19 Dec 2013

In the Spirit of the Season

cardigan welsh corgis, cardigans, dogs, Christmas, winter, holidays, solstice, New Year, cozy, home, wreath, moon, hollyI wish you all the very best now and in the year ahead.

I hope to write a proper post before the year is done (but don’t hold me to it). ¬†Thank you all, for this has been an amazing and memorable year.

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22 Sep 2013

My Quirky Relationship

I’VE BEEN DOING a lot of catch-up after being sick for so long. August was still hit-or-miss in the health department, but now — mid-late September — I’m pretty much back to feeling like myself (FINALLY). I want to say thank you all for the kind wishes, notes, and gifts you have sent while I’ve been down. I am unbelievably fortunate to have such folks as you in my life.

All in all, however, I completely lost a good three months as far as accomplishing all the things I had planned to get done. I’m returning to my work now, and one of the somewhat unexpected results has been a driving desire to DO MORE STUFF. This is more than “omg it’s all behind schedule!” (although it is that, in part) but also my Muse has been riding my back about being A Maker* again.

I have several other adjectives to describe this too... "complicated" and "mutually abusive" among them. Continue reading

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3 Aug 2013

See What’s Become of Me

Time Time TimeTIME HAS FLOWN by since I wrote here last. I’ve been recovering from being so ill, and it has continued to be a slow process. I went back to library work, just a smattering of short days only, late in July. I’m still not back to my regular schedule.

Through June and July, I stayed home a lot, sleeping whenever I was tired and doing what I could when my brains came online. I played video games when I was awake but unfocused, World of Warcraft and Skyrim and Guild Wars 2. I grew very sick of being in bed, reading listlessly, restlessly, when I didn’t even feel up to sitting at the computer.

The days passed slowly but the weeks sped by in retrospect. More on that, because this is a post about time.

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8 Jul 2013

Portrait of the Artist as a Sick Woman

SO, HI THERE. It’s been awhile because this is approximately how I’ve been feeling.

Krovikan Plague, from Magic the Gathering (Alliances)

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this sick.

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24 Apr 2013

Seeing Things: Pictures Have Stories

I WROTE SEVERAL false starts for this blog over the last (eek!?) two months, but never had time to finish and post them. The futher behind I fell, the more I wanted to say to catch up. Eventually I figured out that just wasn’t going to be possible, and have elected to move on.

Tucker, who is quite sure he is eminently worthy of being photographed by his personal paparazzi. While this blog includes news, I can only write erratically and thus my news is rarely timely. I try to mention big events like conventions, major projects, interviews, maybe games I’m playing or what the dogs are doing, but I think the best posts I write are reflective, touching on several related topics and how they intersect with my work.

Think of this as an entry in my occasional series of “Pictures Have Stories” essays, because I’m going to tell you … in roundabout due course … about the painting “Catch An Elusive Scent” that I did for ICE’s Middle Earth card game. There are a few stops along the way.

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27 Feb 2013

Bound for Emerald City

I’m writing this about 4 hours before I need to hop out of bed and catch a plane, so this is going to be brief (and unillustrated). I want to log a couple of those hours with a bit of shuteye.

First and foremost let me say it again: THANK YOU. My profound gratitude goes out to every single fan and supporter who laid down their pledges for the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Kickstarter. Most of the team has been working like beavers since it wrapped up. Ken has been writing furiously, Rick has lined up all the printing and merchandising, while Steve has made the temporary tattoos and the bookmark and a first draft layout for the Free RPG Day handout we’re going to do. It’ll have an abbreviated version of the new rules, and an adventure or two that Ken is putting together.

Me, I haven’t actually done much on this just yet. (Don’t shoot me! I’m just telling it like it is.) I knew that I had a bunch of old business on my plate which had to be cleared up before I could plunge into dT&T.

The thing I have been doing almost non-stop for the last month, up to 12 hours in a day, is painting. Remember that Frost & Fire post I mentioned back in October? It got tabled for two months while I worked on dT&T, along with several other things. I had an extension to the deadline, but that extension lasted only until the Emerald City Comic Con … which is where I’m headed in the morning. The painting is done, and it’s going to the show with me. ECCC is giving The Gathering artists (more on that below) an amazing venue to meet and greet with the fans, to show our new paintings and many old ones. A huge collection of original Alpha Magic art will be on display as well.

I am proud as hell of my painting — it lived up to the wild expectations I spoke of back in October. I’m not going to show you here, at least not right now. If you want a glimpse, you have a couple of things you can do. If you have tickets to ECCC, it will be on display. If you can’t attend ECCC but can make it to Seattle in the next month or so, check out the Krab Jab Studio, where many of the new original paintings will be on display in the public gallery through March.

If you can’t manage to reach Seattle, then you’ll have to be a little bit patient. You see, The Gathering art book is on Kickstarter right now. This is the first place my new painting will be published. If you want to get a copy of the book, don’t hesitate too long. Due to contractual obligations, there is a hard cap on the number of copies which can be made. If you are interested in this project, you’ll need to get on board before things sell out.

You might get a glimpse of my painting while the Kickstarter is in progress. I can’t promise that will happen, and I don’t know when, but the organizers (Jeff Menges and Pete Venters) are slowly letting people have a peek at the new art, one artist at a time.

I am hoping to get to some other conventions this year. I have my eye on GenCon, and I expect to be at TusCon here in Arizona in November. I do not plan, at the moment, to sell this Frost & Fire painting, so I will be exhibiting it at conventions I manage to get to. I will have prints to sell at some point — I have a small run available exclusively at ECCC — and will be taking orders for canvas prints as well. This also will wait for a little bit, however, to give pride of place to The Gathering book.

As soon as I get back to town, I’ll be headed up to Phoenix to meet with the other Fellowship members. From that point onward, I will be working on Deluxe T&T-related things full time. With the Frost & Fire painting under my belt, my artistic confidence is at an all-time high, and I’m really eager to get into the work.

Next, I’m going to juggle elephants. That should be a snap after all these other things, and a good way to relax and wind down.


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23 Jan 2013

The Archer: Deluxe T&T

I LIKE CHARACTERS and I cannot lie. Whether in artwork or when writing, I’m character-driven in the things I create.¬† I suspect this is part of why RPGs appeal to me the way they do. Being able to project myself into a character’s head (surely a skill I developed reading as a wee young bairn) is something I can spend hours doing, whether at work or play, reading or gaming.


So I was overjoyed when, last Sunday, the characters who will populate the new cover of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls sprang to life in my head and under my pencil. A glance, a reaction, visceral body language, a gesture… these are the roots of what makes a character instead of just a figure on the page. I could feel their emotions and they leapt into place on the page with only the slightest encouragement. Come over the jump and I’ll give you a taste and a tale to go with it…

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5 Jan 2013

Reflecting on What It All Means

I WOKE UP this morning to the realization that some of my plans for 2013 were going to need revision. At 5:30 this morning, little more than 36 hours after our Kickstarter launch for Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, we have pledges for the $26,000 we asked for. The fans and friends of the game came through like gangbusters, and now the original team that made the game back in the day — the “Fellowship of the Troll” as Steve Crompton dubbed us — will be focused on creating the best damn edition of the classic game that we’re capable of making.

I’m thrilled. I’m excited. I’m scared. I am most of all awed by the outpouring of respect and, yes, of the fans’ trust and belief in us.

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1 Jan 2013

It’s 2013 already?!

NOTHING LIKE STATING the obvious, eh? Imagine me surging to the surface with a huge exhalation-gasp-inhale of someone who has been deeply submerged but now coming up for air… only to be pulled back down by creatures from below just as quickly! That is my life right now, and while I’ve been dying to post here for the last month or more, it’s got to wait another day or two… at least, if you want the substantive posts I usually write.

I have so much I’d love to talk about. One draft here, unfinished, is called Bilbo and Me… that was to come out before the movie. (HA.) Another talked about The Making of An Illustrator. Hoooboy, that one’s gonna take some time. There’s a Pictures Have Stories entry about the Elves of Lindon painting, and I could do a ton of those … if I had nothing but time to write blogs.

Becoming our iconic image of dT&T, the image is by me and colorization by Steve Crompton

Instead, I’ve been working like mad, up to 17 hours at a stretch. I never thought doing a Kickstarter — doing it right — was going to be quite this much work. Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls is going to be freakin’ awesome if this is any evidence of the drive, determination, and vision of this team, united once more to update this classic.

We’ll be launching the Kickstarter momentarily — in a day or three, I believe — and I need to get off this blog and back to the final polish. Meanwhile, check in for news on the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls blog or our dedicated Twitter feed. Steve promises daily updates on the blog; Ken plans to write weekly. The Twitter feed is pretty much from me, so it’s erratic but something I can do in little bits and pieces of time… which it about what I have available.

Now, it’s time for me to get back to … glub glub SPLASH glub …

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12 Dec 2012

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

THOSE WITH YOUR EAR to the rails are already aware that Tunnels & Trolls is in something of a renaissance. The game that my colleagues and I worked on so feverishly out of the Flying Buffalo offices, back in the 70s and 80s, has never gone away despite the rise and fall of many more widely-purchased and -played games. We never broke sales records, but we were always in the mix. Various modules might go out of print, but the core game rules kept plugging away in various editions and multiple translations.

Despite being declared dead a time or two, Tunnels & Trolls has had the temerity to stay out of the death cart like in a classic Monty Python skit, declaring “I’m not dead yet!” And we are indeed still happy, still alive and kicking, and no one has yet managed to bonk the game on the head and send it to the mass grave of venerable but now long-forgotten games.

La Sorciere, wizard

Waiting to meet you in the new edition…

The fans kept the game alive. Ken St Andre kept writing new material. Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo kept things chugging along. Things were good.

And now, we’re getting better. Really. Follow me over the jump and I’ll give you a peek.

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