…the light went on!


Sharing a home with a five-year old was not something on my radar even just a few years ago – but at this point I couldn’t imagine life without him. I’m a little weepy this morning – he’s had some dental problems and right now he’s undergoing oral surgery. I’m sure he’ll do fine but between my paranoia and an overactive imagination  I still get edgy…

(my daughter sent this photo to me from the trip to the oral surgeon’s office)

 He’s an amazing young man and extremely curious about the world. Any five-year-old asks a lot of questions but he is extremely detailed in his enquiries. For example, he likes to have the lights on during the day. Lots of lights. ALL THE LIGHTS. I finally sat down and tried as best I could to explain the idea of electricity and paying for utilities, but I wasn’t sure he had a grasp on the subject until later on in the afternoon.

 After I finished my impromptu lesson I turned off all the lights in the room and we parted ways, Jayden to his bedroom and me to the studio. I was a little perturbed when I returned to the room later on in the afternoon and found every single light turned on…but then I noticed a quarter, a nickel and three pennies in the middle of the table and realized that Jayden had most definitely understood our discussion we’d had earlier in the day – the discussion about paying for utilities.

Title Page: “Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup

2018-08-01 DJKSS CoverTitlePage

Title page for the aforementioned book I’m writing for my grandchildren. As you can see here and in other images from the book the linework and type are not perfect – and there’s a reason for that. I’m producing this in the “old-school” manner much like we did forty years ago. I’m using my computer strictly as a stat camera/typositor – all the drawings are done with pencil, pen and template as is the line work and graphic devices. I’m placing the type by hand and designing “by eye”.

You’ll also occasionally see stray construction lines that I’ve left in.

Some people dress in period costume and live in restored villages as a means of “living history”. This project it my way of doing so as well.

Update: Dog King John

As I wrote previously I am in the middle of a book project entitled “Dog King John and the Stolen Syrup”.  The story behind the project has more twists than an M. Night Shymalan script but basically involves my efforts to stay involved with my grandchildren through sketch cards I send to them each month.

I’m replacing the individual cards with pages from a book I’m writing for my wonderful mob of grandkids. If everything works according to schedule the book will be done third-quarter 2019 and will be available for purchase via a Kickstarter campaign at the time. Until then I will periodically publish occasional pages like this one:


Sketch Cards for Dog King John

2018-06-03 GrandKid Cards JUN 2018

As I’ve written before I take great delight in my role as “papa” (AKA grandfather,  abuelo, old geezer) and even though six out of my seven grandchildren live far away I work hard to keep in contact with them. One of the ways I do that is by regularly sending drawings to them as postcards, starting out with one a month to my sole grandson and eventually expanding to a half-dozen every two or three months.

With these particular sketches  have fun and let my imagination run wild  – for example for my granddaughter Hazel I went through a six month run using yetis as a theme. The Yeti is/was Hazel’s own personal boogey-man and over the span of that half-year I worked to change the yeti’s image from something scary to a comedic figure.

Lately I’ve been using the cards as a design forum for my book project Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup. I want to keep the details consistent so I’m using these drawings to work out details before working on the actual book art .

…some of the cards are just cards though. The younger grandkids don’t really understand the book-thing – for them I come up with something quasi-educational like the “fourteen-flounder” card above

2017: Jayden and the Onion

Though it was not one of Paul Newman’s top-grossing movies The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean has always been one of my favorites. It may be that I was biased having been totally enamored of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid that had come out a few year earlier, but I’d like to think that the writing in Judge Roy Bean had merit on its own. If nothing else the villains were engaging – from Mel Tillis’ stuttering murderer to Snake River Rufus they were all colorful and interesting.

My favorite was Bad Bob, an over-the top albino gunman that was meaner than mean and not afraid to show it.  It wasn’t enough that he was violent – he’d stress his villainy in small ways like drinking scalding coffee right out of the pot. The gesture that won me over though was when he started to eat an onion like an apple – which had me grimacing and squirming in the seat.

It was so off-the-wall that I shameless stole the trick – and it eventually became part of our family folklore. If the boys were getting overly rowdy I’d thump the table to get their attention, and then take a bite out of the middle of an onion in my best Bad Bob style.  It helps that I like onions, a taste not shared by most members of my family. I especially like it when Lori is browning them in butter in preparation for making potato soup – for some reason the aroma is very soothing to me.

…which brings us to my grandson Jayden.

Anyone who has spent any time with a three year old knows that it isn’t when they are making noise that they are up to something– it’s when they get quiet. It’s just like an old ‘50s western:  “I don’t like it Cookie– the Indian drums have stopped and it’s too quiet out there”.

That’s exactly what happened yesterday afternoon when Jayden got home from daycare. It became deathly quiet in the house so I put up my tablet and began searching, expecting to see him with one of my electronic devices completely disassembled or in the process of creating a mural with my markers. Instead I found him under the table in the dining room.

I use the term “found” loosely because he is Special Forces good at using indoor terrain that I couldn’t actually spot him. All I could do was zero in on that disembodied toddler voice


“What Papa?”

“What are you doing?”


What are you doing?”

“I eat un-un like appo Papa”

It took me a second to translate from Jaydenese to English but when I finally peered around a chair my suspicions were confirmed. He had a fair-sized onion and was munching on it “like an apple” in truest Bad Bob style.

I don’t know if I have ever felt closer to that boy than at that moment