Illin’ & Chillin’

One of the perils of winter is the proclivity for one to become ill. How the evil germs seek out their victims is beyond me, but this past week I fell prey to their maniacal misdoings.

Just last Friday I finished my character design and storyboard revising job on two Zhu Zhu Pets movies. I packed my things, went home, enjoyed a nice Saturday, then BUM bum buuuummmm – Sunday hit with a thud. I started coughing in morning church, and after a two-hour afternoon nap, it was evident that something was wrong.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – curse that mischievous Murphy and his confounded law! My first week out of work and I have been spending it nursing a fever, achey back, and runny nose having never been ill while I was employed. Today is the first day I have felt well enough to even sketch something, which I’m sharing with you:

Save Chad Frye
My infernal Cheshire Cat mug just sat there mocking me all week in my sick stupor.

This is not the first time I’ve ever been sick, but somehow it always strikes me as a big surprise when it happens. I tend to forget what it feels like in between illnesses, so when it hits, all the symptoms are rediscovered anew – much like how you look for Waldo again after having not picked up the book in a year – only less fun. Stupid germs.

So, whether you live in the cold reaches of Indiana, or in the 70+ degrees of southern California as I do, the winter bug may seek you out. Try not to be too hospitable to it, ok? Especially if it is wearing a striped shirt and glasses.

Food Therapy

I’m not the smallest guy around. I enjoy my pizza, burgers and just about anything else on which cheese may be included. It is safe to say that I could use a little direction with my culinary concoctions. One day a friend with her own edible issues called and suggested we go to a one-night class on food choices that our health insurance plan was offering. I thought, “Sure, I could stand to have some guidance.”

Our evening started at an Italian restaurant where we felt we would be having our last meal. Enjoying every cheesy, tomatoey bite, we slowly psyched ourselves up for the night of instruction and scolding we were about to receive. “Psyched” is right – arriving at the “class”, we were annoyed to discover that it was a group therapy situation instead of traditional teacher/class learning.

I guess the first lesson in food choices was whether or not I wanted a Milky Way, Butterfinger, or Twix when the “teacher”/therapist offered us a bowl of candy without a hint of irony behind his offer. He genuinely wanted us to enjoy ourselves. I refused any of his maniacal sweets  thinking it was all a trick. One look around the room revealed that not a soul trusted that man’s candy.

That same look around the room revealed that my friend and I were two of the three youngest participants in the room. Large senior citizens occupied the majority of the chairs that had been circled together like a nocturnal wagon train protecting the central occupants from an attack of savage high fat foods. The other young participant was a skinny young woman who thought she was fat. She bolted at the first sign of a questionnaire, possibly running off to join a bulimia class down the hall. We weren’t exactly sure.

The "preacher" extolling the virtues of healthy eating that he clearly had been practicing in his own life.
The “preacher” extolling the virtues of healthy eating that he clearly had been practicing in his own life.

Since it was a group situation, we were all encouraged to express our feelings to the whole group about food. While everyone was able to get a few words in, one gentleman across from me (possibly in his 80’s) began a food monolog not entirely unlike a sermon. He preached all about the heavenly things we should be eating, and condemned the food that brings us down. He knew it all – probably because he had been through this class several times before as we later discovered.

I was so glad that I had the foresight to take my sketchbook along with me. I had anticipated sitting at a desk facing a boring teacher at night and needed something to keep me awake. The circular seating arrangements made for a much more interesting life drawing session by far. While everyone else was taking notes about how self-esteem will make you thinner (please see my last blog post for thoughts on THAT subject), I was busy wielding my pen around creating these ink sketches of the “preacher” and his lovely wife.

The "preacher's" wife, not to be confused with a Whitney/Denzel movie of the same name.
The “preacher’s” wife, not to be confused with a Whitney/Denzel movie of the same name.

So, that night I learned that (alleged) bulimia is bad, vegetables are good, self-esteem classes don’t help repeat attendees, eat a good solid meal before going to a health clinic, and never EVER forget to take your sketchbook to night school.

Drawn & Quoted: Airport Diva

” Though beauty gives you a weird sense of entitlement, it’s rather frightening and threatening to have others ascribe such importance to something you know you’re just renting for awhile.”

– Candice Bergen (1946 –     )

The Airport Diva getting her texting done out of the way so she won't crash an airplane by doing it in flight.
The Airport Diva getting her texting done out of the way so she won’t crash an airplane by doing it in flight.

I was recently in an airport and noticed this girl sitting across from me. She was dressed to the nines in designer clothing, an expensive handbag, and pricey purchases she was going to carry on to the plane. She was quite young, probably in her early 20’s, and had an air of snootiness about her. I know it’s not really fair to ascribe to her a haughty personality without having met her, but it did get me thinking about other people I have actually known in recent years that looked like her.

I’ve noticed a certain sense of entitlement amongst people in America. They have to be first. They have to have the best. They have to have the latest in technology. They have to dress only in name brands. They have to drive expensive cars. They roll their eyes at people they feel are beneath them. The list can go on.

I have a theory….We are bombarded by media messages that “you are beautiful the way you are”, “you deserve the best”, “you can have it now and probably pay for it much later”, “self-esteem, self-esteem, self-esteem!” Parents buy into these philosophies, and teach their kids that not only can they have it all, but they absolutely will. They buy them the latest toys, video games, and movies the second they come out. The material cravings are met right away without having to either wait for it or work for it. The kids grow up into adults expecting everything to just come their way, and often don’t care who they push aside on their quest to get what they want. I wonder if the current crisis of housing foreclosures aren’t, in part, a result of these “must have it now” ideals ignoring the inevitable consequences of such arrogant thinking.

Quite frankly, self-esteem flies in the face of care for our fellow man. Even in a passage of the Bible written roughly 2000 years ago, Philippians 2:3 says “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” And what is commonly known as “The Golden Rule” flies in the face of self-esteem teaching. It often is quoted as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This “others first” philosophy has roots in the Bible as well. Amongst several passages that relay it, Luke 6:31 says, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” The opposite of self-esteem is humility.

I don’t typically get so heady in my blog posts, but this is something that bothers me quite often. Interesting that a random airport sketch could serve as a reminder to “think of your fellow man, lend them a helping hand…”

Help the Hodges is on eBay!

This great image that references Matt's love for the drumline of his marching band was created by John Trauscht to Help the Hodges!
This great image that references Matt’s love for the drumline of his marching band was created by John Trauscht to Help the Hodges!


Over the past few months, I have been working on a charity auction to help out the family of fellow cartoonist Tim Hodge.  Tim’s teenage son, Matthew, was in a car accident involving a train last August, and has remained in a coma ever since. Tim’s insurance was not such that could take care of the long term recovery of Matthew, who is currently in a nursing care facility.

Animators and brothers Tom Bancroft (Mushu from Mulan) and Tony Bancroft (Pumbaa, Kronk and director of Mulan) and I have been working on this fundraiser through the National Cartoonists Society Foundation (NCSF).  We have been collecting original art from animators, illustrators, comic strip artists, comic book artists, and sculptors who have overwhelmed us with their generosity. With over 170 items to put up for auction, we are hoping and praying for the best in trying to Help the Hodges.

We have also been blessed with good word of mouth. Our event has been talked about on many websites and blogs that deal with cartoon art, along with reports on NBC news in the Franklin, TN area last night (the Hodge’s home town), interviews on various radio programs, and an article that will be in this Saturday’s Los Angeles Times. We would love it if you would help us spread the word, too.

If you would like to see everything that we will be posting on eBay over the next few weeks, please visit our website at We also have more details there in the right hand column about Matthew and the Hodges.

Yesterday we went live on eBay with 50 items including original art by Charles Schulz, Patrick McDonnell, several of Disney’s Nine Old Men, and a group drawing by 21 amazing cartoonists. The second third of the items will be posted on January 28, and the rest on February 4. Click here to see all of our current eBay auctions.

If you aren’t much for buying cartoon art, or bidding on eBay, the NCS Foundation is taking tax-deductible donations as well.  In the subject line of your check write “Help the Hodges”, and send it to:

The NCS Foundation

341 N. Maitland Ave., #130

Maitland, FL  32751

Many thanks for your support!

This amazing piece has 21 cartoonists on it including Don Bluth, Glen Keane, Peter de Sève, Sergio Aragonès, Stan Sakai, Mike Mignola, J. Scott Campbell, Chris Sanders, Stephen Silver, etc. etc. It's AMAZING!
This amazing piece has 21 cartoonists on it including Don Bluth, Glen Keane, Peter de Sève, Sergio Aragonès, Stan Sakai, Mike Mignola, J. Scott Campbell, Chris Sanders, Stephen Silver, etc. etc. It’s AMAZING!
This original published "Mutts" art came watercolored by the master himself!
This original published “Mutts” art came watercolored by Patrick McDonnell himself!
This original animation production drawing of Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" is by Marc Davis, one of Disney's Nine Old Men.
This original animation production drawing of Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” is by Marc Davis, one of Disney’s Nine Old Men.
This is an amazing drawing by Nico Marlet, character designer on "Kung Fu Panda" and Dreamworks' upcoming "How To Train Your Dragon"
This is an amazing drawing by Nico Marlet, character designer on “Kung Fu Panda” and Dreamworks’ upcoming “How To Train Your Dragon”

The Flight Companion

This past Monday night I returned from a trip to New Jersey for a last visit to my childhood home that my parents are moving from this week. Traveling from California to New Jersey generally requires the use of an airplane, an experience I generally dread. No, I’m not afraid of flying. You see, the issue is more that of comfort. I’m a large lad, and airplane seats are made for children.

My mode of operation is to snag a window seat. I’m not one to usually get up during a flight, and I hate to be awakened for someone who needs to scoot by. So a window seat was ordered for the trip to Jersey – a trip that was, for me, the rare direct flight from Los Angeles to Newark. Wonderful! Five hours and it will be over.

I quickly found my seat and settled in. Who would be my seat mate for the trip? Was it that pretty brunette I spotted out in the concourse? Perhaps that professional gentleman with the laptop? Who knows?

There are a few seat mates that for me would be less than ideal. There could be A. the crying baby, B. the annoying chatterbox who regales you with tales of absolutely no interest whatsoever, and C. it could be a fellow large person. Two large people side-by-side can make a plane lopsided, and altogether uncomfortable for all involved. Nah – I’ll probably get that brunette, in which case bring on the five hours! However, I forgot about the D choice….

Yes. Good ol’ D. D never did me any favors in school, and it certainly wasn’t going to do me any favors on this flight either. Letter D was, in fact, a young mother who held a child on her lap (that looked entirely too old for airline policy) for the entire, excruciating five hour flight.

Thankfully, the child was not much of a crier. He held his peace pretty well. In fact, both mother and child slept for most of the trip. One might think this was a good thing, right? No. That smallish woman found a way to spill over into my seat in her sleep, and boy, was she warm! I reached up to adjust my air only to find that the plane was not equipped with personal air blowers. Thanks American Airlines.

Despite the lack of a cooling agent, I managed fo fall asleep. That’s about the time the sweet, innocent  sleeping child began to have bad dreams. I assume they were bad. I don’t know what else would have inspired the random kicking he proceeded to take out upon my person. Yes, he was sleep-kicking. Five-hours-of-kicking.  

A sketch of my experience getting kicked by a child throughout a recent flight.
A sketch of my experience getting kicked by a child throughout a recent flight.

Oh wait, I take that back. There are now weather issues in New Jersey. We circled Nebraska for awhile, then had to circle Pennsylvania. Still unable to land, we set down in Washington’s Dulles International to refuel because we circled too much. By now, I had plenty of my own circular bruises on my side as that kid seemed to sleep at least six of what became an eight hour journey. 

I’m not complaining mind you. The seats were, after all, intended for that child. It was I who was invading HIS space. Silly me for having other expectations.

I’ll bet that brunette had a great flight.