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Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Today, I'd like to talk a little bit about my dad.  He's been on my mind a lot lately.  Tomorrow will mark a month since he passed away.  He'd been suffering for some time since having a massive stroke shortly into the new year in 2016.  His death wasn't a total shock, given his condition, but still came out of nowhere as he'd not had any recent issues health-wise.  My dad was 61, not exactly ancient in this age where people regularly reach 90 and more.

To understand my dad is like studying nuclear physics.  He was as complex as he was hilarious.  I suppose a little back story is needed here to understand the kind of man he was.

 My dad, sometime in the 1970's, surfing San Diego's famed Imperial Beach

My dad's full name was Dante Alejandro Esparza.  He was born and raised in San Diego.  He loved sports, especially track and football, and thrived in both sports.  To this day, he's still regarded as Montgomery High School's best football player, even winning the Golden Helmet Award in 1974 as San Diego's top high school football player.  After high school, he worked construction and surfed.  He loved surfing.  It was about the only time he ever seemed to be at peace with life when he was out riding the waves.  He was one of Imperial Beach's most popular surfers and amassed a large collection of custom boards from legendary IB board maker, Jay Novak.  The art at the top of this page features a take on his trademark board.  He loved it so much, he often referred to it as his third son.  From there, he got married and started a family.  He was often called "Big" Dante by friends and family, especially after my older brother was born and named Dante as well.  Things pretty much went south from there.

 My dad with his granddaughter, Kristen, in 2008

At some point in his teens, my dad got hooked on drugs.  Like most addicts, he started small and worked his way up.  For a while, he seemed to have somewhat of a grip on things, but then his dad passed away, and depression hit him hard.  Soon after, he lost all drive and ambition.  After several years, my mom could no longer take his antics.  As more time passed and more bridges were burned, he sunk to new lows and worse habits.  For the rest of his life, he'd never be the dad I knew as a kid.

 "Big" Dante with my brother, "Little" Dante behind him and his grandson, "Littlest" Dante, on his shoulders, in 2008

As my brother and I got older, we remembered the good days with our dad.  His funny stories.  His insane practical jokes.  His ability to make any situation, no matter how bad it was, fun.  We saw the good that was still hidden deep within and wanted to help him.  Sadly, it just wasn't meant to be.  Years and years of drug abuse took their toll on him, both physically and mentally.  He often thought we were keeping him locked up when in reality, his multiple conditions just didn't allow for him to do anything.  It was heartbreaking to go through.  He'd already suffered one serious stroke prior to the big one.  When the second stroke hit, we knew it was over.  After 20 months of suffering, he finally passed on.

 My dad and I front and center, with my Uncle Bruno beside my dad and my Uncle Victor beside me, in 2002

Could have, would have, should have will always be the sad tale that was my dad's life.  In the end, it's not gonna change anything that happened.  I know I loved him.  He knew I loved him.  My brother and I did everything humanly possible to help him.  You just can't win them all.  These days, I do think of the bad times.  That can't be helped.  But I think of the good times too.  Thankfully, there are many to remember.  When I think of my dad, I think of a funny fat man who wore rainbow suspenders and knee-high socks, despite looking ridiculous.  I think of an avid Chargers fan who stuck with them no matter what.  I think of the great cook who barbecued better than anyone.  I think of a man who even at nearly 300lbs at one point could still outrun and out-surf anyone who challenged him.  But more than that, I think of a man who was generous to a fault that would not hesitate to give you the shirt off his back if you asked him.  When my first car died, he gave me a fairly new one without even asking him.  When my brother needed a home, dad gave him his.  If that's doesn't count for a good heart, I don't know what does.

Father and sons, May 1987

Alexander Pope once said "To err is human."  If there's any truth in that quote, my dad was certainly the most human of us all.  He wasn't perfect, but who is?  He was simply human, as fragile and frail as any.  Dante Alejandro Esparza was called many things during his lifetime.  I just called him dad.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Sheesh!  Try saying the title of today's post five times fast!  We are now more than halfway past September 2017!  So much time passes so quickly these days.  I keep thinking there's a big box somewhere that all the lost time falls into, but alas, I've yet to find it.  But at least we got art to keep us entertained until that box of lost time is found, right?  Anyhoo, enough chit chat, here's some art!  Enjoy...

Poor little bunny.  Well, he's actually a fairly big bunny now, but still, he just seems so startled by it all!  It's not his fault he makes such an adorable balloon!  This theme came from the Daily Doodle who put out the idea of a bear and bunny.  I figured there just wasn't enough alliteration with a bear and bunny, so I tossed a balloon in as well!  But then I thought to myself, "Why stop there?  Why not make the bunny a balloon?"  Next thing I know, a simple drawing becomes a one-panel gag cartoon!  See?  These things practically write themselves sometimes!

And that's wrap for today!  We'll be switching gears next week and close out September with a look back at my recent trip to Long Beach Comic Con.  So recent in fact that as of this writing, it hasn't actually happened yet!  I think I might be qualified to be a Timelord at this point!  Until then, take care and I'll catch y'all later!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


And we are back!  September is chugging along at a frantic pace, or at least I assume it is.  I write these well in advance, so I tend to do a lot of guessing here.  What I can say is that it IS a new week, and that calls for some NEW art!  So here it is!  Enjoy...

Hippos are quite the snappy dressers!  My memory fails me again here as to whether or not this theme was from Sketch Dailies or the Daily Doodle.  All I can recall was that the theme itself was to simply draw a hippo, and I felt he needed to be jazzed up a bit.  Enter a top hat, cane and bowtie, and you got one dapper hippo!  Thanks to cartoons, I've spent my entire life thinking that all one needs to be fancy is simply to add a top hat and bowtie to their wardrobe.  If I ever actually get nominated for an award, I'll be sure to wear both to the ceremony!

And that's all she wrote today.  We'll be back next time with a goofy bear and his "Uplifting" method of cartoon alliteration!  Until then, take care and I'll catch y'all later!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


September is upon us CRAZIES!!!  We have unofficially hit Fall, which means my favorite time of the year is here!  Pumpkins and vanilla!  Turkey and stuffing!  HALLOWEEN!!!  I know school's back for so many, but aren't these awesome holidays more than enough to soften the blow?  Besides, school was actually more fun in the Fall, probably because we had so many wonderful events to look forward to!  But that's enough of that.  Y'all came to see some art, and I intend to deliver!  Enjoy...

Good old Horton.  Loyal to a fault and more dedicated than any to his job!  I can't recall whether this was a Daily Doodle or Sketch Dailies theme, but one of them said to draw Horton the Elephant, so I did!  Of course, I took a bit of CRAZY license with it, implying that Horton himself laid the egg!  Elephants are a lot of fun to draw.  Their shapes are simple, making them natural cartoon critters.  I really need to draw them more often!

And that's all for this week!  Hope you enjoyed my Fall Kickoff.  We'll be back next week with another rotund critter looking to step out!  Until then, take care and I'll catch y'all later!