Friday, December 31, 2010

2011, ALREADY?!

Where does the time go? Another year over, another year gone.  We here at Casa del Blanco had our ups and downs, but overall, we had a pretty good year. Here are some of the highlights and low lights:

• We started the year with me having serious medical issues. Not the most auspicious start to the year, but fortunately everything worked out for the best, and I am feeling fine. I also got a freelance gig as a result of the experience!

• Alas, we lost my Mum, which was sad, but I really believe she has gone on to a much better place. One where all of her beloved pets are around her, and "Happy Hour" starts whenever she likes. Also, a place where she and her cousin Marie don't have to battle it out over who pays the check. I am also happy that the bond between my Sisters and I was re-affirmed during the whole ordeal.

• Perfect Wifey and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and we couldn't be happier. I don't know what it is about this woman, but somehow, she enriches my life in every way.

• PW and I also got to travel a lot this year. We went to NYC, Orlando (more on that later, I promise!) and my favorite, Albany, NY! Who knows what our travel plans for 2011 hold? Could a trip to Dover, NJ be in our future?

• Rocco the Wonder Dog. For those who came in late, I love this little guy. Man's Best Friend, indeed.

• I had the opportunity to participate in a number of local theatre productions. It was enough to convince me that, really, I am done with that.

• My "Cartooning Career" had all kinds of ups and downs. I am hoping for better in 2011. If you know of anyone that needs an artist, gimmie a call.

• The most rewarding thing, though, I hafta say, is doing this blog, and reading the comments from all of you faithful readers. To David, Paula, Chris, Mykal, eeteed, Scott, Mike, Pepper, Newton, Mark and anyone else who has visited this blog and left a comment, good or bad, thanks. For those of you reading this that haven't commented, comment! You could be on this list next year!

• One big low light: Still no Remote Controlled K9. Oh well, other than that, a very good year.

As a famous Doctor once said: "To days to come, and all my love to long ago."

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Passed

The anticipation is so great, and then, before you know it, Christmas is over.

We here at Casa del Blanco had a very Holly Jolly. We had an early Holiday party with the Fabulous Sisters and their Hubbys, as well as Maggie the Semi-Wonder Dog. On Christmas Day, Perfect Wifey (as well as Rocco, THE Wonder Dog) and I had a nice quiet Christmas. All by our lonesome.

The gift-haul was particularly gratifying for me. In addition to some cool books, I got an action figure set of the four Ghostbusters,  as well as the Mamma-Jamma of Christmas gifts, a replica of Doctor Who's TARDIS! This set is scaled to all the DW action figures I already have, so it fits in perfectly with the massive display that graces my studio. In continuing with the Doctor Who theme, I also got an AWESOME tee shirt, depicting the Doctor's loyal dog, K9. All in all, quite the Christmas bonanza for  me. Again, I think Santa is not doing a great job on keeping track of his naughty/nice list. If he was, I doubt I would have made out so well.

I realize, once again, that the above list sounds like it came from a nine year old. You are right. It does.

Perfect Wifey really scored on the Christmas Present front, though. Santa, or some other thoughtful person (ME!), gave her a Kindle! She is absolutely loves it, and, I have to admit, I do too.

At first, I  was sceptical of this new technological wonder. I love books. How could  some stupid electronic gizmo replace the printed page?! Well, it does it by having an easy to read screen and by providing access to almost any book you want, in a handy portable form for a modest fee. That is not to say the Kindle doesn't have it's shortcomings: I wouldn't want to read a graphic novel (we used to call them "comic books") or  any kind of illustrated book in this format. Also, Kindle's biggest shortcoming: What do you do when the power goes out, and your charge is done? Talk with each other? Yikes!

Really, the Kindle is a wonder, and I highly recommend it. Keep in mind this is coming from  a hard-core Luddite, who doesn't know how to text, Tweet or whatever. So, this is high praise indeed.

In spite of all of this gift getting, what I really loved about this Christmas, and every Christmas, is being with the people I love, in spirit if not physically. For all of you out there, I hope  you had a Happy Holiday! If you didn't, there's always next year.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Bonus!

Here's a Christmas bonus I didn't expect. A few days before the Holiday, Marvel Comics returned a bunch of my original art to me. It was a giant pile of pages I did in the  mid-nineties of various Harvey characters. At the time Harvey was experiencing a bit of a renewed interest in their properties, thanks to the Casper live action movie and the Richie Rich TV cartoon. The character designs on these pages are based on those interpretations of the characters, so don't blame me. 

It's interesting for me to see these again. I haven't seen them in fourteen years, give or take. Some of them, I don't even remember doing! Also, no apologies for the quality. Fourteen years and all... Another note, only the pencils are mine; Inks and lettering were by other folks.

Anyway, here they are. I have a lot more, if anyone is interested.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010!

Merry Christmas to one and all! 

This is the season of goodwill to men and all that, so please try to keep it that way.  Make sure you do all you can to make the Holiday happy for all. Keep things  civil at the family get-together this year; pretend you like  the crummy gift someone gives you, even if you gave them something way better. Give Aunt Gin a kiss, even if she has lipstick on her teeth. Try to remember what Christmas is all about and keep things happy. If memory fails, watch, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" again. Linus makes the point far better than me.

However you spend the day, and whomever you spend the day with, I hope one and all  have the best Christmas ever.

I know this is a pretty weak entry, but gimmie a break, it's Christmas!

God bless you, every one!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zwarte Piet is Comin' to Town...

Back  from Orlando and visiting Harry Potter and friends. More on that later, though. Why? Because it's almost Christmas!

I have written, in years past, about all the different Holiday traditions that my family and I have observed. From stolen Christmas trees to lurking elves, to me not getting a remote controlled K9, I've covered a lot, and you can view it all by scrolling through the archives on the right.

As wonderful as all the Holiday traditions here in the U.S. of A., are (Santa, etc.), other countries have their own unique take on the season. My favorite, and one that definitely falls into the "WOW, is that messed up" tradition, comes from our friends in the Netherlands.

Here in the states, we have Santa and his "naughty or nice" list, where Santa keeps track of all the little boys' and girls' behaviour over the course of the year, and doles  out gifts according to how "good" you've been. Our Dutch pals take it one step  further, though. In the Netherlands, "Sinterklaas" (basically Santa, with a more convoluted origin), travels with his associate, "Zwarte Piet". Where Sinterklaas rewards children with gifts for good behavior, Ol'  Zwarte has a different agenda. If you've been mildly naughty (neglecting your chores, skipping homework, etc.), he will leave switches of wood for your parents to  spank you with. Not the best way to spend the Holidays, but much better than what awaits you if Piety decides you've  been really bad (killing someone, being the Governor of Massachusetts, etc.). Zwarte Piet travels with a load of duffel bags, and all the really naughty children are stuffed into the bags and carried away to Spain, where, apparently, Sinterklass and his homeys hang. No information exists about what happens to you  once you get there, but I bet it involves indentured servitude working at an all-inclusive resort. The  thought of being stuffed into a bag by a creepy guy and carried away to a foreign land and working for tips sure makes Santa's naughty/nice list seem pretty benign. Although, to  be truthful, there have been Holidays where being whisked to Spain by an evil magical creature would be preferable to what I was doing. At least I wouldn't have to kiss Aunt Gin!

 Still, the threat of Zwarte Piet is a stroke of brilliance from Dutch Moms and Dads. Creepy threats are always the best way to get your kids to toe the line. 

No wonder the Dutch are so well behaved!

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meanwhile, Back in Whipstaff Manor...

Here's another blast from my past for  y'all: A story I pencilled for an issue of "Casper and Friends" magazine from 1997. The story was titled, "The Good, the Bad and the Ghostly". In the story (written by the awesome Angelo De Cesare), Casper and his human pals, Kat and Dr. Harvey, travel to an old West ghost town and get into a jam only the Ghostly Trio can bail them out of. I always liked what I did in this sequence, even though I could do a far better job now, and the inks, lettering  and  colors  leave a bit to be desired. That is the peril of freelancing: You don't have a lot of control over such things. That said, I still like the attitudes and expressions on the characters, especially Stretch's on page 2, when he admits that they need Casper. Click on this paragraph to see the first page, then on each subsequent image for a closer look.

So, enjoy! My family and I  are off to visit Harry Potter  in Orlando this week, so no more posts till we return.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Elmo Takes Manhattan!

Whew! We're back from a wild Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. 

I had planned to write a detailed diary of our day-to-day doings while we were in the city, but, it was such a whirlwind of activity, I am having trouble sorting out all the details. So, instead, I will provide some highlights and random thoughts:

• Our trip got off to a great start. My Fabulous Sis works on Broadway for a very famous Broadway actress. Our first stop after arriving was to visit Sis backstage at the big Broadway show she is working on now. We got to meet the Famous Actress, and she was so sweet and welcoming to us, I couldn't help but smile. All my little theatre geek friends would have given their eye teeth for this experience! Later, we got a full backstage tour of the show, courtesy of Sis, which was fascinating. Again, the geeks would be SO jealous.

• Also, thanks to Sis, we saw "The Lion King" on Broadway. I hate the movie version, for various personal and professional history reasons (don't ask!), but the show  is amazing. The "Circle of Life" opening number has to be one of the great moments in the history of Broadway.
Also, the show features lots of puppets. Always a plus in my book.

• Went to a White Castle hamburger joint. I love WC, but there aren't any in my neighborhood, so I was thrilled to find one in Mid-Town Manhattan. Unfortunately, this one is the definition of "skeevy". I shan't return.

• At the "Toys 'R' Us" in Times Square, you could pose for a picture with Spider man and Iron Man- for TWENTY BUCKS! I took a pass, but that hurt. Iron Man looked really cool.

• We saw the Macy's parade. We really lucked out. Even though the weather forecasts were dismal, it was a perfect day for the parade: Not too cold, and no wind, so the balloons could fly in all their glory. This was Perfect Wife's first time at the parade (As a former resident of NYC, I've seen it a buncha times). She  agrees with me that it is something you should see once. The awesome-ness of the size of the balloons and the whole "spectacle" of the thing doesn't make up for the awful-ness of fighting the mobs of humanity. Much better to watch at home in your PJ's.

• We went to Macy's. On Black Friday. I now know what it was like to be an extra in "The Ten Commandments". We didn't even get to see Santa. I hope he gets my letter.

• On the web, I have been reading about how great the new  Disney Store in Times Square is. Well, I am sorry to report, it is a huge disappointment. Just a big collection of Disney stuff to buy but without a lot of special features. Would it kill them to have a few character appearances?

• Speaking of character appearances, it seems there is a new trend in Manhattan: Random people dressing up as famous cartoon characters in homemade costumes and posing with tourists for a fee. We saw a lot of this phenomenon as we strolled about, and saw a lotta scary homemade costumes. We saw Spongebob, and Mickey, and quite a few Cookie Monsters,  but the most ubiquitous character had to be Elmo, the little red breakout star of Sesame Street. He was everywhere. In some cases, there were two or three Elmos hogging a corner. Some of the costumes were pretty good looking, but most looked like a homeless person wrapped in a red shag rug. It didn't help that these Elmos collected their tips in a red Christmas stocking hanging from their waist. It looked like Mr. E was exposing himself.

• One other thing, Manhattan is EXPENSIVE! Save your pennies if you're going there, kids.

There were other highlights to the trip, of course. FS prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, and the invited company made it a Thanksgiving to remember.

Next year, though, PW and I returning to our hallowed Holiday tradition of cold Kentucky Fried Chicken, liquor, and spending the day in our pajamas.

All in all though, we had a swell time. Hope you all did, too!

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