I’m in on a book!

Well, I mean I guess my name is IN it.  I don’t know if that counts… I don’t think I can say that I’m in a book if the mere presence of my name is my only contribution between the covers.  Y’all would probably call righteous shenanigans on the “IN-ness” of “me” regarding said “book.”

If I had a buddy who had, by virtue of his first and last names appearing in the correct sequence somewhere, even once professed to be in a book, well, I would wait till he was talking to a pretty girl at the bar and then butt in and say, “Hey, did he tell you that he’s in a book?  You should have him tell you about that book that he’s in,” and then watch him crash and burn.

Because I am eeeeevil.  Or something.

Anyway, regardless of the highly dubious nature of my bookish inclusion, I am most certainly irrefutably incontrovertibly unmistakably ON a galldang book.  Front cover, front and center.  Of course, by “me” I mean “something I drew,” which is probably better looking than me anyway.  So that settles that.

The book in question, I must admit, probably stretches the accepted standard definition a bit, at least in terms of any literary expectations you might have, but I’m happy about it anyway.  It is, of course, the Threadless Book.  Yes, that Threadless.  Yes, the website.  Yes, the website that sells t-shirts.  Sometimes my t-shirts.  Yes, they wrote a book about it.  Why?  Because they are turning ten years old and they figured it would be a neat thing to do.  Yes, this is the book I’ve been excitedly rambling on about for the past several stolen moments of your life.

So!  Would you like to see it?  I thought so!

(my drawing is the three-eyed sea-tiger dude above the big yellow dot)

Below is Threadless founder Jake Nickell posing with a giant Threadless Book cover.

And, finally, here is the full illustration of my Sea Tiger monster dude.

The end!

I met a bear…

Good afternoon, gentle readers!  Wanna here a story?  Here it goes.

A couple weekends ago, while hiking the Appalachian Trail, I met a bear.  It was a little like walking on thin ice over a river of acid. Or, perhaps more accurately, it was like meeting a bear in the woods.

You see, my girlfriend (Heather) and I were on our way home to Michigan from a wedding in New Jersey when, while coming upon a traffic jam at the NJ/PA border, we spied a sign announcing the presence of The Trail just off the highway.  Eager for a bit of exercise and the chance to say we’d hiked even the most meager portion of the AT’s many many wild miles, we stopped off and embarked on a little hike.

Maybe a couple miles down the trail –after informing Heather that New Jersey is full of bears and having that fact acknowledged with an absent nod– I spotted a dark, fuzzy shape behind a fallen tree just off the trail about 30 feet in front of us. At that point I stopped dead in my tracks, put an arm out to stop Heather’s progress, and said, in a voice somewhere between alarm and disbelief, “Bear!” It was then that the bear stuck its head up to appraise us, thus signaling the moment to begin soiling our shorts.

After a few nervous glances we began to back away down the trail towards a large group of hikers that were about 50 yards behind us, and the bear began ambling in the same direction, though still somewhat off of the trail, and not in a particularly determined fashion, stopping here and there to murder grubs and the like.

When we reached the larger group we informed them of the situation and we all stopped and watched as the bear kept walking in our direction, and eventually past us. At that point the main group kept going, but a small rearguard, including Heather and myself, stayed to keep an eye on the bear’s activities. Heather and I were particularly interested because the bear was heading in the same direction we needed to go to get back to our car.

This is roughly the point where the bear’s attitude towards us shifted from indifference to curiosity. It strolled out onto the actual trail, pointed itself back up the path in our direction, advanced on us a few paces, and finally just stood there staring. This lasted for several tense moments before it left the trail and began to circle back in our direction through the woods.

At this point we finally went on the offensive (which I had advocated earlier, though one of the hiking group leaders dissented, and I didn’t want to be blamed for any aggression that we could possibly have provoked) and began making a royally loud stink… shouting and clapping and smashing rocks on each other and the like.

The bear didn’t give two shits.

Finally, after a couple long minutes of verbally harassing the persistently unflappable beast, it lost interest and turned back around and began shuffling away– still in the direction of our car, but a little farther off the path than before, which allowed us to get ahead of it and back on our way with minimal anxiety as to its proximity and intentions. Not that we abandoned the baseball-sized stones we’d been clutching… It was, after all, a little disconcerting that the bear had been so openly unafraid of people, even in large groups, and from what I understand such an animal is more likely to become aggressive and, I shudder to think, predatory.

Anyway, it was definitely more of an adventure than we imagined we might encounter on such a brief and unplanned foray into the wilds! I happened to have my copy of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” with me on the trip, and I had fun reading it to Heather on our way back home, particularly the following bits:

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but – and here is the absolutely salient point – once would be enough.”
— Bill Bryson

“This is a clear example of the general type of incident in which a black bear sees a person and decides to try to kill and eat him…”
— Stephen Hererro

From another corner of the globe, a League of Dinosaurs…

I should have asked.  When he contacted me around Christmas, and told me about his improbably named enterprise, and told me about what he needed me to do, I should have asked Rob Farrell all about it.  “League of Dinosaurs?” I should have asked. “Where’d that come from?”

I didn’t ask.

And now, dear reader, neither of us will likely ever know how it is that an Ultimate Frisbee team somewhere in New South Wales came to be known throughout the UF-NSW:NS as the League of Dinosaurs.  I mean, there has got to be a half-decent story to go with that, right?  Or is it just me?

Anyway.  Yeah… you may have noticed an unexpected geographical reference in the above paragraph…  namely, New South Wales.  For any of my local readers who are thinking to themselves right now, “Isn’t that over by Milford?” the answer is no.  It’s in Australia.

Yes, that Australia.

So, how did a fellow living in The Mitten get mixed up with a fellow from the other side of the planet?  Easy.  The internet.  Gosh I love the internet sometimes!  Under other circumstances, the prospect of someone looking on the other side of the planet for a guy to fill some dino-illustration needs would be pretty absurd.  Apply Tube Technology to those circumstances, however, and it’s like instant Absurdity-B-Gone.  Presto!  Mitten meets Outback in no time flat, and for nothing more important than to draw up some prehistoric beasts to adorn the uniforms of some folks who like to run around catching and throwing a FlatBall™.

Speaking of which, the adornment in question:

For the record, I also like to run around catching and throwing a FlatBall™, I’m just not good enough at it to join any special league.

Also, this may qualify as my first international job, first intercontinental job, and first interhemispheric job, all in one.

Woo!!! 🙂

It’s alive! (or at least undead)

At long last, rough cuts have been released of the previously blogged homegrown horror movie, Blood Kin, in which I star appear briefly with a bag over my head and dominate attempt to not ruin the scene.  If you’d like to witness my fleeting tussle with the protagonists simply jump to 6:30 in the 2nd cut, then sit back and prepare yourself for some first class projectile vomiting (just before my character is ultimately vanquished by a shovel—I mean hey, it was 2 on 1…Poor odds for anyone, zombies included).

As I said the first time I blogged about this, Blood Kin was written and directed by my friend Matt, who also costarred with friend and producer Anna K. Jonsson.  The editing has largely been a solo endeavor by Matt these past few months and I’m sure he would appreciate any constructive feedback on these initial rough cuts, so feel free to stop by his blog and let him know what you think.

I antagonize with the best of ’em 🙂

A touchy subject. AKA, You’re a sensitive lad, aint you, Tommy?

So I was perusing the site of one of my glorious benefactors, shirt.woot.com, when I happened upon a design that seemed strangely familiar to me.  It seemed familiar to me because it is uncannily similar in color, composition, and concept to a design I made a while back called Close Enough, about a drunk-on-the-job stork that mistakenly delivers a baby platypus to a couple of beavers.  Granted, the punchline is different… The design on woot has dropped the booze-addled angle and inserted a pair of ducks, but that’s where the incongruencies begin to become largely aesthetic.

Now, I’ve seen people (especially younger people, and especially on the internet) sound the “RIPPOFF” alarm and get up-in-arms about less striking similarities than this (And obviously I have to at least wonder about the possibility of my work being reprocessed and pilfered for financial gain ($1,000+), which is not at all a good feeling) but I am generally inclined to think otherwise.  One thing I’ve learned the hard way after a few years in the biz is that’s there’s a lot of room for cross-pollination, as it were, and there’s a lot of room for convergent evolution, as it were.  It’s just not that uncommon for two or more people to have the same idea.  It’s not even that uncommon for them both to execute it in similar manners.

I know this the hard way because I once designed a shirt about a narwhal impaling some arctic friends on its horn, which scored well on Threadless and was later printed by them, only to find my work being called a blatant rip-off of a previously existing toy of the same concept*.  I had never seen the toy in my entire life.  I had never heard of the toy in my entire life.  I had zero knowledge of the toy before the day my tee was put up for voting.  And yet, some folks were dead certain that I had willfully plundered the ideas of another for my own personal gain.  This was not, as you might imagine, a pleasant feeling at all.

But, as I mentioned earlier, the feeling that you may have been ripped-off and that someone else may be raking in dough that might have been yours, well, that’s not a good feeling either.  And while it’s not necessarily uncommon for convergent evolution to independently produce two similar solutions to a problem, it’s also not that uncommon for people on the internet to play fast and loose with the art of appropriation, as it were.  In any case, you can decide for yourself, and frankly you may find that these illustrations are about as similar as a cactus and a porcupine, but I thought it was at least interesting enough to blog about, if not fuss over.

Mine, from long ago:

Theirs, from not so long ago:

* Though, I might add, dramatically inferior geographic realism/plausibility 😛

Film School.

To kick things back off, and in the spirit of Halloween, I thought I might post a photo.  It was actually taken during the summer, but that should not detract from its very ghoulish theme, which, as it so happens, is… well, ghouls…

You see, one day, Matthew Gelzer woke up and thought, “Gee, I think I’d like to make a gory horror movie…  Wouldn’t that be neat?”  Other, equally jovial voices in Matt’s head agreed, as did starlet and producer, U-M film school grad Anna K. Jonsson.  What happened next is called Blood Kin: Terror is Thicker than Water, which was written and directed by Gelzer, who also starred and is currently laboring away in post production.  At some point I got a call asking if I could come out to the set for an evening and play one of the ghostly ghoul type things that serve –shockingly enough– as the undead antagonists.  Despite a whopping hangover, I said I would be delighted.  Little did I know that playing the part of a gurgling, grunting, violent zombo-ghoul would involve wearing a burlap sack over my head, being doused in a gallon of fake blood (principle constituents include corn syrup and non-dairy creamer…) and having dirt ground into my slimy red skin while I stumble around shambled and barefoot in the woods outside Hillsdale…

To be sure, clean up was hell, but filming was actually a blast.  Mine was a fight scene.  I got to hit people, make supernaturally yucky noises, and projectile-vomit ectoplasm all while choking the shit out of the director.  Below is the photo, post-burlap headgear and well after my glistening dermis had begun to set and congeal into a dull and outrageously sticky mess.


Another still from the set:


It’s no secret that I have a thing for dinosaurs.  I regard them and other ancient monsters with an enthusiasm that is curious to my friends, if not entertaining.  But what my friends should keep in mind is that there are people out there that harbor still deeper dino-obsessions and, more importantly, the ambition to tell people about it.

Enter: The Smithsonian “Dinosaur Tracking” blog, a delightful repository of dinosaur news, musings, minutia, and even sightings — which is where I come in to the picture.  The section of the blog devoted to sightings is a survey of all things dinosaur that one might encounter in everyday life — particularly in pop-culture– such as roadside sculptures, billboards, motion pictures, and — in my case– t-shirts.  To such ends, the blog discovered my Sweet Tooth design on Threadless and decided it was worthy of entry as a cataloged Dinosaur Sighting.  Naturally, I am pleased 🙂

dinosaur illustration

Brian Wolly (yes, it was acknowledged in an email that our names are eerily similar, even moreso in pronunciation than in spelling), who helps run the blog, said they may even feature my Dinosaurs Ate My Shirt! store sometime in the future, which makes him one of my favorite people on the internet at the moment.

Other incredible finds on Dinosaur Tracking are as follows: