Monday, November 16, 2015

The dancing beaver t-shirt!

Hey everyone!

Just a short post to let people know that I've got a new Grickle shirt available for the holiday season! The little dancing beaver from "We Sing the Forest Electric" fame is up on Teespring for a very limited time!

I know, like everyone else, it's always disturbing to have Christmas stuff thrown in our faces immediately following Halloween, but unfortunately if I don't do this campaign right now the shirts wouldn't ship in time for the holidays. So if you're trying to figure out a Grickle gift for any friends or family you've got about a week to order one of these!

Order right here!

I've been doing these Teespring campaigns over the last couple of years as a way of trying to supplement the time and resources I spend on creating original animation for the Grickle Channel. So if you've been enjoying my cartoons over the last decade on Youtube this is a great way to show your support! You can view all the past t-shirt campaigns here! If enough people reorder the older shirts than Teespring does a fresh print run! Have a look!

The Grickle T-shirt store!

Thanks, everybody!

Monday, November 02, 2015

How's that hockey table coming?

Nobody's really asking but I'm telling anyways.

It's my blog. And that's what a blog's for, right?

This post is primarily about my progress on my obsessive home project of customizing a Stiga Table Hockey set. You can choose to read it or not. Feel free to bail. I won't think any less of you. 

For those of you who happen to enjoy the sport of hockey or just like looking at people's odd hobbies please join me! 

Here we go.

So earlier I'd mentioned I haven't had a great history with model building. I absolutely love minatures and dioramas but I've never possessed the skills to build them. I just like looking at them.

I knew though that the day my Stiga Stanley Cup Table Hockey game arrived I wanted, no, NEEDED to customize it! Make it my own private shrine to the hockey gods!

Given my checkered past with decals and tiny things I entered into this journey with some trepidation. I really wanted this thing to look cool. I didn't want to eff it all up and be forced into a situation of slamming it into the garbage bin like that X-wing from long ago (see earlier post).

So far, I'm happy to report, that things have been going along relatively smoothly! I've been actually pleased by the results!

I suppose being a middle-aged adult has somewhat afforded me with enough patience and ability to follow instructions that I'm able to clearly out do my younger prepubescent self in the world of models and decals.

When the set first showed up I quickly assembled it. I had chosen to start with the NY Rangers versus the Detroit Red Wings as my beginning matchup. Stiga didn't offer a version that has a Montreal Canadiens team so I chose the least offensive pairing I could find. No disrespect to Rangers and Wings fans out there but these teams would serve as guinea pigs for honing my skills with model paints and decals.

My two sons immediately got into playing with the set! Even my youngest, who so far hasn't shown much love for the sport of hockey, or any sport really, was loving using the puck ejector and doing spinning slappers on it. After a couple of days of playing I shut the whole thing down. It was time to customize!

 My boys were not pleased.

One of my co-workers has started calling me President Business (ala the Lego Movie). And I guess it's not far from the truth right now. But dammit this was MY set and I had to get started on making it a mind blowing display of hockey awesomeness! They'll thank me in later years. I'm sure of it.

The first thing to be done and honestly the toughest step I've taken so far was to evenly paint the top of the rink boards red. I'd looked on the internet for reference and also remembered a lot of arenas I've played in, and red on top of the boards is a common color you see. Some places are blue and others yellow but red seemed like the right vibe to me. So I proceeded to take everything off the board and completely tape the whole set off. Just leaving the top of the rink boards exposed. It took me FOREVER to properly tape it up. I blew a whole Sunday afternoon on this step. Out in the back yard I laid it down on some plastic tarp and began spray painting as my family silently looked on from the window. At first the red looked a bit pink to me and I began to get nervous I'd already screwed up the project. But, after a night of drying in the garage, I was relieved to see it was a perfectly vibrant red and my taping job had been quite effective.

Step one complete.

I stupidly didn't take any photos during this beginning phase. I wished I had. It took so long to get that thing taped up that I completely spaced on the notion of recording the event. I was too eager to just get painting. I wouldn't make that mistake again.

The next thing to do was begin experimenting with decals on the players. I should mention that I found an amazing resource on the internet, a website, called "Table Hockey Heaven." The forums there have been an infinite source of inspiration and information on what to do with this set! I carefully followed the decal instructions suggested and began to put numbers and names on my Detroit team.

I measured what I thought would be the proper sizes for the numbers and names on the jerseys. The decals were so TINY! That actually turned out to be a good thing for my first foray into it. I've discovered that the bigger the decal the trickier it is applying it and getting it to lay flat. I was so glad I'd invested in a pair of really good tweezers for this! Made all the difference in accurately placing the names and numbers.

For Detroit, and I think for all the teams I assemble going forward, I'm kind of creating a "greatest hits" version. Regardless of era, I'm putting together an all-star team for each franchise. So for Detroit I've got Gordie Howe playing alongside Stevie Y and Pavel Datsyuk. Some choices are tough to make. I probably could have put Ted Lindsay in there but I will admit that I make some of my decisions based on personal nostalgia. There's no way I'm making a Red Wings team without Yzerman playing.

Next I needed to clean all the cheapie factory-made stickers on the boards and outside off. That took a bunch of nights of using water and "Goo be Gone" to get everything cleaned.

I then carefully taped off the boards and extended the red line and blue lines up the sides.

My son asks every day "When can we PLAY the game again, Poppa?" Patience, son, patience.

One of the funnest elements of customizing this set has been scouring the internet for obscure logos to put on the outside of the boards. I'm choosing logos based entirely on my personal tastes. There's no discernible rhyme or reason to any of it for anyone else. I'm lumping Junior A teams alongside cool WHA logos and defunct NHL teams purely for the aesthetic zeal of it all. And because they're logos I've grown up with. The Greyhounds were the local junior team in my hometown, the Nordiques were the greatest rivals of my beloved Habs during the 80's, the Portland Buckeroos were an incredible Oregon team based here in the 60's and 70's. I love all the individual histories they represent to me. Plus they look cool.

I needed a name for the rink. After many iterations in my head I settled upon "Grickle Gardens". It had the right old school flavor to it and I instantly knew of a logo I could create! I subverted the classic Johnny Canuck image by adding a Gricklized head and made sure to retain the toque, eh. Perfect.

And that about brings you up to date on my progress. I've begun printing out names and numbers for the opposing Rangers team. AND I'm about to begin sanding and painting the Rangers goalie which is VERY exciting to me. As much as I've been creating an all-star team for each city I've gone with John Davidson for my Rangers goalie. Not necessarily the best NY goalie of all time but definitely the coolest looking netminder they ever had.

I mean look at that mask! I hope I'm able to do it justice painting so damn small.

Look for another update in a few months or so! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Webb.

Hi everyone!

This short blog post is solely devoted to the fact that I've got a new cartoon up on the Grickle Channel today. It is the longest short I've ever made thus far in the decade or so I've been doing this. It lived in scribbles and doodle and in my mind for well over 4 years before I finally completed it. It's creepy. It's scary. And it's just in time for Halloween. Enjoy.

Tell your friends and enemies out there! Spread it around, internet-style!

Thursday, October 08, 2015


I was thinking about models the other day.

The models you build. Not the ones that strut around on catwalks and purse their lips for the camera.

Models that come in prefabricated pieces in cardboard boxes. Accompanied with step by step instructions on how to take it to it's final destined form.

I loved having models.

I hated building models.

I was lucky enough to hang around with an older kid in my neighborhood who was about 3, maybe 4 years older than me. He introduced me to music. I remember sitting in his basement marveling over album covers of KISS and Alice Cooper and listening to stuff that was 'cool'. He had a skateboard. I was never any good at it but I sure liked trying.

He was also into models.

Heavily into models. And he was super good at building them. I remember he had this HUGE aircraft carrier he'd built that I could never stop looking at. He put all the decals in the right spot, it was perfectly painted. An exact miniature of the real thing. 

I'd sit with him while he worked on some old WW2 airplane or tank. He'd be carefully following the instructions and bringing this amazing vehicle to life. He had a box of 'extras'. Pieces that were left over from previous endeavors, that I could mess around with. I loved just grabbing random bits of whatever I fancied and applying way too much glue to them. Building some unknowable thing until I deemed it was done. As long as there were no instructions to follow, model building was awesome. I never tired of that.

At a certain point my older friend and his family moved away. It was a sad day because our families were good friends and we spent a lot of time with them. As sad as I was to see my 'mentor' leave I will admit I was stoked to inherit his massive aircraft carrier! It immediately went up on top of my bookshelf where I looked at it closely every day. It was the object that inspired me to venture into a world of eternal torture. Building my own models.

For the next three years or so I was constantly buying model kits and attempting to build the things the front of the boxes promised.

I don't know that I ever completed a single one.

I just couldn't follow through on the instructions without messing up some major step along the way. I never had any patience to wait to apply the decals until the end. I was always irreparably gluing some wrong piece to another because I'd misinterpreted the illustration in the instructions. My models seemed to always culminate into a glue-coated Katamari ball of shit that didn't look anything like the well-lit photograph on the box. But within a few weeks, the frustration would always dissipate enough that I'd convince myself that "Yes, I could totally build that Husqvarna dirt bike with all the complicated wiring and motor parts". And off I'd go again down a dark, dark, road of glue and self loathing.

The ultimate end of my modeling days arrived when I came into possession of a huge X-Wing fighter kit. I wanted that ship to be displayed on my shelf SO BAD. I willed myself to truly follow the instructions and take my time to make it PERFECT. It was going to rival the aircraft carrier for sheer awesomeness in my room. But as I put it together the usual patterns emerged. My frustration built. And as I began to realize that I had, yet again, effed up the instructions and severely compromised my ability to complete my X-Wing fighter in the manner it was supposed to be done, I lost it. In a complete rage I scooped up my 3/4 finished piece of shit X-Wing and stomped over to the garbage in our kitchen and, in front of my parents and sister, THREW it forcibly into the trash. Immediately thereafter exploding into tears of anger and utter sadness that I just couldn't make that X-Wing happen. That was the last the model I ever attempted to make on my own.

After that I focused solely on drawing. And hoarding as many pre-built Star Wars figures and vehicles as I could throughout my childhood.

Things turned out okay.

I stayed away from models.

Until now. I recently purchased a Stiga table hockey set that I'm dying to customize. Put decals on. Paint. Make it nerdrifically pretty! This will be the first time, since those dark days of the X-Wing, that I will attempt to enter the world of model making again. I'm filled with an eagerness and anxiety I haven't known in a long, long time.

Wish me luck.

I really hope it doesn't end with my slamming the entire set into our garbage.

Time will tell.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stress goalies

I'm a nervous guy. There's always been a healthy level of anxiety in my daily existence. It's just part of who I am. Nervous. Cautious. More nervous.

When you're an anxious person you find different ways of coping with stress.  You go through life trying and discarding many methods until you find the ones that work best. You create constants that you go to. Comfort food for your mind.

My comfort food has always been hockey. Goalies, specifically.

From an early age I was obsessed, like many other Canadian kids, with hockey. I collected cards. I checked the standings in the paper every day. I watched HNIC on Saturday nights. And I of course played in a house league hockey league. I also drew. A lot. I was a much better drawer than I was a hockey player. That balance in my life still hasn't shifted much to this day. Naturally these two worlds came together for me in a steady stream of goalie drawings. I gravitated to goalies for obvious reasons. With all the pads and mask they just looked the coolest. They were like modern knights in leather armour. The blocker was a shield, the goal stick a lance, the mask as a medieval helmet. Too cool. There was no way to resist drawing that when you're a hockey fan who likes to doodle. As a kid it became part of my daily routine.

As I grew older and life increased in complexity and responsibilities, the 'goalie' habit became a welcome refuge away from the swirl of challenges I was surrounded by. The familiarity of sketching out the pads, blocker, and glove had an instant calming effect on my racing thoughts. The way the equipment looked was very specific. I always remember getting absurdly irritated when I'd read a story in my Archie digests or some other comic about hockey and the equipment was drawn all wrong. The artist obviously didn't give two shits and figured just drawing a bunch of dudes with skates and wooly sweaters with pads randomly attached would suffice. It drove me crazy! All they needed to do was just a few minutes of research to figure out how the pants and socks worked and where to draw the tape on the stick! Gah! Simple!

The goalie pads (if they even realized there was a different position called goalie involved) were always the most horrendously effed up. Lumpy pillow-y pads and a ribbed back catcher's chest protector were standard misinterpretations of what actual goalie gear should look like. I knew that THIS was what goalie pads were supposed to look like:

Of course, all my preferences were based on the pads of the 70's and early 80's at the time. So, with the exception of Billy Smith and Grant Fuhr, pads were always brown leather. And goalies wore masks! I'm all for better protection and visibility for players but I do miss those days of the full face goalie mask. It's no mystery why Jason donned a hockey mask in the Friday the 13ths. Old school goalie masks were wicked. And honestly a lot easier to draw than the present day cage/mask combos out there. All those lines for the cage part are just tedious and confusing to render. Back in the day you had all these greats to draw:

As a young adult, and well into my thirties, I'd be the victim of seemingly random panic attacks. They were paralyzing experiences. Largely attributed to my naturally nervous demeanor, I'd try all sorts of things to swing me out of them. Drawing goalies or something familiar always helped. Whenever a panic attack began and there was paper and pen available I'd start drawing a goalie. Stacking the pads, making a glove save, or diving for a loose puck in traffic, it all helped steer me away from the madness. Working out the jersey to render and coming up with a design for the mask took me away from whatever freakout I'd been about to embark on. They weren't always the greatest drawings (a lot of shaky lines) but they almost always helped.

Thankfully I'm no longer the angst-ridden person of yesteryear that I was. Age, experience, a wonderful wife, and a general downgrade of energy, I'm sure have all contributed to the mellowing of my soul. Which is great and I'm thankful for it.

But some old habits do persist.

Even in a chilled state of mind I still enjoy doodling a good goalie every now and then. But only brown pads. I can't totally let go of the past.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A rock of an idea.

Good day!

First off I'd like to let everyone know that a brand new cartoon is up exclusively on the Grickle Channel today! Please watch "Soup Leprechaun" if you haven't already! And spread the word and links and stuff to any and all who you think might be entertained by such depravity! I thank you in advance.

Whenever I publish a new cartoon I get to enjoy that short lived rush of internet gush! That brief moment of satisfaction where you feel like it's "me"! It's "me" time! Everyone's looking at "me"! And inside you're giggling like a school girl. And then after about 5 minutes, amidst a flurry of comments and reactions, the internet moves on and you're left alone again. Left to begin trying to conjure up another idea that might garner you some "me" time.

You need more ideas.


I love them. I love when they show up.

Ideas are rocks. When you first conceive of them it's like picking up a rough stone. You hold it in your hand. You own it. You have it. But it's rough. The rock is right but the texture is too course. It needs to get smoothed out. So you begin to turn that little piece of stone over in your hand. You worry it. You think about the idea and you turn the rock over. And over. And over. Until all your holding and worrying begin to smooth out the surface. Sometimes you need a break from holding the rock so you put it in your pocket. Or you put it on a shelf. Maybe the next day you pull the rock out of your pocket again. Or maybe a year from now you take it back off the shelf. And begin turning it over in your hand again. Eventually it gets smooth enough that you decide to make the idea.

That's how I always perceive ideas when I get them.

Sometimes, of course, a perfectly smooth rock comes crashing through your window and hits you on the side of the temple. That's essentially the "Soup Leprechaun." It was pretty much as smooth as it was going to get the minute I saw that rock. Rarely that happens. But sometimes it just does. I have no idea who threw that rock. But I'm glad they did.

Next month's Halloween short "The Webb" is a rock I've been worrying in my hand for nearly 4 years.

Get ready.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Non laboring aka non labouring.

Labor day weekend just finished. Or as I used to say when I lived in Canada, "Labour Day is over."

And as a result I did very little laboring.

Including prepping a new blog post for this week. My apologies on that.

In lieu of a fresh new topic, I will instead ramble out a few words and post Grickle vines you may or may not have already seen. Stuff like this:

Or even things like this:

And for the few rambling words, this is what I've got.

Next week, September 15th on Tuesday morning at about 8am (PST) "Soup Leprechaun" will officially debut on the Grickle Channel!

Be ready. Tell your friends. Spread the word.

That is all.

Enjoy your post Labor Day weekend week doing all your laboring, everyone.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Master of Horror

I'm not a fast reader. I'm pretty sure I'm not even a good reader. My snail pace doesn't actually allow me to retain more deeply the words I'm reading. I'm just slow.

But I like to read.

When I try to think back to why I like to read it's no surprise that comics were the start. I've always loved comics. At an early age I was specifically hooked on Peanuts. And not so much the daily strip in the paper, although I certainly paid attention to that, I was addicted to the paperback collections. I hoarded as many of those books as I could. Charles Schulz cemented the type of humor and pacing I appreciate nowadays. I also gathered as many Archie digests as I could get my hands on. My childhood bookshelf basically consisted of mangled Peanuts paperbacks, Archie digests, a bunch of Savage Sword of Conan magazines, and an entire run of the Funk & Wagnell's encyclopedia set above it.  I'd dip into the encyclopedias on rare occasions but not often. And we were missing the "N" book for some reason.

But I digress.

It took me awhile to warm up to full on novels. Pictures were important to me. Balloon-filled bits of dialog seemed much less intimidating than walls of text with no end in sight. The first no picture books I really read on my own were a series of dog stories written by Jim Kjelgaard. They mostly focused on hunting dogs and how they get separated from their owners and had a crazy adventure in the wilderness. The titles were simple. "Big Red", "Snow Dog", and "Stormy"to name a few. Conan comics moved me into the world of Robert E. Howard and the Conan novels. The Frazetta covers that housed the paperback reprints of the day totally suckered me into reading them. Anything that had images that cool on the front just had to be amazing reading inside! They mostly held up in retrospect.

But what truly launched me into a lifetime of reading was Stephen King. I grew up in his hey day. King of the paperbacks. Master of Horror. It seemed like every week he had a new book that debuted at #1 on the bestsellers list.

Up until that time I don't know if I even liked horror particularly. I appreciated the Twilight Zone and stuff like that but I didn't  actively seek out tales of terror.  The first Stephen King novel I read was "Salem's Lot". A friend had read it and kept pushing it on the rest of our gang of buddies. Sort of a dare. He'd read an adult scary story, could any of us 'man up' and handle it? There was some stressed looks exchanged but after a few days some of the guys started reading it. After internalizing on it for awhile I finally bought my own used copy at a local bookstore. I didn't read it right away. I kept studying the cover trying to decide it if it was worth my time.

That drop of blood. The all-black cover. I was intimidated. It seemed really scary! And it took me so long just to read short stories by Robert E. Howard. This book was huge. It was going to take forever!

I finally dove in.

Once I started I couldn't stop. I'd never read something that was so legitimately a 'pager-turner' like Salem's Lot. It still took me a long time to read it but I never noticed. I was so immersed in the world that Mr. King had laid out that time was irrelevant.

Salem's Lot began a routine of the next 5 or so years of my life where I sat curled up in our living room, listening to cassettes and reading until my eyes were crossed. I pored through Carrie, The Shining, Christine, Night Shift, Different Seasons, Firestarter, Cujo, and the ultimate victory for me, The Stand.

The size of The Stand was truly monumental in my slow reading world. When I finished that book I felt like I'd truly done something with my life. Anyone who could read a story that physically thick and over a thousand pages was truly a worthy human being. It gave me the courage to pull the tattered copy of Shogun off our cottage shelf the next summer and complete it. Nothing could stop me now.

At a certain point, whether it was just my age, or King's writing hitting a plateau of sorts, or both, I got off the Master of Horror's train. I remember clearly that it was after finishing "It" that I'd decided it was time to move on.

I never lost my appreciation for horror stories or my love of reading and for that Stephen King will always hold a special place in my literary heart.

I think he may have even slightly increased my reading speed. Just a smidge.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Best drawer.

Good day!

I was mulling over what to write this week and I as I started sifting through past memories and events I came upon one that I'm sure most others in my profession can relate to.

Being the best drawer.

For a good chunk of time I believe I held that title in my Northern Ontario elementary school. A solid run from about Grade 2 to Grade 8. I don't think I was cocky about it, but I sure did like having a 'thing' that set me apart from others.

It first dawned on me that I held this crown when I got my turn as student of the week in Grade 2. Each week our teacher would arbitrarily pick someone in the class as 'Student of the week'. This meant a small photo of you was pasted onto colored construction paper and then everyone in the class would write something nice about you around the photo. It was then pinned up on a board for all to see for the entire week.

When my turn happened I was surprised to see that nearly every comment was the same. "Best drawer". "Good at drawing", "I like his drawings", "He's good at drawing dinosaurs", "Excellent drawer", etc. 

That was the moment I realized I might be the best drawer.

It was a good feeling. And as much as I didn't like a lot of attention, I did enjoy my drawings getting attention. My focus at that time was mostly reptile in nature. I got pretty good at drawing snakes, particularly rattlesnakes and cobras. I always remembered to put those markings on the back of the hood of the cobra and I was very meticulous in drawing each segment of the rattle on the rattlesnake. I also did my fair share of dinosaurs. Usually that epic battle scene between triceratops and the mighty tyrannosaurus rex that was so popular in the late 1970's.

As I grew a bit older I expanded my skills into rendering Spider-Man swinging through mostly blank space (I really hated drawing buildings, still do) and NHL goalies making all variety of dramatic saves. I remember being so stoked when I submitted a Red Wings goalie stacking the pads to the local paper and it was actually printed in the "Kid's space" section the following week! My name and grade school were printed right below it. Further proof that I was indeed the best drawer.

As I mentioned earlier I never felt I got a swelled head about the whole thing but I will admit I got fairly comfortable with being the 'best' when it came to drawing. It was just what happened whenever I touched pencil to paper. The best. No big deal, just nature taking its course.

Then it happened.

My parents took my sister and I over to friends who lived on the other side of town. Their son was a year older than me. We didn't see each other that often but when we did we always got along well. He was a super interesting and crazy smart kid. Back when most kids hoarded Star Wars action figures, he had all these elaborate historical toys, figurines of classic knights and conquerors of the past. And he actually knew all the context behind them. Super smart guy. We'd usually just hang out in his room and get up to weird stuff like putting models together while listening to music on his stereo (he had his OWN stereo at the age of 10!). Sometimes we'd eat dog food. He convinced me that it actually tasted awesome and so we'd share a batch in his room that he'd snuck from the downstairs kitchen. His parents must have always been confused at why their dog went through food so quickly.

But this particular visit we didn't hang out in his room. Instead he invited me over to a nearby buddy's house to go do some drawing. My parents gave me the okay so we headed out.

When we got there I was greeted by another kid who was a year or two older than me and he seemed equally odd and smart like my friend. I still remember him looking a little chubby in a striped shirt and beckoning us in. Soon we were downstairs at a table, listening to music and enjoying some soda. There was a stack of blank paper and pencils ready to go. My friend and his buddy seemed very methodical about their drawing time and stated that we were going to be spending the afternoon illustrating airplanes. Specifically World War 1 era planes. I was a little confused by the exactness of our drawing mission. Usually when I drew there wasn't an outlined agenda that needed to be adhered to. If I was in a dinosaur mood I'd starting cranking out triceratops or get a little crazy and maybe pull out a stegosaurus. If it felt like more of a hockey type day I'd whip up a Tony Espo or Ken Dryden saving the game in overtime. Never before had I been with kids who organized drawing time in such a rigid fashion. "Oh well" I thought, this shouldn't be a big deal. I can draw some planes with these guys. It'll be cool. Something different for the best drawer to try his hand at.

So for the next 10 minutes the room fell into silence as we all began drawing our WW 1 airplanes. I noticed the other two had flipped open some reference books as they worked on their renditions. I wasn't much for reference at the time. I liked to just wing it. It was a more freeing feeling to just come up with the image that was cooking in my head instead of weighing it down by sticking to some pre-drawn image that was in front of me. I mean what's the sense of doing someone else's drawing, right? It's already been drawn by someone else, why make another one?

I started with a propeller first and then began drawing the body of the plane. I really didn't know anything about World War 1. I kind of suspected that Snoopy had been involved in it? I was pretty sure he'd mentioned World War 1 when he was fighting that Red Barn or Baron guy in Peanuts? That's about all the info I had to go on. So I added some wings and tried to draw a little pilot guy steering it. I will admit it was kind of a weird looking plane. And you'd be hard pressed to say what era it was from. But it looked pretty plane-like to me and creative, so I felt it was impressive enough to stand on its own merits.

As we all slid our finished drawings to the middle of the table for a little art review, I didn't feel any sort of anxiety at all. I was always the best drawer and nature would take it's usual path.

My blood froze when I saw the other two drawings.

The detail they'd both put into their planes! The linework and sophisticated design. The accuracy of the dimensions. Their drawings looked like they belonged in a professional history book on airplanes! They were perfect!

My strange lumpy airplaney vehicle stood out like an abomination beside their shining examples of wartime flight of the early 20th century.

There was a brief moment of silence as we all took it in. Then the laughing began. I don't think they intended it maliciously at all. It was just the utter shock of seeing my contribution relative to theirs. The complete unexpectedness of it. If I hadn't been so thrown off by this appalling reversal of nature I suppose I might have found the humor in it as well. But instead I felt for the first time ever, total shame and humiliation in my drawing abilities. I couldn't hang with these guys and their specific World War 1 era drawing skills. I was not the best drawer. Not by a long shot.

That was a tough but good life lesson. I realized, with some amount of pain, that I had been a big ignorant fish in a very small pond of other fish who mostly didn't bother drawing. And outside of that pond was a large ocean that contained highly skilled creatures who very much did like to draw and were quite adept at it.

It was good to know this and be aware of this.

I think it allowed me to survive art college and weather a career in animation.

As harrowing as that experience was I never did falter in my drawing. I enjoyed doing it too much. I continued to stick with dinosaurs, Spider-Man, and goalies and eventually into heavy metal covers and comic characters of my own creation.

But I will admit it was a long time before I tried my hand again at drawing a bi-plane or any plane for that matter.

I'm sure many of you who were former or are currently the 'best drawers' can relate.

Oh! I wanted to mention that I've strung together all my early Monkey Scream cartoons on the Grickle Channel. The resolution is better than in the original uploads from years past and I added in a little special Monkey Intermission bit to help spice it up (and to provide a slight reprieve from the onslaught of monkey screams.) Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The world I live in.


Every now and again, or actually quite often, I'm reminded about how little I know about the world around me. How I just function in my tiny narrow splinter of the overall pie that is this planet. Regularly using machines and inventions I have absolutely no clue about their inner workings. Or very vague overviews that I never really put to the test.

I was driving to an appointment the other day when my car did an a most alarming thing. Driving over a major bridge it began to scream at me. Not audibly but in text. The world had been perfectly normal one instant but in the next I was looking at my dashboard doing this!:

My car had never screamed at me before.

It completely unnerved me.

My stomach sunk into my shoes and my veins turned to ice. Things had been fine a second ago! Why? Why this, now? Didn't my car realize I HAD to get to this appointment? I was on a bridge. I couldn't just pull over. I began to try and subdue the panic inside. How bad was it really? Maybe just an internal computer glitch? Right? My car was just mistakenly crying "wolf"! I'm sure I could just keep going to my appointment. It was only 7 minutes away at this point. Car, you're just going to have to tough it out. We can talk about this later. Suck it up.

I kept driving. The motor sounded normal. The temperature gauge stayed in the middle. Everything was fine.

Except for the screaming.

Then I began to notice the distinct smell of melted plastic. That's not good. The car WASN'T just crying "wolf". This was real. This was happening right now! I was now a mere 3 minutes away from my destination. C'mon car. Keep it together. We can get there!

I was coated in a sheen of sweat. I kept imagining pulling into the parking lot and this would happen:

Thankfully I made it without bursting into an apocalyptic ball of flames.

I turned the key off and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I went to my appointment as if nothing had happened. There was no indication on my face that I'd just challenged the Reaper and escaped without a scratch.

Later I spent the next 15 minutes just figuring out where the latch thingie was to open up the hood. As I peered into the sophisticated machinery of my vehicle I saw that the coolant tank, which had just recently been replaced, had a hose clamp-mijigger that looked loose. Coolant was lightly dripping from the connection point. Aha! That's the culprit I deduced.

I put the hood down and proceeded to drive the short distance home. Ignoring my car's screams as I went.

I then left the car in the driveway for the next week to punish it for scaring me so.

Once I felt it had learned it's lesson I topped off the coolant tank with water and brought it back to my mechanic's where they securely sealed the clamp-mijgger up. Everything has been running smoothly since.

Some days I have no idea how I have managed to live this long on this planet. So little knowledge for having spent so much time here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Burning hot!

Hello everyone!

I hope your week is on a pleasant course! I wanted to draw your attention, if I may, to the newest addition on the Grickle Channel, "Dreams of Venus"! It debuted at 8am this morning and has been burning up views ever since. A direct link to the cartoon is here:

I love the sound of a raging fire and I think that had a lot to do with why this one ended up the way it did. The fury and intensity of that sound is unrivaled. Hopefully this cartoon feels like a good slap in the face with a fireball. But without all the scarring and pain.

And I've got more on the back burner coming! As a few select number of you noticed, "Soup Leprechaun" made a brief, mistaken appearance on the channel last evening. I was attempting to test some stuff and inadvertently put the cartoon up 'live'. Oops! For those of you who missed it, don't worry! I'll be posting "Soup Leprechaun" in September!

Hang tight!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Boardwalkin' and Vining


Sorry I missed last week everybody! I went away on vacation and the thought of typing out a new blog post on my phone seemed incredibly daunting. So I didn't.

But I'm back now! And with a fresh new post! About.... uhh...  errr... about this how-to time lapse doodle video I created!

Neat, eh?  I may try doing more of these in the future. Even just selecting the music alone is worth the effort!

I've been continuing to create new Vines as well. The latest was titled "Pug banker". A 6 second glimpse into the life of this little fella crunching his numbers.

Hard working pugs always crack me up. Beyond drawing pugs on vacation I didn't do a whole lot.

Oh! But I will mention Boardwalk Empire!

I've always been a fan of Steve Buscemi's work. All the way back to seeing him in a small role in Jim Jarmusch's 'Mystery Train'.

Top notch character actor.

 But as a main character?


I spent a good chunk of my vacation watching the Boardwalk Empire series and have been loving it! I'd watched the first few episodes a couple of years back but it didn't, for whatever reason, really grab me at the time. Now I can't watch it fast enough!  Currently at just the halfway point of the 3rd season. So no spoilers please! :)

Also started reading "To Kill a Mocking Bird" for the first time. I don't know how I managed to avoid reading this classic up until now. As expected, it's great writing! I don't know all the details about the hub bub with "To Set a Watchman" but I'm not going to let that taint my experience with the first novel. I plan to finish the book and then sit and watch the Gregory Peck movie.

The rest of my summer is set! :)

Alright I'll wrap up this week's post here.

Don't forget! I've got a brand new Grickle cartoon called "Dreams of Venus" that will be debuting next week exclusively on the Grickle Channel! 

Till later!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New territory.

Hello everyone!

It felt great to finally release a new Grickle cartoon last week! The thrill of uploading something new never gets old! It tickles that exact perfect spot on your ego or whatever. It's the whole reason to do art I suppose. At least for me. Make something and get a reaction. Simple.

But I will admit it is a brief sensation. And in this day and age even more incredibly brief than its ever been on the internet.

Back in the old days, like 2007 to 2009 or so, when I uploaded a new cartoon the aftermath of reaction would flow for a good long while. Like throwing a rock in a calm lake and watching the ripples go outward. Nowadays launching a cartoon feels more akin to tossing a pebble into a stormy sea. If you look really carefully you might see the pebble hit the ocean surface. Then it's gone. It's still super satisfying to chuck that rock but it just doesn't last long.

I'm guessing that everyone, myself included, has such an overwhelming input of tweets, posts, updates, etc., in their various feeds that every new blurb gets pushed downstream so fast that if you blink you miss it.

C'est la vie.

Or maybe I should say vive la nouveau?

As I edge closer to being a legitimate 'old man', I find it increasingly tricky to keep up out there. When I look over all the newer avenues of social media my heart begins to race oddly, my palms get sweaty, my breath becomes short, and I get this overwhelming feeling of not doing enough and being hopelessly behind the times.

Truly an old man staring down at the rabbit hole of the internet. Or chasing the dragon of cyberspace. Or something like that.

But like all those people who watch Youtube videos of folks unwrapping presents, I can't deny that desire to see something new! Capitalism and consumerism at its worst. The excitement of trying a new app out and successfully posting in unknown territory belies the fear and anxiety. Not to mention the pathetic 'old guy' bragging rights of saying to peers "Really? You don't have an account on there? Oh yeah, I've been using that app for years now!"

And so I've begun to chase that rabbit or dragon. An attempt to branch out from my usual twitter, blog, Flickr, and Facebook audiences.

Some new arenas (to me) I've stumbled around in recently are Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, and Vine.

For the Instagram and Tumblr accounts I've been posting a morning doodle every day. It's been a healthy drawing exercise if nothing else. The audience is slowly growing so we'll see what the future holds. I'm going to try and keep it up for as long as I can.

I also took a stab at updating and using my Google+ page. It's been fun to tinker on it but I really get the feeling not a ton of people use Google+ on a daily basis? Maybe I'm wrong. I'm going to continue tinkering on it regardless. If you're interested in following any of these new venues, here are my accounts:

Grickle14 on Instagram

Tumblin' Grickle 


The Vine account is a slightly different beast. I've had one for quite some time but frankly could never get my head around it.

Until last week, that is!

I had an inspiring conversation with an animator friend, Kevin Parry (you should really follow his amazing stuff on Vine!) and now I'm so excited about it I'm trying to keep myself from spending all my free time there! The concept of doing little 6 second shorts is so compelling and not dissimilar from the early days of the monkey scream shorts on the Grickle Channel. It's definitely stoked the creative fires!

I've got more ideas than I can handle for it but I'm going to try and exhibit some restraint. If you want to keep an eye on those proceedings look no further than here:

Grickle on Vine

That's as far as I've managed to chase the rabbit/dragon currently.

I would love to hear from folks if they thought there was an app or place I was sorely overlooking for Grickle stuff! I just want to make sure that when I create a new piece of art, be it a sketch or animated short, that I'm really posting it in the most appropriate places to be seen and appreciated/hated these days.

Make something, get a reaction.


Monday, July 13, 2015

"After hours" has arrived!

As of this morning there is a brand NEW Grickle cartoon uploaded exclusively on the Grickle Channel!

It has been a looooooong road to get back to this point. And I'm very thankful that so many of you held onto your Grickle Channel subscriptions on Youtube. As I uploaded this latest cartoon I realized it's the 50th animated short I've put on Youtube. 50 shorts! That's a decent amount of animation! Put all those together and that's pretty much a feature length film done by one person! A strange, disjointed, sparsely-animated, feature but a feature nonetheless!

Toot! Toot!

That's the sound of me tooting my own horn. Just briefly. I feel like some sort of sound has to commemorate getting half way to 100!

Please enjoy this latest installment and comfort yourself with the knowledge that I plan to be uploading plenty more new cartoons in the coming year. The Grickle Channel is back on track for the foreseeable future!

And, as this is the internet, and I am one solitary fool making these things in my spare time, I feel obligated to again make mention of the new Fan Funding feature on my Youtube page.  If you've been a fan for a long time or just discovered my work and want to contribute in making the foreseeable Grickle future even more of a reality at a quicker more dependable pace then please contribute to my Fan Funding button on the Grickle Channel page! Any amount helps in allowing me to schedule more time working on the cartoons, purchasing sound efx and software. It's the blue button on the main Grickle Channel page!

Okay! That's all I'm going to say about that today! Looking very forward to hearing comments on "After hours"!

Alright, I'll shut up now and get back to making more!

Friday, July 10, 2015

"After hours" on Monday the 13th! -Sneak peek!

The above image is a sneak peek of the upcoming "After hours" cartoon I'll be debuting exclusively on the Grickle Channel this coming Monday the 13th!

I am so excited.

This is hopefully just the tip of the iceberg. I've been dying to get back to revitalizing the Grickle Channel and I can't wait share the bizarre ideas I've been concocting over that last couple of years.

If you've checked out the Grickle Channel page in recent times you'll notice that there is a "Fan Funding" button on there now. It's on the main page and looks like this:

Now, don't panic!

I'm not about to start charging everyone for the cartoons BUT I do want to say that I  will welcome any financial help I can get in paying for sound efx, work time, and software purchases that I make for the Grickle Channel. I'm pretty darn sure I'm going to continue making these cartoons for as long as I exist. I can't help myself.  I absolutely love doing it and it feels like one of the few venues I've got where I completely and utterly am able to express myself without any filter of any kind. So funding or not I'll continue to make these animated babies whenever and however I can. BUT financial assistance, as in all things, helps justify and create more opportunities to devote more time to the channel. More financial support = more cartoons, more often. So if you feel like helping out the Grickle Channel and contributing to it's current existence, glorious past and hopefully bright and weird future than by all means I welcome your support!

Either way I'll be making more. It's just I may be able to make them quicker and more often with assistance from all you awesome people.

Okay! Try and enjoy your weekend and remember to be watching the Grickle Channel on Monday the 13th!!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Portland is hot and the Grickle Channel LIVES AGAIN!!!!

I knew this day would come. And that it would come quickly. In the pursuit of creating blog posts on a regular basis I'd have to confront the dilemma of having no obvious thing to write about. I'd be yet another person adding to the infernal white noise of the internet by writing about the fact that I have nothing to write about today.

But I also knew that I was going to adopt a more cavalier attitude towards this blog and just not sweat it if I found myself in a topic-less kind of mood.

Well today is that day, but that's okay. I'm going to forge ahead and write something anyway. And maybe add a doodle or two to spruce up the piece. Something like this:
What's that drawing about? I dunno. His head is made of ice cubes. Or something. Speaking of ice cubes. Portland has been insanely hot.

Unbelievably hot.

And it's lasted way longer than usual. To the point where whatever reserve of energy I normally have to do extra things has been greatly depleted. Some guy on the radio this morning said that there is a gigantic 'blob' in the ocean of slightly warmer water that is the cause of all this. Scientists can't explain how it got there but the 'blob' stretches thousands of miles from Alaska to Mexico and is heating up the West Coast. Great.

Hot weather makes me feel like I'm running on empty.

One of those extra things that I've lost some energy in working on is Grickle cartoons. I'm sure many of you noticed the almost total lack of new cartoons on my Youtube channel for the last 2 years. It made me sad but I didn't really have a choice on the matter. Between being the father of two great little boys and trying to do the best I could in directing an animated feature film I lost all ability to find time to create more Grickle cartoons. Until now. Things have changed. Time has moved on. The Boxtrolls is completely and utterly done. My boys have gotten a little older. And so I've been quietly working away on a number of new animated shorts that I can't wait to begin posting!

Although this weather has painfully slowed me down for the last week or two, don't fret! I made decent progress back when the days were cooler and I've got one brand spanking new cartoon ready to be uploaded next Monday morning (July 13th). Keep your eyes peeled for it and tell your friends! Spread the word! The Grickle Channel lives yet again!

Oh! And speaking of, if anyone is still wanting a Grickle Channel shirt you should order one soon! The Teespring campaign is going to end in 3 days! And I'm currently 14 orders shy of hitting the goal to get them printed! Check it out here: The Grickle Channel shirt

Well, there. I guess I did have some stuff to write about after all.

Until next time! Stay cool out there, everyone.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The smell of death

Hi, everyone! Been continuing to listen to new podcasts and things thanks to all your suggestions! My life feels somehow fuller now. More satisfying. In between breaks of long bouts of electronica I skim through the list of new podcasts and, if I'm in a daring enough mood, I go for it. Being in a brave soul sort of a mood I gave "Welcome to Night Vale" a try yesterday. I wasn't even sure what to think of it initially but I find myself mulling it over nearly a day later and that's a good sign in my book. It's like beat poetry in a Twilight Zone format.

I've arbitrarily decided to step up my game if I'm going to continue to write blog posts. Inspired by all the incredible podcasts and free form writing out there I need to make better use of this space! So be prepared to read a bunch of bumbling true life, off the top of my head, rambly posts beyond the usual "Hey I've got a new shirt or cartoon out!" entries I've done in the past. 

 I'll be honest though, I'm much more comfortable doodling than I am trusting words to get across my point. If I even have a point. So the ride may get a little bumpy.  Hang on.

Okay, so here's a random entry to kick things off with.

Sometimes I work out. And lately, since my schedule has returned to a normal pace, I've been going to the gym for my lunch hour. It's a way to somewhat keep in shape so that I may continue my illustrious career as an old-man-beer-league-ice-hockey player. I don't have a ton of ambition in my life other than to try and create the most animation and comics I can and play the most hockey I can play before I'm done and out. And as I get older I suspect that if I didn't do these little workouts every week my body would just calcify into an unmoving mass, never to skate again. So I do my best to keep up steady visits to the gym. It is what it is. A predictable and mostly mundane necessity.

Mostly mundane.

Until the other week.

I was in the process of doing stretches and getting ready to pedal a brisk 5 minutes on the exercise bike when I suddenly heard a loud thud and a moan of "ooooooohhhh". I immediately scanned the first floor. The gym has two levels, the second floor has all the cardio machines and is an open space that looks down onto the first floor. Every now and again there are some rather loud muscle head types who squat huge weights on the first floor. Whether it's voluntary or just necessary, they almost always are grunting or yelling audibly throughout the gym as they lift and then loudly drop weights with a thud onto the floor. I assumed that's what had occurred as I glanced down to confirm it. But I didn't see anyone that looked like a candidate to emit the noise I'd heard. Mildly confused, I shrugged it off and got on my bike when I suddenly heard a second lower groan. I looked behind me towards the line of treadmills and saw:

As I approached, a very Brian DePalma-like pool of blood beginning to spread from his head onto the carpet. By this point other folks had also noticed that something had gone horribly wrong at the treadmills. A co-worker was already in action mode, calling 9-1-1 on her phone and telling me and everyone else to "alert the front desk!"A bunch of us hustled downstairs to spread the word.

Luckily for the poor guy on the floor there was an experienced ER (emergency room) person who happened to be doing a lunchtime workout. He immediately took control of the situation, much to everyone else's relief! He flipped the guy over and got folks to fetch wet paper towels that were used to stem the bleeding. The guy had a nasty cut on his forehead and had been knocked loopy. As far as we could tell he must have half fainted while jogging on the treadmill and smacked his head as he stumbled and fell off. As we waited for the fire department to arrive the guy began to become coherent again. The ER fellow calmly talked him through what had happened and after a few minutes got him to his feet.

Soon he had the guy sitting in a comfy chair in the men's locker room and acting pretty normal. The fire department brought in a big first aid kit and tended to the gash on his head. The gym had a wave of 'situation normal' sweep over it and everyone went back to doing their lunchtime workouts. I returned to my previously planned routine but decided to cut my bike ride a bit short as my heart rate was already going pretty good.

Later, as I finished working out I noticed the fire department packing up their stuff and the treadmill guy was getting his gym bag together. I saw that the ER fellow was still there and talking a lot to the guy. I overheard him encouraging him to get a physical as soon as possible and to maybe drastically think about changing his diet. The guy nodded politely and proceeded to walk out.

Back at work, I chatted with a co-worker who had also witnessed the whole thing. He had made a point of thanking the ER guy for all his expertise. And as they got into conversation the ER guy had said that he could tell by the smell of the man that something terribly wrong was going on inside him. He could smell the whiff of death on him, a smell he'd become attuned to after many years of ER experience. He said there was an odor of major organ failure on the guy. Major organ failure. Jeez! I'd never really thought about the fact that death had a smell like that but it made sense. What an incredibly creepy skill to possess. Sort of like a Grim Reaper super hero or something.

When I told my wife about it that evening she reminded me of a news story a while ago about the 'death' cat at an old folks home.

Oscar the cat always knew who was going next and would stay with that person before they went.  Even before the medical staff was able to determine anything wrong Oscar would just know. I think he'd done like over 50 times and been right every time. A comforting but horrible cat to have around I suspect.

The smell of death.

 I really hope that guy went to his doctor and they're able to clear up that odor for him. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer time means shirt time!

Okay, so a decent number of people have been asking about past Grickle shirts and how to get them. This got me poking around on teespring and I realized that you could now make a whole storefront on the site! So all my past designs are currently consolidated HERE:

And I specifically relaunched a campaign for the The Grickle Channel shirt. I need 20 orders by July 9th to make it happen. So if you missed out last time, head over there! The yellow version of the shirt is on a slightly more golden stock this time around (they no longer carry the shirt stock it was originally printed on). I think I might even like the new golden version better to be honest.

I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who sent podcast recommendations last week! It's been great to have a whole new pool of of stuff to sift through. I listened to a few of the Lore Project ones and man so good! It was making me feel a bit disturbed and sick inside but I couldn't stop listening.

I gave Dan Carlin's Hardcore History a try as well. I listened to the "Prophets of Doom" episode. Epic! It was about 4 hours long! 4 hours! And I ended up listening to every single minute of it. The story was fascinating and Dan's enthusiasm in telling it is infectious! He's like the best history teacher you never had. Really impressed. And I almost feel smarter for having listened to it.

I also re-discovered a past indulgence of mine on Youtube. "X minus One" was an amazing sci-fi radio show back in the late fifties. People like Issace Asimov and Phillip K Dick had stories on it. I would LOVE to hear if anyone has recommendations on anything else out there that is even remotely close to the quality and tone of these shows.

Okay, that's all I've got for today! Hope folks are having a decent enough day out there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's that time again!

Hello, everyone!

Yes, it's that time again. That time of the year when I write a brand new blog post to say "Wow! It's sure been a long time since I last posted here!" And then I usually follow that up with something like "I am FINALLY going to get back on track and try and post more regularly!"

Well, guess what? I'm NEVER going to be back on track as far as I can tell. And so I'm not going to make any promises that I'll continue to update this blog regularly. Who even blogs regularly anymore anyway, right? There certainly doesn't seem to be much peer pressure out there to keep this thing up.

So, no promises. But all that said, I honestly may come back and try and update again. Or I may not.

Here's a doodle.
Dog and a hat. With a cane.

Not my best work but it's all I got right now.

It's been over half a year since the Boxtrolls came out and I feel like my brain is just beginning to normalize. Been listening to a lot of podcasts again and loving it.  Mostly catching up on various Mark Maron and discovered the world of Harmontown. Which has me curious to maybe watch Community? I know, I'm about 5 years behind the curve. But I've always been.

What else? Witnessed the BlackHawks win their 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 years. I'd have much preferred to watch the Habs skating around with the Cup but it was still satisfying to watch Chicago get it again. Such a stellar team. It's almost unfair.

In Grickle news, which I suppose is the main purpose of this blog, I'm working on a lot of behind the curtain stuff that hopefully I'll be able to talk about in the upcoming year. Pretty excited about it. That will definitely constitute more blog posts if I have legitimate news to toot my horn about! Bare minimum I'll be tweeting stuff for sure.

Hey, I have no idea if anybody still checks this blog. But if you do I'd love to hear any recommendations folks have on other good podcasts to listen to! My brain is starving for new material!

And with that I bid you adieu! For now. :)