In late 2003 I was a few months into working steadily as a freelance illustrator for Wizard Entertainment. One of their magazines, ToyFare, was doing a big feature on the recent revival of 1980’s pop culture properties and they wanted a double-page illustration of a packed with a crowd of retro cartoon characters to accompany it. I was just doing simple spot illustrations for them at that point, the assignment was supposed to go to another freelancer but for some reason it didn’t work out and they asked if I step in could do it quickly.
I was given a big list of characters and properties to include and told to put it in a party scene or nightclub, and they all had to be “on model” and recognizable. I’d done plenty of on-model illustrations before, but never this many, or of so many different styles at the same time. But it paid more than spot illustrations and sounded like a lot of fun so of course I said yes. It was over Thanksgiving while I was visiting my parents in the sticks and had to wrestle with a and dial-up internet connection, but I managed. I added a few more to the list - (Tron, Jem, Pac-Man, Max Headroom, President Reagan), printed out a ton of reference pictures and started drawing.
Two weeks later, I had made THIS:
It was a hit, and pretty soon they asked me to do another one!
These "One With Everything" pieces for Wizard, ToyFare and InQuest magazines became a regular thing for a few years - I'd get big list of characters, a suggested setting that I'd have to fit into a double page spread with room for a title and the singular directive to "go nuts".
All these pieces were drawn on bristol paper with ink and then colored in Photoshop (I still have some of the originals) - these days I would have done it all digitally. Around the same time these jobs started to wind down, I found this piece of high school artwork in my parents house:
I guess it was destiny!
I really enjoyed doing these pieces and even managed to do a few just for fun:
I self-published most of these pieces in an art book "One With Everything" back in 2012, and it's still in print!
I also sell prints of some of the more popular ones at comic conventions and online through Etsy, eBay, Society6 and Redbubble but if you see them anywhere else or on merchandise it’s most likely unauthorized. I also sometimes license them out for a modest fee (someone even had the 80’s one made into a cake!)
If you’re interested in licensing any of this art or commissioning a new one, just drop me a line!