New Project
A couple of people have asked about my current job, so this post is going to focus on that–anyone who doesn’t have any interest in comics can skip this post, because it’s going to be all about the funnybooks.

I’m working on The Midnighter, with writer Garth Ennis and Karl Story on inks. The Midnighter was created by Warren Ellis, another writer with whom I’ve done a few projects, and is supposed to be the most lethal man alive. He’s previously appeared in Stormwatch and The Authority, both written by Ellis. I will warn anyone who cares about such things that this is probably the most violent book I’ve worked on(and if you’ve read Ocean and the WILDC.A.T.S./Aliens book I did with Warren, that’s saying something), so it’s not one for the kiddies–sorry! I’ll post actual pages–the less violent ones–later, but for now, here are some pieces I did in preparation for the series as I tried to get a handle on the character. These probably won’t be published anywhere, so it’s a SprouseNet exclusive!

By the way–if anyone hasn’t noticed already, if you click your mouse on most of the photos/images on this blog, you’ll get to see larger versions of the selected image. In the case of the drawings below, the larger versions are almost the same size as the original artwork.


India Again

This is one of my favorite slides from India–the Sprouses in front of the Taj Mahal, ca. 1971. Can’t say “Hey–look at us–we’re in India!” any better than that…I’m not exactly sure why we, the kids, look so grumpy. Maybe this was after Mike fell in one of the reflecting pools, thereby ending all horseplay for the day…

This one is my Dad at the Khyber Pass. That sure sounds exotic and full of intrigue…


This was the view today from my drafting table…she’s snuggling with my laptop.

She’s three months old today and looking very different than she did just three weeks ago–less fuzzy all over(except for the ears) and much bigger. Much more coordinated, too.

Still cute as heck, though…

Happy Father’s Day
At left is one of my favorite photos ever of my Dad(and Mom). I chose this picture to share on Father’s Day because I’m currently working on a project involving scanning the hundreds of Sprouse Family India slides(from our stay in India from 1970-72) into my computer.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this before, but thanks, Dad, for allowing us to have such an interesting and colorful event in our lives. We rode an elephant, saw the Taj Mahal, visited countless other exotic sites. You taught me how to draw over there, and fostered our love of comics and science fiction. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without that trip as part of my past.

It isn’t just the trip that is making me all nostalgic and syrupy. I also treasure the memories of the nights we’d hunker down as a family in the rec room and you’d set up the screen and projector while Mom prepared the fondu(it was the 70’s)–or better yet, homemade Indian food–and we’d watch the India slideshow, complete with your narration. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about watching vacation slideshows–not me, at least in this case–those were good times!

Again, thanks, and happy Father’s Day!

My deepest gratitude for you, the reader of this blog. The fact that you had enough interest in the Sprouse family to read about us (although we never seem to remember birthdays or call anyone) is quite touching.

This entry is being posted by Xan, or as I like to call myself, me. It is my first, so please forgive the “in the beginning…” style of this post that falls right in the middle of Chris’ narrative of our life saga. He does a good job of reminding me that our lives are actually pretty fun, at least by our standards-any skydivers or sword swallowers reading this will most likely disagree.

Anyway, today being Father’s Day, I just wanted to give a shout out to all of my dads-Paul Hess, Jake Sprouse and Bill Schiffman-my dad, dad-in-law, and foster dad. Happy Father’s Day and much love to all of you. Especially my dad Paul, who would just be having a boring old run of the mill Sunday today were it not for me, as I am his only child.

The photo is of my parents, Lin and Paul at the party Chris and I had to celebrate our eloping. I think that’s shrimp cocktail that Dad doesn’t seem to be able to swallow. I suppose it is better than the cat food he cracked open and ate on live TV. You heard me.

This was of course during the WOSU Auction, for which my Dad and I have been volunteers the last 19 years. Someone dared him, and he grabbed a plastic fork, popped off the top of that can of Whiskas and dug right in to turkey and giblets if I remember it right.

As crazy as it was, we sold a lot of cat food, and I got my foster dad out the ordeal. After the all the cat food had been sold, Bill Schiffman (you may remember him from such WOSU scholarly gameshows as In The Know, or ITK for those of us who have places to be) our longtime Auction pal hugged me and told me he would be my foster dad from now on, since I shouldn’t have to live in such conditions. A silly comment after a silly incident, but years later we still call each other Foster Father and Foster Daughter.

Everyone else still talks about the cat food and always tries to egg him on to eat other pet foods, but Dad is a true showman-shock ’em once and leave them howling in the aisles and wanting for more, but don’t indulge them. Just move on to the next act, like eating a live spider. But that little Hess family Christmas memory is a story for another time.

Thanks again for lookin’,

Xan’s Pop Culture Quote of the Week:

“Listen, kid. I’m not the kind of dad who, you know, does things, or says stuff, or looks at you. But the love is there!”
-Krusty the Clown, from “Insane Clown Poppy”-episosde BABF17 of The Simpsons

Joyce, Xan’s co-worker at Medco, shared a set of photos of the new litter of kittens with us. We picked the dark tortoise-shell colored one–she seemed the most active and alert in all the pictures. Then we waited for her to be old enough to come live with us. In the photo at left, she’s about two weeks old.

On our drive to Chicago for Xan’s birthday we tried to pick a name. Xan suggested Jess-Belle, which is Anne Francis’ character’s name in a Twilight Zone episode about a woman who turns into a cat as a nasty side-effect of bewitching a boy to love her(in case anyone’s forgotten, we’re nerds). I thought it was a good suggestion, so Jess-Belle it was!

On May 28, Joyce brought little Jess-Belle to our apartment and it was love at first sight for the little furball. Jess-Belle seemed to feel comfortable in our home right away–exploring, running, climbing, jumping on everything. Shortly after Joyce left, the little girl was sitting on our laps and napping on the sofa, not hiding as we’d feared. After the nap, however, came the night crazies.

She spent the whole night doing laps around the bed, burrowing under the covers, trying to eat our feet, and crawling between the mattress and the wall where she found the power cords to our alarm clocks infinitely interesting. We spent the night screaming “Ow!” and trying to keep her from electrocuting herself.

Now, three weeks later, Jess-Belle’s just as energetic but slightly calmer at night. She’s eating well and growing before our eyes. She’ll be full-grown in no time, it seems, but for now we’re loving having a kitten around the house.

While I still plan to write in detail about some past events I haven’t covered in the recaps(concerts, conventions, festivals and road trips), I think that pretty much brings this blog up to date.

Recap, Part 3
Anyway, around the time I was finishing up the first issue of the Ex Machina Special, a woman Xan worked with who had heard about the loss of our little guy offered us a kitten from the impending litter of one of her many cats. We discussed it…Max was irreplaceable, but we sure missed having a cat around the house. We decided we’d be ready by the time the kittens in the litter were ready for adoption, sometime near the end of May or the beginning of June.

Xan’s birthday came in April, much to her dismay…We tried to make the best of it, getting away for a weekend by ourselves in Chicago, doing geeky things(record store shopping, museum hopping) and eating great food(Papa Milano’s).

As the end of May approached, we were both getting pretty anxious for the new kitten…
More soon,

Recap, Part 2
Just getting on with life was hard–I got back to work and Xan had her new job, but we were just zombies and shut-ins.

Work has always been a refuge for me when things have gotten tough, and eventually this proved true with my new assignment, the two-issue Ex Machina Special for Wildstorm Productions(Issue #2 goes on sale today!). It was difficult at first, but encouragement from the editor, Ben Abernathy, and everyone involved(writer Brian K. Vaughan, regular EM artist Tony Harris and colorist JD Mettler) really helped me feel good about drawing again for the first time in a long time. Inker Karl Story and JD turned in fantastic jobs over my pencil art, making this one of my favorite published jobs ever.

More later…


Recap, Part 1
I think we were still being pretty good about communicating during the big events of 2004–Xan’s trip to the emergency room, my broken wrist, and maybe even the flood that trashed the basement at our old apartment–so I’ll start the recap with our new apartment.

We had talked about moving out of the old place well before it flooded(noisy college idiots for neighbors, leaky plumbing, cramped quarters), but a foot of water in our basement and no clean-up help from the rental company really nailed it down. Thanks to Xan’s Mom, we found a really amazing place in a much nicer neighborhood–for way less rent! Now we enjoy hardwood floors, cool built-in details, and lots more space–my favorite apartment to date.

Xan found a new job in October, after a long stint at B&N. Now she’s working for Medco–I’ll let her write about that if she wants to. In November, a Chinese food Thanksgiving at the Hess House, then fun at the Mid-Ohio Con–meeting up with friends like Steve Lieber and Sara Ryan. Christmas at home in the new pad. I finished the final page of the final issue of Tom Strong on New Year’s Eve–very emotional and odd for me.

I would like to say that that was the only “new beginning” I had to make in January, but I can’t. Max had been ill since October, and the vets warned us it could be something minor or something major–the only way to tell would be to treat him for one and see what happened. We treated him for the minor illness(he probably wouldn’t have survived treatment for the major illness), but it turned out to be the other one. On January 10th, we had to say goodbye to the “little” guy. He was with me for 17 years, my entire adult life, through every possible good and bad event, and losing him was awful. I knew this was coming some day–he was 17 years old, and had pretty much lost his hearing–he was not a young cat. I just wasn’t prepared for the emptiness and the quiet that was there so suddenly where he used to be.

Gotta go now–more later in Recap, Part 2


Welcome to SprouseNet, where you can find out just what the heck we, Chris and Xan, have been up to recently.

We started this weblog because we’ve been kind of…er…lax… about keeping in touch with our friends and family over the last few years, and wanted a way to re-connect and communicate. Xan, at least, likes to write, while I like messing around on the computer late at night after I’ve finished working–and we both love sharing photos–so a blog seemed like the thing to do!

One or both of us will try to post at least once a week, even if it’s just a snapshot or a simple “not much going on right now” kind of thing. I plan to share artwork whenever I can, and I’ll try to keep those who care about it up to date on what I’m working on and what’ll be published when. First up will probably be some recaps of recent and semi-recent highlights and low points…lots of pictures to look at if you get bored, though…Stay tuned.