June 2012

The Earl of Oregano

Today was as perfect a day as you get in summer around here—breezy, not particularly hot, not particularly humid. Pleasant. So I finished this painting (most of which was done in a crazed fit yesterday) with the window next to my desk open, hearing the crows harass a red-shouldered hawk that had wandered by, and watching the various little birds flit around the feeder. (Black and white warbler! Woohoo! I hold out hope it may actually be nesting here!) And the air smells of—well, mulch, mostly, since I took advantage of the cool morning to put down a few loads in the back, and also of oregano, because I pulled some to use for reference material, and now my fingers smell like oregano. And the fireflies are just now filling up the garden, and I can hear the frogs discussing whether or not to hold an orgy tonight.

And we had Anaheim peppers from the garden stuffed with cream cheese with dinner, and I have a nice Crispin cider and I cannot really imagine a better way to work on a painting, although I did have to stop partway through to pull off a wandering tick, and Angus the little orange cat cannot get it through his little orange skull that oregano does not equal catnip—it’s a LEAF! In the HOUSE!—and keeps eating my reference material and then spitting it all over the desk and giving me an accusing look when he doesn’t get high.


Digitally digital. Also digital.

The badger earls of Oregano live in a dry sunny climate, densely planted with the herb from which they take their name. The sixth Earl of Oregano, ruler of the walled town known as Oreganum, successfully stood off the Mongol hordes for over three months, until the Mongols got bored and went looking for easier prey. (Being nomadic horsemen does not make one terribly good at long sieges.) As it is nearly impossible to dig out a badger that doesn’t want to come out of its den, Oreganum never fell into the hands of either enemy or ostensibly friendly forces. (Attempts to use the town as a friendly base of operations were met with polite refusal and later boiling oil.)

Many of the most beloved cultivars of oregano still emerge from this region, often from striped and surly gardeners.

I learned a great deal from the garlic painting, most notably how not to waste four hours of my life inking the bloody thing when I’m just gonna paint over it anyway, and changed up the labeling for something more Art Nouveau. The banner thing was nifty, I know, but a stone bitch to paint, and if I ultimately make spice labels out of these, which I think I might—or at least stickers sized in that general range, to be used as such if desired—I wanted a consistent and easily read label, so that people don’t have to stop and stare at the art in the middle of frantic cookery. Also, this way I get to sneak a tiny Red Wombat logo in. (Should I wind up doing a spice label set, I’ll probably have to adapt the Prince of Garlic to fit. If this actually happens and you already bought a Garlic and want prints that all match, let me know and we can work something out.)

He is wildly out of scale to the oregano, but feh, sez I.

You can order prints at the usual place, and I’ll keep y’all posted if the label thing ever happens.

Prince of Garlic

Painter, Photoshop, generalized misery

I did about eight hundred things wrong in the course of this painting. I started out with a very clear idea of how to paint it, which is pretty much always death. So I wound up doing and redoing things and wasting a lot of effort on steps that proved totally unnecessary. But this sort of thing is important, because you learn what not to waste time on next time. Or something like that. Various bits did not work out like I wanted, but I’m just going with it now, because I am close to moving into the I HATE IT FOREVER stage, and if I simply call it done, in a few months I may stumble across it and go “Hey, that’s actually not bad!” (Or not. That’s fine. Failure is important. I WILL FIX EVERYTHING IN THE NEXT ONE. ART IS HARD.)

The notion of a set of cards using spices as a suit got scrawled down in a sketchbook ages ago, and while I never got much past the idea of the King and Queen of spices, when I wanted to do a piece that had some Old-Time Feel to it, it sprang to mind.

Prints availableish.

Fire-Capped Chickadees

I have no art for this—yet—but I have to write it down before I forget, after a conversation at AC…


The fire-capped chickadee is not the smallest of the garden phoenixes—that honor goes, depending on region, either to the flame-throated hummingbird or the blue-gray gnatscorcher—but certainly the most common visitor to birdfeeders. Their distinctive call of “Chik-a-dee-dee-dee-FWOOM!” is one of the first that most birders learn to identify.

Phoenix lovers can attract this cheerful specimen with the usual offerings of broken match-heads and small lengths of unburnt wicks. As always, we suggest that you make sure to use an asbestos feeder and use gloves when setting out food—those feeders can get hot!


Diana Stein was talking about urban fantasy wildlife, which I thought was delightful—in hers, it was blue-jays. She had a marvelous blue-jay phoenix in the art show.  I started thinking about a world where phoenix-ism is a transmittable (or possibly heritable?) disease among birds, and so you might get a phoenix subset of a common species, like albinism. In some areas, perhaps phoenixes would actually be selected for, so while the Carolina parakeet is long extinct, we could hope for a glimpse of the far more dangerous Carolina paraffinkeet…

Yes, this is what it’s like in my head more or less all the time, with occasional moments of “ooh! pie!” and random animal facts. I just learned today that daddy-longlegs masturbate. They use strands of silk to stimulate their genital areas. How wild is that?

AC Dealers’ Room 2012 Post-Mortem

That title sounds weird, since it assumes that the con is dead, which it very definitely isn’t—over 5K attendees this year, and given that furry cons rake in money an order of magnitude more than any other fandom, still the biggest con of the year for me. But I like “post-mortem” more than “report” since I’m doing a bit of a dissection this year.

First, the fluff—saw a lot of great people, got to spend time hanging out with some of them that I don’t normally get a chance to see when we’re not all bent over sketchbooks muttering about commissions. Always a delight! And Kevin was working security this con, so I was very lucky to have Ben and Taliabear as my Table Minions.*

Possibly because I was at the table without relief much more than usual, I paid more attention to sales trends than usual, and after a couple of cons of these trends, and talking to a bunch of other artists, here are my thoughts. (Insert usual disclaimers about plural of anecdote not being data, etc.)

A broader, shallower pond.

The dealer’s room nearly doubled in size at this last AC, and while attendance continues to climb, it did not double in size by any stretch. This means we art-fishies are competing more fiercely for tasty tasty fish-treats, and by fish-treats, I mean money.

The economy is better, if not in the boom time prior to late 2008.

The days when AC was three months rent for me have fallen by the wayside, but we’re climbing back up there, and the con continues to pay for itself plus some extra. There are certainly steps that I could take to radically lower my expenses (i.e. eat very cheaply all weekend and share a room with somebody other than Kevin) but as my income is still 99% Dragonbreath and AC is mostly love and a weekend with a bunch of buddies, I continue to treat it like a weird-ass self-funded vacation on that front.

That said, we all like money, and I would of course love to make more of it, which leads us to the next few points.

Prints aren’t selling.

Don’t ask me why, but in October 2008, print sales fell off a cliff, and while other stuff came back, prints didn’t. From making up approximately 80% of my table sales, they now make up less than 40%. Now, while I’d normally attribute that to me not putting out enough new content or something similar, I’m hearing this across the board, from very very big artists in fandom. Haven’t bothered bringing the printer for awhile now, and at no point did I feel the lack.  (40% is still a LOT, mind you, and I will always have print books, but it’s a definitely downturn.)

Jumbo prints really aren’t worth it.

Sold three. One was the pear. I can read the writing on the wall there—there’s no point in lugging a bulky, obnoxious to prepare, takes-a-lot-of-table-space item around if sales are gonna keep going this way. In a lot of ways it’s a relief, they were always a bear to fly with. So, unless the pendulum swings t’other way, for the moment I’m gonna stop lugging jumbos to the con.

Commissions stay steady.

Still not up to the Olden Days, but definitely solid. For a number of cons now, this has been true—people have X amount of money, they want to spend it on personalized art. Approximate 50% of my sales were sketchbook commissions, and I really need much better signs because people had no idea that I was taking them and/or was still available. That’s a spot where I, personally, can improve with a little advance planning—i.e. don’t wait until the day of the con to realize you don’t have a sign, and do not then draw it hastily in sharpie and then realize that your sign holder is also broken.

People want tchotkes.

Upwards of 10% of my sales were little cloisonne pins of the Pear and Happy Cthulhu. I have sold out of Red Wombat and Digger pins, and will be shelling out the money for a couple more designs before the next con. Also finally sold out of Biting Pear patches. I heard similar things across the board—people want little small things that are wearable or nifty or whatever.

Corollary: Postcards seemed to do well. Not much data on this, but I moved a lot of $1 pear cards, and myself bought a fair number of post cards from artists–stuff I can tack on my corkboard and enjoy, but not a huge showcase piece. Price point is so low on this that table space must be carefully juggled, though. Talked to a very nice woman who was selling some gorgeous cards on oatmeal paper, and she told me where to find that, so I’m looking forward to experimenting there.

That said, people are willing to pay for big pieces at the table.

My buddy Mel does art dolls, and sold a surprising number, and those are NOT cheap. I heard a couple of other similar reports about masks and other such—people will buy a big piece at the table. Possibly this is because they aren’t doing so in the art show, which leads us to…

The art show sucked for (almost) everybody.

Reports across the board, art show was really poor. Even the few individuals who can generally expect a couple pieces to go to auction and come in at four figures were much slower than usual. Couple of artists who are top of the line popular still said that they brought home a LOT of art from this one, and it seems to be an ongoing trend. While I had no mature work this year, I hear that it was even slower out there, and that this is also a cross-con trend—people just aren’t shelling out for mature art anymore.

My personal theory is that collectors are out of wall-space.

I was one of the few outliers on this, in that the art show was one of my better ones. I attribute this to two factors—sold one BIG $$$ (Thank you, Mel’s Hot Friend!) and actually had less art than usual, so those few much-loved collectors who want to go home with an Ursula original were forced to bid up pieces instead of spreading out over more art. Two actually went to voice auction.

This was not intentional on my part, and I’m unsure of how to act on the information, since I actually feel bad when somebody tries really hard to get a piece and loses it at auction–yes, the money’s awesome, of course, but I know these people. They’re my collectors, and over the years, most of them are now at least casual friends, and I hate to see them disappointed, and I can’t help but feel a little responsible. (I frequently wind up giving somewhat discounted take-home sketch commissions Sunday afternoon, since I just plain feel bad they couldn’t get the art they wanted.)

(Also, incidentally, a big thanks to Highwing and BryantFox, who cracked me up completely with the comments written on the bid sheet during their bidding war.)

Sunday was weirdly dead.

No explanations here, but the big rush that usually comes after the art show, when people have lost the pieces, did not materialize. Dead art show strikes again? Maybe. This is a single data point, though, so I’ll just keep an eye out at future cons.

Year of the Brony

Seriously. People doing MLP-themed art everywhere. It’s quite a thing. (At one point I turned to Kevin and said “All these ideas, and what we really ought to be doing is figuring out how to put fursuits on My Little Po—oh crap, I’m a genius.”  Sadly, the only way to do so is mods, and while those are fun and would sell, they’re not cheap and take a lot of time.)


All this said, and feeling weirdly alert on the drive home, Kevin and I spent most of West Virginia brainstorming about stuff. The future, it appears, is in merch, or at least prints need to be aggressively supplemented with such things.

Personal conclusions for yours truly:

1) More pin designs.

2) Do a run of postcards–mix of old and new designs.

3) Work up a couple of pendant/jewelry designs and give those a try.

4) Try luggage/backpack tags and/or keychains.

5) Ditch jumbo prints.

6) Better signs, dumbass.

7) It is not worth killing self to fill art show panels.

8) Try a couple of hand-painted prints at the table (sort of like hand-colored prints, or the stretched canvas prints, but I tend to go for stuff that involves thick paint strokes on solid colors, to give it a nice meaty texture) sealed to small boards. Inexpensive, but a little more interesting than flat prints, and not appropriate for art show.

9) Do a couple of big leather masks for the table, and hey, you never know.


Anyway, that’s my experience and conclusions. If you’re an artist who does cons, I’d love to hear anything that either contradicts or corroborates these, as well as any novel solutions you’ve come up with. (It may be a broad shallow pond, but we’re still all swimming in it together…)


*Minion badges did not sell for beans, but I’m gonna keep bringing them because I gave away quite a few. They are very very useful in that regard. May have to adjust price or offer more designs or break out a laminating device or something. Lamination…*shudder*

Teaching Propositions

When I was about fourteen, when I’d walk home from school, there was a kid on the way to the bus stop that would proposition all the girls who passed him, in very explicit terms, under his breath. The bus stop lay about halfway down the route I took home, and it was on one of those streets that only had a sidewalk on one side. It was too busy a street to make walking in the road a viable proposition, so you had to walk by him, and as he walked very slowly, sooner or later you’d step around him and pass him, and immediately from behind you, in a tone slightly louder than a whisper, you’d hear “hey baby wanna suck my dick hey baby I wanna lick your pussy hey hey wanna suck your tits” in a sort of monotone until you got out of earshot. You learned not to stop to tie your shoes.

It wasn’t just me, of course—he did it to everybody female, except on Wednesdays, when he didn’t show up at all. (You got to appreciate Wednesdays.) Once he got to the bus-stop, he would stand a little way away, leaning against the sign, and maintain this running monolog until the bus arrived. (A friend of mine took the bus, and sometimes I’d wait with her. I never asked if he did it on the bus, too. I assume he probably did.)

This lasted through my freshman and sophomore years. As a junior, I got an internship at a vet in the other direction, but presumably it continued until he was eighteen and no longer the school system’s problem.

More about that in a minute. I was reminded about this the other day when I was reading “Lies My Teacher Told Me” which is actually about American history, and perhaps I’ll talk about that at some point. From mild shock over the state of history teaching, however, I went on to thinking about the failure of schools to teach some extraordinarily vital skills—like, say, “What do I do when somebody creepy/pushy/unwelcome propositions me?”

Case in point—9th grade sex ed. I had a very good, very progressive sex ed program that told us how things worked, how you got pregnant, and showed us all the birth control options at our fingertips. Because of this class, I felt comfortable asking my doctor for the pill some years later. But even in a very good class, we spent a whole lot of time doing (I kid you not) word searches for terms like “epididymus” and “Cowper’s gland” and absolutely no time on things like “signs you are in an abusive relationship” and “how to tell when you are being sexually propositioned and what to do about it.”

To this day, I still generally don’t know if somebody is trying to pick me up until some weeks after the fact, but if you present me with a xeroxed word search, I can circle “Cowper’s gland” with the best of them. And if somebody makes an unwelcome pass that is sufficiently crude to register as “No, seriously, you’re not reading into this, dude really DID just say that,” my first instinct is still to pretend to ignore it and leave the area immediately, because I haven’t a clue what to say or do next, and  I really want it not to be happening.

D.A.R.E., generally laughable though it was*, at least did role-playing and showed us videos of kids being Pressured To Take Drugs. In thirty-five years, with extensive exposure to stoners, my entire experience of being pressured to take drugs consisted of the following:

STONER: *passes joint*

ME: “Nah, I’m driving.”

STONER: “Oh, okay.”

*repeat entire sequence some minutes later, owing to short term memory loss on the part of one participant*

I am more than willing to allow that this is not a universal experience, mind you, and some people probably do have terrifyingly aggressive drug pushers pouncing on them–but I would be very surprised if, pound for pound, the number of “people-offering-me-drugs-that-have-made-me-uncomfortable” experiences tips the scale anywhere near “guys-propositioning-me-for-sex-that-have-made-me-uncomfortable.” I had more unwelcome sexual propositions before I was old enough get a learner’s permit than I have had unwelcome drug offers in my entire life.

A class in that would have been nice. I can see all the reasons why it would never, ever make it past the Arbiters of Morality, but I wish it would. A class in “This is how you find who’s in charge at this event/place/whatever and get help.” “This is how you file a police report.” “This is how you ask for help.” Instead we flounder around on our own, and each one of us has to reinvent the wheel.

Case in point–the kid at the bus stop.

There was something wrong with this kid. (Obviously, you say, but no, I mean something wrong in the clinical sense.) I am an artist, not a clinical psychiatrist, and I couldn’t tell you what’s wrong with somebody standing in front of me today, let alone twenty years ago. He had no obvious physical issues, but he wore his skin entirely wrong. Teenage girls have the finely tune senses of a low-status baboon for primate body language, and this kid was off.

I assume he was developmentally disabled in some fashion—nobody knew him from class, and our school had a large special ed department. Therein lay part of the problem, because while it was incredibly obnoxious and very creepy–well–did he know that? Did he think this was something girls liked? Was he even responsible for his actions? Did he even know he was talking out loud?

My fourteen year old self had a thousand and one problems, 99% of which could have been solved by simply not being a dumbass, but this time, I think, her problem was genuine, and I cannot fault her for not coming to any useful conclusion. Because what could she do?

Tell an adult is the usual mantra in this case. I believe I considered it for all of ten seconds, maybe less.

My mother’s solution would have been that it was much too dangerous to walk home from school, and I should wait in the school library for three and a half hours, until five thirty when she could come pick me up. There was no world where this was a viable option for someone with a computer at home. Besides, my mother had some bad stuff going on, and she really didn’t need more crap from me on top of it.

It would never had occurred to me to call the police. This kid had problems. You didn’t call the cops on special ed kids acting out. That was like evil or something. Besides, he had to be harmless, or he wouldn’t be taking the bus by himself, right? (Yes, I weep for my younger self’s faith in the system.)

As for telling the school…no. We were off school property, so they couldn’t possibly have any say in the matter. (My younger self lived in an era when school were rather less interventionist in non-school-related stuff.) And even if I did go to the school, what was I going to say? Nobody knew his name, he wasn’t in any of our classes. Was I going to ask them to do a line-up of the special ed department? Sweet Jesus, no! And even if they did figure out who it was, I was almost certainly going to get a horribly condescending talk about how we have to be understanding of the problems some people face and maybe a talk about how if I’d engage him in conversation, I might make a new friend. (This was, after all, the talk that schools give you about everything else, from bullying to why you have to share your toys, and the only one that younger me had any context for.**) Plus they’d tell my mother.

Thirty-five-year-old me thinks the school might have been able to come up with something a little better than that. She even suspects that, given a description, they most likely would have said “Oh lord, not again!” and the caregiver responsible for the kid in question would have doubled down on acceptable public behavior. But thirty-five-year-old me has greater faith in adults knowing what’s going on than fourteen-year-old me, and I cannot hold her responsible for not believing that adults are capable of understanding what the world is really like.

Telling the kid to knock it off was also discarded as an option. All that primate body-language stuff was against it. This kid obviously did not comprehend the usual rules, and if you confronted him, there was a good chance things would go very bad, very fast. Yes, he might have been shocked and apologized, but he also might have screamed and attacked you, and there was no way that 95lb fourteen-year-old Ursula was going to come out of that in good shape. (This would also have the exciting side-effect of killing my mother dead the minute she got a phone call from the hospital.)

Even if he didn’t completely freak out, he would have noticed you. At the moment, he was an equal-opportunity offender, providing his monolog to any female back that came into his field of vision. But what if he actually singled you out? What if he tried to touch you? What if he followed you, actively, instead of just whispering at you until you were out of range?

What if he burst into tears, and then you’d made a kid with serious mental problems cry, and jesus christ, who does that?

Fourteen-year-old me wanted this not to be happening. She didn’t want to be a teachable moment. She did not want to be part of somebody’s therapy or anybody’s new friend. She just wanted to finally beat Quest for Glory I and to walk home without somebody offering to lick her tits, which, on the scale of human desires, ought to be modest enough ambitions.

I would say about twenty high-school girls, self included, all settled on the same compromise. We ignored him. We walked faster to get by him, we went several feet into the street to avoid him, and then we hurried away (but not running, because everybody knows that if you run, monsters can get you, it’s one of the immutable childhood laws) and we never ever acknowledged that we heard any of the horrible things he said and when we stood at the bus stop, we talked loudly to drown in out.

God help me, there should have been a class. This was such a weirdly specific situation that I don’t know if it would have helped, but maybe one of the lot of us would have thought “Maybe there’s another way.”

Maybe the school would have assigned somebody to walk him to the bus stop. Maybe a kid with a lot of problems would have gotten help. Maybe a lot of things. All I know is that none of us knew what we were supposed to do, so we did the only thing we could think of–and given that the school’s idea of giving us the tools for adult life was word searches for “Cowper’s gland” I can’t find it in my heart to blame any of us for not coming up with a better solution.

But dear lord, it seems like we should be able to do better.



*As I signed the little pledge, in sixth grade, I remember thinking clearly “If I want to do drugs, the fact that I have signed this sheet of paper will have absolutely no effect on me whatsover.”

**If someone’s about to say “But why didn’t you do that?” I will say “If you think fourteen-year-old me was going to turn to a kid whispering explicit sexual things to her and say “Let’s talk!” you are out of your mind.” I would be hard-pressed to do that now, when sex holds all the terror of my sock drawer. Fourteen-year-old me never had a chance.

Con Prep, etc.

I have hit that stage of con prep where I am either ready or so totally unready that I have no hope of achieving readiness, and have thrown in the towel. As I cannot ever quite distinguish the two, we’re calling it good.

Today I slung mulch, and am now trying to beat my way through the jungle of my in-box, preparing to go out and continue the editing slog through Bread Wizard. I’m 150 pages in, out of 250. It’s slow going. I’ve tacked on six or seven thousand words. Some parts I have definitely fixed and improved, other things I’m flailing in the dark hoping that I have thrown enough words at it to fix it. This is why we have editors. I am slathering on the word-spackle, trying to patch a hole, and she’s gonna come through with a putty knife and smooth it out so that it doesn’t look like a giant crusted wall-tumor.

Metaphors. Let me show you them.

I will have one leather mask at the con, but not in the art show. It’s not actually wearable unless you have a weird head and very small eyes—playing with the leather got away from me—so it’ll be at the table. I’d be happy to sell it as wall art, but I want to be able to explain in person that it’s not a wearable object. (It’s a rockhopper penguin, and has cool swirly head bits.)

Blue-gray gnatcatchers raised a brood in the yard. Never saw the nest, but there’s four of them bopping through the sideyard now, and two of them are rather more klutzy than normal for gnatcatchers. We also had a crop of white-breasted nuthatches and the inevitable Carolina chickadees. (Nothing compares to a just-fledged Carolina chickadee for “If I flap hard enough, maybe I won’t fall out of the sky!” shenanigans.) There’s a pair of blue jays coming in from somewhere to drink from the nano-wetland, but I don’t know if they’re an item or have a brood somewhere.

I am looking forward to AC, but I’m also looking forward to it being DONE. Then I get all of July and half of August to do nothing but Dragonbreath art and writing, get back in my routine, and get away from the vague Upcoming Con On The Horizon anxiety. I love cons, I enjoy them when I’m THERE, but knowing they’re coming stresses me out.

Strange Sad Superhero Dreams

I had a very odd and rather sad dream last night, and while I realize that dreams are generally not terribly interesting for anyone but the dreamer, this one actually had a very straightforward narrative, beginning to end, and it was in the style of an old-school superhero comic. The dream was mostly made of panels printed on cheap grayish paper, circa How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, and it was quite short–sixteen pages, maybe? You wouldn’t need a lot.

The heroine was a dark-skinned woman of indeterminate ethnicity, her hair rendered in the dark blue characteristic of the era. She had a couple of aliases, but was going by “the Purple Phantom” at the time of the comic. Her origin story (I suppose it was an origin story?) had her married to a police officer, and picked up for some crime or other. He was driving her in the squad car to the station when they were caught in an (earthquake? bomb? unrelated superhero battle?) and buildings started falling down on them. Her husband yanks her out of the back of the squad car and tells her to run, and when she looks back, the last she sees is him standing next to the squad car while bricks and chunks of masonry rain down around him.

The comic then skipped forward a bit, where our heroine has become a vigilante for social justice. She was, however, strictly bottom of the bag superhero-wise and was mostly tipping off reporters and whatnot. (You didn’t see her actual superpower until the very end.) At some point, she bites off more than she can chew, messes with the wrong crime-lord, something. In the comic (and I can still remember the panels so clearly!) she said that she felt like a fox who had wandered into a fight between bears. She was seriously out of her league, but she shows up to the last fight anyway, where the villain had brought, among other things, a war elephant* and finally reveals her superpower, which is to turn into an eight-headed serpent.

Actually, it was eight giant serpents with human heads, all joined at the tail, sort of like a cross between a naga and a rat king. Different people’s heads, too. It was both kinda awesome and exactly the ridiculous things that a comic writer in the early 80’s would come up with when they had completely run out of ideas.

The eight-headed serpent kicks elephant ass, kicks all kind of ass, gets very beat up in the process, and for a couple of minutes, we kinda think she might win this one. But as soon as he sees the tide going against him, the villain yanks out his trump card, which is a set of three vaguely Tibetan-looking demons. (I have no idea what they were—my subconscious didn’t render them terribly well—but the Tibetan underworld is full of such extraordinarily nasty creatures that it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what our non-existent comic artist was going for.)

The demons have a very specific power. Whenever you think a good thought, they get to attack you. So if you think “Hey, I’m winning!” the demons get you. If you think “Wow, I might live through this!” the demons get you. If you think “Happy bunnies, fluffy kitties!” I assume that they are allowed to tear your head off and wear it as a hat.

So the heroine has to get through the rest of the fight while only thinking about how tired she is, how much this hurts, how stupid it all is, etc—and this gets worse over time, so that eventually you have to actively be thinking bad thoughts to keep the demons off. She beats the villain, but flees into the night, pursued by the demons.

The last sequence has her curled up on the floor of  hotel room, with the demons crouching over her, reliving the moment where her husband is killed by the falling buildings over and over again, because it’s the only memory bad enough to keep the demons at bay.

Needless to say, I woke up and immediately checked under the bed for Frank Miller.

It was strange. And sad. And no, there is no chance that I’ll draw it, it’d be far too depressing. But wow, weirdly specific narrative there, brain!

*It’s still one of MY dreams, obviously.


Prints of “Many Peculiar Things” are now available, for all your oddly margined weirdly masked rabbitary needs!

In other news, is it just me or does *a character who shall remain nameless for spoiler reasons* really get totally forgotten at the end of Diablo III? It’s awesome you’re gonna run things now, Tyrael, it’s lovely how you’ve cleaned up the place, but after that extremely long funeral cutscene in Act I, did we all completely forget that *spoiler* ALSO bit demonic dust in a really futile and tragic fashion?

Also, damn, but cut-scene rendering has improved since the olden days.

Also it is starting to strain my willpower when Kevin’s oldest, who is firmly in that stage of teenagehood where you march around telling people “You do know that you can…” in a tone indicating that it is astounding that the world has run this long without your assistance* wanders in and says “You do know that you can combine gems/what they do/look at weapon stats/breathe without assistance, right?”

One of these days I am going to snap and growl, “Listen, kid, I was playing Diablo before you were a small squirmy glimmer in your father’s testicles!”

His father has offered me a dollar to do so, as long as he is in the room at the time and can watch.


*I know I did it too. My mother was clearly either a saint or extremely hard of hearing.


Peculiar Things

6 x 18 on deep-cradled gessoboard

This is such a weird format that getting it viewable on the monitor means you almost can’t read the text—“The sky is always the same/but/many peculiar things happen under the ground.” The masked rabbit is on a little square of board glued to the background, and so stands out.

As with many of these odd little masked creatures, it’s less a considered artwork and more of a thing-that-needed-to-be-done-at-the-time. So there’s that.

I don’t know if I’ll bother doing prints of this one, given that it’d have such very wide margins. The original is for sale, drop a line.

On a much more cute and normal note:

3.5 x 5, fitted to an oval mat. I so rarely work in ovals...

It’s a teeny squid! The original is for AC, but I’ll do a limited edition run of 25 prints (See, I learned my lesson about run sizes!) for $25 as well, first and last saved for cons as usual. If you would like one, please send an e-mail to ursulav (at) gmail.com and…err…yeah!



So About That Hugo Nomination Thing…

So as some of you may recall, Digger got nominated for a Hugo award this year, thanks to a whole lot of seriously awesome people who cast nominating ballots, entirely without me knowing it was even eligible. This was very, very nice of them.

“But Ursula!” you say. “The only thing better than a Hugo nomination is an actual Hugo award! How do I vote for Digger? Can I vote for Digger?”

I’m so glad you asked. Because yes, O reader, you CAN vote for Digger if you so desire—Hugos are a…well, not exactly democratic process, more of a republic, really, because it costs money.

In order to vote for the Hugos, you have to get a supporting membership at Worldcon 2012 (or have had one for 2011, or something complicated like that.) This costs you $50 and you get to vote in the Hugos.

Now, if that was all you got, I would say “Dude, ‘Hugo-nominated’ still has the word ‘Hugo’ in it, I don’t need to win that bad, fifty bucks is a lot of money, if it’s burning a hole in your pocket, please donate it to preserve jumping slug habitat or something.”

However, you actually get a lot for the money, because they give you the Hugo Voter Packet. And this includes e-book copies of a whole bunch of the nominees, (including the whole damn run of Digger, in PDF form, as assembled by my enormously talented publisher Jeff) so it works out to a lot of books that are currently in hardcover, a slew of novellas and short stories, some comics—in short, a lot more than $50 worth of content.

Which means that I can say, without feeling too much guilt, “Hey, you can vote for Digger if you want to spend $50 and it’s actually really worth it, because you get copies of some of the very best speculative fiction of the year for the money.”

So, that’s how you vote for Digger if you are so inclined.

If you can’t afford to, please feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever, it does not make you any less dedicated a fan, I am just as happy to have you reading as anybody else, and there were many years when I couldn’t have spent fifty CENTS to vote on something, let alone fifty bucks, so believe me, I understand completely and please, please, don’t apologize.

And if you can afford to, then thank you very much, and if you’re not interested in the voter packet, then hey, how ’bout those jumping slugs, huh?

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