The Aughts Have It

I created the image above for The Stranger's end-of-the-decade issue...specifically, about regrettable developments in music over the last ten years. The illo focuses on the death of browsing...going into a cool record shop and checking out different records versus sampling tracks online in the solitude of your home (in this case, in your bathrobe). I can't say I'm not guilty of this very thing...at some point, thanks both to the cheapness of eMusic.com and my never-ending battle against additional clutter in my house, I began buying 80% of my music digitally.

If there was a big change in my musical routine, that was it, as the types of music I listen to tended to pretty much stay the same. The same most definitely could not be said for the previous decade...back in 1990 when I was a senior in high school, I occasionally still listened to Def Leppard and Whitesnake, God help me!

Anyway, just for kicks, here's a list I made of my 20 favorite records of The Aughts. By no means meant to be a high-falutin' critical assessment (or in order), but just to recognize some of the amazing tunes that have provided the soundtrack for the last ten years of my life.

1. The Dismemberment Plan - Change
Not long after this came out in 2002 the Plan broke up for good. I didn't make it to nearly as many shows this decade as I did in the previous one, but I am SO glad I got to see these guys a couple times. Just a blast.

2. New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
The best of an extremely strong catalog...the Pornos released four records during this decade, and all of 'em could've made the list.

3. Ken Stringfellow - Soft Commands
If only for one song "When U Find Someone", which posits GWB as Saddam Hussein's biggest stalker. Utterly hilarious. The rest of the record is a beautiful gem of a.m. radio gold.

4. Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
I had a hard time deciding between this and 2001's Standards...but I give Beacons the nod because I think it'll prove to be as classic. Also, there really isn't anything else released in the last couple years on my list!

5. Elliott Smith - Figure 8
Beautiful songs and arrangements...I loved hearing what Smith could do with all those musical tools at his disposal. Then just like that, he was gone.

6. Pernice Brothers - The World Won't End
From first to fifth, the strongest lineup since the '75 Reds. Unbeatable.

7. Death Cab for Cutie - We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes"
Bogs down at the end with a few plodding tracks (always a problem for DCFC), but really sounded fresh when I first heard it back in spring of 2000. They get slagged a lot, but I think they've done some amazing work this decade, and I still enjoy 'em. Besides, anyone over the age of 15 who uses the term "sellout" with any degree of seriousness is an idiot.

8. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow
This one didn't leave the CD player in my car for about a month...just played it over and over and over.

9. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
As much as I like Dan Bejar's contributions to the New Pornographers, his solo stuff never really caught on with me until this record, which I adore!

10. Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
"Casimir Pulaski Day" has always made me tear up...now that I have a daughter, it practically make me sob.

11. Sloan - Never Hear the End of It
This might be my overall favorite. I love it so much that I almost can't even think of what to say about it!

12. Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
I loved these guys' earlier tunes, but I always kinda considered 'em a novelty act. Wasn't prepared for what a serious and magical record this would be, but it is. It's also notable as being able to survive having two of it's songs ("Energy" for Pepsi and "Sun is Out" for...Dodge, maybe, in the 2008 NHL playoffs?) way overplayed in commercials without my getting completely tired of 'em.

13. Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers
I wanted to pick 2007's Traffic and Weather for this list, just because it was so critically and unfairly maligned. But Managers gets the nod, with FoW at the top of their game.

14. Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
One of several Pitchfork recommendations that I really ended up liking...purchased in NYC at Other Music too, just to add to my indie cachet.

15. Arcade Fire - Funeral
Revered, but deserving...defines epic. Can you listen to the first minute of "Wake Up" and not want to stand up and fly?

16. Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights What can you say about Interpol? You either like 'em or you don't. Put me in the yes column.

17. They Might Be Giants - Here Come the 123s I wish kids' records had been this good when I was one. Evie loved this thing all summer, and we probably heard it three times a day. Never got sick of it...in fact, half the time it was my idea to play it! You don't have to have little ones to enjoy this stuff!

18. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will KIck Your Ass By the time 2006 rolled around, I thought I had YLT figured out...mellow and atmospheric, I liked 'em a lot. But I was totally not prepared for how catchy and upbeat this record turned out to be. "Mr. Tough" was my ringtone for a good six months,

19. Sam Prekop - Sam Prekop Okay, it actually came out in 1999, but I didn;t get my hands on it til 2000. This is one of the most perfect records I've ever heard...my pal Craig kinda oversold it to me in his initial recommendation, but it lived up to the hype...since then, I've oversold it to others who've dug it as well. So SEEK IT OUT...you won't be sorry.

20. Archer Prewitt - Three Maybe the only "grower" on this list...It took me about a year to really get into it. Worth the effort.


It Is Decidedly So

Shyster "fortune-tellers", for the Las Vegas Weekly. It's an odd observation, but I've noticed that there's often a lot of purple in the illos I do for these fine folks. No idea why!



This illo is from a recent Las Vegas Weekly about a Sin City karaoke bar frequented by porn stars. Not the way you'd expect me to go with that idea, I'd imagine...me neither, but I think the result is a lot of fun. I think this is also the closest I've ever gotten to straight-up drawing a dick. High school and college notebooks and jam comics don't count.


I'm About to Ruin Your Christmas

There are all kinds of Christmas specials. Sappy ones. Earnest ones. Classic ones.

But I guarantee you'll never see one as creepy as Santa In Animal Land.

Let me back up. Years ago, my good friend Bill used to host a Christmas Film Festival every December...we'd get together and watch a few of the classic animated specials (The Grinch, A Charlie Brown Christmas), but the real fun was always in seeing what obscure nugget Bill had unearthed from the depths of history (or more specifically, from cheap VHS collections of public-domain Christmas cartoons). One memorable year, Bill presented 1948's Santa in Animal Land, which he described as a "Felliniesque nightmare of epic proportions disguised as a puppet show". The film was as bizarre and freakish as advertised, and became a staple of the yearly event.

In later years, I'd host my own version of the Film Festival...and Santa in Animal Land (now on cheap, public-domain DVD) was always a big part of it. So much so, in fact, that I created this illo of the awful, awful characters for the invitation to the 2001 edition.

I'm always a little worried that I'm overselling this thing when I tell people about how weird it is...but time after time, folks are genuinely, fabulously creeped out by it. And thanks to the magic of the internets I can share it with you now, thankfully without having to actually invite you jackals into my home. Enjoy?


Artistic Differences

If it's the end of the week, I must be all worked up about something ridiculous!



Tin Caps and Gold Cups

My good pal Todd, a designer in Atlanta, recently had the logo he created for the Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball team chosen as the Baseball Digest logo of the year. A fine honor, and well-deserved! Bravo, pal!

If only Todd's firm had been chosen to create the identity for Richmond's new baseball team, the Flying Squirrels, who debuted their set this week! While I wouldn't say I hate it, I'm not too excited about it either...but that's a story for another day.

Anyway, I thought I'd take this chance to post a pin-up I did last spring featuring a TinCaps jersey! Enjoy!


Black Wednesday? Cyber Wednesday?

Okay, so I got busy and kinda missed the traditional kick-off to the Christmas season, but I didn't want any more time to pass before making a cash grab special offer of my own to my beloved readers.

If you ordered a copy of Atom-Bomb Bikini: The Lurid Art of Robert Ullman over the course of the year, it no doubt occurred to you as you were thumbing through its pages that lots of your friends would like to own their own copy. So from now until the end of December, when you order a copy of the book as a gift for a friend (using the handy button on the right side of the page), you'll get a couple full-color Atom-Bomb Bikini holiday cards to give along with it (or keep for yourself)! I'll be going all Fezziwig on you, throwing in free stickers and so forth as well. Finally, you can do your shopping and put the "X" back in "Xmas" at the same time! God Bless Us, Every One!

Commercial over!



I provided the cover for the most recent issue of the Washington City Paper, examining the differences between the stereotypical readers of each of the city's gay newspapers: The younger, hipper readers of the Metro Weeklyvs. the older, mellower readers of the Washington Blade. I provided the two full figures pictured below, and left putting all the pieces together in the able hands of A.D. Brooke Hatfield, who did a bang-up job!




The TRUTH About Black Friday

In this week's Traffic & Weather!


Detroit Lions

Because it's Thanksgiving, and you just never know!



College basketball is BACK! While it's true I won't begin paying attention until the second week of March, it's still worth noting!


Damn Yankees

It's true, I hate the New York Yankees. Read all about it.



Here's a fun one. The commissioner wanted to incorporate his beloved heap of a truck into the illustration...a two-tone Ford Ranger with the big "R" missing on the back gate...hence the nickname, "FOD". Add a lovely girl in a throwback Penguins sweater and Lord Stanley's fabled cup, and you've got a weird, wonderful image!



A little different take this time. Not so much a uniform as apparel, I suppose...but dig the socks!


My Dinner with Crumb, Part II

The exciting conclusion! Well, the conclusion, anyway.


The Fightin' Phils

Tonight's Game 6 of the World Series, and the Phillies will try to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 tomorrow night. In that spirit, enjoy this recent commission I did for a woman, which she presented to her husband as a wedding gift a couple weeks ago. That story's cool enough, but it gets better: The commissioner, whose likeness is represented in the illustration, is actually a Yankees fan!


My Dinner with Crumb, Part I

In this week's Traffic & Weather.


Sexy Halloween

A little bit of Halloween fun, courtesy of The Stranger. Here's the accompanying article, where Dan Savage examines the phenomena of straight folks using All Hallows Eve as an excuse to dress like sluts of both genders.





Saved by a Meteor

Here are a couple spots from the current issue of the Richmond Guide...it's an wacky story, about a man who was found in the barn where he slept, the victim of a massive head trauma. There were four suspects, including a horse, but no prosecutor could ascribe anything beyond the flimsiest of motives. However, an unusual, strange-looking rock was found at the crime scene, and it was eventually decided that the rock was indeed a meteorite that had crashed through the roof of the barn and brained the guy! That's the story of record, anyway.


Sick Days

It's been a den of illness around here the last two weeks. Grisly details in this week's Traffic & Weather.


My Squirrel Boy

Ten years ago today, October 23, 1999, my parents (who were in town for a visit) and I stopped in front of the local Wachovia where Richmond's SOS Animal Shelter had a bunch of dogs and cats for adoption. Having recently checked with my landlord to see if it'd be okay, I figured it was time to finally go ahead and get a pup. I paid my 75 clams, and went home that day with a six month old golden retriever mix, who I named Puck.

A lot has changed since that day...we've moved a half-dozen times, met and married my wife, had a daughter...but Puck's been with me the entire way. I am and have always been a dog person - I imagine our family will have a dog for the rest of my life. But no pooch will ever be my best pal the way Ol' Puckie Boy has.

A little bit of related artwork: A few years back, as I was about to reprint Squirrel Boy, the mini-comic I did in 2000 about Puck chasing a squirrel , I considered creating a new cover for the book. I eventually went with just altering the original cover a bit...but I did do a pretty involved sketch for the new cover, which I'll share with you here.

EDIT, 10/28: Just got back from the vet for Puck's yearly checkup. I'm pleased to report he's in tip-top shape! We celebrated with a Wendy's double cheeseburger.


Central Washington Wildcats


Beach Weddings

If you're gonna go and have your wedding on the beach, it's a good idea to be specific about attire! From C-Ville Weekly.


Dream Girl

Continuing on the Legion theme. Not 100% thrilled with how it turned out, but I spent too much time on it not to post 'er.

Next up: TYROC!


Baltimore 2009 Wrap-up

The trip to Baltimore couldn't have gone much better...for all the fretting I was doing over the trip, it really went off almost without a hitch. It remains a great con, all about the comics, and a show where people come to buy, which is great news for small-pressers such as myself. Even my trepidation about being the very last table at the ass-end of the show (completely my own fault for waiting so long to sign up) turned out to be no problem, as I still managed to see a great deal of foot traffic.

Unfortunately, because I was flying solo at my table, about all I did was roll in, set up, and sell comics, with little time for walking around since there was no one around to mind my store. Still, I did have a great conversation with Asgard Press, from whom I also bought a swank calendar of silver age Marvel covers, and managed to grab a couple of con deals at the Twomorrows table. I also picked up Frank Cho's new sketchbook, which I regretted almost immediately. It's not that the work inside the book isn't great...it's beautiful, in fact...but his icy, disinterested personality is always a complete turn-off. Maybe it's just me.

I got to hang out with Rob Venditti, Andy Runton and Van Jensen, which is always a good time. Even managed to catch the third period of the Pens/Leafs game at the hotel bar, before crashing early, as is often the way of this old man. Next year's show is about six weeks earlier, the last weekend of August, and if I'm not chillin' at the Outer Banks or dodging hurricanes, I fully expect to be there!

Finally, here are some pics of a few of the sketches I did, the ones I remembered to photograph, anyway. Some great and less expected requests this time around, which is always nice! Joan Holloway from MAD MEN (as portrayed by the lovely Christina Hendricks), Wonder Girl and Lilith of the Teen Titans, and X-Force's U-Go Girl.


Baltimore Bound

Hey! I'll be getting up at the crack' a dawn tomorrow morning, and heading up to Charm City for the Baltimore Comicon! You'll find me at the official ass-end of the con...my own fault, for waiting so long to grab a spot...at table 178. No worries, though...just look for the giant Atom-Bomb Bikini banner!

I'll be there all day Saturday, but leaving early Sunday to avoid all the pesky Ratbird traffic when the Ravens game empties out at around 4:30...which means if you want a sketch (and I'd love to do one for ya!), catch me sometime on the first day!

See you there!


The Swingin' A's


Czar Wars

All this recent manufactured outrage over the presence of "czars" in the government by the right is one of the dumber, sadder trends I've seen in awhile. It's a non-existent argument based on semantics, aimed at playing on the fears of a particularly gullible section of the population who hasn't been paying attention for the last thirty years. The fact that it's been at all effective is further proof that we as Americans are completely deserving of whatever shitty government we saddle ourselves with.

On a related (if lighter) note, here's a recent illo from the Las Vegas Weekly, from a piece suggesting what sort of czars the state of Nevada might appoint...in this case, a Border Czar, whose most important task would be keeping out Utahns!


SPX 2009 Wrap-Up

(Jeffrey Brown and I calmly discuss the start of the upcoming NHL Season at SPX 2009.)

It's taken me almost a week to jot down my thoughts about the latest edition of my favorite comics show...mainly because I didn't take any photos to accompany said thoughts, but also because it's hard to think of something new that I haven't said before! It was awesome, as usual...my 12th, if you can believe it! In some ways, SPX has changed a lot...the location is different, and very few of the folks I met at my first show seem to still make the trip...but the vibe and the soul remains the same. SPX has always treated it's guests like royalty...I didn't pay for a drink the entire weekend...and though the faces may change, the good feelings and camaraderie is as strong as ever. It's just a great excuse to begin every fall with a weekend with a couple hundred of your best friends.

The one unfortunate detail? The pissing rain on Saturday night, which put the kibosh on our plans to head down to old Bethesda for dinner. Seriously...everybody knows it doesn't rain at SPX! The fault, however, for watching WANTED on cable before going down for drinks lies solely with me.

Big thanks go to Karen, Jeff, Mark and the rest of the SPX planners for another great show (and about a thousand drink tickets). To Benn and Rachel of Atomic Books in Baltimore for buying a few copies of Atom-Bomb Bikini for their fine establishment. To J Chris Campbell, for breaking his pledge not to come to the show for the third consecutive year. To Dustin Harbin for the free copy of his swanky FULL-COLOR mini-comic, Nutted. A rising star, that one. To Patrick Godfrey, for securing the room, driving up and back and for other timely, uh, suggestions over the course of the weekend (Seriously, get your paws on a copy of Hairyola). To Chris Staros, for the 7&7 and for helping me get all those books back from San Diego. And of course, to everyone who stopped by and bought something at the show. Hopefully you dug it, and I'll see you next year!

(Maybe the best photo ever taken of me, by Greg McElhatton (who I mistakenly called "Mark" for some reason).)



It's been a disappointing season for the Northsiders...but if your fans look like this, things can't be all bad!


On the Road Again (and Again, and Again)

My ridiculously busy fall convention schedule (four shows in five weeks!) kicks off this weekend at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. It'll be my eleventh time there, I think...I've been every year since 1997, and it's always the best. I'll be at table H-1, right near the front entrance. Look for my giant new Atom-Bomb Bikini banner...you can't miss it!


Shadow Lass

Long live the LSH! So many characters, so many great uniforms...This is (hopefully) the first in a series.


Make Mine Marvel (Girl)

I wanted to make sure I posted this before all the particulars of the sale goes through, so's I don't get sued!


Covering the City Paper


It's Terrible Towel Time!

In less than an hour, the football season kicks off with the Titans at the Steelers. It's been three long months since I watched a sporting event that meant anything (at least to me). It's been a nice little break...but I've missed getting all disproportionally worked up about shit that I have no control over whatsoever. So seeya later, fingernails...it was nice knowin' ya!

PREDICTION: Steelers 24-10


Bills and Bengals

This ones for Matt, who posted in the comments section of the Colts entry...well, sorta. Wouldn't'cha know it, the one time I drew a Bills jersey...it was on a dude!

I did this as a wedding gift for a friend of a friend...sort of a "C'mon over to my side and I'll make it worth your while..." kind of thing. Needless to say, I hope these guys don't actually spend too much time watching football!


Indy Colts

I've seen a few magazines picking the Titans and even the Texans to win the AFC South this year, but I'm not buying it. I think the Colts are still the faves to win the division.