Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pheaturing Thom Solo

Welcome, kids, to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Man, this weather sucks. Sorry you can't make the rain go away no matter how many weather apps you check. Don't bother going outside, I have a lot of stuff for you to read.
In the wake of Donald Trump's election, there has been a spike in incidents of racist and xenophobic harassment across the country. Racial and anti-Semitic graffiti has especially been prevalent, much of which is drawn from the rhetoric and proposals of the president himself. At a time when our country seems irreversibly fractured, reaching out to show kindness and generosity to someone who does not agree with you politically is not only refreshing but especially valuable. Rosalind Harris, a 25-year-old waitress at Busboys and Poets, a local Washington, D.C., restaurant with a social justice mission, served three white men in cowboy hats on the morning January 23rd. The friends, wearing "Make America Great Again" merchandise, were in town from West Texas for Donald Trump's inauguration. Harris is a black woman who identifies as liberal and opposes Donald Trump. In fact, she partook in the Women's March in the nation's capitol the previous Saturday. Despite their obvious differences, "The Daily Wire" reports that the men and Harris remained warm and cordial, were chatty and had a good time. The men had already left the restaurant by the time that Harris came to pick up the check. That is when she discovered that she was given a $450 tip on the $72.60 bill, making that a 625% tip. They also left her a touching note. "We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people. Not race. Not gender. Just American." According to "The Washington Post," the tip was left by Jason White, a dentist from Texas, who chose $450 as the amount as a symbol because Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States. He told the "Post," "We have to think about being better Americans, we have to look into ourselves and how we treat one another. If everyone did a little something to show respect… we can love one another." Harris was obviously shocked and moved by the generous tip, admitting that she prejudged the men as soon as they stepped into the ultra liberal restaurant with their "MAGA" gear on. "You automatically assume if someone supports Trump that they have ideas about you,” she told the "Post," “but [the customer was] more embracing than even some of my more liberal friends, and there was a real authenticity in our exchange." She also said that timing was impeccable, since she is planning on moving and wasn't sure that she could afford the upfront costs. Harris added, "This definitely reshaped my perspective. Republican, Democrat, liberal are all subcategories to what we are experiencing. It instills a lot of hope."
On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that has closed the U.S. borders to refugees from around the world, as well as placed a temporary suspension on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the "New York Times" reports. President Trump said the action intends to keep out "radical Islamic terrorists," when in actuality, it's a xenophobic and bigoted law that sends a message of hate, intolerance and fear to the rest of the world. One of the recent realizations of the ban's effect is that Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will not be able to attend this year's ceremony. According to "The Telegraph," Farhadi was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman, which tells the story of a man seeking revenge on an intruder who attacked his wife while she was alone in their apartment. This isn't Farhadi's first trip to the Academy Awards, either. His film A Separation won two awards in 2012: Best Foreign Language Film (which made it the first Iranian movie to win the award) as well as Best Original Screenplay. In his 2012 speech he spoke of what the award meant to his country, saying that Iranians were celebrating a moment when their rich culture was not shrouded in politics, and war, as it so often is. In the wake of last year's #OscarsSoWhite outrage, many people are hoping that The Academy to speak out on the incident, but knowing that the dusty old elites that comprise The Academy generally hate to make waves, it's hard to predict what will happen, if anything. Farhadi's story is a case in which it makes obvious that this ban reduces other countries to stereotypes and deepening the divides between the Middle East and the U.S. Unfortunately in our world, it's easier to feel upset over an acclaimed artist being denied entry into the U.S. than a regular person, because we value celebrity. But hopefully Farhadi will serve as an example that will resonate, even though a human life should not be measured or made valid by its contribution to society. When we assume that people who are Muslims are threats, we ignore the vast amount of humanity that exists within these countries and assume the worst of places that are teeming with life that is no more or less valuable than the Christian lives that the ruling gives precedent to. It makes clear that when you attempt to ban terrorists by making blanket assumptions about a culture or religion, you stop many other things in their tracks as well. Consider this one of many wake up calls that hopefully celebrities and Hollywood can use to stand up to President Trump.
With President Trump's far-reaching executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim countries and blocking refugees' entrance to the U.S., people are being detained in airports across the country. New York's JFK Airport in particular has become ground zero for the ban's chilling effects, with one woman attempting suicide for fear of being sent back to Chile and two Iraqi war heroes filing a lawsuit against Trump over being held there despite their visas. These headlines prompted the quick assembly of a protest at JFK's Terminal 4, where a number of such travelers have been detained. As the ranks of the protest swelled, even members of congress turned out to demand an immediate end to Trump's unconstitutional order. As of this writing, the protest is still going strong, with no end in sight. By and large, Trump voters seemed pretty sure that none of his terrible policy proposals would affect them personally. But they may change their tune when the sheer chaos of implementing those bad ideas causes them to miss their flight.
During these tense political times, many Americans feel like we could really use a hero right now. Enter Lan Diep, a civil Legal Aid attorney and city councilman from San Jose, California. According to the Huffington Post, Diep, 32, took the oath of office for San Jose City Council on Tuesday while holding a Captain America shield. Diep, a Republican, told HuffPo that he decided to wield the unique accessory because he believes government can be fun, and the stunt may get some more people to pay attention to local government. "I’m willing to entertain them if they sit through all the policy discussions," he said. Fair enough! The new councilman insists he was not trying to make a metaphorical political statement by carrying the shield, but did admit that it "represents America’s ideals and I do hope to aspire to those ideals of fair play, equal justice, and democracy during my term." He then added, "But really, I just had this awesome shield and I wanted a chance to show it off." Okay, so maybe Diep can't swoop in like an Avenger and save us all from ourselves, but he is a political figure that can make people smile. And that is pretty heroic in times like these.

Queen Elizabeth visited the University of East Anglia on Friday to see an exhibition on Fijian culture. It was meant to be a joint engagement with her and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. But due to a scheduling mixup by Buckingham Palace, the 95-year-old Philip was nowhere to be found. As a result, Her Majesty went stag. But when she saw the hot Fijian beefcake that was on display, she didn't seem to mind.

Despite the 40°F temperature, these proud warriors waited patiently for the Queen to arrive, their spines and nipples proudly erect. And the 90-year-old clearly appreciated their sacrifice. She's like a Corgi looking at a treat.
Okay, Trump has been pretty busy as the President this past week... signing executive orders like crazy. He is also writing some things that don't make sense.

I have a lot of friends that might freak out about this. So, the line of accession looks pretty odd now that Trump is president. Take a look...

See what I mean? Do you kids like video games? I think there's a new one out that might be fun.

Never mind... I mentioned the Queen just now... well, she recently has been sporting a new hat with an interesting saying on it...

I agree, Your Majesty. Hey, good news, CNN reported who is gonna pay for that wall Trump wants to build.

So, I saw this pic the other day...

And it reminded me of something. And then it hit me...

The out-going president both look so happy. George W. Bush meanwhile has opened up a new theme park...

Hahahaha. That's so stupid... that's as stupid as this...

That makes me laugh. Hahahaha. Man, now that Trump is president there's so many Trump inspired products... and not all are flattering. Like this Trump piñata...

Mexicans have found a way to hit back at Donald Trump... literally. Piñatas, bearing Trump's likeness with “a flange of blonde hair and a big mouth,” have hit store shelves in Mexico and are proving popular with customers eager to protest the billionaire's recent remarks about immigrants. President Trump drew criticism after declaring that Mexico was bringing “drugs, crime, and rapists” to the United States. The Donald's comments prompted piñata maker Dalton Ramirez to design a piñata bearing Trump's visage. The candy-filled sculpture retails for about $40, and Ramirez says it has been flying off shelves. Haha. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Things El Chapo Has Learned Since Arriving In New York City
5. It's hard to get a good chalupa south of Houston Street.
4. 98 years to finish the 2nd Avenue Subway? His team could've dug that in 3 months!
3. New York City water is the best for making toilet wine.
2. After all the hype, The Naked Cowboy is wearin' freakin' underwear!
And the number one thing El Chapo learned since arriving in New York City is...
1. Uber does not provide "escape vehicles."

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck please let me know. Alright, so, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. That show has changed quite a but than it used to be.

Grover and Kermit realize their disguises are inadequate as they run into each other at the gay bathhouse.

There's some great stories about farting out there, which you may find hard to believe. I think I talked about this one on the Phile before but... It may not be seen as the most mature way of blowing off steam, but one Swede apparently chose to use his flatulence as "revenge" on a woman who refused to have sex with him. The pair had discussed having sex, but when the woman declined, her male acquaintance left in a huff... literally. Before he exited the apartment, he let a big one rip. The woman allegedly told police in Laholm, Sweden, that she had found the smell of the fart disturbing. Yes, tooting is the best.

John Hurt
January 22nd, 1940 — January 27th, 2017
I am not an animal! I am a human be... oh, wait. Never mind.

Barbara Hale 
April 18th, 1922 — January 27th, 2017
She was in movies for 35 years and on TV for 48 years. And she'll still be remembered as Perry Mason's secretary. Raymond Burr can suck it.

Mike Connors 
August 15th, 1925 — January 26th, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore 
December 29th, 1936 — January 25th, 2017
Looks like she didn't make it, after all.

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, President Donald Trump called Madonna "disgusting" (after her comments about blowing up the White House at the D.C. Women's March) and "SNL" a "disgrace" after one of the writers mocked his son, Barron, on Twitter. It's a good thing the man doesn't hold a grudge. Just kidding! You look at how tight, how tremendously tight he holds onto that grudge with his tiny fingers, believe me. He has great grudges, the best grudges! Speaking to Hannity on his show (the creatively named "Hannity") from the White House, the president said of Madonna, "Honestly, she's disgusting. I think she hurt herself very badly. I think she hurt that whole cause. I thought what she said was disgraceful to our country." And of one of his other enemies, "SNL," Trump said, "I don’t mind some humor, but it’s terrible. For them to attack, for NBC to attack my 10-year-old son, it’s a disgrace. He’s a great boy and it’s not an easy thing for him. Believe me." Although it wasn't technically "SNL" who joked about Barron Trump, it was an employee of "SNL" and therefore an employee of NBC, so fair enough. But for the record, I think Donald Trump does mind some humor, and actually all humor.

The 56th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author and the guy who put it together and Phile Alum Gary Gerani will be the guest on the Phile  a week from today.

Today's guest is the 35th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery. Please welcome to the Phile... Thom Solo.

Me: Hey there, Thom, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Thom: Thank you for having me, I’m doing great, thank you!

Me: It was great to meet you at Clermont Comic Con back in November. Did you have a good time there?

Thom: Thank you, yeah, I had a great time at Clermont Comic Con. It’s always fun to do local convention and meet fellow artists and creators.

Me: Do yo do many conventions, Thom?

Thom: Yes, I do a lot of local conventions in the Central Florida area. I’ve recently been adding a few more larger shows to my calendar. This past year I did MegaCon and the year before that I did Geeky Con.

Me: You live locally, right? Whereabouts?

Thom: Yes, I live in Davenport, just 20 from the Disney area.

Me: I live just a few minutes from Davenport. So, ever been to that newish movie theatre there? I haven't. What about Books-A-Million? I've been there many of times.

Thom: Yes, the Cineopolis is a great theater. I saw The Force Awakens there, you get to reserve your seat ahead of time so no rushing to get a good seat at the theater.

Me: So, how long have you been an artist, Thom?

Thom: I’ve been an artist since I was about nine-years-old.

Me: So you been drawing pretty much all your life?

Thom: Yeah, it all started with the 1989 Batman movie, ever since that I’ve been drawing anything I can.

Me: One thing I noticed about your artwork is that it's just not one style... so, what was your firststyle you have done and what is your favorite?

Thom: My favorite style would be a mixed of comic book and cartoon style.

Me: I noticed as well that your work is all over the map... Star Wars, horror, superheroes and more... do you have a favorite genre?

Thom: I couldn’t pick a particular genre, I usually go with whatever I’m in to at the time or will focus on something I haven’t illustrated before.

Me: I think you have done more DC characters than Marvel but I am not 100% sure. Do you read comics?

Thom: Yes, I haven’t been up to date on current comics, but I still keep up with comic news.

Me: What do you prefer? DC or Marvel?

Thom: I do prefer DC over Marvel, just because it was what I was first exposed to, but as I got older I starting reading more Marvel comics.

Me: I love your pin-up pieces... I as you know purchased the Batgirl one. You took a pic of me when I posted it and put it on Facebook.

Me: Have you ever met or heard of another Central Florida artist named Al Albazzia? Pin-ups are his most popular genre and he's been on the Phile a few times.

Thom: No, I don’t think I’ve met Al yet, but I can’t wait to! 

Me: Anyway, are you a big fan of the pin-up style?

Thom: Yeah, it’s always been an eye catching visual, my wife decorated our garage to be a 50s car garage complete with pin-ups all through the garage.

Me: I have to mention your He-Man pin-up I showed on the Phile last week. I don't know a lot about He-Man but I used to have an action figure of the little red guy from that cartoon, whatever his name was. Anyway, how did you come up with the He-Man piece?

Thom: I was trying to figure out what I wanted to submit for Nude Nite 2014, I had done the DC pin-up girls and the female body is always used in the nude medium, so to stand out a little bit I thought I would do a male beefcake pin-up, but I wanted it to be kind of comedic as well, Then I thought of the Burt Reynolds centerfold from "Cosmo" magazine and thought, what if He-Man was in that centerfold.

Me: Do many people buy it?

Thom: Yeah, it always gets a lot of attention. It always makes people laugh!

Me: Do you have a favorite piece that you made?

Thom: That would have to be my Disney/Star Wars poster.

Me: Yeah, that one is cool. I have to show it here...

Me: What was the hardest thing or person you have drawn and what was the easiest?

Thom: The hardest would have to be the Disney/Star Wars poster and the easiest I would say The Blaster Buddies piece with Han Solo and Chewbacca.

Me: Hmmm. Let me look at that one...

Me: That's cool. What tools do you use to do your work?

Thom: I use pencil and pen and paper for my line work then scan that image to either my computer to digitally color with photoshop or I’ll scan it into my iPad and digitally color it in with the Procreate app.

Me: I liked your "Stranger Things" Eleven piece I have shown on here. I thought at the convention I would see a whole lot more "Stranger Things" pieces from different artists but I didn't. Are you gonna make any other pieces from that show?

Thom: Maybe, especially since there’s going to be season two!

Me: Where you a fan of the show? I thought it was pretty good.

Thom: I thought it was great, from episode one I was hooked! I’m went to Spooky Empire in Dec. and gave Millie Bobby Brown a copy of that Eleven piece!

Me: Yeah, I saw this pic of you two...

Me: That's a great pic! So, when you were in school you drew a one page comic strip for the school paper? That's cool. What was it called and what was it about?

Thom: I don’t remember the name of the comic itself, it was kind of like the "Far Side" comic strip. I would kind of pick out some silly or comedic happenings at our school.

Me: I have to ask you about your t-shirt... "Roomies." What is that, Thom? Is that a creation of yours?

Thom: Yes, that’s from a web comic I produced at Two other friends of mine helped me write it and I penciled, inked and colored the comic. The cover was penciled and inked by Garry Roth and I colored the cover as well. Joey Martinez also helped with the writing of the comic. 

Me: I should of asked you to draw me when I saw you at the convention. Do a lot of people ask you to draw themselves?

Thom: I do, sometimes I have people ask me to draw someone they know. Which I can always do, as long as there’s a photograph to go by.

Me: I do that as well. So, I like to ask artists on the Phile what they think of of my logo... I didn't do it, but I still like to know what people think. So?

Thom: Haha. It looks great I like it!

Me: Thom, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope it was fun and I hope you'll come back soon. Go ahead and mention your websites and whatever else you wanna mention.

Thom: Sure, my online store is at, Facebook is, Twitter is, Instagram is @thom_solo and my web comic is at

Me: All the best, continued success and I'll see you at a convention soon I'm sure and will have you back on the Phile again soon if you want.

Thom: Sounds great, thank you!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Thom Solo for a great interview. He's such a nice guy. The Phile will be back tomorrow with actor Bryan Jager. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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