This is Chris Ayers, yup, he looks like a nice guy with some exceptional character design skills. This is what we thought as we approached his booth at the Long Beach Comic Expo. Nope, I'm not going to tell you he has some underlying mysterious mad scientist skill or that he's saving the world. But his story and the reason for what he does has fully affected my point-of-view of myself as a professional artist, a parent, and as someone trying to fulfill a passion project.
Chris is a classic success story of pursuing your dreams. In 2000 he left Minnesota at the age of 24, with just a packed car and a passion to make it in LA. Montage forward, 2005, he's made it. He's worked on Men in Black ll, Fantastic Four, Penguins of Madagascar amongst others. But then he was diagnosed with leukemia, cancer of the blood. He spent the next year experiencing all the scary, painful, and hardships you would expect.
In 2006, on the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis, Chris decided to start a sketchbook as part of his personal healing process. He set the goal to draw an animal a day, a subject matter he loved drawing, to give him a focused opportunity to appreciate the gift of each healthy day.
The good news, Chris has been in remission since and is going strong with his goal of an animal drawing a day. He's a family man with a 5-year-old and has taken this experience on the road to share his story with students, and other cancer patients/survivors. He's created The Daily Zoo book series which you can find here, documenting his drawings, each having a tie-in to what he was feeling that day. A portion of proceeds supports cancer-related charities and research. I'm proud, and inspired, to have drawing #559 as a new favorite shirt.
If you want more information on Chris and his works, see the following links: