Memento Mori and Production

A couple of YT channels I follow covered the recent death of manga artist Kentaro Miura, the creator and writer of long-running series BERSERK. Here’s YBZ’s video:

And here’s one from Clownfish TV:

Both channels brought some unique perspectives that touched on things I hadn’t put into words, but had felt pretty deeply for a while.

Ya Boi Zack is a retired soldier and Marine who isn’t far from turning 50 years old. He’s had a long and turbulent life, bouncing in and out of the armed forces, being married and divorced multiple times, and fathering a few kids. His experiences mirror mine in very few ways, and contrast with them in many more. I usually find his perspectives insightful and informative.

Given the amount of death he saw up close in the Middle East as a soldier, his views on the amount of life we all deserve are tempered by the fact that anyone can die at any time, and all the time we have is the all the time we get. This is an old idea in the Western world that I first recall studying from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor. Applied properly, it would prompt us to be judicious with the time we have, and the efforts we expend in mortality.

As for Clownfish TV, their video was more about the work required to create great art, and how you have to build your entire life around it, and if you’re successful at it there’s some monetary success, but so much time goes into it that it’s hard to have any left for yourself. I kind of learned that lesson when I illustrated the Engines novels, because the art took way longer than the writing did (and a lot of it hasn’t aged well.)

Everyone wants that success but not everyone wants to work for it the way that Miura did. And who can blame them? He was only in his mid-50s and he was working on Berserk for more than three decades. I guess the point is you have to love your work first, love it enough to do it even if it doesn’t make you a million dollars, and use the time you have in your life for that which you deem most important.

For me, if I ever fail in my duties as a husband and father, it won’t ever matter how successful I am as an artist. I hope I never lose sight of that.

HOMEWORLD is now live on your podcast machine! Listening is mandatory.

It’s finally ready! I’m excited to share this one with you. I mostly recorded it on my phone in my car whilst parked at work before my shift. Good acoustics in there, better than in my office, and doing it in chunks helped me to get the pacing and intonation right.

I’ve had this story swimming around in my head for years and years, so to finally have it out in the open is a relief. I hope you guys like it.

Patreon is here, to back the podcast financially.

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State of the Dread: November 2020

No photo description available.

The Podcast

The DreadPennies Adventure Hour is underway! Thank you guys for the response on SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. It was a lot of fun to record. This month the adventure is WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE. Here are the links to the podcast on the big three platforms. Subscribe and enjoy!

DPAH on Google

DPAH on Spotify

DPAH on Anchor

The Artwork

The #DrawEveryDay campaign continues. I was able to knock out Inktober (because I’ve kind of been doing it all year) and had a lot of fun with it. Check out my Instagram and hit the follow button.

The Writing

The main focus of my writing is to generate content for the DPAH podcast. I have some chapters to edit for WAC, so I’ll take care of those over the next week or so, and then I’m into editing the Adventure for December. I need to roll back the drawing and get back on the writing so that I don’t record more than my buffer has in store.

The Reading

WINTERDANCE by Gary Paulsen, THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner, and OVERSTATED by Colin Quinn are on the list of good books I’ve read in October. One is a nonfic about sled dogs, one is a really great fantasy caper, and one is a comedy roast of all 50 states.

Now I’m delving into some classics, like 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA because I haven’t touched that one in years. Jules Verne in one of the earliest voices in sci-fi and worth the attention. As for audiobooks, I’m doing a lot more podcasts right now, so I’m only picking at the odd book here and there.

The Rest

That’s about it, really. Just enjoying the seasons and trying to find ways to spend better time with my kids. You should too. Tune into the podcast, see you out there!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW # 4 0f 4

This is it, gang! The end is here! Where did Josie end up? What do Silas and Kay do? Does Ichabod get away with it?

Find out in episode four!

And here is some artwork 🙂

Josie watches Silas die in 1776. I drew this one on a sketchbook in a pickup truck during a night shift.
The gang heads out into an exciting new future.

The latter part of the book didn’t have as much art as that middle part. 2019 threw a wrench in my plans pretty hard, what with family trials and the like, so I had to pare back the roster.

Hopefully in the future I can illustrate a few more pieces and release an “author’s preferred edition” or something. For now, I have plenty to get around to.

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

Episode three is here.

Find the show on Spotify, and tell your friends to subscribe!

Available on Apple Podcasts as well!

Behind-the-scenes podcasts are available to Patreon backers here.

Thank you everyone for tuning in this month! Next week, WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE kicks off!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, part 3 of 4!

Episode 3 gives us chapters 11-15, including the incredible chapter 14, “The Woman In White.” This is perhaps the most action-packed chapter of the whole book.

(But don’t worry, episode 4 will have all of the really satisfying endings.)

And now, the artwork!

The Woman in White brings the ghosts of Brom and Katrina to meet Crane.
Crane tells Brom and Katrina that he’s going back in time to undo the Legend.
The fully-armed Headless Horseman runs interference for Crane.
Left side of a two-page spread called “The Horseman’s Menagerie.” Silas protects Josie from the ghosts of savage animals, as the Headless Horseman rides into battle on a newer, more vicious mount.
The right side of “The Horseman’s Menagerie.” Kerstan gets in on the action, and Kay goes ‘full metal awesome’ while trying to take down the Horseman.

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

Find the show on Spotify, and tell your friends to subscribe!

Available on Apple Podcasts as well!

Behind-the-scenes podcasts are available to Patreon backers here.

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion!

New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW, part 2 of 4

Here it is, folks! Episode 2 is live, and that puts the first ten chapters of SLEEPLESS HOLLOW onto the airwaves.

https://anchor.fm/dreadpennies/embed/episodes/2-Sleepless-Hollow–Episode-2-ek9c5q

I didn’t post about this last week, so here’s the art from these chapters:

Kerstan watches as Josie goes to work.
Silas watches over Sleepy Hollow from the high school.
Silas jumps into the resurrection machine with Crowe.
Part 1 of a 2-page spread, the soon-to-be-Headless Horseman charges Silas…
Silas kills the Horseman in 1776…

You can find episode one here.

And the first behind-the-scenes audio episode (28 mins) is available for backers on my Patreon page!

Thanks everyone! Tell your friends!

State of the Dread: October 2020

Hey gang! Sorry this one is a week late, that has been life in a nutshell. Lots going on!

The Podcast

The biggest news of it all: the Brother Trucker Book Club has wrapped up for now (I haven’t ruled out future episodes, but it’s not on the docket for the foreseeable future.) Schaara and I batted cleanup last week and the final episode went live with much success.

BTBC: Apple Spotify Anchor

And of course, the DREADPENNIES ADVENTURE HOUR is up and running! With an audio performance of SLEEPLESS HOLLOW by yours truly! You can now get the entire audiobook for free by subscribing to the podcast. Tell your friends about it, and please consider backing the Patreon! Behind-the-scenes episodes will post on Fridays.

DPAH on Google

DPAH on Spotify

DPAH on Anchor

Also, Welcome To The Faro will conclude this month as well. We’re almost to the end of my mission. Plenty of great listening out there for you!

WTTF: Apple Spotify Anchor

The Writing

This has taken a backseat what with having to record audio for the podcast, but since I just finished the final episode of SLEEPLESS, the next three weeks are focused on finishing the script for WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE, which will launch in November.

The Artwork

Once again, I am participating in Inktober! Check out instagram.com/dreadpennies for my daily entries. I’m behind by a day, but I’ll catch up.

I want to address the so-called controversy surrounding Inktober this year. Apparently someone has beef with Jake Parker, the founder, and tried to get his forthcoming book canceled over it. I don’t know the details of this beef, and I’m not going to dig it up. The beef has entered the legal arena and I assume will be settled there. For the time being I continue to support Jake Parker as I have for years, given my familiarity with his good work and the work of his good colleagues, such as Will Terry.

It concerns me that this trend of accusing, dividing, and taking sides based on Internet Hype has reached this specific realm of public creativity, especially seeing as how it coincides with an attempt to hijack Inktober and replace it with a very similar idea controlled by someone else. (There’s a new hashtag circulating, I’m not going to say what it is, but it’s a clear attempt to steal the success Jake has had, and it’s annoying to say the least.)

I’ve seen this play out in a number of other areas over the last several years; somebody makes something, it becomes a success, somebody else hijacks it and turns it into a shadow of its former greatness, and we’re left muttering over how “X used to be cool.”

Kind of like how “Honest Trailers” used to be funny, before it started parroting dumb cultural talking points from the public sphere. I don’t want to see that happen with Inktober so I’m going to wait for all the fact to come out, and, like I said, continue to participate in the meantime. High school is over, you guys. Let’s act like it.

The Reading

Hoooo boy, my reading took a huge kick in September, haha. Mainly because I wasn’t listening to anything, I was training for my new position at work. I think I read maybe 2 or 3 books in the whole month. Things are picking up now, though.

The Rest

That’s about it. I’m adjusting to the physical nature of the new gig, mainly how I come home sore and exhausted everyday, but my pants are all a little looser and will continue to do so. Kind of awesome how I got this job right around Pie Season, I don’t have to worry about gaining 20 pounds this year.

That’s it, get back to work.

State of the Dread: September 2020

Check out the mascot! This should be a “football and school are both back” month, but because some twit back East had to eat an undercooked bat, here we are, uncertain of our otherwise certain things.

The Podcast

I’ve finished recording all episodes of Welcome To The Faro. It’s been a great trip down memory lane. Now I get to focus on my next project, the DreadPennies Adventure Hour.

The Brother Trucker Book Club is still in production, but I can’t say it will last forever. One of my biggest weaknesses as a content creator is that I try to do too much and end up burning out.

As much as I have loved reviewing books on the pod, I may just switch to another, simpler format for that later. Once the DPAH launches I want it to be my flagship production. Speaking of that…

BTBC: Apple      Spotify      Anchor

WTTF: Apple     Spotify      Anchor

The Writing

As much as it pains me to do this, I will not be releasing a physical book in 2020. But! I will still be publishing. WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE will be the second story on the DPAH podcast, broken into episodes all throughout November.

This has become necessary as a result of stuff in my home life and my day job. My career was affected by Big ‘Rona and that’s forced us to take on a bunch of other stuff at once. I will spare you the details.

Suffice it to say that if I tried to finish all the art that I want in that book, it wouldn’t be good, and some would be left out. So I want to take my time on it. I can still record the audiobook for the podcast, and meet the 2020 deadline.

The physical book will come out in 2021, fully illustrated. After all, the Pilgrims set sail in 1620, but the First Thanksgiving was in 1621. That way I hit both dates!

The Artwork

I finished my series on Presidential Puns. That actually got me a paid gig designing a logo for an old friend, so that’s cool. Exactly what I’m into. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram to see what I draw every day.

The Reading

You can expect me to slow down a little on this too, as I am not going to be plugged into my phone as much, listening to books all day long.

That said, I am being more picky about my reading in general, and more nonfiction is taking the stage. Maybe I’m just getting bored with so much genre fic, very little of it transcends its peers.

I like to be blown away when I read something.

The Fitness

I’m still doing push ups. I’m about to get a much more physical position at work, so the burn is going to be legit. All the rust and cobwebs will be gone by the end of September. I seriously cannot wait.

The Rest

Be excellent to each other. And stand up for yourself a little more. Let people know that you love them, but they don’t own you. Own yourself.

Are you doing everything you can?

This morning I thought about a man that I haven’t remembered in a while. Back in the days of my old blog I wrote about him once or twice and he deserves to have his story told a little more often, or at least, to have my part of his story told.

His name is Jim Heller, and he was an artist. He was also almost completely paralyzed; anything from the neck down was immobile, except for very slight movements in his right hand.

It was those movements that allowed him to become a precise artist. I got to see him work every now and then because we went to church together, and our ward would divide up service assignments to help him out.

On the 2nd of every month, my brother and I would ride our bikes down to his place and make him dinner. This was always a bit of a process because Jim was a slow eater. He would wheel his electric chair into the doorway of his kitchen and tell us what to pull out of the fridge or the cabinets, then have us nuke it in the mike.

We had to cut everything up for him and feed it to him one small bite at a time. He had to tell us every time he was ready for another bite, or a drink through the straw. It took a few hours.

Not that it was an imposition or anything; he was very easy to talk to and we had great conversations. Jim loved movies too, so we would put on a John Wayne flick, or a cheesy sci-fi, or a WW2 film. I watched Anaconda and Tora! Tora! Tora! while feeding him. The only time I’ve ever seen The Ghost In The Darkness was while I was spooning peas into Jim’s mouth. (Awesome movie, btw.)

In my teens I didn’t have a lot going on that wasn’t scheduled for me by my parents. Go to youth activities at church, go to piano lessons, go to Boy Scouts, go go go. When I had time to myself, I spent it ignoring my homework so I could sit at my drawing table while blasting KoRn or Offspring on my CD player.

The lack of a full schedule made it easy for me to visit Jim. I don’t remember seeing it as an imposition or anything, because what else was I doing with my life? Goofing off and daydreaming about girls who would never date me because I was the weird kid?

No, go take one night in thirty and feed someone. That’s a kind of service I don’t do any more. I’m too busy, too dialed in on my own stuff. Plus, obviously, I’ve got a wife and kids now, it’s just different.

But back then, I think it was really good for me to see up close the life of someone who had to rely on others for absolutely everything. Jim had a nurse come by who helped him with his medical stuff, his pill sorting, his bathing and dressing, getting in and out of bed, all that. He always had to have his remote on his tray and his LifeAlert right next to it.

One night he called his neighbor at 2AM because there was a bug chewing on the soft skin under his arm and the pain was excruciating. Jim tried to ride it out without calling and it just got to be too much.

Think about that next time you have an itch and you scratch it and it goes away. Think about a life where you couldn’t do that for yourself.

I never once, in the three or four years that I regularly visited him, heard Jim gripe about his condition, or pity himself. Dude got diagnosed with whatever had put him in a chair in his 20s. Doctors said he would probably die in his 40s. He made it to his 60s.

And to the utter extent that he was able, he worked to support himself.

Every time we came by, we wrapped up the night by setting his art supplies out on the tray on his wheelchair. Pencils and brushes with long sticks attached. Paint pallets with just a drop of this color here, a slight mixture of these two there. Throw some water droplets on to loosen up this shade here, I don’t need much.

He painted scenery, animals, westerns, faces. Indians and mountain men, cowboys and pioneers. Wolverines battling wolves for a kill. Lynxes in the wild. Temples. Christ. His friends.

A few times a year we would load his stuff into his big old van, then help him onto the ramp so he could get inside. Hook his chair to the floor with ratchet straps and drive him to convention centers so he could sell prints and originals. It was heavy and repetitive, and tiring in the Vegas heat.

Yet the whole time you’re doing it, you’re saying to yourself, what am I going to do? Cry about it to the guy who can’t walk? Can’t take a leak without help? Come on, man. Even when I was just a low-ambition punk@$$ from Henderson I could figure that part out.

There are still times that I feel bad about not being there when he died, in July of 2001. I had missed our appointment on the 2nd of that month because I finally had things on my calendar. I had a job (tire tech) and a sport to train for (cheerleading).

He called our house and asked if I was coming. It was 6:30. I apologized profusely, I can’t even remember what I was doing that night but I was busy. He said NBD, he would call his niece, she was over there all the time.

I said I would make it up to him next month. He died about two weeks later.

I made it a point to sing at his funeral. Felt I owed him that.

Often I make the mistake of assuming that everyone has had the same life experiences I have, that they’ve known the same kind of people and have shaped their expectations of life accordingly. I have to remind myself that that isn’t the case.

We’ve all had unique struggles, they just happen in the same vein sometimes. And there will always be someone who has it worse than we do–not that it’s a competition. The point is that someone else’s trials can help you realize not only your blessings, but the limitations you are putting on yourself.

Especially today, in the age of competitive victimhood, with social media being such an easy platform for you to scream your hardships into the void of the world, looking for validation.

When that temptation arises, think of men like Jim. He dealt with those demons at some point in his life, I’m sure of it. That kind of stoicism is usually a destination, not a starting point, and he got there.

I for one am very grateful that he did, and for what he taught me in our short time together. Men like that ought to be remembered.

Learn from that. And get back to work.

State of the Dread: August 2020

The Podcast

The BTBC came back last month and I’ve been getting a steady flow of content for the new mailbag section! Thank you to those who have written in, it’s my favorite part of the show.

Apple      Spotify      Anchor

WTTF continues strong and we’re past the halfway point, it should wrap up late Oct/early Nov.

Apple     Spotify      Anchor

But the real gem is the launch of the DPAH, coming next month 🙂 I’ll draw the cover art for it then.

The Writing

Edits are humming along for WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE. I am fighting distraction because I keep getting ideas for other stories. The best thing for those ideas is to just let them percolate, because they’re not ready if I’m not actively working on a story.

I’m glad that I have finally embraced the short story model. Lots of my ideas will work better that way.

Funnily enough, after I read HOMEWORLD to Schaara, she suggested I write a full-length treatment from one of the other character’s POV. That one is percolating. Dunno when it’ll happen, but it just may.

The Artwork

Still plugging right along. I fell back on a lot of puns and stuff in July, what I need to do is change it up and do more structured exercises. I have an anatomy book I’ve been meaning to dig through, however…

The Reading

…as I get ready to homeschool my kids with my wife (she’ll be doing most of it, but I’m not going to be a bystander), I have to read some other preparatory materials, and that’s getting my attention.

Also I’m getting bored with fiction generally. That’s a weird feeling. Nonfiction is finally entertaining me more.

The Fitness

I’m doing over a hundred pushups a day, every day. With my schedule, that’s all I can manage. If it changes, I’ll let you know.

The Rest

Please understand, from the bottom of my heart, that I do not care about anyone’s panicky opinion about what’s going on in the world. I wash my hands of it. It only serves to hold me back from conquering my own corner of this island Earth.

Onward and upward, peeps.