More New & Updated Pictures

Mish-Mash of Miscellanea

Hi, Peoples of Earth!

I’m not going to act like there’s a theme to today’s post. There’s not, sorry. Just some art.

I just finished another cover for a novel called “Rooftops” for Local Hero Press, and I really, really really want to show it off today, but I cannot. I have to wait till the publisher shows it off first.

These pictures relate to my upcoming Johnny Saturn anthology,

Gratuitous Gallery

Here’s some stuff I’ve been working on, all related to the Johnny Saturn prose anthology:

Emotional Archeology

Because of my long absence from this blog, you might think that I’ve been inactive. It’s not so. Major issues and life-changing events have kept me busy. I’m not going to write about them here, because that’s not what this journal is about, but I will say that so far, as events continue to develop, things have come out OK. I’ve had a long walk through a dark woods of indecision and uncertainty, and I can see the light ahead.

No, this blog is about my pursuits. Writing, art, and all things that relate to that.

After a long year of working hard on many projects, yet never getting done with any of them, I decided to focus on just a couple for the remainder of 2019 and see some things through. To that end, I am working hard on two books, “Name of the Shadow,” and “Johnny Saturn: Changing of the Guard.” Both books have the benefit of already having been written, but they lack final go-overs, formatting, and covers. I decided to tackle these two first because I’m a firm believer in finishing the easier stuff first–it makes one look more productive, it clears stuff off the slate, it’s good for personal morale, etc.

“Name of the Shadow” is a fantasy novel that I wrote in my late twenties. Yes, it’s a “trunk” novel, hidden away for decades. When I wrote it there was no internet to speak of, and I tried really hard to get a literary agent, and unsuccessfully tried again and again. It almost happened, but didn’t. Anyway, at 26 chapters and 216,000 words, this book has waited for it’s chance in the sun for a long time. This novel poses an interesting challenge, because I wrote it when I was younger. So, I consider it to be a collaboration between me and an untested 27-year-old writer. I’m making it a point to not re-write my collaborator’s book, to leave his voice intact, and instead to simply tweak it here and there. I have more trunk novels set in this same world, so I’m also going to make small changes to keep it in continuity with what is coming down the road.

“Johnny Saturn: Changing of the Guard” is a collection of all the finished Johnny Saturn short stories and novellas written between 2007 and 2019. There are nine in total, and, with the exception of “Being Johnny Saturn,” written by Benita, they are all by me. They include the stories included in “City of the Broken Gate,” which I will cease publishing once this book is ready. Two of the stories are new, and never before published. As far as genres, these are all superhero stories, but different ones are also crime noir, horror, romance, or science fiction. Even though they were written over a twelve-year period, there is a weird cohesiveness to them. I hope you’ll read this collection and find out for yourself.

My other projects, such as the “Book of Lists,” and “Apex Killers,” are still very much on the horizon. I just want to get some of my projects done before I get back to them. There is also a black-and-white portfolio that I’ve been hard at work on, pen-and-ink prints set in the Spire City/Johnny Saturn world. There is an upcoming Johnny Saturn miniseries called Planer Eclipse. And, a fantasy novel called “Requiem.”

I’ve got a great deal more I could write about here, but this is probably enough for now. Next time, I’ve got movie and television show commentaries; items that have come into my possession; new computer programs and apps that I’ve got or have been experimenting with; and so much more.

My Site was Weighed Down With Battleship Chains!

At last, is back up, and also redirects to this site as well. As it should! Many long chats with my provider have been had to make this all happen. Imagine me with with a perplexed look on my face, while the technicians patiently try to fix my problems.

This is how my self-portrait came out.

I’m proud to report that my non-fiction book, The Medieval Book of Lists, is now up to about 45,000 words in length. I’m discovering many interesting things about that time period that I did not know. This will not be a traditional history book, as such, but a guide for game designers (tabletop and computer), authors, television, historical groups (HEMA, SCA, etc.), LARPers, and so forth to get more accuracy into their play and products. Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings are both wonderful, but they are far from accurate.

I’m Anything But a Midnight Rambler

OK, my brain is a-jumble, so you get random thoughts this week:

  • I cannot remember for the life of me how to correctly hook up my new “scottastory” URL to this site. I used to do this kind of thing all the time, but it’s been maybe a decade since I was actively involved in the nitty-gritty of web stuff.
  • I’m cleaning my room and studio. It’s all a crazy mess, as if the person who lives here does nothing but sleep here, and everything else be damned. Now that I mention it, the interior of my car looks like that too. I know I’ve been a little depressed, but it’s time I got back to the world of people who care enough to take care of things. It’s hard to believe that I’m the same person who is so insanely organized at work.
  • I’d like to see “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse,” but apparently it cannot be simply rented online yet. Patience sucks.
  • I’ve purchased quite a few 3D props lately that relate to the medieval period: horses, armor, barding, castles, landscapes, etc. Could there be a medieval historical or fantasy project in my future?
  • I just began of a Udemy course, Graphic Design Base Camp I, and then have it’s follow-up, and another on cover design. Udemy has been a great boon to me over the years, and I love to keep learning.
  • Benita just purchased a target and some nice arrows, so my experiments in the long bow are all set to start this spring. I’m pretty excited. It’s all experimental historical recreation to me, and that’s a happy thing.
Here’s what I’m up to on my self-portrait. I think the only way to to really learn how to paint in acryilics is to just paint. I’ll look back on this as a crude first attempt, but I have discovered that applying a fade off to a brush stroke is to do it with a light, fanning motion. You can’t mix and model things on the canvas like you can with oil paints. Anyway, I’m about to the point where I can paint on my hair. Freckles are a bit of a challenge, I’ve discovered. Those are coming too.
I always thought of this song as the unofficial theme song of Johnny Saturn.

Living A Life of Illusion

Some sketchbook art:

This is detail of a self portrait I’m working on. I worked on the eyes today. It’s acrylic, and I’m still very much learning as I go to apply the paint effectively, brush strokes, and all that.

A selfy I took at a recent craft fair. I like this one because my head looks like it’s glowing with the light of a thousand lightbulbs.

We Haven’t Had That Vintage Here Since 1969

This week, a few thoughts, and new art.

I’ve had a thread going on over on Facebook about digital and traditional art, about which one gives you more joy. The conversation has been robust, and it has fallen this way: 60% of artists prefer traditional, 20% prefer both equally, and 20% prefer digital. As you know in my case, I prefer working traditionally, especially on my own projects, but for illustration you cannot beat digital for speed, access to resources, and ease of use. I am fanatic about Clip Studio Paint Ex, and love it. But, I never get an artistic high working digital. It remains work. With traditional art, however, I enjoy a pleasurable, meditative state where the passage of time disappears and my brain is drenched with peace and happiness. Really. For me, it is both mediums. I liken myself to Neil Young, who makes wild and wooly , off-the–charts electrical music, and beautiful, intricate acoustic music. Both are brilliant, both are him, so choose your poison. I expected there to be an age difference in those who prefer all digital workflows, that younger artists would prefer the computer, but I saw no evidence for that.

I had another revelation, this week. I realized that if I enjoy making art and writing so much, is it even important to publish it? Do I need to knock myself out promoting my work, and feel guilty when I fail to do so? Would I have more joy just creating content for myself? The answer is yes. I don’t need a following, or a long resume, or advertising and promotion. I would be fine without bothering. Yet, and yet . . . Well, there is always a joy sharing your work with others of a like mind, with people who get what you do and are enthusiastic for more. It builds up your ego, and it feels good. So, is there a lesson to be learned here? In my own case, I think it comes down to a fine balancing act. I think using the appropriate organic key words, and sharing on social media, all makes sense and is not really that time consuming. The time I would have otherwise spent grasping at every promotional straw, feeling desperate and lost about it, and running ads, going to conventions, building a mailing list, and doing interviews on assorted podcasts, all would better be served by simply creating more content. Am I incorrect? Am I doing it wrong? Feel free to comment below or message me.

Here is my new cover:

Cover to the latest Pen and Cape anthology, coming soon.

Here are some pics from my sketchbook. They were done as character studies for characters I built a prose short story around.

Rock n’ Roll Will Never Die

Greetings. This morning I sat down to work on my latest cover commission, and my Wacom Intuos tablet crapped out on me. It’s pretty much a non-starter for computer illustration if that thing doesn’t work. Benita had the right touch, however, and it began working for her. Bless her heart! Anyway, here is the cover, inked and flatted:

When I brought up Clip Studio Paint, I saw that there is an update coming, one that will have an artificial intelligence feature that will read photos and take poses off them. Holy Crap. After the autopaint function, this. I stand by assertion that that in the not-to-distant future that you will not have to draw to make a 100% original comic page. Good news for the writers, I suppose. I’m not complaining. I just hope the people who take advantage of this already understand composition and storytelling. If not, then yuck, a whole lot of rubbish will be made. Times marches on, I suppose.

Just for fun, this is how the last cover turned out. I like it.

First Post of 2019

Hi, Folks. I don’t normally talk about personal stuff, and I’ll post (or not post) this based on whether I believe it would illuminate matters for others in their own lives. Sort of in the same vein that I believe that it is important for people to talk about depression, bring it out into the open for the good of everyone, and not hide it behind the curtains.

I’m glad to say that I’m not depressed. I’m doing great. I’m keeping busy, my health has been good (if you overlook this stupid cold that I’ve been dealing with for the last few days), my day job persists, and I have as much illustration work to do as I want or feel I can take on. No complaints.

About a week ago, Benita and I went to a showing of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” at the Murat Theater. It’s amazing to me how well this movie holds up over the years (37 years, +/-). After the show, William Shatner came out and did a short, personal show and then a Q n A session with the audience.

I’ve always loved William (“Call me Bill”) Shatner, and am a lifelong fan, and I’m glad to report that at 88 he is incredibly dynamic and a force of nature unto himself. He seemingly has as many projects in the air as ever, and has a full slate of acting, writing, producing, and horse-related projects in the air. (He is passionate about horses and riding.)

Something occurred to me as I watched and listened. Shatner was much older, but he did not act as if he had missed his opportunities or his life was over. He was engaged with the world head on, and where he is in life is where he is. He has gained weight, and joked about it, and tossed around a lot of age-related jokes, but he in no way seemed in mourning for the handsome young man he had been. That was then, and this is now.

That got me to thinking. I have lived in ongoing embarrassment over my current state. I have very much mourned the loss of my long, beautiful hair, my youth, my flexibility, and I’m very troubled by my weight gain, and I guess what amounts to the loss of myself in my own mind.

Now I have to wonder, does it have to be this way? Should I be ashamed to run into people I knew earlier in life, or family? Should I have to make excuses for what I have become? Could I be looking at the whole thing wrong?

Maybe I am. I’m someone else now, someone in his fifties. I am not the good looking young guy that turned heads and got all the attention. I’ve been there, and I’ve done that, but now I’m at a different stage. Is that really all that bad? Should perhaps I engage in the now and the current me? Given the choices of living in sadness at the loss, and living in the full now, there seems to be only one right answer.

So, here I am. I’m 54. I’m overweight (like most people my age), I’m bald, and I’m certainly not standing out in a crowd or turning heads. I get by based on personality, humor, skills, and the authority granted by lots of experience and past achievements. There are more people than ever that look to me as an example, and who actually listen to what I have to say. I actively mentor several excellent young people, and passively provide an example and sounding board to many, many more. One thing I hear is “you are the only person who gets me,” or “you are the only person here who makes any sense.” The one that really gets me though is when someone says something along the lines of “you are the only person who ever took me seriously as ___,” or “your are the only person who told me it’s OK to be ___.”

As you probably know, my philosophy is one of building people up, not tearing them. I’ve talked about this in more detail at other times, so I’m not going to repeat it all here. But, if I can save a life from the negative voices and self-doubt, and inspire people to become who they should become, then maybe that’s worth it. I would love to be young and attractive and cool again, but that’s not an option. So, I think that I should embrace who I’ve become, and put aside shame and loss.

Food for thought and personal reflection, I think.

Merry Christmas

OK, I’ve got that out of the way. I’m listening to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and it seemed like a good time to make a short post. First up, here is the wonderful present my wonderful wife got me:

This is real stained glass mounted in lead by an indie craftswoman Benita knows–freaking beautiful!

Here is my new Clip Studio Tabmate Controller. It works, but I haven’t personalized its uses to my own workflow yet. Rest assured I will!

Ever wondered what type of tools lives in my away kit for when I draw in my sketchbook? No, I’m sure you didn’t, but here’s a picture anyway.

Here’s a small gallery of the fun stuff that is in my sketchbook. This is all recent stuff, and drawn for fun, practice, and developmental purposes. I love sketchbooking!

Here’s that old file cabinet I keep my art in. I’ve had this for decades, and I want to replace it with something nicer. Gotta’ love the homemade drawer stops I have on here!

Story Studios–Publishing trope-twisting genre mashups since 2004

Hello, Greeting, Hola, Etc.

The title of this post, the “Story Studios…” one, is our new tag line, aka elevator pitch. I believe it pretty much describes what we’ve always produced here. The studio, and its history and mission statement, will get it’s own page soon.

My drawing board, where I draw and ink

The tag line came about because of my ongoing work on a short book about self-publishing comics. Yes, I am still hard at work on that.

I ordered the Clip Studio Tabmate Controller, and it looks really cool, but I forgot to order the Bluetooth adapter that goes with it. It looks like this will extend the functionality of Clip Studio Paint. There are so many drawing and cartooning aids in this program, and now the AI coloring system, that I wonder how long it will be before no-drawing skills are required to make comics with this application. I’m not joking. Flatting has become super easy, as has perspective, posing with 3D puppets, the use of 3D props, and so forth, that drawing skills may become a thing of the past for cartoonists.

My great grandfather’s drafting table (he was an architect and builder)

In regards to the AI coloring functionality that has been included with the latest update, I have experimented with it, and while it is not ready for actual comic work it is far more advanced than I would have figured. What’s next? AI inking?

My acrylic painting nook

I want to see Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and Aquaman this week. Likely, I’ll see one or the other. Both come with good word of mouth.

In cleaning up my studio, I am going through all my old art. I pretty much still own just about everything I’ve ever drawn or made. That’s great, but I also still have all studies, underdrawings, photo references, and so forth that goes with them. I doubt history would be interested in this type of material, and it takes up a lot of room, so I’m tossing it out. This is a monumental job, because I’ve made a lot of art in my career. Indeed, before I went professional, I have a lifetime of art stored up here. All the way from the first drawing I ever made (age 3) forward.I can safely say that I was no prodigy. Some of this stuff is just awful. Some of it is a good indication of what sort of artist I would become.

My so-called medieval corner, where today I am editing a story

I’m hard at work today on editing my latest short story, “Le Monde Belle,” intended for publication in an anthology. I’m about a third done as of this writing, and it’s going well.