Archive for the ‘Flat File Archives’ Category

…From the Flat File: 2003 – Aquarium

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Ten years ago my good friend and composer Nicholas Lawrence asked me to design a CD for him that was to feature his original compositions inspired by his love for sea life. Titled Aquarium, the concept lent itself to fun graphic possibilities, so I accepted!

I first met Nick when he was just a student in the film music program at the University of Southern California (USC) where some of his professors were Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Rosenman, David Raksin, Jerry Goldsmith and Christopher Young. He and I both attended the same church, and with his interest in composition and my love for film music, we had an instant common ground. Friendship had to ensue.

While I am an illustrator first, it seemed that Nick’s new concept album should be given a stripped-down minimal graphic treatment to the art. He performed his music for the album on electronic instruments in what could be considered a New Age instrumental style. So, using my illustration abilities, the cover art was created completely as a gouache painting just hinting at the variety of sea life the music evoked.


Nicholas Lawrence - Aquarium

This is the front cover of Nick's CD called "Aquarium" (in case you couldn't tell).


For the rest of the album design, I dusted off my old college graphic design training and played around with hand drawn art and digital type composited with Photoshop. Here is a sampling of what the CD itself looked like.


Nicholas Lawrence CD

This is the design of Nicholas Lawrence's actual CD.


If you’d like to see the rest of the album art, and would like to hear Nick’s music, CD Baby is offering the CD for the low price of $4.99 right now. CLICK HERE to listen to free samples and to order your very own copy. This is the only CD art I’ve done for a commercially available item – unique in my artography!

…From the Flat File: 2005 – Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19th, 2012



Whether you like white meat or dark meat, this turkey will taste like watercolor paint and paper. Bon appètit!


I thought I would reach into my archives this week and pull out a Thanksgiving themed illustration I did a few years ago based on a favorite television family of mine – the Barones.

I was a big fan of the Everybody Loves Raymond show on CBS, and often went to the live tapings on the Warner Bros. studio lot here in Burbank, CA. It was always so much fun to see the familial relationships played out amongst the actors who seemed to genuinely get along with each other. If they shot a joke a certain way, they’d do take after take with a different punchline until they got the biggest laugh, and all were funny.

I am also a big fan of Norman Rockwell’s paintings, a sentiment I share with many Americans who are moved by his idyllic depictions of life in this country. I was thrilled to see a traveling exhibit of his original work a few years back first in San Diego, then again in New York City. The exhibit included what have become known as Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” paintings. The Freedom from Want piece in that series always struck a chord with me with its portrayal of a family enjoying each other around the Thanksgiving table.


Freedom from Want

Well, it isn't necessarily from Marie's Italian cook book, but even the Barone family can enjoy a bit of a traditional turkey dinner. In one episode, they tried a tofurkey to great comical effect.


So, when I heard that Everybody Loves Raymond was going to come to an end, immediately Norman Rockwell’s famous painting came to mind. It seemed to be a perfect fit, all the way down to putting Robert in the lower right corner partially cut off as he would expect. Robert always felt he was getting the second fiddle treatment from the family. With a bit of watercolor and colored pencil, this piece was created just for the fun of it.

You know, during the time I was finishing up the painting, I took in a concert at the Hollywood Bowl where I bumped into Doris Roberts. She didn’t know me from Adam, so I probably spooked her a bit when the first words my mind thought to say were, “Oh hi! I was just painting you today!” Smooth, Chad. Smooth.

Pictured with the turkey is Peter Boyle (who passed away a few years ago) and Doris Roberts, then on the left Madylin Sweeten, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, and Sawyer Sweeten. On the right is Monica Horan, Sullivan Sweeten, and of course, Brad Garrett. On the back wall is show creator Phil Rosenthal.

On an interesting side note, last year Brad did the voice of a character I designed for a third Zhu Zhu Pets movie that has yet to be released. It was literally a talking rock. It seems as though Robert Barone STILL can’t get any respect.


Enjoy Thanksgiving with your own friends and family this week, and remember not only to be thankful for the blessings in your life, but to whom that thanks should be directed. The holiday is modeled after the Pilgrims who gave thanks to the almighty God for their survival in this untamed land. In many ways it is still untamed, and God is the One who deserves our appreciation.

Psalm 136:1 “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

…From the Flat File: 2000 – John Wayne

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Recently I was going through some old digital files of mine and came across an ad I created at Disney Feature Animation for an employee screening of the classic John Wayne film The Searchers. I always really liked this caricature of Wayne and thought it deserved to get dusted off and shared here on the blog.


John Wayne

Brush and ink art of the Duke.


John was drawn entirely with brush and ink. You can see that I kept the line work thick and rugged which suited the subject matter well. Not only did John Wayne have a thick and rugged face, but I was going to be taking this art into Photoshop to try to make it look like it was cut into a piece of wood. The thickness was going to be an asset in that process.


The Searchers art

Here's a close-up of the line drawing after being given the woodcut treatment in Photoshop.


Those years I spent at Disney Feature Animation were with the Artist Development department. It was our job to make sure the staff as a whole at the studio were up on the latest computer programs, inspire them with special guest speakers and screenings, and to keep the artists sharp by providing drawing classes whether that be life drawing or special classes with animals.

For a time we were regularly screening classic films, and for each screening I created the flyers that were posted around the building. This one for The Searchers was my favorite. I even made that “cowhide” from a wrinkled up piece of paper rubbed in coffee and pencil shavings. Notice the date on the flyer? I thought it would be fun to post it here twelve years to the day of the screening at Disney.


The Searchers Disney flyer

Here is the whole flyer never before seen outside the walls of Disney until now.


The drawing of John Wayne had one more day in the sun (not counting sharing it with you here today). Disney would allow folks who worked at Feature Animation to have art shows of their personal work. The Animation Research Library folks (you should visit their Facebook page) would help us post our art in a hallway in the Southside building where it would hang for a month, then move it to another building across town that we also used (called “Northside”) where it would hang for another month. There would be a nice reception on opening night where colleagues and friends from outside could come see the work. I put John Wayne in a frame and included him in the show.


William Sanderson

William Sanderson and Chad Frye in the halls of Disney Feature Animation's "hat" building in Burbank, CA.


Thought it might be fun to show you the above photo of the Duke flanked on either side by yours truly and actor William Sanderson who came to see my work that night with his lovely wife Sharon. While he has been in many television shows and movies, Bill is often remembered for being on Newhart where he would always enter a scene by saying, “Hi, my name is Larry. This is my brother Darryl. This is my other brother Darryl.” I keep that photo taped up next to my drafting table where it reminds me of some good times twelve years ago.

Thanks for letting me share the art, memories and good times with YOU today!



…From the Flat File: 2004 – CAPS Cover Art

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Since about 1997, I have belonged to a professional cartoonist organization called CAPS. It was founded back in the 70s by MAD Magazine stalwart Sergio Aragonès, writer Mark Evanier, and cartoonist Don Rico. I have really loved being a part of this group that meets monthly in Burbank, CA. We get together, have special speakers, and talk shop.

At one point, I started getting involved in the group, even serving as its president for a spell. One duty that I took on was as co-editor of the monthly newsletter. The other editor was Disney Legend Floyd Norman (check out a new book about Floyd HERE). Floyd and I would take turns every other month as it was quite a job putting together what often was a 32 page beast. If you couldn’t get members to write articles, the editor wrote them. If the members couldn’t spell, the editor had to spell. If there were no pictures submitted, the editor had to find some. If no one came through in drawing the cover, yep, the editor did it.

This piece is one of those times I had to come up with a cover idea, likely at the last minute. It was a fun challenge when the need arose, because deadlines would be so tight that it sometimes ended up being like cartoonist improv – whatever came to mind at that moment is what blorted out of your brush.


Comic Art

Boy, in THIS economy, some of those publications are probably funnier than the comic book!


I think this image came to mind because I was always seeing grown men be so business minded to where there was no sight of the kid inside. While the titans of industry would be reading The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, they probably started off reading comic books. Even cartoonists sometimes get caught up in the work of being a cartoonist that they can forget what that feeling of pure joy and escapism a few minutes with a comic book would bring when we were kids. Comic books are likely what got us interested in being cartoonists in the first place!

I came from a world where both business AND comics were an influence, and both came from my own father. Dad was a mortgage banker, but he grew up on comic books. When I was too young to read, he would sit there and read me tales of adventure from his old childhood comic books. His favorite character was Disney’s Uncle Scrooge of course. Scrooge, in stories by the great Carl Barks, became my favorite, too. But Dad didn’t stop there. Every day we would spread out the comics from the newspaper and he would read those to me as well. Peanuts, Nancy, Dennis the Menace, The Family Circus, and Beetle Bailey were all favorites.

I’m positive that my love for cartooning came from those reading sessions with Dad, and he taught me a lot about business, too. I’m glad, because the two go together. A cartoonist often finds himself working as a freelancer.

So, as life moves you forward, never forget the joy of the comics that you enjoyed as a kid. They’ll keep you young.


And to those of you who are cartoonists in the Los Angeles area, CLICK HERE to see what CAPS is all about. April’s monthly meeting just happens to be tonight where they will have a terrific panel (including Sergio Aragonès) talking about Will Eisner – the godfather of the graphic novel.

…From the Flat File: 2009 – Donald Duck

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

I was going through some of my old art the other day, and came across this small Donald Duck watercolor/colored pencil piece I did just for fun a few years back. It was painted around the time I was finishing up my time working on two seasons of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I LOVED drawing those classic Disney characters for the time I was given, and still will often doodle Mickey and the gang on scratch paper while talking on the phone.

Did you know that long before I worked on Donald for animation, I wrote a six-page Donald Duck story for Disney comics, too? I talk about that a little bit on my website. You can check that out by CLICKING HERE!

At any rate, enjoy this Donald Duck piece from the bygone year of 2009.


Original Donald Duck art

Donald's stripes and lack of buttons on his sailor suit are depicted as he appeared on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."

…From the Flat File: 2006 – Dick Van Dyke

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Two weeks ago at The Writer’s Guild in Beverly Hills, CA, entertainment legends Carl Reiner and Dick Van Dyke had a conversation on stage on the occasion of the release of Mr. Van Dyke’s new autobiography. Hosted by Writers Bloc Presents, these two legends swapped tales and memories before a rapt audience of which I was very happy to be a part.


Carl Reiner & Dick Van Dyke

Carl Reiner & Dick Van Dyke at the Writers Bloc Presents event on May 31, 2011.


As a child, it was quite easy to become a fan of Dick Van Dyke due to Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, only to further appreciate his talents with The Dick Van Dyke Show, and many other projects all the way up to the fairly recent Night at the Museum. When first arriving in California in 1997 to work for Disney, I was hoping that would be my ticket to finally meet Dick Van Dyke. Turns out that ticket was a wee bit elusive.

Every now and then, I would hear that friends of mine would have met him at the computer convention Siggraph that I would also be attending. Others would meet him on the Disney lot now and then, even once making a planned appearance with Julie Andrews at the renaming of one of the Disney soundstages in Ms. Andrews’ honor. Where was I? Foolishly working.

A few years ago, the charity group Actors and Others for Animals [click here to see my previous post on this group] were having their annual fundraising banquet in honor of Dick Van Dyke. Mary Willard, the very funny wife of the very funny Fred Willard, called and asked if I might be willing to draw their personal ad for the program book. How could I resist an opportunity to draw Dick, Fred and Mary? Better yet, the job came with an invitation to the event where one would certainly have the opportunity to shake the hand of the rubbery master of mirth himself!


Fred Willard & Dick Van Dyke

This was my initial rough sketch to show the Willards for their input. After incorporating their comments, the final art below was produced.


After completing the whimsical ad for the Willards, my anticipations for meeting Mr. Van Dyke were growing exponentially each day. In a cruel twist of fate, those same precious anticipations were frigidly dashed yet again. The banquet was being held at the same time I was scheduled to be on the opposite side of the country on vacation with my family!


Fred Willard & Dick Van Dyke

This was the final ad that Mary and Fred Willard placed in the black & white program book honoring Dick Van Dyke.


It was beginning to feel as though Dick Van Dyke was a myth that parents made up to tell their children about on cold winter nights. “Twas the night before movies, when over the lot it happens, a tall lanky sweep appears, that guy from Mary Poppins….” Seriously, I was beginning to wonder if I needed to hang a plate of tea and cakes from the ceiling at night to see if he would appear. Or at the least, add an ottoman to my office decor.

Well, Virginia, there really is a Dick Van Dyke. Last year, several years after parting from Disney myself, I was attending a private reception when I turned around and there before me was the man behind Bert, Rob Petrie, Caractacus Potts, Dr. Sloan and so many others. I finally was able to shake his hand, and thank him for being a part of filling my own head with imagination as a child that indubitably continues within me today.


Dick Van Dyke

Chad Frye with Dick Van Dyke at the Hollywood & Highlands complex in 2010.

…From the Flat File: 2001 – Captain Traffic

Friday, February 18th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I was in some slow traffic on my way to work, when I was startled to see one of my creations giving me the thumbs up on the side of a mini-van that came up alongside of me. It was as if he was saying, “Good job on your driving, Citizen!” I had heard of the Captain Traffic van before, and yet had never seen it for myself. There he was promoting safe driving on a van that was passing me on the right.

Comedy Traffic School

Captain Traffic giving his thumbs up approval of my driving while on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.

Back in 2001, I was working at Walt Disney Feature Animation. One of my friends there, Brett Drogmund, was leaving to form his own company that included a fully legal online traffic school here in California. He and his business partner wanted to have a character that would be the ambassador for the business. Together we created Captain Traffic, and not long afterwards, was born.

I was fairly new to using Photoshop as an art tool at that time. The Captain was inked by hand, and colored in Photoshop. I was beginning to teach Photoshop to the other artists at Disney by day, and by night I was working on lots of Captain Traffic drawings and other cartoons that you can see on their website only if you are a bad driver and have paid for the course (which is only $13.95 these days!).

Captain Traffic

Here's the full drawing of what appears on the side of the mini van.

If you’d like to see another piece starring Captain Traffic, there’s one on my website that was conceived to be like a comic book cover for Brett’s other website, where the good Capt. also appears. You can see it by CLICKING HERE!

And if you are on Facebook, Captain Traffic now has his very own fan page which you can see by CLICKING HERE!

So, if you happen to be driving down a freeway in Southern California and you come across Captain Traffic, don’t be startled and swerve into your fellow commuters. But if you do, quickly jot down the phone number from the side of that van. You’re going to need it.

…From the Flat File: 2004 – Oshikuru Comics

Friday, March 19th, 2010

A few years back I was asked to draw a fake comic book cover to be used on CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. In television, deadlines are tight, so I pretty much turned around that first image in a couple of days which is no small fete considering I wasn’t up on my Manga techniques. They liked it so much they asked for two more. It was a busy few days to be sure.

At any rate, the episode turned out to be memorable for fans of the show. It involved a subplot with Charlie Sheen’s character needing to write a theme song for an animated TV show based on these Oshikuru comic books. I’m including some clips down at the bottom of the Oshikuru moments where you can see my comics in the shots, and a couple of stills.

As you may know if you have read recent blog posts, I have been involved with raising money to Help the Hodges via online eBay auctions. You can read all about the family in need by CLICKING HERE. But I mention it again here because I have donated some really nice large prints of two of my Oshikuru covers that have been autographed by the 2 1/2 men of Two and a Half MenCharlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus Jones. These items are on eBay RIGHT NOW, and will end this Sunday, March 21.

So, if you’d like a chance at an unusual item from my flat files, and autographed by a few TV stars, here’s your window of opportunity. I posted links to eBay below each signed print below!

Charlie Sheen signed it at the top, Jon Cryer in the lower left, and Angus Jones on the right.

Charlie Sheen signed it at the top, Jon Cryer in the lower right, and Angus Jones on the left.


I always liked this one. There was no reason for the action other than I wanted them to battle charging robots.

I always liked this one. There was no reason for the action other than I wanted them to battle charging robots.


Angus T. Jones looking at an Oshikuru comic on the set of "Two and a Half Men".

Angus T. Jones looking at an "Oshikuru" comic on the set of "Two and a Half Men".

Jake and Uncle Charlie high fiving each other while working on the "Oshikuru" theme song. Some comics sit on top of the piano.

Jake and Uncle Charlie high fiving each other while working on the "Oshikuru" theme song. Some comics sit on top of the piano.