A look back…

The best picture of me (taken very spontaneously by Lezley) in 2021…after spending a very sweaty afternoon moving Lauren into her dorm room at SUNY Albany. It tells the story of 2021 in one sweaty, exhausting moment.

As of this writing, the last time I managed to post anything here was in July.  July was a LONG time ago…

A LOT has happened… And the only way I’ve kept anyone up-to-date on it is through the comic strip. Seriously. It’s nothing against any of you, it’s me. Even my MOTHER has mentioned this.

If you want to know, go back and check them out.

2021 started with up losing Maggie. That sucked.

Life kept going on. I continued with my Family Styles series… although my heart was slowly falling out of love with the series.

I started running again. Like, I REALLY started running. Every single day.

In January I was huffing and puffing through barely 4-5 miles a day… and that was mostly walking. This morning, I ran (RAN) 10.5 miles. I’ve gone through five pairs of sneakers. I never thought in a million years I would be in better shape at 46 than I was at 18.

I dabbled in running back in 2012ish. Never ran more than 6 miles in one shot. And that was every other day or so.. or when I felt like it. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I love it now. I start every day with my run. 2am, 3am whatever… I’m on that treadmill getting in my miles. I feel good.

Next: the jobs. Lez and I were lucky to have incomes through the pandemic…but Lez suffered more because a big part of her salary was commission based. Sales dried up, her commissions went down. Despite that, we were okay. Our lavish lifestyle was easy to maintain… mostly because we never had a lavish lifestyle.

Lez left her job in May. She found a better job in July. I left my job (a place I worked at for 24 years (right out of undergrad)) at the end of October. An opportunity,  which I only found out about because a fan of the comic strip, who has become a really good friend, let me know about… was something that I couldn’t say no to. When I had the good fortune to be offered the position, I HAD to take it. It’s a great job with great co-workers. I honestly love it.

In doing that, our lives took an abrupt, yet necessary, change. We both now worked from home. To some, that would be hard… but since Lez and I already worked at the newspaper together, it wasn’t that big a deal for us. Even though we’re working a feet away from each other in separate rooms, we actually see LESS of each other now than we did then.

In the midst of all of THIS, Lauren went to college. She’d completed her SUNY Albany Freshman year virtually. Now it was college in-person… not virtual. We brought her to Albany in August. Another big change.

Bob began to suffer a little. Starting November 1, I was working different hours.. and hours based on the Central Time Zone (main office is in Chicago, I’m in New York). My day became more structured… especially since I was learning a new position. I was under the impression that by working from home, I’d somehow have more free time. Yeah, that was a hell of an impression… one I got very wrong. Because of this miscalculation, I was unable to finish the Bob Tarot Cards in the time I’d originally outlined.

No Bob 2022 Calendar. No new Bob book for a second year. I mean, I really felt like I’ve dropped the ball. But at the same time, I realize that EVERYTHING has changed. Bob has to change too. Just because I can’t top what I once did, doesn’t mean I can’t do ANYTHING. I just need to re-configure… like everything else.

I have no idea what’s ahead for the new year. Not a clue. 2022 will be the TWENTIETH year of Bob the Squirrel…which will be a time of reflection. But not too much. For the first time in forever, I’m beginning the new year with something I rarely had: a sense of optimism.

Trust me, it’s weird for me too.

Maggie the Pug – 2010-2021

Maggie the Pug – 2010-2021

There’s one more hole in our lives today.

One more chapter ending.

One less bowl to fill in the morning.

One less bark at the door.

Yesterday, we made the difficult decision to put Maggie, our beloved pug, the matriarch of the clan, to sleep.

Over the last year, her health had steadily deteriorated. She lost both her sight and hearing. She was hospitalized for nearly a week with pancreatitis… and we were giving her daily steroid treatment and insulin injections.  We would carry her everywhere. When we didn’t she would use her sense of smell to get around the house. Every now and then, when Lez would be in her office and I in my studio, we’d hear a little thump… which was Maggie walking into walls and doorways. I would joke that we should get her a small helmet for when she walks.

When handing out snacks to the crew, we’d have to tap Maggie on the head and let her smell so she could get her snack.  Otherwise she’d search the floor for it.

We adapted to her increasing disabilities… because that’s what you do. It was frustrating at times, but it was Maggie. You (well, mostly me) grumbled a little, but you did it.

There were at least three times we thought she was going to pass away, only to have her bounce back as if she were never ill. Sometimes, all it took was a helping of Lez’s rigatoni to brighten her up.

She was a little fighter… yesterday she just couldn’t fight anymore.

When Maggie was a puppy, she was left for dead. Animal control found her wandering on a street. She was a little runt and had a cherry eye… which made her unattractive and perceived as deformed. The animal control people estimated she was only a few weeks old when they found her.  What kind of sick person would do that?

It was fate. Lez was at the humane society just as the truck pulled in… Maggie was in the cab. Lez took one look at her and just had to have her. She called me and said, “We need to talk.”

As soon as she showed me a picture of this helpless puppy, the conversation was over. No one but us and our island of misfits could give this puppy the love and home she deserves. From there we had nearly eleven years of stories, pictures and just love. Maggie was the second child that Lez never had. She’d carry her like a baby… and whenever anyone would come near Lez while Maggie was in her arms, you’d get a Maggie warning to keep your social distance. I would often say that if Lez had to choose between Maggie and me… Maggie would win… and I’d be cool with that.

When Lucy passed away I remarked that she was “the best worst dog ever”  because she was so bad. Maggie was just the best best dog.

She will be missed.  Life will be different. It always is.

Today is the last time I will draw Maggie in my ongoing Family Styles series. Thank you all for your kind words and accompanying us on our journey together. Maggie will make her last appearance in Bob the Squirrel starting the week of February 15, 2021.

Categories: life Maggie

the end of styles?


Today I begin the Sideshow banner/carnival art style of my ongoing family styles series.
I’ve been posting images to this series since last August. I had no idea what started then would become what it is now.
I’ve done a lot. I’ve learned a lot. But in that process, I’ve let things slide… as we all do. We’re human after all.
Maybe my time (at least two plus hours a day every weekday ) would be better spent on other aspects of my work: revamp the website, re-examine the strip, figure out life in the strip… etc.
Make no mistake, I LOVE doing these pieces… maybe I love them too much? (is that possible?)
This series may end up being the last I do for a while. I don’t know yet. I’ll see how I feel creatively, physically and mentally once this series is complete.
In the meantime, keep checking them out…
Stay safe.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for continuing to support me, my family and my work.

To my amazing, wonderful, complicated and beautiful wife on her birthday…

First time I ever drew Lez. 2007 Sketchbook.

To my wife Lezley, on her birthday…

I’ve been drawing you for 13 years. But when EXACTLY did it start?I have records, I can figure that out.

Yesterday I dug through dozens of sketchbooks (and some other living things) to find the precise page in the precise sketchbook when I committed you to my life for the first time.

And by life, I mean my sketchbook.

The page itself isn’t dated, but the sketchbook was started in March 2007. Doing a bit of math and seeing how far into the book it was, I’d estimate that this sketch was done toward the end of the summer, probably late August.  Also because you’re sporting a lighter colored purse and are wearing capri pants, short sleeves and flip flops. I may be off by a few days or so… but most likely not.

I must’ve really liked you. Wasn’t too sure if you OR Lauren liked me… but I liked you. I remember making a copy of this and your mom put it up on her refrigerator. That’s the Lourvè to dudes like me… and the quickest way to know that I’m doing something right.

Heh… must’ve liked you… that’s insane. Anyone who spends more than ten minutes with you will fall in love with you. You have that power to make people open up and be at ease. It’s gotta be the warmth of your smile. Or that laugh. You have the best laugh in the world… period. If I could ever figure out how to accurately draw your laugh it’d be the last thing I ever draw… because everything out of my pen after that is downhill.

I drew you happy. I couldn’t read you well yet, but you were always smiling when I saw you. If you notice, I also had you wearing the necklace I bought you for your first birthday we were an “US”. Nice little detail there.

13 years later, I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve draw, painted, sculpted, inked, colored, watercolored and carved you. But I think I’ve gotten better… still hoping I manage to get that one perfect image… but then again, the journey to get there is what it’s about.

I’ve said to you 2,284,635 times: I wish you could see yourself the way that I (or anyone who knows you) sees you.

But you don’t like this, you don’t like that about yourself. Too big, too small, too this, too that… whatever.

It’s all you… and you are beautiful, both inside and out. You are amazing both inside and out. I’m never going to stop telling you that.

From the first drawing to the last… you’re an amazing and beautiful pain in the ass, but I’m lucky to have you as a model to draw.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart. Love you.

Categories: life