Feeder Birds in NYC

I will be in NYC, presenting a new chapter of my never-to-be-completed graphic novel Feeder Birds at R. Sikoryak’s Carousel. Wednesday, May 21, 8pm, at the world-famous Dixon Place, 258 Bowery. Only the terminally unhip will pass this up.

This chapter features all your favorite Feeder Birds touchstones:



And, of course, plenty of bird-on-bird VIOLENCE!

A splendid time is guaranteed for all.


Wildlife imitates art

In chapter one of Feeder Birds, squirrels invade the feeder. Cardinal dismisses them as “rats with fuzzy tails.”  Later, he drowns one and the other birds attack it and pluck out its eyes.

Imagine my surprise when I looked out my window the other day to find this:

The feeder drawn in the panels above has moved three thousand miles, only to be invaded by actual rats.  And while Cardinal is not here to sort them out, the House Finches who frequent the feeder certainly had a thing or two to say about them.

hit counter html code

Attention NYC residents

My re-vamped Chapter 1 of my one-fine-day-to-be-completed graphic novel Feeder Birds will be presented at

‘s Carousel this Wednesday evening. The author (me) will be in attendance and providing the voice of Flicker. Details of where and when can be obtained by clicking on the above images. Following the link below will provide the viewer with a 10-second version of the chapter. More images from the massive bird fight that forms the centerpiece of the chapter can be found here.

It’s worth noting that this edition of Carousel is to benefit Doug Skinner, whose studio was flooded a few months ago with much loss to his work and livelihood.  Doug is, to put it simply, one of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my life.  A true renaissance man, Doug is a gifted songwriter, performance artist, musician, composer, cartoonist, and many other things.

How smart is Doug Skinner?  Here’s an illustrative story:

In 1989 or so, I ran into Doug at an evening of performance art.  We were both on the bill that night and we had some time to kill during tech rehearsal.  I had brought the Village Voice to read.  Doug was reading Voltaire.  In French.  The big story that week was that Steve Martin and Robin Williams were currently starring in a big-deal production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at Lincoln Center.  The scandal of the production was that, in spite of gigantic ticket demand, it was being presented in the 300-seat Mitzi Newhouse Theater.  I wondered aloud if the production justified the hype, and Doug mentioned that he had seen it.  I remembered that Doug had trod the boards at Lincoln Center for many years as the co-star/co-creator of Bill Irwin’s In Regard of Flight, and that  Mr. Irwin was playing Lucky in the current production of Godot.  This all explained how Doug got in for the hottest ticket in town, but how did he like the show?  I asked him, and he replied, with characteristic underplaying, “Well, it’s not a very good play…

hit counter html code


Cardinal trounces a gang of goldfinches, from the slowly-being-completed graphic novel Feeder Birds.

This is the very short version: the fight currently goes on for 18 panels.

hit counter html code

And now, some drawings of a bird flying through winter trees

From my eventually-to-be-completed graphic novel Feeder Birds.
hit counter html code


My heartfelt thanks to Mr. JAMES URBANIAK and Ms. NINA HELLMAN helping out last night at CAROUSEL for the presentation of the new chapter of FEEDER BIRDS, and to Mr. R. SIKORYAK for continuing to encourage me to pursue this seemingly foolish endeavor.  The show went quite well, and swiftly, with much laughter and insights from all the folks presenting things.

I myself don’t perform much in public any more so it was especially gratifying to have complete strangers come up to me after the show to tell me they liked the piece.

The Bentfootes, while not exactly finished, is in a much more polished, presentable shape than it was two weeks ago, as well as being 10 minutes shorter and at least 10 percent funnier.  We had some (very) small screenings for friends, and Venture Bros fans would have delighted to watch JAMES “DOC VENTURE” URBANIAK and STEVEN “DR. ORPHEUS” RATTAZZI playing a giddy, slap-happy version of Ebert and Roeper on our editor’s living room couch.

The editor of The Bentfootes, by the way, is a hugely talented young man named CONNOR KALISTA.  Remember that name; this time next year I won’t be able to afford him.

For those of you who could not attend Carousel, here are some of my favorite panels from last night’s chapter.  As you can see, I enjoy drawing foliage.

hit counter html code

Feeder Birds

One of my least-known side projects is a graphic novel I’ve been steadily working on for about five years now called Feeder Birds.

A while back, I had a house in upstate New York.  There was a nice back porch (the “sun room”) where you could sit and read and watch wild animals gambol through the back yard, deer and squirrels and even the occasional bobcat.

We hung up a bird feeder, and over the course of a lazy weekend I would watch the birds at the feeder and draw little sketches of them.

The behavior of these birds shocked me.  They weren’t friendly or chipper or pretty.  They were mean, vicious, cutthroat bastards clearly descended from the dinosaurs.  They fought amongst themselves over primacy of the feeder and brutally devoured everything in sight.

An idea started to slowly seep into my brain to tell a serious, complex gangster saga, but instead of making it about Italian Americans in Little Italy, do it with these birds at the feeder upstate.

And hereis some of our cast.


CARDINAL is the leader of the gang.  Months back, he freed the feeder from the clutches of the evil Squirrel gang and was unanimously chosen as leader.  Since then, he has discovered a way to ferment suet, which creates a substance he calls “Numbskull.”  He trades Numbskull to the local sparrows (the sparrows are the “civilians”) in exchange for regular birdseed.  The Numbskull trade is so successful that within months Cardinal controls every scrap of birdseed in the neighborhood.  The power this affords him is a great pleasure, but it also carries with it much trouble and responsibility, some times too much for a simple bird to bear.

DOVEY is Cardinal’s wife.  Dovey used to be married to Woody (a Woodpecker), a straight-arrow bug-eater and all-around nice guy.  But Cardinal wanted her, so he took her.  He had his two most vicious thugs go to her house, gouge out Woody’s eyes and peck him full of holes.  Then he swooped in to “save” her, providing her with food and shelter, and a daily supply of Numbskull to calm her shattered nerves.  Now she’s hooked on the stuff and unable to function without it.

FLICKER is Cardinal’s best friend from childhood.  Capable of eating both bugs and seed, he’s not really a feeder bird.  He doesn’t indulge in the brutal strongarm tactics of Cardinal’s gang, but nor does he turn his back on his friends.  His complicated loyalties will eventually get him into deep trouble.

CHICK is Cardinal’s major enforcer.  Not the smartest of birds, he has a quick temper and a foul mouth.  He explodes at the slightest provocation and will take on a bird of any size.

TUFTY is a mere child.  He worships the Feeder Birds for their style, high-living and strength.  When he grows up, he wants to be a vicious thug just like them.  His looks and ambition make him a valuable asset to the gang.  He can get to places that others cannot and his loyalty to Cardinal is boundless.

JUNKO is a lesbian soldier, Chick’s second-in-command.  She’s quite a bit smarter than Chick but no less efficient in her duties as an enforcer.  Chick has carried a torch for Junko for quite some time, a fact that Junko has heretofore been blissfully unaware of.

COWBIRD is a psychopath.  He’s not an enforcer, he’s a maniac.  Unable to speak properly due to the seething rage he carries within his heart at all times, he merely waits trembling and twitching for the opportunity to once again unleash his fury upon whatever happens to be in his way at the moment.

STARLING is Cowbird’s minder and the only bird who can understand his twitching, growling murmurs.  He is always at Cowbird’s side, ready to back him up in a fight and lend his muscle to the fray.

MR. GROSBEAK is the leader of a rival gang, the Finches, who have always ruled the adjoining neighborhood.  Grosbeak does not desire warfare, but if Cardinal expands too far into his territory he will be forced into conflict.  He is old, wise and completely amoral.  He’s seen a dozen birds like Cardinal come and go and knows every trick in the book.

I’ve been developing these characters and their story off and on for r_sikoryak‘s Carousel slide shows.  For the next presentation (Chapter 5, Part I — December 7, buy your tickets now!) I am taking the big jump into learning Photoshop.  These images were drawn using a Wacom tablet, a device brand-new to me.  They have almost none of the depth or nuance of my regual pencil-and-paper drawings, but one must start somewhere.
hit counter html code