So, This week I have the wonderful opportunity to ask another of the heavy hitters at Ten Ton Studios 20 questions. This round, it is Phil Hilliker. Phil is quite a talented illustrator. He has done cover art and interior art for gaming companies. Here is the thing about Phil's work. He is technically skilled and creates wonderful forms that are delightful to behold, but where he separates from others is unusually sense of whimsy. It is difficult when looking at his work not to have a sly smile come to your face. Even in his serious pieces, there is usually something hidden in the background, some detail that makes you catch a glimpse of what has to be a wry sense of humor waiting to come forward. Take some time and look at his work in detail over at Minotaur Studios and thank me later. Now onto the questions.
As many of you know, I got a degree in geography because I make maps for a living, and the story of place is something that has always excited me. So one of the things I enjoy looking at is people's geographic story. So, Question 1: What is your geographic story? Where were you born and where are all the places you have lived since then?
I was born in Michigan and grew up in Taylor, a suburb south of Detroit. A year after finishing my art degree at College for Creative Studies in Detroit, I followed my girlfriend to Chicago, where she was getting her PhD at the University of Chicago. We got married while living in Chicago and the years between then and now have been a nomadic journey from one side of the country to the other as her career developed. After Chicago, we spent a year in very southern Maryland. It was beautiful but we had to drive an hour for a decent movie theater. Then four years in Tucson, AZ, which was also beautiful but really hot. Now we're in the process of setting down roots in Richmond, VA.
It's been amazing to live so many places and experience so much of the country. I miss things about every place we've lived. If you ever get a chance to attend the All Souls Processional in Tucson, go. It's stunning.
And since I'm a freelancer, I can plug in my computer and be at work anywhere in the world, which really freed up my wife to take the most advantageous gigs she could to further her career.
So, you have been all over the flipping place. Question 2: Is there a place that you consider "home?" If not is there a type of place that you would gravitate to if you could... Mountains, deserts, beaches, etc...?
I still consider the Detroit area home because that's where much of my family is but I don't ever see myself moving back there. Chicago is the city I miss the most. If I could get Chicago, surrounded by mountains and Tucson's beautiful skies, Richmond's mild winters and the Detroit Institute of Arts (a stunningly world class art museum), I'd be extremely happy. That's not too much to ask, is it?
So, really, all you need is massively cosmopolitan urban area nestled in a bowl of mountains within an arid humidity free sky coupled with 4 seasons of weather. Sad to say, but I think that might be too much to ask.
Yes. If you could use your influence to make that happen, I'd really appreciate it.
Well, people from far and wide are curious to your answer of this next question, and I know you are stricken with terror at the mere hint of it. Let's just bite the bullet and get it over with. Question 3: Cake or Pie, which kind and why? Please be disturbingly specific.
Ah, the age old question that divides empires, topples friendships and has ruined countless happily ever afters...
The sordid history just underscores the difficulty of giving a definitive answer. They are both such lovely beasts with their own unique and tantalizing qualities. How can one justly apply some sort of arbitrary measuring system upon them and expect them to conform? Impossible! Only with hubris rivaling the builders of that doomed tower of Babel can one expect to tackle such a quandary and, even then, only at the expense of his beloved sanity.
In this instance I am reminded of foolish King Somdoor, ruler of the Ventiun realm for more years than his subjects would have liked. For you see, he didn't have a great number of hens in his roost, to put it in the local vernacular. He often held incorrect notions about the nature of things, believing clouds to be collected bird flatus or that nails grew only when one wasn’t looking directly at them and the like.
King Somdoor came to the throne at an early age because his father, also a dolt, never properly chewed his food. It was well-worn knowledge in the kingdom that King Hucklock III ate as if he were a pig at the trough, swallowing great mounds of food as quickly as he could. A combination of his poor mastication habits, a blueberry pie and a poorly-timed but also uncouth joke about a barmaid’s bedroom habits led to hearty laughter, monstrous choking and eternal death for Hucklock.
As Somdoor possessed fewer chickens than was optimal, in that moment he saw pie so closely dancing with death that the two of them became directly and irrevocably connected. He arrived at the erroneous conclusion that pie was an evil mortality dealer determined to bring about the end of not only his kingdom but all of humanity.
The day of his coronation, pie and all of it’s confectionary relatives were outlawed.
Prior to the anti-pie decree, the realm of Ventiun had a reputation of having some of the very best pie in all the known world. It was one of the reasons blueberry pie had been present when Hucklock heard the story of the barmaid and her many lovers. A state dinner had been thrown for the visiting emissary from Foldar, a far distant land, and the king wanted to impress his visitor with the hopes of opening new, crust-based trade routes, potentially doubling Ventiun's economic output.
As with anything people love that is put into forbiddance, a black market pie economy flourished in the underbelly of Ventiun. Unbeknownst to the king, the love, production, and consumption of pie continued, albeit to a lesser degree in poorly lit basements and at quadruple the prices.
Somdoor's snub angered Sugour, the god of pastry and betting houses, greatly. Conversely, Laudeeluc, the god of gamblers, also serves as the god of tin foil, which had not yet been invented. This unfortunate bit of timing unquestionably lowered the number of worshipers that recognized her usefulness and greatly diminished her power. Does one believe the house always wins today? Attempt gambling during Somdoor's era when Sugour had the benefit of pastry adoration on his side. Gamblers never triumphed.
Sugour cursed the kingdom of Ventiun, making sure their exports soured in transit and their sports teams forever lost. Only the most stone-headed gamblers bet against the house when the Ventiun Centaurs, the local fireball squad, scrimmaged.
Opposingly, because of their refusal to adhere to the law, Sugour blessed the citizens of Ventiun, helping them to live their lives through luck and happenstance. They regularly found coins on the street. The tax collectors consistently died before performing their duties, leaving money in the people’s purses while denying it to the state. Roofs never leaked and so never needed to be repaired.
Crops failed. The kingdom couldn’t afford to pay, house, or even feed it’s army. The gardens in the mansion died. The kitchen staff had to make due with serving stale barely, rats, and insect carcasses. Stubbornly, they refused to bring in their own personal stashes of beer and venison that were paid for by all the bills found in the pockets of their breeches on laundry day.
The king brooded. He blamed pie for the kingdom’s downfall. It was, after all, when his father was murdered by berry-stuffed-desert that the problems began.
To add to the misery, a moaning soon began emanating from somewhere in the mountains to the east. The kingdom became more ragged and the indecipherable lamentations grew louder. Every night at sunset, gnashing of teeth and incomprehensible, out-of-tune dirges would begin, disturbing the king’s rest. His uneven sleep diluted his already meager judgment even more. The people slumbered through the racket using the earplugs they bought with money street magicians fittingly pulled from their ears.
The king called his most trusted advisor and questioned him as to the source of these aural assaults and how to stop them. The advisor, Gipm, nervously revealed it to be the sorrows of Somdoor’s ancestors, past kings lamenting the passing of their kingdom from greatness and into squalor at the hands of the present ruler. After the first such declaration, Gipm was jailed and lashed. After a week, he regretfully gave the same refrain. After a week’s more dungeon and whipping, Gipm, thought that, yes, maybe, perhaps he had been wrong about that after all and it was just the wind.
Having unintentionally, yet unrepentantly, killed Gipm through dungeoning and lashening, the king put forth a decree. Anyone who ably and thoroughly squelched the source of the nocturnal weeping would have the privilege of marrying the king’s beautiful daughter, Tallulah.
By the standards of the day, Tallulah had already become a legend before she’d even left childhood. Travel was difficult in those times, most men having never ventured farther than even a dozen miles away from whence they were born. High talk of Tallulah traveled at least four times that same distance. Traders visiting the kingdom returned home with tales of her guile and wit.
At the age of eight she calmed the Baker’s Riots that occurred after the pastry prohibition began simply by standing on the back of an ox cart and singing “T’was a Nightly Pleasing,” a tender yet baudy refrain that brought the crowds to both tears and laughter.
“’Tis too bad she ‘as such an oaf for a father,” they would say or “I have no thought at’ll how such a fair maiden sprung from such curdled loins.”
The idea that the king would barter off this fair young mistress, and that she would have to go along with it simply because the king demanded it, caused the people to grumble more loudly. It became common to hear the simple folks openly speaking ill of his majesty right on the street and questioning whether his shriveled bag still held tight to any of its scruff or if he’d become as bald as a newborn in his distress. If he’d had any fuzz left at all, it was said, he would travel into those mountains himself to untangle the nuisance.
Heroes young and old flocked to Somdoor’s domain to try their hand at accomplishing the task, for such a prize as the lovely Tallulah was irresistible. Each man rode his steed off into the mountains with whatever measly provisions the poor castle could provide never to be seen again.
As the years passed, the people felt comfortable that they wouldn’t be losing the jewel of the kingdom, the only proper thing in the castle, their precious princess. It didn’t stop the commoners, however, of giving wintery welcomes to every new sword that passed through or from taunting them with ballads based upon the failures of their predecessors. “The Horrid Decapitating of Spineless Sir Crutchwell” and “The Night Sir Pikedell Watered his Codpiece with Tinkle”, while largely speculative (as the actual fates of the heroes remained unknown), properly wracked the steel of the newly arrived knights. As many began to give up the quest as continued to disappear into the mountains.
About that time, a wandering magician-baker, Cyril, stumbled into town upon his weary horse in search of a room. When questioned about his motives, the unkempt man claimed to be in town for the fifteenth annual Cupcake Cup, a three day, below-the-table baking competition that had developed as a result of the king’s sugary prohibition. The reputation of the TripleC, as it was known locally, had traveled nearly as far as Tallulah’s herself. Only the best bakers reached their flour-dusted hands towards this most elusive and illustrious victory.
Every year as the population of the city swelled like a to-term cow ready to labor, the king would look out of his windows, confused as to the source of the liveliness while wishing he had a tax collector to gather all of the levied tolls and tariffs.
A small man on no real means, Cyril attempted to slumber early, determined to get an ample amount of rest for the next morning’s baking challenge. However, the Pickled Pig’s innkeeper failed to give Cyril his complimentary earplugs, which resulted in Cyril being thoroughly woken up by the ghostly wailing emanating from the mountains to the east.
Having studied thaumaturgy under the wise guidance of the great Purple Rolan (such called as he accidentally dyed himself a lovely shade of lavender while bewitching flowers), Cyril immediately recognized the horrid singing as that of a wood troll and deciphered the lyrics without hesitation.
Quickly rushing to the kitchen, Cyril gathered his needed ingredients and baked until the rooster called forth the sun in the western sky. It broke his heart to abandon his quest for the Cupcake Cup for another year but his skills as magician-baker were needed much more greatly than his skills as a competitive pastry chef. The triumphant unveiling of his loganberry and pear pie recipe would have to wait. A wood troll needed help.
He rode out of town towards the eastern mountains to the astonishment of the hoi polloi. “He told us he were here for the TripleC, not for poor Tallulah,” the suspicious folks complained. “But he ain’t got no sword,” the observant ones noticed. “He’s just loaded up with all those pies.” And loaded up his horse was. Cyril had piled at least thirty pies, a stack equal in size as a good-sized farmhand was tall, on every surface of his horse. They sat on his hindquarters, his head, and even some in Cyril’s own lap. “Wave goodbye to the liar, Honey. Glad we ain’t gonna see him again,” said a miller to his daughter.
A short time later a great ruckus from the eastern mountains startled the occupants of Ventiun. They had never encountered such a noise during the daylight hours before and it gave them a mighty great fright. The rattling and rumbling even caused the first day of the TripleC to be postponed on account of both the tables and the competitors’ hands shaking in equal measure.
At early afternoon the upheaval ceased but the citizens of Ventiun found the peace difficult to accept. When Cyril rode back into town ragged, bruised and pie-less, the people mobbed his horse, pulled him down to sit on a stone and demanded to know what had occurred.
A trumpet blast suspended the questioning and the king barreled forth through the crowd.
“Tell me your story, Stranger, before I have you dungeoned and lashened to death!” The king blew fiercely through his nose.
Cyril bowed. He fell prey to the pride that he felt in the moment. “Just King Somdoor.” The crowd snickered. “Firstly, I do not believe dungeoned and lashened are proper words, your highness.”
After a week of dungeoning and lashening, Cyril once again bowed before the king. “I apologize, your majesty.”
“Continue. How did you stop the witching hour bellows? For they have not intruded upon me once during this past week.”
“You’re problem was simple enough to a properly learned man. I trust that your advisors are not such creatures.” The king shifted uncomfortably as he’d killed his one and only real advisor. “For you see, upon hearing the mourning song of a wood troll coming from the eastern mountains, I understood the creature to have lost its way. Wood trolls do not belong in the mountains. But also understanding that wood trolls are horribly cantankerous when lost or confused, I knew that I could not get near the beast to help it. I baked a mound of pies-“
“PIES?!” The king grew angry. “ILLEGAL!”
After another week of dungeoning and lashening, Cyril was allowed to continue. “You see, your majesty,” Cyril sat upon to floor as he had not the energy to stand upon his feet and his back ached with the power of an entire barn of stampeding horses. “I approached during the day, when the troll would be tired and listless, for they are nocturnal creatures, which is also why your peace was only disturbed during the evening time. And I used the food to lay out a path that the troll could follow. It winded its way out of the mountains to the woods far to the north, where the troll’s songs proclaimed him to have a wife and child. Once back in it’s known home, the troll’s tempest calmed. He allowed me to come close and he, along with his entire clan, thanked me with vigorous hugs I will be glad to not experience in my life again. My appearance upon returning was the result of the appreciation they held in their hearts for me. I am glad to say that your old nightly plague has ended.”
The king thanked Cyril with vigorous hugs, which agitated the whipping wounds dreadfully. He smoothed over any hurt, however, by declaring Tallulah to be Cyril’s proper reward, an outcome that Cyril didn’t have any notion towards as he’d only arrived in town for the Cupcake Cup. He turned the king’s gift away, saying that he could never accept a woman as a simple prize, as if she were a mere horse’s saddle.
Recognizing that Cyril had only aimed to assist the troll in trouble and that helping the kingdom hadn’t been the basis for his action nor had possessing her hand, Tallulah saw the selflessness and honor that Cyril possessed. She fell in love with him at once and a marriage was planned soon after.
The moratorium on deserts still stood. However, given Tallulah’s insistence and Cyril’s rumored skill with floured favors, the king allowed a temporary waiving of the restriction for the day of his daughter’s wedding.
As the king was poor because of Sugour’s curse and Tallulah was much loved by the people, the subjects bound together and organized such a wedding as the realm had never seen. Everyone from the lowest cobbler to the highest merchant attended.
Cyril created a wondrous twelve-tiered tower of spice cake and raspberry icing that the world had never before tasted. The king sat upon his throne happy for the first time in many years, a plate of cake in one hand, a fork in the other and a smile upon his face.
But even after all he’d witnessed, King Somdoor still ate as his father did, as though he was a pig at a trough. He pushed too much cake into his mouth and promptly choked until his soul left his body, making Cyril the new king and Tallulah the queen.
With a magician-baker for a king, Sugour lifted his curse and looked kindly upon the kingdom for many generations.
Pie and cake are both equally delicious and, at times, equally deadly. Treat them with the respect they require.
Also, my wife’s cheesecake is the best thing ever, hands down. If you ever set another cheesecake in front of me, I will kindly eat it and give appropriate comments while recognizing it to be an inferior competitor to my wife’s unexplainable goodness.
Right... so cheesecake it is. Many people find that cheesecake is much less a "cake" but more of a crustless custard pie. You, gentle bard, have chosen the sound of one hand clapping. You have eschewed the typical bivariate notion of "Either/Or" and opted for "Neither/Both," for your wife's cheesecake is neither cake nor pie, however it is both cake and pie simultaneously. Truly cheesecake is the meeting of the "yes" and "no" of "pie" or "cake." Well played, Mr Hilliker, well played indeed.
Man! If only I'd meant to actually be that cool with my answer. Thanks for making me look better than I actually am.
I have mentioned a few times that I knew that I not only liked to draw, but felt pretty good at it when I was five and put a teeny tiny pilot in the teeny tiny cockpit of a jet I drew. Question 4: So when did you realize that art was your thing?
I can't really pinpoint on moment in my life when it all clicked. As a kid I always knew I was going to be an illustrator, although I didn't know that proper term for it back then. I just wanted to do the pictures in books. It was about second grade, though, when I noticed a lot of the other kids were no longer doing their own drawings. Instead, they were asking me to draw the stuff they had in their heads, almost like we were all playing art director & illustrator without knowing it.
My job, as a jackass interviewer, is to make you look better. Stick with me, kid, and I will make you look amazing. It is interesting that early on you found that you wanted, specifically, to be an illustrator. It was comic book artist for me, but none of that super-hero stuff. I wanted to be on Transformers or GI Joe, because I can smell quality when I see it.... something about that last sentence both works beautifully and does not work at all... at the very same time... simultaneously, even.
Question 5: You currently (or in the recent past) do illustration for a few different pen and paper RPG's, do you play RPG's or is it just an outlet for your professional capabilities with no personal interest to speak of? If so, what game systems do you play?
Yeah, I still do some RPG work. At this point it's mostly for Shadowrun. In the past I've worked for AEG, White Wolf, and others. And when I originally got into it, for like the first ten years, it was just a way for me to draw elves and goblins and such while getting paid. I love fantasy and sci-fi and RPG's were the portal that allowed me to make those kinds of images but I never played them. I didn't have anything against them of course! I was, after all, contributing to their creation. But I didn't have any friends that played them when I was in that formative period in high school when people seem to discover them.
However, I met a guy when I moved to Richmond that had a group and was looking for another player. So over the past year I've started playing and I think it's made my illustration work stronger as a result. There's something about actually creating and playing a character that has improved my work. Or, at least, I think so. Others may disagree.
As to what I've been playing... A Cthulhu-themed GURPs (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/) game has been the biggest focus. There's also been some Villains & Vigilantes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villains_and_Vigilantes).
It is very interesting that you had not played the any paper and pencil RPG's until recently. I would have thought that you would be using gaming experiences to inform your illustrations. That was one of the things that drew me to you Shadowrun work. I had a character throughout college playing with a few other gamers, and one of the things I always enjoyed doing was cranking out illos of the characters in the group. That and reading the source material really helped to flesh out the concepts. I would feel mighty hamstrung if I did not have an intimate knowledge of the material.
Most of the time I just get a character description or scenario from the art director. If there are an questions, the art director is on top of it. So not knowing a property intimately isn't an issue.
Question 6: Is there an RPG property out there that you want to play, and have not had the opportunity yet? and is there a property that you would like to work for that you have not yet had the opportunity?
Now that I've started, I'm really open to playing any of them. With that said, I still haven't tried Dungeons & Dragons, which seems wrong. It's the shadow looming over the entire industry. It'll probably happen soon.
As for the one I would love to work on? It'll never be a possibility now because it's not being produced anymore, but I would have killed to have worked on the Harry Potter Collectible Card Game. So much of the work on that game was whimsical and beautiful and inspired.
I think your style would work really well with the sinister nature of the last few Harry Potter properties, but I think your would shine with the more whimsical nature of the first few properties. I would have loved to see you doing that work. You do seem to work on a myriad of properties, and your own personal work seems to be different than your paid illustration gigs. When I have 20 Questions'ed with other artists and entertainers there seemed to be an ultimate goal, work on a marquee book for Marvel or DC, some tangible entertainment goals, etc... Question 7: Do you have an ultimate goal for your illustration, is it different from your art, and if so how do those two goals differ?
Ultimately, I want to write and illustrate kids books. Particularly picture books and middle grade novels directed at the 8 to 12 year old set. Reading had a huge impact on me as a kid and I would love the chance to be the kind of creator that some young person out there really connects with. To affect someone in such a way is a huge accomplishment and compliment to the work that I would be over the moon to be that creator.
I've been putting together pitches for the last little while and sending out proposals without any offers to publish. It's a tough industry and it'll take time.
Question 8: Have you entertained the idea of self publishing a short run of books or figured out some kind of on-demand publishing?... I know that some genres are more appropriate for self publishing... is the children's book market ripe for self-publishing?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated, actually. The picture book market is starting to open up a bit more to self-publishing and indie authors than it has been in the past. Although, there does seem to be some tension still between traditional publishing and "indie authors", as self-publishers now call themselves. As I've been exposed to it, I've been kind of surprised by it. We're both familiar with the way the comic book industry works- indie comics are not only a huge part of the industry, they're often celebrated and seen as the way to break into the mainstream, big-paying gigs at the bigger publishers. There's a feeling that if you have a story to tell, why aren't you telling it already? Between webcomics, kickstarter, digital publishing and the like, the avenues for self-expression are totally open. It's a happy existence in the comic world. Some work is more professional or polished than others and the most creatively successful work often floats to the top, finds it's audience and becomes successful either monetarily or, at least, in praise.
Historically, though, in kids books, it's been the exact opposite. There's been an assumption that anyone who wants to self-publish their books is going to be difficult to work with or sees themselves as too good to work within the system. And, I suppose, that's certainly been the case often enough that a stereotype of self-publishers evolved to where it is today. Because people who self-published in the past, because it costs so much money to print small runs of full-color picture books, may have been doing it to spite the industry, to thumb their nose at a system that they may have viewed as problematic. (That's not, of course, how I see it.) And anyone trying to do an end run around an entire section of the media is going to be somewhat antagonistic towards that industry. Who wants to work with a person who feels like they have it all figured out and doesn't need anyone else's input? So I can understand the industry's weariness of someone who may have done that in the past.
Nowadays, however, I think things are changing some. The entry barriers are so much lower with digital publishing. The monetary ones, anyway. That doesn't say anything about the needed level of professionalism that the writing, artwork, and production work calls for, which is very high indeed.
But when it comes to creative work, the mantra is always "Do what you love." And, really, that's simply what I want to do. I want to do what I love. And that's tell stories.
So, yeah, I am thinking about putting some stuff out as e-books. I just have to make sure that it's the very best work I can possibly do.
Comic books, novels, and music seem to be the most readily acceptible self publishing venues... I could see how the kiddy lit groups would try to hold onto the more traditional models. I would love to see a version of your stories, because I find the ways that your mind twists things to be delightful.
Thanks! Hopefully I'll have something to actually share soon.
So, Ten Ton Studios started out as a collective of disparate artists who were trying to break into the comic book industry... which, of the initial few people in Ten Ton had a pretty good rate of success (all things considered). Question 9: Were you initially striving to work in comics? and if so, is that still a goal and if not how/why did the goal shift for you to what you are striving to do today?
Originally, yes, comics was a goal for me but things changed. I have loved comics, and still love comics, deeply as a medium and storytelling device. But I found the creation of comics to be tedious work. It just didn't fit my personality or the way I like to work very well.
I did some indie comic work early on, got some published while a whole slew of stuff never left the pitch stage, but I just couldn't fully throw myself into it. I enjoyed reading them much more than producing art for them.
My preference is to concentrate more on singular images and to seek more diversity in my subject matter. So drawing the same characters forty or fifty times a month for years (if I had ever been lucky enough to become a regular on a book), just didn't get my creative fires burning. Luckily, I realized it early enough that I could focus my energies elsewhere.
It is pretty good that you realized that fairly early on. I too have always loved comic books and really enjoy the sequential art story-telling medium. I went to college fully expectying to get my studio art degree and transfer those abilities into taking the comic book world by storm with my delightfully artistic and never before seen methods of illustration... That did not happen. Instead I got a degree in mathemetics and stopped drawing for about 12 years or so. I finally started drawing again about 5 years ago, and I am just now starting to feel like I am "getting back into form." I am not sure where I was going with this, but I guess I am just in a sharing mood. Oh, wait, this was all about knowing early on or something like that.
I'm glad that you've gotten back into it. You're a solid part of the boards at Ten Ten.
Question 10: Do you have a favorite media to use and why? Traditional v digital, mixed media, paint, pen and ink, etc...
I love traditional paint. If I had my way, I'd be sitting in a cave somewhere undisturbed, working away with acrylics or oils. But practicality in the face of deadlines and life often pushes me towards digital- which I don't actually mind at all. The digital realm offers so many solutions for illustrators now. I use an old Wacom Intuos 2 tablet and Photoshop CS2. In fact, I don't mind it so much that I have a tattoo on my arm featuring both a paint brush and a Wacom pen.
I have never been able to push paint... maybe because I call it "pushing paint?" I see digital continuing to be more prominent. That is one of the great things about the Ten Ton Sketch Challenge. Since there is a potential prize associated with the challenge, the pieces have to be done with traditional techniques.
so, Question 11: Fill in the blanks: I feel that I am mostly _____. Others feel that I am mostly ______.
Even as I type this I'm questioning myself but I'm going to be truthful. This is one of the weird, opposing facets of my inner life versus how others perceive me. Inside, I'm such a mess of uncertainty, especially with people that I've only met a few times. I've tried very hard to fight this side of me and cover it up. I don't even think most of my friends know that I'd much rather run away screaming in self-conscious horror than be thrust into a social circumstance with people I don't know well. Just know that when I meet you, I will have a running inner monologue chastising myself for every little thing I say- that it wasn't smart enough or could have been more clever. Every time I meet someone new, I walk away convincing myself that they think I'm a dullard.
Sounds like you might have some social anxiety going on, and that is completely understandable. Funny thing about dullards. When I was in high school my best friend and I would (when in the mall or movies or what have you) play the game "Pick the dullard." Where, just from first impressions and purely superficial observations we would determine if someone was a dullard. We would indicate seeing a dullard by saying, "DULLLL-ard." I am pretty sure, unless in high school you were a mouth breather, you would not make the DULLL-ard cut. I would also imagine if you have any kind of interaction, that dullard moniker would go away as well. All of that being said, I LOVE that you use the word "dullard." That, my friend, is an underused word.
Great! As if I need something else to be wrong! In all seriousness, I think I've developed some decent coping mechanism for it since most people can't tell. Or, I'm lying to myself and I'm the weird guy at the party. Who knows.
Question 12: What is another under-used word that you would like seeing re-introduced into modern day vernacular?
Oh, there are so many. A few years ago I had a word-a-day calendar featuring underutilized and archaic words. And while I love the word goldbrick (one who shirks an assigned task), I have to go with quotha. It's an interjection of surprise or anger. Try yelling it right now. I can wait.
So next time your horse throws a shoe or the chamber maid walks in on you half attired, go with the latest in fashionable language and make quotha your choice exclamation.
Quotha? I will have to look at it pronunciation, but that could be a winner winner chicken dinner.
This being Question 13 and all, it is time to get superstitiony. So, when I was in high school I had a ritual to get ready fo a soccer game... a sequence of getting dressed that got me ready to play the game. Some considered it a superstition or belief in luck, but it was more of a process to get my mind in the right place for the game. More of a ritual than a superstition. Question 13: Do you have any superstitions or rituals?
Um.... I don't actually think so. But I'm horribly unorganized and scatterbrained. So perhaps some rituals would be a benefit. It would at least add some sort of order to a small section of my day. Perhaps I should adopt some just to mix it up a bit. Got any good suggestions? Perhaps something involving cool robes and candles. Yeah. And a goat head mask. Those are neat.
I have found that I lack pretty much any ritual in my life right now. This paucity of ritual has impacted some of my intentionality in how I go through my day. While I am unencumbered by religious ritual currently, because of past transgressions of churches against my sensibilities, I have to give credit where credit is due. Religion feeds the ritual in people's lives. That ritual creates a framework for people to work within. I have always rebelled against the bossy places in my life and tried to always be outside the box. That being said, I think I need to be generating some daily ritual into my life, and adding more intentionality.
Yup. I agree. Ritual and community are the two biggest things I miss about church. As creatures, we hate feeling like we're alone. Gathering with like-minded people to participate in a communal activity is powerful. In my case, going to figure drawings sessions around town helps. I just wish I had the time to do it weekly rather than monthly.
Lately (within the past 2 weeks or so), my 5 year old daughter has realized that I draw stuff. Since that point I think I have drawn about 20 configurations of horses, wings and horns. Question 14: Has your young one recognized your talent and made you start jumping through hoops within it? If so, what is the subject matter with which you are being subjected?
Oh, yeah. He noticed probably 8 months ago that I could passably draw most things that he asked me to and he's pretty obsessed with lights and ceiling fans. Which means I've drawn hundreds of ceiling fans recently. Pages and page of them. I'm including some evidence.
Now THAT is awesome! I love it. What a wonderful thing on which to fixate. I see that he requests some variations to the fans so that is nice, and I imagine a trip to Lowe's is pretty much exciting for a kid interested in ceiling fans. well, it is either exciting or massively overwhelming.
Yeah, he requests the color, light shape, and size. He's very specific. And Lowes is one of his favorite places ever! Nice catch.
One of the things I have noticed recently is that both of my kids are reluctant to draw for themselves because when they do "It's not as good as yours, Papa." They don't seem to understand that I have about 30 years of experience under my belt with some formal training in addition to the experience. Question 15: Does your boy draw or is he intimidated by his father's more than capable abilities?
So, that's actually one of my biggest regrets as a parent so far. I wish I'd never shown him that I can draw. My kid is a perfectionist and shies away from doing things that he knows he won't be great at right from the start. So when he noticed that I could draw whatever he requested, he stopped drawing. In the past 9 months or so, he's barely painted, colored, or drawn. He just tells me what to draw. I call him the little art director.
Even at preschool his teachers have commented that he's more reluctant to draw and paint than all of his classmates. I see these kids taking home piles and piles of colorings and, so far, in the first two months of preschool, we've seen two.
But who knows. Maybe in 6 months it'll turn around. Things are constantly changing with kids. Or he'll never draw. And his perfectionism will drive him to be amazing at something else entirely. Maybe he'll invent the robots that finally take over. That'd be neat. Whatever. I don't put any expectations on him but I do wish that I hadn't intimidated him away from something I love.
That is a big frustration that I have not really figured out how to deal with as well. The youngest likes for me to draw her things and then she colors them in. I have thoughts of having her draw some things and having me color them in, but I have not tried that as of yet. The idea might have some legs to it... maybe this week I can try some of that... a little back and forth between the two of us. That should work nicely.
You have read at least a few of these interviews I have done so... Question 17: Is there a question you were expecting me to ask, or was there a question that I should have asked you by now?
I'm surprised there haven't been more pop culture questions. What I watched as a kid or most influential comic books growing up. Something of that sort. That's coming next now isn't it?
Question 17a: So, what comic books did you grow up with? Who was your superhero of choice as a kid?
My first comic was issue one of Marvel's oversized Star Wars adaptation. It was in my kindergarten class' book collection. A truly fantastic teacher noticed that I spent time looking at it on a regular basis and she eventually just let me take it home.
Otherwise, I just stole my older brother's comics and read those, which always lead to massive fights. He's five years older than me and, being a little kid at the time, I was pretty rough on them. I see now that he was being protective of his collection and I kind of feel bad that my wanting to read them gave him so many problems. But it's the only way I could read G.I. Joe comics! So when I was really young, G.I. Joe was my thing.
Upon entering my teen years, DC quickly became my company of choice. Mostly because I loved all the legacy characters like Flash and Green Lantern and the sense of history that came along with passing the mantle. Wally West forever!
I remember that oversized Star Wars adaptation very fondly. We also got the Empire Strikes Back one as well as the Return of the Jedi oversized books as well. They were amazing. I remember that the Empire one had a deleted scene with a Wampa getting into Echo Base. Great stuff!
Ah, now it is time to turn the tables. Question 18: What question would you like to ask me?
Can you share with us your most embarrassing convention-going experience? (I hope this doesn't become my question 19!)
I don't really have many convention going experiences because I really haven't gone to too many conventions. I think the biggest thing that I run into when at conventions is when other artists and have No. Idea. Who. They. Are. Talking. About. This happens way too often. Some artist I will be talking with will start talking about a "well-known" comic book creator's work, and I have no idea who the person is, what style of work they do, or what books they have worked on. I have had my art compared to other artists, but my touchpoint on comic book artists is strong on Marvel and DC pencillers from the 80's to the mid 90's and then there is a gap until you get to the absolute superstars from 2009 on. Everyone from 1995 to 2008 is a blank for me. I try to keep up with Grapes when chatting with him, but his knowledge of comic book artists is encyclopedic. This lack of institutional knowledge tends to make me feel a bit like an imposter at conventions.
You shouldn't feel bad about that at all! It's why we go to conventions- to see people, perhaps find work, but also to learn! I do know what you mean, though, when I talk to so many of the Ten Ton guys, they have all this obscure comic knowledge. Penciliers from the 50's or European artist I've never heard of. But instead of feeling self-conscience, I try to be open and use them as a resource and discover something new and fantastic.
Don't worry, Q 19 will not be a repeat of this question for you. Question 19: What are you taking away from these 20 questions that you did not bring in with you?
It's really putting into stark reality just how far from comics I've gotten. Even while I love the medium, I just don't have to the time or money (they're so expensive now!) to devote to keeping up with much. In the past 3 years, I've only really picked up issues that friends have worked on or people rave about to the point that I've got to look into it (like Locke and Key, which is amazing).
If you would have told me then years ago that there would be a point where I'd go six or more months without buying a comic, I'd have laughed at you. And while I do miss some of it, I have to say the present me is okay with the current situation. That need to keep abreast of every development is gone. I guess too many summer crossover events and retcons will do that to you.
It truly is amazing how much money is really necessary to actually "keep up" with the comic book industry. I try to keep up with people I have actually interacted with, but those guys are producing too much to even be able to keep up with them. It is a good problem to have.
Question 20: What is next for you? Be as concrete or as vague as you want, be as short term or as long term as you want.
I'm terrible at keeping up with my projects. I have work, I think, in two more Shadowrun books coming out in the next little while. Like we talked about earlier, I have a couple book projects in various early stages that I'm sending out to publishers.
Bits o' Kitsch is a fun project that I'm in the middle of right now. I painted 50 scrabble tiles, so very very small paintings, all under an inch square, that I'm just abandoning around Richmond, VA for strangers to find. The images all have kitschy subject matter or motivational, positive messages. It's just a fun little thing that I hope makes some random people that I don't even know smile. You can see some of my progress on my website here- http://www.minotaurstudios.net/2013/10/bits-o-kitsch/
This has been a lot of fun!
both kids were ill this past week
I finished up one of my classes this week as well
it has been a stressful week to say the least
the next class starts up on Monday
tired of snow
tired of cold
and really just plain tired
sleep will come tonight
oh, yes, sleep will come
tonight I am watching Jackie Kashian's new hour long special
"This Would Make an Excellent Horcrux"
from All Things Comedy (http://www.allthingsrecords.com/)
$5 for an hour of some of the best stand up ever
Yep, that is the date I am going on with the wife tonight
One of my best friends is deciding between job offers
THAT is amazing
Have a great weekend everyone