March 2008


People keep asking for an explanation of what this Gearworld stuff I talk about is.


This is alarming, not because I mind trying to explain, but because it makes me think my blog has hit a point where I need a FAQ or a cast list or something. My life needs a plot summary. God help us all.

To try to explain, however, Gearworld is this…um…setting. Basically it’s a huge surreal concrete labyrinth full of often non-functional stone gears and rusted metal and occasional freaky inhabitants. Y’all have probably noticed that I am not a “fine” artist in the traditional sense. Gearworld’s where all those urges go. Every now and then a painting will emerge from those particular depths and insist on being painted, but…alas…I cannot MAKE it happen. Much as I hate getting all artist-y over the muse, since I am a working artist, and book covers need to get done whether I’m inspired or not…well, Gearworld takes a muse.

I’m not exactly making it up. Not the way that I make up Digger’s world or Lyra’s or Nurk’s. Gearworld happens on this lower level. My exploration of it is like trying to learn about a foreign country from the postcards, and *I* have to paint the damn postcards!

There are no hard and fast rules in Gearworld, except perhaps the one absolute rule of fairy tales.* It’s a fairy tale sort of place, and you know the kind of fairy tales I mean. Bluebeard’s chamber is somewhere in one of the halls. Parts of it derive from visuals of my youth–old concrete WWII bunkers, and some of my mother’s paintings, and the oncology ward of Salem General where my grandmother died by inches when I was twelve, and the Cell, which had a lousy plot but amazing imagery, and I don’t know what all. Some parts of it just kinda came from somewhere else. I sometimes feel like it’s everywhere, under everything, and if I just happened to turn in the right hall and grabbed the right door, I’d find myself inside these concrete walls, like the access corridor underneath everything. (Certainly it lies under all my particular creative worlds, and things occasionally drift in from there and get trapped.)

I paint it whenever I can, but if I try to force a painting, it clams up and slaps me down and I wind up burned out and gloomy.  I tried blogging it, and got so far and no farther…some day I hope to get back there, but I think I exhausted what I knew writing.

I’m a little scared of it.

I love it very, very much.

And if any readers would like to post links to things that explain it better, or art set there, or posts that were particular relevant, please do, because it’s one of those things where other people might know better than me what basic knowledge you need to understand the place. Ya know?

*As Joseph Campbell once said, “Anyone that animals speak to, or offer aid to, wins.”

Today was productive.

Despite the fact that allergies kept me awake–or actually, because of–I was up at 4 AM, allowing me to finish the Very Minor Demon and get the last bits of gold on another piece. Then I caught a few hours of sleep, went over to my most excellent buddy

, who installed my new car stereo (a gift from the most excellent Carlota, by way of the fabulous Tugrik, who was of the opinion that listening to my iPod through the cassette deck was just all kinds of sad.) I have never watched a car stereo be installed before. It was complicated. However, he not only did it perfectly, he also fixed the bit where my car alarm was falling onto my brake pedal, which hadn’t killed me yet but was probably thinking about it. (He had to lay upside down in the driver’s seat to do it. Jason is a big dude, so this was above and beyond the call of duty.)

Then I went off to the flea market, since I was right there, to do a lot of window shopping and pick up some clearance Fiestaware, and had an amusing encounter that I’ll tell you about if you buy me a drink some time.* Also found a small silver Ganesh pendant, and succumbed. (Although having the Remover of Obstacles and Opener of the Way dangling in one’s cleavage may prove problematic in some regards.) Then I went back home, and I got art scanned and e-bayified and e-mail answered and then I kinda went nuts and cleaned the place.

Like really nuts.

Like PMS may have been involved.

Like I hung four paintings, scrubbed the toilet and the stove, beat out the bath mat, and then went out and bought a mop. It’s one of those Swiffer wet jet things. I had to take batteries out of a vibrator to run the thing. (On the list of things that have made me feel OLD, that was up there with the time a girl in a bar told me she’d been following my art since she was twelve. And then bought me a drink. I’m still not over that…)

So I mopped. Angus fled to the top of the TV. Ben came to investigate. He gave me a look of pity after awhile–didn’t I know that I should just bury the grimy bits?–and decided that I had clearly lost the last shreds of my mind, but perhaps I could still be trusted to provide wet food.

And now I am just about ready to try sleep again, if the damn allergies will leave me alone…

*Absinthe is preferred.

Okay, okay, I swear, this is the last Gearworld piece for awhile. (I’m getting scared that if I try to do too much more, it will start trying to hunt me down. It’s being too cooperative. I think it’s plotting something. “Yes…c’mon….paint ussss…pay no attention to giant rusted steampunk wood-chipper behind the curtain…”)

 This one’s only around because it was a study for this other piece that I did for a buddy, and so it’s a wee little thing, 6 x 6.

It’s on e-bay, because pricing Gearworld is sometimes emotionally exhausting for me, and I’d just as soon let the Invisible Hand do it.

Gearworld: Fish Study

Fish for Sale!

I just purchased the weirdest business expense of my life.

And some day, if the painting comes out, I will tell you about it.

Edit: Okay, okay, just ‘cos I love you guys–if anybody DOES guess correctly (and you who know who you are are not allowed to participate!) I’ll give ’em a free print of the painting if it DOES come out (which it may not, because y’know how it is.)

Cold Turkey — Day 6

The sixth day of no Effexor!

Okay, yeah. It was the meds all right. My productivity is through the fucking ROOF. Finishing up stuff that should have been finished awhile back, hammering out new art, whipping off quick illos…dude. I hope like hell this is the normal setting, and not just a kind of deranged art mania. (It seems like it must have a good chance of being normal–I used to pump out two or three paintings a week in my prime, with occasional pre-convention psychotic painting jags of four or five pieces a day, so here’s hoping.)

Plus I got up when the alarm went off, didn’t attempt to haggle with the sleep gods past one smack of the snooze, just got up, flipped on the radio, and made tea. Good lord.

On the argument for mania side, I HAVE been spontaneously dancing through the apartment, much to the alarm of the cats. This would not be abnormal, except that I’m listening to NPR’s weekly news round-up, and I’m not sure if normal people boogie down to Diane Rheims. Still. I could just be weird that way.

Still getting the head zaps, but they seem to be lessening somewhat. No more unexplained spontaneous orgasms.* Plus I have really cool fingerless hand warmers now, which are keeping my poor freezing hands somewhat less freezing, even if they do make me look kind of like a goth hobo.

Life is good.

*I am torn between relief and mild chagrin on that one, I admit.

Okay, I have to say that one of the coolest, weirdest, most unexpected joys in life these days is when I order stuff on-line, and it arrives with notes from the vendors saying “Love your work!” This is as close to being famous as I’ve ever been, or frankly am likely to be (nobody recognizes authors on the street, after all) and damn, it’s neat.

So, because they both made me happy recently in that regard, Villainess has the best damn body cream I’ve ever used, and has really, really cool socks.

(I finally bit the bullet and ordered some New Rocks, and then I needed socks other than my standard ankle fuzzies, and…well…DAMN those are some cool socks.)

From the department of mixed emotions…someone expressed surprise on today’s Digger, that if Ed’s mate was beating him, they would nevertheless still be having sex, as Blood-Eyes is pregnant.

The rather cynical part of me pinches the bridge of my nose and sighs a bit and says “No, Victoria, there is no Santa Claus…people in physically abusive relationships do indeed have sex, and it’s not necessarily rape either, because human* hardwiring is a wondrous and terrible thing.”

The other part of me is rather weirdly glad at the straightforward bafflement involved and just kinda hopes the issue remains permanently moot for them, because…well…shit. (This is probably terribly condescending of me, I grant you, nor does it necessarily help the cause, but there y’are.)

This current story arc of Digger is going well, and the readers are taking it like troopers. It’s kinda weird–I know that Digger reads a lot more gracefully in print form, the flow is a lot better, and I’m very proud of all the print collections and will be very glad when all of Digger is done and available in print form in a tidy package–but at the same time, the serial release of the webcomic has a certain joy that really only comes out in story arcs like these, where I find myself sort of oddly proud of my readership for taking it so well and maturely and sanely and sympathetically and being such damn decent people.

The readers of the print format are presumably just as decent, but I am not aware of their reading in the same way that I am of the web version. And even though I want y’all to hit me with a frickin’ BRICK if I ever start another goddamn comic epic after Digger, I admit I’ll miss that intimate immediacy when it’s finally over.

A large brick, though. With spikes on it. And lead weights. I love Digger, I regret nothing, but man, I had no idea what I was cutting myself in for….

*Or, in this case, hyena…or human-in-hyena-clothing, or however one would class it…

Gearworld: Jackalope Offering

I have no idea why my brain associated jackalopes with psychopharmacology…except maybe that both of them are chimeras that exist for a slightly different value of “real.”

And yes, I feel all annoyed with myself for doing something as angsty as painting pills, it’s so angry-senior-thesis, but…well…like I’ve said, I’m really not the one in charge of these paintings.

I swear, “lapsed Catholic” is like the get-out-of-jail-free card of religious denominations. It categorizes you neatly as respectably educated while still being somebody else’s problem.*

Mind you, if I use this particular fall back position any more, I suspect I’m actually gonna have to go make a donation to some nominally Catholic organization to cover my usage fees. (I suppose “Catholics for Wombats” or “Our Lady of Perpetual Scientific Inquiry” is a pipe dream, alas…)

*I suspect largely because I never try to use it on actual Catholics…

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