Friday, February 12, 2016

Peter & Ernesto announced!

Hey everyone!

Just a short post to share some exciting news in the world of Grickle today! I'm working on a graphic for First Second called "Peter & Ernesto"! It's about two very different sloths who are the best of friends! And while it will be geared towards younger readers I hope that everyone will really dig the adventures of these two!

More news and work-in-progress images will appear in the coming months!

Very stoked to be doing comics again and extremely pleased to be working with First Second on this project!

Things are good! Hope everyone is doing well out there!

Friday, January 08, 2016

A New Year...again.

It's 2016 now.

The future is here. I've got a lot planned for this year and I'm excited about it BUT I'm not admitting to anything until I'm sure it'll happen. That way no one can hold me to any of it.

I'm a New Year's coward. It's true.

Although one thing I will admit to is exciting progress on the Grickle Gardens! For those of you who don't frequent this blog often, the Grickle Gardens is my customized table hockey set that I've been obsessing over the last few months.

I'm happy to report that the set is once again playable! I've pretty much completed adding all the decals to the boards. On the outside there's an arbitrary looking arrangement of old school hockey logos that I've admired over the years. Some are NHL but others are from the defunct WHA and junior leagues like the OHL and WHL. I even got some NCAA representation on there (Gophers, eh). There's still a little space left on either side that I may add further decals but those precious spaces will only be given to logos that have gone through intense scrutinization and vetting.

On the inside rink boards I've got a mish mash from Canada, Minnesota and California. I'm especially proud of getting a few specific Sault Ste. Marie businesses (my hometown) on there! Mrs. B's and the old Aurora's are looking good! And just for my wife I made sure to get the Triple Rock Social Club put on, a Minneapolis mainstay!

I've also got all the Rangers and Red Wings numbered and named now. It's an all-star cast from across many eras. A best of the best, with a few arbitrary abberations thrown in there. As stated in an earlier post, I went with John Davidson for the New York nets instead of a more obvious choice like Mike Richter or even John Vanbiesbrouck. His mask was too cool to not try and paint. I think he turned out alright, given my relative novice painting skills.

On the other end of the rink I have, who I'm calling, "Moderne Sawchuk" suited up for Detroit. Terry Sawchuk was the obvious choice to me for the best of the best Red Wing goalies. But the idea of trying to paint either a maskless version or that crazy fleshy colored mask he wore in the sixties seemed too daunting a task for my limited skill set. So I decided I'd attempt a fictional updated version of what Sawchuk might look like if he played nowadays. Moderne Sawchuk.

I've played a bunch of games with friends and my son and table hockey has lost none of the charms and thrills I remember from my youth! Such a fantastic game! The layouts and strategy are so much closer to how an actual hockey game is played, than say how a fooseball table relates to actual soccer. Superior, in my opinion.

I've now begun to strategize how to get some real nets with mesh made, along with purchasing some further teams that I'm in the middle of customizing. Next up I hope to put an early 80's version of the Minnesota North Stars on the ice. Dino, Meloche, and bunch of other old familiar faces will soon grace the Grickle Gardens with their esteemed presence. Here's a sneak peek of the work in progress.

Alright! I've talked your ear off enough about table hockey! I will now release you back into the internet wilds! Thanks for reading!

I'll post more Grickle related news as soon as it happens! Stay tuned! :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

The dancing beaver t-shirt!

Hey everyone!

Just a short post to let people know that I've got a new Grickle shirt available for the holiday season! The little dancing beaver from "We Sing the Forest Electric" fame is up on Teespring for a very limited time!

I know, like everyone else, it's always disturbing to have Christmas stuff thrown in our faces immediately following Halloween, but unfortunately if I don't do this campaign right now the shirts wouldn't ship in time for the holidays. So if you're trying to figure out a Grickle gift for any friends or family you've got about a week to order one of these!

Order right here!

I've been doing these Teespring campaigns over the last couple of years as a way of trying to supplement the time and resources I spend on creating original animation for the Grickle Channel. So if you've been enjoying my cartoons over the last decade on Youtube this is a great way to show your support! You can view all the past t-shirt campaigns here! If enough people reorder the older shirts than Teespring does a fresh print run! Have a look!

The Grickle T-shirt store!

Thanks, everybody!

Monday, November 02, 2015

How's that hockey table coming?

Nobody's really asking but I'm telling anyways.

It's my blog. And that's what a blog's for, right?

This post is primarily about my progress on my obsessive home project of customizing a Stiga Table Hockey set. You can choose to read it or not. Feel free to bail. I won't think any less of you. 

For those of you who happen to enjoy the sport of hockey or just like looking at people's odd hobbies please join me! 

Here we go.

So earlier I'd mentioned I haven't had a great history with model building. I absolutely love minatures and dioramas but I've never possessed the skills to build them. I just like looking at them.

I knew though that the day my Stiga Stanley Cup Table Hockey game arrived I wanted, no, NEEDED to customize it! Make it my own private shrine to the hockey gods!

Given my checkered past with decals and tiny things I entered into this journey with some trepidation. I really wanted this thing to look cool. I didn't want to eff it all up and be forced into a situation of slamming it into the garbage bin like that X-wing from long ago (see earlier post).

So far, I'm happy to report, that things have been going along relatively smoothly! I've been actually pleased by the results!

I suppose being a middle-aged adult has somewhat afforded me with enough patience and ability to follow instructions that I'm able to clearly out do my younger prepubescent self in the world of models and decals.

When the set first showed up I quickly assembled it. I had chosen to start with the NY Rangers versus the Detroit Red Wings as my beginning matchup. Stiga didn't offer a version that has a Montreal Canadiens team so I chose the least offensive pairing I could find. No disrespect to Rangers and Wings fans out there but these teams would serve as guinea pigs for honing my skills with model paints and decals.

My two sons immediately got into playing with the set! Even my youngest, who so far hasn't shown much love for the sport of hockey, or any sport really, was loving using the puck ejector and doing spinning slappers on it. After a couple of days of playing I shut the whole thing down. It was time to customize!

 My boys were not pleased.

One of my co-workers has started calling me President Business (ala the Lego Movie). And I guess it's not far from the truth right now. But dammit this was MY set and I had to get started on making it a mind blowing display of hockey awesomeness! They'll thank me in later years. I'm sure of it.

The first thing to be done and honestly the toughest step I've taken so far was to evenly paint the top of the rink boards red. I'd looked on the internet for reference and also remembered a lot of arenas I've played in, and red on top of the boards is a common color you see. Some places are blue and others yellow but red seemed like the right vibe to me. So I proceeded to take everything off the board and completely tape the whole set off. Just leaving the top of the rink boards exposed. It took me FOREVER to properly tape it up. I blew a whole Sunday afternoon on this step. Out in the back yard I laid it down on some plastic tarp and began spray painting as my family silently looked on from the window. At first the red looked a bit pink to me and I began to get nervous I'd already screwed up the project. But, after a night of drying in the garage, I was relieved to see it was a perfectly vibrant red and my taping job had been quite effective.

Step one complete.

I stupidly didn't take any photos during this beginning phase. I wished I had. It took so long to get that thing taped up that I completely spaced on the notion of recording the event. I was too eager to just get painting. I wouldn't make that mistake again.

The next thing to do was begin experimenting with decals on the players. I should mention that I found an amazing resource on the internet, a website, called "Table Hockey Heaven." The forums there have been an infinite source of inspiration and information on what to do with this set! I carefully followed the decal instructions suggested and began to put numbers and names on my Detroit team.

I measured what I thought would be the proper sizes for the numbers and names on the jerseys. The decals were so TINY! That actually turned out to be a good thing for my first foray into it. I've discovered that the bigger the decal the trickier it is applying it and getting it to lay flat. I was so glad I'd invested in a pair of really good tweezers for this! Made all the difference in accurately placing the names and numbers.

For Detroit, and I think for all the teams I assemble going forward, I'm kind of creating a "greatest hits" version. Regardless of era, I'm putting together an all-star team for each franchise. So for Detroit I've got Gordie Howe playing alongside Stevie Y and Pavel Datsyuk. Some choices are tough to make. I probably could have put Ted Lindsay in there but I will admit that I make some of my decisions based on personal nostalgia. There's no way I'm making a Red Wings team without Yzerman playing.

Next I needed to clean all the cheapie factory-made stickers on the boards and outside off. That took a bunch of nights of using water and "Goo be Gone" to get everything cleaned.

I then carefully taped off the boards and extended the red line and blue lines up the sides.

My son asks every day "When can we PLAY the game again, Poppa?" Patience, son, patience.

One of the funnest elements of customizing this set has been scouring the internet for obscure logos to put on the outside of the boards. I'm choosing logos based entirely on my personal tastes. There's no discernible rhyme or reason to any of it for anyone else. I'm lumping Junior A teams alongside cool WHA logos and defunct NHL teams purely for the aesthetic zeal of it all. And because they're logos I've grown up with. The Greyhounds were the local junior team in my hometown, the Nordiques were the greatest rivals of my beloved Habs during the 80's, the Portland Buckeroos were an incredible Oregon team based here in the 60's and 70's. I love all the individual histories they represent to me. Plus they look cool.

I needed a name for the rink. After many iterations in my head I settled upon "Grickle Gardens". It had the right old school flavor to it and I instantly knew of a logo I could create! I subverted the classic Johnny Canuck image by adding a Gricklized head and made sure to retain the toque, eh. Perfect.

And that about brings you up to date on my progress. I've begun printing out names and numbers for the opposing Rangers team. AND I'm about to begin sanding and painting the Rangers goalie which is VERY exciting to me. As much as I've been creating an all-star team for each city I've gone with John Davidson for my Rangers goalie. Not necessarily the best NY goalie of all time but definitely the coolest looking netminder they ever had.

I mean look at that mask! I hope I'm able to do it justice painting so damn small.

Look for another update in a few months or so! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Webb.

Hi everyone!

This short blog post is solely devoted to the fact that I've got a new cartoon up on the Grickle Channel today. It is the longest short I've ever made thus far in the decade or so I've been doing this. It lived in scribbles and doodle and in my mind for well over 4 years before I finally completed it. It's creepy. It's scary. And it's just in time for Halloween. Enjoy.

Tell your friends and enemies out there! Spread it around, internet-style!

Thursday, October 08, 2015


I was thinking about models the other day.

The models you build. Not the ones that strut around on catwalks and purse their lips for the camera.

Models that come in prefabricated pieces in cardboard boxes. Accompanied with step by step instructions on how to take it to it's final destined form.

I loved having models.

I hated building models.

I was lucky enough to hang around with an older kid in my neighborhood who was about 3, maybe 4 years older than me. He introduced me to music. I remember sitting in his basement marveling over album covers of KISS and Alice Cooper and listening to stuff that was 'cool'. He had a skateboard. I was never any good at it but I sure liked trying.

He was also into models.

Heavily into models. And he was super good at building them. I remember he had this HUGE aircraft carrier he'd built that I could never stop looking at. He put all the decals in the right spot, it was perfectly painted. An exact miniature of the real thing. 

I'd sit with him while he worked on some old WW2 airplane or tank. He'd be carefully following the instructions and bringing this amazing vehicle to life. He had a box of 'extras'. Pieces that were left over from previous endeavors, that I could mess around with. I loved just grabbing random bits of whatever I fancied and applying way too much glue to them. Building some unknowable thing until I deemed it was done. As long as there were no instructions to follow, model building was awesome. I never tired of that.

At a certain point my older friend and his family moved away. It was a sad day because our families were good friends and we spent a lot of time with them. As sad as I was to see my 'mentor' leave I will admit I was stoked to inherit his massive aircraft carrier! It immediately went up on top of my bookshelf where I looked at it closely every day. It was the object that inspired me to venture into a world of eternal torture. Building my own models.

For the next three years or so I was constantly buying model kits and attempting to build the things the front of the boxes promised.

I don't know that I ever completed a single one.

I just couldn't follow through on the instructions without messing up some major step along the way. I never had any patience to wait to apply the decals until the end. I was always irreparably gluing some wrong piece to another because I'd misinterpreted the illustration in the instructions. My models seemed to always culminate into a glue-coated Katamari ball of shit that didn't look anything like the well-lit photograph on the box. But within a few weeks, the frustration would always dissipate enough that I'd convince myself that "Yes, I could totally build that Husqvarna dirt bike with all the complicated wiring and motor parts". And off I'd go again down a dark, dark, road of glue and self loathing.

The ultimate end of my modeling days arrived when I came into possession of a huge X-Wing fighter kit. I wanted that ship to be displayed on my shelf SO BAD. I willed myself to truly follow the instructions and take my time to make it PERFECT. It was going to rival the aircraft carrier for sheer awesomeness in my room. But as I put it together the usual patterns emerged. My frustration built. And as I began to realize that I had, yet again, effed up the instructions and severely compromised my ability to complete my X-Wing fighter in the manner it was supposed to be done, I lost it. In a complete rage I scooped up my 3/4 finished piece of shit X-Wing and stomped over to the garbage in our kitchen and, in front of my parents and sister, THREW it forcibly into the trash. Immediately thereafter exploding into tears of anger and utter sadness that I just couldn't make that X-Wing happen. That was the last the model I ever attempted to make on my own.

After that I focused solely on drawing. And hoarding as many pre-built Star Wars figures and vehicles as I could throughout my childhood.

Things turned out okay.

I stayed away from models.

Until now. I recently purchased a Stiga table hockey set that I'm dying to customize. Put decals on. Paint. Make it nerdrifically pretty! This will be the first time, since those dark days of the X-Wing, that I will attempt to enter the world of model making again. I'm filled with an eagerness and anxiety I haven't known in a long, long time.

Wish me luck.

I really hope it doesn't end with my slamming the entire set into our garbage.

Time will tell.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stress goalies

I'm a nervous guy. There's always been a healthy level of anxiety in my daily existence. It's just part of who I am. Nervous. Cautious. More nervous.

When you're an anxious person you find different ways of coping with stress.  You go through life trying and discarding many methods until you find the ones that work best. You create constants that you go to. Comfort food for your mind.

My comfort food has always been hockey. Goalies, specifically.

From an early age I was obsessed, like many other Canadian kids, with hockey. I collected cards. I checked the standings in the paper every day. I watched HNIC on Saturday nights. And I of course played in a house league hockey league. I also drew. A lot. I was a much better drawer than I was a hockey player. That balance in my life still hasn't shifted much to this day. Naturally these two worlds came together for me in a steady stream of goalie drawings. I gravitated to goalies for obvious reasons. With all the pads and mask they just looked the coolest. They were like modern knights in leather armour. The blocker was a shield, the goal stick a lance, the mask as a medieval helmet. Too cool. There was no way to resist drawing that when you're a hockey fan who likes to doodle. As a kid it became part of my daily routine.

As I grew older and life increased in complexity and responsibilities, the 'goalie' habit became a welcome refuge away from the swirl of challenges I was surrounded by. The familiarity of sketching out the pads, blocker, and glove had an instant calming effect on my racing thoughts. The way the equipment looked was very specific. I always remember getting absurdly irritated when I'd read a story in my Archie digests or some other comic about hockey and the equipment was drawn all wrong. The artist obviously didn't give two shits and figured just drawing a bunch of dudes with skates and wooly sweaters with pads randomly attached would suffice. It drove me crazy! All they needed to do was just a few minutes of research to figure out how the pants and socks worked and where to draw the tape on the stick! Gah! Simple!

The goalie pads (if they even realized there was a different position called goalie involved) were always the most horrendously effed up. Lumpy pillow-y pads and a ribbed back catcher's chest protector were standard misinterpretations of what actual goalie gear should look like. I knew that THIS was what goalie pads were supposed to look like:

Of course, all my preferences were based on the pads of the 70's and early 80's at the time. So, with the exception of Billy Smith and Grant Fuhr, pads were always brown leather. And goalies wore masks! I'm all for better protection and visibility for players but I do miss those days of the full face goalie mask. It's no mystery why Jason donned a hockey mask in the Friday the 13ths. Old school goalie masks were wicked. And honestly a lot easier to draw than the present day cage/mask combos out there. All those lines for the cage part are just tedious and confusing to render. Back in the day you had all these greats to draw:

As a young adult, and well into my thirties, I'd be the victim of seemingly random panic attacks. They were paralyzing experiences. Largely attributed to my naturally nervous demeanor, I'd try all sorts of things to swing me out of them. Drawing goalies or something familiar always helped. Whenever a panic attack began and there was paper and pen available I'd start drawing a goalie. Stacking the pads, making a glove save, or diving for a loose puck in traffic, it all helped steer me away from the madness. Working out the jersey to render and coming up with a design for the mask took me away from whatever freakout I'd been about to embark on. They weren't always the greatest drawings (a lot of shaky lines) but they almost always helped.

Thankfully I'm no longer the angst-ridden person of yesteryear that I was. Age, experience, a wonderful wife, and a general downgrade of energy, I'm sure have all contributed to the mellowing of my soul. Which is great and I'm thankful for it.

But some old habits do persist.

Even in a chilled state of mind I still enjoy doodling a good goalie every now and then. But only brown pads. I can't totally let go of the past.