top of page

One With Everything

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 crowd of retro cartoon characters and cultural icons 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 could give it a shot - and fast. 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 Cleveland suburbs and had to wrestle with a on old desktop pc on a 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!

"Adult Swim Pool Party" - sure has been fun having randos complain that characters than didn't even exist before 2004 aren't in this picture (I drew it in 2004).

These "One With Everything" pieces for Wizard, ToyFare and InQuest magazines became a regular thing for the next 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".

"Where's Guy Gardner?" (just left of Kilowog's hand)
"Screen Super Heroes Quiz" - loved drawing the terrible 70's tv versions of Mordu, Captain America and the Kathie Lee Crosby Wonder Woman.
"Know Your Ninjas" - if you're trying to name all the characters on these things, this one is probably the toughest.

"Banshee's Irish Wake" - with a name like Dunlavey, they HAD to give me this one. I have no idea why Luke Cage is included, but the editors insisted.
"Toy Beach Party" - this one was fun because they just gave me a list of toy properties to include (GI Joe, Thundercats, etc) and I got to pick the representative characters!
"The Geek 100" - a primer on pop-culture 'Easter Eggs' (note the Konami Code on the banner).
"Grim Reaper's Airport" - pieces featuring large groups of deceased super heroes would become a common theme.
"Club Dead" - see?!
"Last Wedding Reception Standing: Black Panther & Storm vs Black Adam & Isis" Say that 10 times real fast!

"Welcome to Megoville" - another piece chock full of Twister ToyFare Theater in-jokes.

"The Limbo Lounge" - the waiting space where super hero characters who frequently got killed and resurrected. I think I only given 24 hours to draw this one, and it shows!

"Stilt Man's Funeral" with only loser super villains in attendance. I have a lot of affection for the z-list Marvel villains but I was given a list that had some pretty deep cuts even I hadn't heard of (Fusion? The Locust? Asbestos Man?!).

Planet Hulk: The Board Game!

"Star Trek Action Figure Wish List" ©2005

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:

"every Marvel Super Hero" by Ryan Dunlavey, age 15.

I guess it was destiny!

I really enjoyed doing these pieces and even managed to do a few just for fun:

I made this as a free download for stores to promote Free Comic Book Day, but no one did (as far as I know).

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 my online shop as well as Etsy and eBay 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!)

I wasn't invited to the party.

I'm always up for the challange of drawing dozens of characters in a single image so if you’re interested in licensing any of this art or commissioning a new one, just drop me a line!


bottom of page