Illustrations of Seth T. Hahne

The CAPC Work

In July 2011, web-magazine Christ and Pop Culture asked me to start illustrating their feature articles. It sounded like an amusing project so I agreed. At the time, that meant generally three (or rarely, four) illustrations per week. As their publishing model has shifted slightly, the pace has lightened to one or two illustrations per week.

The workflow is basically the same for every piece: EOC Richard Clark tells me a day or two before they need the illustration what the subject will be. If he can, he'll send me a rough of the article. I think about it for five minutes and then start drawing pretty much the first idea that comes to mind. Because of the demand for quick turnover, I generally only have the time to try a single idea. I'll pencil my drawn elements, then ink them with a Pental Brush Pen. Then I'll use my wife's point-and-shoot camera to digitize the drawings (since I don't have a scanner). I'll colourize and texture each illustration in Photoshop (textures mostly come from photos I've taken of washes or brush strokes or carpet or wood or cement).


Illustration for an article on on Eric Metaxas' and Gregory Thornbury's approaches to cultural consumption.


Illustration for an article on Rear Window. Ceci n'est pas un voyeur (This is not a voyeur). You're the voyeur looking at a picture of a voyeur taking a picture in a film intending to implicate audience-as-voyeurs. #circleoflife


Illustration for an article on White Christmas, which I've never seen. So, idyllic snow scene instead.


Illustration for an article on Christmas reflections through the lens of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Home Alone, Chralie Brown Christmas, and Claymation Christmas.


Illustration for an article on the history of hip hop.


Illustration for an article on the problem with popular trope of transforming characters into Christ-figures when adapting them to the big screen. I'm okay with this one but I kind of feel it got away from me at the end. *shrug* #selfcriticism.


Illustration for an article on how bad the products of the Christian film industry is. The article has some sort of focus on Facing the Giants (which holds a 13% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes), so I drew a scene from the movie (which I haven't seen) and then added Tom Servo, Joel, and Crow.


Illustration for an article on the ethics of football, injuries, brain damage, and pushing through the pain.


Illustration for an article on the death of baseball as national pasttime..


Illustration for an article on Judgment Houses, a specially delicious evangelical Halloween treat. Here we have Lady Justice, weighing such a House. On a whim, I moistened her blindfold because justice hurts more than mercy..


Illustration for an article on Dracula. Bela Lugosi, paying you visits.


Illustration for an article on PPACA and political narrative.


Illustration for an article on the pain associated with infertility.

Most unexpected reaction to my infertility illustration: a girl excited to find out that her boobs may grow if she gets pregnant.


Illustration for an article on Balloon Animals and how beliefs are conveyed with the icky parts plasticized for easier consumption.
Originally, I was going to do an illustration of Robert Frost as a balloon animal, but then I realized I could probably count the number of readers who would get the reference on one hand. Perhaps even on one finger. Gamers, generally, aren't really super big on their own history.
So instead, a koi fish, clinging desparately to the balloon animal that gives it meaning apart from all the other—balloonless—fish..


Illustration for an article on how to consume culture.


Illustration for an article on about hearts and darkness and the arts. I haven't yet read the article but here's the summary:

"Artists, more than anyone else, are confronted with the convoluted mystery and frustrating opacity (and darkness) of one’s own heart, the impossibility of knowing one’s own intentions. Artists know they work with a radically unfree will when they finish a painting, stand back to look at it and realize it is doing something they not only did not expect but could not control yet reveals something profound about them while also disclosing our shared human experience of this fallen yet grace-filled world."

Those who know me well enough know that I will pretty much wholly disagree with this idea (Michelle laughed when I read it to her, knowing what my reaction would be). Still, I'm sure it's a cool article with some neat insights. But more importantly, it was fun to draw.


Illustration for an article on interviewing Josh Kemble, an indie cartoonist working on a strange/cool autobio comic, called Two Stories. I was skeptical, as I don't usually immediately take to autobio comics, but for research I read the first chapter of his comic (it's online). Then for pleasure, i read the second chapter. I was sad that no more chapters exist yet.

Here's what's available so far.


Illustration for an article on Far Cry 2 as religious experience. The merc, kneedeep in baptismal waters, was originally going to be looking up to see a dove from heaven..


Illustration for an article on Here's an illustration I did for an upcoming article on videogame addiction. (Also, I'm quite aware that I'm one of the 1% who still uses wired controllers.) I thought about adding a pixellation effect, but really that's just soooo cliche. And it's not like most videogames look at all pixellated anymore anyway...I mean, that wouldn't entirely stop me? #clichés.


Illustration for an article on how rad Xian education is. Silly old Hermes.


This one's for an article on how Christian education may somewhat contribute to the continued forging of racism in America. There was a line in which the white author spoke the realization: "I am a racist." So I took a picture of myself as a young lad, made myself extra white, and had myself being absorded into the ghosts of klandom.

I don't think of myself as a racist. I don't think I am a racist. But race is an evolving discussion and difficult to negotiate, so I will allow the possibility.


Illustration for an article on alcoholism and your liberty to imbibe.


For an article on Intellectualism. You probably may realize it, but I use photo models for a lot of my illustrations. Here's the young lady I used for the latest illustration with the big words and all. You might know her. Check it out.


Illustration for an article on reappropriating a culture's aesthetics for Christian purposes, using Sword Art Online. I don't know why.


Illustration for an article on how Apanman, a Japanese children's character, is allusory to Christ. Sadly, I made an error in my illustration and forgot to draw in his cape - though I did draw in the part that hooks below his neck.


illustration for Article on DOMA and the Supreme Court

Honestly, despite the standard line from conservative Christianity, the inevitible fall of DOMA and the subsequent widespread American legalization of same-sex marriage doesn't really bother me. I think that it's happened at all is resultant of a) mismanagement of the marriage issue a couple centuries ago when the government involved itself at all in marriage, and b) the fact that Christian culture puts on its shrillest, most unpleasant face when issues like this come up. For the first, I can see the government legitimating domestic contracts. That it involves itself in marriage (a primarily either religious or cultural institution) is rather out of bounds as I see it. I can see how it happened; but I also see that however justified it was, our retention of laws and terms from centuries ago just confuses everything. For the latter, Christians ability to sound like horrible people makes everybody glad when they lose fights like this.

For my drawing, two females joined in union. For clarity's sake, one plays the butch and the other the belle.


illustration for Article on Technology and Law

Next week's issue of CAPC Mag will feature an article on technology and law by Jason Morehead.

The binary in the background is the first sentence of Gibson's semiprescient Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

Also, instead of an iceberg, I almost just used a picture of Archer. But I didn't. Because I'm classier than that.


illustration for A Spirit of Fear: How Our Assumptions Get In the Way of Loving Our Muslim Neighbors

"We are living in a very fearful country, forever on the precarious grip of losing ground, of giving up status, power, and the majority vote. This fear spills into our media, our ringtones, and even our evangelistic charges, and this changes everything. Fear doesn’t save, it only diminishes."

This is an illustration about how the blood of Christ ought to submerge our interaction with Muslims in love.


illustration for Star Trek article for Vol 1, Iss 5

I painted some new cloudlike textures for this one. I guess I don't have much to say except that this one was kinda fun. Also, even though I don't have any attachment at all to Star Trek (any more than I do to Star Wars), Reiter's article mad the series actually seem sort of interesting to Michelle and I for the first time.


illustration for Abortion and How Responsibility Falls Down Sexual Lines article for Vol 1, Iss 4

Woman bears responsibility for live children, aborted children, and the blame for either from friends, family, lovers, and society.


Man only takes what responsibilities he cares to. A man who cares for his children is a hero and a Great Dad while a woman who takes care of hers is just a mom doing what moms do.


illustration for Class Disparity article for Vol 1, Iss 4

Noble writes an article about what may be the biggest understated problem facing America today—and how the church might take part in the solution (if there is to be a solution).

The Jesus in weird robes comes from this statue.


illustration for Pleasure Cruises and Class/Race Disparity article for Vol 1, Iss 3

Brad wrote an article about his recent trip on a pleasure cruise. I read a rough draft in order to concoct this illustration. I really liked what I read. So that's nice.

The illustration is rather overt. White celebrants enjoy fun in the sun atop the liner while the ship glides purposefully over POCs shallowly hidden beneath the surface. I'm invoking 18th century narrative of seas filled with the bodies of slaves who never made it to market, perishing in the Atlantic, victims of the white society's desire to live lives of luxury and peace.

Originally, I had animated the seas, but I don't want to overdo the animation.


illustration for Masculinity article for Vol 1, Iss 3

New Format Size!!

Ben wrote a very good article on masculinity. There are a number of points I'd quibble on (cf. the emotional complexity of women vs men), but the tone is good and the article thoughtful. In the article, Ben opens with reference to King Arthur and that brand of masculine heroism that the Knights embody. I liked the idea a bit, but never really took to Camelot so well. Especially visually.

Amusingly, for all their battle and whatnot, I always found the British shining knighthood to be particularly effeminate in their aesthetic sense. For regular me, this would be perfect, as I have small romantic crushes on the idea of subverting ideas. But (!) I had already conjured a related visual and it seemed so spectacular and funny that I had to do it.

Basically, the hallmark of cinematic masculinity of my twenties (until people started misinterpreting the foundationally feminist Fight Club) was Braveheart. College aged guys I knew were eating this stuff up. My pastor at the time even devoted men's groups to studying its ideas in relation to masculinity and leadership. Awkward, right? So I thought the perfect image would be some Braveheartian army gathered to pour forth its testosterone on the opposing army (a.k.a. the reader, who would almost have to oppose their ridiculous sense of manhood).

Realizing this was probably not bold enough, I took it to a level that made my wife squeal with joy. SO MANLY.


illustration for The Unthinkable Reality of Human Traficking and What You Can Do About It

This one is animated so click the link above to see what it's all about.

The hard part on this one was the conception period. I spent three days thinking of what to draw, which turned into three days thinking of what not to draw. What I couldn't draw—not because of the limits to my skill but what I couldn't draw because either a) it would be seen by other people or b) would not be an appropriate way to depict a minor or c) would be too triggering or d) would hurt my soul too much.

I also did a preliminary Google search to see what visual representations of the idea of human trafficking were cliched these days. Apparently 95% of human trafficking art uses either barcodes on women or shackles on wrists. I hadn't actually considered either of these ideas. So yay I guess.


illustration for Popologetics for Evangelicals: Ted Turnau’s Missional Defense of Pop Culture

Simple fact: when confronted with an article with no characters or action and revolving around a book called Popologetics (awful portmanteau, that), the only thing that you can do is make the gaudiest word POP that you can think of. Mission accomplished.


illustration for Skepticism for Christianity: Why Doubt is our Best Friend

Put your fingers in his wounds.


illustration for Easter Is Coming

This one was easy in that I basically didn't have to do anything. I'd say it was a collaboration with my dad, Tim Hahne, but really he did all the heavy lifting.

I took an old drawing by my dad ( and just added some colour washes. And faded the edging. Hopefully I didn't ruin it!


illustration for Beyond Steubenville: Rape Culture and Complicity

There have been better illustrations.

This is CAPC's third article about rape that I've had to illustrate. I've had to illustrate other horrors as well. Murder. Hate groups. Abortion. Tons of features on racism. So when I was told I'd be drawing for an article on Steubenville, I wasn't surprised. I wasn't happy either. On top of the depressing fact that I'd actually have to think about the whole thing more, I'd also have to wrack my brain to think of a way to illustrate the thing that wouldn't be a) too much, b) too abstract, c) too cliche, and d) actually thoughtful.

I didn't want to draw the victim. I didn't want to do anything to recreate the nightmare fuel of that mosaiced picture that adorns every article on the case.

So I came up with a couple ideas. The first was to have bottles of poison on a shelf with the typical skull and crossbones poison symbol—only there would be a Mars-arrow sticking out the top of the skull, combining the ideas of maleness and poison and pointing to the idea that the American masculinity is poison and paves roads that lead to Steubenville.

The idea seemed too oblique, but only because I felt I should tie in the actual case. So then I was going to draw chibi versions of the two felons, with manga-style rivers of tears flowing from their vacant, saucer-eyes. They would be placed small and left-of-center in the foreground and the bottles of poison would fill the background. (Note: this idea now strikes me as the way I should have gone.) But then I wanted to add in a map of America as a reference to the fact that it was American masculinity that was the poison these villainous boys drank from.

Then all of this felt too much, so I thought: what about just doing a poisoned-man sign dead in the middle of the image and just leave it at that. So I did. Circle, arrow, crossbones, eyes, and teeth. It was too tall. The horizontal aspect of the illustration meant I'd have to squeeze the symbol down too much. It wouldn't work. So I dumped the crossbones. It fit okay, but was now too divorced from the concept of poison. It just looked like death. Or "Men are death."

So I added a little green miasma. And then some more. And then a little yellow and black. And then I let it go.

And now it looks like Jack from Jack in the Box.


illustration for What Rob Bell Talks About At the Areopagus

Rob Bell wrote a new book about something. Honestly, I can't be bothered to care. It's not like he's Haruki Murakami or Craig Thompson or Kazuo Ishiguro or Chris Ware or anyone important. Apparently other people like him well enough.

This is an article about Rob Bell at the Areopgaus. So I drew a bell and labeled it the Areopagan. It's fun because people who don't like Bell at all will see it and think I'm calling him the Areo Pagan. Which I'm not. But I could if that will make you happier.

(Note: my original design called for an illustration of the Areopagus but it's not like a single reader would recognize the place. It looks like a big lumpy rock. See?


illustration for House of Cards: The King is Dead

The upsidedown flag is part of House of Cards' branding, so that's where that comes from.

Also, when originally drawn, I did the American flag with 15 stripes instead of 13. It was hours later that I realized my error and had to go about fixing it. Bleh.


illustration for Oz: Goodness, Greatness, and Power

I always struggle most with coming up with illustrations for movies that I haven't seen. Because I haven't seen the movie, I don't have any familiarity with its visual structure. And if I try to recreate a scene (from, say, a tralier or poster), it's likely that I'll get something wrong.

So for this, I just did a cartoony version of James Franco's Oz character accompanied by a flying monkey and china doll. His wand only put-puts because he (so far as i'm given to know) is not actually great and powerful. He probably doesn't ever use a wand in the movie, but it's kind of the stereotyped prop of the vaudevillian stage magician, so I thought it'd be fun.


illustration for The Problem With Writing Off ‘Un-Christian’ Art

Easy enough, right? Non-Christian art = art without Christ. Ta da!


illustration for Beyond Color Blind: Why Race Still Matters

When I was growing up, being colour blind was the thing to be. We were taught that this was the ideal, a raceless world in which phenotype dictated nothing. In the last decade-and-a-half, I came to find I was misled.

I mean, sure. I still believe a raceless society would be ideal. More a society in which genetics played no role *at all* in determining social order. What? You were born ugly? No harm no foul, you too can be the next George Clooney. You were born with a slower metabolism, making you prone to being chubby when consuming the same quatity of food as the average everyman? That's cool, bro.

The thing is, that's an ideal world and we don't live in one of those. And we can't make one of those, you utopia-loving hippie you. Here, in the real world, things like race and ugliness and fatness and baldness and hairiness and voice pitch and a million other genetic dispositions have often centuries and sometimes millennia of history going down beside them. And that history affects and effects the present. Power structures, cultural mores, educational biases, etc. The normal you know is a normal built on the backs of a million inequities. And that's not the kind of thing that can go away by just saying Let bygones be bygones. Because what's normal to you in the lands of privilege is a normal designed by the privileged. And it's not your fault, whitey, but you're going to have to come down off your throne and put on your compassion hat and your empathy hat and your not-being-a-self-righteous-douchebag hat if any of this is going to move closer to square anytime soon.

Race problems did not die with MLK Junior. And they're not the fault of those other people. They're the fault of YOU and those other people. You might not understand but the first step toward understanding is not understanding and then being bothered by your lack.

Newbells article here is directed in large part to the white male who doesn't care about race. The man who has closed his eyes to the problems that continue to gnaw at our society. Maybe he closed them because he was ignorant, living in a white community where (at least in skin tone) everyone was in harmony. Maybe he closed his eyes because it is admittedly difficult to know what one is allowed to say and allowed to believe in any given year; we're living in a time of change and turmoil, where our society is trying to evolve past the injustices of the past and old fortifications crumble while new ones are devised—if one is not on the ball, it can be difficult for a white man to talk about race at all without stepping on a landmine. (I feel that danger even with what I've said here.)

In any case, many of us have closed our eyes and Newbell's is a plea for us to wide our vision and see the world as it is, as it is becoming. Because if we don't, then how can we participate in its healing? How can we help to stem the flow of blood and anger. How can we be the people of love and compassion and charity and hope that our Scriptures demand that we be? How can that happen if we don't care to see the inequity in the world?

My illustration moves from showing the white man as willfully blind to being made to see. The transition, as it often is in real life, is abrupt. The only thing I'm dissatisfied with is that I couldn't think of an easy way to return the animation to frame zero without looping it. So the man who is made to see then becomes willfully blind once more. This was not within the scope of meaning I intended. An accidental additional meaning perhaps, a warning to those who would have been made to see but then in their lethargy return to their prior state. Kind of a Pelegro! Piso Mojado! sign, cautioning the white male evangelical from thinking, "Yeah, this is bad stuff, but it's all so hard to figure out and I don't know where to begin..." The temptation to slide into old habits must be overwhelming.


illustration for I Am Not Abraham’s Mistake

Derek Rishmawy is a Christian man of Palestinian descent living in Orange County. The American evangelical church has not been overly friendly, welcoming, or loving to Arabs in their midst. Derek tells his story and expands it into a portrait of God's grace and sovereignty and love. The article is an admonition to us all not to dismiss people. It is people for whom Christ died. It is people who are intended to take up the image of God. It is people whom we are demanded to love unreservedly if we wish to be associated with the name of Christ.

As for the art, I got permission from Rishmawy to use his likeness (culled from Facebook). My literal request went like this:

"Hey man, can I use your likeness for illustrating your article for Wednesday? It would only probably vaguely resemble you. But it would also probably look bitchin', which is what your article is about, right?"

Rishmawy gracefully assented and suggested I might give him more beard than what was currently available on Facebook. I didn't know how much beard, but I went with my gut. Overlaying his face is a rough approximation of the Palestinian flag. Even though the Palestinian angle was only a part of it, that's what Rishmawy begins with and I wanted to capitalize on it—since the personal nature of the anecdote is where a lot of the article's power comes from.

Until the end, I had kept Rishmawy's face in just black linework. Looking at what I thought was the final product, it just felt too bland—as if Rishmawy was being totally absorbed into the identity of the flag. I didn't want that to be the case since I didn't feel that would represent him as he would want to be represented (not that I know him well enough to know for sure). So, I added two red reproductions of the linework to make him POP. I think that worked out well.

(Also: he looks like the Avatar a little.)


illustration for Welcome to the Grid: How Living on the Internet Changes Everything

While not mentioned in Hutton's article, Serial Experiments Lain was the first visual that came to mind. The show was intimately concerned with the mesh between the waking and wired worlds, blending them to the point of positing a sort of proto-utopianism. This article doesn't go that far and is in fact not radical at all—but by that point it didn't matter. I still wanted to draw Lain.

As to the article itself: it's good. At the same time, however, I think it may be a bit opaque for the people who need to hear it. It's a bit researchy and uses some jargon unfamiliar to those outside the realm of the techsavant. Tech people are almost certainly already on board with Hutton's assertion that online community is merely one more aspect of real community, rather than a separate thing entirely. The people then who need to be convinced are the people who don't understand concepts like social constructs, the ground-floor basics of both communication and community, what "real" even means. These are people who probably need less explanations and more illustrations. And I'm afraid they'll largely check out within a couple paragraphs and miss out on a valuable lesson.

As an aside: while I appreciate the goal of the term "augmented reality," I prefer the adjectiveless, unmodified term "reality." Putting a qualifier on reality still makes the online experience seem like something apart or different. In reality online community, communication, personas, and anonymity is all still just reality. It's the fact that people still struggle to understand its implications and to navigate its benefits and deficits that make it seem Other. That will erode in time as the online experience becomes more native (as letter-writing once did and as the telephone once did). So in it's most solid sense, online community is augmented reality at all; it's just plain old reality still.


illustration for The F-Word: Why Feminism Is Not the Enemy

I struggled with this one. It required a quick turnaround time and I didn't have time enough to figure it out.

I mixed the Christian cliche of a fish swimming against the stream with the feminist cliche of fish and bikes. So: a Christian feminist. As should we all be.

The biggest problem with the illustration is that the fish-and-bicycle image implies that women don't need men. One reading of the image beyond what I intend would be that Christian women don't need men. I've never been comfortable with the fish-and-bicycle kind of extremism because I believe women need men like men need women and men need men and women need women. I believe we are meant to require society, and that means men and women need each other.

Because I didn't have time to do otherwise, my illustration is more of the idea of Christian feminism and less of the specifics of Peterson's article. Which is a good and helpful article. (I heard Christians railing against feminism as one of the Great Contemporary Ills just last Tuesday, so the article's both relevant and timely.)


illustration for There Are No “Good Old Days”

The affection people so often have for the Good Old Days is little more than a naostalgia-driven blindness toward a golden age that never existed. Pining for such has never been anything better than a fool's errand. And so, by way of thematic analogy, I bring you FeS2. Iron Sulfide. Pyrite. Fool's gold.

Really, this kind of article's pretty timeless. No matter how many times I have personally exposed the myth of golden ages and good ol' days, I still and regularly hear people complaining how things have changed since the time of their childhood and since the time of their parents childhood.

Part of the article's point is that the blindness caused by nostalgia-driven yearning is often selfish. Because yeah, you white conservative Christian you, sixty-five years ago your kid wouldn't have had the opportunity to hear in school that homosexuals can be valuable and she would have had maybe heard a principal pray at school assemblies. But at the same time, she wouldn't have been able to date that nice brown boy in the back of the class or do, really, anything with whatever she was lucky to learn from class. Also, secondhand smoke EVERYWHERE.

From this, an undrawn companion illustration. A three-panel strip of Peanuts featuring Charlie Brown and Franklin. Setting: the brick wall.

[Both lean on wall and look ahead in standard fashion.]
Charlie Brown: I miss the good ol' days...
Franklin: Yeah.

[Same as 1 only w/out words. A silent beat.]

Charlie Brown [continuing thought]: ...When my family owned yours.
Franklin: No.

I didn't end up illustrating this and didn't submit it as the feature illustration because even though it more overtly illustrates the article's point, it was also probably too volatile.


illustration for Two Sacred Loves: The Complementary Clash of Lent and Valentine’s Day

So Monday, Rich asked if anyone had any feature ideas for Valentine's Day. Erin suggested something relating to the proximity of Lent and Valentine's. Rich said, Ok. And it would be a rush because it'd have to be written, edited, tidied, and published by Wednesday morning. Erin is a champ so she did it. I am a champ so I illustrated it without having the article yet in front of me (to be fair, Rich got me a draft when I was half through with the drawing).

No matter what Erin's article says, I think my illustration nails it.

The art is based off my penchant to be playful with the Ashy holiday (see here for more evidence: The fact is, I'm not a fan of injecting religion into my holidays. Christmas is a secular holiday so far as I'm concerned. Halloween too. Lent doesn't exist in my world because, really, why would it? I don't enjoy theater in my worship. Too much artifice. Too much make-believe. I am who I am and I'll come as I am.

I also realize that not everyone perceives the world as I do. (Maybe no one does.) So maybe Lent and religious holidaymaking have actual value to other people. I'm sure they might. But not for me. I'd have to be a completely different kind of person to actually understand why people would want something like Lent or be the kind of person Lent could benefit. I'm not that person, but I'm okay with other people maybe being that person. If they really are that person and not just putting us on. I can't ever really tell.

Also: I see no reason why this article shouldn't have been titled Happy Val-Lent-Tine's!


illustration for The Persecution Complex of the Modern Introvert

Very little to this one. The girl is, perhaps ironically, reading a copy of Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (inexplicably with a red cover).


illustration for Can the Church Alone Provide Welfare for the Poor?

Article deflating some of the common mythology of the conservative Christian establishment. This was one I had a week or so to mull over and I still didn't know what to draw. Even when I sat down to begin, I had no idea what would come out.

So I started drawing a dollar bill. I didn't like it so I drew it again. George Washington is funny looking. Right before I began, my three-year-old daughter was singing: "He eats chicken but not the British chicken!" Then, just because, I drew a chapel with steeple.

I had a dollar bill and a church. I scanned them, took them into Photoshop, and thirty-five minutes later had this. I think it's still missing something, but I don't know what. Maybe dirty smelly poor people.


illustration for What They Want Us to Believe: We Tackle the Super Bowl Commercials Head On

Superbowl ads, ammirite?

I didn't see the Superbowl because, like, why would I? Everyone who knows me is pretty much aware of my antipathy toward spectating sports. I just didn't inherit that gene. An evolutionary step forward, I suppose.

I did, however, watch all the ads a couple days before. Mostly in order to prep for this illustration, but still. The offerings were mostly predictable. A lot of work to craft the female form into a sexual object. (And of course I have a different view on objectification than a lot of people, but I won't bore you with that.)

Here's my summary of the ads:

• I didn't understand Fiat's scorpion one. I mean, sure, a pervy scorpion. We're all on board with that one. 'Cuz scorpions, ammirite? But when he undoes the oblivious woman's top, she sees a Fiat and completely forgets that there's a creepy pervy monster crawling up her back. Where is the justice? Fiat doesn't believe in justice.

• The farming one, as I mentioned elsewhere, was stupid. It was Paul Harvey lionizing the hard work of farmers. And then it was Dodge saying that you who do little more than brave traffic and the chance for repetitive stress syndrome are pretty much just as Heroic as any stupid farmer. I mean, beautiful photography, sure, but...

• The Audi prom one was about how if you drive their cars, you too will have the courage to rapekiss girls. Because nothing says sexual assault like Audi.

• Kia had both one of the best commercials and the worst. The Hotbots one, with the robots with cleavage, was basically just asinine slapstick (though the accidental robot was amusing). The Where Do Babies Come one was smart, funny, and conveyed a decent message (that Kia's have good voice command tech) and was only marred by an awkward voice actor.

• Go Daddy's, the one with the model kissing that actor who's in the background of EVERYTHING was bizarre and insulting to both a) pretty women and b) the tech savvy people who make today's world actually work. At least Go Daddy is staying on message.

• The one with Willem Dafoe as the devil was well put-together (even if still reinforcing a particularly narrow vision of what a dream-come-true life would look like).

• The Axe ones made me laugh because, hey, astronaut. Reach For The Stars, Asumi!


• Hyundai's Team ad. Charming, funny, plays to recognizable tropes, and conveys Hyundai's message of "seats seven!" effectively.

If you want to watch them yourself, please do so responsibly:>


illustration for Church, Then Lunch, Then Strip Club: Pastoral Failure Laid Bare In Game’s “Jesus Piece”

I don't listen to hip-hop. To be fair, I don't listen to much these days. I still like music, in a very gut sense, but my life doesn't have much soundtrack other than what I myself sing. I think my ears just got tired, I don't know.

In any case, even when I was listening to music, I didn't listen to hip hop. I don't have so much against it and I've heard the occasional laudable piece. It's just not so much my thing. Just like, bafflingly, there's someone out there who cares nothing for John Coltrane's "My Favourite Things."

All that to say: I have no idea who The Game is and I can just left of guarantee I've never heard his music. And... I don't particularly care to know more about him. I did, however, look up his Jesus Piece album cover as my "research." It's appropriately garish.

I took my favourite image from the cover and expanded on it. A poor man's understanding of heaven.


illustration for Put Down Your Birth Plan: How Idealizing Motherhood Is Causing Post-Partum Depression

I confess to not having read this before illustrating it. Time was short and I knew the article was about post-partum depression. I glanced over the first paragraph or so.

So I drew Sonata, desaturated with her cribbing a grey/blue. That's my version of mopey. But unfortunately, it ended up looking rather too sweet. Oh well. Maybe a sweet baby would draw in readers who would then be greeted by an insightful article on how Christian cultures idealization of giving birth ("F*** YEAH! I just had an awesome HOME BIRTH motherf***ers!! Everyone should do this!!!"—this is basically the voice in which I read all boasting about whatever birth practice you're selling) can contribute to PPD.

Apparently the article is really good and helpful.


illustration for Is It Time to Forgive Lance Armstrong?

This one is animated, so click the link.

Really good article on Lance Armstrong and what it's like to deal with remorseless and habitual liars.

Also, I drew nine hands for this one. Nine! I also had to look up what a dollar looked like. #research


illustration for MLK Day: The Dream is Not A Reality

Sometimes when you've caught a cold from your sons who sneezed into your mouth and your head is foggy and nothing really seems like it isn't from a Salvatore Dali world, a simple illustration is best.

I had been ruminating on this for a couple days and really didn't want to draw MLK again. (I did him in the Birmingham jail last year—or the year before—I'm still pretty foggy.)

Plus, I think invoking the children's song is more provocative anyway. 'Cuz Jesus loves the little children.. so long as they don't co-mingle, right?


illustration for This Should Go Without Saying: Stop Blaming Rape on Women

Trigger warning: rape and stupid men

I always love it when Rich messages me and tells me I get to draw an illustration for a rape article. Really makes my day, because HOW ON EARTH...?

Anyway, this is a pretty fantastic article about how men have this stupid cultural propensity to blame women for male sexual aggression. It then transitions into how Christians need to STOP blaming women and the way they dress for male lust. Because you know whose fault it is? Not the women's fault, I'll tell you that.

My original design had two or three women in various states of attire, ranging from "modest" to "immodest" (in quotes because these concepts have nothing to do with what the Bible's concerned about when it talks about modesty). Each woman would have a green checkmark of approval abover her head. On the far right would be the Looney Toons Wolf Whistle wolf, with his eyes bulged and tongue rolled out—with a big red X of disapproval over his head.

Then I started drawing outfits and had a lot of fun with that so I drew too many women and didn't have room for the wolf, which I was thinking was kind of too on-the-nose anyway. I wanted to diversify in both ethinicity and body-type but I just didn't have time—and I wasn't sure that the whole stumble-police thing wasn't just an event in White Evangelicalism. So I pretty much drew white women (though actually, i included and Asian woman and a Latina that could be read as white if needed). I think the identical bodies of the women adds to the interpretive breadth of the piece, leading one to realize the extreme objectification that occurs when we place these male-gaze Moral Rules on women.

The text, Not Her Fault, originally curled and hugged each body, but in the end, I think it worked better as quiet background buzz. The more sinister aspect is the implication that each of these women are victims. I don't like that (obviously) but its necessary to the piece. This was another of those illustration I was uncomfortable putting together.

Also, the girl in pajamas goes out to Faith, because PAJAMAS!


illustration for Our Favourite Features of 2012

This is what phoning it in looks like. But I mean, what else was I supposed to do, huh?

Anyway, these are the articles that CAPC writers and editors agree are the best of last year. So probably worth your time. Some, like the Rachel Held Evans one, are a little bit too insider for me (i.e. if RHE doesn't matter to you —and she probably doesn't—then the article probably won't be super meaningful either). But most of them are pretty broad in appeal.


illustration for How the New Sincerity Changes the Way We Watch Popular Culture

This was my idea for the New Sincerity piece when I had read it as the New Serenity.


illustration for How the New Sincerity Changes the Way We Watch Popular Culture

There are times when I don't know what I'm doing. Surprising, I know. For a couple days, I had thought this article was about the new serenity. I didn't know what that was but I let the title percolate in my mind.

A lot of times, this is how it goes. I can't really think of how to approach illustrating an article, so I'll just let it wash over me for a few days in a free association sort of way. This oftentimes works pretty well.

When I get the title right.

I came up with this pretty awesome idea and has started its visualization when I thought I had better read the article and make sure it fit. It didn't. There was nothing about serenity at all in Fitzgerald's article. Because it was about sincerity, not serenity.

So, Monday night was me and Michelle driving and me asking, "C'mon, think! What the heck invokes the idea of serenity?? I mean, sincerity!! Arg! Who would ever write about such an outmoded concept! I hate this world!"

The new sincerity reminded me of the old sincerity which reminded me of that cynical combination of the two in the Fallout series. Thus: I got to draw Vault Boy in all his treacle, shimmering splendor.

Honestly, I prefer realism and cynicism to the happy dopiness of the new sincerity. Cynicism can solve problems. Sincerity just smiles and takes it. Cynicism opens the door to authentic happiness. Sincerity camouflages so much of everything in aw shucks opiates that it becomes impossible to discover real authenticity and happiness.

That's why I like Vault Boy. He's like Rapture. He answers questions that he didn't used to be able to imagine. His existence is an answer in itself.

Also: here's the basic idea I had for John Fitzgerald's non-existent article on The New Serenity.


older illustration for an unpublished political article

I just found this old illustration for a political article that was never published. I imagine it was something about how Christians ought to forge a path through life that is devoted neither to the Republicans nor to the Democrats. Probably?


illustration for Our Favourite Films of 2012

I did an illustration for CAPC's Top 10 Films of 2012 but am not happy with it. The idea was Nick's, to take the 10 films and represent them visually as members of the Khaki Scouts from Moonrise Kingdom (my personal film of the year last year). It didn't work out (in my estimation) for a number of reasons.

1) I drew at a large size, basically at 8 1/2" x 14" (legal), so I could hit all the details. That worked out mostly okay, but in shrinking it from about 4500 pixels down to the 550px required by CAPC, all those details become a muddy mess of lines. Just bad planning on my part.

2) I drew one face (the girl from Beasts of the Southern Wild) before my son tumbled into something and started crying. In jumping up to rescue him, I accidentally smashed my brush tip and bent the hairs badly enough that I couldn't get any accuracy out of the brush for the remaining seven faces.

3) Lincoln's head is too small.

4) I never did get a comfortable feel with the colouring on this one. It just feels cluttered. And the poor colouring leads to...

5) An almost complete divorce between the illustration and the feeling of the original poster, making it hard for the average person to even recognize that Hey! This is the poster for Moonrise Kingdom, only with other people's heads on the Khaki Scouts!

Roundly, I consider this whole piece a failure.

Here's a higher res version of the original inks.


illustration for Our Favourite Videogames of 2012

Coming up with new ways to illustrate the Top Whatever of a year is hard. I spent a whole day trying to figure this one out and had no ideas. No reasonable ideas, at any rate.

I did at some point think that it would be fun to draw the principle characters from each game sittting around playing games together. Like Just Dance or something.

But that would have taken like 20 hours. I generally try to aim for illustration I can finish in between 1.5 and 2.5 hours. This one took about 6. (More things to colour can make drawings take forever...)


illustration for Our Favorite Music of 2012

I just drew insets of the ten chosen albums. That's it.


illustration for The Ghosts of Christmas Past

This one goes out to Samuel Ortegón Pepke. For obvious reasons.

So what we have going on here is Some Dude spending a dark and lonely Christmas in front of the television, his sole companion in a soulless age. He has been paying shall we say generous attention to his adult beverage of choice. He is, as they say, down in the dumps—because who wouldn't be, feeling the grip of loneliness at Christmas, a time of friends, family, and celebration of those friends and family.

Some Dude struggles to refocus on the remaining good of the holiday. He's overwhelmed by his life and whatever disappointments govern it. Still, he does hope, which is why he's watching Linus do his thing. Linus, of course, is telling it like it is, giving viewers an earful of Christmas what-for. Some Dude is not quite there yet, but he's not as far off as he might feel.

It's on reflecting on what Christmas is really about that he might find a slice of joy again. His tree is unlit and dour, but by picking up what Linus is laying down, by reflecting on the meaning of Christmas, Some Dude's path to a happy holidays is laid out.

That's why the tree is lit in the mirror. The mirror that's REFLECTING Linus telling his tale. Jeez, do I have to explain everything to you??


illustration for 6 Worthwhile Graphic Novels from 2012

My original idea was to have each of the representative characters from my six choices standing in close single file looking back over their shoulders at the reader. Then I remembered the mermaid was topless. So scratch that idea.


illustration for Our Favorite Television of 2012

It's that time of year again, that time when I draw collections of things for all the Top 10 lists coming out of CAPC. This one is for television. I even got to contribute a short promotion for one of the shows. One guesses which one...

Also, surprising no one, American television is a very white place.


illustration for Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Deep, Deep Love Story

Erin Newcomb reviewed Tell the Wolves I'm Home but in the proces talked about the Little Prince. So... Little Prince it was.


illustration for Football without a Prayer: Why Pre-Football Piety is a Bad Idea

Hey look, I emulated the Book of Kells.

Because I had already drawn Tim Tebow doing his kneeling prayer thing, this was the ONLY other possible angle on the subject. The only one.


illustration for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”: 30 Years of Fear (but Fear Not)

I'll be honest, I didn't really read this article. I saw it was about Michael Jackson's album Thriller and that was enough for me. The first paragraph was enough to alienate me by proposing a situation so foreign to my experience that I couldn't imagine the rest of the connecting to me in any meaningful way.

"For those of us who grew up in that decade, Thriller was our Sgt. Pepper, our Pet Sounds, our Dark Side of the Moon."

I pretty much definitionally grew up in the '80s. I was in first grade when Reagan got shot, sixth grade when the Columbia blew up, and in high school when Tank Man wowed the world and then promptly disappeared. That said, I was a little young to have gone ape for Jackson in the Thriller-era (I would have been a third-grader when it was released) and by the time Bad was released, Jackson had well passed (at least in our junior high minds) from legitimate pop star to has-been joke through his idiosyncracies and unpalatable music. By the time Bad came out, I was well into enjoying "real" musicians like Metallica. (I *was* in junior high, cut me some slack.)

In any case, while a latecomer to charms of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, Michael Jackson still doesn't ring any of my enjoyment bells—so I can't really tell you if the article is any good or not.

But! I do like the tiger on the album's cover.

As to why Jackson's blacked out? It's cuz he's dead, Phred. Obvious symbology of the missing and all that. But I did like his Thriller eyes, so I added those.


illustration for Can Faith in the Better Story Sustain Us? Survival and Significance in “Life of Pi”

One of my favourite books of the last decade was Life of Pi so I was excited when I discovered I'd be illustrating Nick's feature on the book. I was a little nervous as this picture already exists. What else would I have to add? All in all, I'm pretty happy with my effort. There was another one with no blue, just straight tiger orange for the water. I explain why I went with blue in the spoiler below. So yeah...


Really, don't read this if you have read the book or seen the movie and you plan to because it'll give away a major script-flip in the book's late game. So what I really wanted to do here was make sure that Richard Parker, the tiger, was not actually depicted in Pi's boat. (Since in the lesser story he doesn't actually exist.) Instead, I depicted Pi alone, lost in the depths (and really at the mercy) of his tiger fantasy. The blue not only depicts the sea in which he is impossibly stranded, but allows for the tiger's orange to spread out as blood in the water from the scene of Pi's depravities. The boat is what keeps Pi alive but it's also created the biggest wound on his soul. The tiger-blood cloud around the boat is his mother's, the the chef's, the shipman's, but even more it his his own blood. The tiger has him, but he is the tiger. And fantasy blends with reality in a chaotic concoction of faith and an unsustainable worldview.


illustration for The Naked Racism of an Obama America

Not wanting my illustration to be potentially more volatile that the article itself, I struggled for days over how to depict this discussion of how not only is Obama's America not post-racial but how it is not even post-racist. Even as Alan rejects the claim by some that Obama has divided our nation across race lines, he does suggest that Obama's term has acted as catalyst to reveal just how race-oriented so much of modern America really is.

So rather than spark deep indignation from the outset, I opted for something subdued—though I suppose that even for some these-colours-dont-run types, repurposing the national flag might still spark indignation. In any case: the American flag, coloured in browns, to play off the fears of the white majority that this is no longer "their" country.


illustration for Recording & Recovering Childhood in Sam Billen’s ‘Places’

This looks just peach on the CAPC home page.

I don't know anything about Sam Billen. This is the trouble with musicians and articles about them. There really isn't any way to know about their thing unless you listen to them. A movie you can look at and go, Oh. Cabin in the Woods: horror. Hellboy: Adventure. Star- anything: space fantasy. With music, you just can't get that sense. I mean Fleet Foxes evokes indies sensibilities, modern jazz vocalese quarter, Kpop, underground metal revivalists, and pop punk.

I had the same trouble with the last illustration, the one of Underoath. I have no personal connection with the music and so couldn't really be sure what to draw. I did know that I didn't want to be bored though—so that meant absolutely not doing another performance illustration.

Since Billen's album is called Places, I got the idea drawing a bunch of landmarks along the bottom and then making Billen's face the sun. I wasn't sure whether I'd do a cartoon Billen-sun or a realistic one. Obviously, I ended up going the other way.

Actually reading the interview article solidified my direction for locale. Billen talks about the importance of Japan to him so rather than incorporate world landmarks, I settled on things that evoked Japan: Osaka Castle, Tokyo Tower, Mt. Fuji, etc.

I kept the colours in the green through orange end of the spectrum partially because we don't see that a lot in my CAPC illustrations and partly as a callout to the Katamari Damacy art that exists in my mind's eye (which bears no necessary resemblance to the real thing).


illustration for Reinventing Their Exit: Reflections on the Music of Underoath

It's hard getting invested in something that doesn't really interest me in the slightest. It's not that I bear any antipathy toward Underoath, whoever they are. It's more just that there's no intersection between my musical tastes and the product that Underoath was selling. It sounds condescending but screamo always struck me as something for the kids, much how I was a huge fan of screamo's ancestors (grind-, thrash-, and death-metals) when I was a ninth-grader. Personalizing, I always assumed that just as I moved on from those forms as I clawed my way to adulthood, so would we all.

This, of course, isn't the case and people will like what people like and it really has nothing to do with maturity. This doesn't help me like the music any more but it does help me identify better with the appreciator.

For this reason, I tried to do an illustration that would be respectful of the subject matter instead of the comedic one I had in mind featuring Underoath's lead screaming at a leotarded butt, in finest Gangnam style.


illustration for As Biblical as Apple Pie: Rachel Held Evans’s A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I wasn't going to draw Rachel Held Evans on a roof. That's the singular image people have associated with the book and to reimagine the concept would have been boring.

Carissa's article, essentially, is about the dearth of value in stunt books. So:

RHE doing sweet jumps on a banana bike over a crocodile pit. (I thought her jumping sharks would be too on the nose—plus, Carissa loves posting pictures of alligators.)

Mid-jump, she's throwing horns but leaves the interpretation of those horns to us. She, whatever her intention, will be misinterpreted by some of her audience. Is she throwing horns to demonstrate the exuberant radness of jumping green snappy-snappy creatures on a banana bike? Or is she honouring Satan, her dread lord and master? Christians will go halvies on this and everyone will hate everyone else and it will be business as usual.

Except RHE will at least have gotten to jump crocs and so she wins. And Rob Bell thought love wins. Silly Rob Bell.


illustration for The Lost Women and Children of the Abortion Debate: A Pro-life Response to Walsh, Akin, and Mourdock

The last two months have been extremely stressful for me. I was coming up on a hard deadline for a four-year design project and a number of things were not making it easy to meet that deadline. On top of that, my involvement in several after work projects was weighing on me pretty heavily—both my commitment to writing for Good Ok Bad as well as my illustrations for CAPC are two such projects.

I've had to illustrate some tough stuff before, stuff that I really didn't want to find a way to illustrate. An article devoted to sex in the Game of Thrones. 9/11 retrospective. Innumerable articles on Mark Driscoll. You get the idea. I always get it done but it's always emotionally taxing. So when I found I'd be required to illustrate an article on rape and abortion, I almost gave up. Too much stress and the need to draw something that conveyed the article's content but wouldn't also get rejected like my first try at a Sex in the Game of Thrones one did. I was wholly at a loss. Still, I'm a pro. I make a living off my artskilz so I don't like imagining there's something out there too tough for me to take on. Even when maybe it is.

So. I came up with an idea. A horrible, terrible idea. I'd draw my daughter, aborted. There is perhaps no one a cherish more than this little tiny girl. She is filled with so much invention and light that our every conversation leaves me in awe. The thought of life without her is abhorrent. That she might have been aborted had we made different decisions in our lives knots the pit of my stomach with holy terror. That this voice would be missing from our lives is a plague upon my stability. It's too horrible to contemplate and even writing about it makes me queasy. So I drew it instead.

I wanted to make the article real to me. I wanted to be so deeply invested that I couldn't look away.

When we first discovered my wife was pregnant with Sonata, I drew a cartoony picture of her for an announcement of expectation. This was our first conception of her. Before ultrasounds. Before discovering her sex. She was a cartoon. A little thing in a cartoon womb. It is that drawing that I've replicated here, with dead cartoon eyes, and coloured blue with asphyxiation.

I feel like this illustration is a success because I get sick when I look at it.


illustration for How “Zombie Jesus” Guides Us through the Postmodern Apocalypse

This was a strange article to illustrate. By the title, I though it'd have something to do with Zombie Jesus, maybe some sort of analysis of the figure. Instead, its about the debatable proposition that the distinction between apocalypse and postmodern zombie apocalypse is that the latter ascribes no hope while the former is built on the stuff. Questionable, as pre-postmodern end-of-the-world scenarios were often hopeless (cf. 1939's "Peace on Earth") and postmodern ones often *do* capitalize on a ray of hope.

All in all, after reading this essay, my wife and I both thought: "Hey, there was grist for an interesting article in there. Oh well. Another time perhaps."

My illustration features zombified youth devouring hope while the world burns behind them.The girl in the red dress is wearing a mini-cardigan in honour of Richard Clark.


illustration for Don’t Vote: An Alternative to American Politics

When I got the idea for this one, an article on abstaining from the vote, I felt bad. I felt I was phoning it in. Just text? A faux ballot?

My wife, of course, got mad at me, reminding me how I didn't have time to be magnificent and how every illustration doesn't have to take hours and how I was under a lot of stress with a big deadline at work and had all sorts of other things weighing on me. She was right, also of course, but that doesn't stop me from hoping that I'll be able to look back at my body of work and not be disappointed in any of it (even though I am).

In any case, I thought I'd liven it up with some watercolour and I think that works out very well and helped me highlight Nope, whom I'm sure will win by a landslide this year.

Also, that white thing is a hanging chad. I'm not sure that really comes through at all. This is what happens when I try to be cute.


illustration for All Hallow’s Read: Why We Should Read Scary Stories for Halloween

This is the 100th illustration I've done for CAPC. I started doing them 15 months ago. For the milestone, I'm excited that it got to be a Halloween illustration. (Halloween being my favourite holiday and all.)

A couple weeks ago, I saw the video for Neil Gaiman's promotion of All Hallow's Read, a celebration of scary literature and a way to share the love of spooky books with friends and family. I enjoyed the video despite the background cacophony and shared it with the CAPC staff. Erin Newcomb took to it as well and decided to write an article about good spooky fiction to gift for different age groups.

For this illustration, I took characters from several of her recommendations and mashed 'em all together. Unsurprisingly, I majored on the more youth-centered books. They tend to have more pictures. Here we feature the Old Dark Frog, the Other Mother, the Wild Thing, the Witch, and the Wolves from within the Walls. While I hadn't yet read The Ladies of Grace Adieu I seemed to remember ravens being deeply associated with John Uskglass (The Raven King) and I think I remember there being a Uskglass story in The Ladies. The Antelope is the boon companion from The Dangerous Alphabet.

For a larger version, please refer to this:


illustration for Becoming a Slave Again to Edifying Habits

Illustrating abstract concepts can be simple or brutal, depending usually entirely on the capriciousness of one's imagination. I mean, of course, that's only true if one also wants to illustrate something that hasn't been done a million times before. I had rather not draw The Obvious Thing for my CAPC illustrations, but sometimes my imagination is just not quick enough on the draw and by the time The Last Minute rolls around and I have to draw or miss deadline, I get stuck with the obvious thing.

Case in point: an article hits my desk called the ungainly "Becoming a Slave Again to Edifying Habits." It's about how have discerning cultural practices can become The New Legalism. Right. So after a day or two of not coming up with anything, I get stuck with the obvious. 'Cuz I mean, c'mon, the first thing anyone would think of when reading that title is slavery and there are just a handful of unambiguous images associated with slavery that don't also specifically conjure black slavery in the US South.

So: shackles it is then.


illustration for Lecrae and Big K.R.I.T.: Presenting the Wrestle

Never let it be said that I'm afraid to draw a man with breasts.

Okay. So. This is a drawing of Lecrae for an article about Lecrae. I don't know anything about him save for that I'm not really a fan of his music. It is, 'scuse my French, boring to me. I mean, it's no Gangnam Style, ammirite? Anyway, the article: Lecrae is apparently a Xian hip-hop artist who featured another hip-hop artist on his song "Mayday"—some guy named Big K.R.I.T. who's a foul-mouthed misogynist or some such. This has some people wringing their hands over whether Lecrae is being unequally yoked. It's silly concern, but the people who worry about those things are the kinds of people who would write about being worried about those kinds of things. So that's the article, it's about Lecrae and it's about those kinds of people.

Someone suggested I draw Lecrae and Big K.R.I.T. unequally yoked. Uh uh. No way. With the history of our nation and the current climate of ethnic relations and the continuing racism endemic to American society, there's no way that I (a blond-haired and blue-eyed male of vikingish extraction) would ever draw two black men yoked like oxen. No matter the intent there are things that image speaks that just aren't going to be helpful. So yeah, instead I drew him with the body of a white woman. No black man could ever object to that, right? *rolls eyes*

So yeah. If you haven't sussed it out, I basically drew Lecrae's head on Amelia Earhart's body. Look, there's her plane in the background. Look, there's her doomed flightpath. Look, there's Howland Island where she never arrived. Look, there is some French behind Lecraehart—"venez m'aider" (come help me) from which we get our English distress call, "Mayday." Which is the name of Lecrae's song.

The illustration is Icarian. A warning to Lecrae. If he flies too high above his audience—his staid and narrow fanbase—he may come to find himself in distress. Overly ambitious art may leave him vulnerable to big crits, not from the obvious sources (such as those who name themselves after high damage strikes in MMOs, e.g. Big K.R.I.T.), but from the fans themselves who will never understand. Lecrae will cry "M'aider! Mayday!" but those who would profess a desire to rescue him will not be able to hear because they will be too busy arguing about his yoking and whether it is equal enough. And so, like Amelia Earhart who sought to escape the bonds of her fixed, unimaginative society, Lecrae may also fall pray to Gravity (also the name of the album on which "Mayday" appears) and be lost and swallowed into the chaos of the sea.


illustration for How Mumford Stays True

Mumford & Sons, a bunch of Londoners, dress in (or get dressed in) the clothes of Americana. I here illustrate the confusion.

Are you blind yet?

Also, this is what happens when you take a perfectly serviceable drawing and bend it to articulate a point. Sometimes the message is more important than the beauty. Not often, but sometimes.


illustration for A Lost Cause?: The Master and the Search for Desire’s Anchor

"I remember reading a book when I was a child about Corky and the Sperm Whale and it was about a little boy named Corky and he jumped off the dock and he would ride from harbor to harbor and meet all the fisherman and they would talk about -Hey, how's your blowfish?- You know and they'd say -Hey, how's your halibut doin'? Hey, got any snapper?- Well stuff like that, you know. I always remember that and I thought, first of all I'd love to ride on the back of a sperm whale, among other things."—Corky St. Clair, Waiting for Guffman, deleted scene


illustration for A Lost Cause?: The Master and the Search for Desire’s Anchor

I haven't seen The Master. I suspect I won't for another four years or so if my track record is anythign to judge by. I had to probe Nick re the films visual themes.

"It would be cooler if you just drew them together out at sea on a boat. One of the guiding metaphors of the film is that they're both adrift--in unique ways trying to satisfy desire. As one critic put it, the nautical and jouissance are pretty evidently linked." he said. Jouissance! But what kind of boat!

"The thing I told you to draw would be more of a small, metaphorical boat." he said. Ah, the good ol' metaphorical boat (always drawn to resemble viking ships!). See, Nick, what you have to realize is that I... I haven't seen the movie. I don't know that they like riding on a metaphorical ship and not a real one. I'm just going to go doodle 70s-style Dawntreaders now.

"The film has a kind of comedic tone. So if you even drew each of them on their own small boat, side-by-side, holding hands or something. I don't know I'm just throwing out ideas." he said. But are they in love? in man love? in nonerotic but maybe erotic man love? are there spirits in love but their hearts not and there bodies really really not?

"Nonerotic but maybe erotic undertones. But it's only suggested in the sense that Freddie takes a break from trying to fulfill his desires sexually in order to give Lancaster's cult a try, if that makes sense. They need each other." he said. But do they wear any iconic outfits in the film? like does one guy always wear a pastel suit or does another guy often wear a sailor outfit or anything visual like that?

"Well, it would be cool to dress up Freddie in the navy outfit, because he's often referenced as a *seaman* with all of the intent you might imagine." he said.

Me: Can I have a sperm whale wearing a navy cap as a stand-in for freddie?

And that, little children, is how an illustration is born.


illustration for Replacement Referees and the Violation of Justice

It was astounding to me that this was a thing people cared about. After I was told I'd be illustrating this, I went online and watched a handful of newsy bits and opinion pieces. Michelle asked if I had gone mad. It was kind of rad, actually, watching people pretend (and even probably believe their pretending) that this ref-kerfuffle matters more than whether or not the yoghurt in your fridge had gone bad. In any case...

I drew the two refs and none of the crowd or the action because the focus is on them. I gave them the same skin colour (instead of one black and one white) because for the sake of the furor, they are not individuals—they are merely emblems of our national frenzy for meaningless anger.


illustration for Live Free or Die Hard? Walter White's Spectacular Imaginative Failure

The article's title doesn't spell it out but this is about BREAKING BAD.

So... Breaking Bad's protagonist/antagonist Walter White travels the path from too-mild high school teacher to powerful, murderous villain. Here his halo has been corrupted and grows horns. Additionally, good or bad, the whole thing threatens to fall apart.


illustration for Labor of Love: Death of a Salesman & The Problem With Success

Really, this one just got out of hand and feels like a failure to me. The linework for the salesman turned out to be too thick and I just didn't have time to redo him. To compensate I threw on all kinds of textures and layer adjustments. I finally arrived at a pretty pared down version that was almost black and white. Originally, the salesman didn't even have a face. Then, instead, I did this to it. And because it wasn't design-weak enough, I threw on text. Not my finest hour.

I didn't have a title for the article, so I just tossed in the related words, Labour of Love. In the end, editors titled the article Labor of Love. Which is pretty funny when you place Labor of Love and Labour of Love adjacently.

Note on the article, it's pretty good though I felt it romanticized one's job a bit. Also, though I haven't read teh book myself, my wife assured me that it's made as clear as it can be without coming right out and saying it that the salesman sells women's stockings (contra the article).


illustration for Paul Ryan: The Man With A Plan

I don't really know anything about Ryan so this one's unfortunately pretty straightforward. Just the man (foreground) with a plan (background). The schematic is actually for a Fender model, but maybe Fender makes good government.

I would have been much more able to have fun with the illustration had Ben written this up as Paul Ryan being some sort of follower of Ayn Rand. Then I could have done Ryan up, Bioshock-style, as the son of Andrew Ryan with Big Daddies and Little Sisters cheering him on with chants of "Would You Kindly?"


illustration for Higgs Boson and the Goodness of Scientific Discovery

I love the Higgs Boson guy. His secret origin is that in high school, he was on a fieldtrip to visit Science. While he was showing off for the girl he'd liked since sixth grade (i.e. kind of totally being a creeper), he was bitten on the hand by a wild Higgs. After feeling pretty nauseated and seeing all kinds of colours and sounds that aren't legally obtainable in the Lower 48, he began to feel as though he was empowered by the proportionate strength of a Higgs Boson. ('Boson' is just fancy-speak for tongue, so really: he was gifted with the proportionate strength of the tongue of a Higgs. I knew a Tracy Higgs in high school. I do not know the strength of her tongue, whether it could crush armies or break stars. But still, I imagine a six-foot tongue would be no slouch.)

This is Higgs Boson man demonstrating that with great power comes great ability to look like a weirdo. His sixth grade crush still thinks he's a bit of a creeper. His shirt's not helping.


illustration for The Pale King Wins the (CaPC) Pulitzer!

I haven't read the Pale King yet. It's supposed to arrive at my office tomorrow—we're reading it for October's bookclub. So really all I know about it (beyond the terrible DFW backstory) is that it's got some IRS characters and the title reference no-obliquely a (the) pale king. Also, there's some level of transcendence mix with boredom mixed with a mishmosh of tangentially related chapters or something. So... here's my overly literal translation of that.


illustration for Invisible Ethics in the Tour de France

This was a fun, simple illustration. Nothing subversive about it since I don't care enough about cycling to have any sort of political investment in the game's ins and outs.

One thing's for sure though: people take pretty pictures of TDF cycling. Like this one.


illustration for The Chick-fi-Asco: Why Boycotts are Awful

This illustration was a prime example of me phoning it in. Took fifteen minutes and was instantly conceived. Which was great because it was a rush job. Regardless, I think it works and gets across EXACTLY what the article is about. Chick-Fil-A and boycotts.


illustration for The Dark Knight Rises and Truth Has its Day

This was tough, not having seen the movie I was to be illustrating.

Knowing what I do about "Nightfall" etc, I imagined Batman gets destroyed by Bane but somehow rises (titularly?) Gandalf-style to become the hero Gotham needs and deserves. Kind of becoming Gotham's savior, riding down the villains to free Gotham while weilding a sword of justice. Not literally, of course. With the sword at any rate—Frank Miller had him literally ride a horse in Dark Knight Returns.

So then, here we see Batman riding out of the clouds in glory and judgment reminiscent of Rev 19:11ff, "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war." I only regret not adding an illumination-style banner trailing after him, reading "Faithful & True."

Also: shape of the cloud!

Also: a 600dpi version of Batman riding a horse (sans clouds).


joke illustration for The Dark Knight Rises review

In the midst of feeling the pressure of having to illustrate something that everyone and their brother has done awesome fan art for, I needed to blow off steam. This took five minutes to draw and colour—and was just the thing to get me there.


illustration for Obamacare, Citizenship, and Neighbor Care

C Ryan Knight flips the script in discussing where responsibility lies in the provision of healthcare. Helpful treatment of what it means to be a good neighbour.


illustration for The Separation of Church and Patriotism

Since I had already illustrated the perfect illustration for this article awhile back, I wasn't sure what other to do than induct the Messiah into the company of Founding Fathers. A good chunk of the American church likely believes this in some sense anyway, as we so easily baptize colonial armed revolt in Christian rhetoric.


illustration for Sex & Thrones: Four Christian Views on Sex in The Game of Thrones

Because my illustration was declined, I quickly came up with the only thing I could thing of that could take the steam out of anyone's lusty avarice: typography.


illustration for How Should Christians Think About Gay Marriage?

An article Christians and the trouble they have with figuring out what to do with gay marriage.

And yes, that's my gay-married fist there. And no, I'm not actually gay—so this is kind of like if I did something about black men and put on blackface and did minstrelry, right? Unsavory! Although to be fair, I did gay-marry Michelle back in 2006.



illustration for Why Christians Shouldn’t Write Off The Occupy Movement

An illustration for an Occupy article and based off the article's final line: "Having searched their hearts, Christians must turn to searching the heart of capitalism—a daunting but necessary task."

I drew about 12 different dollar bills and just scattered them all over. I had originally meant to do the bull and ballerina in photorealistic terms, but partway into drawing the bull, I realized it was taking too long and since I was still recovering, I wasn't in any shape to do something that kept me up all night. In the end, I may like this better than what I hypothetically would have created.

The bull and the ballerina is based off The Bull and the Ballerina poster Occupy put out last year.


illustration for Cory Booker and the Difficulty of Heroes

I don't have heroes. I've never had the easiest time conjuring overwhelming admiration for people. And this has only become more pronounced as I've grown older. I tend to judge on a facet-by-facet level. I will admire the artistic talent and choices of Fabio Moon, but he's no hero. I will adore the writing of Haruki Murakami, but I won't consider him a hero. I don't have heroes.

But I certainly don't begrudge others their heroes. Cory Booker is one of Ben's. Here I drew him cool and collected in the face of flames. He's all about his helping hands.


illustration for Why We Need More Christian Entertainers


illustration for Blue Like Jazz: A New Kind of Christian Film

Like ten years ago, Donald Miller came out with a weak book that a bunch of young, white guys from the Mid-West went crazy for. They thought it was revelationary. It was just really an extended blog rant making obvious criticisms and supplied no solutions. It tried hard to be cool. (It failed.)

Now there's a movie based on the book. I can't imagine it being coherent if it at all reflects the loose anecdotes of the book. Blue Like Jazz has been described as a new kind of Christian movie, one that isn't of that tacky, treacle, over-sentimentalized and far-too-overt fluff like Fireproof or Courageous. I haven't seen BLJ, the movie, and don't have any inclination to do so. David Roark, however, did and he thinks that BLJ is not really all that different from every other "Christian" film that's been put out there.

My illustration takes from the Spaceman cartoon in the book and makes it so that Blue Like Jazz isn't half so isolated in its orbit as Miller/Taylor would have you believe. Those other two astronauts are probably Left Behind and A Thief in the Night. To Miller's right (off-camera) are The Cross and the Switchblade, The Judas Project, the animated Pilgrim's Progress movie, and Facing the Giants.


illustration for This American Lie: The Ecstasy and Agony of Mike Daisey

I know apple doesn't make the iconic iPod anymore, but I used the old-school one anyone since all their newer devices look like they could be any-Brand tablets and smartphones. Also, this is what China is really like. It's true.

Also, I don't like how Facebook re-optimizes all my illustrations, making their crisp lines all blurry.


illustration for Obamacare, the Supreme Court, and the Darkness of Hearts

This was a bit of a struggle. I had originally conceived a drawing of a single body, largely featureless save for an emblematic red cross on his chest, slumped on the stairs of the Supreme Court. Done in by its very Justices. I even drew the Supreme Court building and everything. When it came time to add the body, I wanted a good authentic-looking body so I went to the go-to place for Dead Bodies on Steps: The Battleship Potemkin's Odessa Steps scene. And that changed everything.

I knew immediately that the baby carriage was Obamacare. It and the common man are both victims of conservative powers (the five Repulican-appointee justices) laying wrecked on those terrible steps, reflecting how Eisenstein's Russian commoner (the elderly, students, mothers, babies) fell victim to Tsarist authoritarianism. And yet, even as Eisenstein's Massacre at the Odessa Steps never actually occured and was only ever fictionalized to lend drama to the revolution, how much of this picture is accurate retelling of the current struggle over American national health care? Some? None?


illustration for Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, Christian Silence & the Need for Radical Grace

I had originally wanted to do something to do with the ideas of inheritance and legacy (due Faith's line "Racism is our inheritance, but it doesn’t have to be our legacy"), but I couldn't figure out a way to incorporate a Punnet Square that would look awesome.

Instead I focused on the idea of darkness and the concept that Faith draws out in her next line:
"Christians, confront that darkness."

BTW: Those people are Trayvon Martin (right) and George Zimmerman (left)


illustration for a review of Hunger Games the movie

I had to do the illustration without having read the review or having seen the movie, so I just took one of the more pronounced images from the book and extrapolated.

Pre-emptive strike: And yes, I know that Katniss' right hand would have been occupied holding Peeta's left. I could have flipped the image, but I didn't. Because I'm like that. And Peeta is a stupid name.

Also, here's a step-by-step on how the image was made.


illustration for To Syria, With Apathy

What better way to convey the America apathy toward Syria than to not actually know where Syria is? Or know that there is only one of it?

Incidentally, this "illustration" was developed over five minutes as a joke. Rich or Nick or someone told me about the article and I sent them back this a few minutes later. It was never intended to be the final illustration. Unfortunately, right when I was supposed to be drawing for the article for real was the same time that I was being tested for nut cancer—and so, I was understandably freaked out and not really in any state of mind to be working on illustrations. So I told them to just run the joke image.

In the end, I probably still like it better than whatever I would have come up in its place.


illustration for Introducing the 2012 CaPC Theology Hoops Tournament

Just because I didn't understand the article doesn't mean I couldn't illustrate it. 16 teams, 16 balls. And brackets.


illustration for Uncovering Contraception

Condoms, birth control pills, morning after pills, and pregnancy tests. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to draw these even once, let alone in patterned succession.

And of course, I felt I had to include the twin lavender towers of failure.


illustration for Is Church Discipline Cultish? A Response to the Mars Hill Drama

Ideally, this would have been an animated gig staged thusly:

1) picture begins as you see it, with the poor young sinner (note the sinner's soul patch!) up against the wall, prepped for the Xian firing squad.

2) as the camera zooms out, we see that the above image is merely the contents to a thought balloon that belong to

3) —zooming out further—to our young besoulpatched sinner kid. He's thinking this while some uptight elder in a suit reads to him from Scripture in between sips of coffee.

4) Zoom out further and we see they're in Starbucks.

5) Zoom out further and we see people persecuted for their beliefs in real parts of the world.

BOOM! If only I had an effects budget.


illustration for Of Oscar Nominees and Disgruntled Critics

In which Nick is grouchy about four Oscar nominees.

This one looks pretty cool but only sort of works for the article. Originally, I had intended to make the Oscars golden. But I forgot and then it was all finished. As it is, it just feels too divorced from the cinematic theme.

Maybe an hour-and-a-half into this one I had the idea of doing a MST3K-style silhouette of the four Oscar grouches sitting in-theater, heckling and pointing. It was a much better idea but I had already invested too much time in this one, so this is what we got.

Also, with this one, I started experimenting with half-tone patterns for shading, just to see. More experimentation is needed.


illustration for Beyond Wretched: Wretched TV, Deception, and “Violent” Muslims

So they ended up making Alan's article a feature and asked me to revise my illustration to fit their feature-banner size. This meant drawing additional crowd (everything to the right of the large head in the foreground, which was fine) and matching both color and texture for the new crowd and canvas (which was a little tougher). All in all, it worked out okay, but I was pretty tired by the time I finished and I cropped the image poorly. Now, at the top of the yellow sign, there's this little black detail that doesn't make any sense. It's the whole where the PVC connector goes to support the perpendicular crossbar. It's clearly visible in the larger original version, but here it just looks odd.

Also, my Pentel Pocket Brush ran out of ink in the midst of drawing the woman in the black shirt and all my refills are at the office. So the crowd to the right is a little more sparse and less detailed than I had planned.


illustration for A Call for Writers

Rich needed an illustration for a post that was basically just going to be a solicitation for new writers to join the CAPC fold as older writers become doddering old fools and completely lose touch with what's so pop about culture. Or something.

I didn't have any ideas and didn't want to do Uncle Sam. That's cliche enough that if you google "writers wanted" one of the first images you'll see is Uncle Sam.

Instead, I hoped to play to vanity (because it's always a good idea to tempt Xians to sin when you want them to do stuff for you for free) because really, who doesn't want someone to draw pictures of their ideas. It's the newfangled version of having a bard narrate your adventures. You can be Brave Sir Robin and I will sing your praises through my magic brush.


illustration for The Digital Revolution: Text on a Screen

It was, at least in the time when I drew it up, an article illustrating the benefits and deficits of digital text. I don't necessarily grant the premise that there is any real difference between digital and print, so in a fit of subversion, I made the digital text in the background say "Text is text is text is text." In a fit of not wanting to be obvious, I obscured my subversive text to such a degree that it is unreadable. Make of that what you will.


illustration for God, The Game Designer

The most cliched possible illustration for this article would have been appropriating God from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and have his finger touching/creating some pixellated videogame denizen. (Something like this.)

Slightly less cliche (but still pretty obvious) would be to create some pixel art—even though games these days don't actually use pixel art for any reason other than to look retro.

Still, pixel art can look pretty neat, so I went with the lesser cliche.


illustration for Planned Parenthood Is Komen to Get You

My take on the recent Komen nonsense is that an organization that is raising money for something good has basically been perhaps irreparably damaged by the childish back-and-forth drama of the Life and Choice movements. Irresponsible sloganeering and threats of boycotts and groups claiming victories in petty shows of Oh-Look-How-Valuable-And-Important-We-Are have made it so basically no one likes or trusts Komen anymore.

My illustration puts Komen in the place of poor Piggy, crushed in the battle between maniac children.

The original design called for something more epic: toddlers (drawn in the style of Victorian-era children's illustration) naked but for loincloths and facepaint, making war with Komen/Piggy laying wrecked nearby as collateral damage.


illustration for To Hell with Catan?

This was a definite rush job. Early Wednesday Rich read an awfully composed article about how this guy can't handle his licker—er, Catan. By lunch, Rich was all steamed up by how lame the article was. An hour later, he was going to write a short piece on it for CAPC. Then he got even more steamed and turned it into a feature. Around 4pm, he asked me if I could put something together in the next few hours. I did.

The original article was about how this guy would play Settlers of Catan every Monday with his Xian friends and how pissed off he'd get and cuss everyone out and have to apologize on Sunday and sometimes miss communion. After explaining his obvious anger issues, he then blamed the game and said it was the devil's game. Hence the illustration.

Also, to show how legit I was, I made it Hot City Knights—evidenced by red's use of a city wall and everyone's employment of knights. I *did* forget to make the 6s and 8s red though, so maybe I'm not as legit as I thought.


illustration for From Fanboy to Frustrated: A Plea To Mark Driscoll

Some may call it lazy, but I think that every time we run an article on Driscoll, I'll use the same base art ( and simply add appropriate props. It'll really help tie everything together.


illustration for Our Features of the Year


illustration for an unpulished article

Remember a while back when Newt "I think morals are something you eat" Gingrich won the nomination for the GOP in South Carolina, a state that prides itself on voting down moral lines? Gringrich's success was so at odds with how South Carolina Republicans rep themselves that CAPC's political commentator, Ben Bartlett, was going to have some commentary on the situation. Apparently though, life got in the way and that article didn't happen. So I don't think this illustration will ever be used. So I'm posting it here so it will see the light of day.

It's Newt as a newt. In front of a crowd. That is screaming: "Release to us Barabbas!" In Greek. Because, why not?


illustration for Our Favourite Films of 2011

I didn't have time to do something representative of each entry so I went with something more emblematic. Coolpoints to those who know what this is and why I drew/painted it.


illustration for Our Favourite Albums of 2011

I really liked the idea of using the Chinese/Japanese (I don't know its provenance) decorative motif and turning ten of them into albums....albums of the year.


illustration for Can’t Access Your Favorite Websites? Blame SOPA/PIPA

There's no way that shaft would support that ax-head.


illustration for Our Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2011

I got in a goodly number of characters from the selected books, but just plain ran out of time. Also, I started out giving the characters fresh poses but for the sake of time, ended up simply redrawing several of them in poses from their books. *sigh* Time is the enemy of good art.


illustration for Our Favorite TV Shows of 2011

I don't watch television, so this was based wholly* off Google Images.

*note: I *have* seen The Office, so I could draw Jim with confidence.


illustration for Our Top Five Memes Of 2011

Time elapsed for this was 5+ hours, which is not one of my favourite thoughts. I had originally just planned to do the five memes that won in the article but it all seemed rather spare—and I wasn't in the mood for drawing Tebow AGAIN.

So I added in a ton of other memes that were ridiculously popular to give the images a more cluttered feel, like your brain was being invaded by cultural trivialities (which is basically how the colloquial version of memes act anyhow). Oh, and by ton of memes, I mean only seventeen. It felt like a hundred and thirty when I was drawing and colouring it though.

For those who are reading this and wondering what a meme is, it's just you and the rest of the world, honey. Classically (i.e. twenty years ago), memes were described as the passing and propagation of informational data across the culture (meme was meant to sound like gene and was the ideological version of genes' transfer of biological data). Nowadays, the colloquials have gotten ahold of things and memes are basically just funny things that everyone becomes aware of (mostly via the internet). Generally these are things that have no right to be broadly known but we know about them anyway, things like LOLcats or All Your Base Are Belong To Us or Sarah Palin. The internet makes this possible. Before that memes could still travel, they just took longer. Pre-internet memes of this type would include: "He's Popeye the sailor man, he lived in a garbage can. He turned on the gas..." and Michael Jackson being all weird-sauce (even before the pedobear stuff) and "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" and Bat Baby Found On Moon and "On top of Old Smokey, all covered with blood..."

Basically, before the internet 65% of all memes were children's schoolyard rhymes. (These are actually a pretty interesting topic and I highly recommend reading up on it if you're interested in actually viral information transfer.)

Last of all, the plot of Y the Last Man hinges on memetics in a fascinating (or dumb if you're especially grumpy) sort of way.


illustration for Our Ten Favorite Games of 2011

WASPy heroes all around (save for Portal 2).

This one took me 3.5 hours, which is just too long. All the ones with individualized colouring for different characters end up taking a long time. *sigh*

Also, I still can't figure out why the battlefield guy is half on fir but doesn't mind. Also, I had no idea what was going on with the Sword and Sworcery guy's head. So I put him in a balaclava. Also, 90% of review headlines for that game thought it'd be cwute to pwut an extrwa W in swomewwhere. It wasn't cute. Not even wonce.


illustration for Our Favourite Five Books of 2011

I looked up the opening sentence for each of Carissa's choices and brushed them out in a tangle. At the end of the day, it probably would have looked nicer had I done the first two sentences and made the text smaller. I also would have gone crazy and contracted arthritis.

Also, Carissa didn't mention my book of the year 1Q84, so I snuck in a few words from its opener as well. Just 'cuz I'm like that. "The taxi's radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast."


illustration for Mommy, Daddy, Who Is Santa Claus?

An article on how various parents plan to approach the question of talking about Santa Claus with their children. AKA how to profile a myth.


illustration for The War on Christmas and the Kingdom of Christ

I had been enjoying my Saturday afternoon. We had just returned from doing some Xmas-preparatory errands and I was getting ready to settle down and write a review of a book that was maybe the funniest thing I've read in years. Years. I got an email from Rich (editor-in-chief of CAPC) asking if I could rush out an illustration for an article they were going to be putting up on Monday about the quote-unquote war on Christmas. I replied, "Maybe," because come on, it was the weekend and even more, the weekend before Xmas and I had chores to do. Still, I love the pressure cooker of having to invent an idea and bring it to completion in the face of a ridiculous schedule, so I gave it some thought and two brisk, furious hours later came up with this: a battle map laying out the terrain in question and focusing on the maneuvers of our combatants.

It was a lot of fun to conceive and put together. In case you have trouble with fine print, here are the nations and their principle territories. (Also, a larger version of the art before I gave it perspective, texture, and troop movements:

situated on the coast of the Sea of Advent
principal holding: Christmas Island
• Baby Jesus City (capitol)
• Puerta Maria
• Season City
• Linusville
• Pageant
• The Triwise Cities
• Shephardia

straddles Lake Winterbreak
• Mall (capitol)
• Reason City

straddleing Lake Winterbreak and the Blackfri Mountains
• Logtopia (capitol)

principle northern border comprised of the Blackfri Mountains
• New Santa (capitol)

shares a small border with CHRISTMAS but doesn't show much involvement in the war

• Pagana (capitol)
• Perihelion
note: while Pagana is the capitol, Perihelion owns the largest population, perhaps due its location on the sea as a notable vacation spot.


illustration for unpublished Xmas article.


illustration for Skyrim and the Other Reality

I'm enjoying Skyrim a lot. It's a game that offers a lot of different options for a lot of different playstyles. It's beautiful and says things about those who play it. I wanted to do something special for my illustration for whatever related article I almost certainly would be illustrating.

What special means to me: Black. My illustrations for CAPC have been very colourful pieces. Even the ones with muted colours have still been pretty colourful. So I just inverted some black watercolour and slapped it on ablack background, evoking who knows what: a countryside in flames? an ocean with the sun breaking through? snow?

And of course, a goofy-looking dragon.


illustration for Is Tim Tebow Christianity’s MVP?

Since one of the big questions about Tebow (apparently) is his public acts of piety, I decided to incorporate that in my illustration. We have Tebow, in standard form, surrounded by either lions or trumpets. The question is: Is Tebow's piety like that of Daniel (hence the lions) or is he praying to be seen before men (hence the trumpets—yes, yes, I know that the biblical example of vain use of trumpets were those who would toot their own horn while giving offerings, but the idea is related)?

Tebow is simultaneously both pious and vain until we open the box and find out once and for all which he is. He's Schrodinger's Tebow.

The blues and oranges are for Denver, home of thoes two complementary colours.


illustration for Music Made Physical: In Defense of the Humble Cassette

When I saw that I'd be illustrating an article on the continued life of cassettes, I initially thought I'd draw a close-up of one of the cassette gears and little window. Something like this:

(*) |..i.).i..i..|

But then I thought about it and what really struck me from my memories of making mixtape after mixtape (which really, is probably the single best way to listen to music even though it's mostly dead) is the Maxell man. I sometimes got Sony tapes or TDK, but Maxell was the one with the cool packaging. That guy was the one who was listening to and probably enjoying listening to the music that his weird friend handed him in the hall at the office that morning, saying, "Dude, you have to listen to these guys. They'll blow you away." And so they did.


illustration for Supreme Justice: Engaging Culture Through the New Court Term

I don't have a lot to say about this one. 9 strokes for 9 Justices. The background texture is made of 100s of tiny stars, but that kind of got lost in it all.


illustration for From Punk to Prophet

One of the guys from Blink 182 formed another band, apparently as reaction to dire self-circumstance. That band is called Angels and Airwaves and somebody wrote an article on it. Honestly, the article seemed like somebody wanted a bit too deeply to find redemptive themes in Tom Delonge. From the article's conclusion:

"AVA uses Christian themes in their lyrics, song titles and message, and while not overtly Christian, if they serve the same purpose of giving listeners hope while challenging them to make the world a better place, does it matter? As Paul writes, some preach the gospel out of rivalry, but others out of goodwill. But what does it matter? Either way Christ is preached."

Only, so far as I understand it, Christ is not being preached.

For the illustration I found an example of the Gibson the singer/frontman uses and gave it wings. I had drawn the wings around 1994. Pro-Tip: always keep your old stock around. You never know when you might want to use something from the Way-Back Machine.


illustration for The Burden of Thanksgiving

Hand-turkeys helpfully covering up the theme of American gain at the cost of others' pain, here instantiated and memorialized in the famous painting of the Trail of Tears by Robert Lindneux.

I'm kind of torn. Without the bottom turkey's dialogue, the picture seemed too sparse, but with it, it feels needlessly cluttered with text. *sigh* On the other hand, #2 saying thanks without the aitch gives his words just enough flippancy to really sell the idea. Maybe.


illustration for Happy Valley: The Delusion of Penn State’s Paradise, Lost

Nick's sadness over the disillusionment of the region he calls home is so heartfelt, I thought the best depiction might be the Nittany Lion with some tears.

Fun fact: Not being at all interested in sports spectation, I had never heard of Joe Paterno before. I mentioned illustrating the article to my wife. Her response: "Oh, yeah. Paterno's a legend."


illustration for Dear Driscoll, MMA is not a Measure of Manhood — Jesus is

Is Mark Driscoll a chimp? He may be, I don't know. I do know he writes poorly-shored-up defenses of ultimate fighting. This is an article that deals with that.

Probably the most damaging aspect is that because of his influence, position, and charisma, there will be men who now believe this is what a man is supposed to look like. (In a divine-purpose sort of way.) That's why I depicted the monkey (Driscoll?)—to distance the Fight Club mentality from our conception of true humanness/man-ness.

Also, until it was pointed out to me, I had not realized how much Adam Hines superlative take on monkeys had influenced my own. Here's a Hines character, Pompeii, for comparison.


illustration for Superlatives (a five-week series)

Superlatives is a wekly priming of the pump for CAPC's end of the year Best Of lists. I used the same basic art for each and simply altered the bg colour.

The text for "superlatives" is based on Sylfan and the up and down arrows are stolen from Reddit.


illustration for Of Shakespeare and Conspiracies: The Real Stakes of the “Who Was Shakespeare?” Debate

I originally left off the descriptions, but felt that nobody would recognize Shakespeare's collar around the neck of Quororque the Alchemist-Defiler. So I added them, Fumi Yoshinagi-style.

Also, I'm almost happy that the fire pouring out from above the collar looks like bushy blond hair. That's just the way it should be.

Also: text in the background is from Julius Caesar. So there.


illustration for Merlin Fights the Good Fight

While the incantations murmured in the BBC's Merlin are not Greek, I wanted the letters to look foreign but real. I thought about paying homage to Harry Potter and using Latin, but I got the Greek translation first, so that's what I used. Also, Merlin doesn't where the classical wizard's brim in the series (or at least in the two episodes I watched for research), but then his spell wouldn't make sense otherwise.

Eyes orangening as they do in the series, Merlin murmurs the incantation "I put on my robe and wizard hat." He's about to get serious.


illustration for Rendering Unto Ceasar

Render unto Ceasar et cetera. I chose a coin featuring Tiberius. Not my most inspired. And the background is just awful.


illustration for Girls, Cults, and Healing Past Wounds

Article about some indie band. Illustration is the frontman, a whispy blond dude ( who escaped the Children of God, and the background is a recreation of the album's cover art (, which is just black text on white, a rambling screed or some such.


illustration for Pop Stars, The Israelites & The Necessity of Lament

I tried to take the idea that the origination of the blues was in the fieldworkers. The article says, "Some say the blues was originally gospel that talked about what you couldn’t talk about in church." I took that idea, and had these migrant strawberry pickers singing a blues melody, but substituted the Chi Rho for the Treble Clef. It's as if they're singing the blues in the key of Christ.

Also: one more awkwardly titled article. These things are titled like they were senior essays. I suppose they probably want to make dead certain that people know what the article's about from the word Go, but there's probably something to be said for intrigue and simplicity as well. In my head, before I saw the actual title of this article, I was calling it Blues and Laments. I think I'll stick with that.


illustration for Murder Most Bleak

A guest writer takes a look at the British detective show, Midsomer Murders. So, I decided to murder the British Isles.


CAPC needed a recurring image for their podcast. I thought what better to represent popular culture than the Hollywood hill.


illustration for Ray Comfort’s 180: Pass It On?

For this one I knew that two dudes were going to argue about Ray Comfort's uncomfortable new polemical video about abortion (that I affectionately call Hitler 180). I did not know what direction they were going to take things. So, I took the video's theme, those who forget Hitler are doomed to repeat Hitler (?) and ran with that.


illustration for I Don't Know Why She Bothers

This was a rush job and all I did was re-imagine the movie poster ( It turned out pretty well, I guess, but it's not one of the ones I'm particularly proud of. Plus, I didn't have the time to make sure I got her nose right.


illustration for Horsing Around with Humanity

Okay, there's this lady, right? And, using the iocane powder gambit, she had her body gradually grow accustomed to horse plasma. At first you're thinking, well sure, just in case, right? And then you realize that just in case includes For the Sake of My Art and that this lady is one of Those Types. Because, yeah, she went ahead and had horse blood mixed with her own so that she could, you know, feel a little bit of the horse in her.

I know what you're thinking: "Omigosh. This is it. Now that he knows that it works, Seth is going to become a Manatee the Gentlest of Sea Giants (tm)." And I'm not going to say you're wrong. Because that will happen.


illustration for Struggle with the Death Penalty

This is what happens when I get a one-sentence description of what an article *might* be about ^_^ Basically, as i understood it, Ben's article was going to be about how believers broadly need to start thinking more seriously about the death penalty in light of recent executions *and* the inherent racism in the system.

Some of that is in there certainly and the article is very good, but my illustration is really only tangential to what Ben has to say.


illustration for Videogames, Bibles, and Beer

An interview with GameChurch, an organization meant to evangelize gamers at conventions such as PAX. I hadn't done any lighter work for the site really, so I thought I'd do this one as a change-up. The original version was even lighter, but I darkened it up because it was almost invisible on some monitors.


illustration for Illegal Immigrants: People Not Political Capital

I lifted the silhouettes verbatim and the text is, well, text. But the rest is watercolour. I had fun doing the hearts and abstract circulation.


illustration for Ron Paul: Seriously?

Ron Paul, in a bathtub, trying to rock or swamp the GOP boat. Also, he is baptized in the holy waters of the Constitution.


illustration for The Magician King: Enduring the Loss of Eden

Carissa's article, by the way, is fantastic and while I enjoyed her take on a book I just finished, I think the article is probably worthwhile even if you haven't read Grossman's work.

I wanted more time with this one but just plain ran out. I had intended it to be a visual overview of The Magician King but it was just taking to long. On the left side, by Reynard (the fox), I intended to draw the canals of venice and on the right side, by Ember (the ram), I intended to draw the good ship Muntjac out on the open seas. Instead, we just get three vignettes of the godly principles of the story.


illustration for unpublished article, Generationally-Driven Complaints

(I called this one the Get Off My Lawn article.) The flamingos are laid out in an homage to Arlington Cemetery. In my head, this said something about something. Now, stripped of context, it's basically just probably a way funner kind of cemetery.


illustration for How 911 Changed Us

I write about the process involved in this one here and in the three pictures that follow.

I'm actually glad I went down the more subdued route. My original idea would have been fun, but I couldn't know how well it would coalesce with the viewpoints in the article - since I hadn't seen the article when I made the illustration.


illustration for The Suicide of Character in Mad Men

Taking a more literal approach to the opening titles of the show. The Draper stand-in is shackled (by the consequences of his choices, perhaps) chest-deep in blood. His own by the gradual suicide of years? or that of the victims of his actions, both overt (lies, schemes, infidelities) and indirect (such as via advertising).


illustration for Taking Dr. King Even More Seriously

Based a photo of King-J in the Birmingham jail w/a crowd shot from "I Have a Dream" in the distressed background. The heralding angel carries words of grace and peace from King-J's lips to the future movement.

I was going to include a liberal quote from Plato's Apology to show the timelessness of the stream in which King-J found himself. But it just felt too busy.


illustration for Christ and Pop Culture: Already and Not Yet

Top Row: Rich Clark, David Dunham, Alan Noble, Benjamin Bartlett, Carissa Turner Smith, Drew Dixon, Adam Carrington, Jason Morehead

Bottom Row: Erin Straza, Nick Olson, Luke Larson, Erin Newcomb, Christie Dean, Stewart Johnson, Kirk Bozeman, and me.


illustration for Virtual Scapegoats: Getting to the Truth About Videogame Violence

I wanted to draw the soldier but ran out of time. I'm only mediocrely happy with this one. I think it turned out okay, but it had more potential than it realized.


illustration for Alcohol, John MacArthur, and the Growing Pains of Christian Libert

Since I had JUST DONE an illustration featuring bottles of whiskey, doing something with bottles of beer would have been too derivative. I thought about having Brad Williams wielding an axe while riding a chopped up beer barrel SLim Pickens-style while beer poured out onto the ground and Alan knelt with a straw to sip up whatever he could like a man possessed. But I ran out of time.

I also wanted to draw Brad and Alan doing shots together while MacArthur wept bitterly and sucked his thumb while clutching a bottle of Purelle. But that didn't really fit the article. Plus, I ran out of time.

So then, Calvin subsumed by a hoppy beverage. Beer was accomplished by compositing two black-and-white watercolours on cheap paper (one for body and the other for the beer's surface) with a photo of actual beer for colouring. Froth is just a scrap of the watercolour I did for the body raised up.

I took the photo of John Calvin with my waterproofed Nikon D300 and 24mm – 70 mm lens. He was not a fan of holding his breath.


illustration for Parents and Their Precious Idols

I meant to include a toy fire truck on the left cloud, peeking out behind her skirt and a teddy bear on the left cloud in order to help solidify the idea that these two gods are children, but I just ran out of time.


illustration for Clarity and Charity: Bachmann’s Faith and Christian Community

Just so you get it (even if it's kind of overt) the GOP sign is meant to invoke INRI. Instead of Christ's cross, the GOP has claimed it as their own, in a way.


illustration for Interview: El Shaddai’s Daring Origins

I didn't have much time to work on this and wasn't super happy with the end result, but it's still okay, I think. Apparently, there's this game (El Shaddai: Rise of the Metatron) that adapts the Book of Enoch in typically curious Japanese fashion.

So I grabbed a dreamy bit of actual gameplay landscaping for the background and overlayed relevant texts. Over the dark segment are the names of the relevant fallen angels from the myth and over the light part is the actual text of Enoch from the section concerning the angels' plan to rebel and create the Nephilim. The Hebrew in the center is El Shaddai. And the microphone is a microphone.

p.s. for those curious about Metatron, according to pseudopigraphal tradition, God transforms Enoch into an angel named Metatron. As to why Enoch's armor has boobs in the game? Maybe Lucifer is trolling him?


illustration for Rick Perry: The response of a Confident Man

"He steps to the podium with strength and poise. He looks over the gathered thousands without the honeyed smile of a salesman or the weepy countenance of one trying to gain sympathy. His measured words fill the stadium and, on the brink of a possible presidential run, he calmly declares his affinity with those who love America, but who love the living Christ even more. He closes with a prayer requesting health for the country, wisdom for the president, and for God to hear the cries of repentance from the gathered throng. Nowhere is there a hint of partisanship, and yet his actions polarize people across the political spectrum. This is Rick Perry, and he represents something rare." (From the article.)


illustration for Dealing with the Debt Ceiling Disaster

Article begins with the line, “The alcoholics in Congress, after much deliberation, have decided to cut one of their nightly 14 beers.” So there you go.


illustration for An Open Letter to Facebook

I pretty much wholly disagreed with the author's point on this one but the idea of Facebook ruining lives was delicious.


illustration for The Return of Rebecca Black

Yeah, that's an '85 Dodge Diplomat. Ghetto car for a ghetto pop and ghetto culture.


illustration for How Having Children Changed Us

The article is a collection of responses to the question: How has having (or anticipating) a child changed the way you think about and interact with popular culture?

I found the progression on this one amusing. Time spent was a bit frustrating. I illustrated the first panel during a meeting (using my new Pentel Arts Pocket Brush), which was fine, but colouring the line art took far longer than it should have. It's been too long since I did any colouring and I've lost the knack.

Note: That is not supposed to be me and Michelle. 1) I am not brown. 2) My hair is blond with flecks of white. 3) I haven't been clean-shaven since before I met Michelle six years ago. 4) Michelle doesn't have curly hair.


illustration for an unpublished article

The article was about co-operative play in the LOTR card game.

I don't particularly mind that the author never followed up after I guess the first pass through editorial because I don't see this as my finest work. I like the two player-avatars, but I don't think using an actual image of Minas Tirith was all that inspired.


illustration for A Differing View of Worldview Criticism

This illustration demonstrates how hard it is to get colour right on images for the web. Every monitor displays differently. The screen I'm looking at now makes this look dark and grungy. The screen I coloured it on made it vibrant. Some mute the colours and some oversturate. Such a pain.

BTW: Alan's series on why its a less-useful use of time to critique worldviews does good work.


illustration for Nostalgia for the Absolute in Terrence Malick's Tree of Life

illustration depicts a stylized Yggdrasil (the World Tree), breathing life into a desaturated universe. Yggdrasil, like all worldtree myths, is based on the Christian mythos and has obvious Tree of Life connotations. Norse legend even depicts Odin being nailed to the tree for 9 days and nights as a sacrifice on behalf of all the other gods.


illustration for Sports and Slurs

This was an article about sports and gay slurs and responsibility. Apparently I missized this one too (600x250 instead of 640x250). Yes, this occasionally happens even to professionals.


illustration for Harry Potter and The Boy Who Loved


  • Grawp attacking a giant.
  • Neville beheading Nagini.
  • That werewolf guy attacking that girl that one time.
  • House elf assault.
  • Trelawny tossing crystal balls.
  • Mrs. Weasley in her Not My Daughter moment.
  • General chaos.
  • Harry and Ron making out behind the lightning bolt while Hermione and Voldemort chastely hold hands and stare longingly into each other's eyes.

illustration for The Untamed Tongue of Mark Driscoll

My favourite part about this is the crown on Driscoll's tongue. Okay, second favourite. My favourite part is Driscoll's tongue.

("That's what she said"—Michael Scott.)


illustration for Divergent: Derivative Dystopias

This one was going to have a Photoshop interface overlaying it with the clone stamp tool selected, but I thought the meaning would be too obscure for non-PS users and too on the nose for those in the know.

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