Steamboat Willie and Tugboat Tillie T-Shirts

Steamboat Willie Shirts

I generally have little interest in drawing characters created by other people, whether they be public domain or not. Mickey Mouse is a big exception.

I grew up loving Mickey Mouse and the Disney characters, but that is not the reason I wanted to draw the mouse. As much as I enjoyed legally drawing these rascals, the primary reason I wanted to draw the mouse is political rather than artistic.

Some history:

Because of the Disney Company’s obsession with protecting the mouse from the public domain, they have been at the forefront of copyright extension for years. They pushed for the Copyright Act of 1976, and they spearheaded the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998 (also known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act). Previous to these two acts, the maximum a copyright could be held for was 56 years (and only if it had been renewed after 28 years). By helping enact these two laws, they have extended copyright to a ridiculous 96 years, and have effectively have robbed the American people out of 40 years of their public domain to preserve, create and do with as they please.

This I view as extremely tragic, particularly because so many works that people have not been able to preserve legally have simply been lost. At this point, over 75% of silent films have been lost, for example. While many would have been lost anyhow due to rapidly decomposing film stock, the threat of a lawsuit for trying to preserve things clearly is directly responsible for a large portion of this loss.

It is also worth noting, to give you an idea of the scale of their thievery: if the Mickey Mouse Protection Act had not gone into law, (I believe) all works created before 1953 would now be in the public domain. This year would give us James Bond, Marilyn Monroe in Playboy, and the first season of I Love Lucy. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and The Human Torch would have been in the public domain for years. Much of Donald Duck by Carl Barks would be available to the public, well past the first appearance of Uncle Scrooge. George Orwell’s 1984. The recording of “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. The Wizard of Oz. Gone With the Wind. Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Doc and Dopey… the list goes on and on.

All of this has been done while Disney has made probably the majority of their wealth by exploiting works from the public domain (and then pretending they own them). The majority of Disney animated feature films from Snow White to Frozen had roots in creations in the public domain. Beyond that, they have used their ownership of Mickey Mouse to brutally harass cartoonists using the rodent in legitimate satire (see the tragic story of The Air Pirates).

The shirts I’ve printed are clearly transformative works. Disney has not to my knowledge portrayed Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie with a cable-knit sweater, a hook-hand, breasts, a pipe or a salty, devil-may-care attitude. Transformative works are what the public domain is supposed to encourage.

Disney should not be defining the conversation about what can be done with a public domain character. Rather than choosing to use the supposedly corporately-conceded tall hat and black-and-white shorts, I’ve chosen to do my own thing and have fun with it. I also put “NOT A WALT DISNEY PRODUCT” in the product descriptions, in case anyone should be confused about that.

I used “Steamboat Wille” rather than “Mickey Mouse” as the logo, both because I believe they could still harass me for a trademark violation for using a Mickey Mouse logo… but also to emphasize the transformative aspect of the public domain. I don’t want the character I drew to be referred to as Mickey Mouse (even though Mickey Mouse is public domain), because “Steamboat Willie” is a much more interesting and funny name, in my view (as is “Tugboat Tillie,” which was never a Disney character).

I’m no lawyer (thankfully), but this all seems well within the bounds of fair use of a cartoon character in the public domain to me.

Shirts available here, if you want one.

#mickeymouse #steamboatwillie #PublicDomain

Equality Charter School Homepage Animated Video

I had a fun project a couple months ago with my friends at Whittier doing some animation for a video on the homepage of the website for Equality Charter School. This project was done in collaboration with Montana Scheff, Ava Penner and others at Whittier. My part was making the lines and other animated elements dance. You can check it out on their website here, or just view the video below.


OLD MADE MEN: Old Maid Just Got a Whole Lot Uglier

OLD MADE MEN is a game I made that is a gangster-themed variation on Old Maid, but rather than trying to not get stuck with the Old Maid, you try to not get stuck with The Godfather.

The Godfather


Also, when you place a matching pair (or “whack” them), there is an effect on the game that is listed on the cards.

I’m pretty happy with the design and packaging of the game… I managed to summarize the rules on one card, and it comes in a cool-looking pocket-sized metal tin.


I had fun doing the copy-writing for this… you can read more about the game here.

Youse a hitman for the Goombano family, what’s in the middle of a gang war, see? There’s a lot of contracts out for mugs in need of cement shoes. Gonna take your best poker face, plus luck and smarts to make sure you don’t get left with The Godfather. You get left with him, pal, then you gonna be the one what gets whacked.

54 CARDS | 2-4 PLAYERS | 12+ | 20 MINUTES

I’ve currently self-published the game and I have not really done anything to promote it at this point. I hope to find a publisher for it eventually (I have not started shopping it around yet). If it sounds fun to you, you can buy a copy here.


Post Cereals Social Media Videos

I’ve made a number of short Post Cereals social media animations for my friends at Public Works (in collaboration with Brian Hurley, Chris Henderson, Derek Bitter and others). These are intended as ephemeral content for various brands’ social media presences to keep them current. They are generally accompanied by copy-writing to give them some context, they usually are very short, and they often loop. Besides the long series of them that I did for Pebbles cereal featuring some anthropomorphic animated cereal flakes, I have done a lot of other ones for Pebbles and a number of other Post brands. Here is a sampling of some of them.

Sour Patch Kids Cereal: It’s Not a Dream
Great Grains: Crunchy Pecans
Great Grains: Tree
Cinnamon Pebbles: Groundhog
Malt-O-Meal: Jackpot
Pebbles: Snow Flakes
Pebbles: Video Game Day

Don’t Touch Your Face!

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, I was feeling overwhelmed and helpless reading about it.

In one article I ran across (I can’t find it now, unfortunately) a mother mentioned that there were no good resources she knew of for teaching kids not to touch their faces to avoid getting sick. Well, that seemed like a problem I could take a crack at helping with.

In a week, I put together a free print-and-play game on the subject, appropriately named “DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!” It makes the surprisingly difficult task of not touching your face into a fun, competitive challenge. Hopefully it will give some families out there some help and some laughs in these difficult times of itchy noses that must stay itchy.

Click here to download it for free.

Pebbles Cereal Social Media Animations

If you like your food to be all the colors of the rainbow (even blue- thank you very much George Carlin), you may like these. I made a series of social media ads for my friends at Public Works featuring friendly anthropomorphic cereal flakes. These were made on very tight deadlines, but with a whole lot of creative freedom. Creative lead Chris Henderson generally gave me a theme or loose description to go with, and then he generously trusted me to come up with whatever seemed funny to me. They may not be the best animated things I’ve ever done, but I think I succeeded in making them funny.

Jump Rope
Leaf Pile
Pool Party
National Pi Day
Sibling Day
Trivia Day


Best Buy HTML5 Banner Ads

A few years ago, I started working regularly at Wunderman Thompson, primarily making HTML5 banner ads for Best Buy… and I’ve made well over a thousand of them at this point in collaboration with many other designers (such as Ben Eaton, Christopher Jacques, Heidi Keller, Christopher Marble, Megan Berray-Larsen, Jordan Rohweder, Rob Weaver, Elizabeth Hauck, Brandon Peshern and Scott Pfeil) and animators (Mark LaCroix, Keldon Ancheta, Ron Wening, and Kevin Robertson). Here is a (very) small sampling of that work.

Black November Doorbusters
Holiday Cameras
Camera Experience Shop
Back to School: Intel
Back to School: PC Gaming 1
Back to School: PC Gaming 2
Back to School: Prepaid Phones
Back to School: Printer Ink 1
Back to School: Printer Ink 2
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