I created the above poster (click on it to enlarge it) for Allen Press, Inc., my place of employment here in Lawrence, KS. First, I sketched the shapes and facial expressions for each planet. Then I used GIMP, a freeware raster graphics alternative to Adobe Photoshop, to “ink” the images. The whole project took me just over 25 hours to complete. I came up with the idea of the planets collectively reacting to Earth’s stench, and my coworker and friend Joanna Gillette provided the tagline.

I looked at a variety of facial expression photos for cues and clues as I drew, and also took a few photos of my own face to model a few expressions I wanted to capture but could not find elsewhere.

The Sun’s expression is based on a photo I took of my face. I wanted to capture the look my wife gives me when I pass gas (silently, of course) in a public place like a woman’s clothing store. It’s also the same look people give me when I say something inappropriate and they don’t know me well enough to know if I am joking or am simply a person who bailed out of the booby hatch before being cured by clinical professionals.

I initially wanted all of the planets to wear clothespins on their noses, but I found that the clothespins often eclipsed the very facial expressions I so wanted to capture. My sister has given me this look before. Becki helped me with this one, at least conceptually, by paving the way for the idea of a side-profile planet.

My favorite reaction to Earth in a trash-bag has been, “Oh, I didn’t realize that was a trash-bag. I thought it was a satchel or a shroud of some sort.” Nope. Sorry. It’s definitely a trash-bag. Does the garbage man approve of the shrouds you use to bag your trash?

My favorite reaction to Jupiter is, “Hey, what’s that big red spot on his face?” Well … have you ever seen Jupiter? Because if you have, you should not be asking this question. Clue: It is not a zit.

Also, if you want to get really technical about it, it’s not exactly red. It’s a variety of colors. And you know how I selected the colors of all of these planets? I downloaded photos of each of them and sampled the colors of their surfaces with an eyedropper tool on GIMP. The colors, then, are based on the real colors of the planets, at least as they appear in the photos I selected.

I modeled Neptune’s mustache after Joanna Gillette’s Dad’s mustache. It’s bushy, and I thought it would serve Neptune well. As it turns out, her Dad loved the poster and was thrilled his mustache was the inspiration for Neptune’s facial hair.

Uranus is one of my favorite drawings, as the guy just plain looks paranoid. In fact, he looks like he’s going cold turkey after huffing interstellar gas and snorting space-dust all his life. He’s making an effort to get clean, but he’s got a flop sweat going and he’s gritting his teeth.

If this poster had not been for work, I would have taken an altogether different approach. I wanted all of the planets to react adversely to Earth’s stench but Uranus. I wanted him to look relaxed and stupid, like the smell was the most refreshing, calming thing he’d ever smelled. I wanted to give him one bucked tooth as well, just for extra stupidity. I mean, his name is “Uranus,” so I would assume he’d be comfortable with foul smells. Wouldn’t you?

Poor, poor Pluto. I must say, this was the universal favorite out of all the planets. Everyone said they loved this gag, and I am glad they did. I chuckled plenty while creating it, but only because I was going mad from spending way too much time on the whole dad-blasted project.

You people better recycle. I worked really hard on this thing. Save our planet, or I will send Mars to your house to recycle you.