Thursday, August 29, 2013

In the Mouth of Madness

I'll be off the internet to some degree for the next couple of days while at a convention, but in the meantime, here's a poster for one of my favorite horror movies, In the Mouth of Madness. 

 It's not a great movie, like some of Carpenter's other work.  Really, it's not even a good movie.  But there's something about it that, however many times I see it, just creeps me out SO much.  I usually watch it in early September to kick off the Halloween season.  Halloween is, without doubt, my favorite holiday (not that I don't love Christmas), and I tend to read and watch nothing but spooky stuff for two months.  For that reason, I generally refuse to see horror movies or read horror novels or stories during the rest of the year, so that I can build up a reservoir.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Innsmouth postcard

It's tough to say which Lovecraft story is my favorite (there are a lot that I DON'T like, but the ones I like I REALLY like), "Call of Cthulhu" or "Shadow Over Innsmouth."  Probably Cthulhu, because it's so pulpy and has so many different locales, but Innsmouth is like the creepiest place ever written.  Anyway, here's a postcard I picked up at its chain grocery.  The clerk can't wait to be transferred.  

In the image one can see the grocery store, the esoteric order of dagon, the marsh gold refinery, old Zadok Allen, the church basement, bus driver Joe Sergant, and the Gilman House.  Shadow Over Innsmouth ties with The Call of Cthukhu as my favorite Lovecraftian story.

Anyway, I'll have prints and postcards of this at DragonCon.  I'll be in the comic artists section, and I'll have a mustache.  

If you can't make it to DragonCon, I've put this up as a print on Redbubble, so you can get postcards and the like via the mail

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mini-Comics (and small press) Assembly Guide

I was cleaning out my filing cabinet and found this handout I made for my mini-comics class.  Hope you find it helpful!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wild West Avengers

If you give me a franchise and tell me to pitch something for it, 9 times out of 10 my first instinct is gonna be to make it into a western.

The original art for this (and all my stuff) is available.  It's black and white, 11x17, and runs $125.  First come, first serve.  If interested, shoot me an e-mail at

Thursday, August 15, 2013

HMS Surprise

Today's piece is the third Aubrey-Maturin book, HMS Surprise.

"The weather had freshened almost to coldness, for the wind was coming more easterly, from the chilly currents between Tristan and the Cape; the sloth was amazed by the change; it shunned the deck and spent its time below. Jack was in his cabin, pricking the chart with less satisfaction than he could have wished: progress, slow, serious trouble with the mainmast-- unaccountable headwinds by night-- and sipping a glass of grog; Stephen was in the mizentop, teaching Bonden to write and scanning the sea for his first albatross. The sloth sneezed, and looking up, Jack caught its gaze fixed upon him; its inverted face had an expression of anxiety and "concern. 'Try a piece of this, old cock,' he said, dipping his cake in the grog and proffering the sop. 'It might put a little heart into you.' The sloth sighed, closed its eyes, but gently absorbed the piece, and sighed again.

Some minutes later he felt a touch upon his knee: the sloth had silently climbed down and it was standing there, its beady eyes looking up into his face, bright with expectation. More cake, more grog: growing confidence and esteem. After this, as soon as the drum had beat the retreat, the sloth would meet him, hurrying toward the door on its uneven legs: it was given its own bowl, and it would grip it with its claws, lowering its round face into it and pursing its lips to drink (its tongue was too short to lap). Sometimes it went to sleep in this position, bowed over the emptiness.

'In this bucket,' said Stephen, walking into the cabin, 'in this small half-bucket, now, I have the population of Dublin, London, and Paris combined: these animalculae-- what is the matter with the sloth?' It was curled on Jack's knee, breathing heavily: its bowl and Jack's glass stood empty on the table. Stephen picked it up, peered into its affable bleary face, shook it, and hung it upon its rope. It seized hold with one fore and one hind foot, letting the others dangle limp, and went to sleep.

Stephen looked sharply round, saw the decanter, smelt to the sloth, and cried, 'Jack, you have debauched my sloth."

Original Art: SOLD!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Post Captain

Today's piece is the second Aubrey-Maturin novel, Post Captain, in which nothing goes right for poor Jack.  He's even saddled with a sliding-keel monstrosity called the Polychrest, which I did my best to capture based on the plans of a similarly keeled ship, the Dart.  

The ship at the top is the HMS Polychrest, modeled after the HMS dart, about to attack a French port.
Original Art: SOLD!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Master and Commander

Today's piece is the first of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels, Master and Commander.  I came to the books through the movie, which is one of my very favorite sea movies, but I've only read up through The Mauritius Command, because reading them made me want to do a naval book WAY too much and I won't be able to do so until probably 2015, maybe 2016.  So I'm holding off on reading the rest until then in order to spare myself the (non-Bloomian) agony of influence.

The picture was drawn by cartoonist Chris Schweizer, a big fan of ships, naval battles, nautical fiction, and swashbuckling.
Original Art: SOLD!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Crogan Adventures Actor Interview: Scott Emerson Moyle

Scott Emerson Moyle
Scott Moyle, the voice of Catfoot Crogan in "Crogan's Prize," is a director, actor, and a world-class halloween costume maker, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions. 

I'm not sure if you know this, Scott, but when Gregg and I were initially discussing the idea of doing Crogan shows, the first observation that he made was that you would have to play Catfoot. He made it clear that you might kill him if it were to be otherwise.
Gregg was not too far off the truth! Pirates have always been of interest to me, and I loved them long before it was cool. When the first "Pirates Of The Carribean" came out I was thrilled, and the ensuing few years of pirate-mania were delightful. Now it's steampunk, I guess? I still like my pirates. In any case, I had picked up a copy of Crogan's Vengeance that was sitting around Gregg's place, and read it during my downtime in a recording session, and when Gregg mentioned the Crogan radio plays I think I dissolved into a confused tangle of begging and threatening. It's all fuzzy now.

What appeals to you about pirate characters? Have you ever had the opportunity to play one before?
Pirates get to have all of the fun in theatre. Historical pirates were a little more completely terrible, but the pop culture image of the pirate is great: big badass coat, all the best hats, and a license to behave any way you like. I've pirated all over the place: both years of the Toronto Pirate Festival, various gigs any time there are tall ships in town, and for a while a friend and I did an insane improv comedy/danger stunt act called The Plunder Monkeys. We goofed around, sang about nautical euphemisms for sodomy, juggled fire on a bed of nails, and committed irresponsible acts of swashbucklerey.

Speaking of swashbuckling, you used to specialize in stage fighting and choreography?
I still do, a bit. I went so far as to certify as an Advanced Actor-Combatant with Fight Directors Canada, so I can put together and perform a fight with just about anything you put in my hands. Until about 2009 I was looking at going even further and getting into film stunts, but I badly injured my left knee and had to take a big step back from stage fighting. This worked out rather well, as I fell straight into directing Shakespeare, where I'm vastly happier than I ever was as a performer. I still buckle my swash when I can, and it's very useful to be able to choreograph bits of fight when I'm directing.

Are there any existing shows that you would especially like to direct?
I have this idea that I'd like to direct all thirty-seven of Shakespeare's plays- they're immensely rewarding to work on. I've already knocked off five of them (one of them three different times!), so I'm on my way. I'd also love to get at "The Bacchae", a Greek tragedy by Euripides, and George F. Walker's "Zastrozzi". And the list goes on and on. Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Play" is another good one.

How about existing non-dramatic works that you’d like to adapt for the stage?
I have a killer idea for a stage adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", but it'd be a huge endeavour. I'd also love to try putting "1984" on stage- an adaptation exists, but it tries to be extremely literal, and winds up compressing the story in a way that really shortchanges Winston's growth as a character. I imagine a much less linear staging- lots of multimedia, tons of quick vignette-style scenes, and a whole lot of sensory overload.

You’re a comics and graphic novel reader, if I’m not mistaken. Any favorites?
Many favourites. Hellboy, Scott Pilgrim, The Ultimates, Runaways, Calvin & Hobbes... I also just spent a few weeks in Brussels, where I hit the Centre Belge de la Bande DessinĂ©e, which is a comics museum, and rediscovered Spiro. In fact, I spent several afternoons in Brussels holed up at a tiny amazing bar called Moeder Lambic, where I would get lost in the best beer I've ever had and read comics. This bar has probably a dozen wooden crates full of big beautiful hardcover compilations of comics, mostly French, and I got a taste of a bunch of terrific comics. Now that I'm back I have to track down "Long John Silver", which is a lavishly illustrated pirate epic. It all comes back to pirates, I guess.

You had the misfortune to be saddled with heavily accented roles like Van Dinkiboom in “The Kimberly Pit” and S’Karno in “The Island Lost to Time,” but you seemed to handle both quite comfortably. Do you prepare for accented roles, or do you have a catalog of accents that you pull out when they’re demanded?
I'm flattered! I do enjoy dialect work, but I don't have a prepared catalogue apart from standard BBC British, often called 'received pronunciation' or just RP, and a generic terrible piratey accent. I used RP for Catfoot, actually. But it's less about having a bunch of accents in my pocket, and more about being able to pick them up efficiently. There are some great resources online if you want to learn an accent, the most accessible of which is simply finding video of someone from the region you want to emulate. I've learned a more technical approach that saves me a lot of time, involving learning the International Phonetic Alphabet. So I can break down my own generic big-city Canadian accent into its component phonemes, and by listening to another accent I can figure out which phonemes to substitute. Although for Van Dinkiboom's Dutch South African thing, I helped myself along by watching the excellent District 9. One of the more creative swears from that film is consequently on the Kimberly Pit cutting room floor, because I couldn't help myself.

What are you working on now?
I have a tiny little theatre company called Urban Bard- we do site-specific classical theatre, in fact I think we're the only company doing that particular thing full-time. We hit a rough patch as small arts organisations often do, but we're just now getting back on our feet and planning a fundraising event for the fall and a show for the spring. Our shows are a very accessible way to get into Shakespeare, and you're likely to see a few Decoder Ring veterans. It's a little-known fact that many of the DRT regulars met doing Shakespeare, and in fact our last show- A Midsummer Night's Dream- had Deck Gibson and Black Jack Justice squaring off as Nick Bottom and Peter Quince. If you're anywhere near Toronto, or plan to be, track us down on Facebook!

If you haven't yet had a chance to listen to "Crogan's Prize," you can listen online or download it here.  You can (and should!) also subscribe to Decoder Ring Theatre on iTunes, so that you never miss a show!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Crogan Adventures Actor Interview: Clarissa derNederlanden

Clarissa deNederlanden

Now that the Decoder Ring Theatre radio shows have nearly all aired I thought it might be fun to get to know the actors who brought the Crogan Adventures characters to life.  To that end, I'm going to be running a series of actor spotlights, starting with Clarissa derNederlanden, the voice behind the title character of "The Heart of Mabel Cottonshot."

Listeners of Decoder Ring Theatre will certainly recognize Clarissa from her eighty-plus episodes of The Red Panda Adventures, in which she plays Kit Baxter, the partner (I hesitate to say sidekick) and love interest of the Red Panda.  Clarissa's portrayal seesaws between humor and hardness, sass and stoicism, and can deliver emotionally patriotic monologues that hit you like a gloved fist to the solar plexus.  Like a lot of listeners of the show, I'm head over heels for Kit Baxter.

When Gregg Taylor, the series' director and Clarissa's husband, passed on the cast list for this episode, I was thrilled that she'd be bringing her talents to Mabel.  Of all of the characters that I've written, Mabel was hands-down the most enjoyable to work with, and knowing that she'd be in the hands of an actress whose performances I admire as much as I do Clarissa's really started the whole project off on the best possible foot.

So, Clarissa, how did you first get involved working with Decoder Ring Theatre?
Clarissa: Gregg roped me into it!  Nepotism reigns (...or, rather, "reins"-in keeping with the western theme)!  Although at that point we weren't yet related as Gregg and I had actually just begun seeing each other.  Gregg was performing in a show in a small town named Prescott located about 3 hours outside of Toronto and as his days were largely unaccounted for, he began writing the "rebooted universe" Red Panda scripts, with the team-up of a new character called "The Flying Squirrel."  I have no idea if this is true, but he says he wrote her with me in mind.  As I thought these scripts most excellent, this is how he wooed me.  I mean if you're going to tell me that somehow some sass-mouthing superhero sidekick is slightly inspired by me, you got me.  I am in no way like Kit Baxter but she's certainly the gal I'd like to be. 

You play the title character in “The Heart of Mabel Cottonshot,” which is set in the old west.  Do you ever watch or read westerns?
Clarissa: I certainly did watch Westerns as a youngster.  My dad loved Westerns and as I loved my dad, I loved Westerns too.  I never had cable growing up, but one of the stations we received always played old Westerns on Sundays.  So it might very well be that my love grew by having been afforded very few other options.  The point is I love them now... golldangit.  They were one of my dad's nostalgias and the older I get, the more they become my nostalgia as well.  

Do you have a favorite? 
ClarissaLonesome Dove, although now slighty dated but certainly newer than the Sunday Westerns I grew up with, is still the best material ever made for TV.  I made Gregg watch it early on in our relationship to see if he was date-worthy material.  He passed.  Westerns are one of my 2 favourite genres, the other being Sci-Fi (which is whyFirefly is so very awesome ...also some of the best material ever made for TV).

I'm a big Lonesome Dove fan, too.  When I wrote Mabel, I was basically doing my best to channel Gus McCrae, and gave her my favorite Gus tendencies: confidence, swagger, sweeping statements, and an unapologetically flirtatious bend.  
Clarissa: The day of recording (after we'd already recorded a few scenes) you casually announced that you thought of Mabel as a female version of Gus McCrae.  It was one of those head-hitting moments where I went "Now why didn't I think of that?!"  Sometimes I'm just not that smart.  

Mabel Cottonshot

Sorry.  I figured that it wasn't my place to actively give notes on anything save for the pronunciation of archaic words, and that thoughts on character were probably out of my purview. 
Clarissa: Well, I was devastated.  Gus Mccrae is perhaps my favourite character of all times.   In fact, because of him my son (Max) was so very close to being named "Gus."  I still wish I'd named him Gus! And yet, it had not at all occurred to me to channel Gus.  Not one bit.  And I would have given my eye teeth to channel a female Gus McCrae!  I still want a do over.  

No do-overs.  I like your take too much!  Were you thinking of any specific person, performance, or experience when you brought the character to life?  Do you have a method by which you usually approach performing a new character? 
Clarissa: I did not really base Mabel on anybody in particular.  Generally, when I approach a new character, I start from a place of rather broad characterization (dare I say "cliche"?) and then focus down.  When only having the vocals of a character to work with, or at least having that be the only part that's translated to the audience, I've learned it's generally better not to be subtle, but rather try to find the subtle moments.  I also find physicality helps immensely.  The challenge is finding the physicality with limited movement available to you.  It can get pretty squishy in there.

Those subtle moments are one of my favorite things about your acting.  You have these broad, fun characters that become very real when dealing with matters of substance to them personally.  It's as if the characters, Kit in particular, pull aside the derring-do public face and say, "look, all kidding aside, this is something I feel very strongly about."  Though I didn't know you'd be playing Mabel, Gregg's scripts served as my model, as I thought about the way you play silly-to-serious when writing her bit about why she wouldn't "truck with killers."  So, to me, it was kind of perfect that you were the one to deliver that performance.  Okay, last question.  Mabel is from Texas, or at least she claims to be.  Canada's a long way from Texas... have you ever traveled that far south?
Clarissa: I have never been to Texas and always wanted to go there. I'm planning a road trip for when my kids are older (FYI Gregg). I have relatives living in Doon, Iowa and Edmonton, Alberta and my family used to travel through South Dakota and Montana when visiting both groups. Though there's not much left of the Old West, there's still some amazing history in those parts of the country. Though we took our time in traveling through those states, in the ultimate scheme of my existence I barely spent any time in South Dakota and Montana... and yet I still miss them. So much sky! Such scope!
Also, I hear there's good barbecue and tacos in Texas, two of my favourite food groups.)  
If you haven't yet had a chance to listen to "The Heart of Mabel Cottonshot," you can listen online or download it here.  You can (and should!) also subscribe to Decoder Ring Theatre on iTunes, so that you never miss a show!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Character-a-Day: Gerald

Today's character is Gerald, Peter Crogan's friend and brother in arms, as he appears in the Crogan Adventures Radio Drama "Incomplete Sentences."  You can hear it by searching for "The Crogan Adventures" in iTunes, going to above link, or you can download the audio file!

I've been writing the western book (which I think will be the next one, after Crogan's Escape), and Gerald's in that story, too.  Only he'll be five years old.

The original art for this one is available for sale.  8.5x11," ink on 80# stock, shipped the Tuesday after purchase.  First come, first serve.

Pick the cost based on your location

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Character-a-Day: The Provost Marshal

Today's character is the provost-marshal, enforcer of law and order within the ranks of the French military in North Africa in 1910, when the Crogan Adventures Radio Drama "Incomplete Sentences"  takes place.  You can hear it by searching for "The Crogan Adventures" in iTunes, going to above link, or you can download the audio file!

Provost-Marshals like this one were the military police (M.P.) of the French forces in the 19th century and early 20th century.  This character is stationed in North Africa.

The original art for this one is available for sale.  8.5x11," ink on 80# stock, shipped the Tuesday after purchase.  First come, first serve.

Pick the cost based on your location

Monday, August 5, 2013

Character-a-Day: Kipp Camezon

Today's character is Kipp Camezon, friend of Peter Crogan and unnoficial poet laureate of his Foreign Legion troop.  Kipp's misadventures serve as the catalyst for the events of the the Crogan Adventures Radio Drama "Incomplete Sentences."  You can hear it by searching for "The Crogan Adventures" in iTunes, going to above link, or you can download the audio file!

The original art for this one is available for sale.  8.5x11," ink on 80# stock, shipped the Tuesday after purchase.  First come, first serve.

Pick the cost based on your location

Friday, August 2, 2013

Character-a-Day: Peter Crogan

Today's character is Daniel Crogan, French Foreign Legionnaire and amateur detective, as he appears (or would, were there images) in the Crogan Adventures Radio Drama "Incomplete Sentences."  This was has been up for listening for a couple of weeks now, and takes place two years before the events of Crogan's March.  and you can hear it by searching for "The Crogan Adventures" in iTunes, going to above link, or you can download the audio file!
The show was produced by Decoder Ring Theatre and directed by Gregg Taylor.

The original art for this one is available for sale.  8.5x11," ink on 80# stock, shipped the Tuesday after purchase.  First come, first serve.

Pick the cost based on your location