Archive for December, 2005

GOODBYE, 2005…..


The year 2005 comes to a close tomorrow. It’s been a very interesting year for me– a very good year in many ways… and in some ways, not so much.

THE GOOD: This year, I went from working on ONE set of Marvel icons– THE FANTASTIC FOUR– to working on ANOTHER icon in SPIDER-MAN. In fact, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN was my first experience in being on the ground floor of launching a new ongoing title for a major comic book company. I made a lot of contacts and budding friendships through the magic that is the internet this year. I ‘met’ folks like Mike Bullock and Jack Lawrence from LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS, Larry Young of AIT/PLANET LAR, and perhaps most importantly and interestingly for me– lots of folks from Belgium, France and Italy. Through the web, I’ve been able to correspond and in small ways work creatively with many wonderful and generous folks from across the ocean. I sincerely hope that these relationships continue to grow and that I can expand my ‘playground’ (so to speak) and do more work in Europe one day. That would be marvelous. Early in 2005 I was forced by the slow agonizing death of my Mac G4 tower to buy a new system as well as updating my scanners and printers. It was expensive, but the enhanced power of my new iMac G5 and the new peripherals and various software and programs have made my computer and online experiences much more enjoyable– and thus very worth it. My fuzzy buddy Charlie reached his 1st birthday this year…. and he continues to delight me. He’s a hilarious cat…. and he not only gets more funny and entertaining every day, he gets sweeter as well. He seems to get more affectionate as time goes by, and he’s a true treasure in my life. This year, I decided to visit a chiropractor to try to get relief from my constant, agonizing back pain. And Dr. Krasnov (my chiropractor) has made an amazing change in the level of my pain levels. Going to see him was probably the BEST thing I did this year. So– THANKS, Dr. Krasnov.

THE BAD: Not much– but there’s been some. I’ve been to the doctor more times this year than I have in the past decade. From bladder infections to heart palpitations, it seemed as though my 42nd year of life has been the beginning of the end of a problem-free life, health-wise. I’ve never, beyond having the occasional sprain or twisted ankle, had any health problems at all. I KNEW that it wouldn’t last forever… and I hope the hiccups I’ve had in 2005 aren’t the herald of a continuing decline in my health. I’ve been very lucky… I hope that holds. I also had to get glasses this year– it turns out I’m far-sighted. I’d rather be far-sighted than near-sighted…. but I’d rather have my old 20/20 vision back. My old Mac G4 dying was frustrating…. but as I pointed out above, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Other than those few things, though– I’ve been pretty lucky. There are so many people that have experienced so much heartbreak and disaster in their lives this year that these things seem very trivial.

And so with 2005 coming to an end (WAY TOO FAST…. every year goes by faster as I get older….)– I hope everyone had a wonderful year… and I hope that your 2006 (and mine) is even better.

This morning, NEWSARAMA had the completed SPIDER-HAM variant posted… so I thought I’d post it here for those of you who haven’t seen it yet. I thought it turned out well…..!

OK… that’s it for today– and for 2005. See you next year…!

This is Entry 178.




Well, the Christmas holiday was a wonderful one for me and my folks. I drove up Christmas morning and arrived just in time for the big meal. That kicked off three days of holiday gorging (well, gorging might be too strong a word… but overeating was the norm for my three days at my parents’ home)– and I still feel very much like a beached whale. Or, an overstuffed bear, if you like. It wasn’t so much the ‘main course’ meals that my folks made as it was the abundance of rich deserts and candies that they had on hand. I ate my fill of pasta salads and soups and vegan ravioli and marinated mushrooms and the like, yes. But the cakes and cookies and chocolate covered candies is where I did the most damage. I’m most certainly going to have to spend some extra time on the stair climber to offset the past few days.

I hope everyone else is having a wonderful holiday season…. and for those of you who are the partying type, NEW YEARS EVE is right around the corner…! Me, I’ll be lucky to stay awake long enough to mark the change of the year at midnight……

This is Entry 177.




Christmas is this Sunday… and I’ll be driving up that morning to spend Christmas Day and a couple of days afterward with my parents. Every year, our entire immediate family gathers together at the home of my brother Matt and sis-in-law Suzanne for Thanksgiving. But for Christmas, Matt and Suzanne spend the holiday with her parents and family. And so it’s just my folks and me for Christmas. But that’s fine… though I wish my brother and SIL could be there, I still enjoy spending time with my folks. Over the years, our observance of the holiday has become more and more… casual, I guess you could say– and so it’ll be a wonderful, restful break from the grind of work.

I hope everyone out there has the merriest of holidays, and I’ll see you on the other side…!

This is Entry 176.




Marvel has released the images for the next two variant SPIDER-MAN covers (which I’ve also posted here below)– and have announced that they’ll be taking a poll as to which variation of SPIDER-MAN’S costume that folks would like to see on the last two variants. I’m still unclear as to whether retailers or fans will be making the ultimate decision…. but as for the FANS choice, it clearly seems to be PETER PORKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-HAM. IF Marvel ends up going with SPIDER-HAM, I really think it would be only fitting that the original SH artist, Joe Albelo, be allowed to draw that version. It would be a hoot to see him draw the SPIDER-HAM version in his great style…. complete with his versions of DOC OCK’S tentacles and GOBLIN’S pumpkin bombs. I thought I’d do my version of SPIDER-HAM here, though, just for fun.

Here are the SPIDER-MAN 2099 and WRESTLER PETER PARKER covers that were just released:

This is Entry 175.




When I first moved to North Carolina to join what became ARTAMUS STUDIOS, along with such talented folks as Richard Case, Jeff Parker, Chuck Wojtkiewicz, John Lowe and several others (we had a pretty packed house for a while there…! It was a wonderfully creative atmosphere…) one of the first things we did was to buy a copy machine. We were commissioned, as a studio, to do a fill in issue for one of the then burgeoning MALIBU COMICS’ ULTRAVERSE titles called HARDCASE. The book had fallen critically behind, and we were tasked with producing the entirety of the interiors for, I think, the third issue, in ONE WEEK. Layouts, pencils and inks. We completed the task within the given timeframe….. and though it’s not a job that any of us were particularly proud of, the money it brought in enabled us to purchase a large copy machine for our newly born studio– as well as a fax machine and several phones. So we were set up to communicate with our various clients with the fax and phones…. and more importantly– to those of us who worked in this manner– we were now able to make enlarged copies of our layouts for tracing onto the art board the comics companies provided for us. I worked in this manner…. and still do to this day.

Eventually everyone moved on from the studio. Several of our number went out west. Some left the comics industry altogether. But always, there was the copy machine still sitting at ARTAMUS STUDIOS. Until, at the end, when it was just Rich Case and myself… and Rich decided that moving to the video game industry was more stable for him and his family than freelancing in comics (and who can blame him…. he’s right). And so, the studio was finished. But there was still the good old copy machine. That came home with me, since I’m still working in comics, and still working in basically the same manner. The thing is, though– this April will make three years (ALREADY!) that I’ve been working here in my abode…. we purchased the loyal copier back in 1993– it will be almost 13 years old by then. Even though we never used it nearly as much as a ‘real’ office would have, time takes its toll on all mechanical things, regardless of how well kept they are. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had to have a technician come out to service the old fella several times, and it’s never inexpensive. Frankly, it’s slowly breaking down.

And so I decided that I’d become a bit more modern, and buy a printer that prints on 11 X 17 inch paper for making my enlargements. I’d often have to make several tries at getting the copy just the right size with the old copy machine… and with this new method, by sizing the layout in Photoshop on a template, I can get it right the very first time. It’s much more convenient… and I like staying current and using technology to my advantage whenever possible. And so the new large format printer has joined my family of other computer peripherals… the smaller, 3-in-1 printer/scanner/fax machine (does anyone actually ever FAX anything anymore…?) and my large flat-bed scanner. I’m pretty much ready for anything I need to do.

And every time I print out ANYTHING…. whether it’s on the large or the small printer…. it instantly transfixes Charlie. The second he hears the printer starting, he’ll stop whatever he happens to be doing, and jump up on the table to watch the paper print out. It seems to mesmerize him…. and I can’t distract him from watching it no matter what I try. It’s hilarious. And it never seems to get old for him. You’d think that after so many times (I’ve had the smaller printer for many months now) that it MIGHT start to get old for him… but no.

And frankly, I hope it never does.

This is Entry 174.