Free Comic Book Day

It's the next best thing to Christmas in the Ullman household: Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 5th! Go to any comic book shop worth a damn and get yourself a free comic (or comics) from a variety of snazzy, generous publishers! Personally, I'm most anxious to check out the "Unseen Peanuts" book from Fantagraphics (although the "Wizard: How to Draw" volume oughta be good for just as many laffs).

Also, this year I contributed a few pages to Wide Awake Press' new FCBD anthology, EATS! It won't be available at your local comickery, but it will be available free to download on Saturday! Here's the official poop from the boys at WAP:

Hungry for FREE comics but don't live near a comic shop? Well, Wide Awake Press has cooked up a little something special this year. Surf over to www.wideawakepress.com on May 5th 2007 (Free Comic Book Day) and you willl be able to download EATS right to your very own computer! It's been prepared with only the freshest artists.

There you have it! My eyes have seen the PDF, and it's pretty freakin' amazing. And just cause I know that reading a comic on-screen can't match the experience of holding it in your hands, I'll send an actual physical copy of EATS! to anyone who orders five or more dollars worth of stuff from my website for the entire month of May!


Patio = DONE!

This week, I finally took care of one of the projects I've been putting off since we bought this house back in 2004: the brick patio!

A little background: The southeast corner of our house has pretty much been a dusty disaster area ever since we moved in. It doesn't get much sun, so grass won't grow, and when it rains, the uneven dirt causes deep, muddy pools to form almost immediately. I addressed this to some extent last spring by building a long trench and drainage system, which has worked admirably, but there was still the matter of all that messy unused space. We've wanted to build a patio there since day one, but A. It's expensive, and B. Until the drainage issues were worked out, there was no point in even bothering, since any work we did would most likely be undone during the first big storm. Even still, I'm paranoid that the first heavy rain we have is going to result in a backyard full of bricks and paver sand!

Anyhow, here's a look at some pics...the size of the patio is almost-nine by sixteen feet, which is a pretty ridiculous size to embark upon, especially when you don't know what you're doing. I bought all the supplies at Lowe's (all $800 worth of 'em) and had them delivered, which is a pretty convenient way to go and well worth the sixty bucks it cost me.

Here's the hole I dug with a good bit of help from my friends Greg and Eric...this was really the worst part, I hate me some digging. I've got the huge wood frame in place in this pic, and it's about half-full of gravelly paver base.

Full of the paver base, to a depth of about 3 inches:

Next up is about an inch of sand, tamped down and packed all tight:

Finally, it was time to start laying the bricks. Each row across was 26 bricks, and there were 23 rows total. This is about a third of the way there:


This worksite has gone 163 0 days without an accident.

Here's another shot of it halfway done...it looks more impressive from this angle. As you can see, I'm beginning to run out of daylight at this point...it was about six, and I'd been out since nine. If I was gonna finish before the end of the day, I was gonna need some help, so I called Eric to see if he'd come by and wheelbarrow the bricks the thirty feet from my driveway to the worksite.

The ever-dwindling pallet of supplies:

Finally, the last brick. This was a big deal, 'cause somehow, despite my general incompetence, I'd managed to measure the distance from the front to the back of the patio, all 176 5/8 inches of it, pretty much exactly right, with less than an eighth of an inch to spare. It had been weighing on my mind all day, worrying that I'd get to the end and the last row of bricks wouldn't fit and I'd be screwed. Hooray for accurate tape measures!

All that was left was to sweep some sand around the surface, filling the cracks. I don't have any good pics of us "enjoying" the thing yet, 'cause we really haven't had the chance! And alas, I really wish there was some way to have worked a beer shelf into the equation. Ah well...maybe next weekend!

Weekly Sketch 4/26

Just doodling in the ol' sketchbook, trying to settle on the look for one of the characters in the new story I'm working on...


Crass Commercialism

Please pardon this crass money-grub from your hosts at Atom Bomb Bikini Co., but the tax man cometh and I gotta pay the piper! To that end, I've added a good twenty or so pieces to the "For Sale" section of RobUllman.com, so if you're at all interested in owning some artwork that you can't actually hang in your home for fear of societal disapproval, please skip on by and take a gander!

In a feeble attempt to assuage my guilt, I'll go ahead and make you a deal...if you order a piece of art from the site in the next month or so, I'll throw in a trading-card sized drawing of pretty much any character you can think of as an added bonus. Just make sure you mention this blog post so's I know we're on the same page. We square? Awesome.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake, Take Two

As promised, the Western Conference preview! I can count the Western Conference games I've watched this year on one-and-a-half hands, so be prepared for a lot of bullshit as you read the capsules!


(1) Detroit Red Wings vs. (8) Calgary Flames

This might just be wishful thinking, but I feel like the Flames have a chance against the high-powered Red Wings, especially if they can take them beyond four or five games. Much like the Senators in the East, the Red Wings often seem to falter in the first round as a high-seeded favorite...but unlike the Sens, in the years they don't falter, they win the Cup. Not this year. Calgary in seven.

(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Minnesota Wild

I know next to nothing about the Ducks, except that even though the stink of Disney is finally off them, I still don't want to see them make it to the finals. I also know that their jerseys are just about the most boring thing I've ever seen, which is why I didn't do a drawing! I still have to pick them, though. Anaheim in six.

(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Dallas Stars

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is having a monster year...if he can remain true to regular season form, there's no way the Stars will be able to score enough goals to keep the result from being Vancouver in six.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) San Jose Sharks

The Predators have been excellent all season, but the Sharks have been better lately. I think the Sharks will eventually represent the Western Conference in the Finals...no one on the left coast has been better for longer without winning a Cup than San Jose. They're due. Also, the Preds have no plans to wear their mustard yellow alternate jerseys during the series, which will cost them.

UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot to mention this before, but this series will feature one of the most hilarious combinations of names in recorded sports history, when Nashville's Jordin Tootoo takes the ice against San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo. Tootoo versus Cheechoo. That's awesome. San Jose in seven.


Stanley Cup Finals Preview, with a Side of Cheesecake

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tomorrow night, and I'm excited like a little kid on Christmas Eve! I used to do little capsule previews every year on my old forum, and it always sparked a good bit of debate and discussion among the few posters who were also hockey afficionados. I've moved it here to the blog in hopes of getting the same sort of discussion going, so chime in if you've got something to say!

Also, as usual, I feel like its my job to provide the non-interested with something of value as well, so enjoy the girls in hockey jerseys! And away we go!


(1) Buffalo Sabres vs. (8) New York Islanders

The Islanders managed to outlast the Maple Leafs and Canadiens and earn the final playoff spot in the East, despite almost blowing it by allowing the Devils to score a goal and tie their must-win final game last Sunday with under a second remaining on the regulation. The Isles managed to win it in an exciting shootout, but ultimately, it won't matter much, because they have zero chance against the playoff-tested Sabres, who look to be the class of an Eastern Conference full of powerful teams.

I actually think the Isles might be able to gain a split in the first two games in Buffalo, perhaps winning the opener, before reality sets in and they get swept out the rest of the way. Buffalo in five.

(2) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning

This is likely the final go-round for what remains of the Lightning's Cup-winning team from 2004, as several of their highly-paid stars seem likely to depart in the offseason. Tampa scores a ton of goals, but I doubt it'll be enough against the Devils snoozy-ass style of defensive play and the rock-solid Martin Brodeur in goal. Like my pal Patrick, a Devils fan since '82, says, "It's boring, but it wins Cups!" Jersey in six.

(3) Atlanta Thrashers vs. (6) New York Rangers

This is the Thrashers' first-ever trip to the playoffs, while the Broadway Blueshirts haven't won a postseason game since before most Americans had heard the name Monica Lewinski. So, something's gotta give. And with as well as New York has been playing the last month or so, I kinda have to imagine that it's gonna be the Thrashers. As much as it pains me to do so, I'm picking New York in seven.

(4) Ottawa Senators vs. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins

Ah, the one I've been waiting for...the Pens haven't been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2001. which, incidentally, was the last year I bothered to do a finals preview. I hate to be such a homer, but the truth is, if my team's not in it, it's just not the same!

So, I suppose it's no surprise that I'm picking the Penguins, but I have three good reasons why: A. I think the Penguins are in Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery's head. The Pens beat the Sens on a last-second goal just last week, and won the season series overall, including both games in Ottawa. B. The Senators choke every year in the playoffs. Every season they contend for the best regular-season record in the NHL, then bow out early. They seem nervous, scared, tentative, playing not to lose. C. By the same token, the it'll be the first playoffs for most of these Penguins, who have overachieved all year and don't panic when they get behind by a goal or two. They're not even supposed to be here yet, which makes them dangerous. Many of them have, however, experienced postseason pressure, coming within a couple games of winning the AHL's Calder Cup a few years back with the Pens' top minor league club in Wilkes-Barre...and that was without Sid, Geno, or Staalsie! Pittsburgh in six.

Western Conference previews coming soon!


Unclean! UNCLEAN!

Savage Love was a hoot this week. A reader asks, "Every time I get so drunk and black out and end up having sex with one of my friends, I never know what to do the next morning when they wake up thinking it was the start of a relationship. What's the etiquette for this type of situation?". Dan's answer: If it's happened more than once, you obviously have a serious drinking problem, so maybe you really oughta focus on that.


And That...Is Why You Don't Steal

I came up with this idea a couple years ago, and since then have been waiting for some client to pitch me a story about the dangers of stealing music...maybe it hasn't happened yet because there pretty much aren't any dangers to stealing music! I decided to work it up as an illustration anyway because I think it's a cool concept, if not the most facile in execution. Enjoy!


No Foolin'

Hey, I ran the 10k yesterday and lived to tell about it! It was pretty exhausting...I fell asleep around 9:30 last night...but I pulled it off! My goals for the race were pretty modest: Run the whole 6.2 miles without having to stop and walk at any point, and finish in under an hour. My time for the race was 57:27, so I guess the day was a success.

Here's a picture of me and my wife's friend Alycia, who came down from DC to run with me. My wife and my pal Greg were standing right under the 5 mile-marker when she took this shot.

And just for shits and giggles, here's the playlist of the songs that got me through the race, thanks to the trusty iPod Shuffle. "Ill Placed Trust" by Sloan was especially helpful in pouring on a final burst of speed over the last half-mile or so!

Not Even Jail • Interpol
Shut Your Eyes • Snow Patrol
Stand By Me, Yeah • Sloan
Expo '86 • Death Cab For Cutie
Lasting Favorite • Lookwell
Learning the Hard Way • Gin Blossoms
The Room Got Heavy • Yo La Tengo
We'll Go Too • The Tragically Hip
Flying High Again • Sloan
Twin Cinema • The New Pornographers
Daily Mutilation • The Posies
Best Thing • Bob Mould
Afternoon Speaker • The Sea And Cake
Rock Me • Liz Phair
Kite • Ivy
Ill Placed Trust • Sloan
Sing Me Spanish Techno • The New Pornographers