CASTING NEWS! And vague musings on the possibility of a sequel...

So, a lot of people ask me about the cast for the Warm Bodies movie and so far I've had only our star, Nicholas Hoult, to offer. I've actually known who his co-star is going to be for several months, but the official announcement was pending some contractual details being worked out or some such blah-blah and I was forbidden to open my mouth. But despite the lack of features in Variety or other reputable sources, word about our female lead has been steadily leaking, particularly from that female lead herself via interviews and Twitter, so enough already, let's come out with it.

Our fiery heroine Julie Grigio is to be played by this woman:

I'll give you a moment to recover that breath she just took away.

Ok. Her name is Teresa Palmer. She is an up-and-comer, so her name may not rock the bells, but you can find her in "Bedtime Stories" opposite Adam Sandler, "Take Me Home Tonight" opposite Topher Grace, and "I Am Number Four" opposite a slow-motion explosion.

I've only seen her in I Am Number Four, which wasn't exactly a Teresa Palmer showcase (she doesn't have any lines until the last 15 minutes) so I can't claim intimate familiarity with her work or her talents, but I've heard great things about her audition, and based on her performance in IA#4 and general saucyness in interviews, I think she has what it takes to capture the volatile combination of hardened badassery and wounded tenderness that is Julie. I'm eager to see how the chemistry develops between this Aussie firecracker and our politely British zombie hero.

On another note....

To everyone who's asked me if there will be a sequel and had to listen to me rant against the very idea of writing one...I'd like to amend my answer a little. I've had some ideas recently that make the prospect of a sequel much more intriguing. But I think if I do ever write one, it will surprise people. Warm Bodies has already surprised some people by not being what they expected when they heard "zombie novel", but I think the follow-up would diverge even more from that genre. There would still be zombies in it, but they wouldn't necessarily be the focus anymore. I think the characters would find themselves in a world that's much bigger and weirder than they realized, where zombies and skeletons seem almost normal compared to what else is out there. R and Julie would find out what it actually means to be the vanguard of a new breed of humanity, and that it involves a lot more than changing their eye color.

Basically what I'm saying is that, despite what I've said in the past, I think there IS a sequel in there--who knows, maybe even a series. But since it would deviate so much from the original, I would have to have a pretty large and loyal following to risk spending a year or more writing it. I would lose a lot of people by moving away from zombies, so there would have to be a big enough core fanbase to support the book even without all the rabid zombie fans. I'll be watching how things go with the movie and the paperback and all that, and gauging interest. If it seems like enough people care about this world and these characters and are willing to follow them into strange new territory...I just might take them there. So, I guess it's up to you guys. Tell your friends! ;-)

Confessions of a tired potter

I can't sleep. That is unusual considering that I have been spending far too many hours at work on the house. It is taking shape. The shake siding is up, I finished most of the electrical tonight, the plumbing should be done tomorrow and the HVAC will be done by the weekend. Oh, and the insulation begins tomorrow as soon as the inspection is taken care of. A lot has happened in the past few weeks, considering that my house was flooded on Father's Day due to my lack of any roof. I am excited to have it done so I can get back to my clay work.
I'm pretty sure this is a project I will never do again, at least not the way I am doing it. It may not be so bad if I subbed out more of the work or if it wasn't my house, or if I wasn't living with my awesome in-laws. But as it is, I am beat. I am tired. I have lost 20 pounds. I dream about pulling electrical wires, nailing stubborn nails, framing the houses, etc, etc. I would rather be dreaming about other things. So, after this is done, I plan to hang up the tool belt and get working again on that next book and spend more time with my kids and just make pots. I have a lot to do, but it is great to have something to look forward to. The chaos is decreasing and you are always welcome to stop by. I still have visitors everyday. I will look forward to seeing you. Cheers.

Animal Alphabet: Q is for Quoll (and Quetzal, too)

As it turns out, I have a drawing several years old that would work fine for this week's installment of the Animal Alphabet. I've colored it for the occasion.

That's from my abecedary entry into the "______ Are Always Fun to Draw" project from a few years ago that was, incidentally, my first introduction to the Animal Alphabet's deacon, Ben Towle. Maybe now would be a good time to mention that you can get that alphabet, plus another one with Medieval folk, in convenient micro-minicomic form, via this link.

If you're reading this and you've been contributing regularly to the Animal Alphabet, drop me a line via email (it's in my Blogger profile), and I'll send you those two little ABCs for free, just as my way to say how much fun I've been having as a contributor to the project.

Now, I like my quetzal drawing, and it was (as promised) fun to draw, way back when. But I didn't think it would be right to rest on my laurels this week, especially with so many Scrabble players checking this week's entries for ways to use their Qs.

And so, let me also present to you the largest living* marsupial predator in mainland Australia, and the second-largest living marsupial predator of all:

That's a tiger quoll. There are several species of quoll, all living in relatively small areas of Australia or New Guinea. They're about the size of housecats, I think, though the tiger quoll is the biggest of the bunch.

If you're wondering who the largest marsupial predator is (by weight), then please allow him to introduce himself.

I don't think my drawing actually does a good job of capturing the quoll's personality — its quollities, if you will. My initial doodles might actually have been a bit more quollified for that task.

And I kept wondering, as I thought about the quoll this week, why it starts with a Q instead of a K. There are, as I mentioned before, lots of antipodean animals whose names kick off with a K.

Have you kids met Keanu?

Why a quoll and not a kwall? Why a quokka, not a kwokka? Who can explain orthographical orthopraxis? Ah, alas.

*Speaking of "alas," the qualifier "living" has to appear in my lists of marsupial predators because of the almost certain demise, in the last century, of the thylacine, a.k.a. the Tasmanian wolf or the Tasmanian tiger. It lived long enough to be photographed, but not long enough for me to meet it. [Sadface emoticon here.]

Animal Alphabet: P is for Pangolin

This week's entry in the Animal Alphabet is "Another armored animal..."

Here's a link to an ARKive video that will show you the funny bipedal walking that Marianne Moore describes in her poem.

The pangolin is the only mammal that is covered with scales.

Real overlapping scales have evolved in four places in the history of life on earth, as far as I know. The most obvious is in a subset of the reptiles (lizards and snakes). The name of that group, the squamates, derives from the Latin word for scale.

Can you tell me the other two groups of animals that have overlapping scales? Both groups are extant, not extinct.

Animal Alphabet: O is for Olm

This week's entry in the Animal Alphabet is the olm.

It's not the first salamander we've seen in the alphabet: Meredith Randazzo did a mudpuppy, Lupi did an axolotl, and just last week Andrew Neal did a newt. But I'd bet that this salamander might be the strangest.

I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't heard of it. It's a very rare creature, and its habitat is confined to the caves of the Dinaric karst (on the Balkan peninsula). By the people of Slovenia, it is called "the human fish," on account of its coloration, which is really a lot like waterlogged caucasian human flesh.

It also had a reputation, back in the old days, for being a newly hatched dragon. So I guess that's the second one of those that I've drawn.

As you can see, what we have here is not just an olm, but an olm ouroboros.

It's my second nearly transparent underwater critter in a row, and I'm really not having a lot of luck coloring them in Photoshop. But I couldn't say no to the olm.

I've actually been working on a poem about the olm and its ecologically threatened position; in the poem I call the olm "the eft of the fontanelle" and play off of the fact that it belongs to the Proteus family. There's more, but I can't publish the poem here because I am still trying to find a print venue for it. One factoid that didn't make it into the poem is that olms, extremely long-lived on account of their very slow metabolisms, can survive for many years (at least six, some sources say ten) without a meal.

Here is some ARKive video of the olm so you can see that serpentine little body in motion.

I had originally planned, as you can see, a more naturalistic pose for my olm.

Eventually I settled on the ouroboros image when I saw that this week's Woot t-shirt derby is on the theme of "Things that Begin with O." If you've ever bought anything from Woot, you can vote for the olm behind this link.

It looks pretty good on a t-shirt, don't you think?

Thumbnail of the day

No rocks... Very loose

tonight's stuff

There! A few candle back creatures, a cat called samson, some manticores and a giant :)

Duck Hero

I have an amazing and heartwarming story for you guys. Yesterday me and Nichole were running errands. It was a miserable day full of pain and sadness and endless medical offices. As we were leaving one of those, we saw a mother duck leading a train of babbys across the road.

Now, Nichole loves ducks to an unreasonable degree. Which is saying something since it's reasonable to love ducks to a pretty damn high degree.


I stopped the car in the middle of the two lanes to protect the duck's passage. We giggled and squealed as the ducks hobbled and quacked. A woman and child on the sidewalk also saw the ducks and joined us in the squee party. All human hearts within range were severely warmed.

Suddenly, a metaphorical cloud passed over the sun, which was also metaphorical. The ducks were on the grassy median and were hobbling and quacking into the other side of the street. A large silver SUV with an elderly man at the wheel was barreling toward them. It seemed highly unlikely that he would see the ducks.


A vision unfolded in my head. While Nichole and the woman and the child and myself--all of us passionate lovers of ducks--look on in horror, the ducks disappear beneath the SUV's cruel black tires. Nichole, overwhelmed by the sight of her day's one ray of light snuffed out before her eyes, jumps in front of a passing truck and kills herself. The mother and daughter, who were on their way home from the funeral of the woman's parents and husband and son--who were all recently killed by an SUV--also lose all hope and suffer simultaneous brain aneurysms. The elderly man who killed the ducks steps out of the car and removes his Vietnam Veteran baseball cap.

"There is no innocence left in the world," he mutters. "I have killed it all."

He pulls a pistol out of his jacket and shoots himself in the head. His brains spray all over his wife's face. His wife has a brain aneurysm. I am left alone in a field of blood and sadness. I cry for a few minutes and then have a brain aneurysm. Later, the duck autopsy reveals the baby ducks died of brain aneurysms moments before impact so in a sense, they were killed twice.


Because as the SUV was hurtling toward tragedy, Nichole leaped into action! Without a moment's hesitation she dived out of the car and ran toward the SUV, waving her arms and screaming, "DUCKS! DUUUUUUUUCKS!"

The elderly man screeched to a stop mere feet from the ducks. The ducks, realizing they had just felt death's rancid breath on their hilarious little waddling butts, sped up slightly until they were across the road and safe in the grass.

The elderly man got out of his SUV and took off his Vietnam Veteran baseball cap. He looked at Nichole. Nichole looked at him. He gave her a crisp, wet-eyed salute, and she returned it. We all went home, pondering life and mortality and ducks.

This morning, a letter arrived in the mail. There was a key in it. It was the key to the city of Duckburg.

My girlfriend is a hero in Duckburg.

Todays Thumbnail Sketch

I have got to stop drawing rocks....seriously.

what is this, july?

Let me introduce you to...

Isaac and Eliana's little brother/sister!!!

Baby is due January 15, but will be delivered a few weeks early just like Eliana. S/He will most likely be here the week between Christmas and New Year's.

We are excited, and are grateful that everything looked wonderful with the baby at my ultrasound yesterday. I am 12 1/2 weeks along, and we are moving forward with the hopeful anticipation of meeting this little one in December!

Believe it or not...I am still alive.

Much thanks to all of my followers who have not dropped me for going dormant for months at a time. Im totally that guy that loses track of his blog when he gets busy. Here is a quick sketch I did this evening. I have started several very labor intensive environments with the intent of having a "wow" piece to post on here. However I can't even seem to finish anything. So here is something a bit more manageable. I think I'm going to try and do one of these every morning as a warm up sketch at work, that way I have something that I can share with everyone.

In other news, Is everyone going to CTN this year? The time is fast approaching, I was planning on exhibiting but I haven't had nearly enough time to do anything outside of work. Which has been very exciting lately, unfortunately I cant share anything I have been working on anymore...but it will be worth the wait. Thanks again for stickin' with me!

Animal Alphabet: N is for Nudibranch

For the Animal Alphabet this week, I have drawn a creature I didn't even know about when the project started.

Well, actually, I've been a fan of nudibranchs for a long time. But I had never seen Melibe leonina, the hooded nudibranch (or lion's mane nudibranch), until I caught it in an episode of Blue Planet.

You can see some footage of them here, on ARKive, and I think you'll see why I might have wanted to draw them.

First of all, I wanted to try to figure out how they're put together. I have never worked through more sketches in an attempt to figure out a critter's anatomy, I tell you. It took me several drawings before I noticed those two ear-like rhinophores on the back of the hood. I'm not sure about the number of wings or flippers.

And I'm still not sure that I've managed to capture the weird translucent net-ball-hood thing that is the head of Melibe leonina.

Another reason I was drawn to them was the bizarre body plan. These nudibranchs look like something from out of the Burgess Shale, and not like something that should be alive on this planet today. And in fact these weird things are plentiful, as you can see in some of the shots in that ARKive video.

The more I drew them, the more I realized that I was recognizing bits and pieces here and there. For a while they were looking like a monster I drew frequently when I was in like third grade.

(It looked like this. It was an outer space monster, so it didn't need limbs.)

Right now, my sense is that the recipe for a hooded nudibranch is about two parts jellyfish, two parts cow's tongue, two parts venus flytrap, one part dumbo octopus, one part Pac-Man, one part slug, and one part vagina dentata.

Next week: a blind cave-dwelling creature.