“The Evil Underground: Chapter 2” (slightly nsfw)

Longtime followers of the blog may remember when I presented chapter 1 of a biographical comic book I was working on about the life of Richard S. Shaver (artist, conspiracy theorist, author, paleo-archeologist, philologist and philosopher).  If you haven’t yet read it, go back and read chapter 1 before you read chapter 2.

You can click on each page, below, to see a bigger version.

I’m writing the chapters as I go (which may or may not be the best way of going about this; I don’t know).  The story is ‘true’ (at least from the narrator’s point of view; objective truth or whether or not Shaver was psycho are not my interest).  The next chapter will probably involve Raymond Arnold Palmer and the famous “Mantong” letter.

At the current rate of production, I should have the whole thing done sometime around 2020 or so (sigh). Actually, I hope to have it done sooner, but every project I currently have on the workbench is unfinished and I’m getting a bit psycho feeling over not getting any single one done.  Evil Underground/Richard Shaver Comic will come out sometime after I finish ‘Exquisite Corpses’ v2… which should be sometime early next year (I hope).

KAMANDI the Last Boy on Oerth!

Look at this picture from O.D&D of a ‘barbarian’:

Barbarian wears boxers, not briefs

Does anyone think that if I had all the back issues of Jack Kirby’s “Kamandi” comic that I wouldn’t eventually find the image of Kamandi that K. Bell used to copy his barbarian drawing?

I love Jack Kirby’s art.  And I don’t think that pointing out that K. Bell, whomever he was, traced or copied a lot of drawings from comic books is a slag on K. Bell or early TSR — K. Bell may not have been a great artist, but at least he chose great artwork to copy.  And I’ll take his scribblings over the airbrushed perfection of late era TSR ‘professional grade’ calendar art illustration any day simply because I find them more entertaining to look at.  If I want to admire a painter’s illusion of reality, I’ll go to the museum and look at a Titian.

Now check out this picture of Kamandi about to get chowed by a purple worm:

Run, Kamandi, run!


WTF Kindle?

A while ago, my significant other bought me a Kindle e-reader from Amazon.  I like it more than I thought I would, especially for stuff to read that is in the public domain.

One of my main complaints, however, is that  if I want a book for the Kindle that I actually have to pay for, it is often cheaper for me to buy a real book (you know, one made of paper) than to get the Amazon Kindle version.  I can’t imagine that in this age of easily convertible electronic documents that offering an electronic version of books represents any significant ‘cost’ for the publisher.  Shouldn’t an e-book at least be cheaper than a paper version?

Also — some books are so awfully formatted (with words getting split between two lines and other typographic nightmares) that I suspect no one from the publisher bothered to look at it when it was turned into a Kindle doc and dumped on Amazon.  Free books from Gutenberg don’t suffer this problem, so there is really no excuse other than laziness/incompetence on the part of the provider.


Peppersprayer: ink and china white on paper November 2011

Today is black friday when people go batshit crazy with their shopping.

Last night/this morning, some woman standing in line to buy an x-box at Wal-mart got pissed because other people were jumping ahead of her, so she peppersprayed them.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus would have wanted.

But, in her honor, I drew this peppersprayer dude based on the campus cop who sprayed down the kids at UC Davis 4 days ago.  I took some liberties… but all artists are liars by nature. My model poses below:

Sympathy for the kids at UC Davis

Given all the pepper-spray cop art floating around the web, I thought I would remind folks that I was into the pepper spray meme before anyone one else.  This is a drawing I did for one of Goodman’s DCC Classics a few years ago (I don’t remember which one):

"Get outta here yah dirty hippie!"

It was from some book where there was a kitchen where this big, ugly, hairy bastard was cooking, and, when you bothered him, he would throw pepper in your face. Once again, I was ahead of my time.  (Note to self:  get with Goodman to do mousepads and T-Shirts and coffee cups so we can cash in on this thing.)

In related news, talking head Megyn Kelly recently opined to Bill O’Rielly that being sprayed in the face with pepper spray was ‘not that bad’ because pepper spray is ‘basically a food product.’   This makes it sound like the campus police were spraying them down with PAM.  I would invite her to take a single habanero pepper and rub it on her hands, then touch her own lips, eyes and nostrils right before doing a broadcast and see how chirpy she can be with even minute amounts of this ‘food product’ on her face.

Strange Dream

Sorta like this...

OK, this is a dream I had last night (at least as well as I can remember it).

The dream started with me playing some sort of video game.  The first part of the dream took the form of a computer video game involved loading a musket.  One had to select the proper tools and parts from a list (like the ramming rod, wadding, ball, powder horn and other stuff) in the proper order and drag and drop them onto the right part of the musket.  I have never loaded a musket, so it felt kind of ‘educational’ to me.  There were a lot of weird looking tools in the menu; I suspect some of them were just ‘red herrings’ that my subconscious inserted in there to make the game more challenging.  I think  if you didn’t load the musket properly, it wouldn’t fire.

The second part of the video game was what they call a ‘first person shooter.’  You are looking down the barrel of the musket across an area where there are trees, houses, etc, as well as the shore of a river.  As you sit there, possible targets appear, some of which will be things that one might presumably lose points if you shoot them (fellow citizens, milkmaids, sheep, etc.,) and enemy soldiers.  The goal is to shoot the enemy soldiers (who look a lot like Hessians from the American Revolutionary war) without getting shot or wasting your shots on civilians, sheep or cows.  I think every time you shoot the musket, you have to load it again.

Somehow, through the magic of dream logic, suddenly it was not a video game any more.  I was in the battle, and instead of a bucolic, colonial setting, I was a part of an army defending a cliff.  We could see the enemy swarming up stairways and towers.  We had obviously just lost the battle.

I was dressed like this but my clothing was more colorful

The dream somehow transitioned to me being a captive.  A group of soldiers were walking me and a companion down a road.  My friend and I were dressed up like conquistadors;  jackets with puffy sleeves, helmets and breastplates.  I suddenly became convinced that the enemy soldiers behind us were going to shoot us in our backs and I told my comrade this.  We decided to run and advised one another to run in a zig-zag pattern to make us harder to hit.  The street we were on looked like part of a neighborhood that I lived in when I was growing up.  We ran down the street in our zig-zag pattern and as I was running it occurred to me that  by zigging and zagging it was taking us a lot longer to get away from our enemies than if we had run in a straight line.  As I considered the advantages and disadvantages of both, we continued to run.  We reached a hedge and dove through to escape our enemies.

Suddenly we were rolling down a hill.  I was OK with this sionce rolling head over heels down a hill in a dream didn’t seem dangerous and we were getting away from our enemies much faster.  At some point I landed on my head and squashed my helmet so it no longer fit on my head.  It seemed to be made of thin aluminum, but, in my waking world I have been repairing our roof which involves a lot of shingles and aluminum flashing metal, so maybe there is some connection there.  My helmet seemed to have been made from aluminum flashing so I don’t imagine it was much good as a helmet, anyway.

We reached the bottom of the hill and decided that although we had evaded our enemies for now, they would be looking for us, so we needed to ditch our uniforms and dress in some other clothing.  Searching through a dumpster, we found some ragged old clothes and changed.  At this point we were somewhere near Williams Pharmacy (which is also near where I used to live).  This seemed to make sense since Williams Pharmacy is three or four blocks north and downhill from the corner of Lindell and Asbury  (where we evaded our enemies).  I noticed that the pharmacy seemed to be closed and paper was taped up over the inside of the windows so you couldn’t see in.

After this we crossed a busy street and hid near some railroad tracks.  I realized that my companion was actually my partner, Annie.  She pointed out a mutual friend of ours, Phoebe, who was unloading some stuff from a trailer that was hooked up to her car along with some other people.  The ‘stuff’ looked like furniture and boxes of personal items which they were dumping on the side of the busy street.  Annie suggested that we could ask Phoebe for a ride but I didn’t want to because I was suddenly self conscious about my ragged clothing (which isn’t really like me — in real life I wear ragged clothes all of the time).

And that’s where the dream ended.  Weird, huh?

Henchman Appreciation Week!

Inspired by the tales of Heraphalmos from Planet Algol,  this post on Swords & Dorkery, and the title of the blog, “Henchman Abuse,” I decided to see if I could start a blog meme by encouraging everyone to help celebrate next week (or, hell, this week; I don’t care) as “Henchman Appreciation Week.”  Write about your favorite henchies, living and dead.  Celebrate them in word and song!

Where would the dungeoneer be without the hench-people? (or hench-elves, hench-dwarves, hench-hobbits, etc)  They find the traps (sometimes because of skill and training, other times, well, it’s not so pretty), carry our torches, ropes, rations, extra shields, ten foot poles and other necessary delving impedimentia, haul out treasure (and the bodies of the deceased), guard our mules, bash down doors and watch us while we sleep.  They get eaten by trolls, skewered by spear traps, catch arrows that might have otherwise hit someone important and can at least be counted on to run slower than the slowest party member when a hungry owlbear is chasing you since they will be carrying that anvil looted from the goblin’s armory.

Let’s take a few moments to remember some of the humble spear carriers with poor armor classes, low life expectancy and modest XP rewards who, more often than not, end up feeding the maggots on the bottom of a pit somewhere.  Since they seldom live long enough to collect their meager salaries, they are usually a better investment than that extra flask of holy water!

A few memorable henchmen from years gone by:

Skwortch: Goblin guide and bootblack.  Originally pressed into service by “The Company of the Summoned Monkey,” Skwortch was never credited with bravery, intelligence or good hygiene, but after the adventurers had treated him decently he managed to overcome his own base nature and behave himself most of the time.  He even prevented the party from being eaten by ghouls and helped negotiate safe passage through an underground goblin village.  Unfortunately, a cursed mace made quite an impression on the diminutive goblin’s skull and his corpse was discarded without ceremony.  His dreams of investing the gold given to him by the party into an ‘escort service’ scheme never came to fruit.

Jocko:  Jocko was a half orc henchman who defied all expectations, and, despite seeming to have the bad luck to fall down numerous pits, get crushed by falling rocks, chopped by battle axes, etc., always seemed to have just one more hit point to spare.  If memory serves, he started life as a captive freed by ‘The Furious Five.’  Given armor and weapons, he helped fight the way back to the surface, and, in gratitude, agreed to serve the party’s magic user as a body guard.  After a few adventures, despite all odds, this unremarkable seeming half-orc survived.  Last Iremember, he had been granted full membership in the group and was given a full member’s share of treasure.

Hop Sing:  Tragic. One of the players rolled up a henchman and managed to get scores good enough to qualify for the monk class (which, in 1e, was quite unlikely).  In the first fight of his first expedition, an insane bandit hit Hop Sing in the head with a club and killed him. As DM, I wasn’t that sad to see an NPC named after the Chinese cook  on ‘Bonanza’ leave the game, but having Hop Sing get creamed by the first blow in the first fight of the first session in which he appeared gave his brief story a certain tragic resonance.

I give up…

Sometimes it is the little things that get you down.  Like Congress trying to decide whether or not pizza should be considered a vegetable.  “Vegetable,” in this case, means whether or not pizza can ‘count’ towards a serving of vegetables for the US school lunch food program.

A few years ago, Washington wanted us to believe that ketchup should be considered a vegetable.  A few years before that, they wanted to reclassify salsa as a vegetable.  I think that most sane people would agree that eating some salsa on some chips or eating some ketchup on a hamburger is not a substitute for a salad or carrots or an ear of corn.

The mendacity of the whole process by which Congress decides what children should eat is revealed by this quote from a pro-pizza-as-vegetable lobbyist from the American Frozen Food Institute “If the USDA rule went forward as is, pizza would most certainly be all but impossible to serve in school lunch programs,” said Corey Henry, a spokesman for the American Frozen Food Institute.  “Schools have to meet nutrition requirements at every meal to get reimbursed by the federal government. To get a vegetable credit using tomato paste under the USDA’s proposed rule, schools would have to drown pizza in tomato sauce to the point where kids would never want to eat a slice of pizza. If schools have to add so much sauce to get a vegetable credit that pizza becomes inedible, they simply won’t serve pizza any longer.”

In other words, Mr. Henry is saying that in order to get pizza paid for by the tax payer, they would have to add more actual vegetable matter to the pizza.  But adding more vegetables to the pizza in order to make it qualify as a vegetable might make the kids like it less, therefore the solution is to just change the definition of what a vegetable is to include pizza so that the companies that sell pizza to schools can continue to make money off of the taxpayer.

Why stop there?  I’m sure the candy manufacturers would love it if we redefined ‘jellybeans’ as a vegetable.  Heck, it even has ‘bean’ in the name so it’s gotta be a vegetable, right?  And who says something even needs to be edible in order to qualify as a vegetable?  I’m sure the makers of paper clips would love to get some school lunch program money, so why not reclassify paperclips as a vegetable, too?

No wonder our education system is totally jacked up.

Frank Miller’s America

"Take that, you hippie scum!"

I haven’t kept up with the popular comics for decades and names like ‘Frank Miller’ don’t  mean that much to me — I have vague notions of who he is based on movies like ‘The 300’  and I know he is credited with breathing new life into the Batman franchise. So I wasn’t in the loop when news broke of Frank Miller’s diatribe against the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.

Miller had this to say: “The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.”

I want to ask Mr. Miller to explain why he thinks that citizens assembling and making their grievances known will result in harm to America. Isn’t the ‘right to assemble’ and all that other stuff really the central point of democracy?  Our leaders certainly seem to like public demonstrations against the corruption of rulers when they occur in places like Egypt; why doesn’t Miller like them when they occur closer to home?  If the Egyptians want to hold their rulers accountable for mismanagement, shouldn’t US citizens help the Egyptians on their steps to democracy by cleaning our own house, too?   And, while there have been examples of vandalism, theft and other bad behavior at the Occupy protests, the number of ‘bad acts’ has been statistically insignificant.  Some people  misbehave whenever a hundred or a thousand folks gather in any place for any reason (including shopping on Black Friday).  And, compared to the Penn State students who rioted when their favorite coach was fired, the Occupiers have been angels.  Calling them “louts, thieves and rapists” is just inaccurate.  There may be ‘louts, thieves and rapists‘ in the crowd at the Occupy assemblies, but they (we) did not assemble because they (we) wanted to behave badly.  We assembled because our government and our economy has been broken by corruption and greed and neither the democrats nor the republicans are willing to try to fix it.

“Occupy’ is an effort to save democracy, not an attempt to tear it down. I’m surprised that Miller does not understand that.

(edited for sentence fragment)

Some 2011 color Artwork for XRP Press

I just got back into town the other day and am still trying to get caught up, so I thought I would post some stuff I did for XRP Press earlier this year.  There are 4 artworks (front cover and back) for “Down the Shadowvein” and “In the Mouth of the Shadowvein” by Joseph Browning.  Previews of the covers are here.

I don’t think either of these are in print yet (I haven’t gotten my copies yet) but are due out soon.  XRP promises that these are possible followups to “The Pod Caverns of the Sinister Shroom” (which I also did cover art for).