Monday, November 24, 2014

back in the saddle

first day of Thanksgiving break: the games, the science, and a chance to finally bang out some art.

after a hiatus that makes me look nigh prolific by comparison, Phil Rossi is back in the podcasting/writing game. last week he 'cast a new story, "Silk and Old Tree," and after forgetting to have me do the cover in advance publicly taunted me on Facebook to "save him from crappy art." so i tried.

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[edit:] upon seeing this, J proclaimed, "Well, I'm going to have nightmares! Super effective!" and gave me a high five. love my wife. also: "Needs more unicorn."

the return was marked by a brace of other pubs: one featuring not-my-best work from 2011, and another of the stories that were to comprise our short fiction collaboration that never quite got finished. [Cryptkeeper voice] "Boils and ghouls, I call this terrible tableau... The Artist."

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[note: the previously unveiled two-of-ten are "Anamelech" and "The Watchers."]

finally! while the original Spooky Basement kicktibbler didn't quite make it, Clay started a new, modest indiegogo project for the first volume, Welcome to Monsteropolis. even better, it's been funded (!), but it's not too late to throw a few bucks his way and get in on the rewards. his is a bizarre and very real talent, and i'm excited to do the covers for the series.

/.n [while listening to... nothing for once. mmm.]

Friday, October 31, 2014

[ t h e _ v a u l t ]

Happy Halloween. [read with the voice and piercing, judgmental gaze of Conal Cochran from Halloween III.]

we had one of the most beautiful possible seasons in the run-up to Hallows here in the Midwest. on a sortie to Madison two weeks ago, such was the foliage that i quite literally exclaimed out loud on several occasions and may have swerved on the road. the 31st dawned cold and cloudless and glorious. let us savor it.

i am rediscovering the need to paint, to create. strove to the utmost to immerse myself in the season this year, but made some missteps along the way and the fates conspired to fully and completely keep me from haunts. notes to self: next year, paint earlier, keep the hallows playlist on constant shuffle, minimize the commercial nonsense.

did manage to run back through some good horror fiction along the way, including ol' Rossi-time's "Crescent," [listen for free] which was my first professional book cover / promo art gig. inspired me to paint one of the pivotal scenes from early in the book, since i can't pass a Halloween producing nothing.

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incidentally, and obviously, "The Bone Garden" isn't happening this year. i've substantially rewritten the script and am starting from scratch on the art, which will be in a different and more economical style than my previous stuff. we'll see how it turns out. next summer should be the first in years in which i'm not endlessly mired in manuscript or course prep. i am looking forward to it.

/.n [while watching Trick 'r Treat]

Monday, May 19, 2014

[ s p o o k y _ b a s e m e n t ]

i have wanted to do a project with my brother since before time and space were a thing.

here it is.

"Clay Astroman's Spooky Basement: A new book series combining horror and pump in a way that will make your arm hairs dance around like crazy. Are you prepared to get scared/pumped?"
[ kickstarter | fb | instagram ]

check out the kicktibbler for a sample of these incredibly bizarre wares, or at least watch the video featuring Sam the cat and some insane greenscreen. imagine!- a series of "Goosebumps"-style books written in the style of Robert Hamburger for slightly deranged adults (or "for cool idiots" in the preferred parlance). i'm doing the covers, as well as the logo [which was based on a design by Kästle Astroman].

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this kid is screamingly funny and won a horror short fiction contest or two in Austin back in the day. get in on this, throw a buck or two his (well, our) way, and stay pumped!

short post today - writing this mug with a splinted right hand (wedding reception related mishap...) is subdelightful. between that, illness, and some stupid texting teen totaling J's car a couple weeks ago, i am beginning to suspect that i must have inadvertently wronged a gypsy witch and it's too late to apologize... hey Clay, make that book 13!

them links again: "Clay Astroman's Spooky Basement" [ kickstarter | fb | instagram ]


Friday, January 10, 2014

[ d i a n t h a ]

a sequel, requested by Blairs: "Pokemon League Champions of Instagram: Diantha." current gen champion Diantha + Tyrantrum [both source images © Nintendo and affiliates], fine specimens. i took some license with Diantha's outfit; namely, i don't know nor do i care to reproduce whatever the heck the apparent wings on the back of her jacket are. i have replicated with loving care her skeletal lower extremities.

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winter break was a fascinating mélange of family times, tremendous sloth, the worst winter weather unto which i have ever borne witness, and so on. i need to keep painting or i may go mad. bring on Halloween.

/.n [while listening to Crossbreed]

Sunday, December 1, 2013

[ c y n t h i a ]

for Blair: "Pokemon League Champions of Instagram: Cynthia." inspired by insane photos of dudes in Qatar and the UAE hanging out with pet lions and such.

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ridiculous semester has wound down and is mortally-wounded-ducking to the finish. i want to paint more. happy holidays.

/.n [while watching "Bad Santa"]

Thursday, October 31, 2013

[ t h e _ b o n e _ g a r d e n ] - 2014

Halloween. hello, love.

going back to the June 5 entry below, you will see mention of the new Halloween project... for the first time a collaboration, and with my beautiful new bride at that. tremendous progress was made in May and early June! and then. then. conference in Albuquerque, complete with Breaking Bad location hunting and incredible hustling to finish a manuscript, more science, the rather substantial matter of planning our wedding and completing requisite art/design!, and a new semester in which i assumed entirely too many responsibilities and began as an 80h/week kind of debacle.

the good news:
 • the conference was rad, we did all the things, the talk went well and led to a guest blog post that got just shy of 2,500 unique views in the first week (see here or at my own This reView of Life).
 • the wedding was the most splendid engagement possible, with a reunion of my world-scattered crew for Only The Best shenanigans. we treated my boys and girls to a tour of Fermilab on the morning of the wedding. quoth Dr Cognac, "Neil knows how to groom a wedding right." J surprised me with a whiskey-infused, bacon-topped groom's cake crowned with a legitimate 1993 Kenner JP Velociraptor. yes. next semester should see a ramping-down of this fall's ridiculous workload (before it begins anew next fall).
 • and lastly, i've been hit up for artwork for a new band. no deets yet.

"The Bone Garden" is coming. it will just be a while yet. i may end up redoing a good amount of the art that's already cooked... we shall see.

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as always, i wish you every dark satisfaction on this night. to that end, i would point you at my new favorite comic artist Abby Howard's ongoing magnum opus that i Kickstarted the s out of. it is called "The Last Halloween" and you need it in your life.

honor the season.

/.n [while watching "Tales from the Hood"]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

[ d e e p _ o f _ t h e _ w e l l _ I N _ D E P T H ]

in case you missed it, we shall below discuss the 2012 Halloween epic "Deep of the Well." here are some spoiler-laden bits of art to entice you, should you have been a stubborn jerkface last time 'round.

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it was well received and i think it pretty clearly features some of my best art, but the highly divergent interpretations of the story are perhaps most interesting.

the core of the tale is one that i'd wanted to write for years: an overwhelming force annihilated through its underestimation of an apparently fragile but incredibly, even perversely dangerous nymph/mermaid/whatever. the "Hubristic Stroll Into Utter Ruin" trope is one of my favorite, and one that is tremendously difficult to pull off properly. having written this thing i can't adequately judge how close i got, but despite my best efforts through narrative misdirection, the dream appeal, and the nubile appearance of the nymph, i'd wager that i fell short. the two examples that come first to mind are from:

1) the end of Matheson's "Hell House," in which the intellectual protagonist appears to save the day Through Science! before being brutally ghostmurdered in one of the most well-written evocations of nightmare logic of all time.

2) choice scenes in King's "It," in which the protagonists return as bold adults to confront a childhood bogeyman before discovering that it is in fact a nearly omnipotent, transdimensional, malevolent god and they are three feet from it. the end cops out big-time, but there are a few bits along the road that... *shudder*

i've spent a long time in reflection on why this potent device resonates with me so. it seems to hinge on the simple fact that the times i have gotten into the most nauseating, existence-threatening trouble in my life, i not two minutes earlier thought that i was an unimpeachable Force For Good. the sudden and horrifying subversion of one's position in such a way is at the core of nightmare.

i love it when it doesn't happen to me.

anyway, this one was a long time slow-cookin' after i decided to use a mermaid as the core, having reevaluated their potential through, no joke, things like Dethklok, strange Japanese novels, and my usual old investigations of comparative myth. i knew that i wanted her to be a siren, to sing with an unearthly bass (one of my favorite phrases from the story is "Three notes, so deep as to maul bedrock."), and to wield power sufficient to murder every trifling fool within miles.

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"Deep of the Well" began as a straight-forward (well, as far as these things can be) story along the lines above. the dream appeal and its ambiguity given the final scene were always critical: what exactly did she want from Agenor? to call off the dogs, as he thought? to join her in nuptial bliss? to consume him? one of my greatest satisfactions in publishing this story has been receiving messages from readers who have come to profoundly different conclusions on its outcome and fundamental message.

early drafts of the script implied that the cynical interpretation was most likely correct, but as i painted this thing, i softened the text. i added hooks (e.g. the farmer's unreliable testimony) to cast doubt on deliberate malice by the nymph... even if the old man may have been completely right in the end. much like Agenor, i was mollified by her call.

my brother, who knows me better than do all humans save perhaps J, had one of the most interesting interpretations of the tale that fits with these adjustments to the narrative. he saw it as allegorical for my relationship with J (we moved in together a month after i started the project), in which i chose her over my wilder days in grad school and the influence of my Sigma brothers. beyond the general arc of the story, he noted the resemblance of some of the mages to my crew, and the likeness of the moon and partner to an engagement ring.

sharp kid, that one. i think he knows my subconscious well. a frightening thought. apologies for the things you've seen in there, bro.

there is lots more one could touch on, of course: the witch-hunt to distract the republic from its long decay, further symbolism, the art itself. it grows late - maybe another day.

"The Bone Garden" is coming, hopefully in October.

/.n [while listening to Dethklok]