The misadventures of a first time father

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Lacey & Lily – a graphic novel from Darby Pop Publishing

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with super powers? 

It’s the question a middle school girl named Lacey finds herself facing when she and her dog stumble across a pair of costumes that do just that, imbuing both kid and canine with powers beyond those of mere mortals. 

It’s Lacey & Lily!

This all-ages graphic novel is the latest from Darby Pop Publishing, and if you’re wondering just why I’m plugging it here, it’s not just because I like it, it’s because I wrote it! With some absolutely amazing illustrations from my pal Andrew Cieslinski, this is the sort of thing that has been a dream come true for people like ourselves who grew up as comic fans. 

I’ll never forget my first exposure to comic books. I was in elementary school and was home sick from school at my grandmother’s house when she pulled a stack of comic books out of the hallway closet. They were mostly from the 1970s, gathered over some indeterminate period of time, the brightly covered covers, or in some cases, cover-less splash pages were a completely new world to me, and it sucked me right in. And what a wide array of worlds they were! Uncle Scrooge! Batman! Richie Rich! The Flash! The Thing! It was like nothing I had seen before at that point in my young life. And it was amazing.

First comic I ever read.

Not long after, my uncle would expand that world even more, taking me to a comic book shop for the first time, where I would have to stand on a footstool to reach the tables and boxes filled with books from years past. I used money from my paper route to buy old books. As a kid I used to make crudely drawn comic stories that I’d photocopy and staple together to share. Those moments forever changed the way I read and told stories. And it became something I always hoped I’d get the opportunity to do.

And some decades later, it happened thanks to Andrew’s incredible art talents and the fine folks at Darby Pop Publishing. 

I thank them, and I thank you for indulging me here. We’re already hard at work on a follow-up volume with brand new adventures, more kooky villains, and more fun with Lacey, Lily, and their friend, Weston.

Words can’t describe the feeling after growing up reading comics to have a box arrive from the publisher on your doorstep with your own books inside, let alone to see the kind words people have said about it emblazoned on the cover. Though I’m overly wordy here (shocking), at that moment I think I was pretty much speechless. 

But I think maybe the greatest reviews I can ever get are those that come from kids themselves. Someone who stopped me at my kids’ school to tell me how much they loved it, or walking into my son’s room late at night to find out why he wasn’t asleep yet only to find him curled up with a flashlight reading Lacey & Lily and wanting to talk about it with me. My heart swelled.

I hope you’ll check it out, pick up a copy, and enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it.

Available Now from Darby Pop Publishing’s Online Store

Also available on Amazon or from your Local Comic Shop (Diamond Order Code JUN201024)


https://i1.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518df2Onf4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAnother book recently came our way from Independent Publishers Group – “One Gorilla” by Joy Dey and Nikki Johnson. Amid pages of watercolor images of various animals is a story of one good deed leading to another among the mighty creatures of the jungle, big and small.

The overall message of the book is great – that even one small act of kindness might be all it takes for a domino effect that changes the world, or your world at least. The animals of the jungle begin the story ready to pounce, to cackle, to frighten and to scare. But when a chimp, who often throws rocks and items at his animal neighbors, falls out of a tree and hits his head, he is the subject of laughter and ridicule by other animals. It’s not so nice being on the receiving end, the chimp learns. A helping hand from an elephant, who knows the hurt all too well, marks a sudden change in the jungle. The laughter stops, and the chimp begins to show the same kindness the elephant gave her. And it spreads through the jungle, even to the smallest turtle.

I really liked the message the book set out to deliver, and the watercolor images to accompany it are honestly unlike anything I’ve seen in a children’s book so far. I admit that it took me a little bit to register everything that was going on as we read.

We read this book, blindly, at bedtime, and the first part of the story, with the animals ready to hunt, prey, laugh, etc, alongside the splashes of paint, made some of the creatures seem a little nightmarish. But I quickly learned this was an intentional decision, as it sets up the jungle as a scary and not so kind place, leading to the change when one good act leads to another.

As we turned those pages, our 2 ½ year old there with us, I became a little anxious, unsure of where the story was going. In the end, I was able to see exactly what I think the author and illustrator set out to do – create a world of fright and mean behavior in the jungle, until one elephant acts kind enough to set off a chain reaction of good actions.

It works, and while I may have been apprehensive at first, I should have had more faith in my own son’s ability to grasp it, which he did far quicker than I. He knew the animals were acting bad at first, but started to be kind once they saw an example of it. And it must have struck a chord, as it wasn’t long before he asked for “the gorilla book” again.


To anyone who knows our family or reads this blog know just how much of a connection we feel with the animals we share this earth with.

We are all connected. From the grass we sit in, the trees that blow in the wind, to the deer that run through those green blades of foliage, we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. As we have driven down the road, coming across some poor animal that has been struck and killed by a motor vehicle, my wife has heard me mutter on many an occasion that “man was not meant to go this fast,” my heart hanging heavy.

I know I can’t save all the animals in the world, but we can make a difference, one by one in the lives of many of those we come across. Whether it be the ones we’ve saved and welcomed to our home, to the ones who’ve simply been passing through in need of a helping hand to their next step in the journey, we’ve done our best. Sometimes helping may not be as direct as that, but may be a donation of food, of supplies, or of our time. It helps maintain the inner connection between us and these many beings we share the planet with.

Feeling that connection to the world around me has made me a better person and a more compassionate one.

Compassion and charity are very important.

Whether it’s volunteering our time, our resources, or money, helping out a cause you believe in is something that we really hope gets passed down to our son.

I want him to understand that there is so much more in the world than us and that it takes only a little of ourselves to make a difference in the lives of others.

I hate to sound like the tobacco industry and say ‘hook em’ while they’re young,’ but we decided that it would be very nice if we could get out little guy involved early in his life with initiatives to help out others.

That’s why a few weeks ago, we, as a family, partook in a Run/Walk for the Animals that benefited an animal sanctuary in our area. Giving props where they are due, the run/walk was organized by my brother and his wife, who volunteer at the sanctuary and, being runners, wanted to do something that could help them raise some of the money they are in desperate need of.

The day itself was a huge success for a first-time event, with thousands of dollars brought in to help the animals. There was music, food, contests and more, and our little guy seemed to have a great time. In fact, he even brought out his ‘old man’ hat for the morning…

Buddy waving



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