Category Archives: illustrations

Eberron

When you play Dungeons and Dragons the way we constantly do, it helps to have an over-all campaign, a world created by gifted imaginers to play in and use as the setting for all our adventures.

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There are good published campaign worlds to choose from.  We chose the Eberron world because it was so thoroughly magical and and steam-punk in nature and artwork.

This is a world where magic and alchemy have taken the place of science in the world’s technology.  Instead of airplanes, the magic-technicians known as magewrights in Eberron bind the living air and fire elementals to their ships and use elemental magic to fly.

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Even robot-like constructs called warforged are built by magewrights to become, not only warriors to fill out armies, but sentient individuals with personalities and complex problems and emotions.  Book in the illustration above is a warforged wizard.  Book is his name.  Warforged are very simple artificial people… but also complicated.  They name themselves after weapons, armor parts, and random things.

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A campaign world provides places and non-player characters to interact with.  As well as monsters to kill and exotic locations to kill them in.  Eberron has its unique peoples, like Shifters.  Shifters are a race of people who are the result of humans loving lycanthropes… you know, werewolves and weretigers and weresharks and other were-things.

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Our family game got involved from adventure number one with the secret service of the Kingdom of Breland, the Dark Lanterns, so Breland and it’s cities became something of a home base.

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The city known as Sharn, City of Towers, became a particularly fascinating home base.  The Broken Anvil Inn in the mid-reaches of Dura became a sometimes place to live and alwaystimes place to drink liquor and recruit weird friends.  And this is a vast city with a cluster of mile-high towers and a population of various peoples and monsters from throughout the continent of Khorvaire.

So if you have been reading any of my Saturday D & D posts, and found the place names confusing and hard to remember, now you have this post to read and confuse you even more thoroughly.  How do I, as dungeon master, keep it all straight?  I don’t.  I bought the books and I am constantly looking stuff up.  In fact, I often assign number one son the Player’s Handbook for Eberron to look up that stuff, number two son gets the Campaign Guide to look stuff up in, and the Princess handles the Monster Manuals.  (Really, I have spent a ton of pennies on the books and have too many to juggle them all myself.)

So we play the game in a world called Eberron and share the fantasies and stories of world where magic is science and science is magic.

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Saturday Night D&D

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“The party now rushes through the front gate of Castle Evernight.  Gandy swings down from the room where he operated the pulleys that opened the drawbridge and barbican doors to rejoin his fellow fighters.”

Princess Mira the Kalashtar- “Do we see any more golems or other fighters to stop us?”

“You do not.  Since you took away Dr. Zorgo’s wand of golem control and Zorgo himself died in the plunge from the tower, there no longer seems to be anyone to keep you out of the castle.”

Gandy the hafling rogue- “Then the castle is now ours!”

“Perhaps the Duke’s daughter would dispute that.”

“Sien, I’m sorry.  But the Duke and all his servants are now dead.  We liberated the castle and have a right to claim it.”

“Sien Evernight looks at you sadly.  She says, “I do not dispute your right to the castle.  But my father, remember, had been changed into a gold  golem.  And even though he grabbed Dr. Zorgo and pulled him over the tower’s rail, he may have survived the fall.  Of course, that doesn’t make him actually alive.  But with no one controlling him, we may be able to talk to him once again.  You can have the castle for all I care, but I want to know what my father thinks.” …and I think you need to be reminded by the DM that your leader committed to replacing the Duke and ruling the city. “

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Yes, I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons with my own kids, and the pencil and paper characters we use for the silly story-telling game have become, over time, real people to us.  But the game has slowed way down since number one son left to be a Marine and number two son got a weekend part-time job.

So, the conquest of Castle Evernight might end up being the last adventure actually conducted around the D & D table in the upstairs library.

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So I created a Facebook page for the family game and intend to post stuff on there that may keep the game at least a little bit alive outside my own stupid head.

I intend to post stuff there to update everyone on what is happening in Eberron to the members of the ongoing quest.

Just as a reminder, I will show you the player characters again;

Number one son’s character is retiring to be the new Duke of Evernight, married to Duchess Sien Evernight.

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Number two son’s character is the irrepressible halfling, Gandy Rumspot.

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My daughter, the Princess’s character is Mira the Kalashtar.

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My intention is to use Saturdays, the traditional game night, to post more D&D stuff to this page and the Facebook page.  I need more creative ideas to keep filling this blog daily, and I have done considerable work setting up the game as Dungeon Master.  I don’t want it all to go to waste.  You will be welcome to come anytime and take a look.  But I am just too immature and set in my ways to totally give up D&D.

 

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The Ultra-Mad Madness of Don Martin

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Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.”    His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988.  And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.

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His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable.  Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.

The googly eyes are always popped in surprise.  The tongue is often out and twirling.  Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs.  Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.

And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects.  Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.

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And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses.  Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.

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And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!

Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!

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If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.  Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy.  Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables.  And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait!  No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.

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So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more.  Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, cartoon review, cartoons, comic book heroes, goofiness, humor, illustrations

Toonerville Traffic

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I had the good fortune recently to find some of my boxed-up HO train pieces that had been packed away since 2004 when we moved from South Texas to the Dallas area.  Now, in these photos I took of Toonerville, not all of it was part of the uncovered treasure.  But some of it most sincerely was.  The people out in front of Mike Minskey’s Tavern are from a set of unpainted 1/78th scale German townfolk from the 1880’s.  You see them posed here in front of the Batmobile parked in front of the Teapot Clockhouse.

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Here you can see the two F-9 Diesels from the SuperChief (I have a thing for Sante Fe Railroad engines and rolling stock).  I parked them next to the Snowflake Express which you may have seen before, since I bought it in a garage sale after we moved here.

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The multi-colored bus that you see behind the Miss Amy Wortle Boarding House is actually the Partridge Family tour bus from the TV show my sisters loved in the 1970’s.

c360_2017-02-18-17-48-44-663  Here’s a view of the front of that same TV bus as it sits between Miss Wortle’s place and Eggbert Egghead’s Egg House.  Dabney Egghead is the boy in the sailor suit showing off his brand new velocipede.

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The old lady crossing in front of the Toonerville Trolley is Granny Wortle (who controls all the money in the family… I named a lot of the residents after people in Fontaine Fox’s comic strip of the 1930’s).

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Here’s the back end of the trolley as it passes Digby Davies’ Pet Shop and the purple eggplant house where Gilbert Dornhoeffer and his seven vegetarian children live and build snowmen regularly.

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On the other side of Eggbert Egghead’s Egg House you can see Butch and Marcia Niland’s VW mini-bus next to the old shoe-woman’s house which she built from a gigantic pink-and-white high-topped sneaker.  Digby  moved his velocipede, either to get it in the picture once again, or to get closer to the Scary Clown’s Ice Cream Truck while they’re still serving Eskimo Pies in midwinter.

So now you can plainly see that Mickey finding old boxes of toys that he thought were lost is not a good thing for Toonerville traffic in general, and definitely not good for Toonerville rush hour.

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Filed under autobiography, humor, illustrations, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life, Toonerville, Trains

Doo-Doodly-Noodly-Day

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This is a doodle even though it may look like finished art.  I began doodling with a pencil and she wasn’t a starship captain until I began inking it.

Yes, now and again I have to doodle.  You pick up the drawing tool and a blank piece of paper, and you let your mind go anywhere and everywhere that it wants to go.  Why did I choose to doodle a girl?  Sounds kinda creepy and bad, doesn’t it?  But I like science fiction and adventure and young people… I’m turning myself into a young adult author, after all.  And I like girls… even though I am 60 and my prostate is enlarged and rather dead.  I’m still a guy and I ain’t completely dead.  So maybe it isn’t really so creepy.  I am trying to keep my mind off of you-know-who… he-who-shall-not-be-named.  Yeah, this guy.

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This is truly a doodle.  I drew it in pen in about ten minutes time.  And it sucks (in the sense of a vacuum cleaner) because the overlong tie looks like a stream of blood and I think I drew the hands too big to look realistic. 

Random and open to the bizarre, allowing for accidents to appear on the page (both the Bob Ross happy kind and the not-so-happy kind), able to follow the wandering mind as fast as the hand can capture the flow of images and ideas in the silly old noodle.  That is not only what a doodle is, it is what this essay is.  A doodle essay.

I can do that without making a total poo-poo mess because I have practiced so much with pencil and pen and ink and paper that the lines flow naturally from my fingers.  And I can rely on my constant habit of writing stupid thoughts down to create a semi-coherent essay out of random jumbled thoughts.  Instinct born of practice guides my mind and hand.

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Here’s a random picture of the wall by my bed where I am writing this.  Perhaps it could be called a camera doodle?

Doodling helps me avoid the things needing to be avoided.  The world is ending.  Betsy DeVos is likely to be the Secretary of Education.  A trade war with Mexico will bring an end to much of the fruits and vegetables we can afford to eat.  I am big on avoiding.  You can tell that in my camera doodle.  Christmas lights Mickey hasn’t taken down yet?  Yeah, I’m thinking about leaving them up permanently.  You know, just until the world finishes ending.  My family, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t celebrate Christmas anyway.  So what can it hurt if I keep my one dollar string of colored lights up for another few weeks.  Just until the Russian nukes start raining down on Dallas Fort Worth thanks to the red tie guy.

So there is nothing important at all in today’s blog.  Just doodles everywhere.  But why, then, does it make me feel so much better?  Well, I would say, “Because doodling makes it better.”

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A $3.00 Treasure Trove

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If you cruise the bargain sections in an old used book store like Half-Price Books, eventually you are going to find something priceless.  This book I am showing you is that very thing for me.

It was copyrighted in 1978.  The inscription inside the front cover says this was a Father’s Day gift on June 19th, 1988.  Someone named Gary gifted it to someone named Claude in Burleson, Texas.  It was probably a cherished book until someone passed away and the book changed hands in an estate sale.

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Howard Pyle

The book chronicles the height of the publishing era when being able to print books and reproduce artworks began entertaining the masses.  Always before painters and great artists worked for a patron for the purpose of decorating their home in a way that displayed their great wealth.  But from the 1880’s to the rise of cinema, magazines and books kept the masses entertained, helped more people to become literate than ever before, and created the stories that made our shared culture and life experiences grow stronger and ever more inventive.  The book focuses on the best of the best among a new breed of artist… the illustrators.

These are the ones the book details;

Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Frederick Remington, Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, Charles Dana Gibson, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, and John Held Jr.

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N.C. Wyeth

Wyeth was most famous as a book illustrator for Treasure Island, Kidnapped, other books by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain,  and a famous volume of tales about Robin Hood.

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Frederick Remington

Remington is a name you probably know as a maker of Western art.  He was a famous painter of cowboys and Indians and the American frontier.

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Maxfield Parrish

Maxfield Parrish is my all-time favorite painter.  His work is something I gushed about in previous posts because I own other books about his fanciful works painted in Maxfield Parrish blue.

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Also Maxfield Parrish

 

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J.C. Leyendecker

You will probably recognize Leyendecker’s work in magazine and advertising illustration as the standard of the Roaring 20’s.  His paintings set a style that swept American culture for more than a decade, and still affects how we dress to this very day.

 

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More Leyendecker

 

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Even more from Leyendecker

 

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Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell and his work for The Saturday Evening Post is still familiar to practically everyone who reads and looks at the illustrations.  As you can see he was a master of folksy realism and could do a portrait better than practically anyone.

 

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Also Rockwell

I have also written about Norman Rockwell before too.  I have half a dozen books that include his works.  My wife is from the Philippines and she knew about him before I ever said a word to her about him.

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Charles Dana Gibson

As you can plainly see, Gibson was a master of pen and ink.  His work for Collier’s and other magazines thrills in simple black and white.  More cartoonists than just little ol’ me obsess about how he did what he did.

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Also Gibson

 

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James Montgomery Flagg… with a name like that, who else could it be?

 

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John Held Jr.

The work of Held is stylistically different than all the rest in easily noticeable ways.  He’s the guy that made all the big-headed Pinocchio-looking people in the 1920’s.  You may have seen his work before, though you probably never knew his name.

This bit of someone else’s treasure hoard will now become a part of my own dragon’s treasure, staying by my bedside for quite a while, while I continue to suck the marrow from each of its bones.  I love this book.  It is mine, and you can’t have it… unless you find your own copy in a used bookstore somewhere.

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Saturdays With Gingerbread

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This is the pen and ink start of an illustration of the novel I am working on, Recipes for Gingerbread Children.

I admit that my obsession with the benefits of gingerbread is mostly in my head.  Specifically, in my sinuses.  I find products with ginger in them, diet ginger ale, ginger teas, and especially gingerbread cookies, help reduce the tightness in my COPD-laced lungs, clear my sinuses, and make breathing mercifully easier.  Gingerbread cookies are also seasonally wonderful in that they are slightly Christmassy and help bring my family together.

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So, yesterday, a Saturday, my daughter the Princess and I executed a perfectly evil plan to commit evil acts of gingerbread and whip up some wicked little gingerbread men in a frenzy of deliciously evil bakery.

Okay, maybe not evil exactly…  but I have diabetes and the Princess desperately wants to lose some weight, neither condition being one that benefits by having the temptation of wicked little gingerbread men around.

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And, as with any evil plan, many things proceeded to go awry.  We did not have any actual flour available to make the gingerbread dough less butter-and-egg sticky.  All we had was some corn starch… which had bugs in it.  After struggling to craft sticky little bodies a few times, we decided to go ahead and use the tainted corn starch.  After all, a few little larvae that get overlooked and not picked out will only add a bit of extra protein, right?

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And we had the added bonus that you can make just as much mess with corn starch and margarine as you can with flour and butter!

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But we did get the corn-starchy little buggers baked.  (And they were probably literally buggers due to the potential for having bugs in them.  Oh well, it should fortify the old immune systems.)

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The only decoration we had was chocolate frosting, since someone ate all the sprinkles and sugar dots we bought last year for the gingerbread house.  (Don’t look at me.  I have diabetes.)  So we frosted them, prompting the Princess to begin calling them “little burnt souls blackened in hell”.

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So then the cookie cannibals could allow the eating to begin.

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Mmmm!  Good cookie!

Okay, I know it looks like the Princess did all the work, and all I did was eat them.  But somebody had to do the hard work of taking all the pictures, right?

 

 

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