Arthurian Alphabooks: K is for Klinschor

Here's a version of Klinschor, yet another character from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival:
His name appears as Clinschor in the manuscripts, but it's commonly spelled with a K in modern German, so that's my excuse for drawing him this week. Fair warning: this will not be the last time I use spelling variations to fudge my way through the Arthurian alphabet! (And incidentally, on the subject of names: Richard Wagner further changed Klinschor's character, his role, and his name in creating the part of Klingsor for his opera Parsifal; a final change for the wizardly knight came with his transformation into Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H*. Ha, I kid! Moving on...)

Klinschor was a knight and Count of the Terra di Lavoro in Italy, but he had the misfortune to be castrated by his lover's husband. (Nevertheless, the part of Klingsor in Parsifal is sung by a bass.) Thereafter Klinschor turned to the arts of magic and created threatening traps for other knights in his Castle of Wonders (Schastel marveile), until the spells therein were defeated—or at least survived—by Gawan (Wolfram's version of Sir Gawain / Gauvain).

The technique this week is a bit of an experiment. I did a very quick pencil sketch from life, as a guide to the shadows, principally; then I put down the vellum and attempted to ink the image with a minimum of outlines, hoping to build up the shapes out of hatching (not unlike the way John Totleben might ink, though very unlike his way in the care taken and the effects achieved):
That turned out okay, but it lost a lot of the shadowy contrast I'd been hoping for. So I tried again by inking the pencils directly with a bias toward direct black and white opposition instead of gradations of shade (though not exclusively, as you can see below):
I liked that one better, overall, but just for fun I decided to lay the vellum over the original inks and see how that composite would look when scanned. And lo, that's how I got the version I submitted to Alphabooks and that appears at the top of this post. Not exactly the best of both versions, but I think the overlaid image is more interesting than either of its layers alone. And to spare you any scrolling up for a recap, here it is again just before the post ends:

Next week: a foregone conclusion for the letter L...

Arthurian Alphabooks: J is for Jeschute

Sorry I'm late. In this week's Arthurian alphabet image, J is for Jeschute:

Jeschute is the name Wolfram von Eschenbach uses in his Parzival to designate a character who goes nameless in his source, Chrétien de Troyes's Perceval, or The Story of the Grail. In both texts, the character is a woman who is twice victimized: first by the titular hero, whose abusive behavior can in part be explained (though not excused) by his vast ignorance of society and courtesy; then she is tormented over a longer period by her own husband, Orilus, the Proud Knight of the Plain.

Soon after Parzival has left his home in the Waste Forest to find Arthur (in hopes of being made a knight), he encounters the beautiful Jeschute lounging in her pavilion. Misunderstanding his mother's  instructions about how to treat women, Parzival grossly mistreats Jeschute, forcing his kisses on her, stealing a ring from her finger, and eating her food before riding off, completely oblivious to his violations of courtesy and insensitive to Jeschute's tearful protests. (The first time I taught this text, several of my students described him bluntly as "a jerk.") When Orilus returns to see the disorder in his tent and the distress of his wife, he assumes that Jeschute has betrayed him with another man and strips her of her finery, cruelly taunting her and refusing to believe her protestations of innocence.

As (badly) depicted above, Jeschute next appears in the text some time later. The main descriptive detail provided by both Chrétien and Wolfram is that her clothes are in tatters, little more than the collar of her shift and a few rags that reveal more than they conceal. I assumed her hair would also be in some disarray and that she would look rather pained.

I would have liked to have made her look a bit more aggrieved, rather than just wounded, and I would have liked to have made her more beautiful (at least by my lights), but I had a really hard time making a satisfactory drawing this time around. I made various attempts at inking a pencil sketch, on vellum tracing paper and then directly on paper, before I gave up and tried to get a decent freehand image. The first few passes at a freehand drawing were also pretty lousy, but the one above I can live with. I do wish it looked more obviously medieval, however; the hairstyle's disarray masks my original design, which had a more ancient appearance, and the tatters of her shift look dismayingly like a worn T-shirt. Oh, well.

Incidentally, an affecting (and effectively disturbing) cinematic treatment of Jeschute's character—or, more accurately, that of her nameless Old French forebear—may be seen in Eric Rohmer's film Perceval le Gallois (1978). It hews fairly closely to Chrétien's text, apart from its ending (in that Rohmer attempts to supply a conclusion to Chrétien's unfinished narrative, which abruptly breaks off in the middle of an episode with Gauvain/Gawain).

Dearest Baby Girl

Dearest Baby Girl

Time is speeding by at a rate that seems impossible.
I think back to the time before I was a mom (that time almost doesn't feel like it existed),
when I was so very, pathetically, afraid to enter into the parenting world.
The second I met you (in this life), that fear almost completely vanished and was replaced
with a love that hit me over the head.
Watching you today takes my breath away.
You are as close to perfect as they come.
You complete your dad and I in EVERY sense. 
We needed you. Not as much the other way around. 
You think you have got yourself covered ;)
And you just about do.
You're so stinking brilliant.
A couple weeks ago you lifted up your shirt and said "tickle tickle tickle" while actually tickling your belly!
It shocked me...I had NOT taught you that!
You continued to do it as well as doing it to other people's bellies for a couple days, until one day I heard you reading yourself one of your favorite books and I hear "tickle tickle tickle",  I look over and realize that that is what the books says!!! It says tickle the dog's belly...And I remember after reading that each time, I would tickle the dog's belly and say "tickle tickle tickle".
You're always picking up on things. Which is frightening! I better be a good example to her!

You make us laugh by just living.
It hurts in ways I never knew I could hurt by just the thought of you growing up. Ouch.
However, it is also too fun to watch you grow.
You would have no problem if I read to you from sunup to sundown. 
There are a couple times I have to take a break, but you're not worried,
you just make sure that time is mostly filled with you reading to yourself.
You are either jabbering, what you are sure to be the words to your book.
Jabbering to yourself, to us, or even people you just met, long stories or conversations that you are sure we all need to know (you are very much my daughter this way).
There is also something I try not to mention to you too often, but you are just so cute.
All you've done the last week is practice walking. 
It sometimes takes your breath away...all that walking.
However, that does not stop you.
You're dad mostly taught you how to walk, by pretending he was going to come get you
while you were walking along side of the couch. 
In all the panic to get away from him you let go of the couch and kept going like you're life depended on it!
After that you thought you would keep giving it a try.
You are as sassy as they come!
You have the personality of 20 people trapped in your tiny body of 18 pounds.

Reagan, I love you always. Never forget it!


Alphabooksbeasts: J is for Jeremy Fisher (and Jack Sharp)

As I said in my "Alphadonjon" post, I'm traveling this week, so this post is actually being composed at 3:30 AM on Thursday night, for scheduling, instead of Sunday night. Maybe I'll be able to keep it brief.

Okay, J is for Jeremy Fisher. You know his story, right?

Maybe you'll even remember (I hadn't) that the stickleback he catches is named Jack Sharp.

I'm not wild about the way this drawing turned out. I wanted to emphasize the smallness of the characters (I mean, he's just frog-sized), but apparently I couldn't be bothered to draw a setting for him to be small in. (I drew this several weeks ago, knowing that I'd need to be away.)

This was one of those drawings that, like my Gurgi and my Pushmi-Pullyu, went through a lot of problems, even up to a completely inked version of the drawing that I decided to scrap. This time, though, it wasn't a problem of character design.

I just couldn't seem to get the character or the pose to look good. Here's the scrapped ink version, very much like the final version in some ways, but missing even the tiny bit of energy I was able to get into the finished one.

I leave it to you, in the comments section, to diagnose what has gone wrong here.

Next week: a koffeeklatch of ko-konspirators. Wish me luck.

Alphadonjon: J is for John-John

My concession to the fact that I am traveling this week is that for this installment of Alphabooks I've only drawn one character from Donjon. Sort of.

You see, J is for John-John.

You can see John-John in the background of lots of the Zenith and Parade books, but it's only in the first volume of Monstres that you'll discover why he looks that way.

Do you remember when I told you that the Sword of Destiny can cut without wounding? Well, before he met Delacourt, John-John was a big four-legged potato of a guy. Then there was an altercation, from which followed an alteration.

John-John is a sweet guy, though, and although he's technically one of the monsters in the Dungeon, my impression is that he's a lot less dangerous than Grogro.

Some doodles:

Next week: the very model of a peristeronic dungeon administrator.

Lennon and Maisy

I'd like to kiss these cuties for making my day.

Well done girls

Arthurian Alphabooks: I is for Sir Ironside

Here's another knight from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur—the Red Knight of the Red Lands, whose given name is Ironside:

As usual, physical descriptive details are few in Malory, but we are told that Ironside is attractive, at least. He's also proud, and a wily fighter. Indeed, when he's in combat with Sir Gareth, his foe in the first part of The Tale of Sir Gareth, his cunning style of fighting serves to educate his young opponent, who up till then has prevailed against his enemies through straightforward strength and skill.

He's also a pretty vengeful heartless fiend—at least at first. When Gareth embarks on his inaugural quest, he does so to answer an appeal to save a beleaguered woman from Ironside's unwanted attentions. In the meantime, Ironside has cultivated a creepy habit of hanging the bodies of the woman's would-be deliverers, assembling the corpses of his knightly victims in a large group that dangles from a tree. When Gareth sees this, he's not sure what to think, but he's certain that it's not chivalric behavior.

It's something of a surprise, then, that Ironside gets recuperated: his life spared by the victorious Gareth, Ironside renounces his hateful ways, explains that it was all 'cause he loved a lady, and ends up welcome at the court of King Arthur. Go figure!

But all that redemptive stuff comes after the drawing above, which is meant to show Ironside in his pitiless days. He could maybe do with still more of a sneer, but I hope it's at least marginally credible that the face above is that of a man who is pridefully ready to hang a bunch of his fellow knights just because his would-be squeeze won't give him the time of day.

Alphabooksbeasts: I is for IT

For my non-Donjon Alphabooks entry, I have chosen a disembodied brain that I hope will be familiar to all of you.

Yes, I is for IT.

IT's name is not an acronym. IT's just capitalized because you're supposed to speak ITs name with fear and respect. IT dominates the minds of an entire world. IT is what Big Brother wishes he could be.

IT poses some compositional puzzles, if you're just working from the description in Wrinkle in Time.

For starters, IT is on a dais inside ITs dark dome-shaped building, but L'Engle doesn't say whether the disembodied brain is floating in a sort of receptacle, or in a terrarium, or just sort of flopped onto the dais in a pile. I opted for the fishtank approach.

Second, IT is supposed to be larger than a human brain. I exaggerated this a bit, but if you're just drawing a brain in a tank, how is anyone to get a sense of scale? I had to put Meg and Charles Wallace into the picture as points of reference.

I had a lot of time to think about this drawing before I had a chance to put it on paper, so I guess it's no surprise that my first doodle is pretty close (in terms of composition) to the final version.

Next week: a stickleback and the fisherman who catches him.

Alphadonjon: I is for Isis and Isidore the Scribe

Okay, this is another week in which I'm composing my Alphabooks posts at about 4:00 AM on Sunday/Monday, and I don't need to make an even later night of this. Let's be brief.

I is for Isis, the Kochak Princess, and for Isidore the Scribe, bearer of the Sword of Destiny.

In Dungeon, one woman turns out to be the love interest of both Hyacinthe (as the Keeper) and Herbert, two of the main characters in the series. If I understand Terra Amata genetics correctly, she even seems to have had children with both of them. And that's Isis, the Kochak Princess.

Isis is supposed to be sexy, but not in a cheesecake sort of way. Rather, her sexiness comes from confidence, competence, and self-determination, as well as a mysterious or at least checkered past. It's that last factor that's symbolized by her hip tattoo: she's been a member of a thieves' guild. (If you can't see the tattoo, maybe you can click to enlarge.)

So: there's your sexy cat-woman, as promised last week.

As for the sorrowful scribe: meet Isidore. He appears in the book occasionally when someone tries to steal the Sword of Destiny, as he is one of the Sword's former wearers. He wore it, however, for only twelve seconds before someone killed him and claimed the sword. (I haven't read the volume in which this story is told, because it's one of Dungeon's French-only publications. Maybe one day.) Anyway, that's why I didn't put the Sword around his waist: I figured by the time I could explain it, you'd be more than twelve seconds into this post.

Not much to tell beyond that. I include a couple of doodles so we can carry on the conversation about energy in the sketch versus the finished product. I know I like the facial expressions on Isis better in these sketches. Alas.

Was that my idea of a brief post?

Next week: I'll be traveling, but I'm hoping to schedule a post with a creature (or is he two creatures?) before I leave.
Court Date Set!!

Our social worker called and let us know that our court date has been set...September 11th! This date can not come soon enough.  We received new pics of Isaac from the agent and we cannot believe how much he has grown in just a few months.  She let us know his shoe size and clothing sizes as well, needless to say I had to do a lot of unpacking and repacking! :) Not that the suitcase has been packed since March!

Arthurian Alphabooks: H is for Hallewes

With this week's Arthurian Alphabooks drawing, you may be forgiven for thinking that H is for Headdress—
Believe it or not, the headdress is closely patterned on an illustration from a genuine medieval manuscript!
—but in fact H is for the lady Hallewes, a minor character in Malory's "Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake" from Le Morte Darthur. Minor—but unforgettable, because she is One Creepy Dame. Hallewes is a sorceress who has employed her magic(ks) to create an enchanted trap for either Gawain or Lancelot, whichever, though really she has her heart set on Lancelot. And just what does she want with him? Why, to love him, naturally. And if he won't love her back, that's hardly an obstacle. Let her speak for herself:
     "And Sir Lancelot, now I tell thee, I have loved thee these seven year, but there may no woman have thy love but Queen Guenevere; and since I might not rejoice thee nother thy body on live [=alive], I had kept no more joy in this world but to have thy body dead. Then would I have [em]balmed it and cered it [=wrapped it in waxed cloths], and so to have kept it my live days—and daily I should have clipped thee [=embraced thee] and kissed thee, despite of Queen Guenevere."
     "Ye say well," said Sir Lancelot. "Jesu preserve me from your subtle crafts!"
While the whole episode takes up just a few paragraphs in a massive tome, I find that the specter of the lady's necrophiliac canoodling with a mummified Lancelot produces an outsized horror. Brrr!

*     *     *     *     *

And now, a process note or two (mostly for Isaac's benefit, as he has expressed interest or at least tolerance for these in the past). As the caption below the above picture indicates, I actually did a little visual research for this drawing, consulting a few books of medieval images to find a headdress that I thought was suitably wacky and some clothing that seemed appropriately wanton for a dangerous woman driven crazy by desire. (I borrowed the headdress and the rest of the clothing from two different illustrations, but in both cases the women pictured seemed more assertive in their desires than is often the case in illustrations from this period; if anything, the neckline of the dress in the original manuscript image plunged even further than in my drawing above.)

For the second week in a row, I tried to see what it was like to ink a vellum sheet laid over my original sketch. Oddly enough, my brush seemed to behave like a nib pen when I began (as I often do) by inking in the eyes. I remembered that Gary Martin, author of two books on comic-book inking, suggests an exercise where the inker should try to achieve brush effects with nibs and nib effects with brushes. I'd been trying to get a brushy calligraphic line out of a nib pen ever since I was a kid: my first cartooning efforts were full-on imitations of Walt Kelly, and I simply didn't know at first that he used a brush rather than a pen. (In my defense, I was seven at the time.) But making a brush line look like pen work seemed like a weird (and difficult) exercise to me. Now that I've accidentally achieved something of that effect, in at least parts of this drawing, I can see the virtue in making the single tool more versatile, and given my recent problems with ink blots from nib pens it might even be more practical to use a brush for my "pen" lines, thereby to reduce the risk of blots and smears. Still, I suspect that the pen-like qualities might be owing more to the unfamiliar tooth of the vellum surface and/or the viscosity of my ink.

I also had a more practical reason for using vellum, which is that my preliminary sketch this week was drawn not in pencil but in ballpoint pen, which is a lot harder to erase than pencil. That did mean, however, that the rough sketch survived the ink job, so for the sake of comparison here it is below (slightly blurry and rendered in grey rather than the original blue):

It's a commonplace of cartooning to lament that finished drawings lack some of the energy or spontaneity of the rough art. Well, sure, and there are ways in which this rough drawing probably does a better job of making Hallewes look crazy; but to my eye, at least, this rough version of Hallewes also looks less like a highborn lady or a credible amorous threat to Lancelot. She also looks a little too robust, so I made sure to gaunt her up a bit in the finished drawing, which accounts for her thinner lips in the inks. (As for the heavy shading around the eye sockets in the final version, it occurred to me while inking that I might want to suggest "the skull beneath the skin" in this person who, if not herself "possessed by death," wanted to possess Lancelot in death).

I kind of like the face in the rough drawing—it looks like a usable study for some other character—but, despite the label scrawled at the lower right of the picture, I don't find the rough drawing very convincing as Hallewes. So score one for the finished drawings, for a change.

Herbert and Hyacinthe, Corrected

You guys, I am embarrassed. I let my drawing of Hyacinthe and Herbert go out on the internet (even into sketchy neighborhoods like Tumblr) with an error!

I have fixed it below. I leave it to you eagle-eyed readers to spot the difference and identify it in the comments section.

Alphabooksbeasts: H is for Humbug

For this week's non-Donjon Alphabooks, I have paid a visit to a book I enjoyed quite a bit as a kid.

You may recall that in the 1961 novel The Phantom Tollbooth, our your protagonist Milo is accompanied by a watchdog named Tock and a flim-flam insect called the Humbug.

I had originally hoped to make my Humbug look a little like P.T. Barnum, but none of the portraits I could find of Barnum made him look much like a bunko rascal. (More like an avuncular scamp.) Anyway, I took my cues from some textual clues and made the Humbug look a little dandified.

You may be more accustomed to seeing the Humbug like this, as he appears in the book's original illustrations by Jules Feiffer:

(Here he is, talking to Milo)

Or, perhaps, if you're conversant with the feature-film Phantom Tollbooth, this will be the Humbug you picture (on the right, duh).

(Here's the source for that Chuck Jones image.)

I wanted to work from the way the Humbug is described, however, and although there's not much visual description in Phantom Tollbooth (which is more concerned with the fun of language than with non-linguistic details), we do get some information:

...from around the wagon stepped a large beetlelike insect dressed in a lavish coat, striped pants, checked vest, spats, and a derby hat. "Let me repeat—BALDERDASH!" he shouted again, swinging his cane and clicking his heels in midair.

So apparently the Humbug goes for sartorial hodgepodge. Does the result look a little bit more 1968 than 1961to you?

Here's a doodle.

Next week: some disembodied evil, and maybe an outer-space sea-slug. We'll see.

Alphadonjon: H is for Hyacinthe and Herbert

Here's the first of this week's Satisfactory-Comics Alphabooks:

With the letter H, in Donjon, you happen to get two of the series's main characters: Hyacinthe, known as "the Keeper" during the Dungeon's Zenith period—he owns and manages the titular Dungeon—is also the hero of Dungeon: the Early Years, wherein he goes from a naïve young student with romantic notions of derring-do to a savvy and jaded widower. Herbert of Craftiwich, on the other hand, is the protagonist of the Zenith and Parade stories, and a major character in the Twilight storyline as well.

During the Zenith / Parade segment, they know each other well, but I've drawn Hyacinthe here as a young man, probably before Herbert was even an egg, so this particular scene could never actually happen in Dungeon.

Hyacinthe's costume in this drawing is slightly different from the way he usually dresses once his studies are underway. In the city, he forms a secret identity ("The Nightshirt") under which to fight for justice (and woo a curvaceous snake-lady assassin), and his musketeer hat and sword really belong to that side of his personality, whereas the tunic is part of his daytime wardrobe. But I didn't want to draw him as The Nightshirt, because that would belong under N, right?

 You may be wondering why Herbert is merely carrying the Sword of Destiny, and seems to be threatening to pinch or flick any approaching enemies. Well, early in his carrying of the Sword, before he had done three great deeds of valor with his own hands, the Sword would not allow him to draw it, or to use any other weapons. Instead, he had to learn to fight with just sticks and feathers.

He gets to be quite good at them. And then, toward the end of the second volume of Zenith, he's reminded that, because he's a duck, his whole body is covered with feathers.

Alas, this talent only works against green creatures, but before long Herbert is more diversely competent (and better equipped) than we see him here. Eventually, the Sword even lets him draw it.

This drawing came together pretty easily. Originally I had thought about having the two heroes doing a sort of transgenerational fist-bump, but once I drew a doodle of it I realized that (a.) it would be hard to make it "read" clearly and (b.) posing the fist-bump would put them too far apart on the page for good drama.

So I opted for the comics cliché of heroes spotlighted against a wall. I promise I won't overuse this pose. It just seemed the best way to imply that they were both important and heroic.

Anyway, next week: A sexy cat-woman (hello, Google hits) and a sorweful scribe.

Moon farter

Cottage Sketch

Car Concept Sketches

Just a few more warm up sketches. I love cars :) Also, If you're looking for something to do on facebook please like my art page! Located at this address....

Family Pictures


little one, this makes me miss you at your nap time


 a  small illustration of how this girl reacted to picture taking.
teething is mostly to blame.

 You would never know that she was sobbing hysterically


this little beaut gives it away slightly though

Oh and P.s.....


(for those of you that don't already know)

We are very excited. We have always planned on having our little ones close together.

And this time we will be surprised. You may all feel free
to cast your vote.

Sometimes it's hard to share a river...

Happy Independence Day! I hope it was swell for you.
We spent the morning at a pancake breakfast at the church, which, for the past 10 years has been followed by a water fight. It is kind of an unusual water fight as the line is generally drawn between my self and my posse of two or three brave souls who wield our water-filled fire extinguishers against the rest of the kids in the neighborhood who are all poor-sports and gang up on the kids who look more like adults—namely us. It was awesome. There is something utterly refreshing about a water fight, especially in July, and today was all that.
We spent the afternoon with family on the Weber River, floating on anything that floats from Hennefer to Taggart, or about 7 miles as the crow flies. For the most part, it was also a refreshing experience, but for the first time in my life, I found myself feeling that it is hard to share a river. It was a strange mix of folks on the river today. Most of them were under thirty, had at least one visible tattoo, had at least one visible piercing, had at least one visible beer in their hand and were very visibly drunk. I found myself wondering if it was a frat party as at least 80% of the folks on the river fit this description.  Am I getting old?  Is it wrong for me to be offended by the exercise of free speech that leaves my children and myself feeling violated, like we were recreating in a polluted river. And lets face it, it was polluted heavily today. With the majority of the folks drinking beer as they floated down the river, I didn't see even one person carrying a tote bag for their empty cans. Instead, those cans went into the river I love.
I have floated this river a few times before, and in those cases, I had the river mostly to myself. It was beautiful. Birds of prey were soaring overhead, deer danced on the banks, trout played in the water. But when you have a gazillion people on the river, the magic of that place cannot be seen. It's hard to share a river with those who don't appreciate it the same way I do. I missed the solitude. I missed the silence. I missed the magic. We had a wonderful time despite the distractions, and we will certainly go again, but next time, I hope those who share the river with me might be more sober, more considerate, more thoughtful.
Have you ever come across a Sprite can or a Coke can in the wilderness? I haven't. But since the time I was a child, I have picked up and packed out hundreds of beer cans left by insensitive travelers who must have been enjoying themselves so much that they forgot that we share the wilderness with everyone, and most of us like not finding other people's garbage in the places we love the most.
I know it's not my river. I know people have every right to dress the way they do and express themselves the way they want, but tonight I am appalled by the growing disrespect and degradation of society. It is hard to share a river with those who don't care for it and love it and respect it enough to leave it better than they found it.

I don't know, maybe I have been reading too much Terry Tempest Williams.

On a positive note, I have been writing—abundantly—and I plan to have the next book done in December, just in time for Christmas.


Took along time to finish this piece, fitting in an hour wherever I could, I may still work into it a bit. Enjoy! Thanks to all my followers who stuck with me through my droughts. This piece will be available in prints at CTN this november!