My father was an airbrush artist. He painted crazy stuff on the sides of vans and motorcycle gas tanks and denim jackets in the 1970s and 80s. If you’re of a certain age, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not, Google the art of Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo and you’ll start to get the picture. Imagine it on the side of a van and you’ll start to understand why the seventies were so weird.
My dad also called himself Mongo. And he drove around in a big pink hearse complete with an airbrushed cemetery on the side and a giant, bearded wizard (who looked a lot like him) on the hood. He was one strange dude. And no doubt he is the reason I’m in this crazy business where we make weird stuff that gets people’s attention and makes them say “Hey, did you see that?”
Mongo died about ten years ago now. But a few years ago, while freelancing by day and teaching myself new skills at night, I made a comic book about him. It was called The Book Of Mongo and it was 12 pages long and basically told the story of how he got the name Mongo (Hint: Blazing Saddles was out at the time). It was a labor of love. And I loved it.
When I was done with the comic book, I put it out there on Facebook and everyone seemed to like it. I didn’t really try to get it on bookshelves because my freelance career was taking up more and more of my time and I hadn’t made it to sell. I made it for me. And to learn something new.
But whenever you make Inspiring content, Actions follow.
Soon, I got a message from my friend Dane LaChiusa. He loved the dad comic and wanted to make one of his own. Would I care to get a taco and talk about it? So we did. Dane said he had talked to other people and they were interested in making dad-themed comics too. Maybe we could make an anthology.
We met in a bar a few weeks later with some interested artists. We decided we would call it Dadsville.
Once the idea was out there, we started getting submissions. From comic creators and advertising people. From Brazil, Maine and everywhere in-between. We had hit on a fundamental truth: Everybody had a weird dad. Carol Holsinger, a talented comic creator in her own right, joined Dane and I to help edit the first edition. Mark DiMassimo offered to publish it through the agency.
Again, Inspiration leading to Action.
This past Friday, we had a launch party for Dadsville Issue #1 at our offices on 23rd street in New York City. As I looked around at all the people admiring the art of people I didn’t know, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride. Like a proud papa.
I hope Mongo was watching.
-Tom Christmann, Chief Creative Officer