Harts Pass No. 263 - For Tom Zbyszewski, Andrew Zajac, and Richard Wheeler

For those of you farther from home, the three young firefighters remembered above, recently lost their lives while keeping our community safe. Famous is a poem that Tom Zbyszewski, a local kid working summer fires, performed in his state finals for Poetry Out Loud in the spring of 2013. He may also have performed it here at Twisp's Merc Theater, as I swear that I can picture him reciting it.

In any case, it is a fine poem and a worthy tribute (I hope) to the everyday but still heroic efforts that our firefighters and many others make to keep others safe -- even at times at great cost. A humble kind of service that is inherently heroic of course, but never demanding of any particular praise or recognition. Thank you all for your service and rest in peace.


And... done.

What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago I returned from vacation -- a nice little respite from an otherwise busy patch of summer reading visits and the nearly final stretch of a quite overdue book illustration project.

Seven days ago I was refreshed and ready to go. Ready to dive back into my work - to put the final touches on Beluga Whales and then wade gracefully into my new book with Sterling and the fast-approaching fall high school xc season. Hmph. The best laid plans.

On Wednesday afternoon about 1pm, a wildfire started in the Twisp River area - about 8 miles south of my home near Winthrop, WA. One more fire added to an already boiling-over cauldron of activity here in eastern Washington. While my home and family remained -- and continue to remain -- generally out of harms way, there is, once again, a widespread impact to these events that will resonate for many months to come. In this case too, a tragic loss of three young lives that tends to put everything into even greater perspective.

And so. With some personal stress finally relieved by the generator-powered, evacuation-notice-bedamned completion of Beluga Whales, Grizzly Tales, my heart goes out to all that are much more in the thick of it than I.


Harts Pass No. 262

A GRRReat vacation on the Olympic Peninsula... and now its full steam ahead and back to work. Alas, too short... And, as per usual, I frequently exercise my own little grapplings with the world through the wise and knowing critters of Harts Pass. Enjoy what remains of summer break!


Harts Pass No. 261

Road trip! I'm really looking forward to taking an actual vacation next week. Alas, not a long one, but the art studio needs a little alone time.


On the drawing table!

Between summer reading visits, weekly comics, summer sherpa duties, and a little running and hiking in the mountains now and again (although far less than ideal!) I've been cranking (hammering, laboring...) away at a new book project for Sasquatch. Its been a bit of a struggle, to be perfectly honest, as I am working with some ornate borders and in a sense "matching" the style of a previous book (different illustrator) that was published by the same author 10 years ago.

That being said, I am finally feeling some satisfaction with the end results and there is indeed a light  at the end of this tunnel. Wrapping things up the end of this week, and then I am going to SLEEP! And take a vacation. And breath...and sleep :)

Oh yes, and just in case you missed the "foodie" aspect of these images, Beluga Whale, Grizzly Tales, and more Kidsnacks for Alaskan Trails (Alice Bugni, Sasquatch, 2016) is an excellent Alaska-themed collection of snack recipes for kids. "Bon appetite" and more for sure on this as we get close to publication!

The Runaway Tortilla Arrives!

My author copies for Eric Kimmel's Runaway Tortilla (Graphic Arts Books, Sept. 2015) arrived yesterday afternoon. VERY excited to have these and so pleased again with all of Vickie's design work to pull this all together in such a great way. THANK YOU VICKIE! Plus, she put SeƱor Coyote's glamour shot on the back -- which is perfect -- so there you go :)

The this newest book is a milestone for me of sorts as well, as it is my first official venture into illustration with Adobe Photoshop. There's some watercolor texture pulled into the mix as well, but I'm excited by the results and the potential for future work. Check out a few additional images on my digital portfolio page. Enjoy!


Harts Pass No. 260

It seems like my dog is constantly cleaning. Something that I usually associate with cats. Perhaps wolverines are a bit neat freakish as well (just guessing)... and I'm absolutely sure that they love ZZ Top. Anyway, I colored today's strip while waiting in a car dealership and watching some smooth sales dudes in action as well. Cheers!


Heroes abound! Meet Fast Freddy and Zach Hero

Two more entries into the North Central Library's League of Summer Reading Heroes!


Summer Reading -- On the banks of the Columbia!

Summer reading programs with the regional library took me to the banks of the Columbia River this past week -- with visits to Brewster and Bridgeport, WA. I've got several more library HEROES still waiting in the wings for their online debuts, but here is one from Brewster (both in sketch and final form) and then another from a week or two earlier in Entiat. My final visits of the summer take place next week in Wenatchee, Cashmere, Moses Lake and Mattawa, WA -- and then the family and I hit the road for a little non-work vacation time!!! Awesome tree sculptures that line the main drag in Brewster are always a pleasure to see. New entries added to the experience this year and maybe even a work or two still in progress.

And FINALLY, some quick photographic evidence of the "cartoon challenge" that has taken place throughout the summer. The number 9 -- in this case -- deftly turned into a giraffe. Keep up the great work kids!


Harts Pass No. 259

Thankfully, real wolverines don't haul around this much stuff, or have to work, or get their kits to numerous summer activities... but my parenting/people perspective does seem to slip its way into the strip every so often :) Hope that your own summer's are going Grand and definitely don't miss out on splashing in a mountain lake or two!


Harts Pass No. 258

The one-year anniversary of the start of last summer's Carleton Complex wildfire. Although extremely dry and fairly warm so far, the land is healing and the rebuilding is well underway. I haven't seen this week's edition of the Methow Valley News, but it promises to be an issue dedicated in some small way to remembering last summer's fires.