Got a lot done today, despite continued sore throat. And my buddy Slash sent me these big clawed tiger-paw slippers for Christmas, so I get to wander around the house traumatizing the cats and yelling “Fear my slippers!” Put up a new comic too. So life’s not bad, although I had a mild irritation occur last night, which I will now bitch about.

I could go into an elaborate backstory, but there’s absolutely no point, and you’d be bored stiff. Hell, I’d be bored stiff. So suffice it to say that a small and idiotic internet drama was briefly kicked up, which I won’t dignify with details and am resolutely ignoring, but in which I was a long-absent but still central dramatis personae.

It’s not that I am particularly upset about it, (although I do feel badly for the very nice people who unwittingly took the brunt of such silliness) but I am bemused at the sheer lameness of such little dramas. I just don’t get into these internet soap operas. It’s like the whole You-stole-my-art! thing, or the You-copied-my-style! things that galvanize people, whom I must assume are not normally complete loons, to engage in shockingly juvenile behavior in such ridiculous forums as…well…forums, I suppose. Or comments. And not once, usually, but time and again! But I mean, sheesh, if I wanted that kind of complicated he-said-she-said-he-copied-me-she’s-mean stress, I’d go pick up one of those indecipherably complicated serial romance mangas or watch Springer or something. I want to yell “I am exempt from this sort of thing!” I have opted out! I don’t think anything useful will ever be resolved by internet sniping! If I can’t play nicely with someone, I avoid them, because I am long past the teenage days when I got high on drama! I have hobbies with which to amuse myself! I AM EXEMPT!

Or at least I oughta be, damnit.

Except, of course, that nobody’s ever really exempt–even if you refuse to take part, the drama goes on around you, like a bit character in a Tennessee Williams play, and about all you can do is say your lines and flee into the wings thinking “Why did I go into acting? Why didn’t I stay home and become a plumber like Mom wanted?” (Warning: Runaway simile Alert.) It’s all so wretchedly banal. If I’m gonna have a crisis, I want a cool crisis. I want a plague of intelligent raccoons building a missile silo in the basement and holding my cats hostage. I want to buy a knick-knack at a garage sale that turns out to hold the map to the Secret Lost Treasure of Spungo Madre, and y’know, dramatic car chases in my elderly Honda and so forth. I’d settle for some obscure disease that had me rising from the grave at night to feast on the spleens on the living. Something that would make a really cool anecdote. Something swashbuckling. Not “lameass internet sniping” without a swash in sight. How’m I supposed to get a good story outta that?

Omens

To my intense and unutterable disgust, I wrote this once already, and it got eaten when I attempted to update. Sigh.

However, other than that minor annoyance, 2003 is off to a great start. (Year of the sheep? Has it started yet? When’s Chinese New Year?) Commission auction’s going well, other work going well, and I’m bartering art for art supplies with a friend of mine, which is always nice to do. Finally got paid for some covers I did a few months back, which is always a “Woohoo!” moment, and shoves the wolf a few more feet from the door. Put up a few more print auctions. (I feel vaguely embarassed plugging work here–don’t feel obligated to check it out! I’ll still love you all!–but I figure that since this sort of thing is pretty much what I spend my day doing, it’s as valid as anything else.)

Speaking of vaguely embarassed–I was delighted and flattered to be asked to be the art guest of honor at Trinoc Con this August. I’m stoked, of course, but I never know quite how to respond to these things, other than “Good lord, are you sure?” Then I think “Lord, will people think I’m being falsely modest? Should I just say “Damn straight! I rock!” (There are lots of classes offered on “taking critique well” but I occasionally think that we should also have a few on “taking praise without turning bright red and mumbling and worrying that you sound conceited.”) Then I give up worrying about it–my attention span’s really not that long–or I get distracted by a shiny object, thereby short-circuiting yet another opportunity for personal growth. Oh, well. But hey, if anybody’s in North Carolina in August, I’m hoping to get a dealer’s table, and I’m always happy to see people!

In other news, and perhaps proof that no omens for 2003 are unmixed, I’m coming down with something–sore throat, mucus membranes feel drier than the Dead Sea Scrolls, headache–and I had a really bizarre nightmare involving my cats beating up a monkey. The monkey developed horrible abcesses. When I attempted to check these, the damn thing peed on me, and in thorough disgust, I went into the bathroom (which, in the standard dream fashion, was the pink bathroom from my grandmother’s house) and threw up. I’ve never vomited in a dream before. This was an oversight that I wish hadn’t been rectified. Perhaps as a sign of both the vividity of my subconcious and its total lack of taste, I could even identify my stomach contents (egg noodles), which oddly enough did not match my meals of the day. I woke up going “YNNNGUGUGHHH!”

And that’s my nasty monkey dream for the day.

Oh, and I finished the manticore chick. As usual, it lacks some of the energy of the sketch, but I still was pleased.

Generally uneventful…fiddled with some sketches this morning (I’m trying to sketch more, even just quick little warm-up doodles in Painter, but have not made this a resolution, on the principle that I know I will eventually stop doing it.) Fixed up website for James’s Mom. Watching this show on Animal Planet on future evolution–I think it’s based on Dougal Dixon’s fantastic “After Man” stuff, a book I discovered in high school, and which I wish to god I’d thought of first. Working on manticore chick.

Frightened by article as child. Fear them since.

Put a commission auction up on Furbid, as I have a feeling money will be getting tight in the next few months–I’m not yet in the Valley of the Shadow of Broke, but I’m coming up on the turnoff–and I’ve somehow acquired a brief breathing space on work (by which I mean there’s only like three things slated this month that Absolutely Positively Must Be Done Right Now, which for me is practically free and clear.) Check it out, if you’re so inclined. On the bright side, since my entire commercially successful career as an artist has occurred in the last two years (i.e. since we entered an economic recession) I guess that bodes well if we ever come out it. And hey, sure as hell beats Burger King.

These digging quail are too bizarre.

Life is good. Art in the works, cartoons on TV, and the latest book by Diane Duane is out. (I love her books. If you haven’t read any of her “Wizardry” series, or “Book of Night with Moon,” they’re wonderfully charming. They’re also in Young Adult, for some reason, which I find odd, since Redwall is over in straight fantasy, and they’re way more serious and less formulaic than Redwall, and I confess that I still feel a twinge embarassed when I thread my way into the brightly colored children’s section of Barnes & Noble, past spawn a third my age, to yank something off the shelf. Still, I suppose such mild mortifications are good for the soul. But I digress.)

I am not in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions–other than “This year, I will make art,” which is a perennial one, and which I never seem to have much trouble fulfilling. Maybe “This year, I will make good art,” but I don’t need a resolution to strive for that (and anyway, if I fail, I’ll be depressed enough without the added resolution baggage.) So. This year, I will make art!

And I will also try to drink less Coke. But that’s as far as I go.

And they call it Auld Lang Siiiiiiiiiiiigggn…

Random Sketchiness…

Playing around with more anime–might follow up the dragon girl with another anthro-mythical type, in this case, a manticore. I remember when I was a kid, I had this book, Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures (mentioned in Irrational Fears) which had the most spectacular illustration of a manticore by Victor Ambrus. But like gorgons, basilisks and chimeras–the original kind, with the goat and the lion and the snake thingy, not the random combination of peculiar species, which, while chimerical, isn’t quite the same as the multi-headed classic–manticores are dreadfully obscure beasties. Back when I was writing some of the worst prose ever hammered out by a pre-teen, I had an entire saga featuring manticores, but believe me, we’re all glad it’s lost to mankind forever and that I graduated onto bigger and better things. Like…err…chupacabras. Um. Right.

Art!

Random Sketchiness…

Playing around with more anime–might follow up the dragon girl with another anthro-mythical type, in this case, a manticore. I remember when I was a kid, I had this book, Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures (mentioned in Irrational Fears) which had the most spectacular illustration of a manticore by Victor Ambrus. But like gorgons, basilisks and chimeras–the original kind, with the goat and the lion and the snake thingy, not the random combination of peculiar species, which, while chimerical, isn’t quite the same as the multi-headed classic–manticores are dreadfully obscure beasties. Back when I was writing some of the worst prose ever hammered out by a pre-teen, I had an entire saga featuring manticores, but believe me, we’re all glad it’s lost to mankind forever and that I graduated onto bigger and better things. Like…err…chupacabras. Um. Right.

Art!

Dragon People

Ya know, if I were my namesake (a bear) I sometimes think I’d spend a lot of time poking hornet nests just for amusement. Take the dragon people.

The “dragon people” (sorry, Peganthryus!) is my term for those individuals who either think they’re dragons, or that dragons are real, or know dragons personally, or were a dragon in a past life and see fit to tell me about it in aggressive “Your dragons are wrong! Dragons aren’t like that!” terms.

Moo.

Fear of Anime Ratgirls as Threshold Drug

I figured it out at last. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to track down every cliche of fantasy art and poke it repeatedly with a pencil. (This probably explains why I revisit the “evil unicorn” theme about once a year. God, I hate unicorns.) I sneakingly suspect this has to do with my inherent rather perverse nature–whenever I see something done badly, I want to see if I can do it better, or failing that, drive a stake through its withered little heart and bury it under a crossroads at midnight with a clove of garlic shoved in its mouth.

As usual, my metaphor got away from me, and now I have no idea what I was saying.

Well, anyway, yesterday’s amusement had to do with “anime catgirls.” If you hang out on furry art boards with any regularity, you find people grumbling about anime catgirls, so being me, I decided to paint an anime ratgirl and see if that got a warmer reception. Judging by the response–and I uploaded that bloody thing at 1 AM, nobody shoulda seen it–either the anime ratgirl is a success, or people hate catgirls so much, they will take any opportunity to express their distaste, take your pick. The style is one that I’d been vaguely aware of, mostly through wallpaper at Deviantart, and which looked to me like Painter. (I still don’t know if it IS Painter, or who started it in the first place, but I can duplicate it in Painter with ease, so it very well could be.)

The scary thing is that it was fun. I mean, I haven’t painted anime in…well, I did something vaguely anime-like four years ago, and then there was some really regrettable concept art two years ago, but so far as my artistic skills are concerned, “painting anime” has always ranked a bit below “reading the future in sheep entrails” as one of my talents. But this came out well, and it was fun. Which makes me want to paint more. Which scares me. Is this a threshold drug? Will I casually paint an anime batgirl, and then an anime dragongirl and then suddenly one day I’ll wake up to discover my bedroom plastered with Dragonball Z posters and Sailor Moon t-shirts forming the better part of my wardrobe? Will I find myself sneaking extra highlights onto my chupacabra’s eyes until her irises appear to be covered in a multitude of shiny cataracts? Will the word “kawai” ooze into my vocabulary like a verbal remora, sapping the strength from more robust words? Is this the end of realism as I know it?!

Naaaah.

Anime Ratgirl. (Be warned. It’s pink.)

Unholy Hours

I got up today at 7:30. AM.

I did this because a friend whom I love like a brother needed a ride at the airport, and as I type, I’m waiting for him to call to say “Come get me.” I have already braved the post-dawn world for coffee (naturally I’m out here at home) and now I wait, as motive force slowly drains from my body, transforming me back into the gelatinous sludge of sleep.

Funny thing is, I used to have a job where I got up at 5 every morning. I used to remember that sort’ve crisp grey dawn feeling, when the air is all brittle and sharp and the grass crunches under your feet and you sit in an icy car while it shudders and mutters and decides whether or not it wants to run, while your breath steams up the inside windows and you silently wonder why the hell you went into anthropology and art, what were you thinking, why didn’t you go into mortuary science which at least always has job security and is about as un-urgent a profession as exists. Then the car grumbles into life, the heater makes that hot, burned-dust smell, and NPR tells you things about politics that would be really alarming if you were awake enough to care, while the sun slowly rises in the rear view mirror.

Yep, those were the days.

It’s a good morning. Got a new comic up, there’s a Samurai Jack marathon on (I love Samurai Jack…it’s so…so…charmingly bushido. And visually nifty, as well–even though it’s really simplified, it’s so well put together that it works very well.) Plus “Justice League” was on this morning, featuring a nifty female samurai villain, so it’s been a good cartoon morning all around. I think I’m just a sucker for samurai. My creative restlessness has settled into something a bit more potentially productive, my reading material is teaching me strange and thought-provoking things about caregiving in hanuman langurs (I would be a very bad langur) which will eventually explode, probably here, into a tirade about how the problem isn’t that teens are having sex, it’s that they’re so damn well fed. (I am not proposing that we starve teenagers, mind you, but–well, anyway, wait for it. The rant is percolating.)

Also had a dream last night where there was an alien in the house–one of those annoying take-over-your-body-and-make-slimy-tentacles-explode-from-your-mouth kind. That wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was that we’d also gotten this dreadfully eighties hero–sort’ve a scruffy Mad Max type, only with a guitar, who kept telling me that the key to defeating the alien was rock ‘n roll. Even in my dream I wasn’t buying this, and kept suggesting we try napalm. Sometimes I think my subconscious mind just likes toying with me.

Oh, and almost forgot–found this while wandering idily through the VCL recents. Go check out her work! Very cool stuff. (Just get used to random plugs of people’s art–I generally don’t know any of these people, but I feel it’s my public duty to point people in the direction of really nifty stuff I find.)