Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Late Night Surprise

Finally got the idea for the final story for AFTERDEAD 1.3: something I'm calling "Way Down In The Hole."

Yes, that's the song title of The Wire, watched via the collected tapes from the library. My favorite character is Bubbles. Dan likes Snoop; he says, "I like my psychopaths." The girl is scary good. Or maybe just scary.

Television has been iffy for me since about 1970. 1970-73, in the army, no TV. Then didn't even have a TV until about 1985. Then got one only for watching VHS tapes. Then watched some TV while working (Because of old back injuries, I don't draw at a drawing table; I write and draw while sitting on the couch, leaning back, with a surface on my lap) for about 5 years. Then, because of weird hours and poor reception, mostly very blurry PBS -- reception depending on leaf-load or wind speed -- and, late at night -- because that's about all there was -- ALL of Star Trek. And I had to tape all of Friends, whether new or reruns, for Dan, who was fond of it. Now we're back to the library tapes. With the occasional Mystery Science Theater at about two in the morning.

One of the best thing that ever came up on the screen was a late-night showing of commercials for collected pop music. '50's, '60's, 70's, 80's, 90's. But it wasn't the usual howling voiceover with snippets of songs; it was song after complete song -- played with films and videos of the original groups. Everybody I'd ever heard growing up, on the radio, was there for face-time. I finally got the see what Fly And The Family Stone looked like.

It went on for about two hours. Inadvertently, a late-night (early morning) commercial opportunity had become the most complete history of Rock and Motown I've ever seen. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of work done.

Oh, yes -- the AFTERDEAD story is Pfirsich getting shanghaied into a job he's not really happy with: rescuing members of a people he knew when he was alive who had to wait until the afterlife to learn empathy. Most of them start yelling "Nazi!" when they see him; as part of the job he has to wear the hat, mostly to torque them off.

Part of this story comes from recent NPR stories about American troops in Iraq. Repeatedly, they ask the locals if they're okay with having their homes invaded, answering questions about the number of male members in their household, or standing still while their eyelids are peeled back for a retinal scan. The locals always say they're fine with it.

All I can think of is the scene in The Searchers, after the raid on the village, where the two little white girls are clinging to one another and smiling desperately at their captors, silently begging not to be slaughtered, as they have seen their tribal family destroyed. I've seen this smile in films and photographs, of helpless people grinning hopefully at the captors who have their lives in their grips. It is NOT a sign of love or friendship.

Does NO one recognize The Prisoner Smile? If you don't believe me, how would you like to stand outside your house and have someone pull your eyeball open to decide whether or not you get to stay home?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Around The Bend


There's a reason I don't talk about my writing process. If you don't want to know, wait for tomorrow's blog entry, or get my opinions and Weltanschauung with The Everything Box.

No? Okay, I put up a big red warning sign. So when the sweet deep river flows around the bend and you and your kids hit the rapids in your canoe, you can't sue the State for negligence.

I'm scratching my head over what to say about my writing process. It's basically: hear stuff, see stuff, make my characters do and say it. It's not hard to make any of it funny, because practically everything humans do is ridiculous, if not amusing.

If you don't think so, the next time you see a human doing something scary, bold or hectic, picture a chimp. The moves are the same.

So is the screaming.

This process is why people around me start being very afraid. If they say something clever, silly, wildly stupid or even brilliantly cliche, they gasp, "I shouldn't have said that! She'll use it!"

Of course I'll use it. I work part-time as a freelance journalist up here, and when the Sheriff said, "People in the county consider the west end to be the red-headed step-child," how could I not include the conversational moment?

In Desert Peach #20, where the Peach and Rosen are choosing the colors of the pansies to decorate their room -- it's a quote. A gay couple I know were doing the same thing. The shorter guy no sooner said, "Not the yellow! Get pink ones!" than his taller mate warned him, "Not in front of her! She'll use it!"

All the nasty things guys say about women in Desert Peach #22? Every one of them a quote, either from my time in the army, or even from the work of a colleague.

I don't have to make this stuff up. I don't have to raid anybody else's work. You're all walking around out there with your mouths open, and things fall out. And it's not just what people say.

Human beings throttle wolves with snares, and leave them wandering the tundra with swollen heads. They bomb cities full of living creatures (mostly humans, admittedly, and there is no dearth of those). They dam rivers and gill-net the sea, and then shoot seals at river mouths for wiping out salmon runs. They shoot deer for eating a few garden peas, and call it "Justice" -- which is now only another word for revenge. They keep horses alone in a fence instead of a herd, and then shoot the starving cougar who had to leave his home because it was clearcut. They blame everybody but themselves and refuse to clean up their own messes -- or get the rest of us to pay for it. They leave a heaped reeking trail wherever they go.

It's like following a horse. All I need is a shovel and a basket. And a comedy mask.

Did any of the kids make it to the bank?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Next Book Nearly Finished

Welcome to another Link-o-rama, wiki-style.

AFTERDEAD 1.3 (see AFTERDEAD black-and-white 1 and 1.2 at Lulu is nearly finished. A lot of the pages are in color and will be appearing at Webcomicsnation.

It includes a story that ran in Gay City, Volume One, about difficulties Pfirsich faces -- with his accustomed aplomb -- as a postman on the frontier.

The longest story, "Little Man," combines my recent longing to see a roller derby match and the discovery on an academic film site of a peculiar trade in home-made films that occurred within the Afrika Korps. I wish I could still find the site; the utter goofiness of the history, written in serene, dry academese, had the disaffected historical tone of the narrator in The Hallelujah Trail. "Little Man" includes a flashback to Pfirsich's Afrika Korps days; how could I not use Winzig and Udo to represent our own culture's black and white vision of adult representations of sexuality?

Here is a sample page from "Stalkers:"

Every cook I know is interested in this question. After recently reading hunting magazines, I realized what it was every hunter wanted to hunt. If you don't believe me, check out the t-shirts in any hunting store, and their language in their mags. It is thinly disguised. "Stalkers" provides the usual practical solution to an historical problem. The Reichers, I sometimes think, reflect that practicality that is an inheritance of my French background -- the provencal version. The only nobility in my blood comes from a gang of very minor English baronettes, near Nottingham. We retain a small carpet, an inlaid table, and a geneology. If I killed many, many English people, I could inherit the throne (then again, who couldn't?).

The final book version of Musswolf is included. It's on a traditional theme, from Pfirsich's viewpoint.

As soon as I've finished AFTERDEAD 1.4, it will be collected with 1.2 to 1.4 -- with color inserts -- at Booksurge (available through Amazon and and then the smaller versions will be pulled off the site.

Because Lulu prints books differently, the collected AFTERDEAD II will have to be in black and white.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Desert Peach Collection

I'm in the end stretch of finally putting together the big Desert Peach Collection, Issues 1-30. It will have ALL the episodes -- with the possible exception of #18, the program book, which would feature at my Lulu site as a separate book. I still have to think about that. I'm planning to put the book up at Cafe Press as well. No color pages; those would have to be reserved for a Booksurge (Amazon's company) and/or Wowio edition.

I'm also doing a final rewrite and repost of "An Insupportable Light," the original Stinz novel. It's been years trying to get everything done, including posting books for print on demand. I hope this is the LAST time I have to do this.

In the meantime, readers -- especially you overseas people -- are responding well to The Everything Box. I long ago made my printing costs on this backstock, and it costs no more to send a big priority box for a low price + shipping, than to get on a plane and buy a booth. Readers get to share with friends, overseas dealers get to sell for retail or nice markdown, and the books get out to people who've wanted them, and to share with their friends.

The Box would make a lovely present for a friend, too. Let me know if it's for that purpose, and I'll do something special.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cartoonists Northwest Talkin' To Us

Cartoonists Northwest has a new blog! Go check out the postings from one of the most artist-and-reader-friendly bunch of creators on the planet. With enough talent to choke Vista, if they wanted to -- but they'd never do that.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out of the Mainstream

We have a burgeoning arts scene all over the Peninsula -- but I'm not part of it.

And last night I finally got relaxed with that.

At the Three Sisters of Clallam Gallery (I set up their blog for them, by the way, and Sue has learned to use it), they had a fun party.

But I finally got it through my pin head that this, like so many other venues, is just about genres. Paintings are for tourism. Images will be of landscapes -- preferably painted in genre styles. Sue pretty much does her own watercolor style, but the images are eagles and native costumes. Jane is learning to do horses.

I don't HAVE to join in any art scene, because it's never my demographic. You know who you are -- a little more education, an ability to see a little further, than your peers. The class weirdo. The one person at Norwescon who gets it, while everybody else is writing to the genres, and strictly to the genres. The ones who know there's no such thing as good and evil -- because all the rabbits have a little tiger in them. Even at this party I found a handful of people whose eyes burned when they discovered somebody who wanted to go deeper.

When Sue asks me for pictures of horses, I can slap off pretty little horsie pictures -- preferably with little baby horsies -- and make some bucks at the gallery. I can take the praise and the admiration and say "thank you" without wondering what's wrong with the American education system. I can sit over in a rocker by the ornate coal stove they use to burn wood, and try to figure out how to play a harmonica (I am not musical; this is harder than it sounds). Cleo, the mad gallery cat, won't let me play the higher notes, so I can stick to very simple note combinations, more or less in the blues range, played very softly. When I get tired of the mouthharp, I can always pull out my Jew's harp and boing on that for a while; Cleo gives me fewer dirty looks.

Maybe I was sent up here not so much to dumb down as to cool off my brain and get on a more direct track?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cameras Make Me Dangerous

One of my hats up here is as minor freelance writer/photographer for the Forks Forum and the Peninsula Daily News.

A few years ago, one of my readers bought me a Nikon CoolPix 8700 camera -- with three batteries and three 512 MB SanDisks. It had all sorts of functions, including optical and digital zoom and a video.

I had a lot of fun with that camera, and actually earned a lot of money at the local newspapers (well, "lot" in the mind of a freelance artist/writer). But digitals only have so much life, and the day I took the camera down to the Ozette Dig, the slamming rain killed the function switch, so I lost my video capability.

I missed that video. It had allowed me to post things like Navajo Frybread and Clallam Bay Dragon Dance. I made a baseball coach stop bellowing like a wanna-be drill-sergeant at a twelve-year-old girl pitcher, when he saw me fiddling with the camera and watching him with intent (damn; I wish he'd never seen me, or I'd have posted that too). But it made him nervous of camera, and I hope made him remember it's just a game. Maybe the girl has more fun at the games now. I can only hope.

(This all hooks in with my Irish blood; the Irish are congenitally unable to resist a practical joke, especially one they walk off from and never see happen. Imagining what happened is almost more fun.)

The Nikon's quality was dying, too, which is the fate of digitals, even when I used new disks. So I bit the bullet and went looking for a camera. The first thing to do was research it on the web. Buying always takes me a long time, so before I'd bought a camera off the web I happened to get near a Radio Shack.

Looking over their offering, I found the Canon Powershot A560. Video, sighting apeture (to save LCD battery), DIGITAL zoom (not optical). AND pretty darn good price(Well, I could have gotten a better price on the 'net, but what the hell).

Doesn't gobble up its battery. I bought a little car charger and a house charger for the double AA nicads, to go with it. Neat!

While I was uploading photos at the PDN, one of the photojournalists had to come look at it (toys toys toys) and he said, Oh, yeah, that's a good one for the

And I'm dangerous again. As in: a thin, dirty dog got out day before yesterday and came running to our house.

She was wearing a collar with a brass lable. I found her owner. Big fat white guy. As we were dealing with the dog, his daughter came out, with a big chunk of chocolate ice cream in one hand. So I know there's no food shortage, there.

Her owner said, "She's always getting off her leash, and she won't stay in her kennel." (Would he?) He said she wouldn't hunt -- unlike the other three dogs he was keeping in the same conditions.

I said he should post a photo at the post office, to find her a home. He asked if I'd do that, or could I help him find her a home? At the time, since we am animal saturated, and our rule is "We don't take in anything with a human attached," I told him about the Humane Society, etc. He dragged her off, and I went back to my life.

The next morning, we get a freak April hailstorm and sn0wstorm. That afternoon, I see the dog leashed to her kennel, staring at me. That was IT. I went and got my camera. I knocked on all the guy's doors. Nobody home. So I took the pictures and emailed them to a local woman (ex-editor) who helps dogs. And the guy's boss -- who happens to be in local, highly visible government, I will not say where.

That evening he's at the door, asking for help, because he's got his boss's email. I tell him I called the Humane Society, and they're having no problem giving away dogs right now. But he'll have to drive the 100-mile round trip to get Cricket -- he momentarily forgot her name, by the way -- to get her there. Turns out she's not fixed, either (Puppy-milling for hound-hunting is huge up here. Kind of like the Bremerton Purebreds they sell down at the 11th Avenue Safeway in Kitsap County).

He makes out he's a good guy and that he "didn't do what a lot of hound hunters would have done with her when she got stuck at the bottom of a gully." Like I don't know what these Human-Dominion-Over-The-Earth types will do to solve ANY animal problems (And how come hound-hunting is so popular with Southerners? Do they miss the Good Old Days when the cougars had two legs and no hair?). They always fail to notice that when a cougar hits a neighborhood, the woods next door have been clearcut (Fun with eyeballs: watch the orbs of a timber worker wobble when you start asking him about "working forests" and whether or not they lead to species extinction. They've got all the answers -- but those eyeballs practically spin).

THIS morning, the Friends of Forks Animals are on the horn with me, saying they've got a hound rescue in another part of the state wants the dog. They got the other photo from the ex-editor. So I point 'em at him. All he's got to do is drive the dog there.

Now I was very nice when dealing with him -- these guys shy like deer, and are extremely defensive about their own bad behavior. So I hope the woman who saw the photo -- and who is on the edge of ballistic -- doesn't go off on him so he takes it out on the dog.

It's a 50/50 proposition: too horrible, and it causes bad things. Not horrible enough, and nobody will get off their butts.

Cross your fingers it's the best half of the 50. But years ago I turned away a dog I later realized was stray and starving -- and I'll be goddamned if a dog that EVER looks at me like that again is going to be let sit hungry in the snow.

If there's a hell for anybody, THAT would do it for me.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Naked Peacock

Sorry about going on about the publishing details, but after 20-some years of writing and arting, I'm putting in a couple years on marketing and publishing. About now I'm the go-to girl on all levels of publishing, self, print-on-demand and Naked Peacock.

Naked Peacock: a site that is very simple and basic, like a plucked chicken, that automatically pays authors for their books, the webgang a fee, and tracks everything through a simple site like CCNOW (credit cards and Paypal, both). Even pay back customers who help promote the site (why not?P). The users stick all the pretty feathers on the site to make a peacock, but the chicken stays simple.

The entropy can only happen to the feathers, and only if they're not properly groomed by individual users. The chicken stays fresh. CCNow has stayed sleek and useable because they don't care how any of us build our carts, as long as they're legal.

Amazon is an example of confusing the chicken with the feathers; at this point they're reverse-engineering to a dinosaur.

I don't even know if CCNow even has this capability to feed fees into the correct lines, but because they're a Naked Peacock themselves, I will bet they can tweak it to work for a book industry site.

(Another nice NP is ProjectWonderful)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hercules Rising

Head over to my website, and you'll see why I took Amazon off my website. No one should buy books or CD's from Amazon because of their warehouse system and their 55% markup. Just google the author and buy direct, for nearly half the price.

Amazon forgot what it was about. Entropy happens. Am going to be looking into linking up a few free sites so authors can sell directly and I get a few pennies off each sale. It IS possible. Amazon just tried to play gate-keeper on the web, and we all know what happens to censorship on the web.

And the Desert Peach continues!

Working up "An Insupportable Light" a bit and will probably post it for sale at Lulu. I'm seriously thinking of finding a regular publisher for it. Okay, okay, I'll probably have to bite the bullet and make it a furry publisher, but that's where genres are taking us. We'll see.

If I can get my funky little webcam to work, how many people would tune in once a week to a livecam broadcast? That is if you want to hear me driveling on to myself about my latest mania. Now if I could just figure out how to make it two-way....