How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Homemade Birthday Cards 2004: Max’s 4th / Cody’s 6th

Posted by , under SNAPSHOTS

Cody's 6th Homemade Birthday CardCody’s Sixth Birthday: 2004

Max's 3rd Homemade Birthday Card
Max’s Third Birthday: 2004

To recap: I make birthday cards for each year my boys. Lucas (2), Max (11), Cody (13). As they got older, I started designing them around what seemed to rock their socks off.

I was thrilled the year Cody turned 6 and Max 4 and they were both enthralled with the Spider-man 2. When I was younger, I loved Spider-man. I even liked the crappy made-for-TV shows from the ’70s and , yes, I might have squealed each time he appeared in a cameo spot on the kids TV show, The Electric Company.

Stan "The Man" Lee and Young AndyMe and Stan Lee. Yeah, I used to have hair, blonde hair, with a “Flowbee vacuum haircutting system” hairstyle, before Flowbees even existed.

I became a comic book dork. I wasn’t a smart one though, as a collector. I bought a bunch of rubbish at the worst time. But I did happen to buy the 5th issue of The Amazing Spider-man when I was thirteen and had it signed by Stan “The Man” Lee, before he became the Hollywood mogul he is now. It was at a signing in a dinky little hole-in-the-wall comic book store a few blocks from my house. Tough times then for Mr. Lee (my living room is bigger than that store was), but it was a precious memory for me.

The Amazing Spider-man Issue 5The Amazing Spider-man #5. The first appearance of Dr. Doom in the series. Ugh! My geek sense is tingling.

He didn’t sign it “To my buddy,” or “Love,” or “Ka-pow!” but signed it: “Excelsior! Stan Lee.” I went to my dad and showed him. He smiled. Then I asked him what the Hell “Excelsior” meant. My dad graduated from Yale and, at one point, spoke Latin. He gave me the goods. Aaaaaand for all of us who didn’t go to Yale:

    excelsior (ɪkˈsɛlsɪˌɔː)
    —interj, —adv, —n
    1. excellent: used as a motto and as a trademark for various products, esp in the US for fine wood shavings used for packing breakable objects
    2. upwards
    [ from Latin: higher ]

I thought this was so classy and clever (my dad didn’t mention the sawdust bit). Even at that dumbass age, I saw style when it was staring me in the face.

In addition to this particular nostalgic specialness of doing a Spider-man theme for the boys, it’s also apparently impossible for me to keep my eyes dry when watching the Spider-man 2 scene where everyone on the freshly-rescued runaway subway train lifts Spider-man up and then tries to defend him against an overwhelming foe, Doc Ock. Ugh! Say what you will, but it just crawls inside me like a fluffy, abandoned kitten and starts kneading its pokey paws on my tear ducts. Something about merit… Unanswered worthiness and deservedness… I don’t know, just all those times where something went unacknowledged, for so long, finally being answered… just gets me right here. (Thumps fist to chest and bites lower lip). Whatever! I said I was a dork! Shut up and look away!


The Previous Cards The ghost twins from The Matrix Reloaded, Star Wars and Cody’s first birthday cards.

Funny Pictures Thirteen out of twelve doctors recommend these.


20 Responses to “Homemade Birthday Cards 2004: Max’s 4th / Cody’s 6th”

  1. I am in awe of your photoshop skills. It’s so cool to have that kind of talent to be able to create these things for your kids (and yourself). The stan lee thing is cool too.

    • andy says:

      you totally got it with the parenthetical. I personally love these things more than the kids did at first. But as they’ve gotten older their appreciation for them has grown and grown. It will be sad when I stop doing them. If I ever do stop. Thanks!

  2. and then my mind was blown to smithereens.

    • andy says:


      Don’t worry. Smithereens is a great place for a mind to be, I hear. Especially in winter time. Or maybe that was Southern France. 😉

  3. Jamin says:

    I actually teach a few photoshop classes for a community college, and I’ve never once thought of doing anything like that for my kids. THAT’S AWESOME! Gonna have to come up with something now. Thanks for adding to my to-do list, as if I didn’t have enough personal projects on there already.

    • andy says:

      Right!?! These projects are one of the biggest spikes on my Stress Richter scale, three times a year.

      Lizzie once said cutely “I wanna birthday card, toooooo.” I said, “F##K NO.” in not a cute way. She laughed as she remembered all my pacing and bloodshot eyes.

  4. my BFF’s son is a comic book character freak. he’s only 6 and his costume/dress-up collection rivals studios in hollywood. Those invitations would be perfect for him.

    • andy says:

      I love it. Cody and Max have enjoyed decent collections themselves. Nothing to call in a reality TV show crew about, but decent. I look forward to the little lad Lucas building up his collection.

  5. Jamie says:

    Those cards are so full of awesome! LOL @geek sense tingling. :o)

    For Love of Cupcakes

  6. Monica says:

    Not only are these the coolest things ever, but its something that relates to what they liked at the time so it is a great keepsake for them to show their kids one day. The fact that they love something you love too, just makes it better and so worth the work you put into it.

    • andy says:

      Aw thanks! Yeah, they want to decorate their room with them, like posters. That was really touching for me, when they asked that. Of course, I said, “WHAT!?! Isn’t it enough that I designed all of these for you guys, now you want me to frame and hang ’em!!!” Ha ha! Just kidding, I didn’t really say that.

      I only thought it.

  7. jetts31 says:

    That is fantastic. I got a chance to see him at the NY Comic Con last year. I can only describe as if a Christian met Christ.
    And the only reason to watch the Electric Company was for the Spiderman cameos.
    From one fanboy to another…Excelsior.

  8. Maria says:

    Hi there, you are very talented. Can I buy a spiderman card of my son from you? He is turning 4 in a few weeks

    • Andy says:

      Aw that’s so sweet! I wish I could but I can’t do these for commercial purposes. I did them using copyrighted artwork for my sons for their birthdays, but it gets complicated if I start trying to make a living off of doing these for other people. Though I really wish I could. 😉

  9. Chris says:

    An excellent post, Andy, in every respect. I’m with you on the honor and merit bit. Community, connectedness, lifting others up and holding them in a safe place out of gratitude and reciprocity… Yep, that gets me.


  10. Jenn W says:

    Dear effing Lawd! You are officially my hero and I want one of these made for my son’s August birthday!!!!

Leave a Reply