Precious Cargo

Okay, so I promise I have an explanation for this. I don’t promise it’s a good one.

I’m goin’ to the game and I’m gonna be strapped. With cats. Cat-strapped.

The explanation is that first we were discussing the sexist bullshit associated with cargo pants. TL;DR: Apparently women’s purses are terrifying vectors for terrorist acts on sports stadiums, whereas men’s pockets, even if large enough to contain an army of ferrets each with their own submachine gun, are totally safe and definitely don’t need to be searched or excluded from the building.

This lead to my wife’s defense of the noble cargo pant, which I was ready to endorse – I’m a practical creature with zero fucks to give for your male-gazey fashion, and I appreciate pockets I can fit not one but two hardback books in. Women get screwed on pockets constantly; it is known.

In trying to describe the pair of cargo pants we have in this house, I suggested that a person could, if so inclined, attend a sporting event with a full-sized adult cat in each side pocket and four separate sets of kittens holstered for quick access. And then, because I was so reckless as to put that image out into the world, I had to draw it.

I decided to just use the Pigma brush pen that I’ve hitherto been too chicken to use, and as with most things I’m initially afraid of and then forced to spend time with, I’m now in love with it. Wait. Maybe that’s a bad comparison. Lemme start again.

I decided to use the Pigma brush pen, with which I am in a mutually consenting relationship, and I’m loving the variability in line weight I can get. Fear keeps getting in my way with my drawings but I think I’m getting past it. This brush pen might be exactly the combination of control and lack of control I’ve been looking for, we’ll see. I’m gonna keep practicing with it – I’m fairly happy with how this came out, never mind the ridiculous subject matter.

Never Have Enough Teeth

Finally recuperated from the tattoo enough to do some drawing. Today we have further damnfoolishness with the undead. Teeth are the currency used between sects in Sects (and also sometimes between insects), at least in Tooth City. It’s possible they use other forms of currency elsewhere, but we don’t travel much – the roads aren’t great, ever since all the left lanes simultaneously became sentient.

I’m trying some new stuff both with the color and with lettering. I don’t like the way the fonts look over the hand-drawn stuff, so I’m going to start doing it by hand with the sweet Pigma brush pen I have, which I am otherwise too chicken to use. I like the way it came out much better. We’ll see how it does on more color-dense pages.

Water Carries Us From Here

So, low-income mental healthcare is a constant delight! Every three months or so I have to spend a few days calling various people over and over, asking them to do their jobs. This is the only way I can ensure the continued supply of the drugs that permit me to be a person for, oh… maybe a total of fifteen hours a week? without my spleen leaping up my throat to throttle my brain. When there’s any kind of hiccup in this utterly asinine process, like for example a holiday, or twelve inches of snow, or a computer glitch, the result is almost always a week or so of sliding back into the Well, remembering how steep that slope is, how hard it was to get to the basic level of functionality I now occasionally enjoy.

Winter is a pretty frustrating time for me as a result. At the moment I’m about a week into lacking one of the four pharmaceuticals I require to provide you the half-assed entertainment you’ve come to expect and demand. Without Adderall, Bupropion, marijuana and caffeine, I’m just about capable of showering once a week. No promises, and no pants. So this week the Adderall’s out, which is much better than the Bupropion being out – weariness and OCD ruining my productivity > suicidal despair – which is why you’re getting something half-finished. I want to do more with this but I’m in a lot of pain and very tired so it will happen tomorrow. I’m happy to feel like I’m getting better detail out of the pastels than I have before. They’re unpredictable little fuckers but I seem to draw better when I’m in less control of the process. It seems like I’ll improve when I can stop thinking so hard about what I’m doing. Isn’t that everything, these days?

At any rate, here is Eric, one of the four people currently living in Johnny and Ava’s family home and comprising their very underwhelming cult. I want to fill out all that negative space with some art nouveau designs and detail about him. There’ll be a portrait like this of each of our main characters. Couldn’t tell you why there’s a hairbrush on his desk, as he doesn’t have a damn bit of hair. Yes, he uses an old Macintosh that he found in a dumpster. He interfaces with it primarily via his chin-tentacle, so it sucks a lot less than you’d think. Yes, he’s naked. He doesn’t wear clothes around the house much. Just imagine all the majestic views of fish-dicks to come!

Thunderhead

Meet Jeremiah and Eric. As all art imitates life, the house they live in is very much inspired by a number of places I’ve lived, and these two are made up of the men I’ve lived with and loved.

Jeremiah, the Lurch-lookin’ motherfucker on the left, is so literal a depiction of an old boyfriend that he could probably sue me for libel, but I honestly think he’d be pleased. He became even more of a Luddite than he already was when I kicked him out and he went back to Texas, so he’ll probably never see it. When we lived together and were speculating about our future, he promised me that, should I have a daughter someday, he’d refer to her as “Thunderhead,” because he felt it was an excellent nickname for a tiny girl. Thus, Ava inherits the nickname, because it suits her even better.

Eric, the bargain-bin lagoon creature in cargo shorts on the right, looks like all the other men I’ve dated who weren’t the enormous Texan. I like pale, skinny geek boys, what can I say? I look forward to working out years of unresolved domestic issues on these helpless ciphers of former lovers! I’m sure we’ll all grow a great deal as people while we watch them suffer for our amusement.

Get That Bone-Deep Gnawing Feeling

In the cold and painfully bright world beyond the internet, I do graphic design that tends to target parents and schools, which means I’m never allowed to do anything remotely fun. No jokes that even a twelve-year-old would consider “edgy,” current events carefully whitewashed, reality edited down to a PG level at all times. This may be why I’m so extravagantly sweary and filthy around here – I have all this spare vitriol stored up from work.

The funny thing, then, is that I kind of love the work itself – I love Photoshop and Inkscape and I spent all day being kind of overwhelmed by After Effects. I love designing logos and writing inane ad copy so long as I’m allowed to be as ridiculous as I want to be in it. Spare me your booster club meetings and chamber of commerce lunches, but if you need a flyer for your semi-legal taxidermy business, or a great logo for a dominatrix, I’m your man.

You can tell I got my start in gaming more than narrative; I love the worldbuilding, the details in the background that give you a sense of endless layers of structure, each more batshit than the last. So today you get a flyer for A Deeper Gnawing, which used to be a pet store before the Fall, and now trains, treats, modifies and maintains all classes of familiars, non- and semi-sentient pets, contractors and employees. If you’ve been chewing through the latest issue of The Hand That Feeds, salivating over the newest biological weaponry, but you’re balking at the prices – $59.99 for rabies, you have GOT to be shitting me, when I could piss off any feral raccoon and take my chances – come on down to A Deeper Gnawing, where they’re having a back-to-school special on installations! The school board has just approved the new list of campus-safe upgrades – you could be the first one at your school eating acorns, cherries or grapes straight off your faithful familiar’s horns right in class!

93 – The Necromancer Next Door

Getting a huge tattoo in about an hour and a half, so of course I’m brooding about zombies. This definitely is part of Sects, which, if I haven’t beaten you over the head with it hard enough yet, is a Primer for those also just trying to get through a day in a world that has been taken over by tentacled monstrosities.

Before the Fall he was just a con man,
made his living on the life insurance
of families wanting reassurance –
being proved right was not part of the plan.

But there was no sense of surprise, no fear
when after a seance the deceased spouse
turned up in his collar outside the house –
the dead Reverend made his terror quite clear.

The faithful came first, a reverse Rapture,
and then came the saints, all girded for war,
died again when the outsiders attacked.
Nothing like the ghosts he’d manufactured,
nothing like the nightmares he had before –
the dead he raises now don’t want life back.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

91 – Bacon Town

I was at a wedding all day. The bridesmaids were talking about a bacon festival that apparently happens somewhere nearby, and, uh… well, you can’t just say “bacon festival” in my presence like it won’t make me start imagining things.

The crackling fat can be heard for miles.
The sun is vague in the sky at midday,
clouds of vaporized pig over the midway
where they set up the bacon piles.

They have a dunk tank full of bacon jam –
room temperature, of course, but don’t inhale –
kill a man that way, go to Bacon Jail
where no one’s ever even heard of ham.

Bacon figurines and bacon favors,
at two o’clock they crown the Bacon Queen,
clad in the most delicious gown you’ve seen.
To attend, you have to sign a waiver;
by midnight, poor girl looks a little green,
but her canine subjects love her flavor.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

87 – The Hungry Loop

This is inspired by the name of an item in Path of Exile, but it’s otherwise entirely unrelated – just a mental image that I thought was amusing. A nasty little fable in sonnet form.

Of course I knew mother didn’t like him.
I had a sense that father wasn’t keen;
each time I brought him over they were mean,
pretended I wasn’t home to spite him.

When he proposed, I thought they’d come around.
Mother brought out the heirloom wedding rings,
asked his measurements and did the fittings,
set a date, invited the family down.

I stood at the altar, veil on my head.
My love’s vows silenced every cry and cough.
I, barely hearing what the priest had said,
took his ring from the sacramental cloth,
and then my wedding dress was splashed with red
as my love’s ring bit my love’s finger off!

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

72 – A is for Arson, B is for Brand, C is for Compromise

I think there are going to be illustrations for these at some point – I’ve been messing with some pen-and-ink styles, trying to figure out a good, clear way to draw the more text-heavy parts of Sects. It miiiiight not surprise you to learn that I was really into Edward Gorey’s books as a kid? So with these little couplets, please imagine a Gorey-esque macabre alphabet in dense Victorian style. But, like, Gorey drawings as executed by a drunken cockatiel flapping up and down, shedding feathers and drool, gripping a pen in one spasming zygodactyl claw. That’s about what you can expect from me.

Black cat catches fire on the staircase –
who knew you could train a cat for arson?
The culprit escapes, after a fashion –
only its yowl makes it out of the place.

Every new moon, flyers blanket the front door,
the branded wings of bats crisscrossed with scars,
the logos of local churches and bars –
some of those places aren’t there anymore.

The house next door has begun to erode –
every morning there’s a little bit less.
Might be the termites at the dryads’ place.
The Wooden Girls, of course, claimed not to know,
but then we saw their mother’s writhing dress,
the masochistic pleasure on her face.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

63 – Cold Cuts

At least once a day, I find a reason to end a sentence with, “…but then, I’m a bad person.” I grew up with the internet and the dark web both, and once upon a time thought it made me a Cool Chick to put up with the guys I knew sending me gore porn from 4chan trying to gross me out. The fact is, the internet just put a camera on what humans were doing to themselves and each other in real life. I’d done enough home surgery in my kitchen by the time I was twenty that nothing they were posting on LiveLeak ever surprised me. You do what you have to when you don’t have insurance.

What I’m saying is, the ghoulish shit I’ve been getting up to in Graveyard Keeper all day is probably funnier to me than it would be to someone less jaded by the internet. I sure do dig up corpses that have been in the ground since before I moved here, slice off enough body parts to make them pretty, and make club sandwiches from the remains. No one’s commented on that yet. Townsfolk seem fine with it. God knows where the socialist donkey is getting all these bodies. Maybe it’s frothing capitalist satire, like the new Monopoly? The leftist donkey running a cannibalistic deli with an unqualified gravedigger in the pocket of the inquisitorial church? That’s pretty spicy, son, that’s some QAnon shit.

“You Took Too Long,” December 2005. Some of my earliest Photoshop work – I don’t think this is very good, now, but someone saw it recently and liked it, so if you find it interesting, there it is.

I wish I could say the leftist donkey
growing moss outside in the picket line
wasn’t just the latest waste of my time –
what good are you if you don’t bring me bodies?

It’s flesh I want, and I will dig it up.
I’ve got the disinterment order here –
the bishop signed it for me over beers –
he’s a close personal friend, the bishop.

I’ll dig up your dead grandpa over lunch;
his face is hurting my graveyard’s feng shui.
We’ll pull out all the parts that make him crunch
and trim off any meat that looks okay.
Now, you could use a sandwich, I’ve a hunch –
do you like pork? I sliced this just today.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets