Tag Archives: colored pencil

Making Hay

I call this post “Making Hay” as a goofy farmer reference.  I spent an hour this morning weed-whacking the yard that hasn’t had any attention for the month of August.  I know… lazy me… lazy arthritic, diabetic, lung-diseased me.  At the end of the hour I had a quarter of the yard weed-whacked and a great pile of hay lying in the middle of the sidewalk where it has no right to be according to the city.  And, of course, I did not have any energy left to rake it up.

So I came inside to re-learn how to breathe, to stop losing fifty percent of my body weight in sweat, and to rest my aching bones.  And while I was recovering, or possibly re-animating myself, I decided to try re-photographing an old work of art.  My portrait of Prinz Flute, the wizard-prince of Tellosia, is difficult to photograph because the colored pencil has a developed a sheen to it over time that reflects glare every time I try to photograph it.  The result isn’t that great.  But hey, I’m tired from making hay.

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Stardusters… Canto Seven

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Canto Seven – The First Golden Wing

Farbick was aboard the golden wing to serve both as pilot and navigator, though he was fully aware that Commander Biznap could also do both.  He watched the three cadets strap in to the secondary seats behind the cockpit.  They were all wearing red shirts over their cadet uniforms, and Farbick wasn’t sure that it didn’t reveal a Star-Trek joke in very poor taste.

“Well, Farbick, old Fmoog, the Galtorrian Adventure is about to begin,” said Biznap, strapping himself into the cockpit seat next to Farbick.

“It may be more enlightening than you fear, Commander,” said Farbick.

“Fear?  I’m not afraid.  I’m just cautious.”

“Well, I’m afraid,” Farbick admitted.  “I was lucky enough to survive the Earth invasion fiasco, but this time more is at stake.  It isn’t just my life on the line.  Our whole population could be seriously decimated or even destroyed.”

“I don’t see why you’d be concerned about anybody but yourself,” said Commander Biznap.  “What does it benefit you to worry about anybody but you?”

“I could argue that I wouldn’t have survived on Earth if it hadn’t been for my friendship with young Davalon.  I was saved from death on Earth partially because Davalon cared enough to come looking for me when I was shot by the Earther policeman.”

“It isn’t normal behavior for a Telleron to care about a tadpole.  They are so easy to replace that it seems pointless.”

“They are not easy to replace if you consider them as individuals.  What would you feel if you lost Harmony Castille?”

Biznap opened his mouth, but the retort never came out.  He must’ve been thinking about what life would be like if he no longer had the one being in all the universe he actually seemed to care about besides himself.

The golden wing spiraled down through the cloud cover into the denser part of the atmosphere of Galtorr Prime.  Warning buzzers went off.

“The warning is because of the presence of acid rain,” said Starbright from the seat behind.

“In the name of Charlie!” swore Commander Biznap, “this world appears to be horribly polluted!”

That almost appeared to be an understatement.  The clouds around them boiled with storm winds and were a sickly yellow-green in hue.  Lightning was accompanied by flaming puffs of ignited methane.  The wing’s instruments indicated high concentrations of various poisons.

“Do we abort the mission?” asked Farbick.

“No.  We take the risk of landing.  We have environment suits.  We need to find a place to live in all of this mess.  Cadets?  Does anyone find any evidence of the native population?”

“Negative, sir,” said one of the nameless cadets.  “Is it possible they have polluted themselves to extinction?”

“I’d say it’s not only possible,” said Commander Biznap, “but it is highly likely.”

“We are definitely going to have to look out for one another on the surface,” warned Farbick.

“I will definitely watch your back, Mister Farbick, sir,” said Starbright.  “Some of us have learned the lessons about loving your fellow Tellerons from the Earthers on our crew, especially Mrs. Castille.”  Farbick looked at her, and her green face bloomed with a beautiful smile.

*****

(Pictured Above; Commander Farbick (on left) and Starbright)

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Growing the Gallery

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My bedroom walls serve as a gallery of my Paffooney artwork.

I have been collecting pieces of colored-pencil Paffoonery for a very long time now.  I am a life-long scribbler and doodler.  You are bound to build up an ocean of old drawings that you could easily drown in if you live that way long enough.  I recently found a few more in an old scrapbook I had squirreled away in the library between cartoon books.

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These are all drawings I did for my three kids when they were little.  I suppose that gives them sentimental value.  They are all imitations of copyrighted characters.  But I am not selling them.  I haven’t actually stolen anybody’s intellectual property yet.  But it makes a good filler post as I continue to rest and work on other things.

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Imaginary People

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It pretty much goes without saying that, since I am an author of fiction, determined to be a storyteller, I spend most of my time talking to people who exist only inside my goofy old head.  Sure, most of the imaginary people I create to keep me company are at least loosely based on real people that I either once knew, or still know.  You can tell that about Millis, the rabbit-man, pictured here on the right, can’t you?  Sure.  I had a New Zealand White pet rabbit that I raised as a 4-H project.  His name was Ember-eyes… because, well, yeah… red eyes.  It just happens that my goofy old memory transformed him into an evolution-enhanced science experiment in my unpublished novel, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  But he was a real person once… ’cause rabbits are people too, right?

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Anita Jones, a character from my unpublished novel, Superchicken, is based on a real person too.  I admit, there was a girl in my class from grades K through 6 that I secretly adored and would’ve done anything to be near, though every significant event I remember from my life that involved an encounter with her, involved red-faced embarrassment for me.  That’s why I remember her as having auburn-colored hair.  Charley Brown’s Little Red-Haired Girl… duh!  I would’ve died sooner than tell her how I really felt, even now, but by making her into one of a multitude of imaginary people who inhabit my life, I can be so close to her that sometimes I am actually inside her mind.  There’s a sort of creepy voyeurism-squared sort of thing.

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Dorin Dobbs, the main human character of my published novel, Catch a Falling Star, is an imaginary character based mostly on my eldest son, though, in fact, I started writing that novel five years before he was born.  Like most of the imaginary people in my life, I talk to Dorin repeatedly even when the real Dorin is half a world away in the Marine Corps.  And even though the Dorin I am talking to is not the real Dorin, he is still constantly using language that is extra-salty far beyond his years, and is often defiant of my fatherly wisdom, and always argues for the exact opposite of any opinion I express.  That’s just how it is to be the father of an imaginary son.

Realistically, I have to admit that even the flesh-and-blood people in my life are imaginary.  No one ever actually inhabits another person’s head except through the magic of imagination.  Even though I am talking to you at this moment, you are only an imaginary person to me.  I don’t even know your name as I write this.  And I am the same to you.  You may have read my writing enough to think you know something about me… but you really only know the Mickey in your mind that I have worked at putting there with my words.  And I really have no idea what that imaginary Mickey you have in your head is like.  He is probably really the opposite of who I think I am.

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I am, after all, married to this girl panda, Mandy Panda from the Pandalore Islands, and my three children are all Halfasian part-panda-people.  Yes, this is the imaginary person who is my real-life wife.  The secret is, we only ever know the imaginary people we have in our goofy little heads.  We don’t know the real person behind anyone in our lives, because it is simply not possible to really know how anybody else thinks or feels, even if they write out their lengthy treatise about how all people are imaginary people.  That stuff is just too goofy-dippy to be real.

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Stalling for Dollars

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Sometimes you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for every-day posting ideas.  But, luckily, I stumbled across a computer file of artwork I had thought I lost when I upgraded to Windows 10.  Sometimes bad things turn out well, and sometimes good things go bad.  So, I figured I would share some of the inexplicable things I found in the lost file.  Why would I do such a thing?  Because I am not entirely lazy and out of ideas.  No, of course I am not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Talislanta

In the 1980’s when I was a Dungeons and Dragons nut, I found a role-playing game that was sort of unique.  It was called Talislanta.  Created by Stephan Michael Sechi, it was a game like D&D, but totally without elves and dwarves and orcs and even humans.  It was set on the world of Talislanta with many weird and wonderful races that didn’t exist anywhere else in literature.  I used it to play RPG games with South Texas kids, and the Baptists preached against the demons and devils in D & D.  The only way I could get away with D & D games was by playing Talislanta, where the Baptists couldn’t preach against me because they didn’t know what the heck it was.  So, I created stories and art from Talislanta, inspired by the work of the game’s lead artist, P. D. Breeding Black.

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Kastur, hero and adventurer

Hal Vas was a Jaka wilderness scout, while Xeribeth was a Zandir Sorceress who specialized in spells of flight and levitation.

Orrin, the headless snow wizard, and Teveron, the Tanasian pyromancer were both bad guys who tried to defeat the heroes at every turn.

Magnolia and Willowleaf were both Muses, the butterfly-winged people who used magic mostly for the purposes of entertaining others.  They were attended by the tiny butterfly-winged people called Wisps.

Talislantans were many different colorful races.  There were green ones like the Cymrillians, the Tanasians, and the Oceanians.  There were blue ones like the Mirin.

Sunnyjias was a Cymrillian enchantress while Zoran-Viktor was a Mirin alchemist.

Spooky was a Man-ra Shapechanger who could alter his body shape drastically.  Harun was a Phantasian astromancer who could fly using sailing ships powered by anti-gravity wind crystals.

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And Tazian Thralls were warriors who had elaborate colorful tattoos over every inch of their bodies.

It was a fun world to play in.  Magic and mystery and wacky wizards abounded.  And it wasn’t all about throwing fireballs and whacking stuff with swords… although there was a lot of that too.

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Superheroes from the 60’s

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I was a comic book nut from a very early age.  I started collecting comics in 1966 when I was ten years old.  Almost as soon as I started collecting them, I began copying the drawings, copying Spiderman, Hawkeye, Captain America, Avengers, and Batman.  I am a comic book lover, and I am also a comic book plagiarist.  But I promise to use my own artwork and photographs to illustrate this blog post.  After all, I am illustrating being a copy cat.

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Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad in the style of artist Curt Swan in 1962.

My parents didn’t approve of kids with comic books.  I desperately wanted Spiderman comic books and Avengers comic books, like the ones I read in the barbershop every time I was waiting for a haircut.  But they had gotten wind of Frederic Wertham’s campaign against comic books two years before I was even born.  The learned psychiatrist insisted that comic books corrupted children with sexual images hidden in the artwork (oh, gawd, look where Saturn Girl’s hands are… close anyway), Batman and Robin were homosexuals trying to influence young boys to be gay, Wonder Woman was a lesbian who was into bondage.  This he said in 1954, but it didn’t really reach my parents’ ears in rural Iowa for another 12 years.  The result was severe limits on my comic book ownership possibilities.  But Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes were acceptable, as were Casper the Friendly Ghost and Scrooge McDuck.

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So, my copy above of Curt Swan’s work is from the Legion of Superheroes.  Superman was boy-scout enough to qualify too.  I could get by with Tarzan even though he was a mostly naked guy running around the jungles.  And time and money solve a lot of problems.  I was allowed to subscribe to Avengers and X-men and the Amazing Spiderman once I had field-work money to put towards it.  I drew lots of comic book heroes from that point onwards.

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I learned how to draw men with unhealthy amounts of muscles, women with waists that would break in two with the amount of breastly boobage a teenage boy would pack on top, and numerous people who actually seemed to think capes made sense as a fashion statement.  I also learned how to do shading in pen and ink and foreshortening from master artists like John Romita Jr. and George Perez and Barry Windsor-Smith.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t give proper credit to Murphy Anderson and Jack “King” Kirby.  I know you don’t know who those people are because you are not the comic book nut I am… nobody is.  But believe me, they are masters of an American Art form.  And I will never be one of them, because even though I am almost as good as some of them, I chose to be a teacher instead of being a comic book artist, a thing I could’ve so easily succeeded at back in the 1980’s.  You should know this too…  I have never regretted making that choice.

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When I Was Twelve

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There comes a time when a mind turns inward and begins to learn that self is as complicated and in need of exploration as any African jungle or surface of a distant planet.

The Paffoonies today all come from my sixth grade school notebook.  When that school year ended I owned one book of my own, Rudyard Kipling’s First Jungle Book, the paperback version.  I kept my colored pencil drawings in my school notebook, and I kept the notebook in my bedroom to continue to fill it with drawings on notebook paper.

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As you can see, the notebook is age-worn and falling apart, but I still have it.  It still contains my twelve-year-old artistic visions, the beginnings of who I am as a thinking, drawing, story-telling human being.

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At one point I even had a package of pink notebook paper.

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So I admit it.  I was a dorky, weird child.  And I drew a lot of weird pictures at twelve.  Now you have some of the evidence.

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Life Inside

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There is a certain amount of frustration that comes with age and arthritis and limited ability to move.  A good share of the time I am stuck within my bedroom/studio.  Bad weather and weather changes, as well as the strains of housework, stiffen my back into immobility.  So, I am stuck exploring not the outside world, but the inner world of stories, pictures, and my own imagination.

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Of course, one has to beware of a life lived in imagination and isolation.  Some of it can be kinda wicked and dangerous.  Okay, maybe not, but definitely in danger of overwhelming goofiness.  As you can see, I take a bit of my artwork and use photo-shop to make even goofier arty things.  I experiment and stick stuff together just for the heck of it.

I suppose this is probably evidence a good psychiatrist could use to keep me locked up for a while.  But I’m kinda stuck anyway in my little room.

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Mapping the Stories

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By golly, I finished it.  It may not look like it, but this map of a place that really only exists in my memory and imagination took a lot of work.  I surveyed the town and made a set of rough map sketches back in 1994.  Some of the places on this map don’t exist any more, while a few never existed at all in any real sense.  I finished drawing it out in pen and ink yesterday, February 15th, 2016.

This map is Norwall, Iowa, population 275 (If you count the squirrels… and we had a lot of squirrels in this town… in more ways than one).  The map is attributed to Bill Stuyvessant, known to the locals as “Cherries Bill” because he loved cherries more than any other fruit and it was the exact same color of red he had on both his cheeks and nose.  For the last decade of his life, the 1960’s, he lived alone.  His wife died in 1958.  His only son, Christian, died near Bastogne in December of 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge.  He lived alone with a house full of stacks of old newspapers.    It is believed by many that he was a sorcerer and knew practically everything.  Some even said he was God.  The map probably had to originate with him because it shows the locations of key settlements in the Faery Kingdom of Tellosia, which of course is known only to practicers of magic and those with vivid imaginations.

Norwall is the setting for my hometown novels series.  They are not exactly science fiction and not exactly fantasy, but have heavy doses of both.  They are actually about real life as it can be warped by imagination and dreaming.  You can make the argument that they are surrealism.  The four pictured above are completed novels, except for When the Captain Came Calling on the right.  It is undergoing a complete rewrite and is only about 50% complete.  I have one published novel in this series through I-Universe, an imprint of Penguin Books.

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I also have a number of novel projects in the planning and rough-draft stages that are also set in this little imaginary Iowa town.  I am continuing to write and expand it all as time continues relentlessly forward.

Francois

 

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