Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 31 - And the Winner is ...

Today is the final day of my blogging marathon and also the day I announce the winner of the "submit a blog topic contest." I reviewed all the submissions again one last time for good measure and the winner of the caricature is Dan Wooster. Dan's suggestions had a nice "outside the box" appeal to me and he also had quite a list of suggested topics. Topics and elements of the topics he submitted were used on days 9, 21, 26, 27, 28 and 29. Congrads Dan! By the way, no extra points came from Dan's most excellent first name. I will also send Dan an email letting him know of his first place finish in this contest.

I want to again thank all that participated in my contest. If you have any favorite blogs from the past 31 days, please let me know. 

I will continue to make blog entries on a somewhat regular basis, so please check back to see what's happening. There could be more contests in the future. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 30 - Yes, Today is My Birthday ...

Since today is my birthday, I thought I'd try something "different". I'll be adding updates to this same blog posting throughout the day. It'll be kind of a blog/tweet hybrid. So please check back periodically to see what I've added.

9:23am  Other March 30 babies include:

1853 - Vincent van Gogh, Groot-Zundert, Netherlands, artist, painter and pioneer of Expressionism (The Potato Eaters, Irises)

1913 - Marc Davis, American animator (d. 2000)

1917 - Herbert Anderson, actor (Henry-Dennis The Menace)

1937 - Warren Beatty, Richmond Va, actor (Bonnie & Clyde,Shampoo, Dick Tracy)

1942 - Graeme Edge, England, rock drummer (Moody Blues-Your Wildest Dreams)

1957 - Paul Reiser, NYC, actor (My 2 Dads, Diner, Aliens, Mad About You)

1952 - Peter Knights, Australian footballer and coach

1964 - Corey Millen, Cloquet, NHL center (Calgary Flames)
1964 - Dave Ellett, Cleveland, NHL defenseman (Toronto Maple Leafs)
1964 - Tracy Chapman, US singer/songwriter (Freedom Now, I Got a Fast Car)
1964 - Vlado Bozinovski, Australian former footballer
1964 - Ian Ziering, American actor

1965 - Piers Morgan, editor (Daily Mirror)

1968 -Singer Celine Dion (1968) Celine Dion, Quebec Canada, singer (I'm Your Woman)

1970 - Secreteriat, American racehorse, triple crown (1973) (d. 1989)

 1979 - Norah Jones, American singer and pianist (1979)

For the complete listing, go HERE
10:00am Today is After Eden day, and I am working on a birthday cartoon. Here's a possible beginning.

10:35am  Ideas added to original concept. The font I'm using won't do numbers. I'll have to hand letter those.

11:30am Ideas are still developing. I've added cake to the scene. It must've made me hungry because after I added the cake, I went and had lunch. Now I'm "back to the drawing board."

NOON  Final looks of the characters are coming out. 
Ken Ham stopped by my desk to see what I was working on. 

1:05 pm  Getting closer. The colors are just for filling spaces on their own layers at this point.

2:15pm Getting REALLY close now. As I put on finishing touches, I'm thinking of a caption. Hmmmm. What could bring this cartoon to a nice close?

2:45pm The caption has been added and the next step is to send the cartoon to the web department for them to post it to the Answers in Genesis web site. But first, I have to give the cartoon a title. To see what the title will be, go to the AiG homepage and scroll down to find today's After Eden cartoon which will be posted later today.

Keep checking back for more blog updates today!

3:35pm Looking for a CreationWise cartoon to use for the UK Newsletter. 
4:50pm Here's another birthday oriented After Eden. Enjoy!


7:56 pm I received a GREAT present today. I learned a close family member's cancer has not spread. Best news of the day. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 29 - Final Q&A for March 2012

As the month of March comes to a close, I want to post some of the blog topics that were sent in that I didn't get to use.  Thanks to all of you that participated. The winner of the caricature will be announced on the 31st. I've reserved tomorrow for a special posting. And now, on to the questions.

Q. How does a cartoon communicate truth?
 A. In many ways a cartoon communicates truth the same way as any other image by using visual elements that we understand and relate to. But in a cartoon, the artist can also get away with doing things to those elements that wouldn't necessarily work in another style of art. Cartoons also tend to attract viewer's attention and can be very disarming to the reader as well.

Q. Which cartoon has impacted you the most?
A. I can't think of one specific cartoon to use as the answer to this question, but perhaps the comic strip Peanuts has impacted me the most. Charles Schulz invented great characters, very funny gags and jokes, and even a bit of scripture and theology. I remember trying to draw Snoopy when I was very young. The Peanuts characters were probably the first HUGE cartoon influence in my life, and I still love them to this day.

Q. Who is the biggest VIP to ever see your cartoon?
A. In the late 1980's I did a caricature of The Detroit Tiger's radio announcer, Ernie Harwell. This caricature was commissioned by Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. The caricature was presented to Ernie at a dinner in his honor. I was invited to that dinner and saw the presentation. When the caricature was unveiled, Ernie reacted in delight and then asked where the artist was seated. I was pointed out and Ernie immediately made a beeline for me, shook my hand and thanked me. It was a moment I'll never forget. I was told that he really treasured that caricature.

Also, when I met Kirk Cameron, he told me he was a big fan of my work. That was pretty memorable too!

Q. What was the first cartoon you remember making?
A. It was probably the scribble I did on a wall in my family's house when I was just a toddler. I know it had to have been a cartoon. Sad thing about it was that it didn't make my parents laugh.

Q. What do cartoon and software have in common?
A. Both are better enjoyed when using an Apple computer, but some may debate me on that point.

Q. What is your most memorable experience (good or bad) encountered
while working at Answers in Genesis and how has it changed you?
A. Honestly, the moments that have humbled me and brought my view of myself down are the first that come to mind. I can't share details, but one episode many years ago during my time at AiG showed me that I am so much less than I thought I was. It was very hard to go through that time, but I am better for it.

Q. Things you can learn about yourself through your caricature
A. I haven't tried to caricature myself all that much. I guess maybe because I don't have a lot of facial qualities to make a REALLY good caricature. Back in 2003 I attended a caricature convention and it was 5 days of caricature artists in a large room drawing each other. I did get a few of them to draw me, but found that many didn't want to draw me because I lack a good quality caricature-able face. So that's probably the biggest thing I've learned about myself through caricature.

There were a few more questions and blog ideas submitted that I am not listing here. Perhaps I'll shed some light on those at another time. I hope you've enjoyed the blog entries this month. It's been a bit difficult to blog every day this month as things suddenly got crazy as the calendar turned into March, but it's also been a good exercise. Thanks to the blogging friend that encouraged me to get back into blogging ... once again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 28 - CreationWise Favorites

In the beginning there was CreationWise. At least in the beginning of my creationist cartoonist career. This was the comic strip that became my foot in the door to Answers in Genesis. I thank the Lord for placing a burden on my heart to start this comic strip. I never would've imagined it would go this far. 

Here are samples of my personal favorites from 1995 to 2006. You'll notice a few different shapes and sizes, but they are all CreationWise! Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 27 - Let There Be Favorites

With all the attention that I've given to After Eden, it's only right that I should highlight my other cartoon features too. Here are some of my personal favorites of Let There Be Truth. These were originally published in Answers Magazine between 2006 to 2011. I love editorial cartoons and even though there is a bit of editorial cartooning in After Eden and CreationWise, LTBT is a true editorial cartoon feature. Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 26 - The After Eden Cream of the Crop!

Yesterday I listed 15 After Eden cartoons that are my least favorite. So to give a bit of balance to that blog entry, here are 18 of my personal favorite After Eden cartoons. 

The interesting thing for me about this list is that After Eden is supposed to be my "funny feature" and the cartoons I like the best aren't the funniest ones. Most, if not all of these make a point that hopefully causes the reader think about scripture. That's the kind of cartoon that makes me smile. So, enjoy this list. I did!

Again, the order for these is alphabetical.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 25 - My Cartoon Hall of "Shame"

I've been asked to reveal my most embarrassing cartoon. However, it is my firm belief that some things in life should not be relived, much less blogged about before all twenty or so of my readers. So instead of digging deep to find some cartoon that has been thankfully forgotten about, I am going to share a list of my least favorite After Eden cartoons. 

Even a cartoonist like Gary Larson of Far Side fame must have cartoons that he looks at now and says, "what was I thinking?" I certainly have some that I look at now and think, "well that didn't quite turn out like I thought it would." But such is life for people that try to be creative. We hit and miss. Here are some of my misses. At least they are misses to me. These are listed in alphabetical order. Enjoy ... but not too much!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 24 - Moving After Eden Cartoons

For those that attend the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art,  everyone has to take the same first year course. When that has been completed, you then select either illustration or animation as how you will finish your second and third years. I chose illustration. But animation looks like it would be fun, and I do like to very lightly dabble in it from time to time. Here are links to all the "animated" After Eden cartoons I've produced since the feature began. Enjoy!

* Favorites of mine for the animation in them

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 23 - It is Finished!

Last Friday, March 17, was a CRAZY day! It was one of those days when multiple things that demand your attention all converge at one time. One of those things was that I was asked to fill in as a replacement for a speaker that was unable to present his talk at the Children's Ministry Leader's Conference. Being a conference for people that minister to children, they figured a cartoonist may have something waiting in the wings, ready to be used for such a time as this. Well, I did have something ready, sort of.  I had an idea that I'd been thinking of developing into a talk … someday. And now someday was staring me in the face. 

I had only one week to come up with a fully-illustrated, hour-long talk. YIKES! Every spare minute and then some was spent researching, writing, sketching and Photoshopping until the talk was finished just  6.5 hours before I had to present at 9:00 this morning. But was I ready? I had only 3 hours of sleep before my talk, but it was enough.  I am thankful for God's gift of grace in my fatigue and the adrenaline He gave me for the physical boost I needed to feel like I was awake and operational enough to give the presentation.

The talk was titled, "Seeing and Not Believing." In it I critiqued evolutionary images especially aimed at children, found in magazines, online and on TV shows and examined those images for imaginary content and exposed the evolutionary bias used to fill in the blanks in each of them. All artists at sometime or another have had to invent part of an image and in the realm of the paleoartist, that's the main part of their job description. The problem isn't that one has to fill in the blanks, rather it's a matter of which worldview is being used to fill in the blanks!

Everything went well, although the audience trickled in throughout my talk. Being the first speaker of the day and a replacement speaker at that does have it's disadvantages. But the audience seemed to enjoy what I had to say and show. My talks have a high volume of visuals. Who would've thought, eh? And after my talk, a few people even came up to shake my hand and express their appreciation.

I'll continue to develop the content of this talk in the days ahead. I hope to present this talk many more times if the opportunities arise. I'd like to see it turn into a talk available on DVD … someday … maybe … or maybe not. I'll leave that in the Lord's hands.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 22- The Eve of the Talk

Tonight's blog is extremely short. I am preparing to give a talk in the morning at Legacy Hall in the Creation Museum at 9:00. It's 11PM right now and my talk is still not finished, but it's ALMOST there. I expect to be up until 1-2 AM. YIKES!

 This is what Legacy Hall looks like and you'll notice a certain object on a stand, pointed at the stage with a person behind it. I'm going to try to not notice that object during my talk. Tune in tomorrow to see how it went.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 21 - My Most Powerful Illustration?

Since the beginning of my creationist cartoonist/illustrator career some 17 plus  years ago, I believe the most powerful illustration/idea I've produced for Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis is the Garden of Eden and the bones piece. And this was one of the very first illustrations Ken Ham asked me to do during the two years that I did volunteer work for him before I was hired full-time. So, how about that? I've been going downhill ever since after reaching the peak in my career about 17 years ago!

It was 1995.  My wife and I were living in Minnesota and I was working as a staff cartoonist for Mello Smello. One evening Ken Ham called me and gave me a very "simple" art request. He said, "I need a picture that shows that the Bible and millions of years don't go together." That was it. I said I'd do some sketches and get back to him. It was a day or two later that I faxed him the VERY loose and rough sketch of my solution to his request. The concept sketch was only detailed enough to get the idea across and it was certainly not meant for any kind of public viewing. I called Ken after faxing it to him and he said THAT'S IT! THAT'S PERFECT! I guess I had nailed it on the first try. That made me happy because I was trying to impress him in hopes of eventually being hired on full-time. I probably asked him a few more questions and told him that I'd get to work on finishing the art so he could have this new overhead transparency for is talks as soon as possible. This was back in the dark days of primitive plastic transparencies and overhead projectors. And this was before I even owned a computer. I didn't even know how to turn a computer on back then.

Zoom ahead a few years and Ken has been using the Garden of Eden and the bones illustration in a lot of his talks. By this time I had been hired full-time by AiG and my wife and I are living in Kentucky. I had many opportunities since our move to Kentucky to see Ken use the Eden/bones art and many more of my illustrations in his talks in churches. Back in the early days Ken would sometimes make a point of it to tell the audience that his illustrator was at the seminar and even have me stand up so people would know who I was. More than a few times I had people come up to me and say that the Garden of Eden and the bones illustration changed their view on the days of creation! They would say that Ken Ham would be talking about the radiometric dating methods and the meaning of the word "day" in Genesis one and all that other stuff and they'd still be hanging on to the idea of millions of years. Then they'd say, "but then he put up that Eden and the pile of bones cartoon and I couldn't hold onto the millions of years anymore." And I'd be stunned every time I'd hear it. It was funny in a way too because it seemed like each person that would tell me about their response to the Eden/bones illustration was reading off the same script. Their wording seemed very similar, but it was always thrilling for me to hear that testimony of God's Grace to them through one of my cartoons. I've never heard a response that often and to that extent of impact to anything else I'd both written and drawn. Thank you Lord for that idea and cartoon.

It was also in those early years in Kentucky that I somehow found out that the VERY rough sketch I had faxed to Ken had been almost immediately converted into an overhead transparency and Ken had used that "not meant for public viewing" sketch in his talks for the couple weeks until he received the finished version. Oh well. If God can use a cartoonist, then he can use a VERY rough sketch for His glory as well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 20 - I Speak Too!

My job description at AiG doesn't include "speaker". However, I have done some speaking as part of my profession and on the side as well. I've spoken to small classrooms of children at public schools for their career day. And I've spoken to an audience of around 800 at an Answers in Genesis Creation College. I've spoken for as little as 15 minutes, and as long as a full week (5 one-hour talks) at a summer Bible camp. Some of my talks are art related, but most have a biblical creation theme to them. And my talks are wonderfully illustrated, so I've been told!

As I was thinking about where I've spoken over the past 25 years, I colored in the states on a US map and was amazed at how it filled up. Not bad for a non-speaker! I didn't set out to be a speaker, but opportunities have come around from time to time and I've been happy to step through those open doors almost every time.

This Friday I have an opportunity to speak at the Creation Museum to about 200 Christian youth leaders on artwork related to creation and youth ministry. And the following Friday I speak to 8 classes of students at a local public school.

I do get a little nervous, but public speaking doesn't scare me, as long as I know what it is I'm going to say!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 19 - The First Children's Book I Illustrated

The first children's book that I illustrated wasn't A is for Adam, as it may have come across in my testimony. It was actually a book titled The Adventures of Lady Bug, written by Julie I. de Brito and published in 1986. She was the grandmother of Julia Lynch Neidhardt, a friend I met at church during my Joe Kubert School days in New Jersey. I did the artwork toward the end of my second year at JKS and the book came out that summer.

It was a fun project and I am grateful for the experience.  I have no idea how it sold. As I am writing this blog entry I looked it up on Amazon and it wasn't there. I didn't think it would be, but I had to check!

As I recall, the illustrations were drawn in India Ink with ink wash added to them. There's seems to be a bit of cartoonist Charles Addams influence in the ink washes.

Thanks to both Julie and Julia for fond memories of my first children's book illustrations.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 18 - A Few of My Favorite Evolutionists

As a young boy in the early 1970's, I remember seeing certain dinosaur books that absolutely mesmerized me. The artwork in them was so interesting and fantastic. Like most boys of that age, dinosaurs were already interesting to me, but the dinosaur artwork of a few certain artists just gave me a feeling I will never forget. I just had to see more!

The first book I remember was Prehistoric Animals, published in 1971. It was one volume in the Bantam Book series Knowledge through Color. I don't believe I ever owned a copy of that book, but I remember every time my family would visit the Ben Franklin store in downtown Marquette, Michigan, I would gravitate over to the book section and find that book. I paged through that book over and over and reviewed the images in my mind on the way home from the store. I don't know who that artist was, but whoever you are or were, you made a young boy love dinosaurs.

Another book that brings back memories is Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs. I ordered this book through a book club at school. It was illustrated by George Solonevich. His black and white illustrations had such a cool texture to them and the dinosaurs displayed a wonderful creepy monster quality. I still own a copy of this book.

The Golden Exploring Earth book, Dinosaurs, was another I purchased through the book club at school. A number of different artists illustrated that book. It's funny that I don't recall any of the information about dinosaurs from these books. I know I read each one of them, but it's the images that are burned into my memory.

And two dinosaur artists that still fascinate me to this day are Charles R. Knight and Rudolf Zallinger. Other dinosaur books that I thoroughly enjoyed had lots of their paintings in them. Rudolph Zallinger painted a famous mural called The Age of Reptiles for the Yale Peabody Museum. I obtained a poster copy of that, again through the school book club. And today, every time I see an image of that mural somewhere,  I'm transported back in time. Not millions of years mind you, but it does take me back about four decades! I came across a poster of that mural at a garage sale a couple of years ago and almost bought it.

Today there are so many amazing images of dinosaurs available practically everywhere that it's probably very difficult, if not impossible for a child today around the ages of 8-10 to know what a big deal it was for me to have access to the art in those books, but they were the start of something big in my life. And even though I now disagree very strongly with the worldview taught by these books and images, it was through them that seeds were planted in me that grew into an appreciation of both dinosaurs and art. And eventually that  played a part in leading me to where I am and what I do today. So I am thankful for those evolutionary artists. The God of Creation used artwork that has most likely turned many away from Himself as a special blessing in my life!