Archive for the ‘Chad About Town’ Category

June & Squirrel

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

This past Saturday night, March 1, was the opening of  Moosylvania: A Group Art Show Tribute to Jay Ward (curated by Phillip Graffham) at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks, California. Hundreds of people came to see the art by many local Los Angeles creators.

My Jay Ward Studio tribute piece focused on Rocky & Bullwinkle, but instead of “moose & squirrel” as so eloquently referred to by Boris Badenov, I painted “June & Squirrel”. My friend June Foray created the voice of Frostbite Falls resident Rocket J. Squirrel all those years ago, and continues to perform him today at the age of 96. She recently recorded him for a short cartoon that will run in front of Dreamworks’ new Mr. Peabody & Sherman movie. (June was also the original voice of villainess Natasha in the classic cartoons.)


June Foray

"June & Squirrel" was created entirely in gouache with the big circles and necklace details in colored pencil.


June had asked me earlier in the week if I had a piece in the show, and I told her, “Yes, but you will have to come see what it is.” It was thrilling that she came out to the show Saturday night, and equally thrilling that she seemed pleased, and not offended, to have been portrayed in paint.


June Foray

Chad Frye with the grand dame of voice actors, June Foray.


In case you are curious, perhaps you would like to see the preliminary drawing made in the planning of the painting. I usually work out my ideas in Photoshop where this was sketched and colored. Then I print it out and trace it down onto watercolor paper where it gets the full-on traditional treatment. And no, no compass was used for all those circles. They were hand painted and painstakingly outlined in freehand with a Lilac Prismacolor pencil on the final piece.


June Foray & Rocky

This is the rough concept of "June & Squirrel" worked out in Photoshop.


If you are in the Los Angeles area, please swing by Van Eaton Galleries to see all the art. Some amazing creations are on display until March 15 (beware the Ides of March). My favorite is a seven foot tall sculpture of Rocky & Bullwinkle carved out of a tree with a chainsaw by artist Johnny Daniels.

All the art can be seen, and purchased, online from Van Eaton. Just CLICK HERE to access the online gallery!

Also, please check out The Art of Jay Ward Productions book by Darrell Van Citters with a forward by June Foray. Darrell and June were both signing the book at the show, but you can also find this great tome on Amazon!

And Now Here’s Something You’ll REALLY Like!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

A few months back, I was invited to create a fresh and tasty piece of art for an art show to be held at Van Eaton Galleries. The show opens this coming Saturday in Sherman Oaks, California. Naturally, I put it off until the last minute and finished my painting just this past weekend.

The show’s theme is “the Jay Ward Studio”. Ward was known for television shows such as “The Bullwinkle Show”, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”, “George of the Jungle”, “Crusader Rabbit”, “Dudley Do-right” and many more. They even were responsible for television commercials and character designs for Capt. Crunch and Quisp cereals.

While I shan’t reveal the whole 13×17″ gouache and colored pencil painting today (although it IS pretty epic), I will share a snippet…


Jay Ward show

This Rocket J. Squirrel is just a smidge of my original painting in the show.


The show features the work of over 100 of my entertainment business colleagues, and promises to be memorable. All are invited to come to the opening reception THIS SATURDAY!!! Along with all the great art, they will also be hosting TWO book signings that night: Darrell Van Citters will be signing his great new book The Art of Jay Ward Productions, and Jerry Beck will be signing his new tome The Art of Dreamworks’ Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

So if you are in the Los Angeles area and want to have a good time and meet a LOT of cartoonists, come on out to the show! Details are on the poster below!


Jay Ward group show

2013 Eastern European Vacation 2 – Boat People

Friday, November 29th, 2013

My recent trip to Eastern Europe was a river cruise tour with the Grand Circle company. (Do I get a discount on my next trip for mentioning you GC?) These tours make international travel easy because when you book your trip, they make all the arrangements: flight, meals, accommodations, and guided tours at stops along the way.

This type of travel results in being a very social experience. You are on board a ship with 150 or so other people for two weeks. In my case, it was with 150 people who were mostly 30 or more years older than I. You get to meet many single ladies, all of whom are widowed octogenarians. One woman asked me how old I was. I replied, “Young enough that I had to take time off from work to come on this trip.”

In all seriousness, I do enjoy talking with folks older than I. They have so many stories to tell filled with wisdom, humor, and life experience. When you are trapped on a ship, you have the time to hear EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of those stories.

You also have time to draw those around you. During travel time on the Danube, I would often sit in the ship’s lounge with a hot cup of coffee and pick out interesting people to sketch. Once word got around the ship that I was a cartoonist, folks wanted to look at my sketchbook. One lady saw my sketches of the other guests and said, “Please don’t draw me.”

So, below are a few of the 150 I travelled with. More travel drawings to come in the days ahead!


Senior Citizen travelers

The lady in the lower right I nicknamed "Cruella de Vil" because not only did her look remind me of the dalmatian diva, but her behavior on the boat was pretty atrocious. It's a good thing pets were not allowed.

2013 Eastern European Vacation 1 – Lavatory Line

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

I just returned from a trip to Eastern Europe where I had an amazing time touring parts of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary. Naturally, I took along a sketchbook hoping to capture some of the people I encountered on my journey. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you some of my observations that found their way onto its pages.

First up are some faces seen on my 9+ hour flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam on November 10. I flew on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which, despite the name, was not very royal. Nothing was covered in gold, the seats were not lined with ermine, and there was no discernible trumpet fanfare when I entered the plane. Maybe you have to be Dutch to experience that part of the airline’s name. Had I read the fine print, I would have learned that in actuality, KLM stands for “Kramp Legs Much”.

That being said, I had a pretty good view of the lavatory line. With the exception of the smiling stewardess, these are the faces of international travelers awaiting international relief.


Bathroom line

If the fella in front of me hadn't put his seat back onto me, I might have had more drawings of desperate faces after one of the lavatories went out of service. Good times.

Drawing Lines In the Sand

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

When the heavy heat visits us every summer, I light out for the beach to visit with family. Since the age of ten, I look forward to the start of every trip while each trip’s ending brings regret. This year my sister and brother-in-law dared to bring their two little sons to experience Uncle Chad. While I shall spare the details of teaching bad habits, the tale of indulging the curiosity of a two-year-old is in order.

Little Hudson is at that age where everything is a new discovery. Building things out of the ground we walked on was a novelty to him. We had some technicolor plastic molds that allowed us to create various sea creatures in the sand, all of which Hudson promptly destroyed like a mighty Godzilla rampaging Tokyo.

Hudson does have an affinity for Disney characters (he IS my nephew after all), so I set out to blow his mind. We started out piling up some sand together, and fetching water as needed. Two-year-olds being what they are, he soon lost interest in these technical aspects of beach building, and wandered off somewhere. I don’t know where. I was busy carving him a mouse.


Mickey Mouse sand sculpture

Oh Boy! Sand can do the neatest things!


When Hudson regained interest in what Uncle Chad was doing, he took one look at it and said, “Wreck it now?” His momma said no, and we posed for a picture. You can see his enthusiasm has no boundaries.


Mickey Mouse head

Hudson with Uncle Chad next to the giant dismembered Mickey Mouse head in the sand. Good times.


A few days later my sister’s family departed for their home, but Mickey remained intact. Hudson never did wreck it, but neither did anyone else. A week after his rise from the shadows of the sand, Mickey lived on. Sure, he was a little weathered as any 85-year-old mouse would be, and had become home to several sand crabs who must have been Disney fans. I like to think that after I made my way back to California, Mickey continued keeping his watch over our little spot on the beach waiting to enthrall the next two-year-old to come along….


Disney Sand Sculpture

Here he is a week after being built. Nothing was going to end his existence except a "cease and desist" from Disney lawyers.


….who promptly wrecked it.

The Barber Shop

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

I dropped by the barber shop this past weekend with a sketchbook under my arm. Barber shops are always populated with a cross section of ages and personalities that make for an interesting time. The regulars carry on conversations and offer unsolicited opinions on just about any topic. The newer guys sit and listen participating only with facial expressions. You never know how long you will have to wait on a Saturday morning, so why not capture these moments with a pencil?

I go to Arenas’ Barber Shop on Victory Boulevard in good ol’ Burbank, CA. The shop is run by second generation barber siblings Denise and Steve Arenas whose pop got them going down the path of hair manipulation many years before. They used to work in the hair salon on the Disney Studio lot for years until current management starting eliminating some of the family atmosphere of the employment experience there, and forced out the Arenas along with other follicle folks.

Ten years ago Denise took over an old time barber shop run by an old timer named Chuck (I used to go to him, too), fixed up the joint and created a fun atmosphere for parting parts and taming tresses.


Barber Shop

Denise will cut any hair no matter how much or how little you have.


So, the next time you get your hair cut, look around and take it all in. There are few experiences in life where complete strangers can all be the best of friends for an hour while waiting their turn for a trim before walking out the door into harsh, cold anonymity once again.

Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Back in 2005 I was thrilled to be asked to come on board a new show for Disney called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I had doodled and painted the mouse just for fun for many years, even subtly sneaking him into the background of boring still life paintings that were required in college. To finally have an opportunity to work on the mouse and his pals every day as a part of my career was a privilege indeed. I put my all into the first two of Mickey‘s five seasons before moving on to other projects.


Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake

When I first walked into the party, I thought this was one of the Clubhouse toys, but it was actually a CAKE!


Well, now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company. While the last of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse‘s new episodes are being finished up, production on Clubhouse is ending. Last Wednesday the Disney Channel threw a nice party for those of us that were a part of re-introducing Mickey to a new generation.

However, Mickey is NOT going away! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will continue to air for some time, as well as new Mickey Mouse short cartoons that are being made in a retro style for the Disney Channel, and I hear rumblings that Disney Feature Animation may be making a big screen Mickey short, too.

For now though, I thought I’d share some pictures with you of the people who were responsible for bringing all that joy to your kids. Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!

Nancy Kanter

Disney Channel executive Nancy Kanter thanking the troops for a job well done in bringing Mickey back into the consciousness as an entertainer and paving the way for pre-school shows at Disney.

Kelly Ward and Bradley Bowlen

Here I am with Kelly Ward (Putzie from "Grease" who directed the voices for our show and wrote a few episodes) and the great line producer Bradley Bowlen.

Even Mickey and Minnie dropped by for the festivities. (Minnie gave me a smooch when Mickey wasn't looking. I have that affect on large rodents.)

flipbook fun

Series music composer Mike Himelstein and director Sherie Pollack have a discussion in the foreground while Disney Channel's Emily Hart, story editor and producer Mark Seidenberg and executive producer Rob LaDuca get ready to be filmed for a little flipbook.


There were two really neat gifts that they gave us at the party, the first were those baseball caps. Stitched onto the back of them in small lettering was “Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse!” which is always said on the show to make the Clubhouse appear. The second cool thing was the custom flipbooks! You stood in front of the white screen seen in the picture above, and they film you for seven seconds. They then instantly printed out little flipbooks of you with a special Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cover on them. It was a really great idea for an animation party!


Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fun

Writer Tom Hart, story editor and producer Mark Seidenberg, composer Mike Himelstein, and writer Brian Swenlin all looking at Mark's newly minted personal flip book.

Sy Thomas

Me with Sy Thomas who was really the art director of the series, and one swell guy. Our cubicles were next to each other when I was on the show.


Did I mention it was a bowling party? The Disney Channel rented out an old 8-lane alley in Montrose, CA naturally called Montrose Bowl. The alley looks like it is still in the 1950s, and is a GREAT place for parties of a moderate size! This is where we had our first crew wrap party at the end of season 1!


Bradley Bowlen

Bradley Bowlen bowlin'.

Bill Farmer

Bill Farmer, the voice of Pluto and Goofy, as he gets ready to throw down during a game with me. Bill must have had five or six strikes during our game.

David Beall

The very talented layout artist (designer of backgrounds) and amazing photographer David Beall who now works on "Family Guy".

Carmen Cano

The lovely Carmen Cano, one of the coordinators on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."

Jedi artist

Here with editor Reid Kramer, and executive producer Rob LaDuca who I just found out was an effects artist on "Return of the Jedi" when I recently revisited the film!

Bill Farmer

Parting shot with the affable and extremely talented voice artist Bill Farmer.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song

"It's the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Come inside, it's fun inside!" Let me just say that the song don't lie.


So there you have it, a few shots of some of the crew that brought Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to your television sets. It was a joy to work on, and I hope I have another chance to work with not only members of this crew again, but also with the Mouse himself.



See ya real soon!

67th Annual Reuben Awards – Part 4

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013


Sunday is always the last day of events for the National Cartoonists Society’s (NCS) Reuben convention held every Memorial Day weekend. It is usually a little more relaxed than the day before since Saturday’s activities always spill over into the wee hours of Sunday morning. So, a bit of sleeping in is usually how most of the cartoonists start their Reuben Sunday. However, things started rolling by noon when Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, managed by Joe Wos, hosted their first Comic Arts Festival!



Pittsburgh's ToonSeum, a museum all about cartoon art, hosted their Comic Arts Festival on Sunday.


The street was blocked off for the day as art vendors, restaurants, and even a roller derby vendor (yes, roller derby) sold their wares. Some of the NCS’ more well known cartoonists were scheduled throughout the afternoon signing autographs for fans, and they hosted a panel discussion of women in the comics that included Cathy Guisewite (Cathy), Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), Terri Liebenson (Pajama Diaries), and Hilary Price (Rhymes With Orange).


Dancing Wonder Woman

Pittsburgh - the only place you can find Earl from "Mutts", Wonder Woman, and a roller derby girl line dancing in the street. By the way, check out the amazing hand cut woodprints by the Tugboat Printshop folks! (

balloon animals

An airhead version of Mort Walker's famous soldier Beetle Bailey.

street fair

It was the perfect day for a street festival! So many people came that you could barely move (cough, cough).

street mural

This terrific mural painted by Brian Holderman in 2006 adorned a parking garage a block away from the street festival. Thankfully even the taggers have respected this piece by not painting over it.


Sunday afternoon offered some time for sightseeing. My pal Andy Heckathorne and I decided to walk over to a museum honoring one of Pittsburgh’s natives – some guy named Andy Warhol. To get there, you had to follow the yellow steel bridge. Follow, follow, follow, follow. Follow the yellow steel bridge.

Once at the museum, we bumped into many colleagues from the Reubens. I’d show you photos of them all next to Warhol paintings, but no photography was allowed which is ironic since Warhol’s work depended heavily on the photography of others.


This is the Andy Warhol Bridge. It felt rather sturdy for something that he likely built out of silk screens. I didn't time it, but I would guess that it took about fifteen minutes to cross.

Samson's hair

After visiting the museum, it was obvious that Warhol's success came from his hair. I am now on the path to becoming successful.

nice view

This was the view from the Andy Warhol Bridge on the way back over to the main part of the city. That bridge is the one I was standing on in Thursday's post about the ball game.

steel driving man

Here's another great street mural, this one in remembrance of Pittsburgh's rich history in the production of steel.


At the end of the day, there was one final bash to close out the Reuben convention. With a theme of the 1920s, we retreated to a lower level ballroom where we were served prime rib, salmon, vegetables, and the like set to the strains of a band made up of local Pittsburghian cartoonists. Roughly half of the attendees came dressed in 1920s attire while the music being played was not exactly period. Many of the costumed folks retreated down the hall to a genuine speakeasy still intact from the days of Prohibition. It was a fun last night of socializing with colleagues, and was a great way to cap off a terrific weekend!


bee's knees

Cathy Guisewite and Barbara Dale in their 1920s attire. All I can figure is that they were the bee's knees!

Dan Piraro ("Bizarro") doodling for a fellow colleague.

Little Mermaid artist

Mason & Mick Mastroianni ("B.C." and "Dogs of C-Kennel") were excited to meet Bill Morrison (Bongo Comics) when they found out that Bill was the artist behind "The Little Mermaid" video and poster art of urban legend fame.

tired cartoonists

Rob Harrell (illustrator), Mark Parisi ("Off the Mark"), Dave Blazek ("Loose Parts"), Chad Frye, Mark Pett ("Lucky Cow"), and Tom Gammill ("The Doozies" and "The Simpsons" writer) in one last shot at 2am after which some of us hit the hay and others went to the President's Suite where the party continued on!


The next day, Memorial Day itself, many cartoonists scattered to the wind with our thoughts already on getting back together next year in San Diego! But just because we left the hotel Monday morning didn’t mean the party was over! I kept seeing cartoonists in the airport such as those in this final parting shot….


cartoonists in airports

One last shot for the weekend in Pittsburgh's airport with MAD's Sam Viviano whose flight was delayed, and MAD's Ray Alma whose flight WAS on time, but had just turned into a zombie from the weekend's relentless activities.