Well, I did have something entirely different cooked up for this next post – I’m trying to get back in the saddle with posting regularly, and all sorts of brainstorming’s going on.
What I had will wait until next time, though, because some crazy good shit went down yesterday and even though you may not give a shaved ape’s ass about it, I gotta share.
Item number one: as of two days ago, my buddy Matt Loter’s game got funded on Kickstarter. Now, while this bodes poorly for keeping Matt’s ego in check, the funding of his game is important to me for two reasons.
First, his success and the success of my friends’ Jason Snape and Matt Link’s game, encourages me regarding the usefulness of Kickstarter. Kickstarter’s been around a couple of years, but I’ve been skeptical of it. I’ve seen a lot of failures there, and I’ve seen a lot of utter crap succeed. Matt, Matt, and Jason have proven to me that cream can rise. It just takes patience, tenacity, and a decent product.
Second, the thrust of a lot of what Matt does is subversion of societal tropes, and his game Glamazon’s Vs. The Curse of The Chainmail Bikini does just that. The days of scantily clad adventuring bimbos in geek culture is almost over, and Glamazons might be one of the nails in its coffin. Nobody can have tits that big, a waist that small, a metal or leather suit so tight, and still survive.
ALSO. Yesterday my mom won her mayoral run, and Earnestine Pittman lost. This was two separate mayoral races, and both results are game changers.
My mom is the greatest woman I personally know. She got off to a rocky start with her life, but some time in her early 40s, she turned everything around and made good on it. She has literally taught thousands of kids in South Georgia how to swim. She’s been a popular and successful school administrator. She raised three kids to be pretty damned awesome adults: one’s a fucking rocket scientist (no shit), one’s an aspiring country musician, and well… one’s me. She’s been a wife and a grandmother that I sincerely believe every wife and grandmother should try to emulate at some level.
And now, in the sunset of her years here on Earth, she’s the motherfucking MAYOR of a little town in South Georgia that better be grateful for the ambition she has on their behalf.
Congratulations, Mom. I love you. I’m proud of you.
After all that positivity regarding my mother, I’d feel dirty listing all the reasons why me and significant portion of the Atlanta suburb where I live are dancing on air because our mayor, the incomparable Earnestine Pittman, lost her re-election bid last night.
“Lost” is a misleading word. She got spanked. And it was a spanking she’s deserved for a long time.
I won’t say anymore. Just… buh-bye.
Finally – and I won’t dwell on this long, because I intend to dedicate several future posts to it – Hallowed Waste Press finally published that novella of mine yesterday. Look down a couple of posts and you’ll see where I’ve already written about it.
All that remains is to encourage those of you who have Kindles and Kindle readers to go buy it, and if you haven’t, buy my other stories, too.
Go! Go now!
Yesterday was a good day.
Last week I teased you a little about an upcoming story of mine based on an ancient Genesis song. The story still isn’t out yet - I think it’s going to be released sometime either next week or the week after that. Definitely this month, which is cool because the last time I got a story published, it was also right at the end of October.
The new story is going through edits right now, but once they’re done it’ll only be a matter of days.
For now, though, I can at least share with you the cover art for the story, designed just like all my story covers are designed, by the indomitable Jason Snape. I’ve given visitors to this site some insight into Snape before, here and here. Once again, I find myself in his debt, for the cover to this story is sublime, evocative, and just about perfect.
And here it is!
As a quick aside, in between doing this cover and the covers for these other stories, Snape and my friend Matt Link managed to get a game of their design accepted by Game Salute (the folks who also did Alien Frontiers and Nothing Personal). The game is going to get Kickstarted next week, so look for it. Here’s an overview of the game.
Consider this a plug for it. So… given all that, next week you can get all sorts of wintry goodness all over you, what with Kickstarting The Great Snowball Battle and reading The Three Trespasses, Part One. Enjoy!
It’s Friday and I think I have all of the Con Crud out of me. I’ve also had time to organize my thoughts regarding this year’s Dragon*Con. I also didn’t sleep ’til noon today.
All of that is to say I’m ready to tell you the highlights of Will Kenyon’s Dragon*Con 2012.
1) THE CROWDS. I was having breakfast with two good friends (and partners in crime at the Con) Wednesday, when one of them - Eddie - asked if my concerns about the noise and chaos had been justified. I’d expressed some trepidation, you see, about how prohibitive the massive crowds were to getting around, and how the constant noise level could make even a social animal like me look for silence and solitude. Here’s my wishy-washy answer, and little factoid for you: Yes, the crowds got on my nerves. But no, not as badly as I anticipated and not as much as last year. You see, this year the Con and the host hotels were much more strict about letting people without badges or hotel room keys into the hotels themselves.
That means there was likely more than 10,000 potential onlookers - people who wandered in off the streets to goggle at the costumes - who were NOT in the walkways, nor crowding the bars, nor taking photo ops in the middle of high traffic areas.
And you could feel the difference. Sure it was still an adventure to cross from the Hilton to the other side of the Marriott Marquis. But you could do it, and in decent enough time, too. (As a side note, the elevator wait times were down, too - less party crashers hitting buttons for every floor.)
My friend Jay, who works for the Hilton, seems to think there were probably less incidents which required a visit from the police, because the “football” crowd couldn’t come in. Of course, this reflects poorly, but I think accurately, on a certain type of football fan. (I’m sure you’re not that kind of person, dear reader who happens to like American football.)
2. THE DECATUR BOOK FESTIVAL. This is not to say that the crowds didn’t get to me. Au contraire. On Saturday morning in particular I had to fight them, and I almost gave up and just went back to the gaming pit. You see, I had decided to go to the Decatur Book Festival that morning to visit my friend Jason Snape and to hear my friend Collin Kelley read. I’d neglected to take into consideration the parade, however. So it was that I found myself a salmon swimming upstream - one guy trying to get AWAY from Dragon*Con while literally THOUSANDS of people were converging ON IT. Add to that the problems MARTA was having (don’t get me started on MARTA tonight)….
I got to Decatur an hour and a half later - sweaty, hot, and irritable. I was too late for Collin’s reading, so I just hung out with Snape until I was less sweaty and irritable. And until I thought the parade crowds had dispersed back to the suburbs. Then I headed back.
3. GAMES. All in all, I played a lot less games than I usually do. My trip to Decatur took up over half of Saturday, and being tour guide for my friend Eric Sasson took a chunk out of Sunday. And being an old man now, I only stayed up until 3 a.m. one time. ONE TIME.
Unbelievable, I know.
4) PICTURES. People have requested pictures from me, because Dragon*Con IS an opportunity to see some pretty amazing and amusing costumes. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a picture taker, and after 14 straight years of going to the Con, I’m rarely amazed - not because the costumes aren’t still amazing, but that I’m jaded. So I don’t take many pics. My friends DO, however, and I’m in the process of combing their Facebook pages for the best ones. I’ll compile them, resize them and post them as a gallery in the next couple of days. So look for them. As a teaser, there’s one at the top of this post… Avengers Assemble!
Just the other day as I was sending a fleet of spaceships to assault my opponent’s Home System, I thought about all those tiny little aliens that I was sending to their doom. Sure, I had weighed the balances, and knew I had overwhelming numbers and firepower. I knew that I would win the battle, and I knew that what I was doing would ultimately bring peace and prosperity to the universe. Still, for some reason I had a little niggle bothering me, because - win or not - lots of little imaginary space aliens were going to get blown to bits or killed in the vacuum of space.
Apparently my buddy Jason Snape has felt similarly.
For more of Jason’s work, go here.
I liked him in the first 10 seconds I was in the room with him, even though I had no idea why. And over the course of the evening, as he and I and a few friends played games together, I began to understand why Jason Snape would quickly become a good friend - one I would only engage on occasion, but one who would be true and be real.
I’ll get this out of the way RIGHT NOW, and not make mention of it again. I think he’d appreciate that: Jason Snape is in no way related to Severus.
A couple of years back, Jason designed the cover of the magazine I TRIED to establish (he didn’t do the art itself, but everything else is his, and in retrospect, he probably could have done a fine job on the art, too). He’s also on tap to help me create graphics and artwork for a couple of game ideas that I have in mind. So I suppose I’ll be engaging Jason a lot in the future, and I’m excited by that. Writing is a lonely vocation sometimes, and the idea of collaborating with someone makes me feel all tingly - and all the moreso because it’s Jason.
When the prospect of our future collaboration (along with our other friend, Michael Collins, whom I’d be remiss if I failed to mention) came to the fore again a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I could and SHOULD give voice via my web site to Jason. He is an artist as I am, and since I occasionally use this great forum I have to showcase people whose talent I admire and respect, I decided to dedicate a post to him. As you will see from Jason’s words below, he and I see eye to eye in this respect: we are all “in this together”.
So here’s Jason Snape, artist, cartoonist, graphic designer, writer, and friend….
Let’s start with one of Jason’s one off cartoons!
C’mon! It’s fucking funnier than Ziggy!
Anyway. Jason was born in a small, rural town, not far from where Lily Evans, Harry Potter’s mother, also grew up. His parents were a Muggle named Tobias and a woman descended from wizards named Eileen. At an early age, Jason showed an affinity for potions and the Dark Arts. All of that changed, however, after having what he calls “violent disagreements” with physics and calculus. Somehow, in the ensuing years, he wandered into design, and left the wizarding world behind.
With his eventual MFA in graphic design, he came to Atlanta for a job at an architecture firm. Since then, he’s worked with a software company, a number of small design boutiques, and a few big dot com entities. He’s taught at a university, does freelance work, and sometimes builds houses if times get tight.
If you replaced a few words in the above paragraph, you might be describing me. Hmm.
Another thing we have in common is our attitude toward the state of the arts in the United States today. We were talking one day, and he mentioned that he thought Frank Zappa would never get signed as a musician, were he trying to make it in today’s music industry. I asked him to elaborate, and here is what he said. I’ll give it to you word for word, and ask you to imagine me standing beside Jason, nodding in agreement with everything he says:
“I never considered myself an artist until a few years ago; I’ve always been more comfortable calling myself a designer. An Artist is someone who sculpts, or paints astonishing canvases, or creates music. There are amazing Artists at KSU [where he taught], and it saddens me, because I don’t know what they do (and they usually don’t either) with their Painting degree. Do they become Painters of Light©? Work for Disney? Why can’t they just create? Artists in the old world seemed to have stipends from their families to go out and create, or explore without need for income. This seems extravagant and, in this country, frivolous and wasteful somehow, because we put value on industry, labor, profits, and constant improvement. We don’t see value in culture. Do we have culture? Maybe it is consuming. I have a sense (probably romantic and naïve) that Europe and the rest of the world value art and their culture, and cultivate it. When I talk with people about art in our country, in our world, I bring up my theory of Frank Zappa. I do not know a lot about Zappa; I do not have all of his music. But like Monty Python, it’s hard to believe that someone like him could get a music contract today, for the same reason I am doubtful about my book publishing aspirations – unless it’s a guaranteed profit, they don’t have an interest or the time for you. Too risky. The encouraging thing is that, as creative people, there are new avenues to explore. Frank would be all over the Internet, I’m sure. That would be his way of creating and getting his music out there. But would it pay? The internet is awash with blooming and previously-unpublished creative endeavors (and everything else). So the interesting question comes down to, do you want to create and get your art out in public? There are countless ways to do that. Do you want to make your living through your art? If so, it is a more difficult path. Here is one example of why: Story magazine was created by Whit Burnett in 1931, and published such young unknowns as J.D. Salinger, Truman Capote, John Cheever, Joseph Heller, and Norman Mailer. In an excellent book about writing, Burnett describes how these authors’ initial works were promising but unrefined, and that through the act of publishing, editing, and evolving, they became some of our most important writers WHILE BEING PAID FOR THEIR WORK. Story invested in them and helped them grow. Salinger did not hit the ground with The Catcher in the Rye, and yet that appears to be what the “artistic” industries expect of musicians, writers, and maybe artists too. Where is there room for experiments, innovation, the chance to fail and make improvements learned from the failure? In politics and corporate America, the failures appear to have enormous, real consequences that hurt people and affect the way we live, yet the ramifications seem slight in comparison. Art is about creativity, and creativity is how we discover new things, find new solutions and break away from old, obsolete parameters. It is supposedly still one very distinctive way that America remains far ahead of China, if that is a motivating factor. So how do we best foster creativity? Math time tests. Art class once every 9 days in elementary school. CRCT bubbles.”
And… with that stuck in your craw, I’m gonna sign off on this post. Read that again, if it pleases you. Read it out loud. You see why I admire Jason? It’s not just that he’s an artist, as I am, as you might be. It’s that he thinks deeply and with feeling. He takes time to play (his cartoons indicate that), but - like a child in his formative years - his play has substance and meaning. It’s a process by which he grows and learns.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve personally lost that ability. Then I spend a little time with Jason, and I can feel it coming back just a little bit.
For more examples of Jason’s art and design work, visit his site: www.jasonsnape.com. BTW, the title of this post, in case you’re wondering, comes from the name he’s given a portion of his site: Snape’s Ridiculorum - Finely Crafted Illustrations, Stories, and Nonsense.