It's Sunday morning, and for illustrator Travis Millard, it's time to do battle — over pancakes.
Armed with squeeze bottles full of batter, the 37-year-old Los Angeles illustrator creates edible artwork right in the griddle — from his favorite Ghostbusters character to the punk bands he listened to as a teenager.
Before wolfing down his works each week, he takes photos and posts them on his Instagram with the hashtag #pancakemorning.
Three thousand miles away in New York, no one watches closer than his buddy, Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, 43, who's constantly trying to figure out how to one-up Millard.
“It’s becoming almost the only thing I think about all week, which is becoming a little unhealthy,” Millard joked.
On June 16, McInnes tried to top Millard’s pancake drawing of a pocketknife with his griddle-cooked rendering of a sword. On July 21, Millard’s Slimer squared off against McInnes Captain America, while a set of nunchaku went up against the Tapatío hot sauce mascot just a week later.
The breakfast rivals met over a decade ago while Millard was working in New York City, but the #pancakemorning hashtag originated on Instagram with McInnes earlier in the year. The war of the flapjacks started in May, after the two rediscovered each other on the Internet.
“We sort of reconnected through Instagram,” said Millard. “He started heckling me on my account for how I draw sausage fingers — you know, fat fingers.”
After a while, Millard noticed that McInnes was posting a series of detailed pancake drawings and hashtagging them #pancakemorning.”
“I decided I would steal his thunder and beat him at his own game,” he said.
Millard sent out his first post on May 19. He drew a fat-fingered glove, intended as a jab at McInnes’ good-humored criticisms.
“He was pretty fired-up,” Millard said of his fellow illustrator.
Still, the online rivalry seldom enters into everyday conversation, said Millard.
“We certainly don’t talk about it outside of Instagram,” he explained. “When Gavin was in L.A. recently, we did get together for a beer and traded techniques, but that’s the only time we really talked about it.”
The pancake art arms race has actually brought the two men closer together, Millard explained.
“We’ve become better friends through the rivalry,” he said. “As a result we’ve attempted to work on other projects together.”
While Millard has kept busy with a new online “drawing show” and other projects currently in the works, he says the pancake art is often a refreshing break from illustrating for clients.
“You’re working within parameters sometimes, but with the pancakes you’re completely free,” he said. “It’s a chance to pay homage to these things that I grew up on — punk rock, horror movies and other pop culture references.”