Not A Halloween Thing


My JEMS – Emergency Medical Services illustration for October: Not a Halloween thing!
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This cartoon was never meant to be a caricature of Chief Brunacini when I drew it in 2009, but he certainly inspired it (which is why I subconsciously drew a resemblance, I suppose). A few years ago he asked me about this cartoon and said I should have drawn a festive floral shirt on the character – I was FLOORED to know he followed my work.
Last year during FDIC he was being presented with an ornamental fire helmet that was packaged in a plain brown box. I was asked to draw something on the box, which I did with pleasure. When the helmet was presented to Chief Brunacini he, as always, graciously accepted the honor and posed for photos. He looked at the box, look at me standing off to the side and pointed with a smile, and then gave me a thumbs-up in appreciation – that made my day! That was Chief Brunacini – a walking legend who always made time to show his appreciation to others. There are those who walk the halls of the fire service with their pretentious self-promoting importance (you know who you are!), but Chief Brunacini was the embodiment of what a leader should be – confident yet humble, intelligent yet a student, commanding yet gracious, experienced yet curious.
I will miss our chats at the PennWell Books booth and have several amazing memories of our conversations. Thank you for your leadership and passion, Chief – we will pass it forward!



I am excited to introduce my latest creation, TRUCK TOUGH! This brawny rhino embodies the steeled strength and tenacious resolve of ladder companies everywhere – from sprawling metro departments to small town firehouses. In 1976, Waylon Jennings wrote “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” well, in my case, my heroes have always been Truckies. My first ride in a fire truck was on a ladder, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I sincerely hope you enjoy this character’s unbreakable spirit and bold attitude, and will be eager to show your Truckie pride!
Pre-order now and get the signed and numbered 16×20″ print, plus a signed 8×10″ TRUCK TOUGH mini-print. All for $70.00 (plus shipping and handling). But don’t wait – this pre-order offer will end October 13th!
* IF PRE-ORDERED WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS, YOU WILL ALSO RECEIVE AN ADDITIONAL 11X14″ SIGNED TRUCK TOUGH PRINT! This will make a perfect gift! Offer ends tomorrow, October 7th, at 10 a.m. (EST)
To place your order for TRUCK TOUGH, just click the link below.
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Disclaimer: I am not a trained physiologist, licensed therapist, experienced marriage counselor, nor wise in the ways of relationships… I’m barely housebroken! So, posting an illustration about marital matters is more than a little uncomfortable for me, especially since my perspective here is from the robot’s point of view. I am an introvert, reserved and awkwardly quiet at times. I don’t allow many people to become close to me or show much emotion, so when I lock my emotions away, they really get locked away deep! Is this a good thing? Depends on your perspective.

First Responders interact, see and experience the worst of humanity, and to do so and still live a somewhat normal life outside the circle of fire, EMS, and police is a challenge at times. In my case, my wife wants to hear about my day and the calls that happened; she does not, however, want to know any of the details – none! So, I’m guilty of shutting off all emotions because I’ve walked in the door angry at yet another overdose where the victim’s child is calling their estranged father from the living room telling him how “mom has done it again” …or upset that my crew just worked exhaustively hard to save a life from an MVA, only to fail. This list can go on. However, my wife hasn’t earned the bad emotions that I’m still dealing with, so I’m not going to share them with her – so, it gets bottled up and I become robotic until I can function as a human being and her husband again (that’s my perspective). Unfortunately over time that on-off switch becomes harder to find, or you simply don’t want to turn your emotions back on again in fear of reliving the cause of the ill-feelings to begin with.

This illustration is intended to get a conversation started – for you, for your crew, for your family… for me and my wife. I don’t have any answers, and I certainly have not figured out how to turn off my emotional detachment switch when my wife needs for me to be in the now. I think the important thing is that I recognize that she needs me to be emotionally engaged in our marriage, and that I must find ways to separate home-life and fire-life. And after 25 years of marriage, she’s more than earned the right to demand this, though she doesn’t.

Like all-things relationship, this will be difficult, but worth fighting for. I’m trying – I will fail more than once – but I’m trying.

STAY FIRED UP, and keeping fighting for what’s important.


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NEW FireRescue Magazine editorial: The Polarizing Predicament.
Way too much of this going on! It’s something we are all guilty of from time to time, because it’s so easy to be sucked into negativity instead of trying to solve the problem. It’s harder to fix the dysfunctional group than it is to join them.
Nothing gets solved if everybody is willing to continue the ship’s destructive course – regardless of clearly seeing the iceberg ahead!
STAY FIRED UP, and always treat each other with respect!
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I’m feeling oddly nostalgic for Tampa this morning. We moved there in the 2004 after hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne had already wreaked havoc across the state. I interviewed for the Tampa Tribune editorial cartoonist gig between hurricanes Charley and Francis and remember walking around debris on my way to the office. Below is my very first cartoon published in the Trib – miss drawing local cartoons!



NEW Fire Engineering August issue editorial illustration: CYA Plumbing.
Looks simply-complicated enough to me! With political correctness running amok in nearly every aspect of our lives, from the things we can and cannot say or write, to the once ignored pigeon-poop stained statues erected in parks, we must learn how to deal with this reality within our firehouse walls, too. Perhaps I’m just too old-school, but I’m a stern believer of straight-forward leadership and direction. If you want something done, give a clear and concise order. If you don’t understand something, you ask the person at the top – and expect a direct uncomplicated answer! Ever-present PC creates an atmosphere of CYA which leads to way too much BS!
Stay Fired Up, and keep it simple and truthful!
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