Lee Moyer Design & Illustration: Blog https://www.leemoyer.com/blog en-us (C) 2020 Lee Moyer lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:04:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:04:00 GMT https://www.leemoyer.com/img/s/v-12/u431229029-o675954854-50.jpg Lee Moyer Design & Illustration: Blog https://www.leemoyer.com/blog 120 58 Progress of the Year https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2016/6/progress-of-the-year Thus far the year has flown by with work and travel and guests.

I’ve worked on book covers, theater posters, logos, and more but through all that have still found time to do some personal work.

Month of Love this year came during one of my busiest stretches so I was unable to go all out and post every single week as I love to do. However the two pieces I did have time for are two of my favorites this year.

As with most of the US, I have been swept away by Hamilton and wanted to create my own homage to it’s ground breaking beauty. I hope to continue with more pieces in this style as a series.

LAFAYETTE

Joseph-Désiré Court, 1791

My sweetheart Venetia posed for the Dominatrix, not her usual style and the outtakes from our photoshoot are quite entertaining.

MonthOfLove2

Our dear friend Accalia was here from Canada for the Rachel Brice Elements program and posed for the Goddess Allatu.

AllatuZZ

Hopefully the second half of 2016 will see more personal projects as well as business as usual!

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman Daveed Diggs Dominatrix Elements Goddess Hamilton Lafayette Month of Love Rachel Brice https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2016/6/progress-of-the-year Sat, 04 Jun 2016 16:19:18 GMT
Spokane 2015 – The World Science Fiction Convention https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/8/Spokane-2015-The-World-Science-Fiction-Convention Usually, I’d be writing a long and hopefully entertaining journal about the whole amazing show. But given the events of the last few days (the midnight to 4am ER visit with one dear friend and the trauma work with another, the break in and theft from our car, the still inexplicable internet oddness, and related maladies), I have time only for a brief photo essay:

The crossing of the Columbia River Gorge past Ellensburg, and the horse sculptures upon the hill:
1 Step 1: Pass out the 2 full boxes of Voodoo Doughnuts to the Convention volunteers:

2 Below Left: I made the little flyer on the right to highlight the Small Gods I had on display, and to suggest that the Art Show might contain unexpected surprises.

Below Right: Most of the crack team (Venetia, Kim and Tracy) that put up my always-complex display in the Art Show:3 Many a lovely being! Debi Chowdhury used Venetia as a model in her Sari-tying Class.

Crystal Huff was happy to see us, even before her bid to host the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki Finland so spectacularly crystalized. ;)

Liz Argall always looks sharp in a black suit. The black mask would not be needed on that day….4 Venetia was a woman of many disguises – from the wee fairy hat to the replicant infiltrating the bizarre Kubrick Film that was Spokane’s Grand Hotel, to her rarely-glimpsed Moomin-form (rendered here by the delightful Goldeen Ogawa):5 One does not simply expect Mordor. Spokane was, like Johnny Cash, in a burning ring of fire. The sun was red, the air unbreathable, and the idyllic walk across the park to our hotel? Unthinkable. And that’s where the masks came in. Colette and our kind friends at the DC bid committee supplied the fabric. We wetted it down and shared it with Liz (because sharing is caring in any emergency or apocalypse):6 Below Left: The me of today with the me of decades past – as seen in Christine Valada’s excellent series of SF Portraits.

Below Right: Me desperately trying to use a PC as I engage in a REDDIT “Ask me anything”:10 Now, I had a feeling Daniel Patrick Moran might be a geek. But I had no notion that Jim Wright (aka Stone Kettle Station) was. Here – at the midpoint of the convention – was the first meeting of the firm of Moran, Wright and Moyer:7 Saturday, a miracle occurred and the Apocalypse was called off. In gratitude we went and rode the Sky Ride – one of the few features left from the well-loved Expo ’74:8 9 The night of the contentious Hugo Awards, we dined with Mark, Baize and Tempest – eventually shutting the slightly seamy (if delicious) Teriyaki House down. When the metaphoric smoke cleared, all was right with the world – and so many of the good people won! Here is the wondrous Wendy Wagner holding her ceremonial mace upside down (for safety no doubt – she is wise):11 As we took down the remnants of the art show, we couldn’t help but notice this tiny bird. How clever to seek breathable air inside the Convention Hall!:12 After the closing pool party and the good affordable food (where had that been for the rest of the convention?), we wandered to Meg and Will’s room in the Kubrick, and were treated to splendid conversation:13 There was ever so much more of course, but my clients are no happier with my delays than I am, so it’s back to work for me!

I am very grateful to Jean and Rob Carlos for their fine opening dinner, and their hosting Cards Against Humanity. But also for the thorough convention reportage that they (and the marvelous Carol Berg, Jim Wright, Vandy Hall, Stacy, and so many others) have written. Here’s to future meetings!

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Conventions Art Show Columbia River Gorge Daniel Patrick Moran Helsinki 2017 Hugo Awards Jim Wright Moomin Mordor Sky Ride Small Gods Spokane Stone Kettle Station Voodoo Donuts Voodoo Doughnuts WorldCon 2015 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/8/Spokane-2015-The-World-Science-Fiction-Convention Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:39:39 GMT
Spokane History https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/8/Spokane-History I was last in Spokane in 1974. For the World’s Fair.
Before I arrived, the state of Washington and the rail-hub city of Spokane did a massive amount of work:

expo1_t620 Spokane1973

View from helicopter, Expo

View from helicopter, Expo ’74 World’s Fair Spokane

41 years later, I returned for the World Con.
I anticipated the removal of most of the fair buildings, and the reclamation of that land as park, but I looked forward to exploring those changes. It should have looked like this:

riverefront Instead, because of the record fires surrounding Spokane, staying at a hotel across the waterways and park (which had seemed such an idyllic notion just days before), proved a fascinating challenge when the going got tough.
One does not simply …expect Mordor:

CMz94J0UEAEqL2C

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Conventions Mordor Spokane World Science Fiction Convention World's Fair https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/8/Spokane-History Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:32:21 GMT
Le Morte d’Artiste https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/3/Le-Morte-d-Artiste The Germans probably have a word for it.
But in English the closest I can get is “the feeling you have when someone speaks your heart far better than you can”. And its sad addition “and the feeling you have when they die”.

Terry Pratchett’s death (or should I say Death?) was long in coming – Alzheimer’s is a cruel and truly terrible thing. Many of you know Sir Pratchett’s writing, and some of you the man himself. And while I could single out Small Gods as my favorite of his works, I was never sorry I read even one book of his.

That I associate him with Stephen Colbert may seem bizarre, but I do. I well remember watching Colbert’s Press Club evisceration of George W. Bush, and that exact moment when he went all in – the look in his eyes that told me he hated the mendacious suckfish of the U.S. media as much as the policies of the killers they were failing to report accurately about. And not only that he got it, and was taking a rare moment to speak truth to power, but that he was simply better at all of it than I was. There are many reasons of course, but I cannot shake the idea that it’s because the real Colbert so adeptly used the character of “Stephen Colbert, right wing press hack” as a mask. The way Pratchett used all the hackneyed tropes of fantasy and fiction to tell true stories about all the things that matter.

I’d heard tell of Discworld for several years, but we’d never really “met” before I read Good Omens, his collaboration with the esteemed Neil Gaiman. But once begun, Pratchett’s oeuvre proved hard to put down, and after a couple decades of reading, I was asked to be the artist guest of honor at The North American Discworld Convention. By then I was ready.

But the sad truth of Pratchett’s Alzheimers diagnosis had just been revealed, and Pratchett stayed home. Rather than have a few drinks with the legions of adoring friends, fans, and families, Pratchett sent a high-tech “hello” from across the briny and the likes of Bernard Pearson to keep things lively. (Trying to match wits with Bernard was a highlight of not just that convention, but the entire year).

Pratchett’s Calendar spread shows the not-quite-penultimate one we call ‘November’ but the denizens of Discworld, in their 13 month cycle, call ‘Ember’.
The 8 day week proved problematic, but the double helix makes so many things possible. Nothing was off limits to Pratchett – everything could be questioned, altered and enjoyed.

MonthOfEmber

Death is everywhere in Pratchett’s books (Gaiman’s too, come to that), but some things transcend it – art and love among them.
He left his all on the page. A reformed Om’s blessings to him for that.

LeeMoyer_Om

Pratchett never got to see these pieces – all from ‘Good Omens’ (and including my favorite joke in the entire book: “Admittedly he was listening to a ‘Best of Queen‘ tape, but no conclusions should be drawn from this because all tapes left in a car for more than about a fortnight metamorphose into ‘Best of Queen’ albums”). I hope you’ll enjoy them.

AziraphaleCrowley GodSaveTheQueen GoodOmen4Horsemen A&Clogo

Added bonus! The pin-up that goes with the calendar page above.

LeeMoyer_Pratchett

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Best of Queens Death Discworld Good Omens Neil Gaiman Om Sir Terry Pratchett Small Gods Stephen Colbert Terry Pratchett https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/3/Le-Morte-d-Artiste Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:34:25 GMT
Lee Moyer – Selected Works for 2014 Award Seasons https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/Lee-Moyer-Selected-Works-for-2014-Award-Seasons It’s inescapable. Beautiful art is everywhere and here is some that premiered in 2014 made by yours truly. Please kindly take these into consideration for your award choices.

• Trick or Treat / Illustration for the Month of Fear • Yllescu / Illustration for the Month of Fear • Ruby City of NY / Illustration for the Month of Fear • Selected Images from 13 True Ways - Game • Alan Moore / Illustration for Aeon Magazine • Natural Consequences / Illustration for book by Elliott Kay • Leodora / Illustration for the 2014 Literary Pin-up Calendar • Swan Prince / Illustration for the 2014 Literary Pin-up Calendar • Green / Illustration for Small Gods • Caffeina / Illustration for Small Gods • Takei / Illustration for Small Gods • Glorianna / Illustration for Harry Palmer: Starstruck • Litte Mermaid / Illustration for The Litte Mermaid • Naga / Illustration for Lands and Legends: Vol I • Steampunk Pin-up / Logo Illustration

 

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration 13 True Ways Award Season Best Product Illustration Chesley Hugo Leodora Literary Pin-up Calendar Little Mermaid Month of Fear Naga Small Gods Starstruck Takei https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/Lee-Moyer-Selected-Works-for-2014-Award-Seasons Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:07:13 GMT
Arisia 2015 Schedule https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/Arisia-2015-Schedule Having arrived in Boston and already had a splendid day, I realized I need to post a “Where’s Lee”. All the cool kids are doing it.

Friday

7:00pm Map and the Story

Marina 3 (2E)

Maps are a familiar sight in our field, but lately a number of stories have placed maps and cartography at the core of the stories themselves. Maps serve as portals to other worlds, cartographers remake the world in a map’s image, and mapmaking itself becomes a means to discuss the distance between perception and reality, between the map and the territory. Panelists will discuss the ways in which maps and cartography have escaped from the endpapers in recent works of fiction.
Erik Amundsen, Greer Gilman, Walter H. Hunt, N. K. Jemisin, Lee Moyer (m)

10:00pm Art Reception

This is the largest art show I’ve ever done – 100 pieces! Some as large as 4 feet tall! Please come see if your schedules so allow!

Saturday

12:30pm Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes

Grand DE (1W)

I will be the second presentor of an Ig Nobel winning study before I must skedaddle to my own presentation of art.

Highlights from Ig Nobel prize-winning studies and patents, presented in dramatic mini-readings by luminaries and experts (in some field). The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions about the research presented. Answers will be based on the expertise of the presenters, who may have a different expertise than the researchers. NOTE: Some of the presenters will be selected from nominations made in advance by you the fen! Nominate someone here: http://bit.ly/1GfEYQm

1:00pm The Art of Lee Moyer: from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Marina 4 (2E)

35 years of art to show and, hopefully, audience questions to answer.

2:30pm Handling Your Online Image As an Artist

Independence (3E)

How do you create effective online presence? How and where should you sell work online? What social networking tools should you be using, and how? What are best practices for building a fan base and then interacting with them?
Bob Eggleton, Lee Moyer (m)

5:30pm Designing Things That Don’t Exist

Burroughs (3E)

We are always trying to depict the alien, but how far do you have to go to be truly out of this world? When you can’t draw from a model, how do you create a believable fantasy creature or technological object? What artistic techniques help convince the viewer you were there? What in the natural order can you change? Are there rules you should never break?
Lisa Hertel, Scott Lefton (m), Lee Moyer, Mercy E Van Vlack

Sunday

11:30am Inspiration – Art History & Modern Masters

Marina 2

We live in an Age of Miracles and Wonders – the art treasures of the world, past and present, are at our fingertips! Please join Artist Guest of Honor Lee Moyer as shows some of his inspirations, answers questions and signs calendars, games, and/or book covers!

2:30pm Portfolio Review with Lee Moyer

Independence (3E)

I am here to critique your work, answer questions, and possibly make career recommendations. Listen to the critique of others’ works, as you may learn something valuable. (Limited to 10 people. Signup sheet available at con in the Program Nexus on the Mezzanine.)

4:00pm Guest of Honor Tour of the Art Show

Harbor III (3E)

Art Show Tour by our GoH. Limited to 10 people. This is after the auction but before anyone picks up their loot. Come see what you missed with commentary by our Guest of Honor!

8:00pm Masquerade

Grand AB (1W)

The 26th annual Arisia Masquerade. Come watch the entrants perform short vignettes to show off their costumes, and see if your pick matches that of the judges.
Colette H. Fozard, N. K. Jemisin, Lee Moyer

Monday

2:30pm Infamous Bad Book Covers Panel

Marina 4 (2E)

Learning from the tragic past (and ebook present), this panel will hope to prevent future crimes against authors and readers alike.

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Conventions https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/Arisia-2015-Schedule Wed, 14 Jan 2015 21:09:18 GMT
2014 Holiday Letter https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/2014-Holiday-Letter PinUps

January began with preparations for Lee’s big art show of Pin-Ups (featuring more than 3 years of literary calendar art and a few others). Below is one of two longs walls at the Catalyst Studio. And in the next shot, the gorgeous Kiana Phi hangs out with us, and with Miss Kim Stanley Robinson for whom she posed. She has us surrounded!

 

Show

The opening presented a splendid chance to meet up with many of our friends as they mingled and enjoyed the delicious cheesecake (and other hors d’oeuvres, natch).
The month ended with a trip to Seattle, where many colleagues and co-conspirators were seen, much fabulous food eaten, and several adorable pets petted.

Guests are marked “G•” and shown in burgundy throughout:
G• Ang, Echo & Her Traveling Troupe d’Arte

February was marked by collaborations with Todd Lockwood: Two paintings in honor of Jeff Easley (one of the original D&D artists), and an unusual Superbowl party where both our “home” teams were playing (like me, Todd grew up in Colorado and now lives in the Pacific NW).  The paintings ended rather stronger than the Denver Broncos, but our other home team won.

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 8.17.54 PM G• Gail & Rod

March began with the departure of dear friend Dan Cottle – bound for the wilds of distant Massachusetts. The opening soiree for Kate Ristau‘s book Commas: An Irreverent Primer left us with a new coloring page on our refrigerator (as you know, Lee cannot really be trusted with loose crayons) and a cryptic phrase that might be… a pass code? Mere Dadaist ramblings? Who can know?

Draggy A few weeks after the big Pin-Ups show first appeared, it moved to the Radio Room, site of the original Pin-Ups show some 5 years gone, and we got to spend some time with models Becca and Saamanta into the bargain!

Our friends Tara and Accalia came to stay with us from icy Winnipeg while they attended Rachel Brice‘s intensive belly-dancing masterclass. They were marvelous, even despite their exhaustion and overwork.

We opted for Health Republic (an actual public health co-op) as we sorted out our coverage in light of the ACA.

G• Tara & Accalia

April marked the arrival of The Doom that Came to Atlantic City (just in time for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival!) and the real beginning of Guest Season – Gail and Rod’s visit ending just as Andrew and Anya arrived. The weather was perfect, and a good thing, since Mina and Jamie would arrive from DC the very next day – both couples intent on the HP Lovecraft Film Festival.
Happily, after several years of near misses, Lee finally bested his colleagues at the Film Festival’s live painting demonstration/competition – thus allowing him the right to design the festival’s 2015 poster.

G• Gail & Rod, Andrew & Anya, Mina & Jamie

Doom copy Venetia got a mohawk! She had pondered it for the better part of a year at Lee and Phryo’s suggestion and decided it was the best idea ever. It was… and is!

MohawkCrop With all our guests returned home, we headed back to Seattle that Lee might participate in panels and hang artwork in the show at Norwescon. Artist and Faerieworld’s impresario Robert Gould was this year’s Guest of Honor, but happily past guest John Picacio was in the house too, with Lee rounding out an unlikely trio of Honored Guests. The panel on mapping with Bradley Beaulieu was delightful, and moderator Brenda Carre introduced Lee to the marvelous Carol Berg afterwards (oh, how Lee would love to make the maps for her cartographically inspired books a reality!)

Norwescon Having done some type design for the von Trapp Family (4 of the grandchildren of the original Sound o’ Music bunch), we ventured out to a local bookstore to see them sing. And while we’d seen them perform with Meow Meow at the Schnitz and Pink Martini in Pioneer Square, the little solo concert was particularly sublime.

The World Horror Convention came to Portland in May. And while we were too busy with work to attend, Lee did put art in the show and pop by the odd party. More importantly, we got to host most of the Illuminaughty – that amazing group of guests we’d met the previous year in Winnipeg. From Mexico, author Ann Aguirre; From Canada, authors Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Chadwick Ginther and GmB Chomichuk – a sort North American Embassy was established here on Alameda Ridge.

Lee created a coloring book and a couple Golden Tickets as part of the party favors for his birthday party and costumed whing-ding at the end of the month. We must again thank the marvelous Jessie and Annabel for hosting, and Ang and Gail and Alanna for abetting! And of course those who could attend. Such good food and idyllic weather!

G• Ann, Silvia, Chadwick, Gregory, and Ang

Birthday June. At this point there is precious little we need to acquire, but the siren call of the annual Laurelhurst Yard Sale is irresistible and beautiful objets de art have to live somewhere.

Is there a more curious juxtaposition than ‘Showboat’ and The March Violets? We took in the former at Lakewood Center. The latter came to town (and the menfolk in the band to our house) from England. Sadly, Lee missed meeting up with talented singer (and author) Rosie Garland, the wife of Lee’s friend and collaborator, Aly Fell. Next time for sure!

Larry and Serena’s wedding celebration brought many notables to town – including Dr. Melissa Ganus and her assistant Tara, who we were happy to host. Doctor Mel’s research on children and their cognitive development is quite interesting, and Lee did a little design for her upcoming book too.

G• Tara, Si & Tom

Squid Kate Ristau’s birthday Kickball party gave Venetia her first sport’s related injury in years, and cost her a favorite pair of pants (being a ruthless competitor clearly has it’s costs). We enjoyed the ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ with Kimberly, and looked all the more forward to comparing an actual grand Budapest hotel with Wes Anderson’s more fantastic one.

July began with Roxanne’s sublime show of Gummi Bears as the appetizer, and Keith’s birthday the main course. Lee and Kimberly ventured up the Oneonta Gorge, and enjoyed the sushi in Troutdale thereafter (both of which sound oddly like euphemisms now I come to write them….)

We stayed with Ang in her timeshare during this year’s pilgramage to San Diego, and traveled to both the Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Zoo with her. The San Diego ComicCon was mad as usual, but seemed to peak with the appearance of the amazing Francois Schuiten. Lee gave him a calendar, and Francois drew the hand you see below in pen! And it’s one thing to get your caricature drawn at the mall, but another to get it drawn by the astonishing Bill Plympton!

SanDiego G• Zan & Sam

In August, we drove down through Salem to see ‘Avenue Q’ with our friend Kim’s star turn as Christmas Eve, arguably the world’s worst therapist. Seeing the Bad Idea Bears try to sell Venetia (sitting on the aisle) on Scientology was especially delightful!

BadIdeaBears Later in month we were delighted by a surprise visit from Doug & Lisa. Time was shorter than we’d have liked, but so much good food (at Verde Cochina and Laurelhurst Market) and such lovely sights (the Falls, the Hatchery and Bonneville Dam) were taken in!

G• Doug & Lisa, Gail & Rod, Rose

September was our month of adventuring overseas: to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. We’ve written about that journey HERE.

The timing of our trip abroad was specifically designed to put us back into DC in time for Della and Kevin’s wedding in Alexandria  – as well as allowing Venetia to get back to the precious Smithsonian! This time the highlights were largely sculptural, but the exhibit of Andrew Wyeth still lifes was a refreshing break from the Euro-snobbery that so defines the National Gallery. We didn’t plan on having our luggage kept overlong in Brussels, but when we arrived in DC, our luggage did not. The Barkers kept us in high style and we used the opportunity to see everyone we could amid our wild ride around and through the Beltway. This included the Kate and Heather Hanna at Kate’s home in Annandale, and Helen Svensen in Raljon (Actually Landover. Thank heavens the grasping Jack Kent Cooke couldn’t tar the community with his spoiled children’s names forever!). Helen kindly donated one of her late husband’s shirts for me to wear, and directed Venetia to an amazing shoe store. After our stop in College Park to pick up a frame for the wedding gift, we found Ellie at home in Tacoma Park, where we patted her adorable wee rabbit and dined alfresco. Then, we made the mad dash through the dark heart of DC, arriving at the wedding exactly on time. It was a sort of miracle!

You can probably tell how happy we are watching Della and Kevin married:

023DK_blog_-1024x682 Despite the three weeks of traveling, we still managed to fill the last weekend of the month with guests from all points, and luncheon with Stephen, Nicolle, Rajuli, Alaina, and Rose.

Though it happened while we were overseas, one of the definite highlights of the month, (and the year in general), was Arisia’s Author Guest of Honor N.K. Jemisin getting a tattoo of the blue lotus design Lee rendered from her description of it in the Dreamblood Duology.

JemisinTattoo G• Rajuli, Rose

In October, Lee was invited to reprise his Month of Love with a Month of Fear. Other entertaining projects this month included Lee’s heartfelt tribute to Kim Newman‘s exemplary ‘Anno Dracula’ in the online comic (beloved of Librarians everywhere) Unshelved. (We had found Kim’s ‘Life’s Lottery’ earlier in the year and found it, though completely different from ‘Anno Dracula’ or the ‘Diogenes Club’ books Lee has illustrated, to be quite astonishing. As she navigated the complex and surprisingly meta narrative, Venetia had some bad life experiences that left her bitter. Lee, by contrast, enjoyed his golden life so thoroughly he couldn’t bear to dip back in for results virtually guaranteed to be less pleasant.

We traveled with Tracy traveled down to Salem for a splendid autumn party hosted by Kim and a couple of adorable dogs. Venetia journeyed on her own via Portland’s excellent public transit to see outed-spy and budding-stateswoman Valerie Plame at Powell’s in Cedar Hills.

We attended Halloween Parties hosted by Trinity & Sam, and Stephen and Nicolle. While Lee’s Willy Wonka seemed to go over well, who can compete with Totoro in any form? Much less as Iron Totoro?

Halloween We finally replaced our iPhone 3s with iPhone 6s – not because they were lacking or busted, but because the 6 is large enough to serve as a proper little portfolio (well, in Lee’s case 28 different little portfolios), thus allowing us to leave the iPad at home far more often.

Peter Beagle, Connor Cochran and ‘The Last Unicorn’ started our November in style. The following week we flew out to DC for the World Fantasy Convention in Lee’s old suburban Virginia stomping grounds. The Art Show was as fancy as an convention art show could hope to be and there were many parties and delightful people throughout – especially Les Howle’s fine Clarion West Party where I almost tripped over that tightknit Ben Rosenbaum/Lis Argall cabal! We found the private Kelly Collection as inspiring as the Belvedere’s more famous one, and spending quality time among the Pyles, Wyeths, Leyendeckers, Cornwells and Schaeffers was a real honor!
Art Mina’s lovely houseparty provided Lee an opportunity to see some old friends, and meet the marvelous Christine Watson at last. And since she had experienced a flat tire en route from Richmond, we put her up that night in our Crystal City hotel room. Here’s to that extra bed!

Panels were moderated and participated in, with the creme de la creme of artsy society – from British art guest/s of honor Les Edwards/Edward Miller to Irene Gallo to Chris Roberts to Michael Whelan. A good time might not have been had by all in attendance, but we had a fine time indeed. And not just because the mohawked ladies were representing.

WFC Back in Portland, we treated ourselves to a concert by Postmodern Jukebox which is currently the most popular band playing in our house. (Maybe tied with Andy Prieboy, but at least our most recent favorite.) Within the same week, we went to Amanda Palmer‘s book launch which Lee wrote about earlier.

And we continued the tradition of inviting our multi-talented friend Jaym to help us host a Thanksgiving feast:

Thanksgiving Jaym proved herself to be an especially amazing friend by sacrificing her computer to Venetia’s lust for Civilization V. The game is addictive as can be, but can also easily be used as a teaching tool to show why the world is in such an ongoing state of disaster.

Civ G• Jaym

December started out with Lee deep in the throes of pneumonia (he might well have stayed healthy had not the furnace died amid November’s vicious cold snap) and while taking excellent care of him, Venetia and Jaym had their own adventures in Portland and in Seattle – shopping, visiting friends, and seeing the final night of Todd Lockwood’s art show at Krab Jab Studio. This year also saw the last of Lee’s teeth receiving it’s own golden crown and some festive holiday parties: our neighborhood block party, cookies from Andy & Susie (well, Susie’s Mom), Krampus cheer with Michael and Liv, and a gorgeous family meal the day after Christmas. Venetia also saw Jason Webley‘s return to Portland for his kickstarter tour of ‘Margaret‘. And Ang brought her lovely family up and took Venetia to see the sparkling Zoo Lights.

ZooLights Our year ended full of parties and friends and we hope to see much more of both in the coming year.

G• Ang, Jordan, Kitra

Work

Lee’s art year in review for 2014 is in it’s own separate blog (to keep this one from being overwhelmed with images) and you can view it HERE.

Harry Palmer: Starstruck with Elaine Lee, Mw Kaluta and James Ratcliffe is not quite finished, but we made some serious headway! And from where I sit, the book is looking like a masterpiece…. Here’s a small sampling of 3 non-consecutive pages:

StarstruckTrio Still-unrevealed: the cover for ‘The Best of Caitlin Kiernan, Volume II’, a board game for Sasquatch games, and the branding for a fabulous wedding in 2015.

Other activities

Yoga

Kickstarters We Supported
Periscope Studio: Maiden Voyage
Grandmother Fish
Margaret by Jason Webley and Friends
Strong Female Protagonist
EVOLUTION: The Art of Rebecca Guay 1993-2014
The Tooles Record
Reading Rainbow

Books We Read
Carol Berg’s Lighthouse Duo
Impulse by Steven Gould
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
Life’s Lottery by Kim Newman
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Passionate Journeys: Why Successful Women Joined a Cult by Marion Goldman
The Shelter Cycle by Peter Rock
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman

Movies and Shows We Watched
Game of Thrones
Venture Bros: Season 5 (and then re-watched Seasons 3 & 4)
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Rocketeer
Boardwalk Empire
The Tick (the series)
The Lego Movie
The Artist
City of Ember
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Snowpiercer
How to Train Your Dragon
X-Men: First Class
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Winter’s Tale
House of Yes
Sky Captain: World of Tomorrow

Theater
The Last Five Years
Lizzie
Avenue Q
Showboat
39 Steps

New Artwork
Three posters from the Kelly Collection: Pyle’s extraordinary ‘Angel’, Leyendecker’s triumphal ‘Saturday Evening Post’ parade, and Mead Shaeffer’s sublime ‘Count of Monte Cristo'; a stupendously framed print of James Christensen’s ‘Superstitions'; Malachite Glass ashtray-turned-crystal-globe-holder from Prague. Also: Paul Komoda’s Ceratosaurus as well as a mystery commission as yet unrevealed!

Grrr

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2014 Andrew Wyeth Ann Aguirre Anno Dracula Commas Elaine Lee HP Lovecraft Film Festival Kate Ristau Pin-ups Rachel Brice Starstruck The Doom That Came to Atlantic City Todd Lockwood Year End Recap Year In Review https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/2014-Holiday-Letter Fri, 02 Jan 2015 12:36:55 GMT
2014: Art Year in Review https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/2014-Art-Year-in-Review I started 2014 off in collaboration with Todd Lockwood. These two paintings were for a Jeff Easley tribute. Both reference Jeff’s early work on Dungeons & Dragons. I drew the first, Todd the second, and we switched off painting until we were happy.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 8.17.54 PM Theater Season is almost always the first big job of the year. And this year marked my 10th Anniversary of painting the full season of posters and the program cover for Northwest Children’s Theater. Time really does fly when one is working with great people!

nwct2014 Lakewood Theater presented such a great mix of plays this year – from the classic Mame to the world premiere Seven Wonders of Ballyknock:

lakewood8 The premiere of Zombie Strippers (a heartfelt musical) at the New York Musical Theatre Festival required a design that could be used in a variety of ways – from temporary tattoo to poster:

ZombieStrippers Aaron McConnell, Patricia Smith and I worked with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Robin D Laws on 13 True Ways, the fulsome second book in our game 13th Age. Here’s the wraparound cover:

13TWCOVERfinal Part of the beauty of 13th Age is how closely I can work with the writers. The spread below required that both Rob Heinsoo and I be at our best in collaboration, passing ideas back and forth, the better to ensure that the final piece has the ability to surprise and intrigue the reader – something that I fear happens far to little in most game projects.

SantaCoraSpread2 This piece shows the Horizon, City of Magicians, as seen from the ocean.
It was used as the endpapers of the book.

Horizon It was a great pleasure to work with rising star Elliott Kay on Days of High Adventure and Natural Consequences. The latter cover only occurred to me after I spoke with Elliott about a completely different design, and I was delighted when he preferred it to the one we’d agreed upon!

Ladies Poor Man’s Fight and Rich Man’s War will, I hope, get a third companion soon. War is hell, and I just hope that poor Tanner survives his….

Poor&Rich I was commissioned by book affectionado Tracy to create a designer slipcover for Brandon Sanderson‘s new book ‘Words of Radiance’ which was presented to Brandon at his book tour stop in Portland.

40 EndlessPages What can one do with odd Lovecraftian suggestions (in this case – Nyarlathotep in an Amusement Park) from a boisterous crowd? Real fingerpainting?
It may not be much, but it won the annual HPL Film Festival‘s Pickman’s Apprentice competition:

HPL2014a In May, I finished my full year of Small Gods with Small God #365.
I plan to continue the series as I have since then – with commissions, and as inspiration strikes. I also hope to put a book of fiction together with various writers this year.

SmallGods Personal commissions for friends can be the most mixed of blessings. The first piece below was a memorial for the late lamented Lobo. The second a birthday celebration for Andy Jewell. Here’s to them!

Characters My friends Brian and Scotia opened their store A Muse N Games in Winnipeg, and this was the logo I designed for their store.

MUSEBlue Other logos I enjoy: the Fool, Fun Mines, and The Karuna.

I was commissioned by Aeon Magazine to do a piece to accompany their interview with the great Alan Moore. They wanted a relatively simple editorial style, and the piece should have been simple, but the research took 2 days!

MooreTaller Although I missed this year’s Ambercon NW to return to DC for the World Fantasy Convention, I again designed their t-shirt, this year an Edward Hopper homage from a gas station in shadow. The wee black rabbit and the Power Station sign are homages to Edgefield (where Ambercon NW is held).

AmberB2014 I created a Naga to add to the pages of Lands and Legends.
I learned a lot doing this painting and especially appreciate the kind embassies of Mary Anne Mohanraj and the second pair of eyes Todd Lockwood brought to the party!

Nagas Wonderful Boston artist Kristina Carroll invited me to participate in her Month of Love, for which I painted a daily Small God, and then again in October to participate in the Month of Fear. This month marked my return from Europe, and I was definitely the better for the inspiration I found there.

MonthOfFear I also got to write a book review for my favorite book, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula.
My appreciation appeared on Halloween day in the Unshelved Book Club:

UnshelvedEDITfinal In November, Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking came out. Upon reading and relating to much of the message therein, I made her the Small God of Asking. Synchronicity was in the air though, as that very day saw the release of her “Dear Daily Mail” nudie pens. I’d drawn them months earlier, but manufacturing can be tricky, and I had no expectation that the timing would synch up so well. Much to the surprise of all, the pens sold out in a day. Happily, do to popular demand, you can preorder the next batch here.

Amandas The year ended quietly but, I think, with significant progress. Since returning from Europe in September I’ve been working more and more on pieces that are personally interesting and delightful. I’ve actually completed many more than this and they will premiere at Arisia this month.

10689669_10152851304702495_8783437240540942638_n Venetia and I have enjoyed listening to Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men so much I had to create a Christmas card for them, as well as collaborating with Zach Fischer for a very special Christmas gift.

RachelMiles And I will end this year’s summation with one of Venetia’s favorite images of the whole year – sketched at Kathi’s in Vienna and painted digitally upon my return.

Here’s to a splendid 2015!

SorceressFinal

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Year End Recap 13 True Ways Alan Moore Amanda Palmer Amercon Anno Dracula Dungeons & Dragons Elliott Kay Jeff Easley Jonathan Tweet Lakewood Theater Mary Poppins Northwest Children's Theater Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men Rob Heinsoo Sherlock Holmes Small Gods The Art of Asking The Jungle Book The Little Mermaid Todd Lockwood Unshelved X-men Zombie Strippers https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2015/1/2014-Art-Year-in-Review Fri, 02 Jan 2015 12:34:40 GMT
Palmer, Large, and Moen: Attorneys At Law https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/12/Palmer-Large-and-Moen-Attorneys-At-Law Last night’s concert (when I wrote this, it was still last night. Pneumonia and holidays interfered with it being posted in a timely manner) was unusual, especially falling so swiftly on the heels of the Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox show at the Hawthorne.
I just don’t get out that often – the last time I attended 2 concerts in a week was the week of Mojo Nixon and Those Mysterious Wanktones and T-Bone Burnett 30-some years ago!

Kurt Vonnegut said, “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted”.
When I haven’t been properly introduced to someone, I try not to waste their time. It’s not that I am perforce uninteresting, but the discomfiture of being “that guy” takes some overcoming. Part of that is clearly hierarchical, but my intensity is all-too-often unsuited to “hanging out”. In this case, I was glad to have the back-stage pass not to go introduce myself to the headliners and be a pest, but because I could use it to get someone out on stage. Funny world.

The stars? Amanda Palmer (hung over after celebrating her newly-minted Best-Selling-Author status for ‘The Art of Asking‘), Portland’s own Storm Large (whose bio I found riveting, but whose PR machineries lack international reach) and Erica Moen (author of ‘Dar’ and ‘Oh Joy, Sex Toy’).

Songs were sung – road manager Whitney joined in on ‘Delilah’, Storm sang ‘I Google You’, and Amanda soloed on a couple more ‘Ukulele Anthem’, ‘In My Mind’, and ‘It Runs in the Family’.
Passages of Amanda’s book were read (my favorites being her introduction to surrogate father/best friend, and her massage at the hands of a stricken internet hater).

But for me (and, I suspect, many others), it was really all about the conversation between these three different but exceptional ladies. If only ‘The View’ had these three!

AFP COncert The evening included lots of good thoughts about:

The Benefits of Starting Slowly
Creativity as Service
Creativity in Accounting – It seems that Erica & Storm share an amazing Accountant
Creativity in Programming
Being Good at Receiving and at Giving
Taking the Flower + the Doughnut your Mom Made + the Love +  the Money
The Double-Edged Sword of Damocles’ Internet
The Fine Line Between Hate and the Ache for Fame
Oversharing + Overthinking
Broken Homes
Whack a Troll (Storm’s Reality Show)
Women’s Kickstarters doing better than Men’s
The Death of Publishing (all sorts)

And strange for me? I’ve drawn two of these three ladies – more than once (Storm, call me!).
Erica I drew by chance – she was life-modelling at Portland’s Art Institute more than 6 years ago, and I was startled to recognize the model’s tattoos.
She was the best life-drawing model I’d ever had, and while none of these will secure my place in the Louvre, they remain the best collection of life drawings I’ve ever made.
And afterwards, Erica asked if she could use them on the web, so… Victory! :)

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.54.42 PM The first paintings of Amanda, I made (with the invaluable reference shooting Philadelphia’s own Kyle Cassidy) for the 2013 Literary Pin-Up Calendar to benefit Heifer International.

6-gaiman7 And since that June started slowly, I had room for a little ‘American Gods’ comic strip while I was about. In this scene Media (Amanda) has a little fun with Shadow. Since Amanda hadn’t had time to pose in I Love Lucy costume, the lovely Venetia acted as her body double:

6 JuneDates22 I would love to show you more drawings of Amanda (this time from the reference photos taken in Wellington, NZ by the wonderful Lance Lones), but that time has not yet arrived.

Venetia has already read “The Art of Asking” and I am working my way through it at a slower pace.

And you can see the whole discussion between Amanda, Storm, and Erica here.

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Book Reviews Amanda Palmer Erica Moen Scott Bradlee Storm Large The Art of Asking https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/12/Palmer-Large-and-Moen-Attorneys-At-Law Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:35:23 GMT
Europe 2014 Summary https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/10/Europe-2014-Summary It’s been a month of glorious travel in Europe. Budapest, Vienna, and Prague (with special guest appearances by Moosbrun, Bratislava, Telč, and Kutná Hora). Our previously posted trio of journals (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) is a lot to wade through (we know, we lived it!), so we post this captioned pictorial summing up in hopes that those of you who don’t want the minutiae might enjoy it:

Amazing view from Hotel Gellert along the Danube.

1b

Up early because of jetlag; plus side is beautiful sunrises.

2

Spa day at the Gellert Baths!

3

Hike to the castle early in the morning. Beautiful views.

4

Some behind the scenes repairs being done early in the morning.

5

Another spa day. We just couldn’t get enough of the beauty and hot water.

3c

Traveled from Hungary to Austria.

Stopped at friend Kathi’s family’s farmhouse in Moosbrunn.

1

Stayed with Kathi in her beautiful apartment in Vienna.

2

Day trip to Slovakia. Explored the ruined Castle Devin.

4

Were greeted in Bratislava by the carnival!

5

More views of Bratislava.

6

Trip out to see Kathi’s brother Philipp.

Left: the Golden Plum.

Right: Philipp’s store front for classic Viennese tiles.

7

Walk along the Danube.

8

Vineyard overlooking Vienna.

10

Delicious sushi dinner!

11

Exploring Vienna: the Belvedere and environs.

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The most memorable painting for us in the Belvedere.

13b

St. Marx Cemetery, resting place to Mozart and many others.

Currently in beautiful decay but ongoing repairs may change that.

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Ferris Wheel view of Vienna at sunset.

15

General frolicking.

16

Leaving Austria for the Czech Republic one must drive by… Excalibur City!!!

1

 

A rainy day in Telč.

2

The Sedlec Ossuary at Kutná Hora.

4a

 

“When life gives you plague victims, build bone sculptures.”

4b

 

Lovely apartment in Prague.

Krampus sighting at the local “farmer’s” market.

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Our group enjoying a delicious luncheon.

9

 

Up to the castle on the hill (there’s always a castle on the hill.)

10

St. Vitus’ Cathedral.

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A detour on the way back leads to hijinx and purloined fruit.

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No comment. Or better yet, “caption this”.

13

The Grail of the trip: Mucha’s Slav Epic.

No we aren’t going to post lots of pictures, you need to go see it yourself!

No really, please do go see it.

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Dinner and after-dinner art.

16

Prague has a cherub problem.

17

Miscellaneous beauties seen in Prague.

18

 

Castle on the hill, Kafka, and a synagogue.

20

 

It can be a good idea to go inside buildings.

You never know when you will find an upside down horse.

7

 

Peacock paradise. And the forbidden gardening shed.

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Mucha’s stained glass window at St Vitus’ Cathedral.

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Various treats of the day.

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Sculpted wall  – part nouveau fever dream and part concrete folly.

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And finally the culmination of our trip, Della and Kevin’s wedding!

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Thank you for sharing our trip with us!

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Austria Belvedere Bratislava Budapest Czech Republic Hungary Kutna Hora Mucha Prague Sedlec Ossuary Slav Epic Slovakia Telc The Evil Mothers Vienna https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/10/Europe-2014-Summary Wed, 08 Oct 2014 23:08:04 GMT
San Diego Comic Con (E I E I O) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/8/San-Diego-Comic-Con-E-I-E-I-O Among its many claims to fame, The San Diego Comic Con is a way to visit people I would never get to see otherwise. Jaime Carrillo and the lovely Ana were the first people we saw entering the hall, or at least the first place we went. Since I have only ever seen them inside the hall I made the daring suggestion that we go to dinner to see what we look like under different circumstances. It worked. They were not site-specific holograms after all.
Other friends live close enough to visit for Super Bowl Parties, however it took me until SDCC to visit Todd Lockwood to sign the paintings we collaborated on earlier this year. LockwoodDragons The Badali Jewelry booth was our sanctuary this year, the place we went when things became too overwhelming and we needed hugs. Not that they weren’t always swamped with customers (and selling out of fantastic new pieces) but they always had a moment for poor weary travelers. The busy Stacy ducked out of the crowds of people long enough to give me a hug and tell me the odyssey of getting the huge dragon on top of the Weta booth. We only ran into Brent Weeks once and that was at the airport where Venetia twitter stalked him. Venetia was able to spot Seanan McGuire from her glorious hair and we were lucky to see catch Amy McNally during her brief visit. Venetia also got to see her dear friend Sarah and fall in love with a new adorable baby. The Shiftlett Brothers were safely in their box fort and we admired their newest piece in progress this glorious barbarian/viking statue we wanted to get for Drew and Cat.

Shiftlett John Picacio was one of the stars of the show this year which meant we only got to talk to him and his lovely assistant Tara briefly but they were undeniably winning the con. Someday I hope to be so savvy. There was a panel about the upcoming Neil Gaiman documentary just brimming with lovely and talented people, including Cat Mihos and Les Klinger. Peter Beagle and the indispensable Connor Cochran were in Artists’ Alley and we spent enough time with them to ensure that we will indeed see them again soon, although Venetia has decided she wants to live at Peter Beagle’s elbow so that she can always listen to his stories.

If you’ve talked to Venetia or I about books recently, you may have heard us rave about Red Rising which is definitely the Next Big Thing™. I was suspicious at first upon reading it because I hate being pandered to but I quickly gave up and surrendered to enjoying the book. I especially always appreciate it when plot twists aren’t quite what I expected. Pierce Brown was doing several signings at his publishers booth and we end up standing in line twice. The first time was to meet him and get a book for a friend, the second time because we realized we have a lot more friends we would like to give his book to.

Also on the author front, I finally got to meet Sam Sykes in person. A most upstanding young ne’er-do-well, I suspected I would like him from the twittery volleys we exchanged and was happy to further appall Seanan McGuire with some punning conversation with Sam.

I also made one of my very rare purchases for authentic screen-used gloves and mask made by WETA Workshop used in the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). Some prices (even at SDCC) are too low to be ignored.

PrinceCaspian And while Keith is an old friend, we met several of his compagneros ’round the fire pit Saturday night – including singer Marian Call and her posse from the great state formerly known as Seward’s folly!

Last, but certainly not at all least, we encountered an intriguing sign attached to a table of goodness that said that for $20, Bill Plympton will draw your picture. How could we resist! Venetia couldn’t stop smiling for her portrait, even after Bill said she could stop.

CartoonVenetia Who IS this guy?

I am always astonished by the sheer volume artists whose work is on display and for sale – especially the really GOOD artists. Every year I take at least one whole day, and usually additional returns, to wander – not just through the designated “Artists’ Alley, but through the entire Convention floor. This year it was my great pleasure to “discover” the already brilliant and successful Viktor Kalvachev. His work does not fit into one style or description and his sketches are superb. His finished cover pieces contain many of the subversive elements I especially enjoy – the kind of art work you can study and think about but also can enjoy just at a glance for it’s aesthetic value.Circe_0011 (Image: DC Comics cover for Men of War Vol2 by Viktor Kalvachev)

Viktor is the kind of person who knew his comic would make a great video game, so he started a company in France to produce it. When I commented on how good his blood stains were, he explained that the trick was to study the blood stain reference – the sheen, the shapes, the volume – and then draw his own.

Some links for more information on Viktor: a good interview with him about his work and another interview about Blue Estate and it’s look and feel.

Les Cités obscures

In 1988 I was thunderstruck in Paris by the giant (and hugely expensive) series of graphic novels called Les Cités obscures. On Thursday afternoon of this 2014, we walked into the vasty hall in perfect time to see its artist, François Schuiten, signing and drawing in copies of his newly-translated-into-English book, The Leaning Girl. Upon learning that I was an artist and a fan, he drew this picture – in ink, without any preparatory pencil work – in the front. Author Benoît Peeters also signed and Steve Smith, his devoted publisher captured the scene. It seems he had taken photos of the previously-drawn pages and not one was the same as mine of of any other.Schuiten You don’t have to put on the red light

The local police decided to put on a show the second to last night of the convention. Twice, on successive street corners. This is how it “worked”: For cash money deposited in a clear box on a stand, any willing person could get themselves (pretend) arrested. But not just any arrest, no no. The sort of arrest that involves being manhandled and throttled with batons. What a… hoot? So, instead of keeping the bottlenecks madness of the night to a minimum, this bunch of jokester cops-for-hire made the traffic far worse. And like the train wreck it surely was, people could not look away. Either time. And the young fans getting their photos taken during mock arrests? What street cred! And the cops? It was a debacle on every level, but perhaps most of all for rule of law.

San Diego Zoo – How we do vacation

In order to combat the exhausting drone of the convention this year, we decided to make it our vacation and spend a few extra days in town. Venetia started a subtle and focused campaign for the zoo by saying the word “zoo” periodically throughout the weekend. We had a late but large breakfast to prepare ourselves and took the bus on the corner of our street straight to Balboa Park. We entered the zoo at a few minutes to noon which means I can say with certainty that we were at the zoo for 9 straight hours. I can only describe how much my feet hurt by describing to you how the bright red color on the soles of my feet radiated up along the sides of my feet as well. We saw almost every single exhibit in the San Diego Zoo with very few exceptions. Venetia’s highlights were the playful polar bears, the elegant and mysterious secretary birds and the flamingo disco party she was insistent on visiting at the very end of the day which firmly put our trip into the exactly 9 hours of zoo. After that, it was a relief to get on the plane for a few hours the following day just to rest our feet!

FlamingoDiscoParty Fake geeks

Many of us have read the inane whining and vapid protests of young entitled boy fans talking about “fake” geek girls. San Diego at this time of year is the adamantium melting-pot where law interns and all manner of European exchange students put on their geekiest to pedal wee thrones of Westeros, peddle tchotchkes they know little and care less about, or seat diners in fantastically overpriced restaurants. Heck, every mannequin is wearing a WonderWoman tiara and every shop is stocking Wolverine and Hulk merchandise it might normally sneer at. All of San Diego is a “fake” geek, because that’s where the money is. There are hostesses indistinguishable from casual cosplayers, and tattooed local drunks  who may or may not have any idea which gaming character they resemble.

Soaking in this debauch of 3-color lunacy for a week, and daily wandering through a convention where most of the founders of the feast are utterly unknown and where art dealers make multiples of profit on comic pages that netted their creators precious little, has led me to reconsider the protestations of the clueless. It’s not fake fans they should be concerned about, it’s the fake executives, the fake money men who pull the strings. Because those guys? They’ve never cared a jot for the material and they probably never will….

Final Notes

While nothing that happens in Hall H stays in Hall H, most of it gets to YouTube faster than it can move about the sales floor of the convention. It’s interesting to be so close, and yet so far (and, as a long-time fan, disappointing not to hear more of Doctor Strange and The Inhumans). I saw the Avengers posters at a distance on this, the last day of the convention. But heard no context about any of it.

The piece de resistance on the last night of the convention was on the TV in our hotel. It was the first Thor movie. Dubbed into Spanish. While the Norse Gods seemed marvelous to me growing up, and fun (if more than a little absurd in the hands of Stanley Lieber – I mean, c’mon he’s a fiery hard-drinking redhead!), seeing Rene Russo, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Chris Hemsworth in Spanish is just somehow… better?

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Conventions Badali Jewelry Benoît Peeters Bill Plympton François Schuiten John Picacio Les Cités obscures Peter Beagle Prince Caspian San Diego San Diego Zoo SDCC 2014 Shiftlett Brothers The Leaning Girl Todd Lockwood Viktor Kalvachev Weta https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/8/San-Diego-Comic-Con-E-I-E-I-O Mon, 04 Aug 2014 14:27:24 GMT
Expanded Elements https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/7/Expanded-Elements My Elements piece is thus far my most popular piece of writing and has proven valuable to myself and others so I would like to expand on more recent painting breakthroughs. In mid-2013, I painted a piece called “Glorianna” for the new Starstruck volume (which I am currently hard at work painting). Here are some of the lessons I realized in this painting:

No Expectations:
I’d started with no expectation of making a finished piece right away (see the video on Creativity by John Cleese). In my insanely busy work life (yes, I once did 1000 pieces one year and this year I’ve completed one Small God a day for 365 pieces in the past 365 days), that is itself shocking.

Don’t Jump at the First “Success”:

Verloona3

I’d done a quick sketch of Verloona first (the obvious bad [and vain] girl pin-up of the Starstruck characters), but rather than finish it, I thought I’d try another subject – the character I am the most simpatico with: Glorianna. I thought to set her up as a tall/thin Nouveau Mucha piece, with nods to John R. Neill.

Go With It:
But when the piece started to come together as a Pre-Raphaelite instead, I did the smart thing (for a change). I let it.

CrystalBallWaterhouse1902 Reference

Send Roughs/ Get Input:
I sent a rough (I historically hate rough work and try never to show it) to Starstruck’s author Elaine Lee for her thoughts about moving it to finish. She found it agreeable, and I asked her for information so the background could become something other than a generic clearing in generic trees.

Glorianna9

Do More Roughs:
Originally she was standing on the same plane as the background. Through the process of fixing her back arm, and making a working background I made many permutations until I could choose the very best versions.

Don’t Get Attached:
Historically it’s not the reference that I’ve found hardest to shake- rather it’s fidelity to the details of the character, milieu or environment. In this case, it wasn’t so hard for me to riff on Michael Kaluta’s wonderful character design. In part because, unlike most comic characters (and animated characters), she’s a real person who wears more than a single set of jammies. And having discussed the background with Elaine, I knew I was drawing something outside the extant range of the comic. So a sigh of relief there.

Don’t Overwork:
I’ve been doing this professionally for more than 30 years, and until this month, I’ve never felt secure in my work. Ever. But after a lot of introspection, I’ve stripped down my paintbrushes and gotten serious about not being a control freak. Yes, there are still some small details to hone (her Krystal necklace is important), but leave well enough alone! This piece took less than 2 full workdays – and that alone could be cause for my next point:

Be Happy with Happy:
This sounds a bit ridiculous, but I find artists too seldom spend time enjoying their successes.
But I am delighted with this piece and what it means to me. So there. :p

GloriannaWide2

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Elaine Lee Elements Glorianna Pre-Raphaelite Starstruck Verloona https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/7/Expanded-Elements Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:13:36 GMT
Everything Wrong is Right Again https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/5/Everything-Wrong-is-Right-Again Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means”.
But when an author combines the real and the fictional so well, when he mixes the ingredients so deeply that one cannot quite remember whether it was Whistler, Sickert or Hallward that is the one Victorian Painter who is not like the others, and when everything and everyone is in his and her place (or is it someone else’s?)… fiction can mean still more.

Mugnaini Mugnaini

When I was a lad I read Ray Bradbury, and of his many indelible stories Usher II and The Exiles held a special resonance.
These were not fiction, they were… something else. Bradbury was a magician, and The Exiles (and others) an incantation. A summoning. Magic on the printed page.*

JohnnyAlucard In Kim Newman’s latest – Johnny Alucard – the marvelously-named author Kenneth Anger believes in this sort of magic. Of words made flesh. Of Cinema writ large. Maybe writ in blood.
Maybe it’s untrue, but why would that noted liar and magician Kim Newman lie to me? And does it matter if he has?
This is where those lines – between truth and fiction, between facts and gossip, between fiction and magic – blur to the point of uselessness.

I’ve loved Newman’s Anno Dracula since I read it decades back.
I read it again (this time aloud) after last year’s trip to Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention.
I’d been fortunate to meet up with the author there, and returned with signed books.
But I put off the reading of this newest work (the fourth “real novel” in this series) for months. And even now, I’m going slowly.
The suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last….

AnnoDracula I’m only at page 300, and while I have some thoughts about how I might end it, there’s nothing to say that Newman will agree, or even stick the landing.
And it doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about the destination, truly. It’s not a question of whether it ends in dust and disarray. It IS those things – red dust specifically: “Drac”.
It’s a series of short stories and novellas that pretend to be a novel. Just like how Uncle Bradbury used to make ‘em.

I remembered my qualms about Anno Dracula. “Really, a book about Vampires? Who cares?”.
Well, me for one. Neil Gaiman (as the new Titan Books edition of the novel makes clear on the spine) for another.
I had qualms about starting Johnny Alucard for a very different reason – because the book would wrap around that second Age of Victorian Values – The Age of Thatcher – the very period that had inspired Anno Dracula in the first place. And, I think, the key to so much of its power.
A vampiric ouroboros, I worried that this confection must collapse under the weight of its own referents like a flan in a cupboard.

I was wrong to doubt. At first, I simply enjoyed its game of flashback and substitution. The magic of movies at their most intense.
The ouroboros seemed bent on swallowing its own tail (well… tale) and draining it dry, but I went with the arterial flow. Why not?
Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, unmade – remade – made as an alternate history’s Dracula in Ceaucescu’s Romania?
Splendid!

A swan song for Philip Marlowe outside Poodle Springs was charming, but brief. And light.
An aperitif? A sorbet? Or were we getting as lost in the West as the “vipers” themselves?

And then another change of scene, some light…. necking?
The Dude? The Slayer? And a certain rumpled detective?
What!?!
Well, all I’m saying is that I wouldn’t leave town if I was you.

BuffyColomboTheDude And that’s when I realized that this wasn’t an ouroboros at all. There was no end in sight, certainly not in the fanged mouth of Maggie Thatcher.
No, not a coiled serpent, more a sort of Moebius Strip. It wasn’t covering the same ground or coming from the same place. Rust never sleeps. Anywhere.
Through the Looking Glass? More like ‘Through with the Looking Glass’.
And just as well, mirrors are bloody useless to a vampire…. A vampire needs an audience.

Like Swann’s famous contract at The Paradise, “All item’s excluded are deemed included.”

 

* In my mouth (during a public reading) his words proved merely a recipe – a list of delicious ingredients that I was utterly incapable of presenting properly. But in the proper hands…

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Book Reviews Anno Dracula Johnny Alucard Kim Newman magic Muganini Oscar Wilde Ray Bradbury The Exiles Usher II https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/5/Everything-Wrong-is-Right-Again Tue, 20 May 2014 15:45:08 GMT
UnDoomed Kickstarter Games https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/3/UnDoomed-Kickstarter-Games While I do not yet have a copy of ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’* I am pleased to say that many fine people are receiving theirs, and sending me photos online to prove it.
I know that some folks have already played, and several already have favored permutations!

That said, I did receive a different Kickstartered game that I worked on – ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ by Jonathan Liu and Hoke’s Games. Here’s a shot of Venetia with my winning card:

Hokes

*Please have no concerns for me, I think it only proper that mine will be shipped after all the backers have theirs! Besides, after a 25 year development period, the short one that remains is surprisingly tasty. :)

 

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Games https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/3/UnDoomed-Kickstarter-Games Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:25:01 GMT
The Book of Endless Pages https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/3/The-Book-of-Endless-Pages This month I had the opportunity to do a fun side project.

EndlessPagesCrop THE BOOK OF ENDLESS PAGES INTERVIEW: LEE MOYER

Shawn Speakman: How were you approached to do this incredibly unique yet hilarious project?

Lee Moyer: After a meet-up at Powell’s, my assistant mentioned that Tracy (one of Portland’s most knowledgeable and devoted bibliophiles) had a cover project in mind, and wondered whether I might be interested.

I loved everything about it. I love the opportunity to work in other people’s sandboxes – matching styles, working with typography, and being a little subversive if I can – in short, it was was right up my street!

Shawn Speakman: You have an incredible body of work that ranges from pin-ups to fantasy covers to gaming. Do you have a favorite area of the publishing world that you like to work within?

Lee Moyer: Thank you! I love working on any and all aspects of books:

• Covers, because I love the books within, and I want to do justice to the author’s hard work (paying especial attention to the spine of the book. There is no more important real estate on one’s shelf than those few precious inches!)

• Maps, because – whether the Dragon Kingdom of 13th Age or China Mieville’s New Crobuzon – nothing makes new worlds so real.

• And Design. I love creating symbols, working with type, and fitting all of the elements of a project into a single elegant design – much of the challenge of “Endless Pages” was matching Brandon’s genuine wraparound cover.

Happily, Brandon’s real book is filled with interior illustrations, and endpapers that would be the envy of many other covers. While many people in publishing are worried about the end times, it is so refreshing to see a book like Words of Radiance where the publishers seem to understand that books are objects of beauty and reverence above and beyond. I greatly enjoyed reading Brandon’s essay on what this book means to him, how he is pushing the limit of what “epic fantasy” can mean, and how fully he is creating this world in all it’s aspects (art, maps, symbols, short stories, poems and languages) for his readers.

Shawn Speakman: I’m sure you’ve seen Brandon Sanderson’s reaction to the new dust jacket. How does that make you feel to see the joy it brought him?

Lee Moyer: I was utterly delighted by Brandon’s reaction!

While I do not know him well, I feel he is one of the hardest working authors in the business and I respect that so much.

For more on the story and to see Brandon Sanderson‘s great reaction to the book cover, visit Suvudu.com!

EndlessPages

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Book Covers Brandon Sanderson Suvudu.com The Book of Endless Pages Words of Radiance https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/3/The-Book-of-Endless-Pages Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:22:23 GMT
2013: Art Year in Review https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/1/2013-Art-Year-in-Review 2013 was delightful in its variety. And while I cannot show (or in some cases even mention) some of that work (due to confidentiality agreements and other arcane processes), it all made for a challenging and rewarding year. Below is a short tour of the year’s many images:

Check These Out: 2014

2014Cover As I’ve done each of the last 3 years, I painted a pin-up calendar in collaboration with a non-profit. This year it was The Clarion Foundation for their Writer’s Workshop – a fitting group for Literary Pin-Ups. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with so many talented authors and I am quite pleased with the result of our collaboration. Pat Murphy wrote a splendid piece about working with me on her painting.

2014CalendarCompilationFULL Covers:

Good Intentions & Natural Consequences by Elliott Kay

IntentionsFinal Eviscerated: Feminism’s First Daughter by AJ DeFaria

eviscerationfinal The Best of Joe Haldeman by Joe Haldeman for Subterranean Press

BestOfJoeHaldeman CD Covers for the eponymous Copper & Coal and for Horsetamer by Julia Ecklar

2013CDcovers Starstruck by Elaine Lee, Michael Kaluta (and me).
2013′s successful Kickstarter campaign was the easy part – I’ve still many a page to paint!

Starstruck copy Conventions:

Lower left: Norwescon program cover, Lower right: Keycon program cover

fgddfgs This is the “quilt” of pre-existing images I made for Norwescon, the first of the conventions it was my honor to serve as Guest of Honor this year.

CenterfoldFLAT Ambercon Northwest T-shirt Design

Amber20130final Games:

13th Age and 13 True Ways

http://www.pelgranepress.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/13thAgeCOVER.png

13thAgeIcons 13th Age (which I Art Directed and painted with Aaron McConnell) did come out in 2013.
And while its follow-on book 13 True Ways isn’t out yet, below is the cover in progress (with several obvious instances of Aaron McConnell’s excellent pencil work still on display):

13TrueWays The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, a game I’ve been playing and talking about for decades, is finally set to appear (with rules by Keith Baker and pieces by Paul Komoda) in Q1 of 2014 from Cryptozoic. And in addition to adjusting the assets to create a print-and-play version, I reworked the assets for the final printing. Here are some of the card backs:

Doom I worked with Patricia Smith on 15 pieces for Rich Baker’s game Primeval Thule.
I look forward to seeing the final book!

Pat Posters:

Andy Prieboy in Los Angeles

zAndyFlatterer MacBeth in Philadelphia

MacBethFinal Lakewood Center for the Performing Arts

Lakewood2013 Northwest Children’s Theatre

NWCT2013

Collaborations:

With the marvelous Aly Fell:

AlyFellCollaboration Painting over the pencils of Mark Dos Santos in the style of JC Leyendecker:

SIF Miscellaneous:

My annual live-painting carney-sideshow at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival
This year the audience suggested The King in Yellow at a Sushi Bar.

KingInYellowSushi copy Kitty and Drew knew winter was coming. Judging by her photos of Boston, she was right!

Vikings28 Glorianna was painted for the Starstruck Kickstarter.

GloriannaWide2 Before guesting at the North American Discworld Convention in July, I had begun a series of Small Gods, inspired in part by Terry Pratchett. But that was months ago, and at the rate of one per day, I have now completed more than 200. I post them daily on:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.43.28 PM They can be purchased on my new web site at www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

BlogSmallGods I have on occasion taken the opportunity Small Gods resents to work a little beyond my 1-hour time-limit to create paintings, like the Small God of Holiday Turduckling below.

JohnMaddenEatsDucklings I had some real breakthrough pieces in 2013 and I am looking forward to seeing where my work goes in 2014. Already on the agenda: 2 covers, an alphabet book, an overview of Hobbiton, a whole lot of Starstruck, and the desire to find a literary and merchandizing agent for the high-concept books I want to see published in 2015!

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Year End Recap 2014 Literary Pin-up Calendar Art awards Illustration Lee Moyer The Clarion Foundation Theater Posters https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/1/2013-Art-Year-in-Review Sun, 05 Jan 2014 22:45:54 GMT
2013: The Year in Pictures https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/1/2013-The-Year-in-Pictures CyclingClausCard4

“Life is for LIVING.” – Sir Noël Coward
“Huhnnn!” – James Brown

As 2014 comes in on the wings of hope and relief for so many, it’s time for the annual reportage of the year past, the year of travel. Six countries in all – and many cities, states, and provinces into the bargain. And for every thing that went wrong, numberless others went right. Isn’t it odd that we are utterly used to “went wrong” but that “went right” sounds odd to us? Oh what self-important creatures we humans are, always foiled by cruel fate, but bold in forging every piece of our own good luck!

Overview of the year:

We started off in January and February with a month-long adventure to New Zealand and Australia (stopping in LA en route ~ delivering samples to ad agencies and seeing friends.)

MapFlat2

We visited Glow-Worm Caves, Hobbiton and WETA Workshop. We took a tiny plane over the Southern Alps of New Zealand, went Zorbing and zip-lined down Gravity Canyon, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, marveled at the flying foxes and blue fairy penguins. We visited even more agencies than we’d imagined, and ate much less lamb than we’d expected.

AustraliaNZCompilation

We stayed with Stacy and Eric in Wellington, Jason, Kim, and Iona in Melbourne, and John and Pippa in Canberra, saw Trey Ratcliff in Queenstown, friends of Venetia’s in Melbourne and Sydney and made many new friends along the way.

FriendsDownUnder

 

I also found my Guest-of-Honor-suit in Melbourne, thanks to Lauren’s kind attentions in Anton’s, and starred in one of Trey Ratcliff’s brilliant photographs with Venetia.

 

TreyRatcliff2013

(Photo by Trey Ratcliffhttp://www.stuckincustoms.com)

For a brief and lovely time in February and March (and before travel interfered with her schedule), Venetia went running with our friend Scott. Now that she can actually breathe, she is very excited to see how her running stamina/enjoyability index will improve.

In March, I introduced Venetia to The Up series (which we now recommend to all of our author and story-telling friends). We watched the series together culminating in a trip down to Corvallis to see 56 Up. I also got to show Venetia Who Framed Roger Rabbit at our beautiful Hollywood Theater and she is now a fan, especially of Jessica Rabbit.

As a result of being Art Guest of Honor at Norwescon, I met Andri Magnason, the Philip K. Dick Award nominee who wrote Venetia and my’s favorite book of 2013: Lovestar.
I had a lovely time at Norwescon and look forward to it again this year.

April was the Month of Starstruck. Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta (aided and abetted by Tym Stevens) set up their Kickstarter campaign and I painted the cover, patch & t-shirt designs, and a few scenes from the story itself. I somehow also managed the solo painting of Glorianna (below right) – it was something of a breakthrough for me discovering how much I actually love painting, how easy and enjoyable it can be, if one will but let it. Now some wags among you might think this could have been achieved as many as 35 years ago…. and I’m not saying they’re wrong. Not at all.
But I’m very grateful it happened at all.

 

Starstruck

The month of May saw another HP Lovecraft film festival and a trip to Canada to be the Art Guest of Honor at Keycon, in Winnipeg. They had a splendid line-up of guests there, and many of them were good enough to take me up on my invitation to come visit me in Portland: Scotia (who ran Keycon’s splendid art show) came to see us in August and a great majority of the Keycon guests (dubbed “The Illuminaughty”) will be having an extended slumber party at my house in May 2014 for the World Horror Convention.

This was also the time that I worked up a proper poster for Andy Prieboy, one of my favorite musicians. I can only hope this recent group of concerts will yield a recording of its own!

In June, I proposed that Venetia cut her hair and after a week of skepticism, she realized what a brilliant idea it was. We documented the whole process and she is happier than ever with her new hair. The masses of long hair going not to Locks of Love (who have not managed their growth at all well, and cause much charitably donated hair to go to waste), but to Pantene (whose record is much better).

 

HairCut1_1

We drove down to Corvallis to give a talk on Kickstarters to their local group of business creatives. We stayed with the lovely Lainie and had a marvelous brunch with Patricia Smith.

Then Venetia took a road trip back to Montana to be a bridesmaid at her friend Joanne’s mountain wedding. She and Trevor were (and are) adorable, and their wedding managed to chill the bridesmaids while insuring sunburns all around.

 

Joanne

I stayed home to finish a job and was struck by inspiration to start my Small Gods series which has become a major part of this year. Today, January 1st of 2014, is the 200th Small God, although I was certainly not thinking of the New Year’s numbering when I began it. Small Gods are now available for sale on my website and have their own Facebook page.

 

BlogSmallGods

After Venetia returned home, we began our Journey to the East Coast, starting with Roanoke, Virginia where I spoke and held a workshop for Todd Ristau’s astonishing MFA program – The Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. Venetia got to see her first No Shame Theater performance, and I enjoyed performing my piece No Nude Bathing.
I toured her through many of the areas that I once lived and, with the exception of my parent’s old house in DC which has of course been torn down that an oversized McMansion might take its place, she has now seen everywhere I’ve lived on the East Coast.

 

EastCoast2013Comp

Venetia’s  first time in Washington DC was of course a real treat, featuring a whirlwind tour of many museums, and the Bungalow’s classic Independence Day Soiree. We are looking forward to returning this year and hopefully spending much more time at the Smithsonian.

But after a too-brief stay, a Carlyle Grande dinner with 2 tables of wonderful friends, and the hospitality of the Barkers, it was off to Charm City (by way of Ellicot City). It was my privilege to be the Art Guest of Honor for the North American Discworld Convention. Many old friends were seen there, and new ones too. The expensive early morning trip to the ER (for a stabby ear infection) was more than made up by meetings with old friends Sally and Yvonne. And a trip to the Baltimore aquarium with Yvonne and Dirk. I had a splendid time meeting people, butting heads with the estimable Bernard, and drawing even more Small Gods.

In Philadelphia, we visited dear friends Kyle and Trillian, and I set out with Trillian in the muggy summer heat on a scavenger hunt to find materials to build them a bookshelf. As you can tell from Kyle’s photo below, the mission was a success and the bathroom now sports its own library.

 

the-lee-loo-library

After a quick turn-around in Portland, we were right back on the road to San Diego for the Comic Con. We were hosted by the Haxos and were guardians of a sort to Jack Vance’s lovely granddaughter. This marked Venetia’s first visit to the madness of the ComicCon and she enjoyed it far more than she expected to. We spent an acceptable amount of time on Coranado Island and much more time eating exquisite food and sightseeing with the Badali sisters. My ComicCon encounter with Hugh Jackman was hilarious, and my signings for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund well worthwhile.

August was one of our two months of guests and I spent much it happily taking folks sightseeing. To my utter shock and dismay, Eric Chevalier, the person who was producing The Doom that Came to Atlantic City declared he was walking away from the project and had somehow spent all of the backer’s money – all 122,874 dollars of it. Designer Keith Baker and I spent much of that month dealing with the crisis and putting together a print-and-play version for our backers. After some agonizing weeks, the day was happily saved by the amazing people at Cryptozoic Studios. I am incredibly grateful to them, and touched by the outpouring of offers of help and support from others in the industry. I spent weeks thereafter working to hone the assets to make the game even better. The people who supported my game deserve it!

 

DoomCrypto

Venetia’s August held a number of interested events: she was called for her first-ever jury duty. Her disappointment at not being called for trials might well surprise the many who strive to avoid that very duty. However Amanda Palmer’s timely surprise appearance at Powell’s more than made up for that lack.

 

NinjaGig

In September, I began the 3-month labor of love that is my 2014 Calendar, this year working with the Clarion Foundation, collaborating with the authors of their choice. It was, as ever, a delightful experience. But I hope next year to start rather sooner. We shall see what develops.

Two major concerts this month, first international cabaret performer Meow, Meow in the grand Schnitzer Auditorium, and then a debut of Pink Martini‘s new album with special guest performers Meow, Meow, the Von Trapp Children, Storm Large, and China Forbes.
This second quite free, staged in Pioneer Courthouse Square, sometimes called “Portland’s Living Room”.

We had even more guests this month, this time Venetia’s dearest friends. I got to meet Joanne and her new husband Trevor and play with their sweetie pie dog. Sarah and Oot Rothfuss were a delight to have in the house and we enjoyed many Portland adventures with them. Young Master Rothfuss commissioned a special dragon from me which I painted while he and his mother watched – one which has become a very popular Small God:

 

SG113print

In October I finished the calendar in the very nick of time, and then it was off to England via Iceland. Andri Magnason threw the dinner party of the year after a tour of the Power Station where he writes. Iceland was as magical as imagined and I am looking forward to seeing how the Northern Lights influence my art in this coming year. More about Iceland HERE.

 

Icelandoverview

Discworld friends Richard and Amy took us on a Dickensian tour of London and we talked about travel and parades with Jessica Rabbit whom we had met earlier in the year in Australia.

We met up with Maha and her wife Sinead in Oxford and by utter chance in our wanderings we came across the Bodleian Library and the most surprising and exceptional exhibit: Magical Books. Then to Birmingham, more precisely Solihull, where Liz and Matt delighted us with musical horror from around the world and we mourned the death of Lou Reed. The biggest surprise of Birmingham was the multicultural shopping – we spent wonderful day searching through of Islamic Charity Shops with Liz and meeting many helpful locals who were very happy to help Venetia find exactly the right attire (“No dear, try these instead. The Mughal colors work better with your skin”). While the wedding suit I tried on was too dear, Venetia left with some stunning outfits.

The World Fantasy Convention in Brighton was all about the people. I had more fantastic meals – the food was pretty good too – than I could hope to remember. Happily I’ve already documented them in previous blogs. One of the major highlights was meeting The Indelicates.  Every bit as interesting as their records suggest, we hope to see and hear much more of them in the near future.

 

England2013

There was still one last convention for 2013: Ambercon Northwest. We were extremely pleased to introduce Kat to the raven Aristophanes during the tour of Portland before we all headed for the wonders of Ambercon at Edgefield. Then, in order to really make 2013 a good year for Venetia, she went in for surgery on her nose. Earlier in the fall we discovered she had a deviated septum and was barely breathing at all through her nose. The surgery was a huge success and, despite a few weeks of imposed idleness, Venetia is now breathing well and deeply for the first time in her life.

 

CalendarProof

Because Venetia was incapacitated for the rest of November, our multi-talented friend Jaym graciously agreed to help us with Thanksgiving. The unanimous highlights of Thanksgiving dinner this year were the sausage and apple meatballs. And our friends of course!

November also brought author Peter Beagle and his tour of his film The Last Unicorn to Portland. It was great to see Peter and to discuss art and business with Connor.

And finally, to round this busy busy year out, a comparatively quiet December.
I watched football while I drew Small Gods. Venetia baked apple pie and apple crisp.
For Christmas this year we traveled to Seattle for a week. I saw many people (though only a small percentage of everyone I know in the area. There seems never to be a sufficiency of time). While I gallivanted, Venetia house sat with a sweet dog and less-sweet chickens and read, on average, one book for each and every person I talked to.

Houseguests
January: Jaym Gates
April: Nathan Bardsley
May: Rich Gain, Venetia’s sister Tara and her boyfriend
July: Jaym Gates, Bhil and Fritz
August: Heather & Eric, Scotia, K Wiley, Jacob & Henni, Chris Pramas
September: Rob, Lisa and Bonnie, Joanne & Trevor, Sarah, Oot and Sarah’s mom
November: Connor Cochran and his wife, Jaym Gates

Books
Andri Magnason’s: Lovestar
Terry Pratchett: Lords and Ladies, Pyramids, and our favorite (naturally) Small Gods
Pierce Brown‘s Red Rising - 2014′s most-anticipated book? A terrific read. With more books to to come. We hope to meet up with Pierce in the new year.
Robert Rankin’s madcap The Japanese Devilfish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions

Noteworthy Movies
Cloud Atlas
Thor 2 and Iron Man 3
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Up Series (with the new 56 Up as the latest installment)
Big Trouble in Little China

ShowFlyerFinal

2014 SCHEDULE
(2013 went to plan, so we’ll pretend that this is 100% Accurate)

January 18: Pin-up Gallery Opening 6:30pm
April 11-13: HP Lovecraft Film Festival
April 17-20: Norwescon
May 8-11: World Horror Convention in Portland
May 24-26: Potential dates for my 50th Party
July 23-27: San Diego Comic Con
August 14-17: Considering GenCon
August 29-Sept 1: Considering DragonCon
September/October: Vienna, Budapest and Prague? Here’s hoping!
November 6-9: World Fantasy Convention in Washington DC
Christmas in Hawaii? We shall see.

2015 will see me as Art Guest of Honor for Boston’s Arisia (Boston Waterfront, January 16 – 19 2015) where I will join Writer Guest of Honor N.K Jemisin and Fan Guest of Honor Colette H Fozard.

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Year End Recap https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2014/1/2013-The-Year-in-Pictures Wed, 01 Jan 2014 23:15:36 GMT
Fall Travels Part 2: England & The World Fantasy Convention 2013 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/11/Fall-Travels-Part-2-England-The-World-Fantasy-Convention-2013 Calendar Proof!

On Friday the calendar proof arrived!

Blog_Proof2

Venetia and I looked through it and all the images are vibrant and look gorgeous which means that today (Monday the 18th) it is going to press and printing.

Blog_Proof1

You can order the calendar through the Clarion Indiegogo Here.
For a limited time only!

But now, back to our previously scheduled travel journal.  We begin with:

LONDON

After a short morning flight from Reyjkavic and the necessary adjustments to my phone, we began our trip from Heathrow into London proper. The long tube ride punctuated by the posh recorded voice of an eloquent woman saying, in the loveliest way possible, “Cockfosters. This is the line to Cockfosters” at every one of the many stops.

When our nebulous plans for adventures in the north fell through, we sought housing advice from our friends on Facebook, and the Sapphire Hotel (recommended by Brook) proved a lovely choice, at a good price for London, good location close to the underground. Sadly however, they had room at the inn for only the first night of our impromptu London bivouac. It wasn’t long after our arrival that we fell into a…
Nap. Surprise! We awoke in time to meet up with our International Discworld friends Richard and Amy. From Charing Cross and Nelson’s fabled Column, we through the Strand, stomped by the Savoy, and dodged as artfully as we could through ancient tunnels filled with Friday Night revellers and spilt ale.
After a Bistro dinner and delightful tale-telling, we wandered east to St Paul’s Cathedral (sight of shenanigans in Robert Rankin’s recently-read The Japanese Devilfish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions) by way of the Twinings Tea offices and Fleet Street, admiring architecture high and low.

EnglandWFC

After Cornflakes in the Sapphire Hotel (not much else we can eat these days it seems, with eggs and gluten counterindicated by doctors), we packed our bags and headed up the street in Shepherd’s Bush (is it just me, or does everything in London sound like a euphemism?) to the vastly more-expensive Ibis Hotel. Given how limited our choices were, I suppose we should thank our stars we found a room at the inn at all. Then, duly ensconced, we headed out to lunch near the National Theater at Waterloo with Jessica Rabbit, who we had met en route to Cairns Australia earlier in the year. We had an absolutely splendid time with her – walking about with the tourists in the food markets and hearing tales of East Indian parades, talking US politics and UK Remembrance Day.

EnglandWFC

When we tried to travel to the Docklands for a long-anticipated meeting with Aly Fell, we were foiled. The Docklands Light Railroad was closed, and our attempts to circumvent the closure were met with an almost farcical lack of knowledge and savvy by the staff of the train lines. So, we made the sensible decision and called it a day. We got amazing (and gluten-free) Ethiopian food upon our return to the Bush (do they call it “the Bush”? We would in the US I think). Ethiopian seems like one of the best cuisines for current diet, though gluten is often mixed with teff for injera, so even it is not foolproof.
After our daily allotment of napping, we lounged in bed, wrote blogs and drew Small Gods and wondered if aliens would soon be arriving in our bathroom pod.

EnglandWFC

Oxford

When planning our trip to Oxford, Shepherd’s Bush proved a very lucky headquarters indeed. Rather than schlepping our baggage to Victoria to hop the Oxford Tube (a 2-level red omnibus, natch. because really, why call something by its name when fostering (cockfostering?) confusion is so much more fun?), we discovered that the coach stopped a mere 2 blocks from our latest hotel. And while seats were at a premium, we found room across an aisle and made excellent time to Oxford. (We were able to remember our stop by the rhyme “Oranges and lemons, the bells of St. Clemens”.)

I had met Maha many years ago in Laurel Maryland, but I hadn’t seen her since her days in the south of France, and I’d certainly never met her wife Sinead. While they had not loved their time in Oxford (where Class is less something one attends than something one is born into), they knew it well and were exceptional tour guides. And while I had not expected to even be in Oxford (we’d met them there only because they had attended a weekend wedding), the timing proved incredible.

EnglandWFC

As we wandered the city and campus (technically one of the campuses), we came across the Bodleian Library, and the most surprising and exceptional exhibit – Magical Books. It was not a large exhibit, but oh what a trove!
JRR Tolkien’s original illustrations for ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’, manuscripts from Susan Cooper, drawings by CS Lewis, JK Rowling’s drawing in a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ labelled “Snape contemplates the unfairness of it all”, John Dee’s marble Magickal Table, illuminated Bestiaries, and books books books. We’d have taken pictures inside if allowed, but this photo of the outside board will have to suffice:

EnglandWFC

After a look to the Oxonian halls that served as Harry Potter sets, we took a all by the park where we saw cattle seemingly unchanged since they’d been the subjects of paintings hundreds of years earlier. We saw deer and cranes, and what Maha assured us were loads of entitled young bounders in boats, rowing.

EnglandWFC

We took our food (and beer for our hosts) in an alleyway Oxford bar that’s existed forever and set off at sunset in Sinead’s car for the Solihull home of Liz and Matt. The drive passed swiftly, and a discussion of the UK’s regrettable User Interface led to her revelation of the worst sign she’s seen in her time there. See if you can parse it:
“AMBER GAMBLING SNARLS TRAFFIC”.

We arrived in time for takeaway Indian dinner, and a Sunday evening tradition: a group of musical aficionados gather by their laptops and listen to music from around the globe. This week, in honor of horror and encroaching Halloween, each member had contributed a song that truly scared them. And the variety was great – The Bonzo Dog Band fought Eurotrash metal. Children screams and wailed. The uninflected voices of sober scientists gave terrifying news and people shivered in rooms from America to Norway.

And saddest of all, we learned that Lou Reed had died. Strangely, Liz had chosen a song of his for the folio, and we raised a toast to him. Later we watched ‘University Challenge’ (which I would not do again. It felt like the loathsome rich kids in the ‘Seven Up’ series wailing on the much nicer and much poorer ones. Besides, my time of caring exactly which year something happened is long past), and ‘Only Connect’ which I loved and enjoyed playing along with. Though having Matt and Liz and Venetia on our team was surely the key to the Home Team’s victory. We ended the evening with ‘Nevermind the Buzzcocks’, the first time I’ve ever seen it new.
I enjoyed the music magazine ‘The Word’ while I was there too – especially the lead articles on Ray Davies and Richard Thompson. Such a delight to be in the home of such music lovers!

Liz greeted us at noon the next day with a tray of food we could (and indeed would) eat! The variety was astonishing and delicious. Venetia made the acquaintance of Nutella, and the two hit it off admirably.

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(Photo by Liz)

After breakfast and talk we ventured forth with big plans to see the sights of Birmingham, England’s “Second City”. But we did not take in the grandeur of the classic artworks and ancient churches, not even a little. Instead we stopped in Sparkhill intending to run an errand or two, and found ourselves entranced by the wonderful shops food and people. While Liz helped Venetia try on suits and saris in the Islamic Charity Shop, she had a dreadful pause to think “oh no. I’ve left Lee out there with all those devout Muslim ladies!” She needn’t have worried of course. After some respectful conversation about mirrors and their mountings, Liz found me “holding court”.

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Most happily, the ladies in question were so enchanted with Venetia’s pixie self in the first outfit, that they sought out others they felt would be better choices for her complexion- returning swiftly with dresses in “more Mughal” colors. Happy as we were for the excellent expert advice, the Eritrean woman behind the counter was even happier – she hadn’t any more idea how to fold the sash than we had. I suspect everyone there will be talking about that day for some time to come. I hope so anyway!

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The next day we slept in while the rest of the house got cleaned, venturing downstairs late, eating and relaxing (and making some Small Gods in advance of the busy convention weekend). But most of all we were watching movies – a rare treat for us indeed. Despicable Me, Big Trouble in Little China, and the most recent Muppet movie. All in the comfort of Liz and Matt’s home.

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(Photo by Liz – Daily Small Gods)

World Fantasy Con 2013 in Brighton

We took the almost unbelievably cheap first class train from Birmingham into London, eating and drinking in right high style, even as I mourned Thatcher’s privatization of the common weal. Strange to think that it has been so long since my 1988 trip, when her menace was ever present. Now her bitter greedy legacy, like Reagan’s in the US, is a fact not just an omen.

When we changed trains (and stations) in London, we spotted a comrade in arms (well, in books) also looking for the first-class car to Brighton. Ewa (pronounced “Evah, like forevah and evah”) was heading south to volunteer and made a most delightful traveling companion. Wherever we needed to be over the weekend, she was always there, one step ahead of the game. The volunteers were splendid, and overall the convention was a delight. Some details, hints and tips:

Should you come to Brighton, do not stay at the “Hilton” Hotel Metropole. While lovely in some particulars (the architecture in the old lobby and breakfast spaces, stairs and bar) the convention space was a pretty ghastly affair – non-Euclidean and a nightmare for anyone with impaired mobility. and our room was a bad joke- an overheated sauna that could not be cooled, a bathroom backlit for one’s shaving convenience, toilets that didn’t flush until the 8th try, faucets that could have used a proper Vice-Grip to use, windows that opened a mere 4 inches, surly service, a convenient built-in drinks refrigerator just to “hold” your drinks, not to actually cool them. But perhaps the egregious scalping of internet service (15 pounds per day here, but free at the less pretentious TravelLodge, natch) was worst of all. No communication with the outside meant no updates, reportage, tweets or any of it. So the account that follows is one from my dim exhausted brain, rather than accurate or up-to-the-minute as I had hoped in advance.
I did hear great things about the nearby Granville though.

So many lovely people that I cannot begin to list them all. But starting at the beginning, we bid Ewa goodbye and got registered. The hard-cover program book lovely, but both outdated (neither China Mieville nor Alan Lee made it to the show) and deeply impractical for foreign travels given the tiny book bags provided. After a much needed nap we arose for the Early party and took in the lay of the land.

Halloween dawned with breakfast in the big hotel dining room where we were placed next to birthday girl (and fashion plate) Shannon Page and artist (or is he still author?) Mark Ferrari. Both had come from Portland, but had come a week early to the country and spent far more time in the mighty Metropolis of London than we.

We’d gotten much of the art show hung by the time we met Simon and Julia Indelicate for lunch. Brighton is their old stomping grounds and we spent not just lunch but the better part of the afternoon with them – traveling through town, picking up last minute printing, and admiring the shops. Every bit as interesting as their records suggest, we hope to see and hear much more of them in the near future.

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That said, before Andri’s house party in Iceland, we’d not heard of the onerous tariffs that the US has placed on foreign musicians. Quite horrible for The Indelicates as well, locked out of the US by trade restrictions. The US – Where trade is apparently everything unless it’s creative….

By the time we returned to the Hotel, the joint was jumping. No longer a few lost souls wandering aimlessly, the volume level was very high and people were getting into the spirit of the convention.

Dinner on the first full day was taken with Todd and Rita Lockwood, because seeing people from the Pacific Northwest is clearly easier in Brighton. Delicious lamb and rice and fool….

There was no trick-or-treating, but a few brave souls dressed up and made the evening a little more jolly than it otherwise would have been. The censorious and scolding tone of the Convention’s messaging happily forgotten for a little while.

Ben Rosenbaum turned up here and there, I wish I’d taken a good picture of him with Ted Chiang, talking like undergrads on the giant staircase. We got to speak at greater length on Sunday, and I hope a curious game may result in the coming months. :)

I got to show the ineffable Mary Robinette Kowal the pin-up I’d painted from The Year Without a Summer for the Clarion Pin-Up calendar. And the night of the Mass Signing, We got signatures in the 2013 version from Robin Hobb, Pat Rothfuss and toastmaster Neil Gaiman (whose kind words about my portrait if his wife were most appreciated). Sir Terry Pratchett was briefly glimpsed, but his time is without price, and we are delighted he made it at all. Were that Ray Bradbury had been able to join in around this literary Halloween Tree….

Mary introduced me to author and blue-haired book maven Nene from Malmö in Sweden (the second of the long weekend’s birthday celebrants), and I hope to see much more of her in future. Knowing she will be present in Wisconsin come May tempts me to Wiscon and House on the Rock, but plans for my impending 50th birthday party might make that untenable…. Bird lover that she is, I was delighted to introduce her to her Hawaiian namesake in a rare moment of internet function.

The dinners (and occasionally lunches) seemed to fall in thematic patterns – Portlanders (David, Kate, Shannon, Mark), Art Show Staples (even though we went with John Picacio and Tara, we found ourselves across the empty Indian Restaurant with Les and Val Edwards and the Zipsers), DC 2014 World Fantasy Con planners (Peggy Rae, Colleen and …), DC Friends of mine unknown to one another (Nancy Greene and the Zipsers) and finally the infamous Frenemeses category- one from Tel Aviv, one Jerusalem (each would rather die than live in the others city), one Brooklyn, one Riverdale (“you’re such a Jersey Girl” says Barry the agent to Laura Anne Gilman, his client), one birthday Swede, our duly-appointed member of the press in PreRaphaelite glory, and me. Mad fun in a BBQ restaurant that, in striving for verisimilitude with is US counterpart, served obscenely large portions to the shock and awe of all present.

In the midst of the madness, I took the time to participate in a fun and quirky project by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook: We Are All Strange.

The Art Show space was as well arranged and run as possible, given the peculiarities of the space. Brava to Val Edwards – there was no drama, no fretting and the clear understanding of a dab hand at work. The couches and tables a terrific idea, and the artwork quite impressive – though we all missed Alan Lee, and admit to some disappointment that Greg Manchess left his things at home, it was a real treat to see the works of Pennington, Edwards, Picacio up close. While the Artists reception felt under-attended, those who did attend we’re attentive and interesting. I enjoyed showing Neil Gaiman the portraits of “Good Omens” stars and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and meeting the wonderful Frenchmen who purchased my work. And it was the French who did, the British didn’t (beyond Neil) seem to care much (a fellow from the Isle of Man suggested it might be too spicy for the UK, but really? Pictures of Doctor Who and Small Gods? I suspect the real answer is a dearth of wallspace, love of books, and an economy that’s still a bit dodgy). Happily, the French Publishers Bragelonne bought 2 of my pieces for their offices, and I greatly enjoyed my conversations with them. Perhaps we can work together in the future. I do hope so. Especially if my intermittent discussions with Centipede Press about doing a book about the sculpture of expatriot Henry Clews Jr. one day come to fruition….

Seeing people from so many countries with a common bond led many to discussions of Family, and reunions we in evidence everywhere one looked. Overall, I’m glad we went and I hope that next year’s version will bring so many from overseas.

Postscript: Plane Home

Overheard as the London plane disembarked in Iceland: An adorable woman in sweater, coat, and fuzzy technicolor hat to the African Man who’d been seated next to her watching “Wolverine”:

“It doesn’t GET cold in Australia. This coat is too tight at the arms. Must be my massive guns…. Do you know Harry Potter?” He does.
“Well, it’s kind of a… thing in my life. I bought a BIG mug while I was there. The woman at customs didn’t like it. ‘What IS this?’ It’s a mug I replied. You drink out of it…. She was SO unhappy with her life”.

We arrived safely in Seattle, where we were rescued at our very low ebb by Rob. How lucky to have such fine friends!

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2014 Clarion Calendar Adventures Aly Fell Ben Rosenbaum Bodleian Library Brighton Cockfosters England John Dee Lou Reed Magical Books Mark Ferrari Mary Robinette Kowal Oxford Robert Rankin Shannon Page Shepherd's Bush Small Gods Solihull Sparkhill Susan Cooper The Indelicates Todd Lockwood We Are All Strange World Fantasy Convention 2013 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/11/Fall-Travels-Part-2-England-The-World-Fantasy-Convention-2013 Sun, 24 Nov 2013 19:41:26 GMT
Fall Travels Part 1: Iceland https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/11/Fall-Travels-Part-1-Iceland 2014 Clarion Calendar

My 2014 Literary Pin-Up Calendar will benefit the Clarion Writer’s Foundation – the very same charity that brought Liz Argall to the states, and has been such a cornerstone to the writing careers of so many stellar talents, in both the writing and the teaching. As with the last two, it is a labor of love. And while the work of the redoubtable Neil Gaiman again graces its pages (this time it’s Neverwhere‘s Hunter) all the other authors are new to the project – from Kim Stanley Robinson to Kelly Link. And I got to illustrate Damon Knight‘s classic ‘To Serve Man’ into the bargain.

Here’s the link!

AdArt

Pre-Trip

I’ll spare you the tale of the miracle last-second finish, the broken tooth, and the drive up to Seattle.

The birthday dinner with Rob and Lisa’s family for Tessa Tweet, returned from college with friend Talia and sporting a Nabokov shirt, was a much jollier affair – filled with delicious curry, cake and cacophonous laughter.

The next morning we commenced the actual packing – making sense of the piles of unsorted foolery we’d tossed into the car in Portland the previous evening.

Chris Pramas, rocking the new neck scar from his successful spinal surgery, joined us for lunch in a curious neighborhood in West Seattle. But the North American fun was as short lived as the day itself.

Iceland

Tuesday came to us in Iceland. We watched the sun rise (barely and with exquisite autumnal slowness) from the giant window in the front of the bus to Reykjavik – dark and volcanic Iceland giving way to a curious city with just enough Dr. Seuss to temper its IKEA.

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The Best Western deserves credit for letting us check in so early and suggesting we enjoy breakfast before the inevitable nap. Though we’ve long been used to Venetia’s gluten-free diet, this was first time out in the world figuring out my new food restrictions. Corn flakes with brown sugar, ham and oranges did the job. The nap would prove fiercesome… and habit-forming. But we arose in time for the 12:30 tour.

Our brilliant young tour guide spoke French as well as Icelandic and English, but with no Francophones present, it was pure intelligible data. Amid her recitations she suddenly exclaimed “this is my husband and two year old daughter”. She was quite surprised to find them outside the big concrete church that occupies the city’s highest point. It looks deceptively large from a distance but feels comparatively small close up. And oh that autumn wind!

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We were startled to learn that Iceland, so progressive in many ways, has no separation of church and state, and that tax dollars regularly roll into church coffers. We were disappointed to learn that those politicians responsible for Iceland vast banking crisis were once again in charge of the island nation, but voters everywhere seem to have short memories. Even here, in a land small enough to see cause and effect with comparative clarity, and through one’s efforts, effect change.

Iceland reminded me of Duncan Jones’ film ‘Moon’ in some ways, and it’s no shock that Hollywood’s ‘Oblivion’ (which also reminded me of ‘Moon’) was shot here. It is a beautiful and fierce place – one that I think every writer of hard science fiction would do well to visit. Where else would they take the 4 enormous hot water towers that supply the reserve geothermal power to run a city and pop a glass dome and spinning restaurant on top of them? We did not enter the Viking recreation “Madame Tussaud’s” museum either, but it made us think strongly of our Norse-loving friends.

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The city is largely crisp and clean, however there was graffiti everywhere (well everywhere but the trains anyway – it seems that a history of Danes left them with no trains). Apparently waiting until winter to mark one’s territory old-school just wasn’t on. When does it get too cold for the taggers? When do children start being admitted to emergency rooms frozen to their spray cans? And why, in a country so small, is there not an obvious way to dissuade them? Perhaps because there is so much heavy industry. Maybe unlike America, the punks steal their spray cans from the docks rather than buy them in a hardware store.

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While Iceland’s national politics continue dismal, the city’s anarchist mayor is changing their political culture any way he can. An actor and performance artist pal of Björk, he’s taken city hall to areas heretofore unknown. Sure, a big city mayor might pop on a red dress for a gala in Portland or San Francisco, but actual cosplay? This mayor in his Luke Skywalker get-up would be right at him at the San Diego Comic Con! And after a full term, he still maintains the 30% popularity that got him and his “Best” party elected the first time.

The massive performance hall the ‘Harpa’ ended our trip and proved to be V’s favorite building. It remained unfinished when the economy tanked, but happily for all they found the will (and kroners) to finish it properly.

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What could follow such a spirited tour of the city? Only one thing. More napping.
And then another very different tour (if “tour” is even the word I want here, perhaps “quest” would be better)… In Search of the Northern Lights!

At our first hotel pickup, the driver parked on an incline and came back to help someone with a bag or two. As the bus very slowly started rolling backward down the hill, we passengers (strapped in by Icelandic law) were startled:

V: Um, I think we’re moving…
Lee (loudly to the driver): We’re moving! WE’RE MOVING!
Just another example of our well-oiled collaborative style. ;)

But unlike our previous tour, this one pretty much involved driving east in the dark, and hoping the guide, a crotchety old chap who whistled like a quieter Nordic version of Peter Lorre in ‘M’ and easily set the Icelandic record for sarcasm, wouldn’t too often interrupt the silence of the night, the bright clouds and nearly-full moon. Hoping all the while that there would be the perfect opening in those clouds, and that the moon would not outshine any aurorae. We finally stopped at a man-made pumice parking patch paved amid ancient lava flows where at least 2 other buses would also alight. No Northern Lights had been seen in this part of Iceland for the previous 4 days, and the internet held dire prognostication for this night as well. But there was an opening in the clouds to the north, and it seemed worth squinting into gap as best we could, huddled among the masses of foreigners, yearning to see the lights. At first we couldn’t see anything at all, but our splenetic tour guide wisely took pictures to locate them (as his camera’s abilities were beyond even his own) and pointed out the very hazy cloudlike shape in the sky.

But it was incredibly cold, and was that patch his camera detected really a hint of lights, or just reflection of moon light on the breaking clouds? Eventually, the clouds cleared enough for us to see the low wide horizontal smudge that was the Aurora Borealis.

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It wasn’t the bright colors one sees in retouched photos, but it did ebb and flow in intensity, and was certainly interesting in a quiet sort of way. After watching the horizontal bar fill in, be briefly joined by another small bar beneath the vastness of the newly-revealed Big Dipper, and then ebb away – the cold finally overpowered us. We’d come, we’d seen, and if we didn’t exactly conquer, well, that was all in the game. But then…
Just as we were heading back to the bus…

Pow!

Northern lights!

Suddenly a blaze on the horizon of retreating clouds fired up and up. It was joined by others all rising, blazing and eventually, fading sweetly away as other shapes crossed and sparkled in the sky. And all the while the Big Dipper, that enormous shape so familiar in the sky, was dwarfed in every aspect.
Several minutes and many configurations later I leaned into to Venetia and said “this is the best planetarium show ever.” And quickly appended “but with the whole PLANET!” The two most surreal and beauteous moments were the Forum – where a long row of vertical pillars were topped by a bold horizontal line, and the Arch – wherein the back of the ladle and stars of the Big Dipper’s handle formed a perfect arched top to two huge pillars of the aurora that stretched up past them into the night sky. If Hollywood (or even Bollywood) had scripted the show we got, I dare say I shouldn’t have believed it. Not since I saw Night on Bald Mountain as an 8 year old child have I been so awed.

On the speechless ride back, I silently thanked our lucky stars and thought at length about the arbitrary nature of the universe, about the work of Nicholas Roerich, and about how my own work might change accordingly.

On Wednesday we were up at 7:30am for breakfast and swiftly packed onto a bus for the Golden Circle tour. By the time we transferred on, the bus was almost full, leaving us the only two seats toward the back.

First, we headed south-east, leaving Reykjavik to heavy cloud cover, and listening to our new guide share the history of this fascinating island. The Icelandic horses and sheep are rightly well known, less known is that their attempts to raise pigs all failed, and none remain. Many charming summer houses, small and tidy, dot the landscape, and the guide clearly enjoyed tales of the elves who live in the countryside as well. I did not anticipate a stop for tomato soup in a vast greenhouse (one never knows about the kickbacks wily tour guides arrange), but the soup (just herbs and tomatoes with basil plants one could cut and apply at will) was good, so why worry? The point of the stop (beyond the obvious commerce) was to show how Iceland’s command of waters warm and cold made it an effective garden spot. The endless rows of tomato plants producing massive bounties on almost no soil was indeed interesting. Their importation of bees (one of whom clearly found both Venetia and I irresistible) without a desire for the complication of a hive (lady bees are useful, but male bees just make things complicated) seem prone to unwanted interruption and unsustainable in the long run, but so far they seem have outsmarted nature on this strange moonbase of an island.

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Next we visited Gullfoss or Golden Falls, this massive waterfall is an astonishing multilevel diagonal cataract, and but for the dogged efforts of Sigríður Tómasdottir this important site would even now be a giant Hydroelectric plant….

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We looked down from the upper palisade at obnoxious tourists who’d chosen to ignore the careful guidelines for their safety and trod out onto the snowy and icy rim of the chasm. While we found their behavior galling, I must admit that their stupidity has given our photos a fine sense of scale….

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Looking at the sweet little creek above the waterfall, one might be forgiven thinking that no danger lurked, but as the sun shone free of the morning clouds, the spray of the falls was visible for quite a distance.

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Bigger still, the enormous glacier visible to the north swallowed a mountain the way the ocean wraps around the land. But the glacier’s “sea-level” is not level at all, rather, it’s a hard-to-fathom diagonal. Quite disorienting and wonderful.

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As we were exiting through the latest in the long line of gift shops, we saw a figure who reminded us of Journey, the game we had played in New Zealand. We named her Aurora and brought her with us.

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Unaccountably, as we shared the local lamb stew, on view in this massive tourist dining hall was an episode of Scooby Doo featuring Harlan Ellison and Cthulhu. Ah, the profundity of our cultural exports!

We’ve been to geysers before, but this was the original accept-no-substitutes Geysir. The same fools who tempted the edge of the icy falls made themselves clear here as the obnoxious father modeled idiot behavior for his teen offspring. He crossed the ropes and thrust his hand into the hot water. He and his children walked all over the geysers. Even as the largest among them fired off a spectacular plume every ten minutes or so. It was lovely, but compared to Yellowstone quite tiny.

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We napped a bit en route to the site where the plates of 2 continents (Europe and the US) meet, and where the citizens of Iceland meet for the Althing.

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I longed for a close look at the falls to the north, but time was short and we walked south to the old camping and meeting site where the crag opened up and gave a view of the waters and plains below.

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The Obnoxious Tourists (TM) continued to be obnoxious of course, and we silently thanked the powers that be that they weren’t American….

After brief nap at the hotel we awoke at 7:30 to prepare for dinner with author Andri Snaer Magnason, who we’d been lucky to hear read at last year’s Norwescon. Andri

He pulled right up to the hotel on the sidewalk, startling Venetia. But in a town where there is so much snow, and so few parking spots, it seemed to work fine. Before dinner, he took us to his work place: the Power Station! A coal-burning back-up for the city’s power, it had been rendered obsolete some years earlier as Reyjkavic moved inexorably to geothermal and had lain idle. It was even said to be haunted, which might well have spared it some break ins and vandalism. When Iceland’s economy cratered, many lost their jobs, and the Station beckoned to unemployed creatives and became Iceland’s home to:

Deathstar acoustics!

Pagan altars!

Dials and levers and electricity (still working?) for film and television.

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After the tour Andri and his wife treated us to a dinner party in their home. Their own children were largely inconspicuous, but the two and a half couples they’d invited made for great dinner conversation. They numbered a jazz player and composer, theater director, artist, designer, and craft artist among them. Andri’s wife upholds the long Magnason medical traditions as a nurse. All spoke flawless English and kindly did so while we were there – humoring our sadly monoglot ways.

I could try to describe the warmth and beauty of the scene, but suffice it to say that it resembled nothing to me so much as a scene of the ideal European house party you might see in a film – all the people handsome and well spoken, piles of sushi and home-made rhubarb crumble, obvious long-time affection and mutual respect. In short – the party of the year!

After the first guests had left, we moved down to the living room, and talked about design, music, Small Gods, and Andri’s books as he kindly signed copies for us. All the while, their youngest daughter lay sleeping in her improvised tent under the wooden stairs with their sweet brindled whippet (described by Andri as half kangaroo, half koala), a leg occasionally arcing out from the blanket before disappearing again. We got back to the hotel at 1, amazed to have seen so much of Iceland’s past and future in a single day.

On Thursday, we slept in until 8:30 (living the high life!?) ambled to breakfast (corn flakes, the official breakfast of the dietarily restricted!), checked out and and stowed our bags.
It was snowing lightly as we walked downtown, and the city was quiet. As we window-shopped, we noted the stylish Icelandic clothing stores, but luckily for our wallets, nothing was open before11am, except the wool store where we tried on silly hats.

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We met Andri at the big central church, seeking shelter inside for some short period before he arrived. I wonder if drawing Small Gods in church is any more blasphemous than drawing them elsewhere? When Andri arrived we went to a vegetarian place so full that we were forced to the meat buffet across the street in retaliation. After lunch we grabbed our bags, and the bus to shuttle us from one hotel to another. This time the hotel, Northern Lights Inn, was an hour south of Reyjkavic. And while we were excited to visit the Blue Lagoon, first we needed a serious nap.

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The hotel shuttle dropped us at the Blue Lagoon just in time for sunset, and reflected colors in the milky blue water outside were amazing. Venetia had a wonderful time taking pictures.

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One of the Lagoon’s traditions is making mud masks for one’s face. Venetia’s hands were small enough to get through the cracks to the mud bucket without the tiny scoop so she slathered us both with mud. This meant it took a really long time to dry, and that we looked like golems. She got too cold to let her mud mask set fully, but enjoyed the sensation of its removal all the same. As the darkness came on, we explored all the bits of the lagoon – the soaking areas, the grotto, the bridges and the entire perimeter. We had all manner of fun in our explorations, but were occasionally surprised by outcroppings of stone and rocks from the bottom.

We encountered a wedding party in matching swimsuits and flowered swim caps, the men dressed identically to the ladies, save for their bow ties. The Blue Lagoon is very expensive, and while this tends to dissuade the natives from visiting (there are countless other, more convenient and vastly more affordable springs) it was clear that exceptions were made for big events. As well the man wading into the lagoon balancing a huge tray of cocktails might have told us, were he not struggling so valiantly not to spoil a drop.
We stayed until closing, and while Venetia was sad to have left our silver Ambercon thermos, I wonder what Icelander might be using it even now.

The next morning we arose in the black of night and e glow of the nearby power plant, stumbled through the morning ritual of cornflakes, and hopped on a plane to England. Part One of the trip was over. What would next lay in store? All we knew for certain? More napping.

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2014 Literary Pin-up Calendar Adventures Althing Andri Snaer Magnason Blue Lagoon Chris Pramas Clarion Writer's Foundation Geysir Golden Circle Golden Falls Gullfoss Harpa Iceland Neil Gaiman Northern Lights Reykjavik Rob Heinsoo https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/11/Fall-Travels-Part-1-Iceland Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:18:57 GMT
Really Big Doings https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/10/Really-Big-Doings Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Lend me your electrons!
Life is full of goodness and I have a lot of news to share:

• THE NEW WEB SITE!
It is remarkable how much work has snowballed during these last 35 years. Curating this curious compendium of work for a cohesive web site presented constant surprises and challenges, but was really great fun. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing them, and that you’ll let me know which pieces you like most, what is missing (and if you have pieces from the distant past that I lack a proper scan of):

www.leemoyer.com

For those who have kindly been following me on WordPress, please know I will gradually be switching my writings over to my new journal on the Zenfolio site: http://www.leemoyer.com/blog

I will keep cross-posting for a while longer and will let you know when I post my last entry here!

• 2014 LITERARY PIN-UP CALENDAR FOR CLARION WRITER’S WORKSHOP
2013’s calendar featured collaborations with modern masters Ray Bradbury, Charlaine Harris, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher, Peter Beagle, and Sir Terry Pratchett, and benefitted author Patrick Rothfuss’ charity Worldbuilders. This next year’s features the Calendar Project’s first authorial return engagement as Neil Gaiman once again graces its pages. Hooray!

I thrilled to be working with Clarion and the award-winning authors they invited to be in this coming year’s calendar.

Their IndieGoGo campaign should be lighting up the internets this very week. We’ll be sending the details to everyone on our mailing list of course, but more important than anything I can do is you spreading the good word.

IndieArt2 • 120 SMALL GODS! SO FAR!
I have been drawing Small Gods for one third of a year so far. The story of the project’s origins is here:

http://leemoyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/1035/

It has been wonderful to have people approach me in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter with stories and ideas for Small Gods.
I look forward to the next hundred, and hope you’ll join me here:

www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

Also, people can now purchase prints of Small Gods directly from the website. Progress!

• STARSTRUCK
Earlier this year Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Harry Palmer: Starstruck.
I am pleased to announce that in addition to the cover (below), I will again be painting the entirety of this astonishing work.
Even as I write, new pages are being created and Harry’s story promises to be even more beautiful than the previous.

HPalmer3 • ARISIA 2015 HONORS
I was even more pleased to accept the Artist Guest of Honor invitation from Boston’s Arisia when I learned that the Author Guest of Honor is none other than the dynamic and delightful Nora Jemisin. It was an honor to draw a pin-up of one of her fascinating characters for my 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar. I only hope the piece is as elegant and challenging as its source material.

JemisinPinup • ICELAND & UK
In a weeks time I will be heading out for the UK via Iceland for the World Fantasy Convention. I am very much looking forward to the new friends and old I will see, including authors Kim Newman (whose Diogenes Club books I have been lucky enough to illustrate) and Andri Snær Magnason whose remarkable book LoveStar was runner-up for the Philip K. Dick Award last year. We are especially excited to meet up with The Indelicates, one of our favorite bands – as delightfully subversive and compelling as one could wish!

• 13th AGE
My game with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Aaron McConnell 13th Age is out (to rave reviews) and available from Pelgrane Press.
I am working on the artwork for its follow-on book 13 True Ways (the wilier among you might notice a couple sneak previews of that art in the vasty Games section my new website):

www.leemoyer.com/games

• DOOM in REVIEW
The rescue of my game ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’ by Cryptozoic was a wonderful thing to be able to announce last month.
I just found this charming review of it from GenCon (where rules designer Keith Baker was present for play tests):

Edit: Upon posting this entry I was informed I have reached my 50th post on my journal! A milestone I didn’t even realize I was making.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 13 True Ways 13th Age 2014 Literary Pin-up Calendar Aaron McConell Adventures Andri Snaer Magnason Arisia 2015 Art and Illustration Brighton Clarion Clarion Writer's Workshop Cryptozoic Elaine Lee Harry Palmer Jonathan Tweet Keith Baker Kim Newman Lovestar Michael Kaluta Nora Jemisin Pelgrane Press Rob Heinsoo Small Gods Starstruck The Doom That Came to Atlantic City The Indelicates World Fantasy Convention 2013 Zenfolio https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/10/Really-Big-Doings Sun, 13 Oct 2013 23:42:51 GMT
2013 East Coast Adventures https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/8/2013-East-Coast-Adventures Another fulsome novella: This time recounting our adventures in Roanoke, Charlottesville, DC, Baltimore, Chadd’s Ford and Philadelphia.

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It seems that Venetia and I are becoming quite experienced travelers in the sense that we are learning to fall fast asleep on airplanes and thereby increase the relative speed of our trip and arrive well-rested enough for immediate shenanigans. En route to Atlanta, we awoke at even thirds of our journey for proffered sustenance. The trip from Atlanta to Roanoke was vastly more exciting, what with the whirl around the massive thunderstorm (lightning in the sky every few seconds) and the long crazy sunset where we flew between strata held aloft by pillars of gorgeously backlit thunderheads. Amazing.

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After dropping off our luggage (TWO suitcases people, livin’ the Dream!) in the Mill Mountain Atelier beneath its animated neon coffee mug, we were treated to a nighttime tour of downtown Roanoke, culminating at a late night dinner at Macados where I indulged in a decadent mac’n bleu cheese. We stayed as late as was reasonable, catching up with my dear friend and host, Todd Ristau.

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Friday morning we awoke at a leisurely hour and set out on the town in search of a print shop. We had been so busy in the weeks leading up to our trip, that we had failed to find the time to get the proper pieces ready for the North American Discworld Convention a weeks hence. Roanoke is a charming city and one of its clever features is permanent stalls lining the sidewalk downtown for a daily market. Venetia spotted a stall with professional photography prints and we inquired after a fine art printer. The man we spoke with consulted a colleague a few stalls at who affirmed that that the best place for prints in Roanoke is Photo USA and moreover, his car was just around the corner and he could take us there. So we hopped in the car with Bruce Muncy and he drove us through town to the print shop. On the way back from our successful mission, Bruce described the business workshop he teaches for photographers – about success brooking no impediments, about living free of resentment and bad habits. All principles I strive to enact in my own life.

Back in town, we sampled frozen yogurt and took advantage of the store’s Internet. Shortly before 5pm, we set out on search of a smaller print shop to get my Small Gods templates printed, for use in coming days. Venetia had scouted ahead online, and even called to confirm that the print shop down the street could indeed print the templates either from an email or her thumb drive. What the woman on the phone failed to mention, however, is that the provincial and Luddite Sir Speedy’s will only print files from thumb drive or emails after an up-front fee of $25. Because apparently technology is hard.

By this time, after a bewildering conversation with the clerk during which she admitting to being the same person on the phone who declared to Venetia that of course they could print from a thumb drive but failed to mention the $25 fee, we discovered that it was now exactly 5pm and all others stores in walking distance were closed. We returned to our home base where I immortalized the poor service with this Small God:

SG13

At 7:30pm Todd and his talented (and decidedly non-persnickety) librarian wife Joan took us to dinner at the delicious Rockfish next to the infamous coffee shop Cups. We had a roasted beet salad and pecan-encrusted trout and both the food and the company was splendid. Venetia’s favorite moment came at Pop’s Ice Cream (and gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich) shop around the corner where we went there for desert. After trying the butter pecan, peanut butter, and black raspberry flavors in succession, Venetia decided that the later was the most delicious, only to later renege on her decision and surreptitiously steal bites of my butter pecan half-way through her scoop.

Friday night in Roanoke Virginia is, as it is in many cities across the country, the night of No Shame Theater. I had flown into town a couple days before my presentation and workshop specifically to take part, premiering ‘No Nude Bathing’ – the hair-raising true story about my accidental visit to Black’s Beach with Keith Baker after a long-ago San Diego Comic Con.

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(Todd and I: Photo by Chad Runyon)

Peter Ullian’s piece featured 2 puppets: a kindly dragon and a messianic sheep. Todd’s performance as Bertoldt Brecht and his song about Alex Jones’ grotesque influence on American Thought (to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart) were clear highlights.

After a mixed group of grad students and teachers headed back downtown for drinking, food and much talking. The horrid screechings from Flanagan’s karaoke night led us back to Macado’s once again. When a nearby drunk skipped out on his bill, we were ineffectively shamed by a clueless passive-aggressive waiter.

Saturday morning was bright and sunny – or rather, the afternoon was. Having stayed up well past 2am the previous night, we felt quite justified in rising late. We finally left our digs around noon and headed downtown in search of something interesting. We found it after only a few blocks: an old car show! The next two and a half hours we walked up and down the blocks, admiring and taking copious pictures of beautiful and well-cared for cars. The details on some of them were amazing and Venetia mourned for the loss of  such fancy features and personal touches in modern cars.

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After a touch of frozen yogurt and a nap – both to combat the heatstroke – my old colleague Matt Hulan picked us up and drove us out to his charming house in Grandin Village. We greeted Nancy and Luke while befriending their delightful rescue dogs and Matt grilled us up delicious chicken. Venetia was thrilled to discover our host’s proximity to last nights treat: ice cream at Pop’s. We strolled over and this time Venetia correctly chose the butter pecan, despite other tasted temptations.

On the way back, I engaged in a new weight program: small boy-lifting and spinning. Luke then proved he was not in the least tired out by all the jumping and screams of laughter by challenging Venetia to a game of first Forbidden Island – a game much like Galen Ciscell’s Atlantis Rising and then a long game of Catan. Venetia, a life-long lover of all things Catan, was overjoyed. And while she roundly defeated both Matt and Luke, I drew up the Small God of the night, that of Meglomanical Boy Geniuses:

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Sunday started off right with brunch with Todd and Joan and then a tour of the historic and sophisticated Hollins College. Venetia had serious academic jealousy seeing all the beautiful brick buildings and I admit to being sorely tempted by Todd’s description of his graduate playwriting class (The ‘First Drafts’ class alone)! Maybe in a few years when I can take some time off to write….

My workshop was in the stately new library in an airy 3rd floor room devoted to books by alumni and overlooking the campus. I brought lots of examples of posters and designs  and had a good solid two hours of show and tell. Afterward, we dined on soul food which Venetia found as scrumptious as its origins were alarming. After such a huge meal more ice cream at Pop’s was sadly counter-indicated. The rest of the night was spent looking over all the pictures in my portfolio and planning how to present 35 years of my life and work into 35 minutes of talking.

Todd picked us up Monday morning and took us to the TV station where I was totally wrong-footed. The local station is rightly spotlighting the amazing people Todd is bringing to Roanoke, but my interview was… well, not my finest moment.

13TVinterview

We did the all-important check to make sure my fancy slide-show would indeed show that night and had a fortifying and delicious dinner. My talk on “My life in the arts” aka “35 years in 35 minutes!” went quite well and Venetia assures me that it was indeed both entertaining and informative. I was later informed that I was “on fire”. I was not put out in the slightest to hear it….

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(Photo by Chad Runyon)

We blew town first thing in the morning and enjoyed a nice overcast drive to Charlottesville where I toured Venetia around to various sites in my history before lunch with genius playwright and director Clinton Johnston. I also showed her a statue which illustrates quite clearly why I prefer the West Coast to the East. In Portland we have a state of Sacagawea. Can you spot her in Charlottesville’s version? Oh my white brother…..

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When we reached Arlington VA later in the afternoon, I gave Venetia a similar tour, though this time many of the landmarks I meant to point out no longer exist: the house my parents lived in having been bulldozed under in favor of a vasty McMansion™ and Yorktown High School? Unrecognizable in every particular (not that that’s a bad thing per se).

Our hosts for our far-too-brief stay in DC were the splendid Barker and we joined them along with FB friend Grig Larson at a confusingly-named fish ‘n chips restaurant in Falls Church called “Clarendons” (well, Clara and Don’s… but some homophones are best left alone).

Venetia received her third tour of the day when I took her into DC proper and we drove first up to the National Cathedral – which was under repair due to earthquakes! The testing of the scales for the bells was shocking and I can only imagine the distress of the neighbors. Just glad we weren’t there for the quakes themselves. After my near-miss on September 11, people might have started to talk….

This was Venetia’s first time in DC, and she was treated to a special Capitol red, white, and blue sunset. There was some upset at the White House so we were unable to see it closely due to the police car barricade. Later, I joined Mark and my beloved Della at their dart competition and had a wonderful night catching up.

13Capitol

THE DAY arrived. Because of the curious confluences of scheduling this would be our single day in DC!

First, we met up with my old Smithsonian “supervisor” Helene at the elephant in Natural History at 10. From there it was a whirlwind tour of skeletons and gemstones for two hours. We ate lunch with my cousin Rachel at the Native American Museum – easily the best meal on the Mall. We dined on baked salmon, roasted golden beets, wild rice and cranberries salad, and were appalled by the people at every table around ours eating fries and breaded chicken that looked as though it could be purchased at any KFC. We took some precious time to explore the top two floors of the museum which were absolutely stunning. Then we said good-bye to Helene and literally ran (or at least power walked quickly) through Air and Space with Rachel. Then it was off to the National Gallery! Venetia’s two favorite pieces were John Martin’s “Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gideon” and the Dutch masters, though we also saw an amazing collection of icons and pre-Raphaelite books. It was an especial treat to introduce my classically beautiful cousin Rachel to Ginevra, one of the Da Vinci paintings that had inspired me to paint her some years previous.

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After this mad dash through the National Gallery we now said farewell to Rachel and continued on to conquer the Freer. Around 5pm we decided we simply could not go on and returned to Arlington to prepare for dinner at the Carlyle (no longer grand.) We discovered upon arrival that the tables were bolted to the floor and therefore we could not combine forces as our group was too large for one table. The solution: to have dinner with one table and dessert with the second!

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There is only one place to spend the 4th of July in DC and that is at the Bungalow.

John and Kathi did not disappoint with a house and lawn full of friends, lots of meat and liquid nitrogen ice cream. Amazing to see that Kathi and Jim appeared utterly unchanged.

Glorious to see Kate (even if she resembles her Uncle Walter more than I’d have guessed) and so many others. My conversation with Bill K produced a surprising present upon my return home, but that’s another story altogether.

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Eventually we were forced by necessity to depart that lively company to drive to Baltimore, passing through the typically-charming Ellicott City on our way.

Baltimore was all turned out for the 4th and we enjoyed a slow long drive full of people-watching to the hotel for the North American Discworld Convention. The convention staff was having a cozy meet and greet and afterward we hurried up to the pool deck to watch the fireworks over Baltimore with ace Daily Bugle shutterbug Kevin Hollenbeck, whose marvelous lens lit the night after the fact.

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(Photo by Kevin Hollenbeck)

After the first Discworld party thrown by Emily (who I hope will one day embody my version of Pratchett and Gaiman’s Polution [and yes, that is a compliment]), we stayed up late to witness the creation of the Small God of Terminal Hunger who had recently been vexing Kevin.

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Friday was the first day of Discworld and we started by hunting down frames for my prints. Walt Carter met us for lunch amid the glamour of IKEA in White Marsh. He too looked exactly as he is fixed in my memory. It’s been too long since we’ve gotten to work closely. The art show took two hours to put up but when it was up, it was indeed a thing of Ankh-Morporkian beauty. Opening ceremonies were highly entertaining as the chair, Richard, taught us Americans how to pronounce some of the guests’ names. For example Bernard Pearson, co-founder of the Discworld Emporium and my favorite raconteur, is properly pronounced “brrrrr” + “nerd”. Though one suspects he’s been called a great many other things in his long and storied life….

At dinner I indulged in gluten and dairy, two things we rarely eat at home and had a delicious lobster mac’n cheese. Afterwards we were joined in our room by Doug and Lisa who demonstrated important apps we needed to have – including Find My iPhone. So good to see them, and so invaluable to learn a trick or two into the bargain!

Saturday was such a whirlwind day I scarcely can recall all the details. We got up early enough for breakfast at the scandalous hour of 9am. My first panel was “Illustrating Discworld” and I lost my “moderator” badge in the first seconds to that rapscallion Bernhard. But I got a little of my own back midway through through the event when he got his back up at my assertion that “You can absolutely do art on a little digital drawing pad”. “No no no!” he thundered (and really, thunder should be half so effective or interesting). But when I asked if I might emend my errantry, he demurred. After a brief pause, I replied “When I said you can absolutely do art thus, what I should have said was…” another slight pause here for effect “that I can do art thus.” The crowd roared, and I think Bernhard forgave my insolence. I do hope so ;) The panel was a wonderful success in large part because of the cooler (and saner?) heads between us – those of the Discworld Emporium’s brilliant Ian and Ray Friesen, designer of the astonishing Discworld “Hawaiian” shirts. I’m not sure that they prevailed exactly, but overall, I think the crowd enjoyed the heck out of it.

I later gave a portfolio critique to several young artists (and met a sly gnome of Zurich who, as gnomes are won’t to do, snuck in without portfolio. He was apparently curious to see what words I might have for the artistic youth of Ankh-Morpork). I then went straight to judge the art show, where I gave the 3 awards. Best in Class went to an amazing carved-wood unicorn. A unicorn I tell you! A first (and probably a last) for me. They’ll drum me out of the Union should I lapse again, but you can’t beat craftsmanship, even in the service of such (uni)corny subject matter.

My dear friend Sally had come up from DC and we ventured into Little Italy for dinner before I was called upon to be a judge for the Masquerade. While seeing Marty Gear is always a pleasure, I’d never before gotten to work with him on a Masquerade (my presence there a kind gift from Bernhard. Like Sir Terry himself, Bernhard was a force even in his absence). Venetia and I both chatted with Marty at length outside the confines of the Judging Room too. And I thank my lucky stars for the time. Marty is (and will be) much missed.

Although she didn’t enter into the Masquerade as a contestant, one of my favorite costumes of the whole convention (and a splendid person to know as well) was the bold and fierce Angua of the Night Watch.

Angua

On Sunday I woke up far too early with a piercing pain in my ear, necessitating a trip to the ER. While waiting for doctors and medication I drew two small gods. Venetia slept in a chair beside me and missed the great people watching that can take place in the ER on a Sunday morning; the gang banger with the two teardrop tattoos, the man carrying on into his cell phone about how some woman had absconded with one of his two Maseratis “The one that was ONE payment from paid OFF”, the firemen talking about Game of Thrones, financing and world travel. Nothing like it for ambiance!

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After finally getting the required antibiotics, we drove back to the hotel in time for breakfast. Venetia went back to sleep while I got a quick massage and then went to my panel: The Dictionary of Eye-Watering Words. Crivens! The crowd was so vast that we were relocated (with the audience trailing) to the back of the vast auditorium. John Singer and Bernard held down the left flank. The good doctor and I took the right. There may have been some Welshmen with burning ears, but no other harm was done, save to the language.

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(Photo by Tim Van Holder)

My koffee-klatsch was next and was filled with interesting people including Monica Welham, the clever librarian I had suggested to Discworld to write an article for the program book. They had liked her article so much, they invited her to be a panelist at the convention. Brava! Concurrently, the charity auction was a huge success, and I drew the “Death of Crabs” at the urging of the members of my koffee-klatsch as a last minute entrant. I wish I’d been there to see the bidding!

After the charity auction came the art auction and then Venetia and I dismantled the sparse remains of the art show. Then it was time for my nap, after which came the Grand Gala. The first lady of the 2013 North American Discworld had really outdone herself. Not only was she splendidly arrayed in a most beautiful and clever gown, but each table was specially themed to a different Discworld book. I sat at the Wee Free Men table (quite apropos as I’d just finished the audio book just before the wild journey) and feasted on the sweeties from the iron pan in the center of the table. Venetia joined me after her second nap of the day (waking to an emergency really wears one out!) and we spent a lovely evening talking to four sisters of Discworld. Venetia was especially taken with the sly gnome of Zurich, whose CV held many secrets of forgery (and much else).

On Monday morning we braved the sun and heat to journey around the harbor to the Baltimore Aquarium! The multitude of turtles and tortoises we saw seemed to fit quite well with our Discworld theme. Our hosts, Yvonne and Dirk, were wonderful fonts of sealife knowledge, however we enjoyed introducing them to the magical delights of the Mantis Shrimp.

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A delicious luncheon with my old friend Dan and Noel-Marie followed. Then we hurried back for the closing ceremonies. Immediately follow by more napping. There was a late evening party for the guests and we slept right until its start. Venetia was first sad to see that there was nothing in the munchables that she could eat, until she discovered the secret meat skewers that had been set aside especially for the gluten-free request and soon had other guests coming up to her asking for the secret password to share such treats.

After some time we adjourned to my room where I worked on another Small God during an interview by the vivacious Emily which lasted until quite late. Who would imagine how loquacious we would manage to be? We made the final rounds down at the bar to bid adieu to our hosts and fellow guests and thus ended our Discworld convention, though the Discworld adventure currently sits in the “to be continued” category!

Venetia’s highlights of the convention included having her hand kissed by so many charming (and wicked) English men and sharing a long conversation with Marty Gear.

Tuesday morning we were up surprisingly early  off to Philadelphia. We stopped for lunch at a fancy garden shop, that turned into a 3 hour conversation with Charlie Thomas. Best lamb burger ever. And amazing (but expensive) raspberry lemonade. After such an epic discussion, we had only an hour to spend at the NC Wyeth museum but we made the most of our time there. I love studying the masters and seeing how fearless and free their brush strokes are. There is always so much to learn. We wound our way through west Philly to the home of photographer athlete Kyle Cassidy and haunting actress Trillian Stars.

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The first thing I did upon entering their home was start up the pin-ball machine. Unfortunately it loses the third ball and so I was unable to complete a game. On my next visit, Venetia and I will clearly need to do some repairs. On this visit to their fine home, I satisfied my philanthropic and creative urges by turning Kyle and Trillian’s bathroom into a mini library. Kyle sums up our visit quite eloquently and took a beautiful photograph with one of his amazing lens of the new “library”.

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Venetia got to read multiple books during our stay and got her second haircut, this one even shorter than the last. After walking slowly and sedately around Philadelphia in the summer, I am even more impressed with Kyle’s running stories, having experienced just a little of the running conditions. (Hint: muggy, hot, and hard to move in. Like treacle, but less tasty).

There was much to inspire and bring forth Small Gods in Kyle and Trillian’s house and accordingly, I made my homage to Roswell, Small God of Cats on the Internet:

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We made it safely back home on Thursday but found our busy 4 days between trips too brief to finish posting up this blog before…
San Diego Comic Con!


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures Discworld Kyle Cassidy Mantis Shrimp Marty Gear National Gallery Natural History North American Discworld Convention Roswell Small Gods Smithsonian The Oatmeal Trillian Stars https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/8/2013-East-Coast-Adventures Wed, 07 Aug 2013 19:45:44 GMT
Big News! https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/Big-News Good morning lovely people,
Today, after more than a year, Keith Baker and I have some good news for you.

• Please check this page out:

http://www.cryptozoic.com/games/doom-came-atlantic-city

• Please check this board out:

DoomBoard

• Please check this press release out:

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CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT PARTNERS WITH CREATORS LEE MOYER
AND KEITH BAKER TO SAVE THE DOOM THAT CAME TO ATLANTIC CITY
BOARD GAME
Cryptozoic & Creators Pledge that Kickstarter Backers will not be Abandoned!
Irvine, CA (July 31, 2013)—Cryptozoic Entertainment™, a premier developer of original and licensed games, announced today that it will be publishing the board game The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, created by Lee Moyer and Keith Baker.This news comes just a week after the previous publisher announced that the Kickstarter project had been cancelled.
“For Lee and I, the worst part of this is that people who put their faith in our game have been hurt by it,” said Baker. “After the Kickstarter was cancelled, many people came forward with ideas to keep the game alive. But we didn’t want to pursue an option that would save Doom unless it would also get the game into the hands of the people who first supported it.”
Moyer and Baker have fought to bring this whimsical game of cosmic horror to life for over a decade. In 2010, sculptor Paul Komoda joined the team with his unique vision of the terrifying Old Ones. In 2013 it seemed that the stars were finally aligned… until the surprising announcement that the project was abandoned.
“We were really shocked to hear the news about this last week” said Scott Gaeta Cryptozoic’s chief operating officer. “The game looked fantastic and I thought that we might be able to help, so I contacted Keith right away. Keith and Lee told me that taking care of the Kickstarter backers was the most important thing to them and I couldn’t agree more. That’s why we are going to be fulfilling all of the Kickstarter game orders ourselves.”
“Our first priority is getting the game produced and in the hands of the Kickstarter backers,” said Gaeta. “We are already working with the factory and should have a date we can share in a few weeks. We are also going to be demoing the game at Gen Con and the upcoming Alliance Open House. This game is just too much fun not to make it available to gamers everywhere.”
Soon to be available in hobby stores world wide, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City board game invites players to assume the role of one of the Great Old Ones – beings of ancient eldritch power. Cosmic forces have held you at bay for untold eons, but at last the stars are right and your maniacal cult has called you forth. Once you regain your full powers, you will unleash your doom upon the world! There’s only one problem: you’re not alone. The other Great Old Ones are here as well, and your rivals are determined to steal your cultists and snatch victory from your flabby claws! It’s a race to the ultimate
finish as you crush houses, smash holes in reality, and fight to call down The Doom That Came To Atlantic City!
For more information about The Doom that Came to Atlantic City Board Game, please visit
http://www.cryptozoic.com, Keith Baker’s blog at http://www.keith-baker.com and Lee Moyer’s blog at

http://www.leemoyer.com/

Keep up to date with exclusive contests, promotions and game information on Cryptozoic
Entertainment’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

About Cryptozoic Entertainment
Founded in 2010, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Inc. is a premier developer and publisher of original and licensed board games, card games, comics and trading cards, including the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game, The Hobbit board and deck building games, The Big Bang Theory: The Party Game and The Walking Dead™ Board Game. Following a philosophy and core principle of “Fans First,” the dedicated gamers and fans of the Cryptozoic Entertainment team are focused on producing fun and amazing products along with epic events that bring all gaming fans together as part of the Cryptozoic community. Visit http://www.cryptozoic.com for additional product and event information.
_____________________________________________________

• Everyone who supported this Kickstarter deserves the game, my sincere thanks, and their money back from the Forking Path.

• Many thanks to those of you who have supported this project. My thanks to you for your patience and support – and to Keith, Paul Komoda and Cryptozoic for their brilliance! Thank you all!

Addendum. In regards to various notes I have received on the subject I would like to clarify one very important thing and I will use Keith Baker’s excellent words to do so:

“To be absolutely clear: This has nothing to do with The Forking Path or Kickstarter. The project was cancelled, and this is not a reward or refund from the Forking Path. Cryptozoic isn’t assuming responsibility for the Kickstarter project or the actions of The Forking Path: They are simply doing what they can to make things right for the gamers who have suffered because of it. As I said, they can’t cover all rewards The Forking Path promised, because they are doing this entirely at their own expense to lend a hand. But Cryptozoic will see to it that the backers get the game they thought they were backing, and that is a tremendous relief to me.”


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Cryptozoic Keith Baker Kickstarter The Doom That Came to Atlantic City https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/Big-News Wed, 31 Jul 2013 11:15:48 GMT
13th Age Bookplates https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/13th-Age-Bookplates Good News everybody!

I’ll be signing calendars (and whatever else anyone wants signed) at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth 1920/1922 at the San Diego Comic Con this very week!
Times: 3pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

LeeSigns

Signing these bookplates I designed is not the most fabulous way to spend my time.
Surprising I know, but there it is.

It does, however, provide a wonderful time to think.
And while the whole domino-effect-stream-of-semiconsciousness catalogue wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, a few random thoughts from that stream might.

1. What am I doing? These are the worst signatures I’ve ever made in my life!

13thAgeBookplates

2. Well, I guess it’s pretty clear which of us is the most extroverted. I bet Rob and Jonathan haven’t marked all over their desks. And clearly they don’t own the whole prismatic pack of Sharpies.

3. I might finally be getting the hang of this. I really shouldn’t have signed the smaller pile of meant for the limited edition hardbacks first. I’m glad I’ve switched to a lighter pen color.

4. Holy cow! There are a lot of people who will have this book in their hands. I’m really proud of it, and I hope that those folks take it to their hearts. I’m glad the early reviews have been so positive.

5. I wish that I’d been able to fit GenCon into my travel schedule this year.

6. How lucky am I to have such a short name?

7. I’m so impressed with that nice (and wildly successful) Neil Gaiman. He’s signing way more than bookplates – and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a tsunami of roiling books – even in Tennessee. And that doesn’t even take into account the books that his fans will bring with them.

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8. What would my younger self have thought if he could see this future? Would it have made the compulsory weekend “assisting” my father more tolerable? Or less so?

9. Hey, that dice ring is really shiny. How fun to think that those symbols I made will become essentially invisible User Interface – that they’ll become so standard that people won’t even think about them – or about the fact that the mechanical designers had to fit 13 spinning pieces around the outside. Nicely done people.

10. This is amazing. How unbelievably lucky am I to be where I am right now – living in Portland, working with such stellar collaborators, traveling, with this wonderful life?

13thAge1


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 13th Age Book Covers CBLDF Jonathan Tweet Neil Gaiman Rob Heinsoo San Diego Comic Con https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/13th-Age-Bookplates Sun, 14 Jul 2013 17:10:10 GMT
Small God Adventures https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/Small-God-Adventures Ayta – The Small God of Sidelong Glances

#28 • Drawn at the Minneapolis Airport

944759_10151780500347495_843554420_n I was tempted to call her “February” since I’ve been working on this project for exactly 4 weeks. But that wouldn’t allow for leap years, and I thought she deserved a more relevant name.

So far the Small Gods are doing everything I want them to (speed painting/life drawing/mixed media/different styles/communication with those readers of my blog and those precious few that FB allows to see them), and much besides.

Last night Venetia created a database so that I don’t repeat myself in names, spheres of influence etc. It’s weird to see unsuspected coincidences and biases (Ayta is my third black woman who is seen in profile. Wha?).

It’s been especially wonderful to read the comments from people and see that many of them are keeping their eyes open for both weird layered humor and simple delight.

I donated 5 of the handmade versions to the NADW Charity Auction and was startled by the positive reaction to the Small God of Psychic Cowboys. They can’t all be winners, but if he can find an audience I hope to stretch the bounds of credulity still further in future.

After a few days at home, it’s back on the road to the SanDiego ComicCon and more handmade Small Gods….

Thanks for your kind thoughts and sharing the love!

And now, the second week of Small Gods:

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Discworld San Diego Comic Con Small Gods https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/7/Small-God-Adventures Sat, 13 Jul 2013 14:04:22 GMT
Small Gods – In the Beginning https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/6/Small-Gods-In-the-Beginning The first week of my Small Gods Project is finished. For your edification, I have rounded up all the usual deities.

I will continue drawing and painting through the week, and into the coming weeks of travel. First, I will be in Roanoke, Virginia as a Guest Speaker at the Hollins University Playwright’s Lab for July 1st, then it’s up to the DC area to visit friends and museums. 999327_537599532944387_1425940212_n From July 4th to July 8th, I will be in Charm City for the North American Discworld Convention. And then I have some adventures planned for Philadelphia.

If you spot me in any of these places, I will have my sketch pad and watercolors with me and you may even witness the macabre spectacle of a Small God’s creation.

SG1 SG2 SG3 SG4 SG5 SG6 SG7 Please keep your Small Gods suggestions coming!

Thank you!


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Discworld Hollins University Playwright's Lab NADCon Small Gods Terry Pratchett https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/6/Small-Gods-In-the-Beginning Mon, 24 Jun 2013 13:42:35 GMT
The Small Gods Project https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/6/The-Small-Gods-Project What curious susurrations, odd overlays, and eddies of thought have led me to undertake this curious project?

1. I grew up believing that work was work and that the more work one did, the better. Anything else was laziness – not to be tolerated or encouraged. That’s probably why many of my best friends are also workmates. My work has too-often been rather less fun than it should have been, but painting is fun, if I let it be. So, what kind of project could I do that would let me exercise my painting muscles, but not be some pile of useless sketches at the end of the days and weeks?

2. Facebook is a menace. Not only does it hide some unknowable 90% of one’s putative “friends”, but it tempts one to read and write while not drawing. Or painting. Or working in any other way. I was just listening to Carl Hiaasen convey my very thoughts on the matter. But since I like Facebook and my remaining friends, how can I make the experience more interesting and less draining?

3. Each day, Rich Potter has been asking his Facebook pals for suggestions as to what famous person he should paint. And I’ve been impressed with both the work he’s doing, and the responses he’s getting. So tempting to just steal his idea…

4. Eddie Izzard talks about “crap gods” in his show Dress to Kill: “And then the Romans came along with their gods that they had borrowed from the Greeks. They invaded Greece, conquered them and stole all their gods… and renamed them with Roman names, ’cause the Roman gods before that were kind of crap, you know – Geoff, the god of biscuits, and Simon, the god of hairdos….”

5. The real ‘Small Gods’ is a book by Sir Terry Pratchett. Pratchett’s Gods are beings who yearn to be believed in, that they might become powerful and influential. Belief is everything to them, and without it, they may stay small forever. Some gods find nice niches and fill the Belief Economy for many years undisturbed. Others want it all. Or rather, like Om, they want it all back. Pratchett also has fun at the expense of Fedecks, the Ephebian god of messengers and other homages obvious and unobvious from Petulia to Ishkibble.

The Obvious Conclusion !?!

My first Small Gods card: Ishka Babel, the Small God of Comic Novelty Songs.

SG1 So, the plan is to spend 1 hour (or less) making a new Small God each day.
I’ll be taking ideas from the Comments provided by the lovely people who read this blog, and see me on Facebook and/or Twitter.

What object, area, category, or activity needs a Small God? Which already has one (or more than one)? And don’t expect the Gods to necessarily bear the forms of the humans who might worship them them – after all Sobek and Offler had Crocodile heads!
And some Gods needn’t even be flesh and blood!

I hope to create a curious and entertaining Rogue’s Gallery of Small Gods – all while trying to enjoy the act of painting and experimenting as broadly as I can.
I hope you’ll enjoy the ride!


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Eddie Izzard Geoff the God of Biscuits Rich Potter Sir Terry Pratchett Small Gods https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/6/The-Small-Gods-Project Sun, 16 Jun 2013 21:54:44 GMT
MASSIVE FAIL https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/5/MASSIVE-FAIL Bill S. Preston, Esquire was wise beyond his years.
He knew just what Socrates (So-Crates) Johnson meant when he said:
“Like sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

Bill But Bill was from a more innocent time – a time when talented animators like Kathleen Quaife animated complex water effects and the electricity generated by his (and Ted “Theodore” Logan’s) Excellent Adventures by hand.
Today, that sand is not like the days of our lives. It’s like those lives themselves.

Whoa Massive is a software package developed by Stephen Regelous. allowing Weta Digital to create incredibly detailed and complex battle sequences for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) The ability to quickly and easily create millions of individuals and enable every one to respond individually to its surroundings (including other fully rendered and “intelligent” beings) was important to finishing these epic films, and it was astonishing to see. Ranks of assembled armies, doing (with the help of massively Massive creatures) what massive armies always do ~ kill other massive armies.

It was a well-defined fantasy milieu that had, over 3 films, built to this rousing crescendo of all out War. It was mostly realistic (insofar as such a fantasy can be “realistic”), and it worked ~  Well, with the exception of the ghost army coming in like so many green scrubbing bubbles to save Minas Tirith anyway. That just looked silly.
The people of Weta had seen a need and they had met that need with cutting-edge digital aplomb, and they were amply rewarded.

I didn’t really give the issue a lot of thought thereafter.
But I should have. Heaven knows other filmmakers did.

I was in Winnipeg last week for Keycon, and before the convention started, the Con committee kindly took several of its American guests (including author Steven Barnes and actor/author Richard Hatch) to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. I’ve found that if I want to remain surprised by a film or other pop cultural event its always better to see it before spending a long weekend with passionate people who beat me to the punch….

Before that film started, we saw a couple trailers – one for World War Z and one for Ender’s Game. And then, Into Darkness – a film dedicated to post-9/11 veterans.
So, thematically, we were dealing with genocide, genocide and…. well, not quite genocide (despite the antagonist’s best efforts in San Francisco).

WorldWarZ The trailer for World War Z was a shock to me for several reasons:

First, I’ve never read it and had no idea what film was being advertised.
Secondly, because I had no notion that Brad Pitt was IN WWZ.
But lastly – and this is is really the main point – because it was probably the single most revolting thing I’ve ever seen.
It was a genocidal snuff film where bodies flew about like the sawdust in a lumber mill. It was chaos for its own sake – a swarming anthill of the grotesque that seemed to defy the laws of physics even as it defied good taste. By comparison, The Lord of the Rings films looks like light escapist fun – the sort of thing Miss Manners were heartily recommend.
Michael Bay films look like Arsenic and Old Lace by comparison (though without the wit or performances, natch).
Nyarlathotep – the “Crawling Chaos” of the Cthulhu Mythos – has got nothing on WWZ.

WWZ From the top of a Ferris Wheel in postwar Vienna, Harry Lime once said “Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.”

But even Harry would have stopped counting his money looking at the thousands of seemingly unaligned dots of WWZ.
“Massive profits are one thing, but like the fellow said, best to have a Swiss bank left to store them in. So long Hollywood.”

The stills above don’t convey the sheer numbing inhumanity of this trailer and I’m glad they can’t. I try not to be utterly inhumane – even if the zeitgeist is.

Until Hollywood comes to deal with its new money shot somehow, I’ll be joined Harry Lime in Switzerland, old man.

third_man


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Forays into Films Harry Lime Kathleen Quaife Keycon Lord of the Rings Massive Star Trek: Into Darkness The Third Man Weta Digital World War Z https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/5/MASSIVE-FAIL Tue, 28 May 2013 10:54:00 GMT
Starstruck and Its Role in My Salvation https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/4/Starstruck-and-Its-Role-in-My-Salvation I just finished reading Michael Kaluta’s wonderful introduction to The Lost Art of Heinrich Kley. It’s called “Heinrich Kley and His Role in My Salvation”.

This piece is, at the risk of plagiarism (please to call it “homage”) is: “Starstruck and Its Role in My Salvation“.

StarstruckWraparoundCover7 I was lucky to meet Michael Kaluta before I was introduced to Starstruck.  Twice in fact.
The first time was at the apartment of artist David Mattingly in the long shadows of the World Trade Center. I had been working for a painter in New Jersey, and the occasion was one of the City’s monthly gatherings of those artists of the fantastic. I’d never been to the City before, much less to a party of real artists! I liked Michael and Charles Vess (his then-apartment-mate) on sight, but I would not get to know them for a couple years.

The second meeting was much more surprising as it was nowhere near New York – it was in a run-down building in a slightly seedy neighborhood north of the FBI building in downtown DC. Broadcast Arts was the name of the company, and it had been making quiet inroads into pop culture and media for some years (it would shortly thereafter move to New York later to become famous for its brilliant work on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse). It was close to my own modest digs in Arlington and, as I would shortly learn, a simple subway ride from Kaluta’s homestead in that same suburb. He had come to town to be the lead artist on DJ Webster’s video for the Alan Parsons Project’s million-selling smash hit “Don’t Answer Me“.

Here’s one of our first collaborations – Michael’s pencils and my inks for the heavy’s car in the video:

Muscles

And here’s our hero and heroine – Nick and Sugar:

Nick & Sugar I was out of my depth, but that didn’t seem to bother Michael. He was filled with colorful tales, mad talent, and issues of The Shadow #1 he’d drawn (I have mine near to hand even now). Our small but daring cohort finished the video in a couple weeks, and I didn’t see Michael again until I next visited the City.

By that time I had seen Starstruck. Specifically, Marvel Graphic Novel #13. I mention this to suggest the naivete of numbering Graphic Novels, and because Starstruck has assumed more forms than most shapeshifters in comic history – from play, to flashback mini-comics, to radio play, to…. Well, it’s complicated. (For more details, I recommend this Chronology.)

Starstruck was like nothing I’d seen (and I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…).
Weirdly, it may still be ahead of its time.

B A month later, the generous Jim Edwards-Hewitt, gifted me with the first issue of the Epic miniseries that followed the events of the Graphic Novel. Upon reading it, I sent Michael a note offering my assistance should it be desired. Happily for me, that note (and its poorly drawn portrait of Brucilla “the Muscle”) is lost to history. Sadly, Starstruck lasted a mere 6 issues at Epic, and by the time my note reached him, Michael and Elaine were bidding it a sad farewell. But not before they’d given Harry Palmer his own major storyline – with pieces that presaged some of the reality we now live in (Google goggles anyone?):

StarstruckMarvelCov I met writer Elaine Lee about that time. She’d been a successful actress and off-Broadway playwright. Smart, pretty, and still possessed of a Southern accent that in no way diminished her obvious braininess.

She was also pregnant – VERY pregnant. She was a wee slip of a thing, and her unborn child? A behemoth waiting to be born. Suffice it to say, she made an impression.  I, in my turn, also made an impression. Because even 4 years into my professional “career”, I looked all of 14 years old. No, really.

Here’s the tape case I made for the audio recording of her play The Contamination of the Kokomo Lounge:

Kokomo Lounge And here’s the card I made for Elaine shortly thereafter. It’s as filled with joyous Starstruckery as I could manage:

It Her son Brennan is now an adult with mad skills and a resume to match. Like his mother, he is an actor and a writer. His web comic is Strong Female Protagonist and he is a member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. And I, in the meantime, have managed to add the appearance (if not the maturity) of at least a couple decades.

It was my honor to work with Michael on assorted gigs through the 80s and 90s (The Abyss adaptation for Dark Horse, a couple SF covers for Byron Priess, et al.) even as I was visiting the City to engage in my long-running habit of dating NYU girls. (I sometimes suspect that Michael put up with my boisterous self because my coterie improved the scenery.) Happily, I got to spend time with Charlie, Elaine, Augusta and others during these pleasurable jaunts. Such a blessing for a young and untrained artist!

By the time Elaine and Michael were given a chance to revisit Starstruck in 1990, they had sufficient faith in my knowledge and passion for their project to entrust the “About Last Issue” blurbs to me. But rather than continuing the tale forward in time and space, they did something far more interesting: they expanded the story – literally adding frames, words and sometimes whole sequences, between the originals. This was reading between the lines in a very real sense! And I relished the opportunity to see the story unfold, to try and ferret out the details and relationships that each unreliable narrator were showing, telling, hiding or lying about. It was a joy! But short lived.

This time it was Michael’s workload that shut things down, not publisher Dark Horse. And so, many pages of Elaine’s expanded and continued story went unread. Oh sure, I had some of Michael’s xeroxed pencils from the unpublished Issue 5, but that was hardly sufficient….

StarstruckEUCov Little did I suspect that Starstruck would be my entree to anything so strange as a career in games…. but by 1990 my interest in roleplaying games had come a long way. What had started with D&D and Boot Hill, had grown through Call of Cthulhu and culminated in a decade of running Lawyers, Guns and Money. And table-top divertissement (no matter how involving or therapeutic) didn’t tell the whole story -  I had stumbled into the early live role-playing games that have come to be called LARPs.

I ran (and helped run) a few of these myself. One of these was notable because it involved Starstruck characters, and was staged down the block from Michael’s boyhood home. Elaine was invited to reprise her stage role of Galatia 9, but sadly money did not allow. The players were remarkable, and many things that could never occur in the real series happened with aplomb – The Bajar Shilling was revalued when Ronnie Lee Ellis married Dwannyun (or was it “Dumb-Onion”?) Grivaar, and the Girl Guides made out like… well, Girl Guides. Norris Rex created a new art form of “running real fast”, and Krystals were used to render the veil of the time/space continuum by none other than the displaced Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Here’s the cover I made for the game book – using what was (in 1986) the very latest in computer graphics: MacPaint. “If only computers would advance to a point where they were more useful than an Etch-a-Sketch! Oh, what I would do then!”

Macpaint1 Here’s one of the labels I made for the hooch on the Vale of Tiers:

DDC Label Then, early one morning, I got a call from Lawrence Schick (a dab hand in gaming and someone I knew from LARPs). It was 9 am and I had, as was my habit, hit the silk not 3 hours earlier. But he wasn’t calling to ask me about games, he was calling to ask if I was the same Lee Moyer who had been writing introductions to Starstruck. Even in my sleep deprived condition, that was a question I could answer.

I went to work on a project for Lawrence’s employers Magnet Interactive called Bluestar. And while that grotesquery was no Starstruck, I produced sufficient examples of Erotica Ann’s costume to put the kibosh on those outfits that Bluestar’s designers had in mind for the macho captain’s female underlings. Most every trace of this Gods-awful abomination has been eliminated from the internet, but for all that it was, in the words of our colleague Paul Murphy “The Worst thing EVER” it made a huge difference in my life – introducing me to people who are still friends, allowing me to work with my dear friends Keith Baker and Heather Lam.

Keith and I would work on all manner of game projects over the next decades, and I have hopes for the new year. But who can know?

When Lawrence went to AOL (It was a big deal then people. No, really), Keith, Heather and I were all involved in a Massively Multiplayer Starstruck pitch to AOL:

Cover

This proved a labor-intensive dead end, but it brought Elaine to my abode Arlington where I got to spend time with her and get to know her much better.

Many years passed and after I’d helped start a game company and been in-house as an Art Director for Electronic Arts, I found myself in Portland, Oregon.

During a particularly disagreeable freelance gig with one major corporation or another, it occurred to me that I’d really rather work with people of Integrity. So I asked Michael to send me out some of the black and white pages he’d created for the Dark Horse run and that had never been painted. His choices were… ambitious. This page’s Beastie WPA mural being only one example. Later, of course, we’d add a panel and dialog, but one piece at a time…:

7 The results were strong enough that Michael sent them out to his nearest and dearest. And that’s how I got the nod from Dave Stevens to paint his drawing of Spiderman (I had no idea that Dave was dying at the time, but it was an honor to work with him). One thing leads to another, but what that other will be is seldom obvious:

©Moyer_Hedge-SpidermanIIH Several years on, I got THE CALL.

Starstruck was on – this time, from IDW. Michael would be making the pages 17% taller (sometimes by adding new panels, sometimes by adding extra height to existing panels) and I would be painting the lot.

Here is the cover for Issue 1 as it developed:

2-Recovered Having tried to buy Starstruck art from him for years, you could have knocked me over with a feather when Michael gave me the ink piece you see top center!

Here’s the cover to Issue 8. Michael’s grasp of war machinery, detail, and spacial relations is non-pariel (and somewhat tricky to paint!):

8fdfCompare Here are a few panels from among the thousand or so Befores and Afters:

hghg 10 One of the unexpected aspects of this remastered expansion of the expanded tale was the need to relocate word balloons and caption boxes (like those in the Baron’s “throne” room above), as well as create new word balloons and sound effects. There was no budget for Todd Klein or John Workman to reprise their work, so it was my bailiwick (see: out of my depth, above). If there is any better lesson in type placement and flow, in TYPE generally, I’ve certainly never encountered it. In a few cases (like the one below) I had to turn to local expert (and legendary X-Men letterer) Tom Orzechowski for the most elegant and subtle solution:

18 But other times, the answers spoke for themselves (much like the garrulous Brucilla) and the resultant cascade of verbiage flowed between panels. Hey kids! See how many changes you can spot – even after Michael made the panel taller!

Progress1 Sometimes I spent days working on important, if intentionally incomplete, UI. (See: Mary Medea and Ambrosia Vitrona Khrome, below):

StarStruck Glossary 1StarStruck Glossary 1 And when that first HUGE 1/3 of the total Starstruck experience was collected by IDW, there were… gaps. {Gasp!}

Places where the story’s double-page art spreads needed to be properly set up and where the narrative (never seen in a single volume before) wanted reminders and costume changes.

In one case, it was all about conversing with Elaine and stealing from Michael (left), and in another, I had the honor of painting and lettering an all-new spread from Michael with all-new words from Elaine (right):

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 1.30.41 AM It took a very long day to paint this next page, and half that time was in making the background and the type work. By making the adjustments I did, it became possible to open up the Shakespeare quote (upper right), and more importantly, to include the object of greatest interest to the scheming parties involved: that anomaly of the Neutral Zone, the Mirror (in the lower right of the background panel). The change to Ronnie Lee’s monitor (upper left) is based on a set that Michael used later. Broadening her shoulder also seemed a good idea:

Compare1 All of which brings me to Starstruck Today.
Because there is a Starstruck today!

Thanks to the miracle of Kickstarter, Starstruck is coming back.

And while I made the hard decision to leave the painting of my favorite story (to date) in the hands of some other lucky painter, I am lending my experience with Kickstarter and doing what any fan of the series will be doing: backing it. And in my case, backing it at a high level – there’s simply no way I’ll be missing the chance to get Michael to draw me a Starstruck scene he’s never (to my knowledge anyway) even attempted. Who knows what it will look like in the end? Is it wrong for me to hope for another WPA Mural? Turnabout is fair play after all.  ;)

One of my prized possessions for the past 2 decades has been the poster for the original run of the play. It’s hung on the walls of many different homes, and now graces my den. But cooler still is the gun that Michael, Charlie, and company made for Kalif Bajar in the original stage play. It lives in my wunderkabinett – with the aluminum Cootie, Danger Mouse, Tsunami Bear, the Maltese Falcon, Felix the Cat and other dear friends.

How excited am I for this Kickstarter? Excited enough that I have donated Kalif’s pistol as a backer reward!:

Gifts It is more important to me to have Harry Palmer’s story, with all it’s grit, hilarity, and heartbreak finally told properly. I painted the cover of the book (below), some pieces for the Kickstarter, as well as some Kickstarter exclusives (go check them out here!).

d25cb098315e8864cf117ac56adc07b7_large Harry’s story is my favorite. And I hope it will be yours as well!

And it’s not just me that’s hoping for the best. Check out the words of Geof Darrow and Rick Berry in the Kickstarter film. Or check out the first big IDW compendium and read Mike Carey‘s thoughts therein.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Alan Parsons Project Art and Illustration Charles Vess Dave Stevens David Mattingly Don't Answer Me Elaine Lee Geof Darrow Heather Lam Jim Edwards-Hewitt John Workman Keith Baker Magnet Interactive Michael Kaluta Mike Carey Paul Murphy Rick Berry Starstruck The Shadow Tom Klein Tom Orzechowski https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/4/Starstruck-and-Its-Role-in-My-Salvation Mon, 08 Apr 2013 13:45:24 GMT
R E S P E C T https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/3/R-E-S-P-E-C-T Like many of my predecessors of the past century, I use models for all of my paintings with human figures and, in all but a few cases, I direct the photo shoots to get the exact reference I need to paint from. And most of you reading this will be aware of my Pin-Up Calendar and some of the good it’s done for charity. I suspect that’s why I was contacted last week by Jim Hines about my thoughts on the topic of sexism in SF/F. I have been following Jim Hines’s projects with interest, amusement, and a bit of an editorial chagrin. (Really Jim, you want some other kind of cover for the book Esther Friesner intended to call “Fangs for the Mammaries”?)

Shirt PART 1: THE INTERVIEW

Jim Hines: “Do you believe sexism is an issue in SF/F art, and why or why not?”

Yes. Just as I believe racism, classism, and perhaps most dangerous of all, capitalism are.

Why is it an issue? Because people in the SF/F field are leaders, not followers. All of these isms are pieces of the human condition – the very area that our field claims to excel in exploring. All of them need to be dealt with. There are enough clever and sensitive people in our field and we need to be paying attention to and caring about these issues. Who else would think of having an award named after James Tiptree Jr.?

Jim Hines: “If so, where do you believe that problem comes from?”

It clearly comes from society. To paraphrase Madge in the old Palmolive commercials: “We’re soaking in it.”

It comes from fearful publishers and advertisers who know that “sex sells” in a country where “Prurient” and “Puritan” are all-too-often synonymous.

It comes from a culture that has become increasingly… disembodied, where the life of the mind is out of sync with the life of the body.

Sex is powerful, and sexism is a clear and present danger.

Jim Hines: “What’s the difference between painting a beautiful, sexy woman (or man) and objectifying them?”

This is perhaps a more difficult question than you intend. In my experience, the intent of the artist matters very little. Objectifying is, like beauty itself, in the eye of the beholder.
Robin Hobb, a participating author in my 2013 pin-up calendar, said it wonderfully:

“Lovely, scantily clad humans are sex objects only to people who objectify other human beings. And those people do that no matter how draped that person might be. In 1967, a Jesuit priest observed to our class that he really did not see the sense of a dress code, as an immodest girl cannot be made modest no matter how you drape her, and that a modest woman can be stripped of her garments but not her modesty. So there it is, for me. If you are looking at our calendar and seeing sex objects instead of fascinating characters, well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so are sex objects.”

I cannot speak for other illustrators. But for myself, the goal is always to paint the person first. To paint women as persons in their own rights is key, as opposed to painting women for the male gaze. In the case of my calendar, I consider most all of the characters portrayed therein hero shots of a sort. And if they’re not raising swords or aiming guns, that may give you a notion of what I personally find heroic.

There are a few pin-ups in this year’s rank who have not been well-received. When I have read the comments thereon, I am struck to the extent to which I perceive slut shaming.

“Thanks for the assumption that a girl in a miniskirt must be slutty [...] Why is my cover getting slut-shamed by someone who doesn’t know the girl in that picture, doesn’t know who she is or why that image is an accurate one? It’s like the art is awesome as long as it’s on a closet door, but if you’re asked to like it in public, it’s time to throw out a few micro-aggressions to keep people from thinking you’re ‘that kind’ of person.” – Seanan McGuire writing about Aly Fell‘s cover for her book Discount Armageddon.

As a cover artist, Aly Fell’s job, like mine, is to create an interesting or exiting visual narrative to promote the book, the product. I want to catch the eye, to engage the potential reader, and the more I can honestly reflect the author’s characters and intent, the better.

As a viewer, what narrative have you constructed in your head that tells you that a girl in a miniskirt is a slut or a surprised girl in lingerie is a bimbo?

Jim Hines: “What do you think we should do (if anything) to try to move past the modern-day trend of awkwardly posed, semi-clad heroines on book covers?”

Before I get into what I think is the real heart of your question, I want to speak on the importance of negative space and silhouette on the efficacy of a painting. While we see far fewer examples of pure silhouette than we did in the glory days of Leyendecker and Rockwell, the shapes of the figure and the shapes cut from the background by the figure are one of the most useful tools to an illustrator looking to create dynamism. (It should come as no surprise that the great Charles Dana Gibson was a child prodigy at cutting paper silhouettes years before he would probably look twice at a “Gibson Girl.”) Why are most models so tall and thin? It’s all about how dynamic a taller figure can be made to read. There’s a reason Jim Hines and I (playing the “average” person below) are not models:

HeadsTall

There are many figures on book covers that are awkward at best and hideously malformed at worst (the tumblr site EscherGirls speaks to this at length). Sometimes that is the fault of an artist lacking skill or reaching too far for an interesting silhouette. Often however, the artists pull it off with nary a thought from the viewer as to the character being “wrong”. As I did my research about pin-ups I discovered something that surprised me: Pin-ups I’d seen for years were hiding something in plain site. Here’s a fun position you can assume in the comfort of your own home… if you happen to have between 3-5 extra vertebra that is:

Elvgren1 As to the scantily clad heroines, I dare say there is a time and place. This is a truth well recognized by today’s brilliant crop of art directors. Whether Irene Gallo at TOR or Lou Anders at Pyr, our field is being led by the best, and in this I believe that our field is now largely the exception to the rule. Sci-fi and fantasy create beautiful, often inspiring covers. We have a readership and creators that are aware and active in the discussion of sexism (and the additional isms.)

What can be done to make our covers better?

1. Understand that there is a problem; be conscious of the pitfalls of the combination commerce, text and images
2. Call atrocious work out when and wherever we see it, granting weight to all the parties involved (see Part 2, below)
3. Reward good work that shows our ideals in action
4. Continue this conversation, ideally in the context of all those other isms.
5. And painters? Don’t paint slavishly to the white male gaze, ok?

PART 2: EXAMPLES FROM COMICS AND GAMES

So, having spoken about SF/F covers, let’s look….ahem…briefly at a couple related fields that are nowhere near as circumspect.

I feel lucky that I don’t have to defend DC Comics’ (Warner Brothers’) decision to bring Power Girl’s costume back even as their arch nemesis Marvel (Disney) does the right thing by making Ms. Marvel into Captain Marvel at last:

cptmarvel >Shudder< I have it on good authority that the brilliant editor at Lucasfilm would never allow this on her watch:

526313_10151327932977495_33828980_n This is the entire range of playable characters. Oy:

oddqueensblade And this game “sizzle” art was brought to my attention by the splendid NK Jemisin:

Dante_Angels

“It’s more than just the ridiculous butt-shots of the women in this image, complete with translucent boy shorts. It’s the contempt and humiliation in the way this is arranged — contempt on the part of Dante, a character who until lately has treated the women around him like people and not props; and humiliation on the part of the women. They’re groveling at his feet, clinging to him slavishly, even as he pantomimes shooting one of them in the face with his oh-so-phallic finger. Because women getting shot by their sexual partners is soooo hot and edgy, don’tcha know.” – NK Jemisin discussing the horror seen above.

The first time I saw this poster the only thing I could say was “Oh f&©# no.” This is a cover so deeply horrific that it can’t be fixed. Why even bother to comment that there are no women of color among the angels for example? Or ask why angels are wearing clingy Flash Gordon panties? Making any small changes to this horror show would be rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The fact that the painter seems quite adept at painting somehow makes the piece all the worse.

PART 3: OTHER, MORE FULSOME RESPONSES

The day after I sent my response to Jim, Arnie Fenner posted a typically thoughtful response to Jim’s projects on the Muddy Colors blog. He raised many excellent questions. Among them: are artists are being made the scapegoat for sexism, omitting any mention of the the industry, the art directors, and indeed the authors themselves? He received excellent responses, but my favorite is from a former ad man whose well-intentioned mistake led deep into the heart of how our isms are intertwined:

Gilead – March 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

In my advertising days I once did an ad for a weight loss product. It had two cartoons showing the same guy as a before and after. On the left is a fat, stupid-looking guy busting the bathroom scale. In the middle is the product and on the right is the same guy looking robust, slender and somehow smarter. Are you picturing it? It’s kind of cute right? Kind of funny and gets the point across.
Now picture it again only this time, instead of a man, it’s a fat, stupid-looking woman. Or a black guy. Or an Asian. Whoa! All of a sudden that’s not funny. Now it’s like “What are trying to say here mister?”
I’d had this naïve idea that I could do some good by being all egalitarian. If the product was non gender-specific or race-specific I could mix it up and give everyone equal representation. It turned out that was a really bad idea and I got into all kinds of trouble. I learned that, in most people’s perception, a picture of a white male is a picture of a person – just a person. It could represent anyone: male or female, old or young, black or white. But a picture of a black person somehow represents blacks exclusively, and a picture of a woman somehow represents women exclusively.
If you draw a man you make a picture, but if you draw a woman you make a statement.
This is a cultural thing and it is probably fading away as we speak, but for now it still seems to be true. Which is why a picture of Conan can be accepted at face value as what the character looks like and what he wears, but a picture of a scantily dressed woman is seen not as a depiction of a character, but as a statement about women.
So I have no solutions I’m just trying to show a less obvious reason for the problem. When we look at a painting of a man and a woman we don’t see an every-man and an every-woman; we see a man and Women.

I am glad that so many people in our field care about these issues and I hope that this continues to be a deep and thoughtful discussion among artists, authors, publishers, and readers. Not just in the F/SF field, but in comics, games and everywhere else in the media landscape.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Aly Fell Arnie Fenner Art and Illustration Captain Marvel Escher Girls Fangs for the Mamaries James Tiptree Jr. Award Jim Hines NK Jemisin Pin-ups Robin Hobb Seanan McGuire https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/3/R-E-S-P-E-C-T Fri, 15 Mar 2013 14:43:43 GMT
2012: Art Year in Review https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/3/2012-Art-Year-in-Review 2013 took off like a rocket with work and adventures (and a flu that allows me a moment to look back on the wide variety of work I did in 2012). As Rod Serling might have intoned, “Submitted for your approval, the work of one Lee Moyer hanging here, in the Twilight Zone.”

The largest grouping of pieces is of course my calendar. It’s my favorite project ever! Not just because of the work, but because of the amazing writers I got to work with and the fact that it raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity (it’s also eligible for the Best Related Work Hugo award. Just sayin’.

2013 ‘Check These Out’ Fantasy Literary Pin-up Calendar

2013CalendarCoverBack copy

2013CalendarBlog

Covers:

A Red Sun Also Rises and The Warlock’s Curse

BookCovers Also check out my journal entry on the making-of A Red Sun Also Rises and my essay on Mary Hobson’s previous covers, wherein I try to understand why the first worked and the second failed.

A Stark and Wormy Knight and Confessions of a Five Chambered Heart

BookCovers2 Axe Cop

AxeCopPresidentOfTheWorld

Honey West: Murder on Mars!

MurderOnMars2©LeeMoyer

Shadowrun: Jet Set

Shadowrun

Unpublished color work:

I spent a lot of time last year working on 13th Age. The game is still in it’s final stages of pre-print and will be published late spring:

13thAgeIcons The pieces below are from Aaron with my art direction and occasional emendations:

13thAgeScenese The book is the work of noted game designers Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet with me and illustrator Aaron McConnell. Even as this first book goes to press, work on the art for the expansion, 13 True Ways is already underway. It will include maps like the one below:

13thAgeMap

Misc. Fun Projects:

2012 marked the end of Dan Garrison and Zephy McKanna’s remarkable Exalted game. This set of Exalted trumps were a collaboration with Felicity Shoulders and Sarah Barker, and served as a tribute to Dan and Zephy’s work:

ExaltedDeck2 This year also marked yet another successful Ambercon NW ( portraying that young chowderhead Bertie Wooster is always a delight) and another Ambercon t-shirt design (this, the first to work on a tie-dyed shirt):

Amber2012 Working for Wizards of the Coast is always interesting. One never knows quite where work done for a book will appear. In this case, on large exhibit-screening banners at PAX.

DrowSymbols_PAX My yearly posters for Lakewood and NorthWest Children’s Theater 2012-2013 seasons:

LakewoodSeason12-13

NWCT12-13Season This is the design for a spinnaker, recently seen intimidating the other racers around the San Francisco bay:

BoudiccaTrio This surprise book cover from Readercon 2012 is a collaboration with authors Michael Swanwick, and Elizabeth Bear, and photographer Kyle Cassidy (and audience members like Bracken, Tom and Venetia):

Dismembrance A just-for-fun Christmas Dalek to wish all my friends happy holidays. Rumor has it that a couple crew members of BBC America put it to good use. And this Circus Shoggoth hails from last year’s Pickman’s Apprentice competition. The masterminds at Sigh Co. are already Kickstarting the HP Lovecraft Film Festival.

Shoggoth_Dalek Sometimes I get surprisingly interesting commissions quite out of the blue. This time I was asked to draw a series of rare antique telephones:

RarePhones This year I was asked to do my first piece of art for the McMenamin brothers for the new wing of their splendid Kennedy School. At any other time I’d have been happy to paint from The Two Towers, The Wizard of Earthsea, or 100 Years of Solitude. But the opportunity to honor my father who died last summer in a painting from Sometimes a Great Notion was too much to resist. Elmer Moyer is the man in the middle:

SometimesFlat Another Kickstarter I worked on was for the logo for Broken Continent:

BrokenContinentLogo And finally, some random memes for 2012:

Trouble_with_the_Chair ReallyKeebler NumberSpice There are of course still more projects I worked on in 2012 that have yet to be revealed by my clients. I hope to share them as they are revealed in 2013.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 13th Age 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar A Red Sun Also Rises A Stark and Wormy Knight Ambercon NW Art and Illustration Ax Cop Best Related Work Christmas Dalek Confessions of a Five Chambered Heart Drow Elizabeth Bear Elmer Moyer Exalted HP Lovecraft Film Festival Jonathan Tweet Kennedy School Kyle Cassidy McMenamin Michael Swanwick Numbered Freman Really Keebler? Rob Heinsoo Rod Serling The Broken Continent The Warlock's Curse Theater Posters Trouble with the Chair Wizards of the Coast https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/3/2012-Art-Year-in-Review Wed, 06 Mar 2013 17:11:37 GMT
“To summarize the summary of the summary” https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/-To-summarize-the-summary-of-the-summary MapFlat2

What a long strange trip it’s been. Many things were learned along the way ~ and I’m sure that I won’t come close to summing them up satisfactorily ~ but here goes:

GENERAL TOURIST STUFF

Splitting food with a friend saves huge amounts of $. We spent approximately $23 per day on food for 2 and ate very well. Sometimes that was due to friendly hosts, but most often we were on our own.

Breakfast is best in one’s hotel room. We eat granola and yogurt at home. And that’s what we ate on the road (with Muesli sometimes subbing for granola). Often in hotel room glasses.

If one is like me, one never knows when a 7 mile walk through Sydney will happen. Stay hydrated and fed (we bought cashews and dried apricots for carrying).

A few zip-lock bags are indispensable. Ideal for breaking down larger quantities of snack food. For keeping things separated. In case a long coach trip unsettles your stomach….

As Miko reminds me from time to time: Credit cards can make up for most anything you forget.

An unlocked iPhone is useful but apparently difficult to get. Mine was long out of contract and popping a $20 SIM card in meant instant directions and restaurant searching on the go. On the other hand, Facebook and email are ubiquitous….

New Zealand has great radio stations. A LOT of great radio stations.

We packed 3 small bags and one overhead luggage sized bag. For 3 weeks. Traveling light is a blessing. And, judging by the heaps of luggage we spied all around us at hotels and airports, rare.

Ice cream, gelato, sorbet, et al. is almost always cheaper in a 2-scoop cone. So if you keep a cup to hand, you can readily separate flavors and each have an ice cream. Ice creameries are wise to this however, and may charge you for a cup.

Travel agents live and breathe this stuff. And a good one will know the best-positioned and least-expensive choice. Often this means older hotels that have gotten upgrades – sometimes in the form of awkward architectural fig-leafs and other times, full on avant-garde refittings. As in all matters of real estate, the 3 keys are location, location, location.

Talk to the locals. Sure, some of them are sick of tourists and all they represent, but there are wonderful people everywhere. And how will you learn about them unless you interact with them?

Do the touristy stuff. I usually like to find the sly side alleys and subtle wonders, but there’s simply no time. In our case we didn’t even have time to read the guide we grabbed in the airport – there’s simply too much to do and too little time. So, plan. Trust a good agent. And, perhaps most surprising to my cheap penny-pinching self….Let yourself be upsold sometimes. Since we were not likely to get back to the Antipodes any time soon, I got upsold twice – a small plane out of Milford Sound and a Helicopter up from the Great Barrier Reef. Thank heavens I was. Sunset1a

Some Random Observations about Australia and New Zealand

Expensive (even with a strong dollar in NZ). Want to grab a Snickers bar? Got $2.60?

All this driving on the other side of the road is fine. But the fact that cars have the right of way in almost all circumstances (barring a few well marked crosswalks, and even then…) less so. Windshield wipers where the turn signals should be? Dangerous. Not knowing which side of a sidewalk or hall? Suboptimal. Forever going to the wrong escalator? Just embarrassing. But then not switching the side of the steering column where you put the key? Silly.

Roundabouts are wonderful. Really wonderful. Not only do they keep traffic flowing well, they prevented me from making some awkward right turns. Love them.

Dark chocolate? Not to my taste. Let’s just say they excel at making “Dairy Bars” and move on.

Great yogurt and eggs. And Licorice.

All the kangaroo and lamb I expected? The cheap wool that sheep-sheering nations must have? Not so much. By contrast, they farm deer in NZ, and sell the antlers to the Chinese for crazy sums.

NZ is a country that loves thrills. Hard to believe that Zorbing doesn’t happen in Oregon, but overzealous American lawyers might be the reason.

There is both no tipping and good service here. If tipping is supposed to encourage better service, it simply doesn’t work. Not in Portland anyway. Instead I get a very strong feeling that tipping is simply an excuse to hide costs to the consumer (like we hide taxes), and acts as a subsidy to the restaurant industry.

These countries don’t have a gun problem. They just don’t. And all the arguments I’ve heard for our grotesque body counts, revolutionary impulses, and exceptionalist hobbyism are just silly.

Traveling to distant colonial lands made me feel terribly aware of my own country’s savage history. But it also made me more appreciative of the glories of where I live. Portland is wonderful and I am pleased to be home.
GreenDragon Index of Travel:
Prologue to Adventure!
Day 1 & 2 in North Island, New Zealand
Days 3, 4 & 5 North Island, New Zealand
At Sixes and Sevens
Day 8 & 9: Viva la Wellington!
Putting the Zed in NZ
Wild Life in Australia
NSW NSFW :)
More Fun (The Abridged Version)
Day 19 & 20 Welcome to the Jungle
Day 21: The Big Rock Finish
Day 22 & 23

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia Traveling Tips https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/-To-summarize-the-summary-of-the-summary Sat, 16 Feb 2013 17:26:42 GMT
Day 22 & 23 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-22-23 Day 22: A New Year

We awoke with a text from Jessica R, and eventually set off to meet her at noon by the lagoon for lunch. But en route we discovered something surprising. In avoiding the appalling high levels of ultraviolet and it’s attendant risk of skin damage that are a given down under on most days, we popped into an open door and the cool of a mall. And in the mall, came upon Elizabeth Barden, the most fantastic (and educational) salesman in the greatest clothing shop the Venetia has yet found. So many and splendid were the clothing options that we headed out for lunch without buying a thing, but promising to return.

We had a great lunch with Jessica – discussing everything from travels to politics to the C of E and Eddie (Executive-Transvestite-And-Serial-Marathoner-Deserves-A-Knighthood) Izzard.A little later we were to encounter one of Izzard’s routines in real life:

Awesome2

We were delighted that she could use the balance of the phone SIM card we’d bought in Melbourne only a week earlier, but were a little sad not to be able to phone her amid the festivities later because she had “my” phone. We hope to visit with her again when we head to England later this year.

Jessica    The return to shopping was… Epic. And curiously time consuming. Apparently when one is a petite (or “VS”, or “very small”) person of a certain shape, finding properly fitted clothing can be very difficult. Who knew? But once that mother lode was struck, there was really no turning away. I suspect she will be all too happy to show off the new togs upon our return. And really, it’s all good reference….

Shop1

After the well-earned (or would “well-spent” be more apt?) nap that followed, and as the final flying foxes races across the sky, we ventured forth into the twilight in search of a meal. But instead of the otherwise quiet street with the cacophony of parrots where we’d tried competing Indian restaurants on the previous nights, we turned down the street that had once, back at the city’s founding, been Chinatown.

Chinatown There, much to our surprise, we encountered an inflatable Dragon Arch and a street festival celebrating the Chinese New Year. We paused to watch a couple dance to an all lost familiar tune, dueling English and Chinese speaking announcers, and an Indonesian troop on the makeshift stage. But it wasn’t just the Festival of the Snake that was crowded – everything was. Apparently Saturday night in Cairns is a wild time every time! We lacked the requisite reservations for the exotic Ochre (“Sorry loves, can’t get you in until 9″), but after a trip through Fried Food Alley and the spectacle of The Night Market, we found a fine Thai place.

After dinner we headed to the lagoon and looked up at the Southern stars while people thronged about having picnics and wading in the Lagoon. We were looking out toward the reef when a sweet quiet child with a slight speech impediment mentioned fireworks. Intrigued we waited a bit, and watched the exodus from the lagoon when the lifeguards called time. And then, when the sudden rain appeared, we moved back toward our hotel. We’d just about left the promenade park when the first explosion went. We knew it was from Chinatown by the incredible flights of birds rushing away from the site, and so we headed back the way we’d come for a better view. I grew up with masses of DC fireworks (and hope to see them again this year), but the explosion of tropical birds was even more impressive. And the number of waves! Apparently many groups of birds slept calmly through the first barrages, only to come unglued later. After the fireworks, we headed back to the hotel to arrange our new wardrobes for a safe return to the US.HappyYear

Day 23+: We Come From the Future, or “Once Around the World, James” 

What a day. It all began in Cairns at 7am. But our letters of transit were incorrect, and we waited an extra 40 minutes for our coach accordingly. When it arrived, we hopped on and headed out into the brief morning rain. We had to experience a little rain after all – for otherwise how would we see a full rainbow? And what trip to Oz would be complete without one?

IMG_5397b Weird to be visiting New Zealand again, but not stopping for more than an hour’s time.Nice to see the Dwarves guarding the International Arrivals Hall though. Those dragons are everywhere…

Airport1 And wonderful to see areas we’d visited and knew from the ground ` and to be able to view the scenery as a topographical map with a scale of 1 to 1!

Coromandel On the 12 hour trip to LAX, we saw an absolutely hallucinogenic sunset. Hard to imagine missing such a magnificent show by sitting on an aisle….IMG_5452 Air New Zealand is wonderful (so was JetStar). It’s almost enough to make me believe that the US is home to the worst national carriers in the civilized world. In addition to the Crowded House album (NZ represent!) i listened to as a dozed, I watched 4 films, from stately to the ridiculous to the more ridiculous: Lincoln, Seven Psychopaths, the Aardman Pirate movie, and Cars. All while Venetia revisited our trip through New Zealand by watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy (with the added Air N Zed safety film scenes, natch. Though we watched the same safety film thrice, the delight of passengers heretofore unexposed kept it fresh. Something no other such film has ever managed.). Airplane screens being what they are, we were always able to see more than our own screens. I took up Lincoln after the viewer in front of me turned it off when he realized that it was a largely procedural film about legislating. To see poor Boromir shot down during the successful House vote to end slavery was quite surreal. And weird cast and scenic interplay continued all trip long.

The captain woke the passengers for breakfast, ensuring that I’d have a view of the day’s second dawn. That was a first!

SecondDawn

Santa Catalina was the tip off that La was near. How amazing that I’d been seated on the correct side of the plane for both New Zealand and Catalina. So much about this trip was lucky!

SantaCatalina As I write this, we are trapped in the long layover at LAX – where the lines are not short. Where the airport is squalid. Where the prices and amenities are outrageous. And where the fascism of the optimally-intrusive and appallingly-surly security apparatus has me quietly humming an Orwellian take on Steve Goodman’s “(If Your Life Was On) Video Tape”. Fear – it’s the American Way. And like the now-sacred words “under God” added to our coinage during the Red Scare, this bureaucracy created during the Islamofascist Scare looks to be just as eternal and seems to be getting evermore entrenched. As do an absence of food or even snacks on flights, and all manner of asinine hidden fees. And unless one is lucky enough to travel abroad, such things will ever seem “normal”.

SanGabriels

By the time we are home, it will have been 30 hours of travel.
And ALL on the same Sunday.

Addendum: We got to talking in the airport with Chicago’s Jack & Diane, and when they moved our gate, we barely had time to board. No food was taken. Happily, we met the wonderful Bruce Hostetler on the way home. Turns out we have scads of people and taste in common, and that he’d directed the version of The Hobbit I’d done the poster for (yes, it’s Hobbit all the way down). Bruce was returning from a Revels Board Meeting north of LA, and he was kind enough to pass over his banana in self defense. :)

Speaking of self-defense, there was a fellow in the Portland Airport openly brandishing a submachine gun while he was chewing gum. Clearly he’d come to kick ass and chew gum, but why? Just another ratcheting up of our country’s endearing paranoia….


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-22-23 Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:37:18 GMT
Day 21: The Big Rock Finish https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-21-The-Big-Rock-Finish Just as the clever designers of Travel UI had worked in different ways to ensure proper structure (the trip up the Sydney Harbor Bridge at twilight, the train assent and gondola return of yesterday, the plane return from Milford Fiord after the coach arrival all being fine examples), so I designed the trip as a whole to finish big – and there is nothing bigger or more spectacular than the Great Barrier Reef!

Reef1    But this wasn’t a small dive off a small fishing boat in Kona – no, no! This was a massive, almost science-fictional, staged procession to (and from) “Marine World”, a massive tented reef platform hub (one of three within our sightlines). We took a large Catamaran out, and it remained docked throughout, serving as a sort of cabana (with crucial and unduplicated restrooms). The ride was choppy through the channel as the ship dealt with the fierce tidal pull. Given Venetia’s rather… difficult… bus trip to Milford Sound, we deemed it best for her to take the motion-sickness pills as we boarded. The multitude of seasick passengers who later joined us at the back deck suggests that this may have been the wisest decision we made all day.

The trip out was stunning/sick-making, and the platform held plenty of other craft which would be the same. A deep-prowed boat they called a Semi-Submersible allowed us to sit below the waterline and go for a spin about the platform and over nearby reefs. The animatronic owl on the prow amused us greatly.
A small glass-bottomed boat was bobbing next to the emergency Zodiac, a 40 passenger ferry boat and a helipad floated nearby. Apparently there was a “wear a bubble helmet and walk on the bottom of the sea” option, but it was never really clear to us amid the countless other choices.

When we arrived (and after some instructions for our eventual departure), we set out immediately into the nearby (roped-off and lifeguarded) reef area. The snorkeling was stupendous – parades of parrotfish, wrasses, angelfish, all the usual suspects and an extremely gregarious 5′ long Humphead Maori Wrasse called “Wally” who was friendlier than most cats I’ve known, happy to be patted and adored.

YellowBoat1

But it seems that a proper seal for one’s snorkel is darned tricky when sporting facial hair. And it speaks to the long years since last I snorkeled that this common-sense fact had utterly eluded me.

Happily, the crew were a jolly and helpful lot. After their slightly disbelieving “You mean you’d be willing to just… shave it off?”, I undertook the worst shave ever in a cold water sink in a tiny rocking lavatory with a disposable Bic Shaver – all to make me look more like an Amish Abe Lincoln. But it wasn’t about looks, it was about utility. The mustache will grow back – my time at the reef would not.

A tour in the semi-submersible followed, and while Venetia was in good form, I was feeling a bit green at the gills from our time below.Reefs2
I ate a tiny bit of the vasty buffet and hung out a little bit in the sun before it was time for the “Adventure Dive”.

It was there that we spoke to the first American we’d seen all day. A fellow Portlander named Heather who works as a Psychiatrist with children at Kaiser.
We hopped in the ferry and headed to the far corner of the big reef were we walked off the side and splashed down – it felt like a kinder version of walking the plank. Immediately, there were large schools of small fish below us – one of several types of local Banana Fish. Then the big schools of bigger fish – Red Bass. Then just a little group of two – Grey Reef Sharks. Later we saw a couple Whitetip Reef Sharks, a young green turtle, a jellyfish (that our guide brought up for our delectation), loads of Spotted Sweetlips, insane posses of Clownfish, incredible Boulder and Brain Corals, and most every kind of Wrasse and Sergeant Major one could imagine. The trip was a little tricky for the tidal swells and the very low tide, but ever so worth the effort. Toward the end (amid a sudden rain shower, and amid my fussing with a recalcitrant mask amid kicking-up waves), it was my great joy to spot a very old and well-camouflaged sea turtle. Everyone in our group got to see the old fella nipping at corals and being quietly fearsome, some 4 meters below us. But Venetia, swimming alone at the back, got to see rather more:

“This day was the ultimate day of wonder and magic. I have always admired Ophelia for the serenity and beauty of her final pose; if only she’d had a snorkel! After our long hour of drifting along the edge of the coral, I wasn’t at all ready to leave. I could have spent hours more out in the ocean but I’d learned that when fins started clumping together, there was always something worth seeing, and I sped up accordingly. He was enormous, at least for a turtle, which is to say he was my size (though undoubtedly weighed a great deal more!). I followed him as he moved along the ocean floor until, much to my amazement, he started to rise up until he was directly beneath me. As he rose toward me, I couldn’t resist and put out a hand to stroke his shell. It was surprisingly soft, not at all rough or slimy but soft like short clean fur. I brushed his back left flipper as well, amazed that he allowed me to get so close. Then I put my head above water at the exact moment he poked his own head out for air. It was extremely brief but the difference in his coloration from underwater was astonishing. Then the spell was broken. I saw Lee waving at me and when I looked back underwater again, the turtle was gone.”

I swam back to watch the encounter (note to self: must start calling Venetia “Dances With Turtles”), but realized we were delaying the party and headed to the dock as swiftly as my blue swim fins would propel me. And when I arrived, I was surprised to hear my name. It seems our tour leader had been asked whether we were on his tour, and he’d said no. This caused alarm among the staff for two reasons. 1. Losing passengers to the briny is bad form and terrible for tourism. 2. We were scheduled to take a helicopter trip back to the mainland, and we cocking up departure times. But miscommunication is everywhere, and in our case it had a cascade effect. I got Venetia to swim in pronto but she didn’t know why. As she was pulling my wetsuit off in haste, I accidentally elbowed her in the face, and as I changed out of my wet swimsuit in the open and hastily donned real clothes without really drying off first (towels were apparently some thing we should have carried from home. Who knew?), Venetia found an actual changing room. I hurried to pay up, sign us out, and get Venetia some ice for her face. Then we met up and raced for the glass-bottomed boat which in turn sped to the helicopter, which then… sat still for several minutes.

Pilot

I never imagined getting seasick on a helicopter, but the longer it sat in the rain, rocking to and fro, the more that possibility loomed.

Finally, and without fuss, we rose off the platform and up out of the small rainstorm and over the glory of the Great Barrier Reef in the quietest but most dramatic way possible.

GreatBarrierReefCOpter We’d never ridden in a helicopter before, but it was thoroughly lovable. Where the tiny plane out of Milford Fiord had seemed to have all the strength and maneuverability of a paper airplane, the helicopter ride seemed like a magic carpet. The young Aussie pilot was great, and our knowledge of the reef (the size of Japan and teeming with life) allowed him to take it easy on the narration.

When I mentioned a blue hole in the reef ahead, he swiveled and dove in its direction, without producing the slightest pang of discomfiture or worry in his passengers (including the 3 non-English speaking Asians in e back seat). I felt a little like Eli Cross on his crooked crane, ascending into the heavens above. A bigger finish I could not have imagined.

HelicpterFlight1

PS: Venetia’s face is fine. :)

Venetia

 

 


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-21-The-Big-Rock-Finish Fri, 08 Feb 2013 16:30:29 GMT
Day 19 & 20: Welcome to the Jungle https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-19-20-Welcome-to-the-Jungle   Day 19: Up to Cairns

We arose, packed and checked out before wandering a couple blocks to meet up with Mark Rulewski who we’d last seen by sheer chance in the Chico Hot Springs of Montana last June (see account here).

MarkV

We enjoyed a lovely and leisurely breakfast at Two Good Eggs, and he walked us to where the car was imprisoned and we parted. Maybe we’ll next see him in Oregon!

The petrol prices by the airport were predictably exploitive and ghastly, but the airport itself was another simple and laid back affair, and when one has nowhere important to be, a 15 minute delay really didn’t matter. As we flew north out of town, we got to see the glory of Sydney stretched out below us – all those crazy fingers of land stretching into the harbor, the tall buildings, the neighborhoods we’d walked through and the bridge we’d just climbed.

GoodbyeSydney

Our seat mate for the flight north was an erudite and interesting lady named Jessica R. who, growing up a ginger in the UK, had long admired her namesake Jessica Rabbit. With such good company, the trip passed in a flash. And the views of the coast ( and the frickin’ Great Barrier Reef) as we descended were awe inspiring.

We checked in before checking out an Indian restaurant up the street. After a yummy Hanti Gosht we emerged to a riot of wheeling parrots in prismatic gangs! And then, when they’d calmed a bit, and as we wandered Cairns’ beautiful Lagoon (a mirror-calm pool for soaking that occupies the middle of the town’s sea-front) we spied even larger shapes circling in the sky – Flying Foxes! We only saw a few at first, but later we saw them everywhere filling the twilight sky with their wide swooping silhouettes. Venetia was completely entranced. What a magical surprise!Cairns

A delicious banana and Carmel gelato and a short sharp shop for breakfast nosh and it was home to bed.

Day 20: Up the Junction

We arose early, but having travelled the day before and turned in early, we felt no pain in it. We were scooped up by the coach (aka “bus”) and taken on a tour of several other local boarding establishment. It almost incredible to me just how many tourist hotels this small town is made of….

A few tourists were let out at the indigenous peoples’ cultural center, and a couple others at the entrance to the SkyRail, but most continued with us to the Kuranda Scenic Railroad depot in Redlynch. Many men serving under foreman Red Lynch had died building this tropical railroad up to Northeastern Australia’s table lands, and we got to marvel at it while suffering no more than the heat and humidity of a nice summer day in Virginia.

Kuranda1

We also marveled at Barron Falls. This massive cataract is an unstoppable force in more typically rainy Monsoon Season, but we were lucky to find it almost dry. Photos don’t really seem to convey its scale, but whoa!

Eventually we got to Kuranda and bid the lovely train adieu. And then we were stuck there for 3 hours. I’ve been in many towns called “tourist traps” – sometimes by the locals, sometimes by visitors. In this case, a local woman overheard the description in the post office and under her breath whispered “some people LIVE here” to me ere she departed in a snit. True, but if I lived at South of the Border or the Mall of America, I’d be the first to admit it was a tourist trap. And without a means of egress, we were literally trapped in this sticky tourist Mecca – truly a luxury problem.Plane2 Opals were gawked at, Schnitzel happily devoured, clothing admired, used books considered, frozen purees consumed, crashed (for-films) WWII plane inspected, the same aboriginal designs seen on every product and in every context imaginable, and countless shops and stalls visited. When asked why there were so many Germans and Austrians among the shopkeepers, one replied “it’s just too cold in Germany”. Fair enough, but I admit to a moment of wondering whether Ira Levin really had it right about Brazil….

Yes, we’ve seen and done countless touristy things in the last 3 weeks, but today was Tourism writ large. Yes, we visited the post office and the grocery store. Yes, we actually conversed with the natives more than we dickered with them about prices. Yes, we took some great tropical reference photos of plant and animal life (lizards, and brush turkeys and crocodiles – oh my!), but we were really just happy tourists pinned like so many beautiful butterflies.Animals When at last our appointed hour was at hand, we tottered down the hill to the marvelous SkyRail that would in turn take us back down the mountain, in gondola #101 no less (clearly named by George Orwell for maximum irony).

Skyrail1
We glided over the jungle canopy and were generally held high above it all. There were occasionally wonderful pairs of grey forest birds sitting on the gondola wire, but there were no other animals that even seemed to notice us, and overall (literally), it seemed a perfect method of travel. With only two isolated stations on the route, it made quite a small footprint….

DinDin There was a large female orb-weaving spider in the station where we stopped to see Barron Falls, or, in the proper parlance of the region, Din Din (what a great name for torrential falls). While we enjoyed the comparatively dry weather (I fear the June trip to Virginia and points north will be far worse), it did seem a little sad to see the mighty cataract reduced to a trickle.

Plants As we descended back to the coastal plane, our attention was drawn to the curious waterpark on our left – an odd oval track where people on surfboards jump off ramps, and generally glided around. It took us a long approach to realize that they were being pulled along hanging wires like cable cars. A curious sport, but then I suppose the Barrier Reef limits most of the hard core surfing up here….

CableSkiPark

We didn’t head out again once we were returned to the hotel. The snacks we’d bought last night stood us in good stead, and while we missed the nightly megabat festival, we enjoyed our napping.

We witnessed no cassowaries, but otherwise we got our jungle money’s worth.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Day-19-20-Welcome-to-the-Jungle Fri, 08 Feb 2013 03:23:52 GMT
More Fun (The Abridged Version) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/More-Fun-The-Abridged-Version Day 17: SuperBowl Monday and drive to Sydney

Watched the SuperBowl with the US ambassador to Australia in a ersatz Irish sports bar. Wincing at the grotesque mockery of the massacre of Sandy Hook. Apparently surviving a massacre allows some kids to sing a jingoistic anthem with Jennifer Hudson, and no mention of the reason for their inclusion shall be given.

We found ourselves rooting for the Ravens and excited by their exceptional play, even as Canberra locals cast bemused glances at the assembled throng of expats, Footie-players, and early drinkers.
The local cheerleading squad was also out in force.

Cheer

Then… The lights went out. I’ll be posting my thoughts about what followed elsewhere. But suffice it to say we enjoyed the expat experience (while missing that misogynist Audi ad so many of my friends have been talking about). After the necessary gelato, we hit the road. The drive thereafter was a smooth and quiet one. Good roads and lovely scenery the whole way into Sydney. We checked into our hotel about 6 and set out for a walk through the parks and shops of town. What seemed a single contiguous park on the Map proved a series of poorly-connected (or simply unconnected) areas. We tried to get to the Opera House and simply failed. That said, I love this view that I’ve somehow never seen:

Clams Angel Place [the large photo below right] was especially surreal (I was forced to quote Admiral Ackbar when surveying the scene):

AngelPlace
But if we learned anything it was that we should have eaten when we first got to town. We finally scored kebabs at 10:30 and then fell deeply into sleep.

Day 18: Spirals

We scribed a clockwise spiral around Sydney today, traveling on foot to no fewer that 11 Advertizing Agencies over a route that took us 7 miles. We’d walked 4 miles in New York last July, but 7 set a new inner city record. Funny to think how easy it would have been by car (had there been anywhere to park), but we’d have missed so much of the city!

It amazes me how different agencies are in their cool cat offices and different neighborhoods. And how specific their org charts are – where some have Art Buyers, others have Heads of Print, and still others Creative Directors. Whether in the US or Sydney, one size definitely does not fit all.

We were rather astonished to come across some manner of media event on a small side street. Photographers and bodyguards mingled with the great and black-clad good. After a few questions we learned that we’d come across a memorial service.

“A big man used to run a financial service that blew up in a shower of sparks. Rather Wall Street. I think you understand.”

We stopped intermittently to shoot reference pictures – Sydney is a glorious spot for texture and pattern. Here are just a few of the ones I shot that day:

TexturesFlat The new construction in the Uni district over by DDB amazed us [Below. Lower left] Are they building a bridge? A hanging garden? Who knows?

The range of architecture is a joy:Architecture

It took me a surprisingly long time to realize why I felt there was so much more good old architecture here than in London: probably because the Nazis didn’t bomb it repeatedly….

After a trip through The Rocks and the respite of a lovely salmon dinner, we headed to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I want to climb bridges – pretty much ALL bridges – but somehow the locals never let me. Here in Sydney by contrast, they are all too happy to take most anyone’s cash, equip, train, and generally fool-proof them, and let them scale the bridge. Each small red circle below represents a group climbing over (and briefly, under) the bridge. The easiest to see is the silhouetted group at the top [Blown up in the larger red circle]:

BridgeCircles1
Our party was a dozen or so folks, including a tiny 70 year old Canadian lady and a strapping 6’6″ fellow from Newcastle. We were the only Americans and, wouldn’t you know it? the first in line to lead the parade up the magnificent bridge. At twilight. Cruise ships sailed below us, helicopters flew above. The Sydney Opera House shone in the gloaming. Up the top of the eastern bridge support and then, at the top, crossing over to the western side in time to see the sun set on North Sydney’s version of Luna Park.

Bridge1 We had a Nick Cave singalong with our wonderful guide Hayley just beneath the roadbed, and generally had a magnificent time. Another expensive adventure, but one I’d recommend to anyone (who doesn’t suffer vertigo anyway)!

We shared a cab ride back downtown with an Irishwoman who’d come to town from working the sweltering mines of the NW, had a wee bite, and fell into hot baths.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/More-Fun-The-Abridged-Version Wed, 06 Feb 2013 02:56:26 GMT
NSW NSFW :) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/NSW-NSFW Day 15: Exploring Melb’n

Up at a leisurely hour (9am) and headed into the city to seek our car. After sorting some miscommunication with our car rental, we headed down one block to the fabled Anton’s – located in a huge mall that had been built around (and in) an old Shot Factory over which they’d built a tall ovate dome [Below. Upper left].

Melbn1

I truly didn’t expect the massive orgy of consumerism (if only because everything was so expensive!), but we had heard wonderful things about Anton’s and were not deterred (the first hit online was a review from Mikelangelo about his time getting a suit, and both Mikey and Phyro spoke glowingly about it). Venetia spotted my suit immediately but made sure to explore all the racks first before asking our fabulous clothier Lauren for a trial run of my suit. I tried on the full suit, from a pimpin’ too-small blue bowler to the super shiny shoes.

AntonsSm After due deliberation, we bought the silk brocade jacket and hightailed it to Jason McEachen’s apartment where we met up with him, Kim, and Iona [barely visible on Jason's back below].

People We had lunch with them on the pier (my first fish and chips in Oz, Venetia had a delicious sweet potato hash) before moseying to Luna Park where we met up with Stefan and Edith, who in their turn took us many other places.

Luna The rest of the day was a mad-cap blur:
We window-shopped for sweets and fancy cakes in St. Kilda. Hopped on the tram and headed to Fitzroy to admire charming architecture and intricate ironwork – well as saucily named shops like “Naked for Satan” and “Lucrezia & De Sade”. We ate an amazing lamb dinner in a restaurant of ambiguous ethnicity. We passed Lygon Street on our way to the tram, where we admired both the desserts and the adorable lambs on the glass window above the corner door. We headed back to Jason’s to back-up our 2400 pictures – for there are surely more to come!

 

Day 16: Drive to Canberra

We had a lovely breakfast with Jason, Kim, and Iona, we set off to the east at 8am.

After an hour or so we passed a town where the battle between religion and the water utility seemed to have gotten ugly, in a strange Tolkienesque fashion:2Towers We lunched in the curiously named Lakes Entrance and then headed north, passing as we did over Venetia’s long-dreamt-of Snowy River. We took a brief spin around the curious capital (you can play Footie on the roof!), and headed north to the University district where we found John Hughes and his lovely wife Pip.   Capital After some in-depth geekery we headed out for sushi, kimchi, and yakisoba. Conversations about the Unification Church, free form gaming, and business followed. A more splendid day could not have been had.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/NSW-NSFW Wed, 06 Feb 2013 02:42:00 GMT
Wild Life in Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Wild-Life-in-Australia Day 13: G’day Bruce!

Up with the dawn in Queenstown NZ, and onto the coach to the airport – the sweet sleepy little airport. Our Counter was the only one open when we arrived and even filling out forms took only a minute. After a wait made more comfortable by ice cream, we went through a sweet and personable security line and boarded up the two ramps. And we were off to Melbourne! And Australia!

The view of Flinders Island was a welcome one as we crossed the Tasman, but the hustle and bustle of Melbourne (pronounced “Melb’n”) was immediate. We saw more graffiti here in a minute than we saw in all of NZ. And only when a curiously-attired woman cut in the customs line did we realize there’d been no meanness or pettiness on our trip so far – a couple jaded and hard-faced Americans, sure. A couple furrow-browed South Africans, fine. But to see 2 different but almost identically dressed 50+ Asian ladies in black pleather with straps and buttons intentionally break in lines and ignore protocols was a bit surreal. Like an updated version of ‘What’s Up Doc’, where matching outfits and bad behavior create Screwball comic mayhem down under….

We never went to a bank machine or changed currency for NZ, but Australia is already proving a different kettle of fish. Cash is king, and exchange fees pile onto to the already poor showing of the US Dollar.

Melbn After a wander through the many alleys around Flinders Street Station (and blind alleys of Sim card conversion for iPhone and iPad) we returned to our hotel on the South Bank for a well-earned nap. I’d been surprised that our 13 hour flight to NZ had only changed the clock 3 hours (beyond the whole date line thing). That a 3 hour flight to Australia should change the clock 2 more hours just seems silly. But by the time we collapsed (like a flan in a cupboard) we’d already been up for hours….

We awoke a couple hours on to the sounds of pouring pounding rain. While we’d slept, the storm had roared in from the south, and the city was running like a watercolor left out in the rain. But we headed out to meet up with Stefan and Edith nonetheless. We crossed the Yarra and ducked into the tunnel under Flinders St Station:

Flinders1 We shared red Kangaroo Curry at a Thai place in Chinatown, and made plans for Saturday afternoon. The rain had abated a bit by the time they left us at Flinders to meet up with Gwynneth and her friend. From there we headed a few blocks to the madness that is the Crown Casino plaza. Quite the site for people watching and overpriced foofarah!

Chinatown

It was a bracing night, but other than a curious stain on my poncho everything turned out wonderfully well.

Day 14: Mission: Fairy Penguins Hit the Beach!

In a day fraught with monotremes and nobbies, we will not attempt any manner of sensible narrative here ~ only a list of the day’s many highlights.

Gluten-free designer cupcakes
Bunyip Tour Bus (we’re guessing most tourists have no idea what a Bunyip is). :)
En route to Philip Island and Churchhill Island
Highly-attractive people from Switzerland
Mocking bad ads and music on overly loud radio (auto-tuned music and grotesquely ebullient ads)
Emus, cockatoos, poisonous snakes, et al.

BigBird Petted wallabies and kangaroos

vWallaby 1 Peaceful and 1 Neurotic Koala
Tasmanian Devil
Prehistoric Turkey
Tawny Frogmouths up close and personal – I actually touched one.

Animalia2

Purple swamp hens and other splendid bird life
Better music from driver’s iPod (including Missy Higgins and Crowded House)
Shepherding with a dog named Pirate (it was almost as though this whole day was meant for Julia Ecklar)

Herding Sheep shearing

Shearings Many more koalas, including a youngster.

Animalia Animatronic koala (WTF?)
Cowes (as opposed to “Bulls” in NZ)
Two disproportionately evil bunnies
Remote seal viewing
Up-close blue fairy penguin viewing
Stormy seas and spectacular sunsets Fairy penguin homes

Point Fairy penguin parade (no photos allowed).
Shared poncho with underdressed Columbian woman
Hot chocolate
Passed a brush fire just starting, our driver called it in (the fire truck passed us a bit later)

Home by midnight


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/2/Wild-Life-in-Australia Wed, 06 Feb 2013 02:25:37 GMT
Putting the Zed in NZ https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Putting-the-Zed-in-NZ Day 10: Queenstown to King’s Level 3

We rose early enough to say goodbye to Stacy as she left for work, spent a leisurely hour packing up the car, and headed to the airport. Without the Security Kabuki we’ve grown so used to in America, the time from parking to waiting for our flight was something like 10 minutes. How very much like my memories of Grand Junction, Colorado’s wee airport when I was a lad – of how things used to be before the Fear Industry took over in the US. A couple hours’ flight south, we were excited to watch the acres of farmland give way to the “Southern Alps”.

SouthIsland1 Queenstown is a big mountain resort town – part Switzerland, part Montana, part Aspen. We ate lovely local ice cream in the airport and took a coach to our hotel with the lakeside view (just like most every building outside the very heart of town). A short walk to Thai food and a brief shopping expedition followed. We came back to long baths and more reading. Ah, vacation.

Day 11: Huge on the Luge

After cereal and yoghurt in our room, we headed to the Vudu Cafe to meet up with NZ photographer Trey Ratcliff, who had kindly helped publicize the charity calendar last year. A brilliant photographer and lovely person, Trey showed us a few splendid photos and kindly offered tips of things to see and places to go.

First among these places was the top of the nearby mountain. A large gondola takes people up, and then a small chair lift takes them further up to use the luge. This may be just a glorified go-cart track, but it’s got the best views imaginable. Top o’the world Ma, top o’ the world!

Queenstown After my first 3 runs, Venetia and I headed in for lunch – only to encounter Trey and his lovely wife and kids! They were celebrating the kids’ last day of freedom before the onset of school and shared both their table and foodstuffs. Venetia and Trey exchanged book recommendations, and before we leave town we hope to pass along the copy of Mark Hodder’s ‘A Red Sun Also Rises’. Serendipitous indeed!

Luge1

I took 5 more runs after lunch as tandem paragliders wafted overhead and Venetia took in the view. I could have ridden all day if the passes so allowed…. But ice cream and a walk around the garden awaited, before a trip to the jacuzzi and a proper appreciation of sunset. We’re certain this would be a fine town for star-gazing, but we find ourselves thoroughly unconscious by the time any stars would think to show themselves….
Day 12: Sometimes the treasured things are not the things that last….

We arose early to meet one other small drop of rain in the lobby. From there we joined a small rivulet in the tour bus. Eventually the bus picked up enough others to stream away from Queenstown on a 4 hour ride to the Milford Sound (a mislabeled fiord). In the Sound we joined with other streaming tourists and put out to sea – sailing into the Tasman Sea before turning back around.

To say that Venetia got carsick through the winding slopes and tilting hardscrabble tunnel en route would be an understatement, but then I suppose some things are better left understated. By happenstance Brownie, our driver, a Maori from Rotorua – a good communicator in English and Maori, and an excellent salesman – told a tale of native medicine that Venetia immediately put successfully to the test (though it seems to have turned her tongue bright orange). Here’s to native medicine!

En route we passed by the Mirror Lakes:

MirrorLakes1 Mountains everywhere as Mt1sm we climbed (and eventually descended) the Southern Alps.

The bus driver wanted to make sure his passengers signed on to hate a high-speed rail from Queenstown that the local Maori groups were lobbying for, but his reasoning was purely corporate – the rail in question would clearly be better for the environment. But it would make the long drive he was taking us on obsolete. And the tourist town stopping point (“Want a toilet? That’ll be a dollar, thank you,”) would suffer far more than bus passengers without that crucial dollar….

MilfordFiord We both found the cruise astonishing – the animal life consisted only of a couple gulls, some suggestions of lobster by the intermittent traps, some very relaxed seals and a delightfully playful dolphin – but the sheer topography of the place!

Milford2

We happily braved the 10k summer wind coming off the water, but at the end of the day, there was no way we could sensibly take 4 more hours of bus trip back. So we didn’t. Instead, we flew in a tiny plane over New Zealand’s breathtaking fiords.

Takeoff Alps Our scenic 4 hour trip condensed, through a desire to stay outside our comfort zone and the miracle of cash, to a mere 40 minutes – barely reaching an altitude high enough to cross “the Wall” of the Darran and Humboldt Mountains (with their amazingly beautiful, but otherwise unattainable tarns) in time to come right back down. Alps2

Tarns What an incredible day. Our hearts are still in our throats, and amid the bumps of the cruise and return flight I’m sure that many of our pictures are blurred messes, but today is our last in New Zealand and we went out with a bang!

SunsetNZsm


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar A Red Sun Also Rises Milford Sound Trey Ratcliff https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Putting-the-Zed-in-NZ Wed, 30 Jan 2013 10:58:19 GMT
Day 8 & 9: Viva la Wellington! https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Day-8-9-Viva-la-Wellington Day 8: ‘Te Papa’s meaning is less removed from ‘Yo Mama’ than you might think

After a surprise morning delivery of crayfish (what we would call “lobsters”), our kind hosts took us around the peninsula, past one of Sir Peter Jackson’s two houses, for a proper Breakfast in Scorching Bay at a table overlooking the beach. It was civilized indeed!

After some fun in the sand, and the requisite photos of marine life made visible by the low tide, we headed up the coast to see this sculpture of a Tree Troll by Stacy’s friend Kim, who we hope to meet tomorrow.

Scorching1

From there a drive into town to see about getting my phone to work (for me, not for greedy international carriers that is). It wasn’t easy, but at last I have an iPhone that is “unlocked” and able to accept local sim cards instead of the highway robbery of “roaming” charges. What works here in NZ won’t work in AU or elsewhere, but an unlocked phone means that I should be well prepared for November’s trip to the UK.

The Wellington city government decided to offer WETA ace Greg Broadmore an empty storefront on Cuba Street for his traveling Dr. Grordbort exhibit (next stop – Dubai). We caught both the exhibit (oh to have the resources of Weta to build MY frames!) and it’s prime mover (such a lovely man considering the vasty Venusian carnage he wreaks!) at a serendipitously timed signing, and hope we might see him once more before we pull up stakes and head for the South Island!

Exhibit But we could only stay long enough to get a book signed (and drawn in) for Keith Baker – we had to meet my old pal (and US Diplomat stationed in Wellington) Marie D’Amour. On the way to the TePapa museum we passed a shallow harbor filled with boaters and, below them, gliding rays. We passed happy tourists and delighted locals who were making full use of the steps and ladders to dive into the cool waters below – focusing (rather painfully I imagined) on creating as much splash for the onlookers as possible.

TePapa1 But we hurried on to the museum where we found Marie and her visiting (and also diplomatically-minded) niece. After a brief but splendid chat, we paid our fees and entered the complexities of the Gamemaster exhibit. The early games (Defender, Galaga, et al.) were ones that I well remembered. The batch in the middle of the chronology were things I’d witnessed only in passing (Black and White, DDR, Zeldas, et al.). But there was a crop at the end I’d never even heard of. I was charmed with Blueberry Garden, but did not play it long before moving on to a 3-game portfolio of That Game Company – Flow, Flower and finally Journey. I played 1 creature and 2 flowers fully through in the first games. But like someone who comes to Vegas and sits down at a slot machine that’s been played unsuccessfully for days, I moved on to a partly completed Journey and played it entirely to its conclusion (in the very nick of time! The exhibit closed as I watched the end credits roll).

I found it beautifully ways I’d never imagined a game managing – almost as if Nicholas Roerich and Mary Blair had decided to work on a sequel to Myst with Carl Jung… Hearing that some friends in Portland own it, I may try to study its elegant minimalism a little more when I get home – it’s a treasure. As great as I found the exhibit, I admit to some chagrin at missing the rest of the museum entirely. Perhaps we’ll manage another, more history-minded, visit tomorrow. We briefly peeked into the Embassy Theatre (whose Gandalf is larger even than the Roxy’s) and established to my satisfaction that Wellington has the best theaters with fancy dining than anyplace I’ve ever been. Even if they need a proper Wizard to defend them….

IMG_2751 Upon returning home, we we’re treated to those aliens from District 9… well, to their crayfish cousins anyway. Eric dealt with the Lobsters while Stacy whipped up home-made chili. After a beautiful sunset we headed back to Gandalf (who is literally bigger here in Wellington than Queen Victoria) and feasted on the Pavlova (the Kiwis’ national dessert made primarily of kiwi fruit, cream, and meringue) at nearby Strawberry Fare.

Food The resultant sugar coma sent us happy to an early bed.

Day 9: The Hospitality of Mr. Baggins

The day began slowly, but we finally sprang into motion and headed back to the Te Papa Museum after noon. As I was considering the steep parking fees a fellow with a German accent approached and asked if I’d paid to park. I told him I was considering it, and he handed me his parking pass. Apparently the 3 hours he’d used were as expensive as the all-day pass, so he paid for the full day, and why didn’t I just take his?

TePapa2 We tasted the local salmon at the Sunday Market and admired the many locals basking in the summer sun. The museum was every bit as interesting and wonderful as we’d suspected. Some of the films were silly and poorly conceived (the gimmicky black animated bit on the giant squid) and others wonderful (base jumpers and photographers  and sheep farmers and paleo-kiwis talking about what the land means to them).But wherever one travels in New Zealand, the spirit of JRR Tolkien is never far behind – The Hobbit’s 3 trolls were visiting the museum too – dangerous dudes to be around!

IMG_2785

After a brief return to base, Stacy and I headed off to see a hidden Dragon – happily there were no Crouching Tigers about. Stacy’s sculptor pal Kim Beaton (who made the wood troll we saw yesterday) has created a wonderfully friendly dragon who is sheltering a fox and a hedgehog. And she made it out of a new high-tech concrete that requires no metal framework or other materials. At the end of our visit I got to help restore the dragons protective cover, but now that he’s properly cured, this will be his last day under protective wrapping.

IMG_2812

Later that evening (and a remarkably hot one it was for Wellington), Stacy and Eric hosted a swell gathering of artists – Daniel Falconer arrived with Paul Tobin, Greg popped in, and I had a fine chat with Kim about art and t-shirt design. Tim-Tams and baseball-themed beer accompanied conversation about fireworks, large insects, world travel and the Hobbit. Conversation about the game Journey was later echoed in a surprising way as we watched a firelit Chinese lantern ascend, rising slow and straight into a remarkably calm clear twilight. Another followed some 20 minutes later. Gorgeous.

What a wonderful visit and send-off. We loved Wellington.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Day-8-9-Viva-la-Wellington Sun, 27 Jan 2013 12:12:06 GMT
At Sixes and Sevens https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/At-Sixes-and-Sevens Day 6: You Will Believe a Man Can Fall!

We lit out of Rotorua and were well past many of the geysers when we were stopped in a mandatory traffic stop. I’d never had a breathalyzer test before (as a teetotaler that was probably due to a complete lack of anything approaching probable cause) but this one was administered in a jiffy. The nice policeman saying (in his nice Kiwi accent rendered here as phonetically as auto-correct will allow): “hee’s ya mandatory breethalyzer test. Weea troin’ ta mike shua droivas sty awoik – so theys coffee and free ois cream ova thaya.”  indicating the small crowd of confectioners and baristas on the left verge. When I didn’t look like I’d be taking them up on it, he handed me this box – branded with the local safety mascot and filled with jelly beans.

JellyBeans

The drive past Lake Taupo and the climb up past Tongarira Crossing were beautiful. As were the escaped horses on the highway, despite the clear danger they presented to themselves and others (like the car-carrier who’d stripped the driver’s mirror off the car in front of us). But after that it was smooth sailing at the speed limit.

Until the madness of The Flying Fox that is. There, we far surpassed the usual 100km speed limit, and without worrying for the safety of our rental car. We went down the zip lines of Gravity Canyon face-first at 100 MILES per hour. Words do not do it justice, but this video (of others, because I’m not going to pay $45 to watch myself fall) might begin to suggest the experience.

GravityCanyon

Venetia was deeply worried going in, but her screaming stopped almost immediately as we enjoyed the surreally calm and beautiful flight. 2 seconds in, my thought was “This ride is already too short!”The winching-up backwards was a rather different matter, but despite that uneasy feeling (and their motto on the shirt below) I cannot recommend this adventure strongly enough.

Sport

A few more hours’ drive south led us to the very southern tip of the Northern Island and to the Wellington home of Stacy & Eric where we enjoyed delicious food among the locals – many of whom are colleagues of our hosts at Weta Workshops – an easy view of which lies a couple blocks down the hill from their house). A brief shopping run yielded licorice, chocolate, ‘tasty’ cheese (for ‘cheddar’ is curiously unknown here despite John Cleese’s protestations to the contrary “But it’s the single most popular cheese in the WORLD!” ringing loudly in my head) and other delicious (if pricey) Island goods.

Day 7: An Expected Journey

Hobbit1 We awoke early and got loads of stray ducks in a row. Photos, blogs, hygiene – we did it all. And then we headed for the Roxy. Apparently when one makes several of the world’s most successful films, one can purchase and renovate an amazing art deco theatre – stocking it with posh seats, lovely food, a giant bronze of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf, and a massive mural and finest Deco fittings by Greg “Dr. Grordbort” Broadmore and company. Who knew?

Roxy Stacy had only mentioned the theatre in passing, but since we knew we were coming, why not wait to see the Hobbit until we could see it on its home turf? And after we’d visited Hobbiton ourselves? And when we could nip over to WETA for the tour after?

WETAhelms It all went to plan, and a marvellous time was had.

We spoke at some length with sculptor Craig Campbell about a secret commission, and got a flavour for the wonderful work environment at Weta. We later ate smashing Thai food and happily chatted the night away with our hosts


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/At-Sixes-and-Sevens Fri, 25 Jan 2013 13:28:13 GMT
Days 3,4 & 5: North Island, New Zealand https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Days-3-4-5-North-Island-New-Zealand Day 3 – Caves and Hobbitses

Pauanui We  arose early in the planned community Pauanui, but any belief I’d had that we were up before anyone was quickly quashed by the dogged enthusiasm of a friendly little Yorkie. Given the chance, he’d be with us still….

After a brief stop in Hamilton (to get directions to Hobbiton, where we had signal to do so), we travelled south to Waitomo. The cheeky little birds who sought our delicious lunch were not deterred by noises, motions nor splashes of water. Their dinosaur forbearers would have been proud.

After a gradual climb down into a complex (and very smartly lit) cave complex, e leader of the tour shut out the lights. Venetia, notoriously claustrophobic, held up brilliantly, even then. The first few glow worms were high up and relatively isolated. But once we boarded the boat, and floated under the blue starred cave sky, the caves became truly sublime – Breathtaking in their strange and genuinely alien beauty.

IMG_2360 Two hours later, we’d come to Hobbiton.

What can I tell you? Probably little that you don’t already know that you’d be the slightest bit interested in. We haven’t yet seen The Hobbit, but of course we knew the ground pretty well from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was rather nice of them to repair the temporary sets from those films just so that we could get the full experience. The cakes and ale at the Green Dragon Inn went a long way making up for the throngs of over-charged tourists buying overpriced tchotchkes in the makeshift “Shires’s Rest”.

IMG_2444 But for all the pain of the prices throughout New Zealand, there’s not a thing we’ve done yet that we have the slightest regret for. And the sight of lichens and mosses hand-painted in the exciting new medium of wood chips and yoghurt? Priceless.

Hobbiton The camera died at the end of our unexpected journey, but we captured most everything… but the ring.

IMG_2524

Day 4: A Day of Rest

We are mellow, calm, and completely laid-back. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it, but in an attempt to establish verisimilitude, here’s a lovely anecdote from Venetia: “I was walking by the park and I passed a tiny little boy (somewhere in the 5-7 range) sitting and getting his face painted. Other half of his face that I could see was mostly done and a woman was still painting the other side. I stood there watching them, wondering how the hell a little kid like that could be so patient and still, not moving a muscle and then I looked over and saw his dad. He was a big Maori man, with a cool mohawk of dark hair about 3 inches or so high. The rest of his scalp on either side of his mohawk was shaved. Starting at the edges of his cheekbones and running up the side of his face up and over the shaved portion of his scalp were beautiful intricate tribal tattoos. And I thought, yeah, good on you kid. You sit there perfectly still and get your face painted and make your dad proud. Love it.”

Rotorua

Day 5: The Day we took Neil Gaiman* Zorbing

For the last three months at least, we have told every single person had a decent conversation with that we were going to go Zorbing. Today was that prophesied day. We waited until the afternoon for the day to warm up a little and then carefully picked our outfits for the event, a t-shirt and swim trunks for myself and her two-piece swimsuit for Venetia. The Zorbing track was less than a fifteen minute drive out of town, although we were momentarily fooled by a faux Zorb course a kilometer or so nearer to Rotorua than the one we’d scoped out in advance. After sunscreening and registering, we waited with a pre-soaked father and son for our ride up to the top of the hill.

IMG_2572 I went first and, after casting an eye down the track, dove into the peculiar human hamster pinball as hard as I could, thinking that it would be my momentum that would, if you’ll pardon the expression, get the ball rolling. But it didn’t budge. I waited a moment for the official push off down the zig-zag track and then…. Well, why bore you with my own meagre Stream Of Consciousness, when Venetia’s is much more entertaining? Behold:

“…Not far enough into the ball, hurry, hurry get in. Okay, my stomach feels really tense, this must be a great workout for my abs to be holding in this reclining/sitting position. Oh no… he’s zipping me in, am I going to get claustrophobic? No, seem all right, when did I get water up my nose? I am really quite wet already. Thank god the water is warm. Oh god, what’s taking so long, he’s chatting with the people behind me. Okay, there he is, ah, he’s unlocking the gate, omg, I’m moving ****! ****! ****! ****ing A! THIS IS AMAZING! So glad Lee isn’t in here with me, I can’t stop screaming and I think I would hurt his eardrums. OMG – totally ODing on adrenaline, is this too much adrenaline, no I think I’m fine **** I’M TOTALLY IN THE AIR. Am I going to be sick? No still okay here, **** THAT WAS ****ING AWESOME! I probably should have taken my contacts out for this, can’t seem to close my eyes and I am getting a ****ing ton of water directly in my face. Okay, still okay ****! ****ING A. Apparently I swear a lot now, who knew? ****. I love this. This is incredible! ****. Okay can’t see anything, stopped now, cover unzipped, woman is saying something oh ****. So apparently I lost my top, it’s okay she says, happens all the time. Ahhhhh, that was incredible. That was so incredible I don’t even know what just happened. ****ing A.”

True story.

Tonight we continued our hot springs tour of the world at The Peloponnesian Spa.** we tested all 7 pools in our section, spoke with Sikh dentists from London and French-speaking bartenders from Waitomo. The sky was as glorious as the springs.

Sky

*While we are led to believe that Neil Gaiman is himself down under, and while we would happily have taken him Zorbing, the savvy among you must by now realize that Neil was, in this story at least, represented in effigy only – on the splendid laundry bag that Kitty had kindly given us in LA.

**Actually, Sparta led the ancient Peloponnesian League to war with Athens back in the day. This really has nothing to do with the amazing spa in Rotorua, but somehow we found it more fun that saying “Polynesian”. We are a silly people.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Days-3-4-5-North-Island-New-Zealand Thu, 24 Jan 2013 14:09:52 GMT
Day 1&2 in North Island, New Zealand https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Day-1-2-in-North-Island-New-Zealand Day 1 – This Time We Really Mean It!

DawnPacific When the first rays of sun lit the sky, we were south of the equator. And had just past into a whole new day and date with the crossing of the date line…

A large part of this trip is specifically for the gathering of reference that cannot be attained elsewhere – texture and context. With that in mind, the trip was off to a magnificent start. The dawn skies shifted and glowed – and since we were fleeing the sun, we got far more minutes of dawn that we’d ever get otherwise. Fantastic.

NZ

Many UI experts, English Mavens, and Facebook Memes rightly sing the praises of the Oxford Comma. But after the long line at customs, renting a car, driving said car on the left side of the road into a busy Auckland, dealing with the perversity of locked telephones, and wandering through the old and new city, it was time for a little lie down. We nodded off at 4 pm and would not move again. It was the Auckland Coma.

KiwiSmall

 Day 2 – IMing

Auckland

We had traveled to Auckland with a terribly fit chap who carried a case large enough to fit two bicycles (though he only had the one.) Indeed our hotel, down in Auckland’s pier district, was chockablock with frighteningly fit people of all ages. I overheard one young Aussie use the phrase “IMing” and for the first time in my quiet normal life had cause to understand that the IM in question was not Instant Messaging but rather “IronMan-ing.” This was brought home to us even more powerfully early on the morning of Day 2 at 6:15 when the booming of a loud speaker drew us out of our comas to the window just in time to witness the first wave of swimmers heading out. See?

4TimeLapseFrames

A quick survey of the streets surrounding the hotel revealed an intricate and well-laid plan for the running and/or cycling rounds of the IM. Even in our addled states, we recognized that the starting gun had been fired for us as well and it was important that we too be off like a shot. We dressed and packed with speed and managed to sneak our car onto the road ahead of the Iron Men and Women (IW?).

An hour later we were secure in a curious Bakehouse in Thames at the beginning of our circumnavigation of the Coromandel Peninsula. We chose the place based on the gathering of locals, also it was the only place open at 8am on a Sunday morning. Venetia had a sausage of meat wrapped in bacon. It tasted just like it sounds. I had a pie of sausage and mushrooms (and a loathsome little sauce best left unconsidered). We enjoyed the experience but will not be eating at the Bakehouse again. (Since that morning, we have seen them at least once per city, they appear to be a local chain.)

We followed the only real road around the scenic, if somewhat treacherous peninsula (we marvelled at the number of one-lane stretches and bridges). Because of our early rousting from Auckland, we arrived in Whitianga (pronounced Fittianga) hours before our scheduled glass-bottom-boat tour of Cathedral Cove (known to any fans of the Prince Caspian movie as the gateway to Narnia – the Inklings have all their books adapted down here you know). Handily, the boat company was flexible and after a quick snapper lunch and some delicious ice cream, we headed out.

Whittianga Yes, seeing live snapper, billowing seaweed, and beautiful rays below the boat was nice. But the geology of sea caves, basalt and natural concretions was beyond anything we’ve ever seen! Because the water was a cold 12 degrees, there was a minimum of snorkeling, and a maximum of coastal gawking. I thought especially of Jim Mueller as we surveyed the small island that sits at the edge of the continental drop-off….


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Day-1-2-in-North-Island-New-Zealand Thu, 24 Jan 2013 13:52:02 GMT
Prologue to Adventure! https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Prologue-to-Adventure  Day 1 – Not In Kansas, But Assuredly Not In New Zealand Either.

The road to New Zealand inevitably passes through the City of Angels. Usually on a stopover of hours but sometimes, as in our case, a couple days. The morning series of ad agency drive-bys went swimmingly. And our lunch with the splendid Clare Grant (better known to some of you as Miss Sir Terry Pratchett, to others as a member of Team Unicorn) took place at one of her old LA haunts. Stories of our glamorous backgrounds were exchanged, and travel tips offered all around. We headed off to a meeting with Samuels Advertising, for whom I had many years earlier painted 6 Laurel & Hardy DVD covers (the old neighborhood off Hollywood Boulevard always has me hearing the live version of the classic Kinks song in my head). While there are still amputees using Brasso on the stars’ names, and people selling badly-copied and continually-outdated maps to the homes of the rich and famous, in other ways this neighborhood has come up in the world. My recent painting of Amanda Palmer as Neil Gaiman’s Media was called to mind by this certain star….

Hollywood

After a marvellous meeting with David Samuels, we headed to Universal Studio City and the new home of Paul Komoda.

PaulKomoda Paul’s huge Predator figure is as yet unfinished, but it promises (amid numberless wonders and horrors) to be his finest piece yet. Also, one of his largest. We absconded with him in pursuit of gelato, but other wonders (including blazing orange stuffed sheep) were also on the menu. Here’s a glimpse or two of Paul and his ménage.

PaulKomoda2 From the House of Komoda, we ventured on, traveling toward the setting sun through the Valley of the Shadow of Mulholland. Finally stopping only at Jason and Kemi’s. Conversation, delightful food at Pho21, and successful campaigns against my hosts at Scrabble and Anagrams followed.

 Day 2 – LA Confidentially

To avoid the morning commute madness on the 101, we nipped up Ventura and crossed into Hollywood through Laurel Canyon to meet with the proprietress of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwear. We got to meet the oft-absent Drew, dine on sumptuous brunch, and talk about the omens for our trip. They were good. With a brain filled with ideas for the work ahead once the trip is through, we set off once more for distant agencies – this time in Santa Monica, where we haunted the promenade and overlooked the creation of some radical new signage. Chow with Bino at his favorite Indian cafe where the Saag Paneer (among other faves) was the best we’ve ever had. The massage that followed was the perfect end to a whirlwind visit. Then off to LAX. Just in time for the Air New Zealand computers to go down…. We were there for less than 15 minutes before it came back, but the suspense was palpable. Finally onto the plane at 10, and out of the country not so long thereafter.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adventures New Zealand/Australia https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2013/1/Prologue-to-Adventure Thu, 24 Jan 2013 13:30:37 GMT
2012: The Year in Review https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/12/2012-The-Year-in-Review Zoom

JANUARY

2012 was a beautiful and amazing year, and the fun started immediately on New Year’s Day. At 12:00:01am, I asked Venetia to move to Portland. She said “Yes!” We’d worked together at a distance in 2011, building the 2012 Literary Pin-Up Calendar for bestselling author and all around good guy Pat Rothfuss‘s charity Worldbuilders. Fitting that the first moment of that then-theoretical year would be such a celebration. The 1st saw us drive to the Coast and return via Cornelius Pass, the first of the many road trips that would follow….

FEBRUARY

A month later I flew into Madison Wisconsin and was gathered up by my dear friend – and Venetia’s former colleague – Kat. After a couple days of packing and hanging out with the splendid staff of Worldbuilders, we hit the road.

On our way home, we had great sushi outside Dubuque, got to see a little of the surprisingly interesting Iowa City, and barely avoided the major snowstorm that had swallowed all of Nebraska by traveling south through Kansas City. We stayed that night with my wonderfully hospitable cousin Keith and his wife Christy. The storm had left plenty of snow in Denver, but it was nothing but stunning set-dressing by the time we arrived. We had breakfast with a dear old friend of Venetia’s from Montana, then set off to Red Rocks. After an icy ascent to Hanging Lake as the sun dipped low, I showed V my childhood homes in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Happily this was only the first of our many, many hot springs visits this year.

Luncheon in Grand Junction was with my cousins Larry and Sue; from there we headed west to Arches National Park. Arches was sublime and the weather supernally calm. While we remained safe and dry, basking in sun, we witnessed a grand snowstorm half a county away to the East. We watched microstorms come and go, but a fantastic Weather Application for the iPad kept us safe us all the way across the country.

The sun set on us as we descended the passes and came into Salt Lake City. There, we were bemused by the billboards in Salt Lake City (“Tired of being normal?” A smiling couple asks, as they shill for some odd hormone therapy, “Pretend it never happened” were the words next to the man with the bag on his head advertising laser tattoo removal, and finally: “Transvaginal Mesh!” We saw this billboard at least three times in Utah but never came close to figuring out it meant). That night we got to Logan and the home and hospitality of Newton Ewell. After breakfast with Newton and Cat, we set out again. From there, Oregon was easy. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the entire trip? We talked the whole way across country without radio, tape, or other interruption.

We renovated one of the upstairs guest bedrooms of my beautiful Portland home into a charming and cozy office space. Venetia was converted to the MacIntosh OS with little difficulty. Having most recently traveled from the icy heart of small town Wisconsin, her joy at living in a thriving city is constant.

Anne Hindman and Carolyn Turgeon stayed with us later that month. By cunningly playing chauffeur, we got to accompany Carolyn to a clandestine meeting with a man who collects, among other things, American performing-mermaid memorabilia – the sequinned tails and the showbills and props used in such far-flung places as Weeki Wachee and Idaho Falls. And the hints of his other collections (like the family of larger-than-life fiberglass A&W Rootbeer mascots from the Dakotas that dominated his back yard) also amazed.

After years of being on different continents, or at least on opposite ends of the country, Venetia’s best friend Jennifer now lives only two hours away in Seattle. Immediately folllowing NWCT’s splendid gala, we drove north to Seattle for business and pleasure. After a day of meetings in interesting, historical buildings festooned with walruses, Venetia and Jennifer were at last reunited when we attended Jennifer’s costume party as a beret-wearing artist and his muse – not much of a stretch, but it served as a great ice-breaker.

My beautiful picture

I had the honor of being present when my Father and sole remaining Uncle last met. Dick’s son Donnie and I attended the meeting with Mom and Venetia. Men of few words, their conversation now was hampered by the loss of memory and encroaching darkness. But they were clearly, if laconically, happy to be in one another’s company. There wasn’t anything soppy or weepy involved, no big sentiment – it was typically stoic. No definitive statements that would indicate this would undoubtedly be their last meeting.

Their siblings had gone before them – all manner of ill health, bad luck, patricide, suicide and misadventure attended them. Elmer and Dick had worked together skidding logs and hunting and doing all those unglamorous things that the poorer denizens of little Rifle Colorado did. They were the last of that ornery pioneer generation, the last to remember the details. So successful had his campaigns in quest of fur been, that my Dad was the star of a magazine ad for muskrat and beaver traps back in the day. Dick had run the big mill in Meeker while my Dad, recovering from a broken jaw the falling tree had caused, went to the big city to College. But for all that my Dad worked in offices and Dick in a Cat or a Mill, they always got along. It felt somehow fitting for them to be the last two.

The main thread of their short conversation was an assurance to themselves and to each other that they had brought the next generation, Donnie’s and mine, up well. That they’d done right and could be proud. And when that agreement was reached in a small flurry of animation and elevation of volume, the meeting was adjourned. And we left.

MARCH

Jennifer came down to visit Venetia and I in March. We took her to many of our favorite Portland spots, including shopping on Hawthorne Street which has become our standard tour for out-of-town guests.

Our baby Persian Ironwood was planted by the Friends of Trees and Venetia has tended it most faithfully, it is doing splendidly. And after a non-existent crop last year, the fig tree produced 150 or so figs in its first crop alone!

APRIL

We traveled north to Seattle’s Norwescon for the first time. When I lived on the East Coast, this show had a fine reputation for programming and guests. Last year was no exception. I got to surprise my award-winning artist Guest of Honor friend John Picacio and visit with my 13th Age colleagues Jon Tweet and Rob Heinsoo. Plus Jason McEachen, my old colleague at Maryland’s Digital Addiction, into the bargain.

On the way back, we stopped south of Tacoma and closer to Rainier for a visit and Painter ™ demo with Todd Lockwood. Todd and I have many points of vantage and experience in common, and spending time with him was definitely one of the year’s highlights.

Venetia also got a glorious birthday party, courtesy of my family. She had an amazing time and was positively glowing for a week.

MAY

Some of you who read last year’s Holiday Novella may remember me talking about how close Keith Baker, Paul Komoda and I came to getting our game, The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, published in 2011. One reader thought that he should do a Kickstarter, and publish it with crowd-sourced capital. The Kickstarter was a great success, and Erik Chevalier’s company took in a pretty vasty sum (with the help of many of you. Thanks!) And I thought that finally, after 20 or so years, the stars were finally right. But delays and corporate interference pushed the production into 2013. I am not thrilled with any of the delays, but I remain hopeful that the patient Kickstarter backers and I will finally get our long-awaited rewards.

The HP Lovecraft Film Festival moved itself to May and came together with the tender care and feeding of Brian and Gwen of SighCo. I participated in a couple of fine panels, and though I lost the coveted Pickman’s Artist award to young Nick Gucker, I was pleased with the results of the audience-directed event. And my Katherine-wheeled- unicycle-riding Shuggoth has found a happy home with author Nikki Guerlain (whose donation went to charity).

shoggothsized

At the end of the month, we drove down to the San Francisco Bay for BayCon. It was the first time we listened to the music on my iPhone straight through, and many of the songs are now set in our minds at particular locations along the beautiful northern California drive (i.e.: The Austin Lounge Lizards singing “I pull off in Yreka” as we drove into Yreka).

Staying with Miko, Lis and Jackson is always a treat. Miko introduced Venetia to many fascinating and immediately applicable concepts, including the Vitamix and the “green smoothie.” While their chard smoothie was a little… intense for us, we later succumbed to the lure of the Vitamix and spent the rest of the summer enjoying delicious smoothies (though Venetia’s were usually more viridian than mine).

While in the Bay area, we spent my birthday with Doug and Wendy, old friends from the East Coast who’d been lured west to civilization. We, and their delightful kids found a delicious Lebanese joint in the midst of Santa Clara’s labyrinthine warehouses and played a rough game of Anagrams. My cousin Cathy and her homophone Kathy took us for a fine Zodiac ride on the waters around Redwood Shores. Later, I created a fierce visage of Boudicca for the spinnaker of their racing boat.

BoudiccaCrop

JUNE

We hosted Melissa and Illyeanna and got a closer look at some of Portland’s newest food carts, the splendid ice cream of Salt & Straw, and sushi.

In another epic road trip, we drove out to Montana to visit Andrea, Glacier, hot springs, and Venetia’s family. In the old days I’d have included it here, but the beauty of this new format is that reportage can occur more promptly and accurately. So, for a much more scenic and fulsome account please visit my journal HERE.

When we returned, Venetia and I visited with my Dad. He didn’t know us. Venetia was new to the party, so his lack of memory was not surprising. But he didn’t know me either. Still, he was glad we were there, and the feeling was mutual. We had a sweet visit – all the worries and frustrations of our long relationship were past, and he could be purely happy to see me. I’ve heard people talk about heaven: about being reunited with loved ones and the memories of life. But there and then, I felt that this Lethe -  so impossible to fight, so hard to witness – was somehow right. I had made my peace with my father in therapy and then, in person. I hope that when his light finally faded, in early July, that he had all he needed.

JULY

Immediately after driving to Montana and back, we flew out to the East Coast for a two week tour of New York. Starting in Newark, we stayed with Jim and Rhymer in Jersey, Michael Kaluta in NYC, Stephen Hickman in Red Hook NY, and Jacob Lefton in Armherst, before arriving at Scott and Rachel’s house in Melrose. The blog is again the place to go for MORE.

The main purpose of the trip was guesting at ReaderCon where Elizabeth Bear, Michael Swanwick, Kyle Cassidy, and I created a story together.

Dismembrance

Jason McEachen and his young family stayed with us briefly in July – before emigrating to Australia. We look forward to seeing them next in Melbourne.

AUGUST

I was finally able to begin the 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar with a full line-up of amazing authors – including my all time favorite writer, Ray Bradbury. The next three months were devoted almost exclusively to the calendar, though we did take a break to debut 13th Age the game I’d been working on with Jon Tweet and Rob Heinsoo and Aaron McConnell – at the massive PAX show in Seattle.

LeeAndV13thAge

It was there, showing off the game to passersby with Venetia, that I found out that I had won a Chesley Award. I was so surprised to have been nominated thrice that it never even occurred to me that I might win one. Quite a wonderful surprise to be honored thus by my peers!

Our work on the calendar began and ended in Portland, with Roger Circle 23 Photography shooting Venetia (and eventually me). Roger was great at getting us what we needed. But our itinerary took us to Los Angeles where we stayed with the adorable Nicole, Ed and Magoo (their pug). The loss of my friend (and their Clarion classmate) Leonard Pung hit hard. Leonard was a fine fellow and avid punster who is much missed. We were honored to work with the talented photographer Alan Amato and his muse Ulorin Vex. Alan took the reference photos of Clare Grant and Milynn Sarley, half of Team Unicorn.

Jim Butcher’s assistant Priscilla Spencer was the model for his pin-up, in 4 separate reflecting poses. We met with photographer Zakk Eginton at her house and shot for a wonderful couple of hours on a balmy night in the City of Angels.

We got to spend another day in LA visiting friends and seeing sights.

First: Jason and Kemi. It seems like only yesterday that Jason was living at my house after Katrina. And a blink since I saw him get married in New Orleans. But now? A big old townhouse in the Valley – all gussied up and festooned with the best books and comics. Hard to even put my happiness for him and his family into words. Here’s the cover I did for his comic “One Nation“: SundiataFlat

 

Then: Kitty Cat Mihos. We shared a sinfully delicious breakfast al fresco and between personal stories talked about Neverwear and other excellent charity work. She’s started up a new facebook page HERE. I can’t wait to work with her and Neil in the new year!

Finally: Paul Komoda. Despite the chaos of his move to a new apartment, we still were able to see some of his amazing work – from dinosaurs to dollies. And the lovely lady Stella came home with us. My house is as filled with art as it can be, but the more work by Paul, the merrier!

Stellasized

 

We also took in the many sights LA has to offer – from the Santa Monica Pier to the mountain canyons north of town. This included a visit to the Lake Shrine I remember so fondly from my childhood, a visit to a an empty Dodgers Stadium, and plenty of other beautiful scenery too!

Back in Portland, coinciding with Keith’s move from Austin back to PDX, we hosted a party for Dan and Zephy in commemoration of the brilliant game they’d run. We commissioned the perfect yin and yang boxes in to present the players’ Thank You gift to them: decks of Exalted Tarot cards I designed and illustrated with help from Felicity Shoulders and Sarah Barker at the beginning of the year.

Sarah4

The cards were immediately broken in with a version of Dan and Zephy’s custom baccarat game. Some big league ante was lost and won therefrom. Included in the haul, was the original set of Keith’s “Cards Against Academy”, a custom and hilarious permutation on “Cards Against Humanity.”

OCTOBER

Only one bit of reference eluded me – the ever-moving Amanda Palmer. Happily we’d discussed this with Kyle Cassidy at Readercon in Boston, and our plan worked to perfection. I drew up a rough of what I was looking for, and Kyle did the rest in the midst of Amanda’s busy US tour. Whew!

At the end of October, we were back in SF for a new show called Convolution. I got to present Peter S. Beagle with a framed print of his pin-up in the calendar, and spend time with Deborah Grabien. The panel on Kickstarter with Steve Jackson, Howard Tayler, and Steve Berman was a hoot. Kickstarter is such a complex beast that we could have carried on all day…. The proximity to SFO meant that we got to see Miko again on his way to Japan. And our afternoon walking tour of Burlingame was surprisingly entertaining as well. We met Heather Lam’s beau and hatched devious schemes with other friends in the course of our stay.

NOVEMBER

I’ve designed t-shirts for AmberCon Northwest for many years now, and this year’s was the only job I took amid the Calendar mania. The gathering at McMenamin’s Edgefield is always amazing, and this year was no exception. While we missed Murray Writtle, Katya Kornmacher came from Germany, and joined my long Saturday tour of waterfalls and dams and the Bridge of the Gods. The games I played were splendid – from Felicity Shoulders’ Amber in Space to Simone’s ongoing Court Dances – but the best fun of all was playing a bespoke, bemused and befuddled Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster (tragically sans Jeeves) in Amanda Robinson’s Hooray for Captain Spaulding game. Afterwards, pancakes were taken on the West Porch.

AmberConBertie2012

 

Our stay at Edgefield also allowed me to visit The Artists in Cellblock D. The McMenamin brothers bought the former Multnomah County Lock-up, a strange spoke and hub panopticon that had hidden next to the bigger institution quietly for years. While I didn’t get to see Lyle the Night Owl, I did see Myrna and Olivia and their mates hard at work on exquisite curvilinear headboards. Behold! The Ever Glamorous World of ART!

CellblockD

At Convolution I had invited our friend Jaym Gates, publicist and horsewoman extraordinaire, to come visit for Thanksgiving. She joined us for a bounteous Thanksgiving day with my family, and then, the next day, for a gathering here with some of the amazing friends we have been blessed to know. But while Venetia and I knew the guests, they didn’t know one another – it was a fine experiment in old-school dinner partying. We achieved some critical mass of fun – the laughter was constant and the impromptu games of introduction remarkable. The meal that was gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan thanks to Venetia’s hard word and our visiting Master Chef, Jaym.

TurkeyDay

 

DECEMBER

A couple days ago, my painting inspired by Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notionpremiered in the upstairs hallway at McMenamin’s Kennedy School here in Portland. So wonderful to have my work there among that of my friends.

ErinPhotoCrop

The picture above was taken on Christmas Eve by our hostess, my sister-in-law Erin, when the family gathered at their house on the Tualatin River (And I don’t mean near the river, I mean on the river. The water is further away in summer).

Today the party moved to Vancouver for a delicious and loot-filled Christmas. We look forward to a second-breakfast party with Kate, Bob, and Rowan Ristau New Year’s Eve. And we will be finishing the year as it began – at Steve Lieber and Sara Ryan‘s New Year’s Eve evening party.

BOOKS READ

“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by the sweet Jenny Lawson. We managed to find standing room the night she read at Powell’s where she signed a book for Heather Lam. Jenny later helped me with the George RR Martin Pin-Up by photographing her own dire Wolf Blitzer to be Cersei Lannister’s bedwarmer.

“Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”: This book brings the context.

“Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal” and “My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging” by Rachel Naomi Remen. True stories of love and death.

CALENDAR-RELATED BOOKS

Remember kids: When it’s research, no one is allowed to interrupt!

“The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle. Details of the pin-up HERE.

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. Neil was the first author who signed on for this year’s calendar. His kind note and wee present are much beloved. More about his pin-up is HERE.

“Kushiel’s Dart” by Jacqueline Carey. We went out to the Beaverton Powell’s to hear her read from her new Agent of Hel series, spoke with her and gave a few members of her audience the 2012 calendar to better prepare them for the 2013 one.

STAGE AND SCREEN

I painted many theater posters for the NorthWest Children’s Theater and Lakewood and we’ve loved the productions we’ve seen.

There were no shortage of plays and movies in 2012, but our vote for best theatrical performance of 2012 is the Portland Center Stage production of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, tickets courtesy Keith and Jen. Three of our party (including Venetia) had never seen it. What an astounding production!

PUBLISHING:

The wrap-around cover for M.K. Hobson’s “The Warlock’s Curse”.

WarlockFinal

The covers for Mark Hodder’s “A Red Sun Also Rises for Pyr”.

Cover painting for “Axe Cop”, over drawings by Ethan Nicolle.

Spectrum 19 (my 7th year).

KICKSTARTER:

I never expected to work on a single Kickstarter this year, much less 5 of them! The Doom That Came to Atlantic City opened more than one can of unknown worms. Venetia and I learned a lot more than we ever even considered possible. Rather than inevitably failing to convey crucial parts of Kickstarter’s complexities in conversation, we opted to write a long and involved White Paper on the subject. (More than just my Holiday notes go on forever!) Much to my surprise, it was quoted prominently in Forbes. If you are planning a Kickstarter or other internet funding campaign, I hope that you will find something of use therein.

The wrap-around cover for M.K. Hobson’s “The Warlock’s Curse”; “13 True Ways”; “Geek Love”; and Broken Continent all followed. I don’t know all the projects that await in the coming year, but at this point I’d be surprised if at least one more Kickstarter doesn’t find itself on my To Do list.

VENETIA’S LIST OF FIRSTS:

First Milkshake
First Jellybean and Gumdrop
First Chocolate
First Ham
First time in New York City
First time in Glacier National Park
First time in Los Angeles

L&amp;VFirstMilkshakeForBlog

2013 SCHEDULE*

2013 promises to be just as busy and wonderfully fun as 2012.

Would you like to see us in Portland?

Or while we are on our many adventures out in the world?

If so, please let us know (extra points if you want to put us up on our travels and wine and dine us)!

January 16-17: Los Angeles
Jan 19-27: New Zealand, North Island
Jan 28-30: New Zealand, Queenstown
January 21-Feb1: Melbourne
Feb 3: Canberra
Feb 4-6: Sydney
Feb 7-9: Cairns
Potential: March 1-3: Emerald City Comic Con
March 27-31: Art Guest of Honor at Norwescon in Seattle
May 17-19: Art Guest of Honor at Keycon in Winnipeg.
June 16-23: A Montana Wedding
June 27-July 2: Roanoke, Virginia
July 3-5: Washington, DC
Potential: Travel up the East Coast to Boston stopping in Laurel, Ellicott City, Baltimore, Newark, Philadelphia, Princeton, NYC, upstate New York for ReaderCon in Boston
Potential: Going to the mighty San Diego Comic Con July 18-21
Oct 21- Nov 3: World Fantasy Convention in Brighton England.                                Potential: Travel around that time in England and France
Nov 7-10: Ambercon Northwest at McMenamin’s Edgefield

*The schedule for the year ahead is a still-congealing mass of dates and time. That said, this is easily the highest degree of  specificity I’ve ever managed so far in advance.

MerryDalek

 

Wishing each and every reader a very grateful and joyous 2013!

Love,
Lee & Venetia

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Year End Recap https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/12/2012-The-Year-in-Review Wed, 26 Dec 2012 01:03:26 GMT
A Red Sun Also Rises https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/12/A-Red-Sun-Also-Rises I met Lou Anders, multiple award-winning art director and editorial director at Pyr, many moons ago at the San Diego Comic Con, and I’d wanted to work for him ever since.

There had been odd rumblings and hints of possible projects over the years, but this was finally the year.

How cunning of Lou to wait for me to win a Chesley. ;)
And how lucky for me that author Mark Hodder‘s story was so… mad:

When Reverend Aiden Fleischer, vicar of the sleepy town of Theaston Vale, finds a hunchbacked, light-sensitive and crippled vagabond named Clarissa Stark begging at his door, little does he suspect it’s the start of an adventure that’s literally out of this world!

Bribed by an unscrupulous family, Fleischer and his companion flee to London’s missionary college, but in wicked Whitechapel, the faithless priest stumbles upon one of Jack the Ripper’s victims and becomes convinced that he himself is the notorious killer. With her friend’s mind shattered, Miss Stark is relieved when they are both posted to the far away Melanesian island of Koluwai, but here they encounter an even darker evil, one that transports them to another planet.

Beneath the twin suns of the planet Ptallaya, Fleischer and Stark encounter an alien species, the Yatsill, master mimics who, after gaining access to Miss Stark’s mind, create their own bizarre version of Victorian London.

But Fleischer and Stark’s new home from home is not safe, for the Blood Gods will soon invade, and if he is to defeat them and rescue the woman he’s come to love, Fleischer must first face his own inner demons!

Here are the three roughs I sent Lou:

Design 1

Design1 Design 1: I loved the notion of idea of a proper Venetian Carnival with four shiny dark eyes. An alien Jack the Ripper literally popping out of the complex steampunk/nouveau frame.
In your face, but with enough grace notes to keep it interesting.

Design 2

Design2 Design 2: The full cast action shot ~ Marvel at Steampunk Zeppelins hovering noiselessly about Victorian factories! Covet Clarissa’s cool goggles! Be impressed by weapons and their implied uses!

I loved the column of Victorian type and the “A Novel of Wonder”, and while I suspected that it would be the approved rough, I firmly expected to have my old school type treatment vetoed.

But that discussion never came. Because of…

Design 3

Design3 Design 3: Positively subdued in some ways. A tricky background but a relatively straightforward presentation of a proper Ptallayan.

I was a docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s Naturalist Center for a decade, and while I love this sort of art, I didn’t really expect Lou to go for it.

But I’m glad he did. In part because I’d already solved many of the piece’s difficulties in the rough, and that meant I could concentrate on the things that really mattered, like spats for Aliens!

The Final Cover

Final The finished printed book has arrived at my house, and I’m just delighted.

I may take it with me to New Zealand.

I can’t imagine a more entertaining book for a 13 hour plane flight!


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Book Covers A Red Sun Also Rises Lou Anders Mark Hodder Ptallaya Pyr Steampunk https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/12/A-Red-Sun-Also-Rises Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:43:07 GMT
Influence, Inspiration, and Homage https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/11/Influence-Inspiration-and-Homage When I began to study pin-ups in earnest, it was no different than studying all the other great illustrators that line my library shelves. The best were astonishing craftsmen and there was much to learn. But pin-ups needn’t exist in a vacuum, especially where there are specific characters to portray, and other worlds to depict, however fleetingly.

Below is a selection showing the inspirations for the new calendar and my finished paintings:

Patricia Briggs and George Petty

I grew up never knowing about Petty, but I admired the work of his less-expensive replacement Alberto Vargas. For all his skill, Vargas never surpassed the man he’d been hired to emulate. Petty was so famous in his day that Hollywood made a film called “The Petty Girl”. His style often involved the use of contours painted as vermillion watercolor outlines – even when they overlaid or interacted with a fully-painted figure. The discovery of Petty’s work was one of the reasons I wanted to reconsider the Pin Up, and the satisfaction of those red lines cannot be understated.

I also altered my signature in homage to the great man.

Calendars and Auto Repair

Calendars and Auto Repair have gone together since the very early days.
Because Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson is a mechanic, I wanted to create an old-school garage calendar that would (as nearly as possible) match the format of those classics where a single pin-up would be printed on a tall piece of thick cardstock and a block of 12 thin pages would be affixed below the painting for the months.

In this case, I used a permutation of Dan Dos Santos‘ logo design for Mercy’s shop (as seen on the cover of her book Iron Kissed) instead of the simpler type designs that most garages had back in the day. I made up the motto below her feet, and was delighted to find that the quote Briggs chose above was also about trust.

N. K. Jemisin and Noah Jemisin

Oree is a blind painter, an artist who sees magic and makes her own.

In this case, the artist whose work Oree’s most resembles in style and substance is that of author N. K. Jemisin’s own father, Noah.

But rather than the wonderful scenes and subjects Noah has painted, I wanted to do something that would resonate with the setting, and what better than an impressionist gloss on the cover to the very book Oree hails from – The Broken Kingdoms?

I would never have have thought to include anything like great American Impressionism in a pin-up calendar, but for N.K.’s descriptions and suggestions.

I love watching people’s expressions when Jemisin’s pin-up opens in front of them.

Terry Pratchett and Gil Elvgren

Because Terry Pratchett didn’t ask for a specific character to be portrayed, I had my fun at the expense of the Unseen University of Ankh-Morpork. I didn’t attempt a direct homage with a particular pose, but the legacy of Gil Evgren clearly informs the piece.

And while I didn’t ask model Clare Grant if she was familiar with Elvgren’s work, she embodied its spirit brilliantly:

Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Maguire

Ray Bradbury was my hero – my favorite author. Forever.

It was my amazing pleasure to speak with him many years ago in Atlanta, and an incredible honor to have him among this year’s authors.

Both Bradbury and Maguire came up in the wonderful world of pulp, and when I learned that Bradbury had chosen Fahrenheit 451 for his pin-up, I just instinctively felt that Maguire was somehow the right artist to guide my approach. The painting is informed not by a specific piece, but by a mood, a period and a focus. Like so very many of the artists I admire, the culture they worked in didn’t allow much room for cultural or ethnic variation, but I hope this piece would please both men.

Robin Hobb and Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema

Malta, the amazing woman portrayed in the calendar, is part dragon. She’s tall and thin, and partly scaled. And she has a comb like a chicken. She’s so unique there isn’t even fan art of her!

But in painting her I dredged up my memories of Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. I didn’t break out my books, but there was really only ever one painter whose work was all about marble, silk and that certain sort of fantasy high life that got Alma Tadema derided in his time as a painter of “Victorians in Togas”.

One painting in particular ‘The Roses of Heliogabalus‘ proved an important inspiration, though my petals are intended more as festive confetti than the lovely implements of torture and death Alma Tadema intended.

Jacqueline Carey and Gustav Klimt

Phèdre nó Delaunay is not Austrian. And Klimt never knew Naamah’s service. But the sort of luxe and deeply romantic European milieu that Jacqueline Carey so beautifully describes could really only summon that lover of ladies and gold leaf – Gustav Klimt. Again, I didn’t break out any books or reference, but the goal was clear as finest crystal. And Klimt’s incorporation of geometric forms gave me a similarly clear view of how to incorporate the calendar page.

Peter S. Beagle and Alphonse Mucha

Art Nouveau was known as the “Cult of Nature”, so what better style for ‘The Last Unicorn’ herself?

And what better practitioner of the art than Alphonse Mucha?

I started this piece more outlined than it finished up, but I had Mucha in mind throughout. The iron work of the frame around the pin-up and of the Portcullis of the calendar page below it are entirely inspired by his work.

Charlaine Harris and J.C. Leyendecker

This is an homage, plain and simple.

And the piece in question is one that others have famously homaged before (Alex Ross‘s painting of the Joker and Harley Quinn is probably the most famous).

Where Harris’s True Blood characters are well known, Leyendecker’s aren’t. He was in many ways the best and most important illustrator of the last century, and his Arrow Collar Man was to his sex what the Gibson Girl (and later, the Petty Girl) were to hers. But for all that Leyendecker invented or popularized our conception of Santa Claus, the Baby New Year, the trademark look of the Saturday Evening Post – for all that he basically invented Psychedelia in 1934 – for all that he was neighbor, beacon and teacher to Norman Rockwell (who would take his place at the Post) – for all that, he was nearly forgotten. And why? Because he was gay, because the Arrow Collar Man was his lover and muse, and because Rockwell made sure that the public kept its attention firmly on Rockwell. Happily Leyendecker is being rediscovered, and his name and work restored. I hope I am doing my little part for that reclamation….

But whether or not I think Leyendecker a genius (I do), this scene of Sookie and Quinn in their specific raiment at this particular point of a party rapidly turning into a battlefield from Definitely Dead just cried out for this specific homage.

I hope this brief look behind the scenes has been as fun for you to read as for me to compile. If you’d like to order the calendar (benefiting Worldbuilders and Heifer International), please do so at The Tinker’s Packs web site.

 

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Alphonse Mucha Charlaine Harris Clare Grant Dan Dos Santos George Petty Gil Elvgren Gustav Klimt J.C. Leyendecker Jacqueline Carey N. K. Jemisin Noah Jemisin Patricia Briggs Peter S. Beagle Ray Bradbury Robert A. Maguire Robin Hobb Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema Terry Pratchett https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/11/Influence-Inspiration-and-Homage Wed, 14 Nov 2012 12:19:04 GMT
2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar: Neil Gaiman https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/10/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Neil-Gaiman Media is the message.
We are the Media.
And she is us.

Be afraid.

A year ago, my literary pin-up calendar was published by Pat Rothfuss’s wonderful charity Worldbuilders.
I sent a print from that 2012 Calendar to Neil Gaiman with a note that read something like:

“Dear Neil,
Please consider this year’s calendar a proof of concept. But instead of dead authors who cannot defend themselves, I’d like to make the 2013 calendar all about living authors*. I thought it would be especially apt and lovely if Amanda Palmer wanted to be Miss Neil Gaiman. Please let me know your thoughts.”

He did: And when she returned from Down Under, she did.
And there was much rejoicing.

But having a model before having a concept is unusual.
Who, among Neil’s roster of splendid characters, would we cast Amanda as?
Amanda as Yvaine? As Coraline? As Door? As Delirium? As Death warmed over?
No.

There were these photos to be taken into account: No matter how much fun it would be to have her play any, or indeed all those characters, Media was simply too powerful not to get her way.
Media is the message. And of all the curious forms of media communication, the Gregorian Calendar is one** of the strangest (Why not 13 months of 28 days? Why an ever shifting number of days?? With leap years!?!). Our calendar is the QWERTY keyboard of time. Sure, it works. But there ought to be a better smarter way.

As anyone who understands the history of the Hays Code or has wrestled with the arbitrary restrictions of iambic pentameter knows – restrictions of form can lead to happy accidents.
In the case of 2013, the month of June starts very late in the week, and the money quote from Media is an exchange she has with Shadow.
And since Neil is no stranger to sequential art… why alter the text when one could simply do it in comic form? And how would we arrange to get the reference shots we needed in a timely fashion?
Happily I was invited to Readercon in Boston this year, and so was my friend, photographer extraordinaire Kyle Cassidy. Both of us were on hand to participate in a remarkable storytelling experiment with Michael Swanwick and Elizabeth Bear.
I named it ‘Dismembrance’ and somehow that’s how it stayed:

Kyle and Amanda go way back, even before he worked on the felicitous Who Killed Amanda Palmer book, and their collaboration continues apace (See: Yesterday’s Doctoral Dissertation). When we talked strategy I learned that he had already scheduled a photoshoot with Amanda in September. So if I could just get him a rough, he could shoot reference for me remotely.
Voila. Kyle and Amanda were good as gold and the reference photos came magically through the aether. Illustration reference is a different beast than “normal” photography in that I used no fewer than 5 of his 26 photos to inform the finished painting.
Some weeks later, the whole thing was done. I hope you like it.

Neil and Amanda and Kyle have kindly offered their time not just in the service of a nutty arty idea, but of a great charity. The calendar is currently available at Worldbuilders’s online store for preorder; all the profits go to Heifer International.

“Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth through the gift of animals. By giving families a hand-up, not just a handout, they empower them to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity, but their approach is more than that. By bringing communities together and linking them with markets in their area, Heifer helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.”

* Sadly, Ray Bradbury did not live to see the finished calendar, but we are so honored that he agreed to be part of this project.

**Tom Lehrer famously noted forms still stranger: “postcards, neckties, samplers, stained-glass windows, tattoos, anything!”


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Amanda Palmer American Gods Dismembrance Elizabeth Bear Gregorian Calendar Hays Code Heifer International Kyle Cassidy Media is the Message Michael Swanwick Neil Gaiman Shadow Tom Lehrer We are the Media Worldbuilders https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/10/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Neil-Gaiman Mon, 15 Oct 2012 11:57:50 GMT
2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar: Jacqueline Carey https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/10/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Jacqueline-Carey This past week Powell’s City of Books hosted Jacqueline Carey’s reading of her new book, Dark Currents.

After the entertaining reading (and a ‘twitchy tail’ drinking game) Jacqueline answered questions from the audience. While the majority were precise and obscure questions about histories and locations from her series, there were members of the audience (unaware of my presence) curious about Jacqueline’s participation in the literary pin-up calendar so Jacqueline and I shared the background story, handed out 2012 calendars, and gave the audience sneak peaks.

Which leads me to the unveiling today of Jacqueline’s pin-up, the glamorous and heroic international courtesan Phèdre nó Delaunay:

This past week also saw news of the calendar make the rounds including stories in the Huffington Post, the Escapist, and the Guardian of London. It is exciting to see it get a wider audience, especially since it is all for charity!

You can pre-order the calendar at the Tinker’s Packs.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Dark Currents Heifer International Jacqueline Carey Powell's Worldbuilders https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/10/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Jacqueline-Carey Mon, 08 Oct 2012 10:56:45 GMT
2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar: Patricia Briggs https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/9/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Patricia-Briggs My early summer trip took me through Washington’s Tri-Cities to northern Montana on the way to Glacier National Park: werewolf territory according to Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy Thompson series. This pin-up of Mercy was inspired by the idea of strength and competence with beauty, brains, and a whole lot of muscle – “a modern ‘Rosie the Riveter’” in Briggs’ words. This is a girl who can take care of herself, and you’d be lucky to have her working on your car. It was a delight to paint her. And moreover to create an old-school garage calendar. Not only matching the format of those classic pieces as best I could, but riffing on the style of Pin-up great George Petty.

I grew up never knowing about Petty, but I admired the work of his less-expensive replacement Alberto Vargas. For all his skill, Vargas never surpassed the man he’d been hired to emulate.

Petty was so famous in his day that Hollywood made a film called “The Petty Girl”. His style often involved the use of contours painted as vermillion watercolor outlines – even when they overlaid or interacted with a fully-painted figure. The discovery of Petty’s work was one of the reasons I wanted to reconsider the Pin Up, and the satisfaction of those red lines cannot be understated.

Patricia Briggs’ new book of Mercy’s adventures, “Frost Burned” is coming out in March 2013 with a beautiful new Dan Dos Santos cover. His Mercy cover for “Iron Kissed” is my favorite and in my opinion one of the best covers of the last decade.

You can pre-order calendars at The Tinker’s Packs. And stayed tuned for next week’s unveiling of Jim Butcher’s pin-up!


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Dan Dos Santos Mercy Thompson Patricia Briggs https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/9/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Patricia-Briggs Wed, 26 Sep 2012 11:31:42 GMT
2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar: Peter S. Beagle https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/9/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Peter-S-Beagle I am thrilled to announce the 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar.

This year I again partnered with Worldbuilders to publish my charity calendar, but this time instead of deceased authors who couldn’t fight back, we invited 12 amazing fantasy authors to participate. I will be previewing each author, one a week, which leads me to the splendid Peter S. Beagle.

I’d love to write all manner of words that might in some way suggest Peter’s own writing. But I can’t. What I can do is tell my brief story and hope that a picture or two will be sufficient keep your interest.

I was invited to be the Artist Guest of Honor at Baycon in 2010, and happily accepted. I love getting out and seeing people, talking about art and fantasy and science fiction and the media, and….
the guest of honor was none other than Peter Beagle!

There’s a strange integrity to properly told tales, and to their tellers.
Peter is an original – a marvelous person who writes of marvels, but never took on airs of the high-falutin’. We shared panels, cookies, and stories. Never enough of any of course – there was just not time. But any storyteller powerful enough to keep me quiet for longer than 10 minutes deserves all possible praise. :)

He and his companion enjoyed the still-unpublished Literary Pin-Ups I had in the art show and I sent them away with one.
Two years later, when the calendar premiered at the World fantasy Convention in SanDiego, there was Peter again!
I was kicking myself just a little for not bringing anything for him to sign when, by strange twist of fate, someone put a new edition of The Last Unicorn on the Freebies table!

When it came time to work on this year’s CHECK THESE OUT! calendar, publisher Pat Rothfuss and I immediately agreed that we wanted Peter included. And, after various calls, notes, and emails with Peter in several different locations about the country: voila.

This piece is not representative of the calendar as a whole.
It’s not even representative of Peter’s fine multi-faceted career.
But it is a picture. And I hope it’s worth at least 1000 words.

Calendar pre-order are available on-line at The Tinker’s Packs.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar Lady Amalthea Peter S. Beagle The Last Unicorn Worldbuilders https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/9/2013-Literary-Pin-up-Calendar-Peter-S-Beagle Mon, 17 Sep 2012 12:04:24 GMT
Stage Fright Friday – Principles https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Stage-Fright-Friday-Principles Welcome to what I’m calling Stage Fright Friday.

This little end of the week outpost will be the new home for old pieces I wrote when I lived for a year in Charlottesville. Virginia. No Shame Theatre was lifeline and outlet both – an unparalleled chance for me to learn by working with people like Todd Ristau and Clinton Johnston who really knew their craft.

Please be kind to these old timers, they’re still doing the best they can in these changing times.

Principles

Cast
Ali – A smart and thoughtful young woman – principled and straightforward.
Johnson – A slightly sputtery authority figure.
Eric – A cool young man.

(lights up full)

Ali: You wanted to see me?

Johnson: Yes Alison, I did. Have you reconsidered my offer?

Ali: (stern) Yes Sir, I have.

(pause)

Johnson: And?

Ali: And I’m afraid I still can’t accept.

Johnson: (surprised) …because?

(slightly longer pause)

Ali: Because it’s Fascism Sir, plain and simple. I refuse to be involved with anything so morally bankrupt.

Johnson: (in total disbelief) …Morally bankrupt? …Fascism?  I’m not sure I/

Ali: (interrupting) Don’t patronize me Sir. You know perfectly well what I’m talking about. (begins to rant). Fascism is extreme right-wing ideology that celebrates conformity to a mythical standard of “normalcy”. It cuts through all other notions of what is right or natural. It attempts to lull us into a false sense that there is no death or decay, just your perfect – and perfectly artificial – status quo. Any natural tendencies toward variety or individualism threaten your perfect organic community and must be crushed beneath your jack-booted feet.

Johnson: (getting a word in) Now look here, I don’t even wear boots and you know/

Ali: (cuts him off, continues ranting) Your sort of Fascism promotes the idea of (counting them off on her fingers) class superiority, hybrid inferiority, persecution, territorialism, expansion, and – of course – (her sixth finger raised is a forefinger that she points accusatorily at Johnson) genocide. Oh, it wears the face of a socially acceptable, politically correct movement. Of course it claims a noble pedigree, but please! It’s a Procrustean hotbed of senseless conformity that flies in the face of science and nature. It’s a violent and elitist tradition that has traditionally be the province of pampered young men. You feel that I’m lucky to even be offered this job, because I’m a girl – a woman, but the truth is no one is lucky to have this job. This job – this working for the man, for the Fascist pig dog – this job sucks! I pity you Sir. I really do. Good day.

(Ali turns and walks to the door. Eric enters as Ali exits. She gives him a dirty look as she passes.)

Johnson: (turns to Eric and sighs) Well… your sister still won’t mow the lawn. I guess I’ll need to raise the price after all.

Eric: A cool 20, minimum. (pause) Ya big Fascist.

(Blackout)

 

NOTE: Debuted June 28, 2002, performed by Bremen Donovan, Todd Ristau and Brandon Allison. Bremen’s sterling character and willingness to play the straight-woman inspired this loving diatribe.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Stage-Fright-Friday-Principles Fri, 10 Aug 2012 11:15:34 GMT
Explorations of the East https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Explorations-of-the-East This is the first year in a decade that I haven’t gone to the almighty San Diego Comic Con. But it was a worthy sacrifice as Readercon was a fantastic experience and a top notch convention.* And let’s face it, I’m not even a small fish amid the whirl of SanDiego (more like a small but stubborn barnacle). But to be the only artist invited to a convention of great authors, editors and readers? Priceless.

Flying into Newark, we had the extremely exotic experience of being the only people seated in the entire row of seats. This meant that as the plane descended we were able to quickly move across the isle to be on the side of the plane with the view of New York City. This was Venetia’s first view of NYC, and my first sight of the new World Trade Center building. From the air it looks suspiciously like a Transformer. Which is a rather brilliant defense strategy and we are very happy that the Transformers are so clearly on our side.

Untransformed Transformer

We spent a few days in New Jersey with Jim and Rhymer where a rare gathering of distant friends and family occurred, and where all food comes from diners. Fritz kindly gave us a ride north into NYC to stay with the gracious (and very talented) Michael Kaluta. His apartment in the upper east side is filled to the brim with art, books, and all sorts of fun objects like fighter pilot masks from different eras (and a few historical gas masks.) Venetia felt quite at home among the books, but the best book of all was the one that Michael gave her: “Venetia” by Georgette Heyer. Within the space of just two weeks she discovered that she is the star of two stories! (More on the second story later.)

We headed uptown for lunch at a delicious Thai restaurant with man about town Jack Lechner, but first stopped at the http://www.roerich.org/. It is a small but elegant three-story apartment, each room filled with art. Venetia was enthralled and after lunch, we returned again (this time with Jack) to marvel at the colors and vibrancy of the art, which is sadly lost in reproduction. His works are mostly done on canvas in egg-tempera and come from the mountains of Tibet and India where Roerich painted them.

Jack aided our explorations of the Upper West by bringing us to the cathedral of Saint John’s the Unfinished. While properly imposing on the outside, it was even more stunning within, both in the grandeur of its high arches and stained glass windows and the fantastic detail of the individual alcoves. One of the greatest things about a mighty cathedral is that there’s no need for sameness. It’s bigger than any one builder and it’s only mete that the styles reflect the mass of humanity within and without.

Upon leaving the cathedral, we hopped on the subway and headed down to the Village for our dinner engagement. We were a little early so we walked down Christopher Street and wended our way to the fountain in the middle of Washington Square where Venetia cooled her feet. Dinner was sushi with Lindsay Ribar a colleague of Venetia’s whose first book The Art of Wishing is about to be published. Though not at all a business dinner, everyone at the table enjoyed their jobs enough to talk primarily of business-related topics, which in our line of work means books and art and the publishing world.

After our dinner on 3rd Street and we walked along through the canyons of Tisch and NYU a while before coming to Broadway. It was a hot night, but our guest quarters were only 80 blocks north and Venetia needed to see the city. It was a surprising walk for us both, Broadway has changed in extraordinary ways since I was last in New York. We passed an aluminum Andy Warhol north of Union Square and enjoyed the generous space given to pedestrians now that the street is no longer a traffic-jammed diagonal thoroughfare, but a curious one-way side-street. Times Square proved that even such a good idea could make for a splitting headache. Having crossed it once, Venetia is of the opinion that it would be worth going out of her way to avoid in the future. It is loud, full of flashing lights and tight crowds of people; altogether a stifling and dizzying experience. We noted the bleachers set about at intervals, wondering if they indicated particular events that required crowd seating but at the time of our visit, they seemed to hold nothing more than tired tourists taking a moment to sit down and gawk at one another. 80 blocks later we arrived at Michael’s aerie once more, pleasantly exhausted, filled with frozen yogurt and ready to fall immediately asleep after making quick plans for the morning.

Saturday was all about visiting with as many people as we could manage; beginning with the talented Tina Segovia and ending with a lovely dinner with Starstruck creator Elaine Lee and her brilliantly talented sons, Brennan and Griffin. Kickstarter and Starstruck were both discussed at some length. After dinner we went for a walk through Central Park with Tara Torre, a childhood friend of Venetia’s. We only walked through half of the park, not quite the same scope as the grand walking tour of New York the night before, but delightful nonetheless. Here, Venetia took here rightful place in Gotham’s Wonderland.

On Sunday, after a brief teaser of Sherlock and breakfast with the delightful Selena, we left the city. On our way out, we randomly stopped at a burger and milkshake joint for the best milkshake Venetia has had thus far. (We mentioned this to another New Yorker friend who immediately identified the name of the restaurant when we told her the location, so clearly we are not alone in this assertion of deliciousness.) Despite the wonderful start to the day, heading to Newark for our car rental we found what turned out to be the car rental from hell, though we were told at the counter that we should have expected nothing less at that price. Needless to say, this answer was not at all satisfactory and we were not happy with the deception of the Alamo car rental at Newark airport. In short: AVOID.

The ride up the Hudson was beautiful and green and we stopped frequently at the turnouts to admire the view of the city and river. We were additionally treated to a new view of the World Trade Center building and realized that it is not a transformer as we had previously believed, but in fact is the mounting space for a great, lidless eye, ever watching… Too soon? For dinner we had planned to stop at Mohonk Mountain House but after a remarkable trip to our nation’s great wonders in Glacier and Yellowstone, I forgot that the rich don’t much care for itinerant artists. We were turned away in the most snobbish and class-tastic fashion. So we stopped briefly in New Paltz and carried on.

We found our hosts, Stephen and Vicki Hickman, on their back porch enjoying a cool evening. They prepared us a delicious meal of chicken and corn on the cob. While I haven’t painted in Steve’s studio for years (not since we both lived in the Virginia suburbs), we stayed up well into the night discussing art and books and PG Wodehouse, and our curious industry.

View from the porch.

The next day was our excursion into Woodstock with Elaine Lee and her partner in crime Richmond Johnston – bagpiper extraordinaire. I’d been speaking with Richmond on and off for years, but this was my first chance to meet him. Woodstock did not live up to any possible expectations; we found it quaint, in its pipe and patchouli way. Upon our return, Steve took us on a tour of Red Hook, including a stop at the local ice cream shop where we split a giant milkshake. Venetia finished her namesake’s book while Steve and I got deep into the process of designing him a proper art book. Sobering to think that his last small folio is 2 decades old, and his new work is seldom seen (save for lucky collectors and those who commission his work). It was a long and productive night that included masses of show and tell (the sketches for upcoming paintings are simply spectacular). We left happily the next day, in possession of our own Stephen Hickman painting!

Before we left, we were given the helpful reminder that the Norman Rockwell Museum was in the area. After a tour of the New Barrington estate of Ethan Ham and his wife Janet (where V enjoyed some baby-toe-nibbling) we made the necessary detour to find the museum. The work is amazing. And Rockwell’s ambition was matched again and again by his results. We spent a good two hours admiring the Rockwells. And commenting on the heroification we observed in the descriptions of the paintings, the hagiography of Rockwell’s life, and the attitude of the hovering museum attendants. When so much truth can be found, when so much great work can be displayed, when so much actual scholarship exists, why dissemble? Why try to make a myth from a man? Who does it serve? I found it backward, unseemly and utterly unnecessary.

We were also surprised, but extremely gratified, to discover that the special exhibit this month was of Howard Pyle’s best paintings. While I had been a little sad to only have 2 weeks on the east coast, it was as though fate knew I couldn’t get to Delaware to see these old friends. And they had brought all the big guns: Stranded, The Flying Dutchman… glorious.

Interestingly, Rockwell’s entire studio had been transported to the grounds of the museum, which at first deceived us into thinking that he had actually painted in such a idyllic local. Too bad for him he didn’t. Too bad for context.

From the Rockwell Museum we headed into Belchertown, an apt name for the location of Jacob Lefton’s smithy. We received the grand tour of the forge and then of the charming town of Amherst, which of course included the local ice cream parlor. Travel in summer is difficult, and ice cream, it’s greatest reward.

As we settled in for the night at Jacob’s, various friends and roommates joined us for a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, at which I eventually ruthlessly triumphed. In the morning we journeyed out by foot for fresh blueberries and cream-topped honey yogurt for breakfast. Given the lateness of the day by the time we left, we decided to drive straight to Boston, or more precisely, to the town of Melrose north of Boston. We had a wonderful family dinner with my old friends and hosts Scott and Rachel and their extended family. Scott débuted his new ice cream flavor: spicy apricot. There was much rejoicing.

The next day was our excursion into Boston proper. We took the T out to Davis Square and then walked via Harvard Square back to Cambridge out to the river which was teaming with beautiful boats. The extent to which there are less-that-perfect neighborhoods within blocks of MIT startled me. I would have thought that Boston’s horrific traffic might have led to more gentrification. Later, we met up with the lovely and formidable Sara and helped her make some fantastic dress choices at The Garment District. After another delicious home-cooked meal of steak tips, we ran off to Readercon for my first panel, a discussion of the visual media in relation to creating. Can one ever truly create without the undo influence of film? It seems that the panelists (including Elizabeth Hand and Caitlin Kiernan) could have joined me on the PR team for Blade Runner, should that need ever arise (Ridley, call us). Elizabeth’s points about the Sublime tallied well with my own, and with my recent trips to see the sublimity of the NW. At the end of the panel we joined Caitlin and other worthies for a rousing discussion of movies and literature in Caitlin’s room. Ed Wood was a particular point of admiration and disdain. Unsurprisingly, Caitlin and I were on the admiration side. Upon our return home we got a tour of Scott’s basement workshop, filled with even more exotic metals and ancient mechanical contraptions than the last time I’d stayed.

Friday, we enjoyed a leisurely morning before the whirlwind of the convention – I somehow ended up on a total of eight panels over the course of the weekend. After sharing the final kaffeklatch of the evening with the redoubtable Kyle Cassidy, we headed down to mingle with fellow attendees and happened to run into pretty much every person we needed or wanted to talk to, including Ty Franck to discuss a secret project and Michael Swanwick to get a book signed for Jacob. Michael was at first suspicious to see the book under Venetia’s arm, thinking it an unauthorized trade paperback edition but she quickly explained that it was an ARC, the very ARC in fact that I had read through in order to create the cover for Michael’s “Best Of.” Jacob was the current owner of the book, however, and he had insisted that Venetia borrow it for the weekend when he heard she had not read any Michael Swanwick. In return for the introduction to such an amazing body of work, Venetia got Michael’s signature in the book for Jacob. A happy ending to a happy story about a compendium of wildly impressive and not-always-happy stories. I love it when a plan comes together.

On the left, the renowned Boris paints a bull’s backside.
On the right, I paint a cover showing and hinting at the book’s actual contents.

My favorite panel of the convention was the “Book Covers Gone Wrong” with panelists Liz Gorinsky, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Daniel Abraham, Jacob Weisman, and Katherine MacLean. I led a lively discussion of bad book covers and the resulting sounds of the crowd’s appreciation managed to drown out any competing laughter from the neighboring “Bad Prose” battle. Victory!

The majority of my time at Readercon was spent on the multi-day panel: A Story from Scratch. The plan was for Elizabeth Bear and Michael Swanwick to create a story based on characters from the audience and props from the guests of honor. Kyle Cassidy would document the scenes from the book, and then I would create the book cover. Due to her lovely cheongsam, Venetia was chosen as the hero of the story – the proprietor of an Asian restaurant. After proposing to Eileen, the woman who would be her wife for the story, and, menaced by the evil Bracken and Tom Purdom (but really, they were both wonderful), she spent much of the subsequent panels in photoshoots with Kyle. I sat and sketched in the panel room as the story evolved, and Saturday afternoon I worked more closely with Kyle, directing a few shoots so that I’d have the grist for my cover. Much to my surprise, Bracken’s extraordinary tattoos supplanted the cheongsam as my background, and allowed me to show that he and Tom were the same person, decades apart. And really, could there anything more fun than tattooing Tom? Later Saturday, I began working on the cover in front of the panel audience. It took longer than the time allotted for the room, of course, but all was completed, including my choice of title, by the appointed hour on Sunday when Michael and Elizabeth read the story aloud while Kyle showed his photos. While the story itself is not yet available on the interwebs, here is the first viewing of the cover. When I asked the authors what they wanted me to call it, Michael told me I could call it whatsoever I desired. But that he and Bear would have veto rights. They didn’t veto it.

The panel finally ended on Sunday and after one last rowdy lunch with friends, we departed. We stopped to pick up the newly framed Steve Hickman painting and then headed out to a remarkable gallery opening of fantastic glass and electricity.

Monday was our last day in Boston and we spent it lounging about on couches in front of the electric fans (though we roused ourselves to head into Boston proper for a delicious Thai luncheon with the delightful Lindsay and Alex, creators of Baman Piderman.) Tuesday we drove back to Newark, stopping briefly in New York City for more Thai (our traveling food of choice) and the company of Allison Taylor, whose own Apple Core Theater Company I once had the pleasure of branding.

And thus we returned to Portland, to dive back in to the exciting new projects (soon to be announced) awaiting our homecoming.

* We were very pleased to read on Aug. 5th that the Readercon board resigned and the Readercon committee, many of whom we met and interacted with at the convention, had issued a public apology. We enjoyed Readercon as a convention a great deal and hope that it will not be ruined by the disrespect shown by its former governing board.

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Andy Warhol Caitlin R. Kieran Elaine Lee Georgette Heyer Howard Pyle Kyle Cassidy Michael Kaluta Michael Swanwick Nicholas Roerich Norman Rockwell Museum Readercon Saint John's the Unfinished Starstruck Stephen Hickman The Art of Wishing Tom Purdom https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Explorations-of-the-East Wed, 08 Aug 2012 10:58:51 GMT
One Nation https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/One-Nation Sometimes the very worst things imaginable turn out to be the most important. And the best.

When I met Jason Reeves in the inexplicably long Professionals line at the San Diego Comic Con neither of us had any idea what would follow. I had my portfolio (surprisingly declared “Gangsta”) and he had left his back at the hotel. Later, by chance, I ran into him in the mad hall upstairs and shanghaied him into showing me the big black folio of drawings he’d brought. He was a good kid who was trying mightily to get his work up to speed, but he had a long way to go. How long? Longer than anyone else in the Hall.

First back home to New Orleans. Then to lock-up, held under false pretenses and incommunicado, in the horrifically handled horror show called Katrina. Then, finally freed, back to look for his family.

When Katrina happened, my first thought was of Jason. My second was how sad it would be to never visit that fabled sunken city. But Jason was, like far too many, unreachable. But for all that I fretted for him, Jason took care of himself, and of his family. Finally we were able to get word that he was OK, even though his possessions were not. It seems that the original disaster was bad enough, but if you’ve been incarcerated for days for the crime of not being sufficiently pale or wealthy, you can’t really salvage the moldy remnants of your life.

And so it came to pass that I was his lucky host for 6 months (I offered him a couple years board, but he couldn’t stand the Oregon weather). He, who had lost so many things, found dear friends and work, and a landlord to critique each and every piece he drew – from comics to t-shirts to a first, (now-long-replaced) web site. He grew and thrived and grew some more – because that’s how he rolls.

And it was because of Jason I did finally get to New Orleans, several years later – for Jason and Kemi’s wedding. There, their Nanny June gave me an unparalled tour of the city, of its beauties, its damage, and its recovery.

I also got the call to make a comic cover for Jason’s new project: One Nation. So here’s the cover I painted of the mysterious and magical Sundiata (with helpful critique from our dear mutual friend Adam Danger Cook). Below that is the blurb for One Nation. Please check it out if you can.

ONENATION is a five-issue limited series featuring the hero Paragon, the first superhuman the world has ever seen, whose idealistic views of being a superhero and doing good for mankind is challenged when the reality of changing the world hits. At first harkening in name, design and deed to the likes of Captain America or Superman, as the series progresses Paragon; along with a rising generation of superhumans called Keramats, find the trappings of being a superhero ill-fitting when it comes to his larger role of saving the world…from itself.

**MATURE READERS**

Written by: Alverne Ball
Pencils by: Jason Reeves
Colors by: Luis Guerrero
On sale August 22, 2012 in digital & print @the 133art comicshop.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Adam Danger Cook Jason Reeves One Nation Sundiata https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/One-Nation Sun, 05 Aug 2012 10:10:01 GMT
Olms For The Poor https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Olms-For-The-Poor Who is Gustav Olms?

When I first encountered this battered book, literally falling apart at the seams, I had no idea. And neither did the internet. What I did know was that it was excellent, fascinating work. The kind of work that I have long admired and yet created by an artist who was utterly unknown to me. And what’s more, I’d never heard my brilliant colleagues (Steve HickmanMike Kaluta and Charles Vess, et al.) even mention him. So I scanned the whole book and prepared to send them the files… only to discover that the assembled compendium was too big to send. So it sat on my desktop. For 2 years.

One of the greatest things about the internet, one of the greatest miracles that is opening itself up to us is the ability to meet and to better understand artists that we’ve never heard of and never had occasion to encounter in our lives.

Richard Hescox in particular  is doing us the great favor of introducing amazing talent such as William Joy, Gaston Bussiere, Maximilian Pirner, Frank Dicksee, Henry Meynell Rheam, Edward Frederick Brewtnall, Norman Lindsay, and John Bauer. And that is just from the last few weeks!

While I now know the works of Norman Lindsay and John Bauer that Hescox features, it’s sobering to think how long it took me to find out about them.

Excerpts hilariously translated by Google from the German website on Olms:

“(…) And if I still maintain that he was one of the most important artists of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, so shake yourself some head because he is still quite unknown to them.” (Willy Sparrow)

Painter – so called Olms officially, and with that title gives no indication as to what he in fact earned his livelihood. In fact, he worked as a graphic designer (he designed addition to the aforementioned illustrations and packaging for chocolate Tengelmann) and worked mainly for publishers. He moved to a certain extent as part of a family tradition, but he came from (the ninth child born as a book printer) Hildesheimer a printer and publishing dynasty.
The craftsmanship of his work as a service, it will always been conscious, and he’s probably the illustrating of children’s school books and not seen as art. The contradiction between free and applied art at that time may have been felt even more blatant, been bridged completely, he is not even today, at least in part, but has an awareness and appreciation for graphics and illustration established as an independent art form. Olms and also for posterity has been preserved primarily by his excellent illustrations.

“And so this book is in itself a particularly cordial atmosphere dedicated to the memory of this man, alone and abandoned, misunderstood and much loved, much hardship and suffering in his earthly existence lived, who was a man, honest and faithful in all, an artist full of passion and big, strong skills, as which he will long live up to what he made ​​of his contemporaries, – the suffering, but it, and perhaps most recently collapsed because it was not given the chance to all become what he in lowest was appointed. ” With those stirring words of the publisher William Steiger initiated from Moers 1930 his book Niederrheinisches say. Gustav Olms, whose last work, the book was brought, died shortly before.

So here I must shake myself some head at Gustav Olms’ big, strong skills.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Gustov Olms Richard Hescox https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/8/Olms-For-The-Poor Wed, 01 Aug 2012 09:48:11 GMT
Zany Afternoons. Abyssal Mornings. https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/7/Zany-Afternoons-Abyssal-Mornings When I was youngster of 18 (who looked 13)  I was fortunate to work at a splendid book and comic emporium in Falls Church, Virginia. One day I was filing new books and I came across a tome I’d never seen before, and certainly couldn’t afford – Bruce McCall’s Zany Afternoons.

I was too young to have encountered the articles there collected in their original homes in the National Lampoon and Esquire. And somehow I missed him among the articles in Dad’s Playboys. But this compendium was a cavalcade of hilarious drawings. And better still, outrageous captions and accompanying text pieces that torpedoed the gloss and smarm of advertising. It was almost as though The New Yorker had tried it’s hand at redesigning the beloved Wacky Packs of my youth. In Major Howdy Bixby’s Album of Forgotten Warbirds the stoic Brit’s Humbley-Pudge Gallipoli Heavyish Bomber, and the fiendish Germans’ Dinkel GX Kleinefeuerwerkswaffe or”Little Fireworks Weapon” fought the hapless Italians’ Caproni-Moroni for the honor of dumbest warplane.

http://deansgarage.com/2011/bixbys-warbirds/

The RMS Tyrranic (The Biggest Thing in All the World) featured in its glowing brochure a photo labelled “Mutton is taken. X Deck”. Page after page, the book was a nonstop exercise in fun.  The author had created a surreal catalogue of all my boyhood enthusiasms and put them together in a way I never could. It took me many years (and a good friend in hinterlands so remote she found one on still the shelves) to get a copy of my own. I still count it as a favorite.

http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2011/09/bruce-mccalls-zany-afternoons.html

Later still, Barnes and Noble put out a hardcover reprint of the paperback original. They were gone from the shelves before I knew to look (and many assume them the 1st edition. After all what lunatic would publish the hardback second?).

On my recent trip east, I was presented with Thin Ice, author Bruce McCall’s autobiography. I had barely begun his tale of Canadian dysfunction and wishful patricide when I got word that my own father had, after a slow and horrific decline, finally died. So, the long-awaited reading became an unbidden exercise in comparing and contrasting.

I’ve long held that McCall is a better author than artist, and Thin Ice proves that, in spades. Again and again I’ve seen writers and artists goaded into creative work, into creating their own worlds where they might know a minutes respite from their daily strife, and where the rules finally made sense. When I suggested to my friends at Periscope Studios that a colleague seemed to be making comics for this very reason, they all seemed to stare and sadly nod their heads. OF COURSE he does. It seems that most everyone starts out that way – however much some of us might pretend otherwise.  I was lucky enough to have a good parents (and an intervening fairy Godmother [I cannot recommend such a Godmother highly enough. If you find one, please let me know]) and I seem to have accordingly exorcised most of my adolescent drama. Sadly, McCall’s father T.C. was a tyrant, and his exorcism will never be complete. But as I reread Zany Afternoons today and marveled again at the cleverness and creativity forged in the furnace of his frosty Canadian Hell, I wondered which parts of his ghastly childhood I’d have spared him if I could.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Bruce McCall Thin Ice Zany Afternoons https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/7/Zany-Afternoons-Abyssal-Mornings Sun, 22 Jul 2012 10:01:40 GMT
Vacation? Not so much. https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/7/Vacation-Not-so-much Immediately upon leaving Portland (but not so immediately that turning around made sense) we discovered that we had completely forgotten to bring our ancient camera. This error would have been bad enough if we were bound for an ordinary vacation, but for a short trip to gather as many useful reference photos as possible? Not good. Thanks to the miracle of the iPad and the internet, it all turned out OK. As Lee drove through the rainy Columbia Gorge, Venetia called up a fantastic camera shop in Spokane (see the map of our 6 day trip above) and after a long discussion with their knowledgeable staff, we decided on the new Canon Powershot S100 that had been championed by Kyle Cassidy and Roger 23. We had been debating buying a new camera for some time, but had not made the leap while Lee’s was working feverishly to get the revised Doom That Came to Atlantic City box prepped for printing.

Venetia loves the new camera and took over 1000 photographs this trip while Lee art directed as usual. Her pictures of scenes, palettes and above all texture will be integrated into Lee’s work, and as a little aside, we get to share a smattering of our trip photos with you here. Spokane is a beautiful and interesting place. Lee was there in ’74 for the World’s Fair and the strange and wonderful architecture from that time makes the river park downtown a delightful place to explore.

Kalispell, Montana was our first stay for the night with our exceptional hostess Andrea (Lee’s semi-cousin on his second Mom’s side) who immediately took us for locally-made ice cream and then a tour of the nearby hilltops so that we could get a good view of our surroundings. The next morning we woke up nice and late and had a splendid breakfast before heading off to…

“YOUR CAR IS YOUR CAGE!” exclaimed the sign for a roadside drive-through-bear-park (no, really). That warning served as our motto for the rest of our trip. It might serve the people of LA or Dallas metaphorically, but here it meant literal business.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road had opened just days before our visit and Andrea warned us to bring warm clothing. As it turned out, it was a mere 45 degrees (Venetia found that temperature cozy in Montana but positively frigid in more-humid Portland. Lee put on a sweater.) The fog, however, was out in full force. We learned that the road had been closed shortly after we began our journey upwards, and we whole-heartedly agreed with the park rangers’ decision considering the massive fog bank concealing the road the entire drive back down the mountain.

Going-to-the-Sun Road was remarkable. Picture cannot do justice to the sheer cliffs and awesome drops to the valley below. It was a harrowing ride up to the top, made all the more nerve-racking by the construction work repairing the damaged spots where the road had crumbled off the cliff face, and the oncoming buses.

Upon reaching the level of giant snow banks we scrambled out of the car and raced around on the snow for a time, observing the mountaineers setting out across the great fields of snow. At the highest point obtainable by the road, we could glimpse through the fog the still higher glacial peaks.

Andrea was willing and able to stop regularly so that we might better take in the sights and take pictures and the Park roads were happy to oblige us with reliable turn-outs to pull over on and park while we made awed sounds and the camera shutters clicked away. The construction allowed stops that most tourists would never get, and the attendant pictures were excellent. It’s astonishing to imagine the rugged designers and engineers of our park roads in action. How very fortunate are we to treat these luxuries as simple facts of life? Not just the facts on the ground, but the facts suspended on cliff faces and over boiling geysers?

The second half of the day was considerably more rainy and cold than the first, but we still saw many spectacular sights. A mother moose was foraging by the side of the road, and we passed by a disgruntled cow that had been separated from her herd mates.

Driving alongside the park we passed many people running in the Waterton Glacier Relay. We admired these brave and fit people from the warmth of our car as we passed by them.

Later we stopped at “Goat Lick”, and enjoyed the spectacle of Mountain Goats enjoying the vertiginous salt cliffs. Apparently they are dependably visible and we saw 4 goats spread over a pretty vast distance. Still later, at the nearly ice-cold water met the warm air at twilight, the river steamed and swirled. It was lovely, if more than a touch foreboding.

After our final glimpse of Glacier and indulging in more ice cream in Whitefish, we successfully navigated a brilliant thunderstorm on our way home and rewarded ourselves in a jolly, tear-inducing game of Cards Against Humanity. Lee won the hard-fought game with an epic poem on the gritty grandeur of the human adventure.

On Sunday we left Kalispell and Flathead Lake and headed down through Missoula, where frozen yogurt in gluten-free cones really hit the spot on a sweltering day. The car has been getting pretty variable mileage as we went up and down mountains and along high desert plains, and we were still half an hour out of Butte when the fuel gauge read EMPTY, causing us to divert our trip to Anaconda. This was a mixed blessing. It was a little out of our way, but it allowed us to approach the forbidding dark tower that had haunted the landscape for the past hour or so.

As we approached Butte we began to notice smoke in the sky. It started out as wispy and white but slowly engaged more magentas and oranges as we drove on. The orange glow we saw at the base of the smoke as we crested the Butte Pass later proved to be the 100-foot flames of the Pony fire. We read the next morning that it had consumed over 3000 acres the first day of the fire.

Bozeman, Montana was our next destination and after driving through the charming downtown, Lee met Venetia’s mother and sister and we invited them along to see Brave, which had long been anticipating. The movie turned out to be the perfect family movie to watch and was utterly lovely and enjoyable. And Lee was very surprised to see that Steve Purcell (of Sam & Max, Freelance Police fame) was the assistant director. We’d somehow never imagined him in any way connected with wonderful Celtic princesses…

The following day was spent meeting with Venetia’s mentor, Professor Michael Sexson. Michael and Lee enjoyed a stimulating conversation and some gentlemanly sportsmanship over who could name the most obscure movies, who had read the most esoteric books, and stories flowed like wine. Venetia has a lot of reading and movie watching to do to catch up and Lee has admitted he may need to watch Dead Man.

After sorting through her mother’s box of pictures to take the best home and scan, Venetia’s sister called her frantically to get us out of the house to see the sunset. We went to the nearby park and climbed up a hill to get some astonishingly colorful pictures. The Pony Fire may be an ongoing menace to firefighters and residents, but it surely made a beautiful sunset! The rest of the evening was spent soaking in the various pools of the Bozeman Hot Springs until closing time.

We woke up early Tuesday morning to drive out to Paradise Valley, Montana where Venetia grew up. It was an odd day. Bozeman had been windy and Venetia assured Lee that it was nothing compared to Paradise Valley. She was right of course, but even she was surprised by the 70-80 mph hours winds that day. We drove up to Pine Creek to hike up to the Pine Creek Falls and enjoyed a lovely picnic beside the waterfall.

We then drove further down the valley to see the land where Venetia grew up. We use the term “land” since all that remains of the house where she grew up is the ash-filled foundation and some miscellaneous relics on the periphery of that charred foundation. We excavated for some time in the ash, fascinated by what had survived the fire. Both cast-iron pot-bellied stoves were misshapen heaps of slag but although Venetia’s mother’s china had fused into one solid piece, all the delicate painted flower designs were still clearly visible. The gnome, Lance, had lost all of his colors and most of his face but was still recognizable. And here and there about the house pages with crisp brown edges fluttered about. Note: Any day featuring 70 mph winds is a dangerous choice when shoveling ash. Venetia searched for a time for recognizable phrases from her own books but those were buried too deep as her room had been downstairs and all the surviving pages came from her father’s expose on the Iran-Contra scandal. We took some home with us to scan, as burnt pages will prove excellent reference.

Chico Hot Springs was our final destination for the night. Our first interesting coincidence of the evening came when the younger sister of an old college friend recognized Venetia at the Wildflower Cafe. Venetia’s friend had lost his hand after it was electrocuted by an unmarked electric company power source and his sister included in her update how he was even getting back to bow-hunting through the use of a clever prosthetic. Soon after, at Chico (formerly “Chicory”), we walked through the Saloon and noticed that the muted program on the wall-mounted TV was demonstrating just such a prosthetic. A young woman missing her hand was able to shoot a modified compound bow that allowed her to loose the arrow with her teeth. Amazing.

We thought the 90-degree weather might keep the hot springs from being bearable but a lovely breeze cooled the outside air making the hot water superbly enjoyable. We spent a few hours in the pool, then briefly adjourned to eat a stellar dinner of BBQ beef ravioli and orange-glazed duck (our good karma after Lee’s fancy driving saved the mother duck and her ducklings crossing the road at twilight from being squashed.) We returned to the pool where we stayed again until closing and had our second delightful coincidence of the day. Venetia spotted one of her close friends in the pool, though she was uncertain at first of whether it was truly him since he lives in Australia! The one night we spent at Chico was serendipitously the same night he had driven out to the valley from where he was vacationing. We had a lovely time talking with him and are excited to see him again this winter, or rather, we will see him when we spend summer in Australia.

Our day in Yellowstone National Park was absolutely filled to the brim with adventure. We woke up early to avoid massive amounts of traffic but due to the fact that it was early in summer and Wednesday is an off-day for tourist, we saw surprisingly few traffic jams, only one “bear jam” and were able to find parking in every parking lot, even at Old Faithful!

Mammoth was our first stop, and the place Venetia knows best since she rarely ventured further into the park. We drove up the twisty road from Gardiner to Mammoth where Venetia learned to drive and were greeted by the elk resting next to the steaming hot springs. These lovely creatures are living the dream, and their tracks appear in areas unsafe for humans.

We were at first appalled by the number of hats (6 at Mammoth alone) that littered the hot springs, but then recalled the fierce winds the previous day and realized that the hats had blown off and had not been intentionally thrown in. And while we hoped the rangers would use long tongs to fish them safely out, we imagined what  they’d look like if allowed to merge into the landscape.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone was as stunning as advertised, and while the bison shown above was not surrounded by the baby bison we saw later, neither was he surrounded by ogling tourists. There were many dizzying sights to see as we drove higher and higher into the park, crossing the continental divide twice. At our highest point we were at about 8,200 feet above sea level. Quite a rise from Portland….

The colors and palettes were what had brought us so far from home, and they in no way disappointed. They were far and away the most astonishing facet of the park. We saw what we thought might be pure sulfur due to the smell and alarming yellow hue. Having spent a few years in Glenwood Springs, the smell of sulfur that had horrified Lee when he visited as a small boy, now seemed downright homey. Of all the startling chroma, perhaps the most surprising was the river of contrasting bright orange and green that shone under crystal clear water.

And the patterns and flow were as amazing that the chroma and contrast! We momentarily panicked at the thought of running out of space in our memory card, but we were looking for trouble in the wrong place. The tragedy came in running the camera down after a mere four hours of constant photography. Go figure! And where it was simple enough to buy a back-up memory card, getting a properly calibrated pre-charged battery was a non-starter (if you’ll pardon the pun). Happily the kind ranger at Old Faithful allowed us to plug in and recharge while we ate still more ice cream. And that saw us through the rest of the trip. We hadn’t planned to wait around for the Old Faithful geyser, but it kindly performed for us as we happened to pass. No waiting.

We congratulated ourselves every time we pulled over to an unmarked but spectacular view, though of course we can only guess at how many natural wonders passed by unnoticed during our brief visit. The entire park is breathtaking, and in innumerable ways! We’d love to visit the super-volcano’s caldera in the winter sometime. A few feet of snow would make it even more magical.

Our trip was all about color.

And of course it was only right that many of the hot spots we stopped at had “paint pots” in their names. These two rivulets, cheek by jowl on the slight slope, were like hot and cold running curry. The variety of colors in close proximity was as startling as the colors themselves.

We drove through the park in a giant S-curve suggested to us by the park rangers after we explained our desire to focus on colors.

Some of the pools of water were so blue and deep that they looked like they belonged in the Caribbean. But the idyllic dream of floating weightless in those flawlessly clear waters was always broken when we felt the heat and saw the steam (some, a reflected blue!), and the nearby waters were so shockingly colored that none could never miss the heat and poison therein.

After all, the water leaping out of the ground was heated by the magma of the very core of the earth. Yikes!

We made exceptionally good time through the park and headed down towards the Tetons while the sun was still high in the sky.

Traveling alongside the Snake River, we entered Idaho but reached Lava Hot Springs after the pool had closed. This necessitated a late start the following day as we had to spend a few solid hours in the pools at Lava Hot Springs. The hottest pool, filled with elderly Japanese and Korean ladies, was 116-degrees. We choose to spend our time in the cooler 106-degree shaded pool until our departure when Venetia submerged herself in the hotter pool just to prove a point!

‘Vacation’ is entirely the wrong word to describe the adventures we had, as it implies taking a break from life, a hint of rest, and the promise of relaxation. We are having much too much fun living to take any breaks. Every moment is filled with beauty and excitement. We had an awesome time traveling through the west and admiring the stunning world that we live in.

We hope you like the small sampling we’ve shown you here. We’ve blathered on for quite a bit, but please feel free to ask questions, kibbitz, et al. as suits.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Bozeman Hot Springs Chico Hot Springs Glacier National Park Lava Hot Springs Yellowstone National Park https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/7/Vacation-Not-so-much Mon, 02 Jul 2012 01:20:22 GMT
Kickstarter White Paper Part 2 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-White-Paper-Part-2 Part 2 of our Kickstarter White Papers. We hope you find them helpful! Additionally check out the intro and Part 1.

Media

PR and Promotion

You should have at least a basic PR kit set up (and much of this can come from your Kickstarter description itself) to use to promote yourself online. Create a basic 140-character line for Twitter for people to retweet. Create a longer paragraph for Facebook and prepare interesting updates for both the Kickstarter and your Facebook. Don’t make others come up with brilliant lines about your Kickstarter, do the work for them. That way if anyone wants to promote you, they can easily reuse your lines and description.

Depending on how big your Kickstarter is (if you are aiming for over 100k and major industry exposure) you may want to put out an official press release on a known site about your project.

You need to build momentum for your Kickstarter BEFORE it starts. Tell industry publications about your Kickstarter before it launches so that they have time to plan the announcement. They will need a head start to get your story. Otherwise, even if you get a tremendously useful media endorsement, you run the risk of it coming at an awkward time or even well after your Kickstarter has ended.

Media Sites and Cool People

You will want good media contacts to promote your Kickstarter throughout its entirety. If you know cool people who want to promote your Kickstarter personally, that’s great. There are people whose Twitter followers exceed a million and if any of the really big names in your field promotes you, you are golden. But these really cool people do not need your project. You need them. If they mention you, they are spending their personal capital at their own risk, in the hopes that you really are as cool as you say you are.

The media on the other hand, does need you. They need stories and if you give them a good one, they’ll give you some love in return. For Doom we got a lot of attention from Coilhouse, io9, and Wired, as well as mentions from personal friends who have large online presences but none of the really big names in our field tweeted about us at all.

So in setting up your PR image, make sure you have a good story that you can easily give to the media. And try to, politely, promote yourself to the big movers and shakers in hopes that they will find your project interesting and want to mention it to their followers.

Family and Friends

Get everyone you know, friends and family, to share your Kickstarter on their social media sites. It doesn’t matter if the person you are telling about your Kickstarter is actually in your target audience, they don’t have to back your project to share it. Make sure you have an active presence on all the major social media platforms: Facebook, twitter, google+ etc. While Amanda Palmer raised almost 1.2 million total with her Kickstarter, she actually met her goal of 100k within the first 6 hours or so from the start of her Kickstarter due to her mailing lists which she has been cultivating for the past 10+ years. There are many great projects out there that people would love to support; the trick is getting to your audience. So share it with everyone in your personal range.

Promotional Updates

You will need to constantly keep sharing your Kickstarter. It is a full time job to promote it for the length of the Kickstarter. You need to keep sending out updates (they should be full of real, important information not just filler to spam people’s inbox) and continuously promote it on your social networking sites. It may seem repetitious to you, but after the end of the Kickstarter we kept encountering friends who never even heard about Doom despite our many emails and even though we were mentioning it almost every other day our Facebook sites.

Branding

Know your audience. You are selling and marketing a product through Kickstarter and you need to think about what your brand is. What is the main image that starts your video? If you made t-shirts or other branding items (bags, posters, magnets, stickers, cards etc), what images are not only cool enough for your backers to want to wear but will also show off you and your product? The Portland Kickstarter Cheese and Crack is a great example, because who doesn’t want a shirt that says “Cheese and Crack” on his or her chest?

Supporting Other Kickstarters

Make your Kickstarter profile ahead of your actual Kickstarter campaign and start backing cool/relevant projects. People will look at and consider what you have backed and you may get viral spread through the campaigns you have backed. It makes you look like you are a real part of the Kickstarter community – one of them. Because you are.

You don’t have to back projects for a lot of money, even a low dollar donation shows that you have backed that project and can garner good will in the community.

Additional Tips

Loving Your Backers

Understand that your backers are your friends. They are special, smart, clever people who figured out how interesting and cool your Kickstarter project is and therefore they deserve your respect and attention.

You can show your appreciation of your backers by being attentive to what they have to say. Pay attention to the comments section of Kickstarter and answer questions promptly and respectfully. Your backers are also your evangelists, if they are invested in your Kickstarter and want it to succeed, they will be out proselytizing to their friends and social networks on your behalf. So give them your love wherever possible.

This Will EAT YOUR LIFE

Running a Kickstarter is full time job. You will NOT have time for much else during this time period. You will be monitoring the site, working on PR, handling questions asked by your backers, honing your tiers and stretch goals. There is an immediacy to Kickstarter that cannot be underestimated.

Kicktraq

Kicktraq is brilliant. Kicktraq is a site that basically tracks your Kickstarter from start to finish and shows you the whole overall scope of your project. While this is enormously fun for tracking your project’s funding history, it is also incredibly useful to display the trending goals that your project is heading for. We found it very helpful for visualizing the overall scope of our Kickstarter. It helped us understand the patterns of funding for our particular project and we were able to figure out from it where we needed to make new initiatives to continue getting support.

Alpha Tests

Show your Kickstarter to smart people. Send them a spreadsheet of your tiers and ask for feedback. USE THAT FEEDBACK. This is the time to make the changes, and don’t ask for advice if you are not going to take it. You can also share your Kickstarter page with said smart people before it launches. Set up the entire Kickstarter page with video, tiers, main text, and send it to your smartest friends. Make sure you have plenty of time to implement their comments before your launch date.

Other Great Writings On Kickstarter

We hope you have found some useful tools in these white pages to consider with your own Kickstarter. We would also advise you to check out other sources as well. Research other successful and failed Kickstarters similar to your own and think about how you can model or improve what they did.

Additionally we used these resources in planning for this Kickstarter:

http://craigmod.com/journal/kickstartup/

This is a fun and useful analysis of Kickstarter data and pledge amounts. He does a step-by-step analysis of his own Kickstarter (the fun data starts about a third of the way down.) It is definitely a good article to read thoroughly.

http://www.demimonde.com/2012/05/14/what-is-running-a-kickstarter-really-like/

M. K. Hobson recently successfully funded the publication of her third book and wrote down some of her important reflections.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dmeconis/the-dylan-meconis-library-2012?ref=card

Dylan Meconis is currently (as of June 20th 2012) running a successful Kickstarter to fund the republication of her books. Her Kickstarter follows all of the ideals of interesting and elegant and she includes a useful breakdown of exactly how she going to use the funds from the Kickstarter.

We hope you find this white paper useful. We will be offering it as a PDF download soon.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-White-Paper-Part-2 Wed, 27 Jun 2012 06:57:13 GMT
Kickstarter White Paper Part 1 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-White-Paper-Part-1 This is Part 1 of two parts of our Kickstarter White Paper. You can view the intro here and Part 2 here.

Recognizing Your Value Proposition

Kickstarter is a value proposition. You are offering people, your “backers,” a product or service in exchange for their support. In the majority of cases on Kickstarter, you are essentially offering people the opportunity to “pre-order” your product before you actually produce it. Backers of Kickstarter projects are not loaning or “donating” money to you, they are buying a product from you and therefore they expect to receive value for their money.

That being said, some people will in some cases actually want to give you money. This is a beautiful thing. We recommend you take it. But understand this is the minority position and not something you should expect or rely upon.

Acknowledging Your Backers

Your Kickstarter backers are special. They are the first people to support you. These customers are recognizing the inherent goodness of your project and joining in early, before the product is even out, to ensure your success. You will want to treat your backers as if they are special and extra-smart (because they are) and make sure that they feel your appreciation of them. Offering discounts on your products in the Kickstarter itself and having limited edition rewards just for the Kickstarter are some of the ways that you can show your appreciation of their early support.

Setting Your Goal and Planning Rewards

Right at the start you will want to figure out the exact value of your rewards in order to create your tiers and the monetary goal you are setting for the project.

The basic question is: How much will it cost you to make the product?

You should start your Kickstarter with solid quotes for the actual cost what you need and the cost of production for all of the rewards you will be offering. While it is fun to think of all the gewgaws and trinkets that you can put your logo on, you need to make sure it is affordable to produce those stickers and temporary tattoos. Doom had some amazing initial ideas for rewards that we quickly realized were completely cost prohibitive and would have actually put us in debt to produce.

As an example of this planning process, t-shirts are a common reward (and great marketing for your brand, every person who gets a t-shirt will become a walking ad for you, especially if you have a great logo.) You should have quotes on how much it will cost to print the t-shirts in all their colors and sizes (will your printer charge you more for an XXXL or XXS) at various price breaks. Find a printer that can create the kind of t-shirt you want and make sure you check specifics with them to make sure the art you want to use is feasible.

The point here is to do your research. You don’t need to have all the production lined up and ready to go – though that would of course be ideal – but you do need to have some solid numbers of exactly what you need to raise to make a successful product. For example, for Doom we needed an absolute minimum of $35,000 to produce the base game. Therefore, that was the number we chose as our goal. After reaching that goal, every additional dollar we earned meant that we could make a better, higher-quality product with extras we had previously dropped due to cost. At a certain point we could even afford to offer new cool rewards to our backers because we had gone so far past our production needs. But we had to know what those extras cost as well and whether they made sense to produce or were just fantasies arising from our high-spirits in reaching our goal.

Other Factors in Setting Your Kickstarter Goal

Kickstarter will take 5% of the total you raise. Amazon will take between 3 and 5% for credit card processing. You will of course have to pay taxes on the money, which will vary depending on the state and what kind of business you have. And of course it would be nice to make a profit (though we must wonder how many “successfully funded” Kickstarters actually end up in the red.)

Shipping

Consider your shipping costs and how you are going to handle getting your finished products out to people. Will you be personally shipping out the rewards to every backer? Will your fulfillment center do that, and at what cost?

In designing your tiers and final goal, calculate your shipping costs and decide whether to charge for shipping. This can be decided in part by the scope of your project. If you are running a small local business, you might offer to personally deliver the product to those in your area and charge everyone else shipping. If you are working on an international level, it is common practice to NOT charge shipping for USA backers. Depending on how much it will cost you, it may also be a good idea to offer free shipping to Canada as well.

Generally, people do not like being charged for shipping. It is a low-level kind of seething anger that people feel at being charged shipping. This is not a feeling you may wish to cultivate in your backers.  Due to practices by Amazon and Ebay – Ebay recommends to its sellers that they increase the price of their products so that they can offer free shipping to customers and Amazon offers free 2nd day shipping to it’s Prime members – people expect to get shipping for free and may become quietly outraged when you do not meet their expectations.

If you do decide to charge for shipping, make sure you make a point of mentioning that somewhere in your kickstarter. Doom, and other projects, mentions it in the tiers by saying, “For international shipping add $25.” Doom did not charge international shipping for tiers over $200.

When to Start and End Your Kickstarter

When you end your Kickstarter is even more important than when you start it. Make sure you end strong. People love to be the last person to donate, to put that final piece in the puzzle and get you to that ultimate goal.

The last day of Doom saw the 3rd highest number of pledges of entire campaign, HOWEVER we did make the big mistake of ending the Kickstarter at 4am in the morning, Pacific time, and that cost us a lot of money. Even then, Doom still made about 3k in the last 6 hours of the Kickstarter, only a thousand dollars less than the daily average of pledges for the entire month. Amanda Palmer had the right idea when she ended her Kickstarter at midnight on the East Coast. There was a giant countdown party and people were donating right up to the very last second of her Kickstarter. She made 100k the last day of her Kickstarter, the majority of it in the last few hours.

Choose a time of the day (and 12am Eastern time is pretty ideal) when people can be sitting at their computers watching the end of your Kickstarter. Not all of us can or would want to throw a block party in NYC and strip naked on livestream, but make the end exciting. Add some ultimate stretch goals, do one last intense PR push, get those final people who might still be on the fence all the way in. Incentivize those who are already committed to be still more committed. You are never going to have a better moment to upsell than this one, so make it count.

The start time of your Kickstarter, and the period of time it will cover are also important. Weekends will be slow; therefore Friday, Saturday and Sunday are not advisable. People travel on the weekends, and during holidays and that means they will not be in front of the computer looking at your Kickstarter. Similarly, the start of the week and early mornings when people are getting back to their desks and seeing what is happening on the internet in their absence are key times. Send out your updates early in the week to most profitably catch peoples’ attentions. Early Friday could be okay, but remember that by noon most people are going to be thinking about the weekend and considering skipping out of work early. Also factor in the holidays that will happen during your Kickstarter. Memorial Day weekend was an extremely slow point for Doom.

Structuring Your Tiers

In structuring your reward tiers, be as clear, concise and brief as possible. You can elaborate on what the rewards are and how they are entirely made of win in the main body of the page, or even in an FAQ, so simply listing them out in tiers themselves makes a better presentation. At the same time, however, be alert to keep from being dry and repetitive.

One good way to think of the tiers is that each one is a SKU, so you need to be clear about what distinguishes it from the next. Why would a backer want to pick that particular level? How is it interesting and unique? Don’t be boring.

Stacking

Many Kickstarters stack their rewards. Personally, we’re not fans. We find them to be cumbersome and do not think they are clear or efficient. We think it leads to confusion and undue effort in trying to sort out exactly what your backer is getting in a particular tier, and your backer may not even want the rewards offered in all the previous tiers. Besides, it’s expensive. Moreover, upselling becomes more difficult if everyone is already getting everything there is with every “choice.”

We prefer tiers that specifically tell the backer what they are getting. Listing out all the cool things you are offering adds to the excitement of backing at that particular tier level. We think that NOT stacking tiers gets everyone to be more discerning about what they want and are going to get. Stacking also limits the potential of being creative with themed tiers to make things more interesting.

Additional note: You can’t add any kind of formatting to the tiers (bold, underline, italicize etc.) so it is good to have your own set format for how you are going to list the rewards and to stick to that for every tier. Make sure you use the same descriptor words for the rewards, in our tiers we accidentally went back and forth between “figures” and “figurines” which didn’t look stellar.

Low Level Tiers

We believe that a large number of low tier levels is not worthwhile. Sure you might want to have one or two – for people who want to donate to the project itself but aren’t interested in owning your main product – but don’t clutter up your reward tiers with a bunch of small, diffuse rewards that distract your backers before they get to the really meaty tiers.

Never forget, you are the one on the hook for fulfilling every reward you offer. So think carefully before promising everyone a personally delivered singing telegram.

Sweet Spot

Ideally, what amount do you want the majority of backers to pledge? Kickstarter says that the average pledge is $70, but the common pledge is $25. Figure out the level you most want people to pledge, then pick the higher target or targets that hope you to reach through stretch goals and additional rewards. For example, in Doom, the product that we wanted people to buy was $75 and that is indeed where most went (600 backers at $75 with roughly 150 at the $50 and $100 levels respectively.) Our stretch goals, however, were for backers who had pledged $100, which meant that people were constantly moving up tiers throughout the Kickstarter as they realized the $100 tier was becoming a better and better value proposition for them. Our final stretch goal, however, was for people who had pledged at $200 (as well as a smaller reward for the $100 level) and because the $200 level had previously sold out, we offered a special $205 level just so that people could get the new stretch goal reward.

Production Date

Kickstarter asks for an Estimated Delivery date of when you will be shipping rewards out to your backers. Not much to say here, just that you’ll want to add this into your calculations when considering fulfillment of when exactly you can expect to be sending out rewards. Obviously you want to get things to people in a timely fashion but be aware of the actual production schedule. For example, printing almost anything from a CD to a book can take several months.

In some cases, peoples’ Kickstarter projects begin and end with their campaign. In other cases, as with Doom, the campaign is only the first part of an ongoing production cycle. Therefore, we want to make sure that our product is available commercially before the holidays. There are many other variables of course….

Changing Tiers

Once someone has backed a reward tier, you can no longer change it. You can change a reward level ONLY IF NOBODY has backed it yet. And yes, you may want to change your tiers mid-Kickstarter. If no one is pledging at a low level after a significant amount of time, you want to figure out why and change/or get rid of that level. Obviously higher tiers may never get backers and sometimes those should be left as aspirational targets, but more commonly they should be changed if they are not providing value. A large list of dead/inactive tiers is a sign that your project is not doing well and perception is always critical.

Adding Tiers

Try to keep your Kickstarter as simple and elegant as possible. Having more tiers is not better. You can, however, add new tiers at any point during the Kickstarter. (If you are worried about them looking too similar, you can put the new tiers in at +1 or +5 so $101 or $105.) We believe it is better to start with a smaller level number of tiers and add to them, than to start with too many and not have people bite. Adding tiers makes it look like you are responding to your backers’ requests for more levels (especially if you are!) Paying attention to comments is crucial and we were fortunate with Doom to have well-spoken backers who gave us very helpful feedback. This lets you more easily upsell people once they are supporting the project, and it means that you don’t have a lot of empty tiers at the beginning.

Limiting Rewards

We suggest you limit some, if not all, of your higher level rewards. It makes them look more exclusive and desirable. If a tier sells out, that looks good and you look successful. There is likely a natural limit to how many of those rewards are even available anyway; with Doom we had a limited amount of original art and that determined the limits for those particular tiers.

Remember that you can later add more tiers if you do sell out of your limited rewards. Further, your new tier could be a dead ringer just sold out. We think this looks a little gauche but it had been very effective in some campaigns. Creating limited rewards can be a useful and simple tool for upselling. For example, Doom sold out of the $200 tier fairly quickly which meant that people who were interested in a similar set of rewards had to move up to $250 to get those rewards.

The reverse of this, is do not limit tiers that should not actually be limited. Just because it’s a higher monetary amount does not mean it needs to be a limited rewards. Limited rewards are things that are exclusive and can’t be replicated easily; setting all of your rewards at limits of 200 just looks silly.

Thanking Backers

Thanking backers is a common reward and often offered for $1. Backers are promised that their name will be listed on the website or in the finished product. Our thoughts differ from that paradigm in that we believe it would be better to save the reward of “your name in the credits” or “a special thanks to” for a high tier. (Doom started offering thanks at $200.) This way you are genuinely thanking the most helpful people and it is more meaningful since you are not diminishing the thanks by offering it to everyone at a buck.

Stretch Goals

Stretch goals can be an extremely fun and dynamic aspect of Kickstarter. Once your initial production goal has been met, you get to add stretch goals with cool extra rewards if the project funding reaches your newly stated goal. Ideally, you should plan to have stretch goals in any Kickstarter because your basic goal should be the only the production costs of the game (and ideally a small profit). Should your backers find your project worthy, your stretch goals will allow their further support to add delicious frosting to the cake they already love.

Stretch goals are used to upsell existing tiers as well. Most stretch goals are only offered to people backing the project at or above a certain tier. For example, Doom offered stretch goals at $100. That meant that a lot of people moved up from $50 and $75 to the $100 tier because they would get more rewards there.

Example of a successful Kickstarter with great stretch goals here. They also have lovely banners for each stretch goal, making them appear clever, professional, and desirable.

Stretch goals should be actual stretches to pull the backers forward. With Doom we set the first two stretch goals too low as we already had the momentum to easily reach the “stretch” amount with or without a new goal (we met the 1st stretch goal at almost the same time we announced it).

Kickstarter Video

The Movie is Key

The movie is a key piece of your Kickstarter. It is the first thing people will see when looking at your page. There are lots of articles around about how to create the perfect Kickstarter movie. We just have two important points to make about the movie.

1) Keep it short, under 3 minutes. There’s a reason pop songs are three minutes long and your Kickstarter pitch needs to be similar in both brevity and entertainment. We think you’ll be surprised at how much information you can convey in such a seemingly short period of time.

2) The first image in the movie is the image that will appear on your Kickstarter and will be your branding image. So make it a good one. We changed ours half way through when we realized this and it made a world of difference.

Part 2 continued here.

If you missed the intro, you can find it here.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-White-Paper-Part-1 Sun, 24 Jun 2012 22:14:22 GMT
Kickstarter – What does it all mean? https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-What-does-it-all-mean Ever since the conclusion (actually long before the conclusion), of our recent Kickstarter campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, I’ve been receiving congratulations of one type and another. When I seemed momentarily startled by their kindness, people asked me why. And when I came out of my fugue state, I told them the simple truth: “Mistakes were made”.

With a little prompting, I went on to explain some of these mistakes. And I told all my friends to please let me know before they began their own Kickstarter campaigns, to help them better prevent the mistakes we made. But I soon realized that rather than repeat myself over and over, I should simply write a white paper on the subject, so that I could more easily disseminate the facts without forgetting crucial information with each repetition.

Before I get to practical matters however, there is no shortage of more diffuse and impractical thoughts to get out of the way from my month-long addiction to Kickstarter.

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1. Kickstarter is the best thing ever.

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2. It’s Kickstarter’s world. We just live in it.

Money fan

Kickstarter is an amazing font of crowd-sourced capital, yes. But where does that crowd come from? Our first supporters had already supported between 2 and 178 other Kickstarter projects. In short, they were already “of the body”. They knew and loved Kickstarter for allowing them to help create products they wanted, for helping to change the playing field, for telling them about projects they would never otherwise have even heard of, and perhaps most important of all, for changing, deepening, and strengthening the relationship between Creator and consumer. They understood the paradigm and paid attention to the site’s many categories and recommendations.

As our month went on and we got stellar press, Kickstarter habitués gave way to people who’d never used, or in some cases even heard of, Kickstarter. I don’t know what the workers at Kickstarter Central call these wonderful people – Newcomers? Virgins? Noobs? Lambs to the slaughter? But this was the most surprising point to me. Not only were we using Kickstarter to fund this game project that no game publisher would touch, Kickstarter was using us to bring them more users. And the larger the user base grows, the better for everyone involved. Especially, Kickstarter shareholders.

Because Kickstarter makes its money on the success of projects, it is deeply incentivized to assist clever campaigns. As a result, we were featured on Kickstarter in a couple places: as Portland, Oregon’s top campaign for most of the month, and as a top pick in the Games category. In fact, during our tenure in Kickstarter’s Staff Picks, they restructured the “Games” category to include both “Board & Card Games” and “Video Games”, ensuring Doom’s status as a top pick for an even longer period of time.

I had initially guessed that our project was getting love from Kickstarter because it was graphic, we presented it well enough, and that the resumes of the 3 creators were pretty impressive. That may be true. But were we also a likelier candidate for success by virtue of the creators’ pre-existing social networks? Was our old-school board game meets HP Lovecraft vibe more likely to ensnare Kickstarter Virgins? I don’t know, but what I do know is by the end, few if any of our new backers had supported even 1 other Kickstarter project, and that may have been the really important part for Kickstarter.

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3. Kickstarter is the best PR other people’s money can buy.

Money fan

I had never heard of the Pebble watch until masses of our backers proved to be supporting their Kickstarter. The word of mouth and feeling of involvement a strong Kickstarter campaign can generate is phenomenal, and all without traditional Venture Capital or Angel Investors to pay off! It’s a funding platform that sells you rather than one that buys you. Sure, you’re giving them some of your supporters in perpetuity, but isn’t that transaction more agreeable than selling them a whopping percent of your company? And besides, each backer can use the wonders of the Internet to get you more backers! To get Kickstarter more! To get your next project more! To… well, looking forward, things get mighty interesting.

Does the current boom go bust as all the cool kids exceed their Kickstarter budgets and the whole thing shuts down? Or do projects get better and better the way evolution should work? This is an interesting point to me as I’ve watched actual capitalism wither and die in some parts of the economy. Yes, there’s been no shortage of shoddy product on Kickstarter – projects born of pity or in reaction to the dominant paradigms, et al. – but will such campaigns continue?

Will they be allowed to?

Will the marketplace of ideas become more discerning, and the bar for projects that Kickstarter will even approve be set much much higher?

Will Kickstarter self-censor strongly and effectively?

What will make them leverage their power more specifically, and control access more tightly?

Will some projects be so successful that Kickstarter finds itself paying for their virgins?

We can’t know at this juncture, but it’ll be fascinating to find out.

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4. All the cool kids are doing it.

Money fan

As 2012 dawned, I had never done a Kickstarter project. By the end of the year, I’ll have done half a dozen. A few with young, largely untested talent, but the vast majority with award-winning authors like M. K. Hobson, sculptors like Paul Komoda, and top-tier game designers like Keith Baker, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. And that’s just a hint of what I’m doing. Most of the Creators I know are currently working on some level of campaign (thus the white paper to follow)!

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5. Creatives and Corporations – why can’t they all just get along?

Money fan

I worried a little before Doom that ours would be the project with which Kickstarter would officially jump the shark. But that was apparently just nerves. It had, however, happened once before. The wonderful Z-Man Games (publishers of Pandemic, see above) purchased Doom, but then Z-Man was sold to a European game company right before our publication date, and the new owners didn’t want our game. And neither did anyone else. How is that working out for those publishers now I wonder?

When we took in 122k in a month, an old colleague suggested that, “The market was clearly ready for your game.” Maybe so, but the game companies were not. At all. The Creators’ willingness to market their game, the public’s desire to see Lovecraftian Gods trash Atlantic City, the pedigree of the creative team (games, novels, films, posters): none of that mattered one whit. They didn’t see a return that showed any kind of clear profit for them, and they passed.

In the decline of the working and creative class that we’ve all weathered these last 30 years, major monopolist corporations have intentionally made Creators the lowest people on their totem poles.

The odious work-for-hire contracts, the hierarchical apple-polishing, the constant cancellations of green-lit projects to protect their jobs at the expense of others and to “bolster” their bottom line: it’s all been designed to maximize their profits and strip Creators of their chance for licensure, and the passive streams of income Creators might otherwise have enjoyed. There are still plenty of artists who need corporate paychecks, but many artists are viewing this as a long-overdue sea change. In Portland, many people suggest that the only way to move up the ranks at Nike is to go to Adidas. And vice versa. In New York, people leave DC for Marvel. And vice versa. Does Kickstarter mean that Creatives will be getting more respect from the big players now that they can set their own terms elsewhere? Or will the big companies simply ignore them when they ask for more respect? As exciting as Kickstarter is now, what will it be in the future? Will it morph over time like the massive powerhouse whose informal corporate motto was “Don’t be evil”? We shall see.

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6. Make no mistake. This is an addiction.

Money fan

The shots of dopamine that accompany every new dollar the Refresh button reveals are the most obvious example. But the fact is, we Creators are on the line here. Every mistake or miscue is now on us. And that’s not the sort of responsibility that leads one to sleep like a baby. Kickstarter is not for the faint of heart. Can you imagine working a month or more (more really, even for a “30 day” campaign) only to have that campaign stall and fail? Many of the best and brightest Creators have already experienced that very thing. Sobering. Kickstarter will take every ounce of energy you can give it and want more. Believe it.

Every mistake we made weighs on me, and I suspect it’s the same for many others. So, with this prologue, I hope you’ll enjoy (and be informed by) the paper to come.

Part 1 of Kickstarter White Paper

Part 2 of Kickstarter White Paper

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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) 13th Age Jonathan Tweet Keith Baker Kickstarter M. K. Hobson Pandemic Paul Komoda Pebble watch Rob Heinsoo The Doom That Came to Atlantic City Z-Man Games https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Kickstarter-What-does-it-all-mean Wed, 20 Jun 2012 14:19:05 GMT
Nom, Nom, Nom. https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Nom-Nom-Nom This morning I awoke slowly, adjusted the bed and grabbed up the iPad, as is my habit.

When I groggily checked my mail, I found this kind note from John Picacio, whose A Song of Fire and Ice calendar tore the roof off that category this year:

“Congrats to all 2012 Chesley Awards finalists! Honored to be a finalist in the Best Product Illustration category… Fellow finalists in the category are Lee Moyer, Stuart Craig, Michael Raymond Whelan, Michael Zug, and William Stout.”

Blink.

What? My work being considered in the same breath as John? As Stout? As Zug? As Whelan? And why is Stuart Craig’s name familiar? Oh yeah! He’s the frickin’ OBE designer of Harry Potter.

And all because of my little charity calendar for Worldbuilders.

Picacio isn’t one to err, but seeing is believing.

So naturally, I nipped around to look at the awards, and sure enough:

Best Product Illustration

  • Stuart Craig for production design for the Harry Potter films, Warner Brothers, 2011
  • Lee Moyer for Check These Out, 2012 Literary Pin-up calendar, Worldbuilders, 2011
  • John Picacio for George R.R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire, 2012 Calendar, Random House, July 2011
  • William Stout for Zombies 2012, calendar, Andrews McMeel, 2011
  • Michael Whelan for Gift from the Sea, Dragon*Con 2011 promo art & program book, 2011
  • Mark Zug for IlluXCon 2011 promo poster, 2011


But that wasn’t all.

That wasn’t even the half of it!

Best Cover Illustration: Magazine

  • Facundo Diaz for Clarkesworld July 2011
  • Laura Diehl for Fantasy, August 2011
  • Lee Moyer for Weird Tales, Winter 2010/2011
  • Carly B. Sorge for Apex Magazine, September 2011
  • Dariusz Zawadski for Fantasy, May 2011


Best Cover Illustration: Hardback Book

  • Tom Kidd for Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison, Subterranean Press
  • Stephan Martiniere for Prospero Regained by L. Jagi Lamplighter, Tor Books
  • Lee Moyer for Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kieran, Subterranean Press
  • Cliff Nielsen for The Tempering of Men by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear, Tor Books
  • Greg Staples for The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, Subterranean Press

Somehow, my wildly different work in diverse genres tied me this year for most nominations with the brilliant Dave Palumbo, nominated for Unpublished, Art Director, Paperback. 3 nominations each, and not sharing a single category. Neat!

And as this curious information came in, all the remarkable and wildly disparate trails that led here were lit up in my mind.

Maybe it’s true that one’s life really does flash before one’s eyes….

Just cataloging all these facts, considering all the relations and coincidences involved, and putting all these pieces together will take me the rest of the day. Maybe the rest of the month.

Hugo-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal chose and designed the Weird Tales cover. And all because of an unexpected conversation over dinner at her home. When she lived across the street from here. Before I lived here. Before she moved to Chicago. When Liz Argall and her delightful husband Mikey lived in my basement. Before the cover I’ve done for Mary that remains almost completely secret and unseen (Link hidden for security purposes). ;)

I’ve known L. Jagi Lamplighter for years, but only met her brilliant cover artist Stephan Martiniere when we were guesting at Baycon this year. I met Caitlin R. Kiernan at Portland’s own HP Lovecraft Film Festival several years back. I’d admired her in Frank Woodward’s wonderful biography of HPL called Fear of the Unknown (for which I’d done the cover and several illustrations), and I wanted to familiarize her with the work of Henry Clews, Jr. She, of course, immediately understood why. It’s almost funny how little time I spent with her there, considering how much time we’ve spent working together since: on the cover above that Bill Schafer was kind enough to publish uninterrupted by cover type, and on Confessions of a Five Chambered Heart. It amuses me that her name appears larger on the Weird Tales cover than on her own book.
I’m very excited to see her at Readercon this July!

But I digress….

What does it all mean?

I’m not sure it means anything really.
Other than a very surprising and happy day for me.
To have my name listed among the best and the brightest is deeply validating and much appreciated.

My most sincere thanks to everyone involved!
Lee


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Caitlin R. Kieran Chesley Awards John Picacio Mary Robinette Kowal Weird Tales https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Nom-Nom-Nom Mon, 18 Jun 2012 14:51:10 GMT
Nothing Exceeds Like Success https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Nothing-Exceeds-Like-Success Rambling shambolic thoughts.
You know. The usual….

The recent death of Robin Gibb has led me to consider the Bee Gees (they were the Brothers Gibb to you youngsters in our audience), Patrick Nagel, and… Papyrus.

What do these three have in common? Why, mad skills, catastrophic success, and my impressionable youth, of course.

The Bee Gees were boy singing stars starting in 1960:

I didn’t know that until Robin’s death, but it makes perfect sense.

I did know the older Bee Gees of 1967 who were quite successful in Australia and England.
On this ancient LP, Side A found geeky, adenoidal brother Robin singing his heart out on what are to me curiously American themes: Massachusetts and New York Mining Disaster 1941.

If I could explain what I love so much about Robin’s voice, I would be a professional rock critic. Suffice it to say I, like most people, found Robin more Tiny Tim than Tom Jones, and I found him all the more captivating for it – whether singing lead or harmonizing with his siblings.

If they’d stopped at Side A, most of us would never have heard Robin at all. Side B would change that forever.

Success flowed when Barry took his voice higher than Robin’s (a notion so absurd that it forms Disco Inferno version of a Robert Johnson Crossroads mythology, with Robert Stigwood filling in for Lucifer). Barry’s gaudier falsetto was the soundtrack of 1979, and the tall handsome hirsute brother more or less took over his band of brothers. And other bands as well: The Rolling Stone’s Emotional Rescue anyone? Hell, they were tapped to play The Beatles on film – they were bigger than Jesus’ body double!

If Arthur Fonzarelli had never “jumped the shark”, the Bee Gees’ “Sgt. Pepper” might have become a catch phrase for “so-big-it-MUST-fail” today. Their success was a musical and cultural Tsunami, and when the waves receded, no one wanted to be seen with them. And their Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack would be featured at numberless yard sales for years to come. Ah, success!

Patrick Nagel died many years ago now and left a comparatively small body of work. But what a body!

His freelance career began in 1971, but it was 1976 that brought him his most important client – Playboy Magazine.

His work and the work of his numberless naked imitators still adorns unfashionable beauty salons and dress shops from Hoboken to Oxnard. And why? Because he was damned good. He had a simple stylized approach of strong design, tapered lines, and an addiction to Payne’s Grey that was instantly identifiable – a brand.  And that brand meant sex and sophistication. As with Side A of the Bee Gees, I’m a big fan, and as with Side B admitting this on the permanent record that is the internet may not be such a good idea.

I sometimes wonder, if Nagel hadn’t come along at the same time as cheap backlit mini-mall signage and fading mass-market decorative poster art, would he be remembered today? If he was remembered, would it be with fondness? Or will these constant reminders of outmoded style be like the poor: always with us.

Has this sort of backlash happened with other artists and illustrators of the past? My guess is no – not to the extent the global media allows. Yes, Alma Tadema paintings were considered completely passe and going for peanuts (Candid Camera’s Alan Funt held the mass of them at one point), but except for an especially garish slice of hell in Nevada called the Peppermill, few people today even know his work. And those that know it through the nightmare looking-glass probably think the imperfectly painted and endlessly repeated Alma Tadema paintings (probably painted en masse by an entire Chinese village) are simply part of their Fear and Loathing in Reno hallucination. I think few artists have had a big enough platform to become so thoroughly declassé to the public.

I wonder what Nagel would be painting today if he had lived long enough to see Lady Gaga And Katie Perry. Would he be a retro relic? Forever trapped by his ancient style? Or would he have grown and changed? Too bad we’ll never know….

Papyrus

“But why not Comic Sans?” I hear you cry. “Why Papyrus?”
And the easy answer is that Comic Sans is the Rob Liefeld of fonts, while Papyrus is an astonishingly good and beautiful one (Michael Kaluta? Dave Stevens? No, Neal Adams. Definitely Neal).

I have strong feelings on this subject because back in the Letraset days, I bought sheets of the stuff (the scan above was taken tonight from the old Letraset sheets that I still own) and their cost was pretty dear to a starving artist like me. My friend Dawn Wilson had been the first person I’d seen to use it and it had all the hallmarks of her work ~ elegance, grace, sophistication. I remember our early business cards and program covers. Turns out they were fifteen years ahead of their time and that eventually the world would learn that Papyrus had a million and one household uses. These days as I travel the world, I am saddened by Papyrus’ overuse even as I wonder whether it’s creators feel similarly. I hope they love their creation still, even as everyone I know rolls their eyes over it.

This year is a year of long-gestating projects. Of doing the things I’ve wanted to do for decades in some cases. Doom and 13th Age and Literary Pin-Ups to name but three.  I will never have the astonishingly epochal successes of the Brothers Gibb, or Patrick Nagel, their appreciation and their opprobrium, but I wish I could have spoken to the talented super-successes of my lifetime; they deserved their success as I hope to deserve my own.

And I’m going to keep using Papyrus, just to show ‘em.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Bee Gees Comic Sans Dave Stevens Michael Kaluta Neal Adams Papyrus Patrick Nagel Rob Liefeld of fonts Robin Gibb https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/Nothing-Exceeds-Like-Success Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:49:08 GMT
THANK YOU! https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/THANK-YOU Image

I haven’t written a word here since the Kickstarter campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City went live. There are plenty of reasons for that, and I strongly advise anyone I know who is planning a Kickstarter of their own to contact me before they set out on beautiful but mysterious the waters of crowdsourcing! It’s obviously an amazing venue that can yield spectacular results, but it might just eat your life in the process.

We were successful, and I want to thank everyone who helped spread the word! It was always a delight to see the names of my friends and colleagues join the list of backers. And watching that list grow was like watching the beans your Mom said were worthless (Don’t have a cow, Mom!) sprout and grow and reach their green tendrils up to the heavens.

The wonderful Nadya at Coilhouse led the way, and io9, Wired’s GeekDadQuarter to ThreeThe Gaming Gang, Geek.com and Nerd Approved followed thereafter. BoardGameGeek.com was also helpful, even when their members couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that we’d come not to praise Monopoly, but to bury it.

With their help, we not only have the bare-bones game, we got to add several features we never thought we could afford (Tomes, Hotels, Gate markers, custom dice, et al.) that the wild success of the Kickstarter campaign made possible. There’s a lot more work for me to do, but it’s going to be amazing!

Thanks again,

Lee


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Arkham Horror Game HP Lovecraft Keith Baker Paul Komoda Success Thank You The Doom That Came to Atlantic City https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/6/THANK-YOU Sun, 10 Jun 2012 09:48:31 GMT
Mister Bad Example or “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to teach me a lesson?” https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/3/Mister-Bad-Example-or-Mrs-Robinson-are-you-trying-to-teach-me-a-lesson Despite iTunes’ ubiquity, I continue to find it so fascinating. Oft times, it’s the synchronistic oracular moments. Other times – like today -  it’s the myriad different ways it allows one to parse data.

When Warren Zevon’s classic polka “Mr. Bad Example” began playing I looked up and realized just how many songs there were about men. And then, how very few there are about women. And this struck me as odd. Aren’t men always writing songs about women? Maybe. But they surely aren’t writing them about “Mrs”. And even they are, “Mrs. Brown” is really a song about her Lovely Daughter. And “Mrs. Leroy Brown” is an obvious counterpoint. It’s awfully Brown too, isn’t it.

But maybe, I thought, that since “Mr.” applies to men married or single, maybe if I added “Miss” to the list it would come closer to evening out. Not so much.

It may be that there are more “Sweet Carolines” than “Handsome Johnnys”, but when it comes to respect and honor, woman seem to be getting the short end of the stick.

Here’s the curious list:

Image

 

I take some small satisfaction in seeing that Miss Otis outnumbers all other Misters and Misses though….

 

 

 


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/3/Mister-Bad-Example-or-Mrs-Robinson-are-you-trying-to-teach-me-a-lesson Sat, 31 Mar 2012 15:41:24 GMT
Logan’s Run* https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/3/Logan-s-Run Sometimes I find myself startled by surprisingly unthreatening things. Like the addresses in Logan, Utah.

It seems that the Mormons decided that building giant fortress temples and  Sci-Fi outposts on promontories was not really sufficient. They also needed to give their street names… numbers, specifically numbers showing that street’s coordinates from the central temple.

I appreciate a proper grid system, and thorough organization. I really do. But somehow this street-naming convention took me back to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I had a momentary shudder at the thought of ending up like a possessed Charles Wallace. I suspect that the omnipresent of “I’m A Mormon!” billboards were a factor as well….

After the initial shock wore off, I thought about the importance of street names to memory, for talking about one’s past, as something that made one place different than another. I started to feel bad for the wee Mormon children. And then, naturally, I extrapolated a What If.

What if, instead of growing up on Portland’s NW Evergreen Terrace, Matt Groening had been raised in Logan, Utah?

Now that is scary!

*with proper apologies to William F. Nolan (another great Northwesterner).


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/3/Logan-s-Run Tue, 20 Mar 2012 20:41:52 GMT
The Elements of Illustration* https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/2/The-Elements-of-Illustration I critique hundreds of pieces every year. Not because I’m a Creative Director (although I have been), but because I (like you) am a consumer of art – of illustration, painting, comics, games, et alia. And the act of critique is one of the most helpful for enlarging one’s own understanding and formalizing concepts that might otherwise float away….

While the following list is by no means scientific (many of the elements listed below overlay others, and many great paintings use only a few) I made it for my own reference and I hope that you may find it useful food for thought. Please print it out and put it by your drafting table or computer if it’ll help.

Focus
Where do you want your viewer’s eye to go? What’s the heart of the piece, the crux of the biscuit?

Narrative
Is there a story here? A big idea? A paradigm, a parody, a pastiche? Has the sword been nicked in battle, has the dog been fed, has the sweater been patched? Norman Rockwell began his pictures thinking of a soldier under a light post and ran scenarios in his mind (often switching “lead” characters) until he found a painting.

A stunning piece from Swedish artist Anders Zorn

Composition and Design
Create a visual hierarchy – A path for the viewer to follow? Something fractal? Separate elements intended for book cover, spine and back cover? Consider the surface you’re working on, its aspect ratio and how that effects the harmonies and tensions of your piece. When working in a tall oval, or a wide ceiling, or a strange milled form, that’s pretty obvious. But it is just as important within a normal rectangle.

Palette
There are many good ones that great painters have applied over the years. Use one of theirs or make your own!

Value
Can your piece be reduced to black and white and still read correctly?
Sometimes good pieces work their value in terms of warm and cool colors, but most need strong tonal variety to read well.

A little-known satyric illustration by Kewpie Doll creator Rose O’Neill


Mass
Think Rodin, JC Leyendecker or Rose O’Neill.

Texture
It makes things and people seem real.

Symbolism
Personal, classical, mystical or cultural – words, numbers, objects, beings. There’s no shortage of sources or end to interpretation. While there was an entire movement of Symbolists (only some of whom were painters),  Michael Kaluta and Brian Despain are excellent modern examplars.

Synecdoche  (Micro defining Macro)
A small area of tight or implied detail will help define vast shapes – like the windows in a colossal building or the wrinkles on an elephant. One needs only a few wee bits to represent a larger whole.

Ornament
Whether it’s Mary Engelbreit‘s checkerboards, or Stephen Hickman‘s ornate orientalism, Ornament matters. Sometimes it’s a sort of texture, other times the whole raison d’etre.

Juxtaposition
Comparisons and contrasts of size, scope, meaning, characters… in our world of Zoroastrian black and white contrasts, this is often too-easy. Use discretion and variety

3 of Glen Orbik’s spectacular pulp covers

Stylization
Sometimes it’s fetishism for a type of brush-stroke or color scheme, sometimes caricature or anatomy. For example, the best pin-ups (by Gil Elvgren, Aly Fell, Glen Orbik, et alia) have similarly stylized elements, some of which might surprise you.
If you’re working on a pin-up, just crack their code and you’re off to the races.

Character
Have the characters lived real lives? Are they real beings with hopes and fears? Body language, gesture and costume are crucial here.

Tension
Gesture is important, but so is the feeling of tension. Sometimes it’s the most important part of a piece. Drama, high stakes, suspense. If you can enlist the viewer’s sympathy support or curiosity, you win.

Line
It’s quite obvious in the works of Franklin Booth, Aubrey Beardsley, and Mike Mignola – but don’t underestimate its importance for Drew Struzan, Arthur Rackham or John Jude Palencar.

Research/Reference
I know precious few people who draw brilliantly out of their heads, but those heads have absorbed the lessons their eyes have shown them for many years. Most of us have been nowhere near as observant, and while we may remember and be able to imagine many things, there are usually areas where we fall down. Bolster yourself and your work with reference. Don’t stick slavishly to it, but make it do your bidding.

Vignette
The play of shape (whether silhouette or fully rendered form) against a white, colour, or fully realized background is so important for keeping a viewer interested. It can be akin what designers call negative space.

Perspective
Each point in perspective applies to a single dimension (in 2 point perspective the points are nearly always width and depth). Get perspective right and you’ll be halfway home. Also, the more you keep you POV away from a normal grid as seen from a height of 6 feet, the more dynamic your piece is likely to be.

FUN!
A certain joie de vivre is key. It doesn’t matter if you paint supplely or with technical perfection – If you don’t bring some fun and adventure to your work, viewers can tell. They won’t always know what’s wrong, but they’ll get that something is…

To which list the delightful Kurt Huggins suggested:

Process: This is your way of managing and editing all of these different elements. Each step of your process should be about solidifying one more element of the image, building up to a final piece. There are many processes, and many ways to finish, but I think most processes start with idea or composition.

*And while I find that this list applies to my own artwork, I also find that much of it applies to my writing, sculpture, et al. Your mileage may vary.

© 2008 Lee Moyer.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) Art and Illustration Aly Fell Art critiques Arthur Rackham Aubrey Beardsley Brian Despain creative director Drew Struzan Elements Franklin Booth Gil Elvgren Glen Orbik JC Leyendecker John Jude Palencar Kurt Huggins Mary Engelbreit Michael Kaluta Mike Mignola Norman Rockwell Rodin Rose O'Neil Stephen Hickman Symolists https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/2/The-Elements-of-Illustration Mon, 20 Feb 2012 12:47:16 GMT
Starstruck! https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/2/Starstruck Starstruck was ahead of its time in 1980, and it’s still ahead of its time. The difference is it’s now being posted online (and of course there are hundreds more pages each lovingly painted by yours truly over the inspired inkwork of Mssr. Michael Kaluta). GO READ IT HERE. And while you’re reading it, look around. If you cast a clever eye, you’re bound to find me lurking in the shadows.

I first encountered it at the ABA convention in DC. The Marvel Comics reps were tearing down, and there was no way they wanted to schlep books home. So I kindly volunteered to take the Starstruck Graphic Novel (#13!) off their hands. Reading it was my introduction to Anarchera and adult storytelling. Here was a comic that took advantage of the form, and as a student of narrative I could not but be impressed.

I’d been fortunate enough to work with Mw Kaluta on this video for the Alan Parson’s Project:

I was familiar with his work from that and his remarkable covers for Madame Xanadu, et al., but Starstruck was a revelation. It was all manner of good put together in ways unthinkable to anyone but Elaine Lee and Mike Kaluta working together on a plane never before imagined. It’s not got neither the 80′s dystopian bells and whistles of Dark Knight, or the OCD completeness of Watchmen. Instead it has life. I can only imagine what Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby might have thought!

A properly thoughtful take on its wonders by John Hilgart can be found on The Comics Journal site.

A particularly inspired section reads thus: “Everything adds up, even if you cannot figure out what it might mean or where it’s headed. Starstruck’s reputation as a confusing book unfairly implies that it is a confused book, which it emphatically is not. History, culture, family relationships, religions, vernacular speech, and all manner of written texts from this fantastic world accumulate and intersect with perfect consistency”.

W. Andrew Shephard has another fine take in his review on The New Inquiry.

But I while I could show you pages of art and masses of critical acclaim, I will instead quote one random tiny part of the marvelous Glossary (also online). Here’s a snippet about the March Baptists:

“In the book of South Carolinians 1:35, Zed gives to his followers his famous 27 AMENDMENTS to the 10 COMMANDMENTS of Moses (Old Testament). The first seven of these are: 1) Thou shalt wear brown shoes, 2) Thou shalt purport thyself in commodious and seemly ways at all times, 3) Thou shalt talk louder than anyone else in the room, 4) Thou shalt leaveth thy door open by six inches and keep thy best foot on the floor at all times, 5) Thou shalt not be surprised by anything the Lord Thy Zed doeth unto thee, 6) Thou shalt button thy top button in the presence of thy neighbors, 7) Thou shalt March faithfully and without hesitation into the Heavens. The March Baptists took the Seventh Amendment quite literally. After the Unification, the March Baptists did more for the push into space than any other Amercadians. March Baptists researchers developed ships and weapons, March Baptist workers built them, wealthy March Baptists financed the work. They poured credits and human fodder into the new Amercadian Space Brigade. They were not among the first to go into space, however. During simulated flights it was found that non-Baptist crewmembers (the majority) developed a tendency to repeatedly bash the heads of the March Baptists into large metal objects after only a few marbecs’ confinement in the small (by our standards) ships. Only after they began to build and launch their own mission-ships were March Baptists able to realize their god’s commandment. As of this writing, the March Baptists have missions on 938 planets and free-floating temples EVERYWHERE.”

Over 30 years the story has appeared in small and teasing installments. And where some of those bits were in color, all were physically shorter – they were a different aspect ratio altogether – on intended for a magazine format. Some have never been seen in color before I painted them. So to round off this attempt to share one of my great loves (and two years of my work), here are a couple of befores and afters (and please note the new panels that the greater page height allows!):


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/2/Starstruck Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:45:56 GMT
Anatomy of a Murder* https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/1/Anatomy-of-a-Murder

The delightful MK Hobson’s first novel was The Native Star. It was a wonderful book and it was, accordingly, nominated for a Nebula award in the same year that two of Portland’s other great writers, Mary Robinette Kowal and Felicity Shoulders, were.

But when it came time for the second book, The Foreign Anodyne, things got dodgy. The book didn’t sell nearly as well, and who was to blame? Why the author of course! How could the “failure” of the second book be laid at any other doorstep?

Well, this post will present a small case study** of the two covers, and attempt to discover where it all went wrong. First, I’ll talk about why The Native Star‘s cover design worked.

The Intentional: Great font choices. The bold display font is wonderful – evocative of period and magical. Yummy. The smaller font is elegant and well placed – the whole piece flowing well from top left to bottom right.

The blurb is a statement using ‘love’ and ‘dangerous magic’.

The partial cameos on the left side seem to form hinges, and while the design is not holistic enough to wrap them around the spine, it looks from the front cover that they might.

The choice of stock art is good. The viewer does not understand what the true narrative is, but feels that there is one. Is the man in the foreground giving some woman a gift? Is she disrobing? Is she worried? Interested? We don’t know, but we have enough clues to conjecture ~ and that’s fun.

There is an distressed and torn texture overlaid on the picture. This serves to unite the disparate elements in a way that makes them properly “period”. Further, there are color complements in the form of the deep red notes on the largely weathered green cover. And a proper little touch of blue that completes the composition admirably.

The Accidental: The hand in this piece is supposed to be that of our heroine. The fact that it is the hand of a man, modified slightly at the author’s request, is, I believe, a net gain for the piece. It makes the viewer imposed narrative stronger, and more romantic. The rendering of the jewel in the hand is, if you’ll pardon the expression, ham-fisted. I can’t tell what it is really. I guessed a jewel, but with the rendering one would be as safe to think it’s a tunnel to another universe. And while I would personally hate to have created such a questionable form, I feel that it probably works better than a fully representative version would have. As a title, the words The Native Star are graphic and legible. The letterforms move and flow nicely, one to another. They look and feel nice.

In summation: This cover works and got enough readers in the door to make the book a success. Huzzah!

And now, book two ~ The Foreign Anodyne.

What? The Foreign Anodyne? But it says The Hidden Goddess I hear you cry!

Sadly, almost everything I praise the first cover for above is reversed with this cover. And that’s especially odd given its obvious similarities. How can an attempt to move all the elements from cover 1 to cover 2 be bad? Well, that’s why I’m writing about them. It’s so rare to see such a clear case of sequelitis. Where the book is a sequel, it is by no means a rewarmed version of The Native Star. But the cover is a badly reheated version of its cover.

What it gets right: It keeps the cameo hinges and the bold display font. But even those small victories might be Pyrrhic…

What it gets wrong: Everything. We might argue that The Hidden Goddess is a better title than the vastly more mysterious The Foreign Anodyne, but I’ll call it a draw. Until of course I consider the typography. Since we know that the font will remain the same, there’s no excuse for making the author change her title to something that will look repetitive and illegible ~ 4 Ds, 2 Ss, 2 Es, and a tall I and and O? In a font where Os and Ds look the same? And while the G is a bigger display cap, the rest of the word looks ODD. Or indeed ODDEST. A font that was brilliant when it read The Native Star looks… boring. If, however, it read “The Foreign Anodyne”, it would again look spectacular. No sets of double letters, and while you may not know what an Anodyne is, it would look so good that it might not matter. Is it fair to insist that this sort of design choice be considered and arranged? Yes. Is that how most publishing works? Certainly not.

What else is wrong? Well, the rest of it. No color contrast or complements. No mystery. No uniting texture to suggest age. The phrase “true love” combines with an image lovable only to hair fetishists and sellers of hair sticks to make a cover devoid of narrative. The highest contrast our human brains perceive is that of black and yellow, so the black and gold of The Native Star works a treat. There is no similar contrast on The Hidden Goddess. Seeing the background through the hinge cameos creates more interest there than a focused cover wants, and keeping said cameos the same green-gold color draws even more attention to them. The partial substitution of the smaller font, and it’s poor placement is similarly problematic. There is no flow, grace, narrative, mystery or focus to this cover. Hints of period are all well and good, but when the only image looks like an undisguised photo from a contemporary bridal magazine…. well, it’s bound to be a problem.

So, what’s the possible solution? Well, I am pleased to say that I’ll be doing Mary’s next two covers as she takes her writing directly to the people, without walking the curious labyrinth that is traditional publishing. She talks about that here:

http://www.demimonde.com/2012/01/21/so-whats-with-this-kickstarter-thing-youre-doing/

As usual, I’ll be putting my money where my big mouth is, and am fully prepared to be held to the same high standards I espouse so freely. And, as ever, I am interested in your thoughts.

Cheers!

Lee

* It turns out that it wasn’t murder per se. More an accidental suicide by the publisher….

**Humorously, Case Study is the name of the neighborhood coffee bar where of the writers I mention herein hang out and work.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/1/Anatomy-of-a-Murder Sun, 22 Jan 2012 13:28:08 GMT
The Wm. S. Burroughs Puppet Show https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/1/The-Wm-S-Burroughs-Puppet-Show This site will come to contain multitudes – curious artefacts in pictures, prose, parody, pastiche and things man was not meant to know. We begin with a drawing from 1997 which led to stage piece I wrote 3+ years later.

I’m always curious to hear your thoughts and impressions.

THE WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS PUPPET SHOW

(lights up full)

3 weeks ago, the spirit of noted Beat Author William S. Burroughs came to me as I sat working at my desk. I was as surprised as anyone.

He told me he’d come back from the Western Lands to commission a worthy vessel for his spirit- a “Homonculus”.  Who was I to disagree? I’d never had a visitation before. And besides, I was pleased he liked my sculpture. Most people don’t even know I sculpt…

So I set to work- Needles, thread, cloth, felt, wax and a little human hair. I was building Burroughs a magical avatar which he would animate when I’d gotten the form just right. It was easier than it sounds. And he promised me two grand and some dirt on Ken Kesey. I actually believed him…. Even dead I figured, he has more connections than I do, and his books are still selling.

So… it was after 2 in the morning and I had finished the figure at last.
I was walking upstairs to sleep when I heard the basement door creak… open… slowly.

I ran back downstairs and found that the figure gone. All that was left on my work table was THIS- a single sheet of typewriter paper with a few hastily typed words…

So if you see an emaciated wax figure about 3 feet high, bald, dressed in a black suit and a dark felt fedora, tell him I’m looking for him. Bastard owes me money…

(Lights out. Spotlight up on Wm. S. Burroughs puppet stage left)

MY TRIP BACK FROM THE WESTERN LANDS

A tale in 3 parts by H. Bugjuice Lee.

Part 1: Cats.
Those crazy mewling puking cats. They showed me the way. Not at first. Later. After the entrails were finished and they were wiping their paws on what remained of my pantleg. Fuckers.

Part 2: The Dead Hand of Parody
His head came up just like a big bald son of a bitch.
I stood, reached into it, and squeezed its pustulent grey mass of congealed gravyboat pulp. It knew me then — The recognition of the killer returning to the scene of his crime — But before it could act — Gulp, I pulled it apart. I stretched a brittle grasping hand inside the glistening petals of viscous pancreas flesh, the gout and seep reminding me of Joan. The only trouble to shooting my wife through the head was that I could only do it once.

Ask anyone who was there. It was a hell of a shot- the dear sweet natural Junk to steady my aim. You should have been there, and after there, in the bug room. I saw things there — Little things — Specks of foam – Spittle – Gristle — Vile orange grit — Dirt shed from the crossroads — And caught in the gaping maw of memory were acts and encores that beggar description except for the fact that they were all true — Every Godforsaken one of them.

The plain of Mexico and the place of dead roads stretched out in varicose nostalgia from the Western Lands. The words- the God damned nuzzle of the virus. I should have stayed in Vienna with Benway. He knew the big stout fix. Why did I wait so long?

Part 3: This Word did not Exist.
The scorpion’s arm is waving — Waving in errant salute — Hello — Razorblade — Swop — Heat Engine — Goodbye — Our time on this ball of dung is past — So a salute to the rest of our twitching juicy body parts as the bug’s arm moves in spasm and swoon across the rough wooden floor — Other pieces shimmy and jerk, like the mirage of a shotgun shack — Like the fetal earthquake inside Joan’s decaying womb — Like the St. Vitus dance of wounded toys — Winding down forever.
Nothing is true.
Everything is remitted.

(blackout)


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) No Shame Theatre puppet william s burroughs https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2012/1/The-Wm-S-Burroughs-Puppet-Show Wed, 04 Jan 2012 00:49:15 GMT
HOLLYWOOD* BOUND! • • • • Strange Tales of 2011 https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2011/12/HOLLYWOOD-BOUND-Strange-Tales-of-2011

A DICKENS OF A YEAR

We often hear Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne at this time of year, but the most famous lines of his To a Mouse better tell the tale: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft agley”

Instead of moving into the guest cottage I was preparing, and then simply selling the huge house (maximizing value of the additional lot and bringing the sale price better into line with the neighborhood), at the eleventh hour I learned that the property must be sold undivided. If this year has lessons, the first might be “Don’t get too comfortable”. The second might be that loss and grief are under-rated, at least where adaptability and cunning can be brought to bear. I remain so grateful to the many people who’ve been so helpful in such difficult circumstances.

THE GREAT HOUSE

Selling the best house in my old St. Johns neighborhood was a challenge, and the timing was ghastly. Ian was a huge help in finishing the sleeping porch bathroom, and several other last minute projects, and I left this house as polished as the previous two. But where they had sold in a combined 36 hours, this house would take  4 months of opportunistic lowball offers, 2 price reductions and 3 fake-outs from the same inept and vacillating Wyoming couple. I finally found the woman who needed to own my house – or, more accurately, she found her house. Rene Denfeld, bestselling author, journalist and private investigator wasn’t even looking for a house when she found mine. But she quickly realized it was the home of her dreams, made a very strong offer in a weak market, sold her old house in Overlook on faith and prepared to move. But the very same banks that we American citizens bailed out a year earlier decided they couldn’t possibly loan her money – not even with a 70% downpayment! And of course the appraiser undervalued the house by 80k too. And code that was utterly ignored when we bought the house in ghastly condition was suddenly de rigueur now that the house was glorious. The system is becoming increasingly diabolical, and I caution any of you hoping to sell your home that you might be in for some rude surprises. And the more exceptional your abode, the worse your circumstances are likely to be…. With Rene’s help and forbearance, we finally got the deal done. But no lesser buyer would ever have persevered. I spent the entire morning of my move to Hollywood* at the City Planning Office. My brilliant German architect friend Rene Bernt had helped me draft plans so that the house could actually be sold. I cannot imagine the difficulties of the year being overcome without the wonderful Renes.

I later took Rene D. an antique oak mirror as a housewarming gift (I’d found upon moving into the house 8 years earlier and my father had restored to beauty. It belonged with the house). When I knocked on the door, the first sound I heard was the laughter of children upstairs. Rene has three wonderful foster children, one of whom declared the house “a mansion” upon her first visit. On my most recent visit Rene showed me the idyllic waterfall she had created in the back yard. The sound of water makes the back porch irresistible, and her landscaping skills complement all the work I (and my talented neighbors) did on the “mansion” over the previous 8 years.

FAMILY

In order to stage the house for sale, all the interstitial rugs had to be stored away. To keep the refinished floors safe, Lego went to stay temporarily with my folks. But that ended when my Dad’s multiple strokes and my Mom’s broken hip left him without any place to be. After that Lego was cared for by the wonderful Dan and Alison, and he played with their adorable black beast Reuben for a couple weeks. At the end of that time, I knew that A) the house wasn’t going to sell quickly. B) I had no idea where I’d end up living. And C) Lego deserved a family to love him forever. The first person I told that Lego needed a good home was Wendy Reznicsek of the Northwest Children’s Theatre. After a couple weekend visits, she and her family of four adopted Lego. He lives today in doggy splendor in rural Hubbard, south of Portland. I miss him of course, but my loss is his gain. My brilliant sister-in-law Erin proved the family’s MVP and heroically stepped in to help my parents while I strove to do my best elsewhere. There are no thanks sufficient to the magnitude of her grace.

TRAVEL

I’d largely stopped traveling to shows, but when the kind people of Santa Clara invited me to be their artist guest of honor at BayCon last year, it inspired me to get out more. So this year I traveled to San Diego twice, Reno, Redmond, Corvallis and even the Columbia Gorge. I hope to continue this sort of schedule next year, though October’s 3-weekends-in-a-row was a little more extreme than even I found enjoyable.

Jeanette Pelster invited me to speak with her high-tech art and design students my brothers old alma mater, Benson Polytechnic High School. It was an amazing collection of technology in the service of education – I can only imagine how different that classroom was back in the day.

PROJECTS

This year saw the release of my Literary Pin-Up Calendar – I’d created it 4 years ago, only to find that Calendars were “a dead product”. Outside a few big behemoths, no one wanted to publish anything with such a short shelf life – no matter how much they liked the work itself. Happily Kat introduced me to her old friend and employer Pat Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind. And much to everyone’s surprise, Pat published the calendar through his charity Worldbuilders, and all moneys spent on the calendar go directly to Heifer International. So, working closely with Pat’s assistant Valerie, I revised all the dates, edited and prepared the files for print. I’m delighted with the results, and I hope I might make the calendar a yearly event. If you haven’t purchased one, for yourself or for a friend, I hope you will. Every dollar helps!

I’ve remained a freelancer this year after the strange company I was working for disappeared. It was nice to stretch my old Art Direction muscles in that job, but better still, I was reintroduced to the talented and delightful Lynn Gesue, an old colleague from my days at Magnet Interactive.

Caitlin R. Kiernan has been my pole star this year – I did two covers for her Subterranean Press books Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, (Volume One) and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (even as friends Kyle Cassidy and Steve Lieber worked their photographic and comic magic for her). Caitlin is an amazing writer and I hope every year will feature a collaboration or two. Other book covers this year included short story compendia The Door Gunner: The Best of Michael Bishop and A Stark and Wormy Knight: Tales of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Suspense by Tad Williams.

I was interviewed and given a profusely illustrated 8 Page feature in China’s Top Artist Magazine, as well as the front and back of a cover. Strange to see my words in Chinese, where proofreading is impossible, but I love the idea of having my work seen in Asia.

The other big project of mine that was finished this year is my game The Doom That Came to Atlantic City. Keith Baker was his usual brilliant self and made its ever-changing mechanics clever fun. I redid almost all of the art. Paul Komoda brought his exceptional Lovecraftian sensibilities to the 8 playing pieces. And we sold it to the well-regarded Z-Man Games. But just before it went to press, the game company was sold to a European concern that was not as vexed by Monopoly as we Americans are. And the game is now officially homeless. A shame since we know so many people interested in buying a copy, but given my calendar’s eventual publication, I’m hopeful that the time will come when its stars are right too.

I’m currently at work on a secret game project that has taken me to Seattle several times this year. I look forward to talking about it in this, my new journal, when I can. But for now mum’s the word. Better to mention the six great games I played at Ambercon NW between sessions in the soaking pool, and the ongoing collaboration between Dan Garrison and Zephy McKanna. I have been very lucky to play with such stellar talents this year, and hope to again next. Especially when Keith and Jenn rejoin us following their Austin adventure.

WEDDINGS

I’d introduced Keith Baker to Jenn Ellis two Christmasses back. It was a blatant set-up, but a sincere and effective one. Their marriage was a highlight of the year. Knowing they were to be married at the Kennedy School, I asked my many friends with paintings there if they had included subtle things in their works or knew any secrets that would make a wedding Scavenger Hunt a success (Paul Guinan‘s Boilerplate hiding in the Boiler Room for example). Christopher Robbins put me in touch with the sublime Lyle Hehn, a man I’d wanted to meet since first moving to Portland a decade ago. Lyle is the reclusive artist, type designer and Art Director for the McMenamin’s and his tour of the school showed me such interesting details of his, and others, work. I asked if I might commission an original 8.5″ by 11″ ink piece for the happy couple, but he preferred to paint a big smooth river rock instead. Could I find pictures of the bride and groom as kids? I knew Keith’s family, and happily, Jenn’s was equally cooperative. Lyle’s painting was just the thing – it was my gift to the couple, and I used it to make the signage for the event itself. In exchange, I’ve painted Lyle’s ink drawings of his fine daughters as Christmas gifts.

The other big wedding of the year was my brilliant friend Adam Danger to Traci Cook at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse. Jason came up from LA and we groomsmen looked sharp in our chocolate tuxes and brown Chuck Taylor hightops.

BUT WAIT, THERE”S MORE!

Thanksgiving with Kyle, Trillian, Roger and Carolee was a wonderful sequel to their visit of two years earlier. Thank goodness for guests! While the others stayed home and finished preparing the feast, I took a trip to the ER with Carolee and I learned that my fall down the back stairs hadn’t broken my hand after all. Whew!

Selena Coppa was my guest when she came to Portland for a big IVAW function, and for my new neighborhood’s annual street party. Other delightful guests in the four-bedroom Craftsman bungalow I’m renting included the Barker ladies, Nate, Melissa, Anna, Rob, Scott, Robin and Venetia. I hope to see more travelers in 2012. This house wants a lot of life inside its lovely walls.

Other highlights: Conflict Resolution class with my dear high school pal Cary Morrison, Dinner and dessert with Amy Crehore and Shawna Gore, Hugo-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal‘s holiday soiree, many meetings and collaborations with Nebula-nominated Felicity Shoulders, The Portland Juggling Festival and a splendid lawn party hosted by the Cantor Jonases. I’ve learned so much from my friends this year that I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Everyone has important knowledge and wisdom, and it has been a great honor to share it. I feel like I’ve left a lot out, but anyone patient enough to have read this far is probably grateful for that.

I wish you and yours the very brightest of this dark time.
Peace and good will to all.

Cheers!
Lee

PS: This will be my last massive Holiday note. Rather than trying to sum up, I think I’ll try to communicate throughout the year in this Journal format. Please join me here in my future ramblings if you are so moved.

*The Hollywood in question is the Portland neighborhood that was named after its theatre (shown on my card this year), as opposed to the more famous version marked by the remains of the Hollywoodland development sign.


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lee@leemoyer.com (Lee Moyer Design & Illustration) https://www.leemoyer.com/blog/2011/12/HOLLYWOOD-BOUND-Strange-Tales-of-2011 Wed, 21 Dec 2011 14:37:19 GMT