Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ancient Art 'n' Facts

Many moons ago, I was helping out a guy who owned a print shop. He decided he wanted to publish comic books and I helped him actually get one out before he got distracted by another project idea. I helped him out in many of these projects, mostly with some design work, for which he printed my own projects for free. For a while he was poised to be one of the first to enter the PC computer game field. I not only designed many of the characters for the various games he wanted to do, but he let me start to develop my own idea, Koyote in the Land of the Dancing Cactus.

Above is a scene from that project, which never did get completed. But I do remember playing around with the saguaro cactus form to try and make distinctive characters. It was to be a simple quest kind of thing, with the cactus scene being the ultimate goal.

One of the characters I was asked to design was Dr. Attitoad. I have no recollection as to what he was about. I do remember going to the library to see how Beatrix Potter's Mr. Toad was constructed and sketching various possible body basics until I got one I was happy with. My sketch book also shows some sketches of real toads, mostly their heads and eyes.
After I got the body down, I played with costumes. Maybe he was supposed to be Sherlockian as that seems to be the type of clothing I was trying out on him. Below left is the final version.

On the right is my Hanged Frog tarot card. Back when I was doing KARDZ, the Funny Animal Tarot, I got involved with a number of tarot groups, which lead to a number of tarot people seeing some of my work. Cynthia Giles, who had written The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore (a highly recommended book) asked permission to put this image in her new book, The Tarot: Methods, Mastery, and More. I suspect that I drew the card because I didn't want to waste the earlier design, but changed it to a frog to avoid any conflict.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Family Afar

Last month I got a call from my uncle Bud back in Illinois. Aunt Jean had been hospitalized for having fainting spells. Investigation revealed that her heart was only operating at 25% capacity. At the age of 92 this is ominous. I decided that if I wanted to talk to her without a Ouija board I'd better get out there soon. Since Ross hadn't been back to the aulde sod in 33 years I took him along. So it was on Saturday, June 4th, we flew from opposite sides of the country to meet at Ohare airport in Chicago. Both flights went remarkably well, with Ross getting a surprise upgrade to first class! Our timing was perfect with me landing just before a thunder storm broke and Ross landing after it left. One rental car later we were on the road south to Pontiac, IL. I was feeling good enough that the 2 hour drive passed easily. Pontiac has 4 motels so I was optomistic about room availability, never guessing there was a baseball playoff that had every room booked for Saturday night! A sympathetic clerk recommended the tiny burg of Chenoa, just 10 miles down the road. Yup, there was room at the Super 8!

Sunday morning we returned to Pontiac and went to Uncle Bud and Aunt Fern's condo. We chatted until it was time to go to lunch at the Rose Garden in Streator.

We were met there by Cousin Gayle and her husband, Tim. One minor itch was scratched when I had a pork tenderloin sandwich. I grew up eating these. In the Phoenix area I knew of only 2 places that had them. In Maine they are totally unknown, so yeah: it was a big deal! After lunch UB & AF took us on a drive to see the local beauty spots. Pontiac had been a site selected by the Wall Dogs who did a number of murals for local businesses.

Supper was pizza with Cousin Reid and his wife, Denise. We overnighted in Pontiac, the playoffs being over.

Monday morning we headed north to Sterling. Cousin Donna was at Aunt Jean's nursing home before us. Aunt Jean was frail and somewhat vague, but in good spirits.

When it was time for her lunch we left for ours. Cousin Donna took us out and showed us some place from our past: our grandpa's old place of work and the house our dad built where we lived as babies.

Inspired to go on with the roadshow we drove on to Clinton, IA. There we saw our old house and visited Eagle Point Park.

Turning east again we zipped through the rolling fields and made it to Aurora, IL before stopping for the night.

Tuesday morning was breakfast and becoming reacquainted with rush hour traffic in a high population area, but we made it to the airport in time to make it comfortably to Ross's flight. Ticket and security lines were long enough to devour the 2 hour gap between Ross's flight and mine so there was not even a thought about sight-seeing.