Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Sunday, October 31, 2004

10.31 Transmission From NASAGhost... 

....-opy that, Houston, are we go with the Oracle signal...? Roger that. (static) --Howdy Earth! This is Ghost 1 checking in from Elysian Base in the Afterlife, wishin' everybody out there a very Happy Halloween (static)-- we've even carved a jack-o'lantern ourselves out of some strange plant here that reminded us of our pumpkins back on that big blue orb-- whoa, it l-(static, static)--our pumpkin is walking away on some kind of tendrils... it's climbing up on our instruments so we're gonna sign off now and switch signal over to Parker in Control Center 9. Stay safe out there tonight, trick or treaters!--Over:

Thanks NASAGhost, for that special Halloween message. I've got to get to get cracking on Allie's costume, a terrifying BEE, so I'll just leave you the decoration in our front yard. The scariest thing I can think of at the moment is Subservient Chicken, a viral marketing campaign pointed out to me by Ford Gilmore. Later tonight I'll be watching a copy of The Ring that David Hahn lent me. If you have a second, share your 31st activities in the Mystifying Comments. Now go put on your Ben Cooper costumes that tell what character you are on the head and collects sweat and spit in the mask until the elastic string breaks!


Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ben Folds Shatner. 

I can't stop listening to Has Been. And since Shout!factory has the whole album online, you don't have to either. Being of the same state and generation as Ben Folds I always follow his career closely, and now I think we can just go ahead and proclaim him as genius. You'll start to listen to it as a novelty record, but you'll keep going back for the fun ideas and terrific production.

I declare this the Age of Shatner.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

That's an Order 

The term "pre-order" doesn't really make any sense, but regardless, go to your local comics shop and say you'd like to pre-order Four Letter Worlds from Image. It's an anthology due out in January, and I have a story in it. Here's an article at The Pulse about it, that tells who else has work in it. I like this cover by Steven Griffin a lot. Let's all bug Diamond and make it sell like hotcake.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Hot Dish: Fallcon Part 2 


I didn't know from Sam Hiti before this show, but Rose introduced us and now I do. Go check out his amazing work and buy one of his books, such as Tiempos Finales or The Gallows Noose. Don't expect him to be all magic realism like his stories though, you know more Spanish than him. But by Minnesota standards, he's darn exotic. After the show I realized Terry Beatty had been there and I didn't go say hi. Fart.

I also regret that I didn't get by the other famous store I always hear accolades about,
The Source
. But I did meet Nick Post, and he squeezed me onto a panel about doing comics for the big publishers vs. personal work.

This being my first time on the Clown Stage of the Education Building, I didn't know what to expect. But Nick expertly guided the panel along until we covered everything anyone could possibly need to know about the industry. At one point when someone asked about drawing from life, I gaffed by saying I like to take my sketchbook to diners and airports to "draw interesting people... and fat people..." Peter Gross couldn't wait to pop me on that with "so, are you saying fat people aren't interesting, Jeff?" We all enjoyed laughing at me and then I looked down to the audience. It was not unlike looking at that famous row of statues on Easter Island. I noticed several more times each of us launching killer jokes that would float to the back of the room and die. No one was offended, this was simply Minnesota. Your A-list material that bowls 'em over in San Francisco or Orlando will not have the crowds guffawing and slapping their knees here. But I imagined one of the nonplussed crowd, an older gentleman, heading home and having a quiet dinner later, watching a little tv and working a crossword before going to bed, and just before pulling the chain to his nightstand lamp he looks to the side and lets out a brief "heh" about something Phil Hester said.

Speaking of Hester, afterward I go chat with writer/inkartist Ande Parks and find out he's on the School Board in his community. That's apropos of nothing, I just thought it was neat. I was about the ninetieth person to tell him how useful his "Supplies" articles in Draw! Magazine are.

I finally go up and shake hands with one of the powerhouses of comics, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. I explain that I'm studiomates with Steve Lieber, who just inked him on the latest Road to Perdition graphic novel, and give him a book to sign to Steve. Jose smiles and says something I can't even remotely hear, and I smile and agree as if I got all that. He's a very soft-spoken man and still has a strong accent, so a comics show in an echoing hall is not the place to talk to him. But Steve got a nice dedication for "letting him look good", so I'm glad I met him.

I keep smelling food, and go back to the breakroom to see what's cookin' today. This time it isn't the vat of meat, it's...

Oh my. I kind of stare at them for a while, and then remember I have Rose's camera in my pocket. Another guest looks at me like I'm insane, but does his blog have such a picture? No. I hear they're actually really good, but I took it as a sign that I saw a giant-headed Grim Reaper walk by just then.

The show ends quietly, and some of the pros are talking about getting dinner at a quaint local institution called "Outback Steak House". A bunch of us cram into two tables, the other one I think of as being hosted by Gordon Purcell.

Doug Mahnke straddles the two tables, jumping in on whichever conversation interests him at the moment. For a while we're lamenting with one of our friends who has currently lost a relative to Amway. So sad... Later the waitress brings out the selection of desserts and explains them. We're making mirth of a strange-looking one, that I say looks like it has bouillon cubes all over it. She doesn't follow what I'm talking about, and what are these "booya" cubes anyway? Zander spends a good stretch of time trying to explain bouillon and how soup is made from it, which was interesting all by itself. We all hang outside talking in the cold for a while and then call it a night. Show's over, folks. Go home!

Scientific Epilogue

My plane wasn't leaving until late Monday afternoon, so I had some kicking around time, and Jeff took a little more time off work to help me play hooky. Lucky for us one of the area's biggest comics enthusiasts is also Safety Manager at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and was giving Mark Schultz a private tour of the place today. Luckier still, Mike Frigon let us horn in on the action. So we spent hours getting a close look at the exhibits, and even exhibits that weren't ready to open yet, like the CHINASAURS, a dino collection that is finally making it's way to America.

The greatest minds of our time solve the issues of the day.

I learned some things about Mark I didn't know, such as he has no heartbeat that can be picked up by a handheld EKG, and according to the Barge Pilot Simulator he has no business conveying big loads along the Mississippi River. But he does a good impersonation of Ray Harryhausen, and he's still an excellent writer and illustrator. In fact he's now the writer on the Prince Valiant strip that he and artist Gary Gianni are breathing life back into.

Mike tells us great stories about exhibits the museum has acquired, and some of the dangers that he has run into. I was impressed by an antique x-ray cabinet for shoestores, designed to let you "look through your new shoes and see how your feet are fitting within". We always just walk around in the new shoes, I wish I'd known there used to be a Nuke Your Feet option. We also saw the OMNI movie about the Mars Pathfinder, and talked to a Park Ranger about what one has to do to become a Ranger, if this comics thing doesn't pan out. A good full day packing facts back into our heads.

Write your own caption.

Thanks to Jeff Rose for putting his life on hold so I could experience Minnesota, and thanks to the citizenry of the area for being good folk. I highly recommend people descend upon Fallcon next year, and I recommend to MCBA that they change the name to MeatCon.



Monday, October 25, 2004

Ohhh Yeah. Minnesota Fall Con. 

I've been to comics shows. All kinds. I've been up and down both coasts, seen what they have to offer. Been to Chicago (ie; Rosemont) a million times, and I thought I was at a Midwest show. Nuh uh. The other weekend I went to FALLCON in Minnesota, and NOW I've seen the comics industry, midwest-style. That is to say, buffet-style.

I got the lucky break a few weeks earlier when my pal Jeff Rose invited me to come out. Many of you may know of Jeff tangentially from visiting his Alex Toth site, Tothfans.com, one of the best places on the web to talk art. Now Jeff is starting another web venture, an online comics store called 360 Comics.com, which has absolutely nothing to do with that Bill Jemas intellectual property management thingy. Anyway, he offered to waste some frequent flyer miles on me if I'd come set up at the 360 table, so I jumped on that. I had one of the closest calls with making the plane ever, but I've squandered all my harrowing airport tales by now, so let's skip right to the heartland.

Jeff took Friday off to help me see Minneapolis. First we headed over to Big Time Attic, the studio of Zander Cannon, Shad Petosky, and Kevin Cannon, who has legally added "no relation to Zander" to his last name. The lads were busy in the basement working on silkscreen prints to take to the show, and we showed up just in time to "help". By help I mean I stepped on one of the prints. Jeff put on an apron and helped take prints to dry as Shad furiously dragged out one after another. I took pictures.

But where's Kevin? Oh well. I learned enough to sabotage their operation if I ever have to, so we headed into town to the new location of Big Brain Comics(you'll have hours of fun at that website). I knew Michael Drivas would have a good store, but really, it's very impressive. It has that logic to the shelving one doesn't find often, and a huge variety. I wouldn't call Minneapolis the most walkable city in the country- though they do have lots of habitrail walkways connecting the buildings for wintertime-- but Big Brain is in a good location to snag lots of defeated Twins fans as they walk back to their cars. We hung out at the store for the rest of the afternoon, and then went back to Jeff's house in Shakopee. I finally got in touch with my buddy Roc Blumenthal (real name, and I've already called it to use for a character so back off) who had just moved to the area. He and wife Lauri joined me and the Roses for dinner, and we got back to preparing for the show.

That rodent welcomes you to the Fairgrounds, where you can go up in a giant hypodermic needle.

Fallcon is held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, which I think straddles Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Fairgrounds are not to be missed, a collection of time capsules that give key information to the area and it's people. Like for instance, their love of meat, and putting food on sticks, no matter how unsuited for kebab those foods are.

The show was in the Education building, and I think we sat in the Engineering Technology section, but it might have been Agriculture. Jeff Rose was exhausted from staying up late working out the bugs on his webstore with his partner Shane. The smell of meat was already in the air-- our hosts the Minnesota Comic Book Association had already set up the guest feeding facilities, today's special: Sloppy Joes. There was a whole vat of meat in the side room ready to be doled onto a bun, and drinks and cake. I see Rich and Sandy Koslowski (Three Fingers, 3 Geeks, any comic with a "three") and their daughter Stella who's about my kid's age. They graciously let me carry Stella around whenever I'm feeling homesick. Over in the glass display cabinet is Joel Thingvall's massive collection of Wonder Woman original art, and I'm impressed to see a Gahan Wilson.

What are you doing here?

Farel Dalrymple is in town, doing some guest lecturing at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and asks what I'm doing here. I explain that it's a comics show and I go to them, but that doesn't seem to be enough for Farel. I keep getting the question all weekend, as if the locals couldn't understand why someone would come to their show. Adam Hughes comes out every year, but that may have something to do with the big secret poker game. I've discovered that every established comics show has a secret poker game that the hosts and guests participate in, and that may be the key to the promoters making a profit even when attendance is low. Later Rich tries to get me to go and deal in, but as a notoriously bad poker player (I make Tex Avery-style facial expressions) I know better and bag out.

You can't escape political fever even here, and there are tables set up to distribute presidential paraphenalia. The Kerry/Edwards table has a couple of young women manning it, so it's popular. The Bush/Cheney table is unmanned and in the area of alternative cartoonists, so it becomes a choice target for expression.

Hey, there's Kevin-I'm-not-Zander's-brother-Cannon!

Back at my table I'm selling Interman and meeting folks I otherwise wouldn't, and it's a great time. Then a mother of a budding artist comes over to ask me questions about working in comics, and talks about how she's trying to help her son. At some point I ask what kind of stuff he does and she says "he classifies it as 'furry'." I respond with "and you're okay with that?", which leads to the uncomfortable situation of me having to explain what is generally understood when one says Furry Comics. She vanishes, and quickly reappears with the young cartoonist. He explains that he like anthropomorphic animal characters, and it's soon clear that he's not from the naughty end of the pool. I suggest that he not use the term Furry to refer to his stuff ever again, and then tell him about Blacksad and its inspiration art. My karma points start rolling up.

All eyes from The Core Comics Shop are pensively on Mark Schultz. What will his next move be..

-to take the World Wrestling Championship Belt, of course!

I luckily had a camera when one of the guys added Mark to his Comics Creators with WWF Belt collection. The MCBA fellows working the show all had black t-shirts with EVIL HENCHMAN on the backs, a nice touch. As the show wrapped for the day, they opened the doors to present CATERING FOR THE GUESTS! People with carts full of cookers appeared with a mountain of steak, and some beans and whatnot. I only eat red meat about once a year, so this was my time. I forgot how full you get on the stuff. Then a volunteer came around with another plate full of steaks asking if anyone wanted some more. I was pretty logy at this point, I think I just rolled around on the ground for a while. Then Zander and Shad tell of us a Malt Shop nearby, and we all magic our butts over there. Good malts, I must say. We discuss an upcoming book after we realize we all worked on it; the next volume from GT Labs is Cowboys and Dinosaurs, a look at a key point in Paleontology that Jim Ottaviani wrote, I edited, Kevin, Shad and Zander are going to draw, and Mark will be doing the cover for it. So we talked science comics for a while, and headed back to the guest hotel where we were all going to reconvene. Instead Jeff Rose and I hung out in Mark's room talking about 60's Marvel comics for two hours while Shad and Zander scratched their heads down in the bar. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Hey, I need to get some paying work done. I'll continue this tomorrow, same Mystifying Time, same Mystifying Channel...

The Rose Girls, womanning the table while their boy takes pictures that I now take credit for.


In Ape Years 

This was taken recently at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Yes, that means I'm almost ready to report on the jewel of the Midwest, FALLCON. Hopefully by noon, West Coast time if all goes well.

It's my birthday, so I might be even slacker than usual. Check back!


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Patron of the Art 

Here's one I did recently for the honorable Steven Gettis, you've heard me boast about his legendary online collection of literary figures drawn by the giants of the comics industry. Currently he hosts most of the images I post here to help me shoulder the burden of bandwidth usage, so when he asked me to do a title piece for his other collection, Gumshoes and Gangsters, I tried to channel the very spirit of Chandler himself. I can't find the link to the ones he has on the web at the moment, maybe he'll share that in Comments. I was thinking of this because tonight we were over at Lieber and Sara's house watching Kubrick's The Killing. Good movie.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Can You See Me? I Can't! 

More internet weirdness today as I can't look at my own blog because it keeps crashing my IE Browser. I need to try to find a Mozilla that works with 9.2 Mac OS. And on top of that, I just got a phone call from P.Diddy telling me to vote or Die! I kept trying to ask him details, but he was on a roll and wouldn't let me get a word in. Still, it was better than that push poll the other day that managed to tell me that teachers in Massachusetts are about to teach gayness to kindergarten kids. What's up, is there an election coming up or something?


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Stephenson Rules 

Courtesy Boing Boing, I just read this interview with writer Neal Stephenson over at Slashdot. Ever since my cubemate Ben Ferrer at Sony Animation lent me Snowcrash, I've been in awe of Stephenson, who proved you could write science fiction without being a humorless geek. Go read this interview, his comic prowess comes through loud and clear, and he spells out some interesting truths about the profession of writing...

Beowulf writers and Dante writers appear to have the same job, but in fact there is a quite radical difference between them---hence the odd conversation that I had with my fellow author at the writer's conference. Because she'd never heard of me, she made the quite reasonable assumption that I was a Dante writer---one so new or obscure that she'd never seen me mentioned in a journal of literary criticism, and never bumped into me at a conference. Therefore, I couldn't be making any money at it. Therefore, I was most likely teaching somewhere. All perfectly logical. In order to set her straight, I had to let her know that the reason she'd never heard of me was because I was famous.


Spoiler Warning 

A fresh new auction, featuring a Batgirl page(though the character is Spoiler, who I think is now Robin). Hope that shows up as a link, the last time it didn't. May finally have pictures from Minnesota FallCon up tomorrow. Am currently washing clothes. Excited yet?


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Best Comics Title Ever? 

In an attempt to combine two genres, maybe inspired by Dark Shadows, the early '70's DC gave us The Sinister House of Secret Love. I was just thinking about it because I don't have #3, which has a story that combined three giants, Frank Robbins writing, Alex Toth pencilling and Doug Wildey inking (for about half of it).

That's all, just wanted to say that phrase. Go back about your day.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Escaping Debt and Taking Suggestions 

My latest ebay auction, the pinup from The Escapist #2. As I said, I'll be running to the auction block pretty often, but I'm still green at it. Anyone have any suggestions for characters or subjects that sell well on eBay? So far I've just been doing ones that I didn't need to reference, but I'll actually look 'em up if you have a few that you think will do well.

Incidentally, I'm now drawing a full length Escapist story for the anthology, also written by me. I'll let you know more about that when ordering time draws near.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Mystifying Campaign! 

I said early on that I'd leave politics largely out of this blog, focusing on nonsense so as to give readers a break from all the partisan battling. But dang it, we're three weeks away from an election that I seriously think could either put the U.S. back on the track to fiscal and moral responsibility, or to a 21st version of Mussolini's Italy. A lot of my readers and friends are Republican, and I want those of you to know I'm not slamming YOU. From what I can tell, most of you identify with conservative ideals that were abandoned by the party back in the '80's. While the rank and file still want that ideal, the people in charge of the party are all about getting and keeping power, and grabbing all the money they can. I'd forgive them that if they weren't willing to start wars to ensure their ends, and if they weren't helmed by the most incompetent chump I've ever seen stand in front a flag. I'm tired of intellectuals being demonized (when are they going to start issuing little red books and encouraging "criticism"?) and the environment being ruined. And I better blog all this now before the Patriot Act gets expanded further.

So what can I do to help? Since I work in speculative fiction and advertising usually, my skills lie in making things entertaining and more enticing. Looking at the Democrats' ad campaign, my assessment is that it's too bland and safe. I know that bland and safe are a virtue these days, but I think voters want some excitement in these things, something they can get fired up about. So I'm going to start making web ads that you can grab and use on your site or in your email.

Now I'll admit this first one stretches the truth a little, but hey, it's not like I'm lying about a weapons program and a connection to terrorists to convince the public we should invade a country, so come on. My take here was make Kerry more appealing to young voters.

Electrical powers = cooler! So that's my positive, pro-Kerry one today. I'll balance that out with one that just focuses on the opposition...

It's all about using pictures to convey essential truths. Again, grab away rather than imagelink, if you plan on using any for long. I'll try to put up one every couple of days.

Just doing my part! This one's for America!


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

NASAGhost Presents! 

Roger, Mission Control... Ghost 1 here, we've got a beautiful view of the Earth shinin' through the obsidian mists of the netherrealms...(static)--oking at our instruments I see it's October in the year 2004... copy that... can't believe we've been out here for over 30 years(static)... guess since Halloween is comin' up the folks over there'd like some scary stories! We'll be transmitting periodically up until the 31st, so keep your arrays pointed this way for a couple wee-(static)----irst one is a recent observation by Parker on the ground there, so it could be true! We're about to go into a roll, so Ghost 1 is signing out for now...over!

Thanks, Nasaghost! Anyway, my spooky observation involves our recent move to a new place. As soon as we settled into this house about a month ago, a black and white cat started coming over and hanging out in the yard. A nice cat, but a bit pushy about trying to insinuate itself into our little family considering we already have a cat (see Burma over in left sidebar). One morning as I walked outside and had the door open, the cat blasted out of our den to the outdoors-- so somehow it snuck in and stayed under the couch all night.

So I'm thinking that cat needs to be introduced to water from the garden hose, but then it disappears, and a big gray cat starts coming over instead. Maybe it's because it always seems to show up around dusk, but my imagination starts running to the folklore of entities that present themselves as cats. What directed me that way? My own cat. Burma always has strong opinions about other cats- she's either angry or scared of them, and will try to intimidate any other feline coming onto her property, which is anywhere she's been for more than an hour. But both of these cats have shown up when she's been outside, and have even been on the back deck when she's there, and she doesn't regard them at all. She may notice them, but behaves as if a different type of animal (or person!) were there, not showing up on her radar, as it were. That's what set of the unusualometer for me. What creeps me out more is that at night I'll drive up and see the cat hanging out under my daughter's window.

Last night Jill informed me that the gray cat hasn't been around, but now a big Tabby has been coming to the back deck standing by the screen waiting to be let in. It could have been that these cats used to live here and were abandoned by the family that moved, but no one's lived in this house for six months before we moved in. So either the entity is trying on various cat forms it thinks we'll like, or maybe it's even working it's way to appear more like our cat, a calico. I'm going to try introducing the spirit to the garden hose and if that doesn't work, I'll contact the Rhine Research Center for advice. I just better not hear any extra voices coming over Allie's baby monitor at night.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Land of the Vikings 

Minnesota FallCon is officially over, and it was a good time. I'll write at length about it when I get back to Portland. Where there will be other options for meals than meat with a side of meat. Good bunch of hearty folk, these midwesterners, I'll try to come back to this show. And yes, this time I have pictures...


Thursday, October 07, 2004

One More and Out the Door 

MeBay: As my spiel says, I was commissioned to draw The Scarlet Witch. Instead, because I'm flighty artist guy, I drew The Black Widow. At least it was a Marvel character. So I did the Witch (turned out good too) and now I'll peddle the Widow online, here, click here.

Now to pack and dash out the door to fly to Minneapolis for that FALLCON show. Come see me, ask me to draw a specific character and see what I do instead!


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Strange Forces, Good Passages 

I've found a couple of great places to go thanks to the arduous practice of opening my email.

First, that one-man juggernaut of pop culture Stefan Blitz has gathered some like-minded talents and created a new online entertainment magazine called FORCES OF GOOD. Normally I'd balk at such a site, but this one is actually informative and has some good interviews like the one Stefan conducts with MST3K's Mike Nelson. I'll start checking this regularly.

Another site promotes an upcoming comic book called STRANGE PASSAGES, written by my pal Micah Harris (Heaven's War), and drawn by artist Loston Wallace. After looking through the info on the book you can check out Loston's main site and find out more about him. I'll let you know when this book is going to solicit. It'll have that snazzy Mark Schultz cover on it, of course.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go keep monitoring the impending blast of nearby Mt. St. Helens and prepare for the Minnesota show this weekend. Good day.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Hey Bidder Bidder... 

I'm cranking up an auction frenzy, so jump on board. I haven't made nearly enough use of eBay, so I'm going to start making up for it in the next few weeks. First up, a color piece with Catwoman and the better costume Batgirl that is comparable to those commissions I do at comics shows.

And an odd memento of my time in animation: a production cel from The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot cartoon which I was a storyboarder on. I didn't work on the image from this particular episode, I never seem to frame it, and I'm afraid it's going to get damaged if it stays with me. Hence, eBay.

So if you're so inclined, go to the auctions and start hollerin'. Thanky.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Me, Minnesoter 

I'm going for the first time to FALLCON, the premiere comics show of Minnesota this coming weekend, Oct. 9th and 10th. If you're going to be there too, look for me at the 360 Comics table (and no it's not that Bill Jemas property rep thing, this is a new online retailer) with my Interman signs. Go ahead and reserve commissions if'n you want, maybe I'll get them started before the show. So don't go to that taping of Prairie Home Companion, come out and read some comics!


Saturday, October 02, 2004


Literally, we need electricity on the NE end of Portland, out between 60th and the 100's, from Stark to Halsey. It's been out all day! We're at Mercury Studio now wondering if the fridge will have usable food when we return. Of course it went out while I was on the computer so I yelled at my Mac for a minute until I realized Car Talk wasn't coming out of the radio. I'm sorry, G3.

Someone's siphoning off electricity to use for their own ends. Or maybe the Mt. St. Helens blast has something to do with it.


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