Fundamentals of Math

As the school year begins to wind down, perhaps now is a good time to mention my recent foray into the world of academia that will affect kids beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

Just as things were getting locked down back in 2020 due to coronavirus, I was in talks about a project with Del Thompson, the head of the art department at BJU Press, an educational publisher based in South Carolina that creates textbooks for all grades with a biblical worldview. They also create a lot of additional support materials for the homeschool market. They’ve been around a long time, because even I used some of their textbooks back in my elementary school days! It seems they were interested in having someone create cartoon illustrations for a 7th grade level math textbook that they were busy updating.

Cartoon illustrations? For a middle school math textbook? Unheard of. I remember seeing cartoon drawings in school books when I was in the third grade, but by the time I had arrived to the level of having a different teacher for each subject, school had gotten quite serious. In fact, anything math or science was like learning a foreign language to me. I hated those classes, as they consumed much of my brain’s capacity in a poor attempt to understand anything. It’s no wonder I chose a career path that thrived on poking fun at the world instead of trying to conquer it. To get to poke fun at math seemed like an intriguing prospect, and something that I more than likely would have responded very well to as a seventh grader myself.

The Fundamentals of Math project had already been started by another illustrator who was a good artist, but seemed to be struggling with trying to make the jokes funny. I thrive on funny, and have worked in the animation industry as a storyboard artist always looking for the whimsy in storytelling. When Del reached out, it was initially to ask if I might come up with some gags for the book, and possibly serve as a joke writer for the project. So, they hired me on a test run during which time I submitted a number of cartoon ideas which included drawings, after which the publishing house committee decided they wanted me to do the final art for the book as well. What started out as a dabble soon evolved into a full-time gig.

Since I was coming onto the project a little late, the editorial team had already devised a concept for the art in the book. The assignment was to create a full page title page and two smaller spot cartoons for each of the fourteen chapters in the book. The book would follow these two middle school students as they spent a day in an amusement park. The title pages were always going to be about the kids riding this one massive roller coaster that could go anywhere and do anything – no limits on what my imagination could come up with. The spot illustrations were about other aspects of a fun park. All cartoons would, of course, be instrumental in putting a fun face on whatever math issue needed to be talked about in those parts of the book.

This was a pretty big challenge. It had been over thirty years since I last had a math class, and as mentioned before, it was a topic that escaped my grasp. The math writers were giving me concepts both mathematically and humorously, after which I would have to plead with them to teach me the math in very simple “dumbed-down” terms, and only then I was able to make their concepts funny, or sometimes come up with even funnier concepts which often they would enthusiastically have me finalize.

So, if you have done the math (pun intended), this book required my attention on forty-two illustrations!!! Very daunting at the beginning of a project. I’m not going to show you all forty-two here today, but I will show you the very first one that will give you a taste of what was to come throughout the book.

To see all the adventure even larger, click on the image.

This first illustration needed to establish the idea that the cartoon kids were on this crazy roller coaster that can go anywhere and do anything. There are dinosaurs, wild animals, shark-infested waters, a raging volcano, deserts, mountains, and even space as the coaster twists and turns. As students read the word balloons, it will start to sink in what kind of ride this book is going to take them on just as the kids in the picture start to realize what they also are facing.

You know, it’s kind of funny. When I was a student, I used to get in trouble for doodling all the time in class. Now I can say that I’ve been paid to officially doodle directly in a textbook! I guess school really prepared me for life after all, even if not quite the way my teachers intended.

By the way, whether you are a parent, a student, a school textbook buyer, or just someone who loves my art, ANYONE can order this book directly from the publisher. It is available right NOW! If you are interested in checking it out, and interested in seeing another sample of one of my illustrations from the book, CLICK HERE!

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!


They wore ten-gallon hats with ten gallons of attitude.

Inked in my sketchbook, toned in Photoshop, attitude from a life of hard-knocks.

I think the West was won with big mustaches.

Grape Ape

Ironically, my grape ape is eating a cherry lolly.

Ink on paper, color in Photoshop, attitude on display.


How many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

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?



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.