IT’S HERE – A Strange Signal (and Patreon) Debuts today!

I’m going to make things weird.

Well, I’ve been quiet for a while. And it’s not been because I was incapacitated, kidnapped, or had nothing creative going. I’ve been quiet for many reasons, but chief among them was a brand new thing that has been a long time coming. I’ll let you have a look at what it all means, but in short, it’s a brand new project: A Strange Signal.

In short, it was an art project inspired by a tabletop game plot-creating technique: Go out; take pictures of things that strike you as weird, odd, or out of place; come up with ideas behind them for your game. After a sixteen-hundred-plus picture trip to San Francisco, it soon became apparent to me that this was not going to go into a game. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because there was so much content that I’d never get to use most of it due to the time it takes to get a game up and running, let alone to play it. Soon I had characters, nascent plots, and all manner of great stuff to get out of my skull and onto my computers. The ‘new project’ was born.

It was the kind of thing that just kept building up steam. I remember thinking that maybe this was just a phase. Let it run out. I couldn’t possibly keep this up. I went from making one or two a day to making four or five. They started piling up around me. Even when I hit snags and had to come up with better ways to make each piece – which I individually refer to as a ‘Signal’ – I just came up with faster ways to make better Signals. I’m fast approaching a hundred of them.

And people liked them. I’ve found that most people who viewed my past visual work never really had strong opinions on it. I’ll admit that it stung – I don’t think there was an artist born who didn’t basically want people to look at their work and feel not just something, but something that stirs you from the center of your being. We like that kind of attention. At least to the work if not ourselves (let’s be honest – it’s usually both).  And when I started posting them on my personal Facebook page, I got exactly that.

This was the first project I think I’ve ever done where people started talking about the work. Asking me when the next one would come out. Questioning about what they meant and where it was all going. If it would be collected as a book. How they could buy it.

That last one? That has never happened to me before this. I’ve worked spec for commissions, sure. But this was different. This was something, unasked for, that people seemed to want more of once they saw it.

Between the interest and my own compulsion, I can’t just leave these Signals be. They wake me up in the middle of the night some time to be made. I’ve pulled over to the side of the road to get source images. I tweak each one that comes through until I can find the right way to make it as unique and quaintly unsettling as I can. The crazed idea beast is at work now. And I cannot shut it down.

So, now I’m here. I have started a Patreon for my new endeavor, and soon, I’ll be adding an Etsy store (TBA soon). It’s terrifying. I’ve never put myself out like this before, never felt I had an idea good enough or marketable enough to put my name and a price tag on. But, that was yesterday And this is today. And today is full of Magic. And it’s also got you, here. Reading this.

So, Head on over. See what it’s all about. Dive deep into a weird otherworld where dogs are our masters, you should legitimately fear the ocean (more), and where doors can’t be trusted. I think you’re going to like it.

Just never trust a magician. They’ll only break your heart. Or other things you can’t get back.


Creative Dispatch – Ossua, Map, and Halloween Short

And now, for another update of the Creative Dispatch.

  • I managed to get over the creative hump of writing Ossua. A new chapter is now through its first draft, and the story kickstarted itself back to life. It has its problems, but they are mostly things able to be fixed in post.
  • I completed my revisions on ‘Take Only One,’ my halloween-themed, horror short. It’s my intent to shop it soon as Halloween will be upon us faster than we think. I initially eyed a particular source for publication, but they are unfortunately closed to submissions at this time.
  • I’ve also laid down some colors for Ossua’s map (the original pen and ink are here)! I finally got a good digital rendition of it started. Base colors are in place and I should be ready to fill out more details both in terms of locations, cities, and features; and also in more nuanced colorings and graphic flair. See below!
creative dispatch
No, the cities aren’t really underwater. Yet.

Work continues toward getting things done in good order, despite life being very difficult in both expected and unexpected ways. I am disheartened by some of it, but I continue to resolutely work toward creative goals.

Keep on checking in. I promise more good stuff to report.

Brandon Graham – Creative Influence

A few years back I took a gamble on a comic called King City, by an artist named Brandon Graham. I’d seen it on the shelf a few times in stores and wasn’t quite sure it was for me. I spoke to my local proprietor of fine books (Between Books in Claymont, DE) and Greg, the owner, talked me into it (as is Greg’s custom). I took the book home and devoured it. It started a very strong love of the author/artist’s work in general.

Brandon Graham’s Strange Beginnings

Art flowers in strange places. In Brandon’s case, it started between two sources – graffiti art and pornography.

Graffiti is unsurprising. It doesn’t take more than a couple seconds to look at the body of his work to see street art gushing out. From his character designs to his backgrounds, everything has this wonderfully curvy kind of flow to it. Everything seems like it originates in the wide movements of the shoulder and elbow. As a designer, I know it’s not the case – when I draw a comic you can pretty much be guaranteed that my fingers are cramping to get precise control. I think most artists do in the medium. Graham applies that big, wide-open wall principle to his designs in the micro-cosm of panel art. The work isn’t always color, but when it is, you see it there too. Solid palates generally rule his roost with little or no gradation or visual clutter to get in the way.

The more surprising aspect of his genesis into comics was his start in adult cartoons. But, when you stop to think about it, it’s perfectly rational. Sex sells. It always has, and Brandon didn’t shy away from it with either Pillow Fight or Perverts of the Unknown. His foray into adult comics opened doors though. The porn years led to Multiple Warheads taking off and his being picked up by Image Comics. Additionally he had a deal going for some time with Tokyo Pop concerning his best work (in my opinion) King City.

Graham’s City That Never Sleeps

King City is, simply put, eye opening. Brandon Graham’s unique style also combines with the absurd, the punny, and the sexy. Here’s the details:

Brandon Graham
I don’t even particularly like cats, but… this cat is different.

Joe leads a complicated life. In recent years, he completed training with a far off group of mystics who trained him to be a Cat Master. His personal cat, Earthling J. J. Cattington III, possesses the power to do almost anything that Joe can dream up. All it takes is a proper explanation to Earthling, and then a quick injection of cat juice. Despite his newfound abilities, his return to King City after a long absence doesn’t make his life any easier.

The city has its own problems before adding Joe’s. There’s a strange Lovecraftian businessman running through the streets, eating the fingers of Yakuza soldiers, devouring souls, and otherwise causing trouble. Then there’s Joe’s luchador-styled best friend who works questionable jobs for a crime cartel. There’s a sexy, alien plant woman victimized by xenos trafficking. There’s new and incredibly bizarre street gangs (as well as really weird familiar ones). A mysterious femme fatale keeps crossing his path who seems to know something about the monstrous salaryman, too.

Oh, and then there’s Joe’s ex, Ana. Joe and Ana feel like there was nothing resolved in their past relationship, which makes things difficult for both of them when he wanders back to the city after a few years away. Despite lingering feelings, she’s got a new beau who has an addiction to a drug that eventually will transform his body into the same drug he’s using: Chalk. He got that way after using it to drive away the nightmares of his time in the zombie war going on in North Korea.

You can see why I like this so much. Between the style and the over-the-top ideas and action, King City grabs you by the frontal lobe and starts swinging into whatever it damn well pleases. Even the margins and book flaps are awesome, complete with puzzle sections, clever wordplay, and the occasional paper doll cut-out page. The whole package delivers to you a peyote fueled lens of science fiction that mixes in with kid’s pun books and a hint of Douglas Adams styled absurdity.

Art Collections

But, he doesn’t stop there. Brandon Graham is known to put out the occasional art collection, too. Walrus and Escalator are both of the books I regularly thumb through because his work is so fun to look at. In these works he delivers shorter stories, general art pieces, ramblings and other content that doesn’t fit in with his established work. I can only hope that we’ll get more of this sort of thing as his works continue to grow and evolve.

Recent Hits

Right now it’s my understanding that he’s working regularly on a Heavy Metal formatted production called Island. It’s not in the ultra-violent and mammary-heavy side of Heavy Metal; it’s more a collection of three or four stories assembled by Graham’s chosen collaborators over several episodes (Such as I.D. by Emma Rios, now available as its own graphic novel). Graham himself makes his own contributions as well as taking on the management of the effort.

Nice Facts, Poindexter; How Does Brandon Graham Inspire?

The man knows how to open up a world that takes you in. I hear so many creatives tell you that your characters are what the reader latches onto. There’s truth in that, but if those characters are just running around in the world I see everyday… it may not grab my eyeballs or my brain stem. Graham is really good at doing not just the tried-and-true character development stuff, he lets his settings, like King City, be characters in their own right.

Additionally, he does all of these little things – such as the before mentioned liner notes, or impromptu crossword puzzles, and really, really clever (and bad) puns when you least expect them. And then, there’s the sheer absurdity. The older I get, the more I appreciate that flat out illogical nature of our lives, and Brandon Graham knows how to maximize that.

His overall work gives me a high bar to look at and strive for. And if that isn’t inspiration, then I don’t know what is.

You Want To Know More

Of course you do. And you should. So go pay him a visit at his blog. He’s active on Tumblr as well. Or, go ahead and find his work at your local comic book store. If you’re looking for his bibliography, you could do worse than looking him up at Goodreads too.

Creative Dispatch – June 28, 2017

So, I’m back in the saddle and working toward a few goals. One of which is being accomplished right now, as promised. Consider this the first of two blog posts I owe you, dear reader.

But, to the matter at hand. I consider this to be the first of a new category of posts: creative dispatches. These will be where I go about describing progress, discussing process, asking my audience what they like and don’t like, and also to posit what should be reprioritized (within reason, woe betide those who stand in the creative squirrel’s way).

creative dispatch judgesquirrel
He’s a pushy bastard to be sure.

Another thing I’d like to note is you might have seen here that it’s a bastard of a process to get posting privileges here. Right now, take all your comments, criticisms, concerns, accolades, and other mercurial threats to the book of faces. Chances are, Facebook is how you got here, but just in case you couldn’t find it, come at me here:

I’ll be working on getting a sign in system here for more direct feedback. I had to disable the comments feature long, long ago on account of Russian spambots and penis enlargement database injection attempts (at least they’re aptly named). There’s better ways to go about it these days, like Disqus or other platforms. Not sure when it’s coming, but hopefully soon.

Now, as for the progress of my craft:

  • Ossua writing was briefly halted due to preparations for (and the actual act of) matrimony. This was followed by a vacation (much needed) for my wife while her family was still in town. Vacation ends tomorrow, so I should be back to schedule by the end of the week.
  • I’ve got a minor visual project to bang out by the end of next week. I’d like to have it completed within a week so I can post it here by Friday.
  • A short fiction piece was completed just before the wedding. It involves a thief connected to the element of air, stealing a holy tome from an abbey full of werewolves. Looking back on the first pass, there’s a lot to fix. More on that as it develops. Tangentially, it may even connect to one of my earlier stories, Blackhand.
  • I have submitted a short story from my 2015 writing challenge. After polishing it for some time, it seems it has paid off. The story is under consideration by a publisher for one of their upcoming titles. I don’t really want to say anything more than that as I don’t know what I’ll be able to say or not say. When I know more, you’ll know more. My wife and I are super excited!
  • I have resorted my kanban board to prioritize editing and submission work. Right now, I’ll be editing my serial killer short story, as well as my Halloween-themed tale of what happens to trick or treaters who can’t follow directions.

This is all I have for now – but keep an ear to the blog (is that even a thing – now it’s a thing). I’ll bring more news as I get it.



I’m told by reliable sources that humans are pattern recognizers at our core. It’s not all we are, but so much of what makes us human comes from this basic component of our nature. We find things we can recognize, sort them in our minds for later use, then look back at them critically (or not – look at how we vote/don’t vote).

I’m no different in that I crave patterns. I have daily routines. I have ways things get done. I have some actions thoroughly organized to the point where my consciousness doesn’t even need to think about them hard.

And I need my writing career to build the same kind of rhythm.

Right now, I’m going to set up some internal rules and patterns. And here’s what I want things to look like during the weekday.

  • Every week day, I spend four hours minimum working on my creative endeavors (both graphic and written). I should be spending at least half of these hours a day writing Ossua’s first novel to a complete first draft.
  • On Mondays, I blog. Can be about anything. Might be here, might be at HPP. If it is somewhere else, I repost it here.
  • On Tuesdays, I write something brand new, ideally a short story. I should have at least a thousand to two thousand words. This may seem excessive until I realize how many words I write out on average and how many of them actually turn out to be good.
  • On Wednesdays, I draw something. Might be a webcomic. Might be a character study for an Ossuan. Whetever it is, I should be at my desk for a little while just to see what falls out of my pencil, pen, or stylus.
  • On Thursdays, I blog again. Same rules as Monday.
  • On Friday, I go back to whatever it is I did on Tuesday and refine, extend, edit, or otherwise root out gremlins.

Weekends of course are whatever they are. I want to throw elbow grease in there, I will, but they’re free creatively. I get to do what I want with them. There’s no set hours – as many or as few as I want.

I think this schedule is ambitious. But I also think it’s necessary. I don’t want this to be my hobby. I want this to be my profession. And for that, I need a pattern of behavior and rules to follow.

Let’s see how it works out. I’ll be starting this cycle on Monday. Let’s see what I have to blog about next week.

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