I happen to know that there is an extraordinarily cute black-and-write cartooned children's booklet (it's stapled, so in some ways it resembles a minicomic more than a book) called The Story of the Venerable Bede, by Beryl McCartney, available in the cathedral in Durham where Bede is interred. I thought for sure they'd also have this cute little book at Bede's World in Jarrow, but I can't find any sign of it on their website. (That's right: the website for an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon monastery.) Anyway, dear Google searcher, if you contact both of those places, you might be able to get the booklet for £3 or thereabouts.
On the other hand, maybe a cute kids'-book approach is not what our Googler was looking for. In that case, let me show you a house ad for the rare (because it only existed in an alternate universe) 38th issue of Bede Comics, which introduced, as you can see, the sensational character find of 730:
(click to enlarge, if you dare)
I'm pretty sure Bryan Talbot got hold of this extra-dimentional rarity, and perhaps a few other issues of Bede Comics, when he was working on his massive Alice in Sunderland:
Bede also figures prominently in Talbot's Alice...
... so maybe our Googler would be content to click this Amazon link.
Mike's off traveling this week, so I guess he gets a pass on doodling. Hopefully I've been Medievally learned enough that he won't feel like our brief was mishandled.
It's been much longer than I would have liked since I last updated. A lot has been going on in the Delisle house. Much of it is incredibly joyful; some of it is not.
Last Sunday, we headed to the cemetery for the first time in a while. Between the blizzards we had (and yes, we did go to the cemetery, shovel in hand, and dug a bath to our sweet Isaac's grave so that we could visit) and then Eliana's birth, it had been a few weeks. That made my heart hurt, and for some reason, made me feel a little guilty. But we made it there last Sunday, and I stood there and cried like I hadn't in quite some time. Because this time, Eliana was with us. We introduced her to where her brother was buried, and explained to her that he lives with Jesus in heaven. Spencer and I both know that a then 2 1/2 week old doesn't understand that... but it felt like we needed to tell her something.
This past week I received a phone call from the school where I teach that in order to preserve my position there, I would need to return to work sooner than expected. I had hoped to stay out the rest of the school year, and had been told that doing so (which took me 9 days beyond the 12 weeks of FMLA leave) shouldn't jeopardize my position. My thoughts immediately raced to how to manage feeding Eliana while being back at work and not wanting to interrupt our routine. The following day I received another call saying that human resources would not let me return to work earlier than I had indicated on my leave form (which, coincidentally, asks you to list your dates of expected leave), and that my position at the school would now become a vacancy. As a teacher returning from leave, I am at the "end of the line" for vacant positions within our school district, essentially being assigned any "leftover" position once the transfer season is over. The long and short translation is: my 20-25 minute commute could potentially turn into a 90+ minute commute, depending on where the vacancies are... if there's even a vacancy for which I am certified at all. If not, I would be put on leave without pay indefinitely. I'll flat out admit it: I am stressed. My principal is great and is doing his best to figure something out. Please, please be in prayer about this on our behalf... that there would be a way to retain my position at this school; that if I can't, God would provide a desirable position with a manageable commute; and that I don't end up on leave without pay indefinitely.
And lastly, just a few picutres of Eliana's sweet face that I get to wake up to each morning...
She loves her activity mat and trying to hit the purple elephant!
In the afternoon we drove into Gainesville and attended the Spring Garden Festival at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. There were over 200 vendors of plants, crafts, and food in a beautiful setting with live music on two stages. On the drive home we stumbled upon an outdoor concert with a terrific band.
Sunday evening we drove to Ocoee and stayed at a motel so as to get an early start the next day at Disney's Wild Kingdom Park. We enjoyed the park very much. It was a cool day in the 60's, just right for all the walking one must do at these parks. The rides and attractions were fun but we especially enjoyed the two live muxical shows; Nemo's Adventure, and The Lion King celebration. I am always amazed by the broadway caliber type talent that perform in these show. We completed the day with dinner at The Rainforest Cafe.
On Tuesday we came home via Ocala so we could visit with friends, see some of our old haunts, and dance at Spanish Square in The Villages in the evening. We enjoyed a great dinner and conversation with the two Richard's and their wives at a Sam St. John's Seafood Restaurant before going dancing.
Now, I suspect I know which of our pages drew this searcher to the site, but it's true that Sauron is a subject Mike and I really haven't broached. So, in order to satisfy that long-gone Doodle Searcher, here's some of our faux comprehensiveness:
Mike got his "doodle" done first. He adds, he says, "some relevant text" to the template from Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics, by which he has been much charmed of late.
Please click to enlarge, because this blog template's not good at displaying Dinosaur Comics legibly:
Mike adds, "I am pleased to note that a search for the terms 'hobbit' and 'hobbits' in the archives of Dinosaur Comics turned up no hits."
As for myself, by dint of the peculiar reading practices of my childhood, "Sauron" to me never primarily signifies the End Boss of the Rings. Rather, Sauron is this guy: a psychic-vampire were-pterodactyl predator on mutants whom the Claremont-Byrne X-Men encountered during their post-Magneto's-Antarctic-Base sojourn in the Savage Land. Again, click, if you want to see my scribbles bigger.
Here are some "process" thumbnailing doodles that I include simply for the sake of completeness. You needn't click on those. I have to say: Sauron's not as easy to draw as I thought he'd be. Those wing-arms of his are pretty hard to work out, and his head is a weird shape.
Uncanny X-Men #115 was one of the first comics I ever owned, and I read it to pieces, engraving it into my brain so thoroughly that I still had a clear visual memory of Sauron hypnotizing Wolverine into thinking his teammates were monsters, a couple of decades after the last time I looked at the comic. Still, before I could draw this doodle, I felt I had to do some image research.
Here's the cover, yanked from the Grand Comics Database:
The previous issue ends with the revelation of Sauron as a villain, resurrected (or retconned into survival) from a pair of issues in the Neal Adams X-Men era, in a splash panel that also contains some stunningly pulchritudinous Storm cheesecake. (I am stunned also because the seven-year-old Isaac that grabbed that issue from the newsstand didn't even register it.)
Wolverine, in his early one-dimensional "hothead" mode, charges in to attack Sauron in another dynamic splash page. (There's a nice bit of foreshadowing in the previous issue, in which, via "fastball special," Wolverine kills a gigantic pterodactyl that has grabbed Storm out of the air.) Cyclops warns him not to get too close, but for the time being, no one else on the team knows that Cyclops has faced Sauron before.
I love that last pair of panels: the heroes transformed into monsters. That's the way the general population is supposed to see the X-Men anyway, right? Looking at them now, I wonder whether there's an inking or coloring mistake in the monster version of Nightcrawler. Maybe it's just supposed to be a creature of creeping shadow? (The highlights between his ears could be eyes, I think.) But hey, I'm not going to say Terry Austin mis-inked Byrne, nor will I blame any influential art directors of The New Yorker for misreading Terry Austin's inks.
Anyway, there's the sequence I remembered so vividly.
The next thing Cyclops does, in case you're worried, is knock Wolverine unconscious so that the three unhypnotized heroes don't get cut to ribbons.
And young Isaac grows up to be a bit of a nerd.
So anyway I was on the ferry, which I love because I love water and boats and open air and not being around buildings or trees in general, and I saw something weird:
Sorry ive been so busy with work lately i havent had any time to do any drawing for myself. I should have some free time sometime soon. Heres something to hold ya over until then. Been building a ton of environments at work. Took some time to do one of my own.
Im also working at Bully entertainment as a concept artist. Stay tuned for a boatload of fresh artwork sometime in the future from working at Bully. Will have some new work to post shortly.
In thinking through much of it further and in talking with Spencer and a close friend, I am realizing that part of what seems to be compounding my struggle is feeling like I should already have a better idea of what's "normal" for a newborn... the sounds, the sleep patterns, the eating habits. The whole being a "first time" mom to my second child has been wearing on me, perhaps, more than I realized. So my goal, for now, is to really just try to relax a little and to not worry so much. I trust that when the temptation to worry and fret arises, that the Lord will meet me in that.
On that note, our beautiful Eliana is 2 weeks old today! Just caught a few shots of her hanging out in her bouncy seat as Spencer and I finished up dinner...
Eliana is doing well... seems to still have her days and nights confused, despite trying to help her with that. She also appears to be having some issues with gassiness and therefore a lot of night time fussiness when we try to put her down. She isn't a great burper (we've tried every "burping position" out there...) and she seems to want/need to be held for a bit after being fed in order to help her tummy digest a little better. Needless to say, we're not getting much sleep around here. A very welcomed dilemma (the no sleep thing) in a lot of ways, but making it hard to keep up with blogging, returning emails and phone calls... not to mention laundry, dishes, and regular household things. With Spencer returning to work next week, it has me a little anxious. In some ways I feel frustrated... I feel like I should know better about what's normal and what's not, and how to best help her. But I don't. It's difficult to be figuring this out for the first time with my second child. I think that's probably been weighing on me a bit as well.
Please pray for Eliana... that we could somehow figure out a way to help her, that her tummy would be able to digest a bit more easily, that she would get her days and nights straight, and that her sleep would be more restful than fitful.
Please pray for me... I feel really helpless sometimes in figuring out what's wrong and how to help Eliana feel better. The planner in me has a hard time with a non-routine, and the "art" of nursing is hard for a planned, practical, analytical demeanor like mine.
Please pray for Spencer... that the sleep he gets would be restful. He has been so awesome about being up with Ellie and I, helping with feedings, helping around the house, and just trying to make my load a bit lighter. I have no idea what all that will look like once he needs to go back to work next week.
Thanks for praying with us through this transition of figuring it all out :)
So, I was signing books at the Lehi Costco today and I had several people who stopped by to thank me for the book and ask about book three. I also invited them and now all of you to fill out a reveiw on Amazon .com. It is easy and its free and will take just a few minutes. All you have to do is click on the title of this blog entry and it will take you right there. Then all you have to do is click on the button that says, Create your own review. Then just follow the prompts. I really appreciate your help in spreading the word. Cheers, Ben
Eliana was supposed to be good and sleepy during the shoot, but most of the time she was so alert! Crissie did get some great shots, though, in teh few moments Ellie actually was asleep.
Anyhow, here's a sneak peek of a few of the shots... I love the last two in particular!
Richard and Louise and Rich and Zoe all drove up from Ocala for a visit on Thursday. We ate lunch at Huckleberry's BBQ in Fanning Springs with real southern BBq that is smoked on the premises along with sides of fried okra, fried corn, and mustard greens. Everyone enjoyed the feast. After lunch we took the short drive to the Dakotah Winery for a wine tasting. Everyone left with bottles of wine. This was our second visit and it won't be our last.
Here at the rental, John and I have played a few games of horseshoes, Mary has quilted, I've gone for my daily walks down to the river, Mary and I have played cards, and we've all watched a couple of movies on the tv. It is hard to believe that our time here is half over already.
Someone has gone and archived audio for every one of Burt Ward's Robin's "Holy Something!" exclamations from the Batman TV show. Who knew there were so many?
What to say when you meet the knock-off actor, Ted Damson...
Is it still a catchphrase if it becomes predictable? ...
What to say when you start a pilgrimage to the Hyde Park Bar & Grill...
Don't ask Adam West how to pronounce nuthatch...
...And of course, the ode to Fredric Wertham.
They're downloadable samples, so get your beatboxes fired up to do some remixology. I want you to get all Art of Noise on this business.
Thanks to our pal Gerry Canavan for the tip.
P.S. I don't mean that doodle to be a caricature of Burt Ward in particular. It's just a grotesque little Robin cosplayer, in a sort of stylistic homage to a Tony Millionaire story I read this weekend.
Spencer's mom and stepdad came up to visit on Friday, and they captured this picture of Eliana that just captured my heart...
I love those big eyes and her sweet little cheeks!!
I was repremanded by a couple of blog readers for letting too much out about book three. Sorry. I wont do that. I thought I might just write a bit and tell you all where I am. I am on page 106, which is not nearly as far as I hoped to be. I have had to stop my writing and concentrate on what is making me money. I will be participating in Art and Soup, a fundraiser for Community Nursing Services which takes place every year at the Sheridan Hotel in Downtown Salt Lake. That runs in two weeks from Tuesday to Thursday. That is always a big money maker for me and since I am still a potter who relies on that income to sustain me and my book writing efforts, I have felt compelled to make pots. I am hoping to give the book more attention next week and then after the show. Tonight, I am up late, firing a kiln and trying to catch up on emails. I might write a bit too, eventhough I usually dont do well if I dont have at least a couple of hours to concentrate.
I want to thank those who have written their reviews on Amazon and encourage you to share your feelings about the book with the world via a book review on either Amazon or Goodreads.
I am feeling lately like I have too many hats to wear. I would like to take the time to look for an agent, but I feel more compelled to finish Becoming Isaac before I do. Still, I think there has to be an easier way than spending so much of my time signing at Costco. I enjoy getting out and meeting folks, but I will tell you--it is not easy selling books to people who are grazing on the free samples or there to buy groceries. I have heard some of the lamest excuses, seen thousands of diverted eyes, been ignored, been chewed out, wanted to quit about fifty times, etc etc. This is different for me--I feel like I am starting over. People know me for my pottery and people drop by my studio all the time to buy stuff, but signing books is a different beast. Sometimes people treat a $12 book as a lifetime marriage. Granted, $12 is more than it used to be for most folks, but, hey, it comes with a free self-propelled movie. That's got to be worth ten bucks all by it self, right? I dont know. I'm still trying to figure people out. Last week, on a Tuesday, I signed 95 books at the Murray Costco. On Monday I went back and only sold 50. I cant figure it out, but I will tell you, signing books can be wonderful one day and the sincerest form of drudgery the next, depending on the day, my attitude and the people in the store.
Tonight I spoke to a book club on the south end of the valley--Nice group, very supportive. I enjoy these experiences--they make me stretch and reflect on the journey these books have been for me. I have been speaking to 2-3 book clubs every week since January and have a busy schedule ahead, but if you have a book group who would like to hear me talk about the story behind the story, let me know.
When I was signing on Monday, I had a nice old couple come in and buy both my books. They explained that they had just returned from Guatamala City with a tour. Someone on the tour was reading my books and telling everyone on the tour that they needed to buy them. (I'm pretty sure it was not a relative. :) ) Anyway, thanks for spreading the word. It makes the drudgery of selling books more pleasurable when I hear stories about how people are responding to the books. Thank you.
If anyone cares, I will be at the Bountiful Costco on Friday and the Orem Costco on Saturday, from noon to six. I will try to blog again soon. Cheers, Ben
In a moment of weakness, I made a Formspring.me profile.
You can anonymously ask me any question you want, and I will answer it--not anonymously, but as myself.
I attribute this decision to innocent funloving curiosity, NOT staggering narcissism.
We've really enjoyed being at home spending simple moments together, like taking a snooze with dad...
And, when she's not being held and snuggled, Eliana seems to love her bouncy seat!
Here are a few shots of Ellie at one week old this morning...
I had my first "moment"this morning... you know, the ones that sort of catch you off guard? I was bringing Eliana downstairs and as we walked by Isaac's picture that is hung on the wall of our living room, she looked up at it and was captivated. She just kept staring at his sweet face... and I lost it as I whispered to her, "That's your brother, Isaac..." knowing that those pictures are all she'd know of him on this side of Heaven. While that's not a new concept for me, it was the first time it played itself out and it just made my heart ache. I am sure that there will be more moments like that... that sadness intertwined with so much joy. Today, though, we are just so thankful for the thirty-seven weeks we've had with Ellie inside my tummy, and the one beautiful week she has been here with us since her birth.
I can guess which of our pages gave the Google a place to land, but clearly this is an issue which we haven't really addressed before, and since I know we have a readership that appreciates comics-history arcana, I'll give a few details.
Some of you may know that in 1971, the year of my birth and the year Jack Kirby moved to DC, shockwaves rocked the zeitgeist of Green Lantern and Green Arrow when it was revealed that Green Arrow's kid sidekick Roy Harper, a.k.a. Speedy, had fallen prey to the seductions of heroin. It's a pretty famous story, and the cover has seen at least a handful of swipes and parodies. (Scroll through all the images in that link on "swipes"; it's worth the time the whole post takes.)
What you may not realize is that DC almost undertook their own twist on this famous cover, at that moment in the early '90s when mutants (and mutagenic serums) were all the rage in comics. Yes, they briefly considered having Roy Harper shoot up with some sort of dragon's-blood mutie-juice that turned him into a double teen. Here's a treatment for the cover of the never-completed story:
At least, that's my explanation for the Googling this week.
As for Mike, he says,
My initial thought also involved Oliver Queen's ward, but when Isaac sent me a sneak-preview of his contribution I knew I'd better try something else. (I'm fine to post something nearly identical to his work when the similarity is not premeditated but only discovered after the fact of drawing... but since I hadn't drawn anything yet it seemed not quite cricket to duplicate his doubled Speedy and thereby quadruplicate the critter.)
The second and third Speedys I thought of were Señor Gonzales and Wesley Webb West, better known as Speedy West (a name apparently given him by Slim Wilson—the human Slim Wilson, not the Muppet). When an image search turned up a picture of Speedy West wearing a necktie not unlike Speedy Gonzales's neckerchief, I decided to double up on the Speedys by drawing Mr. West's head on Sr. Gonzales's body. So that's what I did.
That's Mr. West's pedal steel guitar in the background, of course. Furthermore, in an effort to satisfy the "double speedy" request, I drew this piece PDQ; but you probably didn't need me to tell you that.
...And that's this week's attempt at penance. What will the rest of the week hold? Time will tell.
It is glorious... and I mean that sincerely.
Sure, I wish I could get a little more sleep, but I wouldn't trade a restful night's sleep for any of this. It is such a gift to be able snuggle Ellie, feed her, listen to her little squeaks that almost mimic singing, and yes, even to be able to change her diaper.
Even the "unpleasantries" of these early newborn days have a strong element of joyfulness for us; we've shared many laughs over the fact that Eliana makes some of the funniest faces and the fact that sometimes when we go to change her, we have to do it three times in a row because she's that "busy."
We are doing incredibly well, as is Eliana! Even the pediatrician gave her a glowing report today!
And so, this afternoon, when I caught a rare stretch of idle minutes, I decided to practice dessiné-ing une sloth, with these click-to-enlarge results.
How's that for a paresseux parisien? I drew it without reference images.
My thanks go out to the members of the freshman comics-history class at the Center for Cartoon Studies, who reminded me of the essential iconography of the Frenchy striped shirt. A baguette and a beret might not have been enough to Francofy my folivore.
Stay tuned for this week's Doodle Penance. It'll be speedy...