Friday, April 8, 2016

Letters from the Fourth Grade

character drawings of Patriot Parrot and Tory Turtle by Paul Zdepski

I was invited to speak at a regional elementary school about creating comics. I packed a crate of sketchbooks, sculptures and books I use while brainstorming, along with a comprehensive PDF of my work over the last 25 years. The kids were working on a 12 page graphic novel about the Revolutionary war (1775-1783), and were required to include a number of facts about it in their stories. Each kid had to include two characters: Local Assembly Guy and Loyalist Man. (I think better names are in order for next year's group)

I told them about brainstorming, word association with a Thesaurus, Character naming with Rhyming Dictionaries, Period clothing and supporting object research, and character sheets depicting multiple angles and views.

I burned up 2 hours and thanked them for inviting me. It was a real fun time. I drew two characters when I got home, and email it to the teacher to print for the class: Patriot Parrot and Tory Turtle.

 A week later, I was in the Produce aisle of the local store, and I hear;

"MR. ZDEPSKI!!! MR. ZDEPSKI!! Remember Me? I was in Mrs. D's class! I love comics! Thank you for "Patriot Parrot" and "Tory Turtle" Thanks for coming!" 

 -- and he was gone! There is no reason a 9 year old would be in the Produce Aisle, except to deliver a message.

I got an email from Mrs. D. last weekend to come to the after-school Book Fair to see the top 4 picks from the class. They were super! I was supposed to vote for my favorite, but each one exhibited great promise in art, storytelling, humor and pacing. I couldn't pick a winner... The teachers let me write in a vote for each of them.

I was bidding goodbye to the instructor, when she handed me a pile of "Thank You" letters from the kids. I read them when I got home... Very funny - lots of drawings and "kid logic".

The best of them were these:

Dear Mr. Zdepski, Thank you for teaching my class. I was not here, but I seen your art and it is beautiful. I wish I was there. Sincerely Davon R. 

 To Mr. Zdepski Thank you for coming. Although I wasn’t here. I’m still happy you came for my friends. From Connor 

 Dear Mr. Zdepski, Thank you for taking your time to come into our class to give a wonderful presentation! Even though I wasn’t there to see you, we love the pictures. From Piper H. 

 Dear Mr. Zdepski Thank you so much for coming to our classroom and telling us about your comics. I wasn’t in school that day, but everyone says you did a great job. - Eleanor H. 

 To: Mr. Zdepski Thank you for teaching our class about comics, even though I want not there!!!! Awesome Logan

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WinLife TV Interview

Opening Night Interview with David Paul Perry and WinLife TV

Here it is... Daniel Rioux and I are interviewed about our work on WinLife TV, on February 23rd, 2016. Dan looks good on camera, though I seem to have a face for radio.

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley Curator, Cory Garman tries to make me look legit. It doesn't work, but thanks!

Hit the little box in the lower corner to enter FULL SCREEN viewing - My big head will scare your cats.

The show is up until April 17th, 2016 if you'd like to see it in person.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Breakfast Time

Zdepski's Breakfast Time comic for the Magic Bullet 12

Breakfast Time

Page 38 in the latest Magic Bullet Issue 12, from your pals at the D.C. Conspiracy. DCC is a comics collective in the Washington D.C. region, publishing the Magic Bullet twice a year - FREE to the public at Comic-Cons, Metro Stations, Bookstores, Comic Shops and Music stores.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Comics at the Museum

Super endorsement for my show at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley:

ME: "Here's two stacks of Magic Bullet Comics to give to patrons when they visit the show... one of the pieces on the wall is on page 34."

Lady 1: "OOoooo!!! Do you like comics? Have you been in the gallery? They're FUNnnEEEEE... I laughed out loud!"
Lady 2: "Yeah, and I'm originally from New Jersey, and there's one called "Down the Shore!"... that's what we called it!...

Lady 3: "You'll really like it. Have you seen it?"
ME: "Yes, I've seen them.... I'm the one that drew 'em!"


Showing NOW through April 17th
OPENING on Tuesday, Feb 23rd 6-8 pm.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Card

I'm too lazy to send out Christmas cards this year. I apologize to the wonderful people that thought of us, but I dropped the ball. I hope you'll accept this wish of a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year from all of us in the Z household. May St. Nick-o-tine bless your home with the smell of a wet ash tray tonight.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Thanksgiving Tiffin

Thanksgiving is about a Sikh mechanic stepping in and saving my brother as his jack gave way whilst changing a tire in the pre-dawn darkness. The Sikh mechanic held the truck from tumbling down upon my squatting brother.

Thanksgiving is about a Sikh mechanic offering to cook my brother dinner, because there was "no need to thank him – it was God that saved my brother."

Thanksgiving is about a Tiffin, the traditional lunch pail filled with curried chicken and other good things from that Sikh mechanic’s kitchen.

Thanksgiving is my brother filling that same lunch pail with a full turkey dinner and assorted desserts – delivered to that Sikh mechanic working at the garage on Thanksgiving Day.

--- Be thankful for your immigrant neighbors. They’re good people.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


it’s been two hours and my heart is still racing with adrenaline. I was driving north on I-81 when a few hundred yards ahead a kid in an old Hyundai came careening across the center grass median and slammed into a sedan in the fast lane.

I saw spray of steam and smoke coming from the kid’s car (I call him a kid because he had two big Kicker sub woofers in his back seat and a thin build). The other car was 100 feet down in the ditch on the right side of the northbound lane… Each car had to have been nearing 80 mph, with a total force of 150+mph when they hit each other.

I put on my flashers and hopped out of my car - grabbing my small first aid kit, and a two foot 3/8 driver extension I had in my trunk… Both items were not the tools for the job. The first aid kit had burn ointment and band aides, the socket extension bent like a boomerang when I tried to use it to pry open the driver’s door.

The kid was unconscious and sideways in his seat, with his back to the driver’s door, airbag deployed and seat slammed forward. His breathing was labored… then that stopped. I put my hand on his neck to check for a pulse.  I couldn’t feel any. THEN he took a deep labored breath. I could tell he was broken up inside. No blood anywhere.

I stroked the side of his neck where I felt for a pulse, then lightly patted his head and cheek, saying “You’ve been in an accident, we’re trying to get the door open. Everything will be ok…”

I had no idea if it would be.

With three of us working on the door - we couldn’t get it open. I jumped around to the other side of the car and was able to release the driver’s seat slider, so his chest was off the steering wheel. Nothing else would budge… not the seat angle lever or door. He was stuck until the real Emergency Responders arrived. I prayed the car wouldn’t burst into flames.

More commuters trotted up on the scene. I knew I was at the limit of my abilities. As I returned to my car I saw the other car down in the ditch. The folks viewing that vehicle were just standing there… it must have been obviously a futile situation. I continued to my car to move it out of the way for the Police, Fire and Ambulances.

An hour later, I asked one of the VDOT workers how the kid was doing. He said they were trying CPR on him, but it didn’t look good. The ambulance drove off, but not at any speed… not a good sign.

Another hour later, They waved us on after sweeping all the glass, metal and spilled oil. My car wouldn’t start. I had left my flashers and headlights on the entire time. My battery was dead.

I’m feeling a bit inadequate right now. My pry bar didn’t work, my First Aide kit was strictly for boo-boos, not accidents, and my presence of mind was such that I didn’t think to shut off my lights. Thank you to the VDOT worker that gave me a jump from his battery pack.

God bless the two families as they have to deal with the tragic loss of these two people. I know I’m going to hug my wife and kid when I get home.

Oct 14
Wednesday's Northern Virginia Daily:
"Two people died and a third was injured in a three-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on Interstate 81 in southern Frederick County.
Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler of the Virginia State Police identified the fatalities as Tyler Scott Marshall, 19, of Wardensville, West Virginia, and Kathleen Haugen, 54, of Florida."

I'm sorry I couldn't help you, Tyler. I hope you're at rest. Kathleen, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I hope both of your families find peace in this tragedy. 

November 6
I've spent a few days planning and executing a small Dia de los Muertos cigar box memorial for Tyler. I downloaded a few pictures of him, his wife and daughter from the web. When I attended his funeral, they played a number of songs he loved, like Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", and a selection his mother chose, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man". Both selections were appropriate and hauntingly sombre in that setting. Since I had to teach a class at the Shenandoah Arts Council on the Day of the Dead traditions, I used this opportunity to create this box. I hope to give it to his family, but it's going to be very awkward to approach them.

The guitars are cut out on my bandsaw, shaped and painted with enamels. The Martin Acoustic is out of Red Oak, and the Gibson SG is out of Maple. The box is roughly 12" x 12" x 3".