Happy birthday.

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Caricature I drew of him for his 80th birthday.

Caricature I drew of him for his 80th birthday, 2014.

Anybody out there? It’s been awhile, huh?

I felt the need to check in today because it’s my biological father’s birthday. It’s been a little over four years now since I first met him, and almost eight months since he passed away. The three years and change inbetween were not enough, but folks who knew him much longer than that feel cheated by the amount of time they had with him as well. He was that kind of guy.

I couldn’t build a lifetime of memories with him, but the memories I do have are pretty great. His intelligence, his kindness, the way his breath would rise off of the gin snow-cones he called martinis. He was genuinely interested in/entertained by the various accomplishments and shenanigans of his many grandchildren. He had a great laugh–I couldn’t help but smile every time I heard it.

I love you, Dave, and I miss you. I’ll have a martini at wikiwak in your honor.

mr4page08

The Moose Riders, Page 100

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Well, here’s the big reveal. This joke would’ve been funnier 6 years ago, or even 4 years ago when I was outlining the story. I know Sarah Palin is less relevant now than she was at that time, but I’m hoping you still find it mildly humorous.

Haven’t posted much about my whole adoption thing lately (new readers can find previous posts on the subject¬†here), but after this weekend, I feel compelled to bring it up again. Brief synopsis for those who don’t want to read the archives: my twin sister ¬†and I were adopted at two-months old and then reunited with our birth family shortly after our 40th birthday. We’ve now spent a little over a year getting to know our birth parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, and nephews, and it’s been an amazing experience.

We’ve spent the last two MLK weekends with as many of us as can make the trip hanging out at a rented log cabin in Branson, MO. Both times were a load of fun, with music and laughs and booze and SO MUCH FOOD. Three generations of my people playing and hugging and feeling the love. I still feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity to connect with my biological family. They really are a kind, smart, talented, and entertaining bunch.

So I guess that’s enough warm and fuzzy lists about my weekend. Hope yours was swell, too.

twins

Twins

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So I still don’t have the guest art yet, but I assure you it is coming. Up top you see a cartoon I drew for my birth parents as a gift when my twin sister and I first met them. It’s a mostly accurate account of our conversation on the day she got her original birth certificate in the mail.

doodles2-c742a44

Zoo Doodles #2

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Here’s another sketch dump from the St. Louis Zoo. One more of these before Chapter 3 of The Moose Riders starts up. I’m working on the cover AS WE SPEAK!

Continuing my adoption-reunion story from the last few weeks…Last weekend my twin sister Chris and I met our birth parents and then three of our five older siblings and their families. It was a wonderful, moving experience. The similarities, not only in appearance but also personality/interests, were kind of astounding. Given a variety of beer options, my bother Kurt and I both chose Sierra Nevada. My sister Karla (who looks more like a twin to Chris than I do) quoted songs that Chris and I grew up listening to. I looked at my sister Lisa and saw a feminine variation of my own eyes looking back at me. Hugging the people who gave you life for the very first time forty years after your birth…I don’t have the words to describe those feelings.

I have a tendency to be a bit cynical, but it feels like I’ve been floating on a cloud for days now. I feel so fortunate to have had this experience. To have grown up in a loving home, raised by parents that cared enough about us to take us both in rather than see us separated, parents who worked and sacrificed and raised us to ensure we had the best life possible; then to meet an entirely different loving, caring family who made entirely different sacrifices for the exact same reason, and then welcomed us back with open arms and open hearts…

I’ve been using the word “overwhelming” an awful lot lately, but it seems appropriate.

doodles1-eb17234

Zoo Doodles #1

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Graphite and Airbrush. Again, the results of too much time with no customers at the zoo this summer. St. Louis Zoo doesn’t even have a panda. Well, a red panda I guess, but not the kind I drew up there. There will be a few more updates like this before The Moose Riders returns on October 11.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my twin-sister and I were looking for our birth parents. Last Thursday she called me to say that she had just gotten her original birth certificate in the mail. It’s been kind of a crazy, overwhelming whirlwind since. One minute I know nothing and the next I’m speaking to my birth mother on the phone, looking at photos of siblings I’d never known on Facebook. It’s been big. Tough to wrap my brain around at times. Calling it an existential crisis would be overstating things a bit, but still–I’ve got some stuff to process. Despite how that sounds, though, it’s been a hugely positive experience. We’ve been corresponding with our birth mother over email, chatting with our sisters on FB, feeling welcomed into this family while at the same time getting pieces of this 40-year-old jigsaw puzzle put into place.

It’s important to me to make sure our adoptive parents (or as we call them, Mom and Dad) know that we aren’t replacing our family, just adding to it. They will always be Mom and Dad. They’ve been there through every defeat and every triumph we’ve had growing up. They’ve loved us and cared for us. To say, “They’ve treated us like their own,” feels like a misstatement–we ARE theirs, and they are ours, and this reunion doesn’t change that.

mr2page30-c2deb95

The Moose Riders, Page 62

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Here it is, the last page of Chapter 2. Like the last page of Chapter 1, I’m unhappy with my paint-job. Meh.

I wanted to make it clear that the previous 11 pages were a dream before we got to the bit where Westley wakes up in the sleeping bag, because I didn’t want a cheap “Dallas” ending. I’ll admit that the bloody antler on the cover was a tease, but I was feeling bad about that, so that’s why I tried to make the dream sequence obvious–limited palette, no sound effects or dialogue, the Mom glowing and floating, Westley running hard but not actually going anywhere, etc. Did everybody get that?

So now I’m going to take a month to finish the script for Chapter 3, get Chapter 2 prepped for the printer, and get the character pages put together for the parents. The plan will be to have the Chapter 3 cover up on October 11 and then keep rolling from there. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting sketches, doodles, and whatnot, so please keep checking back.

Ok, so here’s some personal stuff. My twin sister and I were adopted. We’ve talked for years about looking up our birth parents and just finally got around to actually researching. We have gotten some non-identifying info and now know that our birth-mother was 39 and our birth-father was 37. Turning 40 today puts them in their late 70s, so I’m feeling guilty/anxious/dumb for not getting this ball rolling a lot earlier. Hopefully the original birth certificates will come through soon and we can go to the next step.

Growing up, our parents never kept the fact that we were adopted a secret from us. I don’t even remember ever finding out–we were adopted at only a couple months old, and Mom and Dad just talked about it for as long as I can remember. Seeing characters on TV and in movies that find out later in life that they were adopted–it just never made any sense to me. Why keep it a secret? Also, the adoptees who feel that their birth-parents somehow abandoned them–I don’t get that either. Seems to me that they were the ones faced with this difficult choice and they made the decision that they thought was best for us. Maybe my feelings on this are influenced by our adoptive family. They love us and cared for us, so I can’t look at the birth parents and say, “How could you do this to me?!” They did us a favor.

Seems strange to be this close to finding the answers to these questions I’ve wondered about my whole life. Glad I have a twin to go through this with.