Friday, October 26, 2012

November 16-18: CTNx Animation Expo 2012

Just a reminder that the annual Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo (CTNx) is coming up soon in Burbank, CA. Once again, I'll be exhibiting Daily Zoo books, prints, and more. Stop by and say hi!
(Booth T-109). 

This will be the show's fourth year and each year it gets even more impressive. In addition to the many talented artists exhibiting their wares and doing demonstrations & panel discussions, a few of the special guests that are scheduled to appear are Glen Keane, Syd Mead, Michel Gagné, and Jean-Baptiste Monge.

If you are a fan of animation & design, I encourage you to check it out!

What: CTNx Animation Expo
When: November 16-18, 2012
Where: The Burbank Marriott Convention Center 
               (across from the Burbank Airport)
               2500 N. Hollywood Way
               Burbank, CA 91505

"I'll Chop Your Head Off!"

"I'll Chop Your Head Off!" is the battle cry of Axe Cop, the do-gooder protector of babies and unicorns and the nemesis of bad guys everywhere. He is also the hilarious creation of brothers Ethan (age 29) and Malachai (age 5) Nicolle. Malachai dreams up the stories, characters, and absurd scenarios that don't seem quite so absurd when told via the logic of one very imaginative child. Then it's up to older brother Ethan to draw the artwork and polish it all into one extremely entertaining comic book.

A year ago at Comic-Con, Ethan introduced himself - and Axe Cop - to me, saying that the Daily Zoo had been a source of inspiration for him and Malachai when concocting some of Axe Cop's adventures. The sample copy that he gave me was hard to put down!

A few months later, Ethan invited me to do a guest "pinup" piece for the back of Axe Cop's next collection of bad guy crushin' antics: Axe Cop Vol. 3. I was thrilled to oblige, but it was tough to choose who to draw from the great catalog of characters that he and Malachai have created. Should I do my interpretation of Dinosaur Soldier, Axe Cop's trusty partner? Or perhaps Sockarang - surely his lumberjack beard and tube sock arms (yes, that is correct) would be fun to draw? In the end though, it really was no contest. I settled on Wexter, Axe Cop's Tyrannosaurus Rex companion who sports shades and machine gun arms (and can also fly and breathe fire, of course). 

You can see my rendition below. And if you're in the mood for a good chuckle, or just want to remember what it was like having the limitless imagination of a 5-year-old, I highly recommend giving Axe Cop a try. 

Click here to visit the Axe Cop website.

Lucca Comics & Games: Viva il Zoo!

I head out soon to be a Guest Artist at the annual Lucca Comics & Games convention. Lucca is a small, medieval-walled city north of Pisa in beautiful northern Italy. An exhibition of my work, titled The Ayers Zoo, is on display at the historical Palazzo Ducale from October 20 - November 4. The show features over 70 pieces, mostly originals and many of which have not been displayed or published before. Additionally, there will be a video montage featuring some of my professional work done for the film industry over the past twelve years.

If you find yourself at the show and would like to say, "Ciao!" I will be doing a signing session each day of the convention (Nov 1-4) at the Design Studio Press booth (A702) from 11:00 to 13:00. I will also be doing some drawing/painting in the Live Performance Area (A611) on Thursday, Nov 1 from 15:00-17:00 and on Saturday, Nov 3 from 13:00-15:00. 

For those of you who can't make the exhibition or convention, here are a few of the new pieces on display. The Giraffa Robotica is from the upcoming Daily Zoo - Year Three, to be published next spring, and the lion and bison were done recently as a part of Year Seven.

Happy Halloween! (And New Poster)

Day 1726 - Munchasaurus Rex

I realize it's a little early, but seeing as I will be out of the country on the actual day of spooky tidings, this will have to suffice.

And "sadly," since I will be in Italy where the traditions of carving jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating have yet to really catch on, I will miss out on the festivities. 

It won't be my first time spending Halloween abroad, however. While studying in Florence for a semester in college, we exchange students had to create our own ghoulish festivities and costumes with whatever we could get our hands on. I can still distinctly recall walking through the piazzas on my way to the party, collecting a variety of strange looks and double-takes from passersby while sporting my homemade dreadlocks of uncooked rigatoni.

And speaking of strange looks and double-takes, you'll be sure to get those from friends and family when you adorn your office or home with the brand new Munchasaurus Rex poster! It measures 19" x 27" and each is hand-signed. Get yours today at my webstore, The Daily ZooMart. Only $10!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

November: CTNx Animation Expo 2012

This November is the annual Creative Talent Network's Animation Expo (CTNx) in Burbank, CA. Once again, I'll be exhibiting and signing copies of The Daily Zoo books. 

This will be the show's fourth year and each year it gets even more impressive. In addition to the many talented artists exhibiting their wares and doing demonstrations & panel discussions, a few of the special guests that are scheduled to appear are Glen Keane, Syd Mead, Michel Gagné, and Jean-Baptiste Monge.

If you are a fan of animation & design, I encourage you to check it out! (And if you come, stop by The Daily Zoo booth at T-109 and say hello!)

When: November 16 - 18, 2012
Where: Burbank Mariott Hotel, Burbank, CA

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie...

...That's amore! Ever since studying in Florence for a semester during college (and probably even before that) I've had a love affair with Italy. The art! The food! The vino!

I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to once again pay a visit to my delicious muse of a nation when I have an exhibition of Daily Zoo art at the historical Palazzo Ducale this fall as part of the annual Lucca Comics and Games convention. Lucca is a small, medieval-walled city in beautiful Tuscany.The show will run from October 20 - November 4 and I've been invited to be a guest artist at the convention which runs November 1-4. Here's a link to the announcement of the show and a small preview (warning: it's in Italian!).  

The final selection of pieces to be included in the exhibition is still being determined. In addition to some images from the already-published Daily Zoo books, it is going to include many never-before-seen original DZ drawings and paintings. I've included a few preview images here to whet your appetite (or in case you can't hop a plane, train, or Vespa to Lucca this fall). Enjoy!

After my time in Lucca, I head to Zug, Switzerland to lead two days of art workshops with students there. I shall have to practice up on my yodeling...

The Book Show

When I was in Paris earlier this year for The Daily Zoo exhibition at Galerie Daniel Maghen, Olivier Souillé, one of the organizers, told me about an upcoming group show that would pay homage to books that had inspired us as children.

It was called, simply, The Book Show, and Olivier invited me to participate. For my subject matter, I had a very tough time narrowing it down to a single book. I've been a lifelong bookworm and had many, many favorites as a child. Since the show was in France, however, I thought it might be fitting to pay homage to Jean de Brunhoff's classic series of children's books featuring Babar the Elephant King. I tried to keep many of Babar's iconic features (the green suit, red bowtie, spats, the crown atop his broad forehead, beady black eyes, etc.) but give it a bit more rendered and detailed look. And it was fun to throw his monkey friend, Zephyr, into the mix as well.

The show is now over at the Galerie, but all the entries (featuring the work of over 80 artists from around the world) can be seen on The Book Show's blog.

Fan Art from Wisconsin

To my delight, a classmate from college sent me photos of her two sons proudly displaying their drawings, having used their MY Daily Zoo Drawing Activity Books to get their creative juices flowin'. Nice work Ryan and Tommy!

This has been one of those unanticipated perks of having some books published. I've received interpretations of various Daily Zoo characters (and even a few cartoons of me!) from around the world. I'll try to share some more in future posts. 
It also reminded me of when, for a class assignment in grade school, we had to write a letter to an author or illustrator that we admired. I chose the amazing Bill Peet, a former Disney artist and the man behind over 30 wonderful children's books such as Hubert's Hair-Raising AdventureHow Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head, and one of my all-time favorites, The Whingdingdilly. (If you are not familiar with his work and are a fan of cartoon animals or a parent with young children, please give him a look.) In addition to my letter to Mr. Peet, I enclosed a few of my drawings and he was kind enough to make my day by responding with a short hand-written note and a few copies of his drawings, all of which I still have.

I don't consider myself to be on the same plateau as Mr. Peet (now deceased), but it is neat to feel like my work is contributing in a small way to that never-ending flow of one generation inspiring the next.

September 29th: Santa Clarita Literary Festival

The City of Santa Clarita, just northwest of LA, is celebrating the Grand Opening of the Old Town Newhall Library with a literary-themed street fair on Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 10 AM - 4 PM.

I was invited to have a table there and will be signing books for anyone interested. I've never been to Santa Clarita before so I'm looking forward to it. Hope to see you there!

Comic-Con Recap

I'm happy to report that my first year exhibiting at San Diego's Comic-Con went very well. The latest book, The Daily Zoo Goes to Paris!, seemed to be received well and I did not lose any limbs to careless lightsaber usage or run into any problems by not being fluent in Klingon.

Thank you very much to those of you who stopped by and said hello! Hope to see you again next year!

Mom helped with booth duty while I did a quick sketch for Claudio from Australia.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Comic-Con and the Latest Daily Zoo Book!

Greetings Daily Zoo friends,
Just a quick note here to say that my latest Daily Zoo book, The Daily Zoo Goes to Paris, has reached American soil and is now available! It features the 58 pieces (all previously unpublished) that were in the Daily Zoo exhibition in The City of Lights in January 2012. There are some additional surprises too. If you couldn't make it to Paris to see the exhibition, this is the next best thing!

It will probably take a few weeks for it to be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookseller but why wait? You can order your copy direct from The Daily ZooMart now! ( I'm happy to sign all books and add an animal sketch of your choice.

Sample pages can be seen below.

In other news I'll have a table at San Diego's Comic-Con for the first time this year (July 11-15). If you're going, please stop on by and say hello. I'm at table E-8. Or look for the big tiger. I'll have copies of The Daily Zoo Goes to Paris! on hand. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mayo Clinic Events - Rochester, MN

Greetings from Minnesota! It's good to be back home for a bit. I am in town for some events at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I will be the giving the keynote address at tomorrow's Cancer Survivor Day celebration (free for all cancer survivors and up to 2 guests). Please see the flyer below for more details.

Monday I will be giving an in-house presentation to the Mayo media & illustration staff followed by a Creative Renewal workshop for patients and staff in the afternoon.

Currently there is an exhibit of 30 Daily Zoo prints in the Mayo Clinic's Hage Atrium which runs through June 6, 2012. This Monday evening, June 4th from 5:30 - 7:30 PM, is a reception in the exhibit area with light refreshments. I'll be giving a short presentation at 6 PM. If you're in the area and looking for an alternative to watching reality television, please stop on by!

Hershey, PA - "The Sweetest Place on Earth"

Last week I made a quick trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to give the keynote address at the local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's annual blood cancer conference. Hershey, the town built up around Milton S. Hershey's chocolate empire, calls itself "The Sweetest Place on Earth." Though my trip was a short one, I have to agree that it is, indeed, pretty sweet. The people that I met were all very kind, helpful, and friendly. (It threw me for a loop, however, when I was asked, "Milk or dark?" at the hotel check-in and then handed a big Hershey bar along with my room key!) My heartfelt thanks to Danielle Bubnis and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for the invitation to share my story and art!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Orange County Young Authors' Faire...Today!

In case you're in the mood for pancakes this morning...or find yourself in Orange County looking for something to do, consider dropping by the 11th Annual Young Authors' Faire put on by the Orange County Department of Education (complete with a pancake breakfast!). The Faire celebrates young authors in grades K-8, showcases their work, and provides opportunities to meet professional authors and illustrators. I'll have a table there and be doing a drawing workshop geared towards kids from 10:30-11:15 AM.

This event is free and open to the public so stop on by. Pancakes...mmmmmmm...

What: Orange County Young Authors' Faire
When: Saturday, May 19th 8am - 12pm
Where: Orange County Dept. of Education
              200 Kalmus Drive
              Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Cost: Admission & parking is free. Pancake breakfast is $3.00

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Festival of Books This Weekend!

Greetings all! If you're looking for a fun activity this weekend, consider checking out the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The USC campus is beautiful and there are a lot of great things to see, especially if - like me - you love books. I'll be exhibiting at Booth 772 with books, prints, shirts, and cards for the offering.

What: The Los Angeles Times 17th Annual Festival of Books
When: April 21-22, 2012
SAT: 10am - 6pm
SUN: 10am - 5pm
Where: University of Southern California (USC)
Admission: FREE! (But I believe parking on campus is $10)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

London Calling!

If you happen to be in London tomorrow night and are looking for something fun to do, why not check out ARTSPRINT, an auction fundraiser featuring signed prints from a whole slew of artists (including a couple from me). My new acquaintances Asa & Kim are running the 2012 London Marathon and are raising funds for the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign. To that end they have organized this event which also features live music and an "enchanted" photo booth!

Here's more info directly from the dynamic duo:
"Kim & Åsa would like to extend a warm invitation to you and your friends to join them at the Miller pub near London Bridge on Friday 16th March for a fun night of live music, competitive bidding in an auction of art prints and drawings, dressing up for photos in the Mighty Booth and a lively DJ set from Fu & Spig to keep you on your dancing toes into the wee hours of the morning. Only £5 entry, doors open at 6.30pm. 96 Snowsfields Road, London Bridge, SE1 3SS

Whet your bidding appetites by looking through the amazing donations on our online image gallery:"

What could be better than a pre-St. Patty's pint while shakin' that tushie and looking at some art?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Bonjour tout le monde! Well, the trip to Paris turned out to be a wonderful all-around experience for my wife and me. The exhibition at Galerie Maghen went well. The staff were extremely hospitable and helpful and the reception - or vernissage as they call it over there - was a lot of fun. And of course, a trip to Paris just wouldn't be a trip to Paris without some fantastic sightseeing. And my eyes weren't the only one of my senses bombarded with adventure. Paris has plenty of unique and delightful sounds, smells, textures, and TASTES to explore as well! Below are a few pictures from the trip.

And if anyone is still interested in an original piece of Daily Zoo art but thought you had missed your chance, there are still a few pieces available at the Galerie's website.

The journey begins! (Taking the train from Charles de Gaulle airport into the heart of Paris.)

Galerie Daniel Maghen, located conveniently and beautifully on the Seine within view of Notre Dame in one direction and the Louvre in the other. I had the honor of exhibiting with the talented Joe Weatherly.

Yes, I know. With all the fantastic architecture, sculpture, and monuments around, what do I decide to focus my lens on? A seagull enjoying the sunset at the frozen fountain in le Jardin du Luxembourg (the Luxembourg Gardens, which contain Luxembourg Palace, home of the French Senate).

Better...but it's still an animal!

Notre Dame. Didn't see any hunchbacks, though.

After getting settled, my wife Thasja and I tagged along with Anabelle from the Galerie as she delivered posters advertising the exhibition and vernissage to local comics and art shops (of which there seem to be many!)

It just so happened that a good friend of ours was also in Paris at the same time, working for LA fashion designer Greg Lauren who was in Paris for an exhibition of his own. In addition to making clothes out of cloth, he's done some amazing pieces out of...paper!

The Eiffel in the fog.
Back at the Jardin du Luxembourg. I don't think I've ever seen someone NOT enjoy a carousel ride this much before, though I don't blame her - if I ended up in a cart rather than on a horse, I'd be bummed too.

At Jardin du Luxembourg we also took in a puppet show, Le Chat Botte (Puss in Boots). Sketchbook and pen always along for the ride, I just had to draw one of the puppets.
I ended up having a total of 58 pieces on display for the exhibition. All but five were Daily Zoo sketches (my one-per-day animal drawings that I started a year after being diagnosed with acute leukemia).
Typical of the Daily Zoo, the pieces were done in various styles and with various media; some were looser and some were more finished.
"Bring It On"
(I wasn't sure how the Thanksgiving theme of this piece would translate to a French audience, but as it turned out it was bought by an American.)

In the past a few lucky souls (well, I hope they view themselves as lucky) have received original Daily Zoo sketches as gifts, but this was the first time I had offered any of them for purchase. I was pleasantly surprised at how many actually sold.


"Herlock the Hound Is On The Case"
"Le Penseur"
(With sincere apologies to Rodin.)

Me and fellow exhibitor, Joe Weatherly, at the vernissage.
Like I mentioned earlier, the vernissage was quite a good time. In addition to seeing some old friends, I had the chance to finally meet in person some folks who previously I had only corresponded with through email. I also had the pleasure of meeting many friendly new faces as well such as Alantar Cent, who worked on Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The very talented sculptor, Angela Smaldone. She and I collaborated on a maquette for the exhibition (which I'll show in an upcoming post).

One of Joe Weatherly's fine pieces.
Sarah P. and my wife Thasja humor me by kindly laughing at my joke. Merci beaucoup!

New acquaintance Olivier, who has a passion for frogs, ended up being the proud owner of "Marsh Mellow."
After the reception, the Galerie treated us to an exquisite dinner at L'Epi Dupin. After dinner, Joe and I were invited to partake in the tradition of visiting artists adding something in the chef's sketchbook.

Despite the late night after the reception and dinner, it was back to the gallery the next morning for a short tv interview.

In addition to the exhibiting artists, Galerie Maghen has an extensive collection of original works by many top fantasy, concept, and comic book artists such as this Claire Wendling sketch. Oh, if I were a rich man!

While in Paris we visited many of the great comic and book shops, including Pulp's Art run by my friend the ever-eloquent Nick Parry-Jones, and I came close to reaching our checked luggage weight limit with new additions to my library.

The family!

My dad opens one of his hand-carved fan-style flying birds for the Galerie staff.

Très bien!

I learned that Olivier Souille, the Galerie employee who had originally contacted me years ago about the possibility of doing a show with them, had celebrated his birthday the day before we had arrived so I quickly whipped up a belated birthday card.

I have to admit that I was quite surprised to come across a taxidermied pangolin while strolling the streets of Paris.

And not just one, but TWO taxidermied pangolins!


Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, in Montmartre, overlooking the city.

Inside Notre Dame.

Back off, Monsieur! This is MY baguette!!!

A detail of the Arc de Triomphe.

Our sightseeing entourage expanded by one for a day and a half when my wife's longtime friend, Adrienne, joined us from Glasgow.

I can't think of many other places that are as tranquil and as surreal as the courtyard of the Louvre at night.

The Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera.

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris. What a interesting environment...basically a "city of the dead" with blocks and "avenues" and "streetsigns."

Hmmmm...I always thought she was in color!

"Layers of the Louvre"
We just happened to be at the Louvre the night they were doing performance art in the galleries.
Mona's many fans.
A perfect venue for when you're having a dinner party of 57.

Thasja and I beneath la Pyramide.
My dear Paris, you dazzling City of Lights, until we meet again...