Away in a Manger

As we enter the Christmas week of a second strange year in a row, I wanted to share with you my official Christmas card for 2021. The art itself was created with watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil – a little handmade touch in this digital world of ours.

Away in a Manger is one of the most popular Christmas hymns ever written. Strangely enough, its origin is one of dubious distinction, for it is unclear as to who are the authors.

The first publication of the poem was in 1882 by an anonymous author, and only included the first two stanzas. Confusion reined as to authorship, because the lyrics were titled Luther’s Cradle Song, saying that the poem was written by Martin Luther for his children in the 1500s. Perhaps this was just a fanciful claim by “Anonymous” to lend importance to the words, because there has never been found any version written in Luther’s native German predating this American publication. People read it, believed it, and perpetuated the false Luther authorship idea in continued publications for many years. In 1892, the third and final stanza was published with attribution once again falsely going to Luther. Others later laid claim to writing the third stanza, so the authorship continued to be muddy.

Musically, this song has been performed in dozens of settings, however, just two continue to remain popular to this day. The version that starts on a high note and is sung by many in the United States was published in 1887 by James R. Murray who falsely claimed Martin Luther also wrote the tune. By 1914, the melody was attributed to someone named Carl Meuller, a man who is otherwise unknown to history. So, even with this, we really don’t know who the composer is!

The other popular melody we know today that starts on a deeper note was written by William J. Kirkpatrick and first published in 1895. It is his version that carried this Christmas song beyond America’s borders to become beloved around the world.

Kirkpatrick was born in Ireland, and later moved to America where he settled in the Philadelphia area, eventually becoming involved in being a church organist and composer for the Methodist Episcopal denomination. Whether written on his own or with writing partner John R. Sweney, Kirkpatrick published many hymns that richly live on to this day such as ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Blessed Be Thy Name, Will Your Anchor Hold, A Wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord, Redeemed, O To Be Like Thee, Lead Me to Calvary, We Have an Anchor, and My Faith Has Found a Resting Place.

William J. Kirkpatrick passed away in 1921 while working on a new hymn at his desk. This past August, I visited his grave at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery near Philadelphia.

If only we all could leave behind such a legacy.


Adoration of the vermin.

The Penguin

Oswald Cobblepot, making crime look respectable since December of 1941. That’s right, the Penguin turns 80 years old this month.



Another page from my sketchbook that was colored in Photoshop. With a bit of DNA from the animated Batman show, thought I’d take a stab at my impression of the Penguin.

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.

The Con is On!

Walt Disney – “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a…”



Today’s the day! After church, all you Disney fans in the San Francisco Bay Area should head on over to Mouse-Con in Concord. You can meet me, my pal and another former Disney artist Rick Law, the voice actors I mentioned in Thursday’s post, lots of other special guests, and lots of dealers with Disney merch!

Rick and I will actually be giving a talk together at 1pm on one of the stages telling stories of our times at the House of Mouse!

Details are at Mouse-Con’s website by clicking on this sentence!

San Francisco Mouse-Con

Does anyone in the San Francisco area like Disney? On November 7 (this coming weekend), I’ll be a guest at Mouse-Con, a fan-organized Disney-themed convention taking place in the town of Concord, CA. I’ll have a selection of original art available that I’ve created over the past few years like this watercolor and colored pencil piece of Mickey and Goofy! 


Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.


What’s kind of fun is that I’m actually looking forward to meeting a couple of other of the invited guests that will be there such as Irene Bedard (the voice of Pocahontas), Terry McGovern (voice of Launchpad McQuack in the original DuckTales and Darkwing Duck shows), and John Morris (the voice of Andy in all the Toy Story movies).

Interesting side note – I did a couple of Toy Story coloring/activity books back when the first Toy Story movie came out. In light of that early association with Pixar, it’ll be really neat to meet “Andy!” Should I have him sign the bottom of my shoe?

Oh, and for those of you who are new followers of mine, yes, I’ve worked for Disney off and on over the past 30 years whether in publishing or animation. Come on out and say “hey!” if you are in the area.

Details of the convention can be found at!

Green Eggs For St. Jude!!!

Hey all you GEAH fans!


I wanted to let you know that this original watercolor and colored pencil piece is currently available as part of an online auction to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital sponsored by the National Cartoonists Society.
I was a member of the story crew for the upcoming season two of Green Eggs and Ham that airs on Netflix, so the art is not just some random fan art. And this scan is way more accurate than the blown-out scan on the auction’s website. So bid with confidence!
Click on the image to enlarge those green eggs and ham!
If you like the show, or you have been wanting a piece of my art, here is the unusual opportunity to try for one. The auction ends in TWO days (this Wednesday)! Happy bidding!


UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who placed bids. Whoever the winner was got a special deal with the final price coming in at $240, $200 of which goes to St. Jude. (The other $40 the auction house claims as their own.) 

2021 Monster Month: Horny Monsters

Welcome to the grand finale of my 2021 MONSTER MONTH!! And what a finale indeed! Not one, not two, but FIFTEEN monsters!!! (Seventeen if you want to also count the kids.)


Hopefully the art is just as cacophonic visually as the noise they are probably making!


A little while back, I was invited to contribute a page to a kids’ activity book where each page was being created by different cartoonists. The book was going to be published, and handed out at various children’s charity events by the non-profit organization spearheading the project. Covid hit, and the donors who were going to pay for printing backed out, so the book wasn’t printed. Bummer.

This was going to be a black-lined coloring page for the kids, where they also had to find all the horns in the picture, and I don’t just mean the musical instruments. Since some monsters have horns on their heads, it meant ALL horns in the picture – thirty-five all together!

This was a traditionally drawn image hand-inked on Bristol board. I decided to spruce it up a little by adding some color in Photoshop just for you Monster Month followers.

I hope you have enjoyed this month-o’-monsters. It was fun for me coming up with them You can sigh in relief that now it is over. We will be returning to our regularly scheduled (non-threatening) art posts in the days to come.

2021 Monster Month: Big Bad Wolf

Well, here we are on the eve of the final day of MONSTER MONTH. Have you been enjoying it? I hope so, because I’ve sure enjoyed presenting all these wacky characters to you this month.

This is one of my favorites for the month. It’s a traditionally created piece made with ink and gouache paint on blue Canson paper. I had doodled this idea about three years ago, and it just languished in my idea file. When I saw it again, I knew I had to do it, and part of the fun of this one was doing it with those traditional methods. If I ever have a monster art show some day, this will look really great in a frame.

I’m sure you can tell, but just to be clear, it is a version of Little Red Riding Hood.


“My, what big drool you have!”


(I think drool has been a recurring theme this past month.)

Come back tomorrow to see the GRAND FINALE of this year’s Monster Month!! It’s a doozy.