Only two more pages left before this chapter is done! So close I can taste it. I’m really champing to get started on the next project too, and to start posting artwork from that. Anyway, enjoy the page!
Laugh While You Can, Monkey-Boy!
6×6, Pen & Ink on bristol, 2014
I know that John Lithgow has played many excellent, iconic roles, but for me his defining role will always be Dr. Emilio Lizardo, archnemesis of Buckaroo Banzai and unhinged host of a black Lectroid from Planet X by way of the 8th Dimension!
Party on, monkey boy.
Spent some time today working on scripts for the couple of stories I’d like to get to next, once I’ve finished with the current chapter of Ellie Connelly. See, the way I want to be working is this: Draw one chapter of a story, and script a chapter of a different story. When I’m done drawing the current chapter, draw the story I just finished scripting, and go back to scripting the next chapter of the first story. This way, I’ll be able to bounce back and forth between different projects and (hopefully) not get burned out on any of them. I’ve got a lot of stories I’m anxious to work on, and don’t want to wait until I’m totally done with this one before jumping to something else.
SO! The next story I’ll be doing is a 12-page introduction of an intergalactic adventure series I’ve wanted to do for some time, titled “STARHUSTLERS”. The name is an homage to the late Jack Horkheimer, who ran a weekly naked-eye astronomy series on PBS in the 80s and 90s (and can still be found at http://www.jackstargazer.com/ It’s about Captain Jaq Freon and the crew of the C4P3LL4, an AI-equipped shipping vessel. I’ve got ambitious plans for the series overall (it’s a first look at the bigger universe I’m creating with all of these comics), but the initial set of stories is just to introduce each of the crew members.
The Script, “Incident at Capsolm-4″, is already done, and I’m getting comfortable enough with the new page format that I’m really excited to get started and get familiar with the crew and their dynamics. So, look for that in a couple months when I’m done with Ellie Connelly and the Eye of the Vortex chapter 3.
Join paranormal investigator Ellie Connelly, her friend Henry Button and her uncle Everett, as they set off to find Everett’s missing colleague Birdsong Juno, who has been kidnapped by the dangerous and secretive Legion of the Mystic Order while searching for a mythical Vortex of strange energies believed to be hidden somewhere in the mountains of the northeastern United States. Can Ellie and her friends find The Eye of the Vortex in time to stop the Mystics from harnessing its unknown powers for their own nefarious purposes?
Patreon supporters have access to new pages and process sketches before they are posted here at lunarbistro.com!
Completed chapters will also be available to download as DRM-free pdfs.
After much internal debate, I’ve decided to try to supplement my comics-creation plans with a simple Patreon campaign! There’s more info here at this introduction post, and the first comic I’ll be working to complete is (no surprise here) Ellie Connelly and the Eye of the Vortex!
Supporting the Patreon campaign won’t influence whether I finish the comic or not, I plan to do it regardless. Complete chapters will be available as DRM-free pdfs and printed chap-books in time. But supporting the campaign now will allow YOU to read the pages as I complete them, and not need to wait until either the pdf or the printed minicomic are available to purchase. You’ll also get access to process photos of pages-in-progress, and other stuff when I feel the urge.
So! If you want to support my continued efforts to finish all of these comics I’ve started, please go check out my Patreon page!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the direction my ‘creative career’ has taken over the past few decades, and have been coming to some conclusions. First of all, the mass of unfinished projects has been weighing on me more heavily than I thought, and second, the way I was going about creating artwork was, sadly, unsustainably counter-productive.
The biggest problem I can see, was that I was trying far too hard to draw like other people for the sake of making the project resemble the works that inspired them. It was as if I had something to prove to myself, that I could create work that was just as good, or that deserved to be elevated by someone as I had elevated those works. Because I was trying to draw with “someone else’s hands”, as it were, these pieces and pages always ended up taking several times longer than if I had simply drawn them the way I drew things, and to make matters worse, I was never really satisfied with them, always seeing them for what they were – pale imitations at best.
In the last year or so I’ve been making more of an effort to get back to drawing the way I draw, as you can see in pretty much all of the art on this site. The style is the one I first used when I started drawing Chutney Point some twenty years ago (which, again, was a pale imitation of Richard Sala, but I’m still okay with that. I can see that it’s become something more mine). Working this muscle has brought me back around to looking at all of the comics and games that I’ve started over the years but left unfinished, and longing to see them completed. In no particular order, here’s the list I’m looking at:
- Chutney Point: There were supposed to be two companion stories in this series, exploring the historically weird goings-on around this town.
- The Circle Weave: The story that started it all. I started this one in high school, and have worked on four different versions of it in the decades since. This one will be my biggest regret if I let it go unfinished.
- Ellie Connelly: My most recent aborted effort. I had high hopes for this series of stories, and I think has the most potential as a storytelling vehicle. There’s just such possibility here, as demonstrated in the fifteen story ideas I have already mapped out. It also contains my best love story in the form of Ellie and Henry, and I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get to share how it plays out.
- Starhustlers: A sci-fi adventure story I never even started, but have a bunch of notes for.
- My Most Important Year: Almost autobiographical, easily the most grounded work I’ve started, centered around a group of contemporaries dealing with the frustrations and changes of middle-aged regret.
- Blue Nova: A reworking of a super-hero deconstruction I started as a kid. The characters were just so fun, and I loved the idea of taking something so simple as making it mythologically epic.
- StarSpeed 17: A fun space-racing game I designed a couple years back, but never finished the artwork for. I’d love to get this done and published in the next year, though I think the rules need a bit more tweaking.
- Labyrinth: A genre-crossing open source RPG system I designed primarily for solo adventures, inspired by all the times I wanted to play D&D as a kid but never had a group to play with. Each module would use the same movement and combat rules, but could use a myriad of settings. They’d all be playable solo, using the combat tables in the module booklet, or could be played in groups for additional strategies.
So, this is where I’m at right now. My energy is up a bit more than it has been, and the initial sample pages I’ve been working on this week have me really inspired to see some of these projects through. Seriously, where it used to take me a week or two to complete a single Ellie Connelly page, this week I was able to do three pages in my ‘comfortable’ style, and I couldn’t be happier with the way they look. I’m looking forward to having something to share with you all very soon!
This morning I decided to do some ‘spring cleaning’ here at Lunarbistro, and I realized that I never got around to posting about how the entirety of Chutney Point is now available as pay-what-you-want pdfs from Gumroad!
Click here to read more info about the story, and get the links to the individual chapters.
There are so many things to consider when planning to simplify and reduce one’s life, here are some of the things I’d like to write about soon:
- The Great Material Continuum – Modifying my self-image of being someone who owns things and takes care of them, to someone who is simply a temporary steward of things.
- Media collections – Books, movies, music – physical media can take up tremendous amounts of space, but in this modern age of digital media and cloud-based storage (or streaming!) it really doesn’t have to.
- Hobbies – My hobbies have historically taken up a lot of space, from storing old drawings, having a large drafting table, and now a decent quantity of homebrewing equipment. How will I adapt these interests to suit a mobile lifestyle?
- Community – They say you can’t choose your neighbors, but is that still true when you can move your home? What would a neighborhood of tiny house dwellers look like, and could it work on a larger scale?
- The roots-free economy – The internet has really changed the working landscape for countless young tech and office workers. Digital file delivery, working and meeting by remote; a workforce that’s increasingly temporary, part-time, or freelance. How might this continued trend shape our culture in the next few generations?
I remember my first introduction to the idea of Tiny Homes. Recently married, with a kid on the way, I’d been learning a lot about alternative dwellings for several years – cob construction, straw bale homes, earthships – and there was a lot to love about the ideas. And when Natural Homes published their article introducing Jay Shafer and his Tumbleweed concept of building a tiny little living shed with a sleeping loft atop an 8×16-foot utility trailer, it was like looking into my future.
I immediately started dreaming of ways to incorporate something similar into my life, from a mobile artist’s studio I could tow from home to home, to a full-on mobile home built onto a bus chassis. The romantic in me recognized a kinship with the romanticized ideal of a nomadic existence, living mortgage-free in a home I built myself, creating art in my house-on-wheels, driving from art fest to weekend craft fair, selling my wares for gas money to get me to the next town.
It’s been about 14 years since I first saw that article, and my interest has not gone away. I’m reassured and inspired every time I see another article, youtube video, or news piece about the ‘Tiny House Movement‘ spurred by Shafer’s products and DIY house plans. I continue to tell myself that someday, when the situation is right, I’ll sell off all of my things, build a house on the back of an old school bus, and enjoy the freedom of knowing that wherever I am, I’m home.
I still don’t have a timeline for this project, or even a solid plan or budget, but I do have my goals figured out. The driving theme here is ‘Rustic Luxury‘:
- Complete the project in a single year (if not less). It’ll be a part-time project at best, but I know I’ll get discouraged if I can’t manage to get the bus to a livable state within a year.
- Build for less than $40,000. I’ve seen folks build their tiny homes for a lot less, and I think I can, too, but I’m also not building a home for just one person.
- Must sleep 3 comfortably, preferably with two separate, private sleeping areas. One of these will be for myself and my girlfriend, the other is a bedroom for my daughter for the nights she’ll be staying with me. As she’s getting older, the importance of privacy is going to continue to increase, and I want to make sure she has that even in our tiny house on wheels. A third, convertible sleeping area for guests would also be excellent.
- Minimal impact on my current lifestyle and employment. Right now, I spend most of my time either working at my computer, sleeping, or watching tv. As long as the house bus includes dedicated areas to do these things, I should be comfortable there.
- Secondary transportation. Living in Portland, there’s a lot of good options for getting around that won’t require me to drive the bus from place to place too often when I want to go do something. With public transit and Car2Go, I can get just about anywhere I need to pretty cheaply already (especially without a mortgage, rent payment or car payment, these options would be enough). When the house is elsewhere, though, it’d be nice to have along my bike at least, or a Smart Car at the most. So some sort of trailer/garage setup that can be towed behind the bus is something to consider.
- Full bathroom, with shower and tub. This will be easier than I thought – most house bus plans include a full shower, and we’ve already decided to include an Ofuro-style soaking tub. Thanks to its small footprint, this should be nice and relaxing. A composting toilet is an option my girlfriend is in favor of, and I’m open to it for now (having never used one).
- Back porch, exterior awning, possibly a rooftop balcony. Part of the goal of having a completely mobile home is to start living a life with more interaction with my surroundings, and for my money there is no better way to relax than sitting on the porch in a rainstorm, with a glass of scotch and my ukulele. An exterior awning or collapsible tent room will create ample outdoor living space.
- Full entertainment system and internet. Watching tv shows and movies has always been one of my family’s favorite forms of recreation, so a decent TV with access to my movie library is a must. Luckily, in a bus you don’t need a large tv to be able to see the screen, and most car stereos can handle USB input now so I won’t need a huge stereo system. I’ll need to give up my vinyl, which is a bummer, but hardly the end of the world. The dining area should also double as a gaming table, so I want to make sure it’s a big enough space.
- Solar powered, as much as possible. I haven’t researched the power generation capabilities of modern solar panels, but there will be plenty of roof space on a house bus to accommodate a whole bunch of panels.
- Heated with a mini-wood-stove. They make these excellent shoebox-sized wood stoves for boats, and it’s important to me to use as much rustic energy as we can.
- To use reclaimed materials for the facing whenever possible. Interior and exterior siding, flooring, windows, maybe even the countertops and furniture can be sourced from a local ‘rebuilding center’. I don’t know how feasible it will be to use reclaimed lumber for the framing, and I expect the roofing materials will need to be new simply because those don’t tend to survive the reclamation process.
- Integrate art throughout the home. Light and windows, stained glass, tile countertops and accents, decorative knobs and fabrics for the furniture. Cabinet doors can double as mini galleries, pillows and curtains can bring color and texture in. I want my home to be colorful and full of vibrant design. I’m already exploring ways to house miniature art in a small space, and have begun focusing on small pieces in my own work.
- Drivable. This one is imperative, I think, possibly the most important part of this idea. I don’t see the point in building a house on a bus if the bus will no longer be able to move from park to park, or state to state, or across the country. I want to be able to take my daughter on a road trip every summer for her annual pilgrimage to Michigan to visit her grandparents, and then drive back to Oregon through Canada, or through the southwest. I’d love to be able to take a couple weeks every year and have a different backyard each day.
That’s a lot of specific goals, I realize, but nothing in my planning or my research to date tells me that they can’t all be accomplished (maybe the timeline and budget, but we’ll see).
I’m not ready to start building yet, but I plan to use this blog space to collect my thoughts and post links to other people’s efforts along the same lines. Who knows, maybe it will become a good resource for other tiny home fans!