White Christmas

Back in June I had another one of those out-of-the-blue, who-would-have-thought, stranger-than-fiction work opportunities come up.

I had already storyboarded a Frank Sinatra music video earlier in the year for the Fantoons studio. They liked what I drew for them, so when they were given the opportunity to animate a music video set to a recording of Irving Berlin’s song White Christmas as sung by the incomparable Bing Crosby, they called on me once again to board for them.




David Calcano wrote a script that set the song around the military at the time of the holidays that had some real storytelling in it. It begins in the late ’60s with the Vietnam War, and later comes to our modern era. It had nostalgia, love of family, tragedy, and full circle resolution – a whole lot of the human experience packed into three minutes.


Dad playing with his daughter in the late ’60s.
Dad now in the Army with a military haircut writing home as Bing sings through the radio.
Bing shows up as a mailman.


I love doing caricatures, but just like in the Sinatra video, I was asked to NOT caricature Bing in my boards. The studio was coming up with their design for Bing, which was going through approvals with whomever had to approve. If I drew him my own way, that could have complicated things. So, a generic character in a hat is what I drew (though I did get away with half-lidded eyes and big ears).


Here’s the comes the mail magically flying to the little girl and her mother.
When you see the finished video, you’ll see that an older mother doesn’t appear in it as I had imagined. With a young portrait of mom on the wall in the video, I think time ultimately wasn’t kind to her.


So, I had a very busy week boarding the piece. 217 panels later, it was finished and sent off. The drawings above are just a few individual panels of those efforts that the team at Fantoons used as a blueprint for their music video.

And here’s the finished product! Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you get to enjoy a white one!


Christmas with Sinatra

Never thought I’d get to say this, but earlier this year I got to work with Frank Sinatra. Well, “with” is more like it I suppose, since he is no longer among us, which is what made the experience surprising to begin with. “With.” Whatever.

The folks at the Fantoons Studio asked me to storyboard an official Sinatra music video they were going to animate for Universal Music Group who holds the rights to the Capitol Records back catalog. The song? Frank’s version of The Christmas Waltz. So, I had to get my Christmas on back in the sweltering heat of June in Los Angeles.

With a script by David Calcano, I spent a week swathed in the mello tones of Frank’s crooning as I boarded his holiday adventures in Palm Springs, California. I picked just a few individual panels from my boards to show you here, followed by the actual video made by Fantoons.


Ol’ Blue Eyes on the Palm Springs sky tram.
I based the shots in the house on photos of Frank’s actual Palm Springs home.
The parting shot at the end of the video of all the cards formed throughout the video.



So, it was a real treat to get to work “with” Frank. You know, back when Frank was still alive, I did get a phone call once from his secretary, but that’s a story for another time.

Ray Harryhausen at 100

Today marks what would have been the great Ray Harryhausen’s 100th birthday. To film and animation aficionados, Ray’s name is highly praised, and rightfully so. He was a brilliant stop-motion animator who, following in the footsteps of Willis O’Brien (the man behind the original King Kong), Ray elevated the world of visual effects in live-action movies that set new standards for decades. His work was often a part of science fiction and fantasy movies, but even if a film itself wasn’t necessarily great, Ray’s work on its own was groundbreaking.


Click on the drawing to see it larger!


My favorite of Ray’s work, and the favorite of many, is the skeleton sword fight from Jason and the Argonauts. It was made in 1963 , which means there were no computers involved. It was just little skeleton puppets moved one frame at a time, lit to look like it was outside, and large real human actors were filmed separately from the skeletons to look like they were interacting with them. Insanely difficult to pull off, but done so brilliantly. Here’s the scene:

I feel very privileged to work in the animation business, and was thrilled to have had the chance to meet and talk with Ray a number of times before he passed. His tales of working in this business inventing techniques and trick along the way were fascinating. They were especially fascinating because while I usually work on projects that are completely animated, Ray’s objective was to have the make-believe stuff appear to be real by having it interact with real things.

Perhaps the most unique brief chat with him came from bumping into Ray on a sidewalk here in Burbank, CA one day. Most people walked by without giving him a second look, but then a young animation guy  like me knew who he was.

Ray passed away at the age of 92, but what an amazing legacy he left behind.

The Rocketeer

Last year I helped out on an episode or two of Disney’s upcoming The Rocketeer show. If you follow my blog, you know I’m a fan of the original Rocketeer character (which you can see in a previous post if you CLICK HERE), so it was a real treat to be invited to work on this continued legacy.

Last week at San Diego’s Comic Con, Disney unveiled a trailer for the new show being made for kids, and it’s animated. Check it out!

Green Eggs & Ham

I’ve been busy this past year working on the animated series Green Eggs & Ham for Netflix over at Warner Bros. Animation. Today, Netflix made the first revelation of what the characters look like, they announced our first season cast, and they posted a short teaser!



To read more information about the show, and our cast (which includes Adam Devine and Michael Douglas as the two leads), then CLICK HERE!!

Meanwhile, check out the short teaser here:


Spring Selfie

Welcome to the first day of spring!!!

While many parts of the United States have already been showing signs of spring, others are still buried under snow thanks to a big storm that hit just last week. Where there is snow, there may be some hibernating bears you don’t want to awaken.

If you happen to be hiking through the woods, stay alert out there! DON’T bury your nose in your cell phone. You may come across a bear just up from a long winter’s nap, and he may want to check his e-mail or take his first 2017 selfie!


This just happened to be something I sketched while in the freezing cold of Russia this past January.


You may laugh at the absurdity of this situation, but believe me, it could happen. A few years ago I was watching the morning news on television here in Los Angeles, and a situation like this almost happened. Someone posted the clip on YouTube, which I have provided for you here…




By the way, this just so happens to be my 550th post here on the ol’ blog. I’m sure that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Mell’s Piano

My recently departed friend Mell Lazarus (cartoonist of the comic strip Momma) has a white baby grand piano in his living room that he invited visiting cartoonists to draw on. It has sketches on it from the likes of Charles Schulz, Gary Trudeau, Will Eisner, Eric Goldberg, Gary Baseman, Bil Keane, Patrick McDonnell, Mort Drucker, Stephan Pastis, Barbara Dale, Tony Bancroft, Jack Davis, Lynn Johnston, Mike Kunkel, and many, many more. Perhaps you’ll recognize the characters even if you don’t know the artists names.

Back in 1997 when this project was pretty new and there were only a handful of sketches on it, Mell invited me to add a drawing. I had JUST moved to California to work for Disney, and was only a kid in the biz, so it was pretty intimidating – so intimidating that I drew a pretty terrible drawing. A few years later after the piano had filled up much more, I saw my bad drawing and asked Mell if I could redo it. He agreed (both to it being terrible, and to redoing it), so he pulled out some sandpaper from the piano bench, and I gently rubbed away my old drawing, and redrew the exact same thing, only better. 

You can see my piece around the 2:28 mark in this video shot by friend and fellow cartoonist Rick Detorie (One Big Happy comic strip). Best of all, Mell’s legacy lives on as you hear him talking about the piano.


Red’s Planet

Today I wanted to sing the praises of my friend Eddie Pittman. He has a brand new graphic novel for kids (adults will enjoy it, too!) that comes out TODAY!! It is called Red’s Planet, and features a little girl who has an exciting alien adventure. I’ll let Eddie’s YouTube video fill you in…



Eddie and I both worked for Disney Feature Animation at the same time, but he was in the Florida studio while I was in California. Our paths kept crossing over the years, and he even came out to work for Disney TV Animation for awhile on the show Phineas & Ferb as a story guy. (He even did the voice of Darth Vader in their Star Wars episode!) Then, last year, Eddie and I were fortunate to be on the same team of cartoonists from the National Cartoonists Society to travel to the Middle East with the USO to draw for U.S. troops! (You can see pictures of our adventures by CLICKING HERE!)

So, please check out Eddie’s fun new book safe for the whole family. You can find it in bookstores all over the country, but if you prefer doing your shopping online, Amazon has the hardcover book for a GREAT price! CLICK HERE to go THERE!