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April 28, 2011


Each year for the last three years, my buddy Greg over at Tugboat Press has ganged together with a few other Portland-based publishers to make an anthology for Free Comic Book DayThis year, he asked me to help him put together a free comics and activity book for kids, called DRAGONS!

The first person I told Greg we had to get for the book, was one of my favorite illustrators working these days, Dan Moynihan.  He came up with this brilliant dragon image for the back cover:

I love the playfulness and spontaneity of Dan's drawing style.  I could stare at his illustrations all day long, and they inspire me to keep trying to loosen up my drawings.  Before you read another word of this post, I insist you go take a look at his wonderful work.

Well, after Dan turned in that image, the pressure was on!  I had to come up with something fun, that could hold its own, on the other side of such a great back cover.  Lately, I have been completely obsessed with Carl Barks (or really, for my whole life) and so his cover designs were at the forefront of my thoughts while I started sketching out ideas.  I liked how many of his covers had a simple gag on a uniformly colored background.  That was the kind of comics cover that I grew up looking at.

With that style in mind, I sketched up some ideas and sent them along to Greg.  

Greg thought these were okay, but none of them were getting across the whole idea of the book, which was that it was jam-packed with puzzles and mazes and gag cartoons and comics and all kinds of other fun stuff.  He said he wanted something a bit more like my Microcosm Publishing catalog cover with lots of different characters doing all kinds of things.  Once he gave me that feedback, the finished cover idea just jumped out of my pencil.  It incorporates a lot of characters from my upcoming (in 2012!) webcomic Isle of Elsi.  We both immediately liked this version a lot better.  Here's the final!

DRAGONS! features a 15-page comics story by yours truly, plus gag cartoons, mazes, connect-the-dots, puzzles, craft activities, poems, dragon-libs and all kinds of other fun stuff.  You can get a full run-down of all the contributors on my other blog.  DRAGONS! will be available in select comic book stores on Free Comic Book Day, which is May 7th this year, and I will be sending copies out to all the Phase 7 subscribers this summer.

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