History of EC Comics

You know, I’ve gotten all caught up in sharing sketchbook drawings here, that I neglected to share with you some real work that I did that was published in 2020. Let’s remedy that, shall we?

So, here’s the set-up… my friend, Grant Geissman, wrote a terrific (and quite gigantic) book about the history of EC Comics that was published by Taschen. Not only is it 594 pages long, but the sucker weighs in at 13lbs, and measures a whopping 11.5×16″!! It’s so big, that this coffee table book could actually BE the coffee table!

All kidding aside, it really is a comprehensive look at the comic kingdom first created by M.C. Gaines, later headed up by his son Bill Gaines who, among his accomplishments, published MAD Magazine.

Grant popped over to my place last May to bring me a copy of his beautiful tome, and in return, I gave him this piece I did of William Gaines (who whould have been 100 last month) in all his EC Comics glory capturing the moment he was about to step into MAD. You get the idea.

Bill Gaines, second publisher of EC Comics just as he steps into publishing “MAD Magazine.”
Grant and I in my home where he helped me lift up his heavy book.

Part of my excitement for Grant’s work here is that he invited me to be a part of the imagery in the book. He had two vintage pieces of art that had originally been in color, but color reproductions of them had been lost to the ages. So Grant asked me to colorize the two pieces, one drawn by Irwin Hasen, and the other by Shelly Moldoff.

This great piece by Irwin Hasen was drawn as a gift for his boss, M.C. Gaines long ago. I was thrilled to color this because I had been acquainted with Irwin back when he was still with us, and had grown up reading his syndicated comic strip in newspapers called Dondi. I even have two originals I got from Irwin back when I first got into the cartooning business, and am humbled to be pictured in another book Irwin is also in called The Artist Within Book 2 by Greg Preston.

By Irwin Hasen, color by Chad Frye.

And here’s the second piece I colored that Sheldon Moldoff drew.

By Sheldon Moldoff, color by Chad Frye.

A hearty conGRANTulations go out to Grant for seeing the years of his research and writing come to fruition in such a beautiful tome!

By the way, Grant’s day job is as a musician and composer! He’s played with many great music folks over the years such as Chuck Mangione, Liza Minelli, Steve Tyrell, Josh Groban, etc, and he has written music for television shows such as Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly, and more recently B Positive.

Sam I Am?

Any of you Netflix subscribers out there excited about this Friday? According to Netflix’s website, Season 2 of Green Eggs and Ham is still supposed to be coming out on April 8! Since I don’t personally have Netflix, I’ll just have to wait to hear the sound of all the Whos down in Whoville singing and cheering – er, maybe that’s a different Dr. Seuss story.


“But Sammy, my, what big teeth you have!”
Don’t be disturbed by the above image. Sam I Am didn’t go through a re-design for the new season. I drew myself as ol’ Sam, and had this as my door sign at Warner Bros. where we designed the show! He was furry, my face is furry. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Do me a favor. Since this season took a good four years or more to make, don’t binge it. Spread it out and absorb it in tasty bites!

The Batlight Saga

I hear there’s a new Batman movie out now starring Robert Pattinson. I didn’t see it, but I figure this is probably what it was like.


Are you Team Batman or Team Robin?



John Williams at 90

Today happens to be the 90th birthday of the most influential composer of our time, the great John Williams.
His music has transported us to the depths of space, the mysterious orient, deep dark jungles that hold secret treasures, and into our hidden emotions when he has scored the human experience. Having won the Oscar five times, he holds the record for any composer with 52 nominations, 17 of which were for a few of the 29 movies he has scored for Steven Spielberg. And what other 90 year old do you know who can sell out concert halls and venues with 30,000 seats? To say the least, I am a fan.
On this occasion, I wanted to draw my own interpretation of the maestro, who we all know wields a lightsaber baton. The Force is strong in this one.


He’s John Williams, and you’re not.

Sarah Hale’s Thanksgiving

I had the pleasure this past August to illustrate a Thanksgiving article for this month’s issue of Clubhouse Magazine published by Focus on the Family. It tells the story of Sarah Hale, the woman responsible for convincing Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving an official holiday.


The art as it appears in the November 2021 issue of Clubhouse Magazine. (Click on art to enlarge.)


Sarah was an accomplished writer of books and the author of Mary Had a Little Lamb, and she was also the editor of a very popular magazine based out of Philadelphia. Her persistent letters over the years to several U.S. presidents finally got results with Lincoln.

I wanted a bit of a hand drawn quality to this illustration, so the final line art was a black Prismacolor pencil drawing on bumpy watercolor paper. It was then colored in Photoshop.


The art as it looked when I finished it. (Click on it to enlarge.)


Here is a detail of the newspaper with some headlines that may or may not be historically accurate. I’m particularly fond of the Thanksgiving day sale ad in the lower corner of the newspaper that is announcing the first official Thanksgiving holiday. Silly is what I do, even in the midst of a history lesson.


A detail of the newspaper.


When researching the details for this illustration, I found this great image of an older Sarah Hale who was in her later years during the events of this article. So, I based my drawing of her on this.


Sarah Hale, widowed as a young mother of five children, always wore black the rest of her days.


While in the middle of working on this piece, I visited the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia to find Mrs. Hale’s grave. The cemetery was LOADED with historical figures both factual and fictional. While it boasted Civil War generals, Titannic survivors, baseball players, and even a signer of the Declaration of Independence, this was also the cemetery where Adrian Balboa, the wife of Rocky Balboa, was buried in the Rocky movies.


Holding my drawing for this illustration at the grave of Sarah Hale in Philadelphia.


May you and yours have a very blessed Thanksgiving, and remember to give thanks to God for all you have in this brief life He has granted.

William Wray

I love the work of William Wray.

When I first met him a number of years ago, he went by Bill Wray, and was working on painting backgrounds for Nickelodeon’s show The Mighty B. His work was well-known in the animation industry having had a tremendous influence on the look of The Ren & Stimpy Show among other films and TV shows, and he contributed to comics over the years, including MAD Magazine.

Besides being a brilliant cartoonist, Bill started doing incredible fine art painting where his subject matter of choice is primarily urban landscapes, and he started going by his more formal name. He seems to get so much emotion with what seems like minimal paint strokes in his work, but as any artist knows, it takes YEARS to hone such skills to know how to lay the paint down, and how much to leave out. In short, whether cartooning or fine art painting, William Wray makes my jaw drop.

Back in 2018, I got my first in-house gig at Warner Bros. TV Animation as part of the story team for the Netflix show Green Eggs & Ham. (Hopefully our Season 2 gets released soon!) I really didn’t know who all I might have known was already at WB, so on my first day I went down to the commissary alone to look over day 1 paperwork while I ate. Who should I bump into but William, who promptly welcomed me to WB and joined me for lunch. Turned out that he was working downstairs from me as the Art Director for the Harley Quinn show.

As I learned over the year that I was at WB, William loved to sketch folks at lunch without them knowing it. It’s a great way to stay sharp by observing people and their behavior, and I do it from time to time, but William was a fiend for it. What a treat one day to find that I had become one of his subjects from across the dining area!


From William Wray’s sketchbook drawn at The Burbank Studios, formerly NBC headquarters.


Earlier this year I heard that great illustrator Jason Seiler was going to be interviewing William as a part of Jason’s podcast series Face the Truth. Jason often invites fans to send in drawings of his interview subjects, so I thought it would be fun to contribute something to his talk with William.


A little colored pencil and white gouache on brown paper help craft an exaggerated interpretation of William Wray.


Well, there you have it. Artists drawing artists. It’s what we do, and sometimes we fall prey to each other. One way or the other, it’s always an adventure.

2021 Monster Month: Chadula

Here we are 24 days into Monster Month, and there hasn’t been one self-portrait in the batch. Seems reasonable that after drawing all these monsters, there should be at least one depiction of the artist as a creature that goes bump in the night. (In real life when I do that, it’s likely due to stubbing my toe in the dark on the way to the bathroom.)

So, why not trot out everyone’s favorite blood-sucking vampire from Transylvania as inspiration? I call him CHADULA. Mwuahahahahaha! (Cue the lightning strike!)


“I vant to draw your blood! No, really, I want to draw it, not drink it!”


I’ve made appearances in past Monster Months. You might remember me as Frankenstein’s monster, a hairy beast, a zombie – even as the Wolfman a couple of times. If you are adventurous, you could click on the “self portrait” category on my blog and see if you can find my other beastly incarnations.



Space Jammin’

So, did any of you check out Space Jam: A New Legacy over the weekend? Seems like a lot of folks saw it at the theater, but I understand it was also available through Warner Bros.’ streaming app, so no doubt tons of folks saw it. While I did not get to join many former colleagues as part of the crew of the movie, I did get to work on some official marketing art for Space Jam!

I was hired to draw a number of international celebrities in a Looney Tunes style the way LeBron James was in the movie, making them a part of the Tune Squad team. Those celebs could then share the images on their social media accounts. Unless you follow the specific person, you may not have seen the efforts, so I thought I’d share a few of the ones I found on Twitter and Instagram. 


Caricature of Criss Martell. Click on image to enlarge.
Caricature of Guillermo Schutz. Click on image to enlarge.
Caricature of Levan Gorozia. Click on image to enlarge.
Caricature of Marcelo Forlani. Click on image to enlarge.


Over all, I drew 8 or 9 people for this campaign, and a colleague of mine did another batch that are all floating around out there on the web. I only found these four of my pieces, so those are the only ones I can pass along to you for now!

And just to be clear, I ONLY drew the caricature of the celebrities. The rest of the art was put together by other folks, most likely from a library of approved poses.

Glad to have been a part of Space Jam in my own small way! Hooray for projects with hand-drawn animation!