotic fish swim right over your head. Recently they hired me to illustrate their mascot “Sharky” as an explorer, ala Indiana Jones. Since I live in the area, I was able to go to the mall and see my artwork blown up eight feet tall for their in-store display. It’s always a rewarding experience for any artist to see his work out before the public. I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos.

Day Off!


After over two weeks of non-stop craziness, I finally had a day off. Most of it was spent sorting through all our junk to get ready for a garage sale. It’s amazing how much “stuff” we Americans accumulate. As I stood there staring at my garage full of clutter, I was reminded of the words of Jesus, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21). Pretty strong words! I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of following them.

Did Jesus mean His followers must live in poverty? I don’t know. At the very least I think he was warning us not to sin by selfishly setting our hearts on “things” instead of on God. Human nature is funny. I’ve noticed that the more I have, the more I want and the less content I am. Maybe those who have the least are those whose hearts can be the most free.

Anyway, last night my fiance and I finally had our engagement photos taken. We’ve been engaged for 3 months already, but better late than never. Above is one of the photos. My bride-to-be is the pretty one.

Sketchbook Update: Frogs

Another long night. Deadlines have been crazy. I haven’t had a day off in over two weeks and I’m currently going on about 4 hours of sleep. One more deadline tomorrow and I can crash. Freelancing can be stressful, but I love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m fortunate in that I’m actually excited to go to work most days, even when I’m tired. The hard part is making room for the other areas of my life. Especially my relationship with Jenie.

A publisher approached me recently about designing a frog for part of a Vacation Bible School logo. These are the designs I sent them. They chose the one in the upper right. If I get time I’d like to paint one of them digitally, just for practice. If I get time….

This is my blog’s new home.

I’ve just moved my blog from it’s old host to here at blogger.com. I liked where it was but I couldn’t do RSS feeds. Everything’s been moved except user comments from my previous posts. But you can still read them if you’d like at my old blog. Sorry for any inconvenience, and thanks for following my blog!

Syndicates be warned!


Newspaper syndicates may soon be a thing of the past.

Cartoonist Scott Kurtz has one of the most successful comic strips on the web. PVP is a smartly-written strip about the publishers of a gaming magazine. Scott gets about a jillion hits a month to his site, and his popular strip has recently expanded into print (through Image comics), t-shirts, and plush toys. Needless to say he’s making a good living as a cartoonist.

But unlike other successful cartoonists, Kurtz has done it all without the help of a syndicate. In fact, his strip has never even appeared in a newspaper. And now he is poised to revolutionize the funny pages forever.

Syndicates are large companies that purchase cartoons from artists, sell them to newspapers, and then give some of the profit back to the artist. Problem is, the syndicate owns all the rights. So if a strip is truly successful (few are) the syndicate keeps a lot of the money. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s very hard for a syndicated cartoonist to make a good living these days). Another problem: newspaper readership is down and most comic strips are rather bland anyway, so in order to save costs some papers are considering dropping the funny pages altogether (USA Today, anyone?). In other words, if an artist wants to “make it” in the funnies biz, the future looks increasingly bleak.

Enter Scott Kurtz. Thanks to the internet he has been able to build a very successful strip without any help from a syndicate, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. And since he owns the strip (not the syndicate), he keeps all the rights and all the profits. At this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego, Kurtz dropped a bombshell: He plans to offer his strip free of charge to any and all newspapers for one year. Kurtz would get more exposure (and more money from books sales, merhandising, etc.), and the newspaper would get a successful strip free of charge. Bye bye syndicates.

I sincerely hope at least one large newspaper takes Kurtz up on his offer. If that happens, it will be a huge win-win for newspapers and cartoonists. The paper gets more readers, the artist gets more money, and the syndicate becomes irrelevant. Making a living as a cartoonist is a real challenge these days, but Kurtz’ plan could change all that. I can’t wait to see what happens.