Thinkbook 1 | Art Can Make Your Day

#ruckology #artjunkie First in a series of weekly brainjuice leakages, an upload from my cerebral mainframe to yours.

Art. Man, it really can make your day. Be it visual, audio, audio-visual, practical or virtual. Art just has that uncanny ability to touch the soul, spark the imagination and be a general catalyst to positive things in our lives. I’m a sucker for the stuff and spend an inordinate amount of time mentally immersed in it on a daily basis, whether it’s my own or that of others. Over a decade ago I used to go by the handle artjunkie online. In fact that was the name of my first ever blog (on Livejournal) some eons ago. I am certainly an art junkie for life, no doubt.

We’re certainly in some dark times these days, socially and politically. Do yourself a favor and try to make time to consume your favorite kind or art, better yet, discover some new art.

Btw, hello and g’day, my friends. I am going to attempt to do this on a weekly basis.

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Artist: Kathleen Marie Kralowec

++ So I spent part of my morning immersed in the wonderful artwork of an artisan New Yorker (transplant of California) by the name of Kathleen Kralowec, whose artwork is the featured image of this post. She’s ridiculously talented in a variety of mediums, employing a diverse array of styles. Although I’m just now discovering her, she’s been in the art game for the better part of a decade now, creating visuals for games, animations, comics and sculptures and dolls as well. She’s a graduate of Scripps College (art, philosophy) and U of C, Santa Cruz (digital art, new media). A shot in the dark, but I reached out to her to let her know that she’s a phenomenal artist and that I’d be honored to create a project with her. You should check her out using the linkage below.

Websites — ++  ++  ++

Social Networks — ++ Facebook  ++ Twitter  ++ Tumblr

Buy — ++ Amazon  ++ ComiXology  ++ DriveThruComics

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Project: CrimeTime

++ Speaking of collaborating with an artist, last weekend I met with my best friend, musical and artistic partner Joshua S. Hooten at a Mexican restaurant to enjoy some yummy food (that carne asada was the bomb!) and discuss our crime comic project.

The skinny is this — We will essentially be putting together a one-shot issue of this first project (which has a title, but is classified for now). I liken it to a demo recording by a band just starting out and trying to appeal to club promoters for opportunities to play shows. So the story will be self-contained but will act as a great tease for more to come with the batch of featured characters we have. Joshua will be handling all art duties digitally, including colors (using his MacBook Pro, Cintiq tablet and various software by Manga Studio, Adobe and Affinity). I will be providing the story and most likely the lettering as well. This will possibly be a self-publishing endeavor and will serve as a promo tool us two aspiring comic creators as we look to co-create several more comics projects for what we hope will be a long career creating together.

Here’s some test images (not final) from Joshua for a couple of characters we’ve been working on.

*Note: you can expect more art images from Joshua here in the future as we further develop our project.

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Movie of the Week

++ Saw THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS last Sunday with the fam. It was immensely entertaining and anyone with pets (we have three), particularly dogs and cats, should find all the humor bits to ring true.

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TV Show of the Week

++ After the excellent and humorous 6th episode “Sundowner” from a couple of weeks back, PREACHER and I have finally reached an accord with each other, I suppose. I’m starting to judge it less in comparison to its comic book/graphic novel source material, finally. Last week’s episode, “He Gone” was fairly good. Still, I have issues with Cassidy and Tulip hooking up so early in the overall scheme of things. And while Tulip’s TV portrayal has been a tour-de-force by Ruth Negga, her likability compared to comic book Tulip has been compromised, thus far, IMHO. Yet, overall, I’m still entertained and intrigued at this point, so I’m in for the long haul.

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Reads of the Week

++ Chapters 15 – 19 of DRIFTER, a novel by Nicholas Petrie.

++ Finished up “Coward” the first volume of CRIMINAL, a recurring comic series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips now from Image Comics. I’ve just started reading the second volume, “Lawless”.

++ Issues #3 & 4 of THE FIX, a comic series by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber from Image Comics.

++ Issue #3 of JACKPOT!, a comic series by Ray Fawkes and Marco Failla from AfterShock Comics.

* Recurring genre here is naturally that of crime and suspense.

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Sounds of the Week

++ I usually listen to a variety of music, podcasts and audiobooks on my iPod daily at work and in my car. This week I mostly rocked a shuffle of tunes. One full album I do recall listening to was FOR ALL KINGS by Anthrax.

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That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’ll be back next week with even more brainjuice. Maybe next time the spotlight will be on writing and storytelling.


Images are copyright © Kathleen Kralowec and Joshua S. Hooten, respectively.


BIRTHDAY: Happy 96th Birthday Jack Kirby

Legendary comic book creator/artist/writer/editor Jack “The King” Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzburg) would be 96 years old today had he not died on February 6, 1994 at the age of 76. Any reader of Marvel and DC Comics has probably been touched by at least the legacy of genius that was Jack Kirby through the characters he helped bring to life collaboratively with Golden & Silver Age comics greats such as Joe Simon, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and others (and in some cases single-handedly). Without Jack Kirby there would be no Captain America, Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, The X-Men, Black Panter, Silver Surfer, Fourth World, Challengers of the Unknown and, yes, Young Romance. A lot of folks don’t realize that Kirby and his first mate Joe Simon had pretty much created the genre of romance comics during the Golden Age 1940s. But seriously, that list is just a small sample size which didn’t even included the plethora of colorful villains to thwart the abundant heroes).

When I finally started reading and buying comics regularly on my own in the mid-80s (predominantly the Uncanny X-Men), I was not quite aware of the importance and greatness of this American icon. Naturally the Marvel Bullpen news column in the comics would always mention The King. But it wasn’t until a batch of Silver Age Marvel Comics that I obtained in 1987 or so finally exposed me to his actual work, particularly in the Fantastic Four, one of the titles that most displayed the breadth of his talent and unique vision for well over 100 issues (including annuals & specials).

By the early 1990s it was the Image Comics partners Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino, as well as other creators like Alan Moore and Steve Bissette (of the Kirby inspired 1963) who really exposed a younger generation of comic book fans to the importance of Kibry. He was no doubt a great inspiration to them, not only creatively but in terms of their spirit of independence at the time as they championed creator rights. Image Comics was one of a few handful of independent publishers that actual allowed Kirby to OWN his creations of the time. Prior to that, there was a contentious long and ongoing legal battle with Marvel Comics (and to a lesser extent, DC Comics) over legal rights of copyright ownership or co-ownership for the vast majority of characters/intellectual properties that especially Marvel continues to exploit (even to this day) with little or no residual monetary compensation for one of the originators (and his estate). The scope of this issue is actually far greater than what I have time to delve into here.

Besides, on this day to remember this great man’s day of birth and unrivaled contribution to American pop culture, I want to positively acknowledge this event with enduring admiration and respect.

Thanks, Jack.


Artist: Travis Charest – One of the Most Unique

Travis Charest [shuh-ray] is one of the greatest, most unique illustrators and draftsmen of the modern comics era. It’s a damn shame that he is not turning out regular work today. In fact, he’s been virtually ‘inactive’ for the better part of a decade. Although recently he has returned in a limited capacity doing covers, but very few interior pages.

Artist: Jack S. Rogers

Known for his stunning images on such web & print zines as Liquid Imagination and Aurora Wolf, graphic artist Jack S. Rogers is a self-taught digital art guru who improves with each piece. And to make him even more dangerous with an image, dude’s decided to go to art school to add to his arsenal of visual artistry.

To wit, his latest piece for that art class:

big ears1
Aptly titled “WTF????”

And this is one of my all-time faves of his:

His covers for Aurora Wolf print anthologies:

Heck, he’s even covered a book in which my writing was featured:

This unpublished original version is my favorite
The Final Printed Version

You can check out more of Jack’s art and follow him over at his Beforedawn blog.

Artist: Joshua Hooten (Happy Birthday, Bro)

Josh and I have been friends since somewhere around 1985. That makes him one of, if not the oldest friend I have. In late 2006 we finally became metal guitar buddies, an event that was at least 17 years in the making. We wrote two or three dozen songs (with at least another dozen left unfinished) from then until about 2009 with a lot of downtime inbetween.

The Brothers Bald

That project was known as Dichotomous. I recorded demos for about seven of those songs. But after many starts and stops, we’ve had to put our pet projct into an early grave.

But long before he was ever a musician, dude was an artist, and still is, if a bit of a frustrated one (but aren’t we all?). I wanted to celebrate my buddy’s birthday by displaying some of the art he’s got posted up on his Facebook page to honor his special day.


Happy Birthday, brotha from anotha motha!

GUEST BLOG: Warren Ellis “On Killing Stories”

Warrent Ellis, one of my favorite creative minds in this universe talks about the hard decision every writer has to make at some point.

“The lesson is simply this: you just have to recognise that, no matter how much weight you put behind it and how much you tart it up,sometimes a story just doesn’t bloody work, and you have to take it behind the stables and shoot it through the head. No writer is perfect. We all have dead bodies to our names.”