Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Holiday Cards

Here's this year's holiday greeting card from yours truly and Julie Davis. We hope you had a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a kickin' Kwanzaa, a spectacular Solstice, and/or a satisfying Saturnalia... and most of all, that you'll have a great New Year!

Why yes, that is indeed a carrot-eared snow pony to commemorate the upcoming Year of the Horse. You're welcome.

I also did custom cards for a couple of relatives. This is for the brother- and sister-in-law...

And one for my parents-in-law, featuring the ever-adorable Tucker.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Today was a crisp December morning at the San Francisco Zoo, and the public debut of little Kabibe!

Your local media arrived bright and early for the naming announcement. The gorilla enclosure was still being prepped...

Some quick sketches of five-month-old Kabibe ("little lady") and granny Bawang. Patriarch Oscar Jonesy manfully stood watch.

Unlike us freezing humans, the gorillas staked out nice sunny spots. Five-year-old Hasani clambered up a tree to mug for us, too.

Onward to the big cats!

I was pleased to see that some of the animals aren't exactly morning people, either.

The peccary pups are getting bigger, some more dramatically than others.

As the day warmed up, the little peccaries became really hyperactive!

A reminder: The Big Bugs exhibit closes January 12. See them while you can!

And, of course, Merry Christmas to everyone.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trolls and Goblins and...

First and foremost: Logan Garner of "Nerd Out With Me" just wrote up Alive, Alive, Alive! as his webcomic of the week. How excellent and flattering!

More Hobbit- and Tolkein-inspired sketchbook nonsense.

This one's crying out for a caption.

A Great Goblin, if he does say so himself.

I can't possibly be the first person in Internet history to think of this.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


So I finally read Tolkein's The Hobbit, and I thought I'd try my hand at visualizing some of the creatures and characters for myself. I'm trying to approach this with no reference to previous interpretations...

I like the idea of hobbits as fauns - it's not just their feet that are hairy! Also featuring Gollum, Smaug, and a sample elf. The elves in the Rankin-Bass Hobbit movie are pretty weird, but their green skin is cool, so I straight-up stole that idea.

Lots of possibilities for dwarf proportions. I like the idea of big heads and torsos with small limbs, like real-life dwarves, simply because you seldom see this in fantasy illustration.

Gollum and goblin ideas. Really, all these guys should be roughly dwarf- and hobbit-scale. The Great Goblin, as per Tolkein, is distinguished by his exceptionally large head.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Since three of my favorite people in the whole world have birthdays in October and November, this is the time of year when I get to do custom paintings for them. Here's this year's batch!

 For dad, his beloved bunny rabbits in a Baja California cave-painting style.

 My nephew requested a bat-like eagle, an eagle-like bat, and the aurora borealis. And there's those bunnies again!

In his capacity as art director, Kendric also commissioned this for his sister (my niece).

And while I had the watercolor paints out, I doodled a silly something for myself...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Playing Around at the Zoo

Yet another excursion to the San Francisco Zoo! This time, I was invited to document the unveiling of the zoo's new Elinor Friend Playground. (Thanks to Abbie Tuller for the invite!)


Here's a roughly northward view, showing at least a bit of all three play areas.

The River Play Area is intended for toddlers. If this morning's testers were any indication, when you're in a river-themed area with otters and frogs and turtles, you're supposed to wriggle around on your tummy and pretend you're a fish.


Apparently there's a guy in the San Francisco rec and park department who has to officially try out every new playground slide before it can be opened for business. That must be an awful job.


The Polar Zone is intended for pre-schoolers, with lots of climbing and clambering opportunities. I gather the spring-mounted polar bear is extra bouncy.

And a parting look back at the Banyan Tree, which is meant for pre-teens and is really huge.

After the playground preview, I wandered around with zoo photographers extraordinare Marianne Hale and May Woon. This weekend, a lot of the animals were getting pumpkin-themed food treats. Enrichment!

This anteater is apparently in a special quarantine zone because he developed a bad habit of eating dirt. I know, right?


And of course, we all had to go look at the peccary pups some more!

And in closing, here's a rhino butt. You're very welcome.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Murdervember: Cock Robin Part 5

Who'll sing a psalm?
I, said the Thrush,
As he sat in the bush.
I'll sing a psalm.

Who'll toll the bell?
I, said the Bull,
Because I can pull.
I'll toll the bell.

All the birds of the air
Fell to sighing and sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll
For poor Cock Robin.

 Incidentally, these last three panels form a triptych, like so...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Murdervember: Cock Robin Part 4

Who'll be chief mourner?
I, said the Dove,
For I mourn for my love.
I'll be chief mourner.

Who'll carry the coffin?
I, said the Kite.
If it's not through the night,
I'll carry the coffin.

Who'll bear the pall?
We, said the Wrens,
Both the cock and the hen.
We'll bear the pall.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Murdervember: Cock Robin Part 3

Who'll be the parson?
I, said the Rook.
With my little book,
I'll be the parson.

Who'll be the clerk?
I, said the Lark.
Though it be in the dark,
I'll be the clerk.

Who'll carry the link?
I, said the Linnet,
I'll fetch it in a minute.
I'll carry the link.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Murdervember: Cock Robin Part 2

Who caught his blood?
I, said the Fish.
With my little dish,
I caught his blood.

Who'll make his shroud?
I, said the Beetle.
With my thread and needle,
I'll make his shroud.

Who'll dig his grave?
I, said the Owl.
With my pick and shovel,
I'll dig his grave.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Back to the San Francisco Zoo to check out the new litter of baby peccaries! I'll consider these sketches to be this weekend's quota of "inkvember" illustrations.

Yep, the baby komodo is getting incrementally larger.

We peeked at the peccary piglets. So cute!

Bears, sea lions, and a pretty bad eagle.

As far as koalas go, this is a pulse-pounding action scene.

This is the first time we've actually seen the front end of the cassowary, so we made the most of it.

Homo sapiens and their young at feeding time.

I like Big Bugs and I cannot lie!

The lemurs were very active today, which made them pretty tough to draw.

Marabou storks. I spent ages drawing that darned nest.

I tried to get some drawings of the habitats this time around. Spot the gorilla!