I’ve stated in the past about how difficult it can be for an illustrator to make a living. You mainly have to work freelance, which is tough, because you have to be a bit of a salesman, too. You work hard hoping for the big break. Hoping that you’ll be discovered and the work will flood in. It’s kind of like acting.

Scott Roberts is a very good friend of mine who is not only an excellent illustrator, but he’s also a very gifted graphic artist, designer, and writer. He’s been eeking out a living working in the graphic arts field for close to 30 years. He’s done freelance illustration, graphic design, art direction, photography, mural painting, web design, copywriting, and creative direction. He’s pretty much done it all in the graphics industry. And yet he still struggles.

I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret about the graphics field. Unless you become a name in the industry, experience can count against you. Over the years, Scott has been interviewed numerous times at ad agencies and art houses. Every time he interviews he is praised for his abilities, his professionalism and his personal likeability. Still, he rarely gets the job offer. He’ll get freelance work, but not the steady job. The main reason is that he has too much experience and will command too high a salary. The industry prefers to hire kids coming out of college. They may have talent, but their experience level is such that they’ll come cheap. Scott was never looking for the mega-salary package. He wanted a steady job to help him raise his family. When told he would cost too much he would say, “Make me an offer!” They wouldn’t.

And so it goes.

However, back in 1998, Scott began telling his twin daughters (age 7 at the time) a tale about a swashbuckling mouse named William. Scott decided to write and illustrate the story. William the mouse became Tam O’Hare, an adventurous rabbit. The story just grew from there.

I watched it grow over the years. Scott would show me the sketches of ideas and ask for my input. He also gave me early drafts to go over and comment on. I’m not sure how much my meager input helped, but it was an honor to be asked.

Then came the attempt to get the book published. Scott found an agent who was excited about the book and began to shop it around. No takers. The publishers liked the art and had suggestions on the story for improvements for marketing. Scott worked to improve the book and the searched continued. Eventually, Scott’s agent seemed to lose interest and Scott dropped him. Scott had a friend who took up the task and found a publisher.

The first edition should be released in June.


I’m very excited for Scott (or Scotty, as he prefers for his pen name) and have high hopes and confidence that this book will be a roaring success. Someone has to be the next J. K. Rowling. Why not Scotty Roberts?

And now for the comment suitable for a blurb on the back of the book…

Scotty has created a sweeping adventure that is great fun. A riveting tale with outstanding illustrations. It’s wonderful.

It truly is wonderful. And it’s about time.

You can find more information, see more of the fantastic illustrations, and preorder your own copy of ‘The Rollicking Adventures of Tam O’Hare’ at:

pure genius

Every now and then, something so earth-shatteringly brilliant comes along and changes everything.

This is might not be one of those things, but I think it’s pretty cool. It’s a drawing done by my son. He’s just over 3 and a half years-old. This is probably just proud parent talk, but my wife and I agree that this is genius. And we would know.
Hayden has titled this drawing, “Two holes on a house”. Sheer poetry.

My wife has set up a CafePress store for our boy. It features this drawing on shirts. There will likely be other products offered soon. His store is called ‘The Hayden James Project’ and you can get to it by clicking or (The second link offers a wider garment color selection.)

Go there and buy a dozen! Or just one, if you’re a cheap bastard who doesn’t want my son to go to college. Or eat.

comic books that changed my life #3

Back in January 2006, I started what I intended to be a blog series on some of my favorite comic books. I did two. For some reason, I got off track. So, let’s get back on the rails.

My series deals mainly with the art. I’m a cartoonist and comic books were a HUGE influence on me. I will talk about story when it’s important, too.

The third comic book that had an impact on me is ‘The Incredible Hulk’ number 168 (October 1973). I was still dabbling in comic book collecting. I hadn’t discovered storylines quite yet. I was more interested in the art. If the cover caught my eye, I would be more likely to buy the issue. And I liked this cover.

The artist was Herb Trimpe. I don’t think he was ever considered one of the all-time greats, but he was capable and his style was well-suited for the Hulk. In this issue he did some fine work. He did some of his best work during this stint on the Hulk series. Not earth-shattering, but good stuff.

This was back in the day when the page layout was still the basic six-panels a page with full gutters (that’s what the spaces between panels are called). Trimpe’s work in this issue has a soft feel thanks to Jack Abel’s inking. And one can certainly see the influence that Jack Kirby had on Trimpe’s work. That’s hardly unusual, because Kirby influenced just about every comic book artist.

Story-wise, I always seemed to prefer the first part of a two-issue story. I think it’s because the set up for the initial defeat of our hero is more compelling. In this issue, Betty Ross Talbot is transformed by Modok into the Harpy in order to defeat the Hulk; which, as the Harpy, she seems to do just that. He gets better in the next issue, don’t worry.

I’m not sure how unusual or common this was, but issue #168 contains three splash pages! (That’s what they call a full page panel) The first isn’t anything very special. It sets up what’s going on. The Hulk is trying to get into the hospital where an ailing Betty is being treated. Note the flowers in the foreground. They are placed in the scene to set up that the Hulk picks flowers for Betty. How sweet.

The second splash page is the transformation scene of Betty into Harpy. It’s spectacular! Very dramatic. There’s a lot of Jack Kirby in that panel. Note the shadow of Harpy’s right arm. That’s a great touch.

Third is the final page. It was pretty common to do a splash page for the end of the first part of a multi-part story. It’s meant to wow the reader and make sure they don’t miss the next part. Well, this one delivers. It looks as though our hero has had it. (Harpy was only able to get the better of the Hulk by playing the “I’m Betty” card.)

There’s some other fun stuff in this issue. Especially, a very dated, but still funny (maybe because it’s so dated) argument between the Hulk’s friend, Jim Wilson, and Jim’s girlfriend, Talia.

I’m also quite fond of a panel depicting the Hulk jumping through the wall of the hospital. It’s very simple and straight forward. Blam! Hulk jumping through the wall.

I guess I have a particular fondness for the comic books from this era. I’ll try to continue with more of this series, because I have more in mind. And, as Marvel Comics liked to put it, you demanded it!

a call for eagles

Apparently, the Peace At All Costs folks will be at it again on March 17, 2007. Taking to the Washington DC streets demanding that we lose the war against IslamicFascism. They believe that violence and war are not the answer. I’m pretty sure war was the answer to British oppression (American Revolution), slavery in America (American Civil War), Nazism & Imperilism in Europe & Japan (WW II), Iraqi aggression against Kuwait (1st Gulf War), and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (Bill Clinton’s war) just to name a few.

And it appears that some of the anti-war crowd believe that violence is the answer when they throw rocks at recruitment centers, deface war memorials, and spit on a disabled vet who dared speak out against their movement the last time they stormed DC. They also practice violence whenever conservatives or military recruiters come to their campuses. Along with the verbal violence hurled at those they perceive as undesirable, some of the peace-loving, non-violent people enjoy throwing eggs and pies. Always a good way to win a debate.

A call has been sent out for a countering of the Peace At All Costs event. It’s called a Gathering of Eagles. Mostly made up of vets who want to protect the recruitment centers and monuments from attack by these “peaceful” people. They also want to protect those who come to speak against those who would have us living under sharia law if that would mean we’d be at peace. (Hey, Susan Sarandon! Have you converted to Islam and been fitted for your burka yet? Are you ready to become Tim Robbins’ property? That’s what the terrorists want you to do. Well, that or die. You’re just a useful idiot to them.)

I’d like to be able to stand with these Eagles, but I can’t. I can’t afford the trip nor the loss of work. I feel badly about this, but I have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed. It seems to me that these peace activists have protesting as a job. That they have all the time in the world, while most of us in the silent majority have to work. It seems as though the anti-warriors are the new Deadheads.

So, what I can do is spread the word. Hopefully there are thousands out there who can make the trip. Go to There you will find information about what you can do.

Thanks to our military men and women and their families. It’s your sacrifices that keep all of us free. Even those who spit at you.

who’s gouging?

Ever notice that Democrats (ok, some RINOs do it too) all scream bloody murder when gas prices go up due to supply and demand, but as demand and prices go down they start talking about raising the gas tax?
Did you know that the average profit made by the big, bad, evil oil corporations on a gallon of gas is about 7 cents? Did you know that the average taxes collected by the Federal government on a gallon of gas is about 20 cents? And in Minnesota, where I reside, the tax for the state is about another 20 cents?
So, who’s gouging?