Holiday Letter 2017

2017 was a dark year. We shed many tears and hurt our hearts in anger over the state of the nation, and it’s effect on the world. We actively engaged in more therapy and escapism than we have in the past and continued to create and live amid all of the suffering of our fellow Americans. This note is going to focus mainly on the joys of our year but everything below needs to be prefaced by saying we believe all people are equal, kindness is important, love wins, black lives matter, immigrants and refugees are welcome, disabilities are respected, women are in charge of their bodies, people and planet are valued over profit, and diversity is celebrated.

This year held a lot of interwoven travel, starting with Venetia heading to the East Coast for Arisia in Boston while Lee headed south down the West Coast for a skeptics convention, LogiCal-LA. Venetia joined forces with Lotus in rampaging through the city having all the fun. She got to speak on a panel about one of her favorite writers, Chuck Tingle, and hang out with all our dear Arisia friends.

Lee so enjoyed spending time with Celestia at the show, vending Small Gods, and meeting so many wonderful new people. After the show, Lee stayed with Bino, hung out with Shreya, was visited by Priscilla and Marcy. Before he left, he updated a sacred pamphlet solemnly passed on to him some 35 years ago while he was dressed as a clown (a long story) to share at the convention. As well as that New Yorker cartoon he’d always wanted to draw. Venetia’s earnest “Have you heard the good news about God?… Zilla?” as she passed out pamphlets might have worried people scarred by previous encounters with religious fanatics.

The Portland Women’s March was a huge success and we were glad to add our bodies to the mass of protestors. It was raining but everyone was in good spirits and we ended up walking almost all the way home because the buses were so full after the rally.

We had the good fortune to share our house briefly with the talented Jay Edidin as he moved from Portland to New York. We have long been fans of his work; despite having little interest in comics, Venetia adores the podcast Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men and her Cyclops “Resist” pin has been a great comfort to her since Jay gifted it to her.

Jay’s fiancee Tea sent us the most amazing set of postcards that kept us occupied for hours: until the very last moment in fact that Jay climbed into the car to leave for the airport and Venetia had to run after him to ask for a clue to solve the message.

March brought some interesting mass sales to Portland. First, the Grimm Liquidation Event. Grimm had been filmed in Portland for many years and was finally ending so there was a weekend long sale held in a giant warehouse in NW Portland. The first day was rainy and we got there a few hours early… but apparently not early enough. The line wrapped around the entire block and then meandered down another block. About 30 min after the sale officially began, a very nice lady began the long trek down the line warning people that it might be another five hours or so before they got in, and that it was more likely that they would close the entire line down because only a certain amount of people were allowed in the warehouse at a time and they were at full capacity. We decided we were wet enough (it was pouring rain and even with umbrellas it was impossible to avoid getting damp and cold) that after a brief visit with Dan Garrison, we hit the road. When we returned again on Monday, the wait was a mere hour.

It turns out that they had so much stuff that there were new truckloads of items coming into the warehouse every day for the better part of a week – interesting props just kept coming. We got a styrofoam skull just because and Venetia found a whole stash of clothing that fits her, a handmade skirt and a set of colorful tank tops.

Then later in the month was the Ip Man Estate Sale. Venetia’s friend Phyro is a huge fan of Ip Man (who had trained the late great Bruce Lee), and so we went to see what kinds of gorgeous things were there. The shop was full of Asian men and women in business suits who looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. We were aimless dilettantes by contrast, especially when we saw some of the price tags or better yet, didn’t see a price tag and asked the floor manager for a price. He said he would get back to us and we gave him our contact info but as he never actually got back to us with a price, I’m guessing he thought it was out of our budget. He was probably right.

At the beginning of April, after a costume-filled Wondercon culminating in the biggest haul of pin-up dresses for the ladies, Venetia, Lee, Janelle, Hillarie and Priscilla all went across the street to Disneyland. Lee hadn’t been to this cluster of tourist trappings since the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention, and was astonished at Anaheim’s growth. It was even more surprising to see Portland poster artist Brian Linss at Disneyland as the day began! It was Venetia’s first visit to Disneyland (her first visit to Disneyworld was when she was 21) and she was enchanted. It was a beautiful sunny day and there was a special food festival going on with food carts of (extra delicious) themed foods. We got to see one of the rarer Disney princesses, Pocahontas. She was stoic when Lee suggested that the giddy ladies “say something naughty” as he took our picture.

We went on the Haunted Mansion ride first before the park became too busy. The fantastic Cars ride was way better than we expected. Ariel’s ride was adorable but unmemorable. Twirly high-up in the air ride. Roller coast was super intense and amazing. Didn’t get wet on the ride you get wet on. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was just as astonishingly bizarre and seemingly-un-Disney up as Lee promised. The Enchanted Tiki Room was much less palatable than either of us expected and – we hope – probably not long for this world considering the success of Moana, where Maui and company are treated with respect and at nearly 100% less colonial exoticism. And oh – the astonishing racial and ethnic slurs in the dancing mechanical birds section? Good heavens!

The park’s arrangement with the Dole company must be a fascinating one, and Venetia very much appreciated the Dole Whip. If the Enchanted Tiki Room does change, we’ll be fascinated to see the PR spin that Dole will put on it many decades of colonial rule…. Hillarie bought us all group pins and Lee wears his little mermaid pin everywhere.

Up the road in Simi Valley, we went out to dinner with Jason and Kemi and they introduced us to a wonderful concept: all you can eat sushi! There were three courses and Venetia was VERY disappointed not to be able to make it to the third course. She would be happy to try again any time. We spent a few days with Paul Komoda cleaning up his apartment and planning his website. We had fantastic IKEA adventures with him and even more fantastic adventures with Priscilla and the best gluten-free churros of Los Angeles. It turns out Weird Al also likes that particular taco stand and Priscilla got the best selfie with him.

We returned home to host our annual Bellydancer convention, this time two new ladies from Canada who had been recommended through the Winnipeg Bellydance community. Lee took them to our new favorite chocolate shop in town: Missionary Chocolates. You may have tasted their chocolate truffles if you’ve spent time with us this year. We worked with Melissa over the summer to start a newsletter and remodel the shop. Venetia got chai chocolate truffles for her birthday. Midway through the month, Venetia drove down to Eugene for the Western States Folklore Society which was being hosted by her graduate professor, Daniel Wojick. Venetia brought chocolate and got to catch up with old friends from graduate school and listen to some fascinating and interesting presentations. She hopes to crash the academic programming again in the future and next time wants to bring more science fiction peeps.

Lee was called in for jury duty this year and though not empaneled this time, the timing was a little stressful as he had been preparing for well over a year for an emotional presentation at the Mystery Box only to have jury duty scheduled on the same day across town. Happily, the folks at the courthouse were very kind, and Lee’s talk seemed to go over well with the assembled audience. One of Venetia’s goals this year was to participate in social and government programs more – and thus, jury service. Unfortunately for her, she had the shortest jury duty ever – about 10 min while a few names were called and then everyone else in the room was told to go home.

Another highlight of her birthday month was sharing it with birthday friend and all-around fabulous human Tempest Bradford. They went to the Japanese Garden together and had tea and it was absolutely lovely.

As the earth warmed up and the garden started growing in earnest we did some reworking of the back yard, we are slowly eliminating the grass and allowing the flowers and raspberries to spread. With the help of an expert gardener, Jackie, we formalized the growing patterns of the raspberries so that Venetia can walk between the rows to pick berries in the summer.

This year saw the final completion/publication of Starstruck: Old Proldiers Never Die. Elaine and Michael outdid themselves and the book shows their excellence on every page.

We both flew out to Arizona for Phoenix Comic Con. While Venetia stuck close by the ladies of Badali Jewelry (with whom she worked the convention itself), Lee stayed with Emma and Murray – epic storytellers and dear friends from Ambercon. And despite a traumatic start to the convention with the arrest of a planned terrorist attack, we had a great time with friends and authors. Lee drove down to Tuscon to meet up with friends and meet the brilliant family of Kellner, who he’d worked with starting last year at M.I.T. and whose family compound proved a marvelously relaxing vacation destination. Kellner’s younger sister had been a long-time docent at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and knowing Lee’s history as a Docent at the Smithsonian, she was kind enough to give him a tour. Tuscon was as lovely as seemed Phoenix seemed… well, unpleasant and untenable. And after the convention, for Lee’s birthday, we drove with Emma and Murray up to Flagstaff by way of Sedona, and saw many stunning mountains.

In June we had our annual lunch with the brilliant artist and leading talent of the McMenamin’s properties, Lyle Hehn. It was great to catch up and talk about art and life and inspirations. June was the month of yard sales, both the Tiny Circus House and the Laurelhurst Yardsale were this month. Venetia made out like a bandit getting many of Marysia’s clothes, and while we didn’t need anything from Laurelhurst this year, we still had lots of fun wandering through the beloved neighborhood on a beautiful morning enjoying the architecture and the people.

July and August are mostly summarized in the tale of Our Baltic Adventure: after San Diego Comic Con we flew to Europe for the Writing Excuses Cruise around the Baltics, were awed by the Art Nouveau architecture in Riga, and had a fun and successful Worldcon in Helsinki (where Lee’s body of work won him a very nice Best in Show ribbon, and where he was interviewed for Finnish National Radio)and a glorious five hours in the Blue Lagoon before heading back to the states.

Venetia continued on to Gencon and then Dragoncon while Lee hosted many guests back home. Gencon was definitely Venetia’s favorite convention of the year: she saw the premiere of Lee’s new game Cursed Court and met Mercedes Lackey for the first time. Lee viewed the eclipse from our porch with neighbors and our dear friend Dan Cottle but Venetia had to make due with the reenactment of the earth traveling around the sun via the Southwest airlines crew, as well as a rendition of Total Eclipse of the Heart by a man and his dog.

In September our bellydancer super star Accalia came back to Portland from Winnipeg for another Rachel Brice workshop and a promise to return again. Although we didn’t attend Rose City Comic Con we had a great time meeting up with many people who did. Venetia has now introduced six people to the joy of float tanks (something she’d first encountered in Iceland) and hopes to bring even more people to that party in the coming year.

We headed down to California in October for Lee’s first Toastmaster appearance at Convolution (more Toasting to follow with Albuquerque’s Bubonicon in 2018). We stayed with fellow writer Chadwick and his wife Tanya from the Writing Excuses cruise and very much hope to have more travel adventures with them as they are delightful company.

San Francisco was a great adventure, a treasure hunt even – especially as Lee researches a novel he wants to write in the new year. We walked up and down the streets following the plaques for the Barbary Coast. Along the way we encountered a door stoop full of Heritage Auction catalogs (please ask us about them if you are at our house, we’ve got some really entertaining things to show you!). Though the Barbary Coast was once the “wickedest place in the West”, today the gentrification is so extreme that even this pure-profit Auction House was relocating, divesting itself of deluxe catalogues from auctions new on old.

Among work and travel, Lee still found time to join in for the Month of Fear. Each year, the Months of Love and Fear allow Lee to Art Direct himself, and do work that would otherwise not be done (or later used in collections like editor Stephen Jones’ The Art of Horror’. We very much enjoyed our visit with the Joneses in Helsinki).

Our sister-in-law Erin threw possibly the best party Venetia has ever attended: a birthday party for Lee’s mother Mary celebrated with a basket full of kittens. The woman is pure magic.

Lee’s Ambercon adventures are chronicled here. He also went to our local Orycon in November where he was absolutely enchanted to meet Sarah Clemens and her husband. We knew her work from years of convention-going, but had no idea about the stories she could tell. We had grand house full of people for Thanksgiving which is exactly how we love it. Janelle and Murray and Emma were all staying with us over Thanksgiving itself and went to a Melissa & Lee’s house for a stupendous Thanksgiving spread. Then Jaym and Dylan came down to throw us a second feast with the most tender delicious turkey we’ve ever had. And Murray put a wonderful end to the story he’s been telling at Ambercon for the last seven years.

At the end of the month Venetia applied for and was hired as a Powell’s City of Books seasonal employee. She’s been working there all of December, first as a cashier but now as a bookseller in the Gold room (the best room in Powell’s as it is where all the sci-fi fantasy books are.) For what is traditionally his slow season, Lee has had plenty of work to keep him busy. And lots of interesting podcasts to listen to while he works (see below). We hung up Christmas lights on porch (Lee barely kept Venetia from putting them up before Halloween) but due to an unfortunate bout of the flu did not get a tiny Christmas tree this year. However as the snow comes down, we are warm, well-fed, and ready for all the work to be done in the new year.

General
Lots of games with Jonathan Liu, Claire Crafting Parties, Brunches with Alberto, Venetia learned she loves to caulk, many wonderful walks around our neighborhood, pumpkin picking party with Alia Hazen, many dinners at our current favorite Portland restuarant: Eleni’s Philoxenia

Visitors: Jay, Alaina, Elsa Henry, Kristina Carroll, Janelle, Dan Cottle, Accalia, Jaym, Eric Vargas, Jenn and Matt

Movies seen: Guardians of the Galaxy, Rogue One, Wonder Woman, Blade Runner 2049
Plays: Murder on the Nile, Cabaret, The Language Archive, The Starlings, multiple Mystery Box performances
TV Shows: Mr. Robot, The Good Place, West World
Podcasts: You Must Remember This, Code Switch, Pop Culture Happy Hour, 99% Invisible, The Allusionist

Author events:Jeff VanderMeer and Lidia Yuknavitch, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Monstress creators Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Kate Elliott and Malinda Lo, Max Gladstone, and the delightful Fran Wilde

2018 – Where to Find Us:

Venetia with Badali Jewelry:
Emerald City Comic Con – March 1-4
Wondercon – March 23-25
San Diego Comic Con – July 19-22
Gencon – August 2-5

Lee and Venetia:
Norwescon – March 29-April 1
Miscon – Artist Guest of Honor – May 25-28
Wondercon San Jose – August 23-26
Bubonicon – Toastmaster – August 23-26

We are also talking seriously about another Writing Excuses Cruise in September.

And finally, huge thank yous to Abie, the amazing and talented model for our Christmas card this year and Brittany who took the original reference photos at Jonathan Tweet‘s house.

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2016: Art Year in Review

Before we get too deeply into the new year and new projects (Month of Love is already on the horizon with Theater Poster season right on its heels), here is a brief summary of some of my work from 2016 (not including numerous logos and too many still unreleased pieces).

Another year of great theater, and with ‘Hamilton”s star still ascendant, I was especially excited by ‘1776’ and ‘Rock the Presidents’.

lakewood2016-2017nwct2016-2017I got to work with two of my favorite authors this year: Kate Ristau and Elliott Kay. Each has a couple series, and the design is always as much of a challenge as the illustration.

book-coversNaturally, Venetia inspired a variety of art:

bunnyadventuremonthoflove2pandafinalThe marvelous ‘Steven Universe’ was an occasion to gather some dear friends to model for this portrait of the Crystal Gems. Pearl and Amethyst were closely modeled on Claire and Marysia. Finding a model for Garnet proved difficult, so Venetia kindly stepped in. Reference is a funny business.

crystalgemsAnother year, another 1-hour live painting competition – this time against mighty practitioners William Stout and Heather Hudson. I added proper type later in Photoshop.

cosmicromance1I created art for the conventions at which I was lucky enough to be Guest of Honor. It was especially fun to put the sail I designed for my cousin Cathy’s sailboat into the Convolution cover:

moonmousexyz7csphinxminion2The 2016 Holiday card (based on the astonishing ancient Mayan bas relief we saw in Mexico City):

xmas2016Here’s something you don’t see every day. A full painting of Cardinal Richelieu taken from a typophotogravure by the great Maurice Leloir. It was meant for the front of Lawrence Ellsworth’s firth-ever English Translation of Alexandre Dumas’ ‘The Red Sphinx’, but ended up on the back.

the-red-sphinxAuthors Ann and Andres Aguirre were splendid hosts on our sojourn to Mexico, and it seemed only mete to send them an original piece as part of our thanks. :)

peacockposterfinalThe Month of Fear was a highlight this year (as it is every year. My but I love the challenge!). This time the week’s prompts were (by row):
Wicked, Metamorphosis, and Doors.
Secrets and Darkness.

I’m now working on the lighter side of these ideas for Month of Love.

month-of-fear2016It was my great pleasure to work with Mamma Coal on the cover and design of her new record – an answer to Willie Nelson’s classic ‘Red Headed Stranger’.

mammacoal8RIP Leonard Cohen. While some might think this take (by way of the Austin Lounge Lizards classic “Leonard Cohen’s Day Job”) is disrespectful, I like to think it would have made him smile.

leonardcohen1Sultan, Washington boasts the neatest bookstore. It is still in the rebuilding stages, but heavens! What a beauty. Clearly the highlight of the region.

kts-finalAnother year, another delightful Ambercon, and another installment of Murray Campobianco’s sublime Face of Death game meant another day of drawing from its events. This time: the Bad Guys.

b6 amber2016mThe lovely Accalia was visiting from Winnipeg (for the yearly Rachel Brice Bellydancing Intensive. We’ll miss her this year), and posed for Allatu, a little-known Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld. And the always-fine Todd Lockwood gave me a few excellent critiques and suggestions at the end. How lucky to be doing this work with such fine friends to lend their expertise!

allatu

2015 Christmas Letter: Naughty

We are chagrined to hear that you’ve been naughty, but… we admit we’re not completely surprised.

We hope that the naughtiness is of a fun or societally scandalous nature and that it brings pleasure to you and yours.

Failing that, we hope you see it in your heart to follow the wonderful examples set by so many who preceded you, and atone.

We have it on good authority that said heart really can grow three sizes today.
Either way, we trust you’ll get busy. Cheers to a wonderful 2016!

DashingCardEmailSize(Much thanks to Mark Oshiro and Baize White, and the inspiration of internet publishing phenom Chuck Tingle.)

2015 was a strange year in many ways – it was spent closer to home than usual, and deep in thought for the future. We saw many guests, attended many events, and ate a lot of delicious food. Lee took to wearing glasses most of the time (and while he cannot yet bring himself to consider actually wearing the bifocals, it seems a fair guess that that time will come sooner than he’d like).

Guests:

We had several major slumber parties this year, the first being the Librarian’s Slumber Party in March when our house was headquarters to librarians coming into town for the ACRL Conference. June saw a full roller derby team down from Seattle, courtesy of Liz “Betsy Nails” Argall, a member of the Socket Wenches. And we again had a full house in October when more friends from Seattle came down for Orycon. It’s a good thing we have lots of flat spaces for people to sleep on! Right now the record for the most people in our house at one time is at 7 (plus the 2 of us) for 9 warm adult bodies. No one has yet tried to sleep on the massage table, but there’s always 2016….

We also hosted many more friends this year as well as some delicious lunches and dinners with friends passing through (and hope to continue opening our house and giving tours in the coming year): Ang, Rose, Gail, Miko and Jackson, Alaina and William, Erika, Kristina, Jaym, K and Tamra, Andy and Merrill, Debi, Priscilla, Leighton, Laura, Liz, Scott, Kat, Katelyn and Janelle.

Conventions:

We planned to stay close to home this year, and we didn’t really intend to attend so many gatherings. Oops?

1. The one big exception to our “Year Without Jet-Lag” was Lee’s Guest of Honoring at Arisia in Boston. We knew it was off to a great start when Lee collaborated with Nora Jemisin to create the Blue Lotus from her Dreamblood books for the Arisia badge. Lee was honored that Nora got the Lotus as a tattoo!

Nora'sTattooWe saw so many lovely friends in Boston, both at the convention and out in the chilly and slightly snowy city. Crystal took us to the MFA and we saw their Goya Exhibition along with Olivia and Mark. After the museum, Venetia got to hear Mark read from his book and turned many shades of red while laughing at his reading bad romance fan fiction. Meanwhile, Lee enlisted Barb, Grey and Kat to assemble and frame 50 pieces of art for the art show and, later, hang those (and the additional 50 Small Gods). We could never have hung the whole show on our own, but thankfully Michelle, Talia, Jacob and others toiled while Lee began his first day of programming.

ArisiaArtShowPanorama2. April saw us up to Seattle for Norwescon. It was especially busy this year as Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin was the Writer Guest of Honor and the halls were stuffed to (or past) capacity. The brilliant Julie Dillon was the Artist Guest, and we were lucky to come home with one of her large canvasses.

3. CthulhuCon brought the too-long-absent Paul Komoda to Portland. We were extremely glad to use Paul’s trip north as an opportunity to make him a glorious coloring book to sell (adult coloring books are currently all the rage, but we just wanted to create something so that Paul’s fans could take a little bit of his extraordinary work home with them).

CthulhuCon2015Trio copy copy4. Lee later attended a most unusual and inspiring convention in Portland: The World Domination Summit. This (ironically-named) convention took the place of San Diego Comic Con on Lee’s calendar for the first time in a decade, and will do so again in 2016. Our dear friends K and Tamra were going and graciously invited Lee to go with them and we were delighted they did! He had a marvelous time and was very inspired and motivated by the many creative people he got to meet and listen to.

5. August saw us struggling through the fiery gates of Mordor to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane (which was, at that time, surrounded by a ring of terrible forest fires). We made the most of our one breathable afternoon to explore the park and the gondola over the falls that had been built for The World’s Fair in the 70s, but other than that it was not safe to venture outside. Venetia and Liz may look slightly shady in the picture below, but going out without a facemask was like breathing pumice! The red sun you see below is, if anything, less red than it appeared to all of us in Spokane.

6We finally met the outstanding Jim Wright, the blogger better known as Stonekettle Station, and bought one of the  wooden asterisk ornaments he made for the event (it adorns our Christmas tree even now). We wrote a more detailed accounting of our World Con adventure at the time.

IMG_2621 copy6. Lee was a guest at the Cascade Writers event in Seattle, educating traditionally and self-published authors about the work of designing cover art and design.

7. Lee designed the poster for this year’s 20th HP Lovecraft Film Festival as he had the 10th, a decade back. Having won the previous year’s version, he couldn’t compete in the live painting competition/demonstration, but he looks forward to a spirited return next year.

HPL2015onlineThe undoubted highlight of that show was that it brought our beloved friends Janelle and Katelyn to stay with us in Portland. We spent as much time with them as we could, with adventures at Powell’s, the Audubon Society, and the Rose Garden. The perfection of that day is hard to even comprehend as Portland enters its 24th day of rain, but hopefully the pictures tell the story.

JanelleKatelynRoseGardens2015(Photos by Janelle.)

8. Lee attended Portland’s own Orycon where he displayed more than 40 pieces, hobnobbed with old pals, and met several wonderful people.

9. Ambercon NW at Edgefield was marvelous as always. Lee’s t-shirt design this year featured the Unicorn (much to Venetia’s delight), and Lee ran his first game in the long history of his attendance there. This year the demonstration of taiko drumming by Murray and Emma (coincident with the celebration of their 30th anniversary) was an especial highlight.

Ambercon201510. While we did not attend the Rose City Comic Con, we enjoyed two of their after-parties immensely – the first, Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men’s fabulous Days of Future Past bash, the second Stephen and Nicolle’s costume soiree.

11. Venetia and Tracy made several trips to Seattle, however the one for the fabulous Drinks with Authors event after Emerald City Comic Con and the drive up in a rented Prius stand out particularly. While Venetia enjoyed the video game aspects of driving this strange hybrid vehicle, she still prefers our older and less flashy Honda Civic.

Some highlights of the year:

Rob and Lisa figure largely in our highlights of the year – showing us an amazing time in Seattle, Port Angeles, the Olympic Mountains and Victoria BC. Below are three panoramas shot on our phones.

PanoramasThey introduced us to the wonders of the game Legendary and despite Lee’s noted antipathy to games involving “too much randomness and luck”, it quickly became part of our every day routine. As much as we love the game for it’s storytelling, background and math, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy its collaborative nature most of all. We are pretty fierce team! On average Lee wins every 4/5 games but that just means Venetia can do an extra dramatic victory dance whenever she beats him.

IMG_2206Liz Argall also introduced Venetia to the dopamine pleasures of Neko Atsume and Venetia is now very devoted to checking on her cats in her zen garden and buying them all the best toys.

IMG_2426When birthday-girl Alaina B visited early in the year, she took Venetia to her first strip club. The ladies had a splendid time enjoying the artistry of pole dancing, and were impressed by the skill and musical taste of the dancers (one girl danced to a Firewater song!)

We attended our friend Marysia’s astonishing Renegade Birthday Party and were entertained late into the night so by many talented people – jugglers, poets, acrobats and singers. Lee’s modest contribution was a rendition of Monty Python’s classic Not Noel Coward Song.

While we never seem to have the time we’d like, we managed to see several memorable TV series and movies, Agent Carter, Daredevil and part of Game of Thrones and AntMan, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy, and Song of the Sea.

Venetia made an apple pie when Miko and Jackson came to stay with us on the day of pie singularity. Not only did we enjoy the pie, we shared it with Lis via the miracle of the internet.

After much debate and consultation we bought a new washer and dryer – the kind that sings when it’s done. Venetia can now do several loads of laundry in one day and is still thrilled by the power.

The abundance of our garden this summer was overwhelming. Literally. We were able to satisfy many friends and the most delightful flock of cedar waxwings with our two crops of figs and Venetia had fresh raspberries every morning for breakfast for almost two months.

2015RaspberriesPostmodern Jukebox visited Portland two times this year, at the Crystal Ballroom. While standing at the front of the crowd and dancing was splendid, we both appreciate the view and relaxing in the balcony on their last trip. Ariana Savalas’ whistling and Sarah Reich’s tap-dancing elevated their version of Bad Romance to new heights.

As usual, this year’s Laurelhurst Yard Sale was (as usual) a huge success! We found everything we were looking for, from a drinks hutch for Liz (requested that very morning, the first item we saw, and hand-delivered by the previous owners in their truck. My, but we love this town!) to the gilded kimonos seen above in the Worldcon photo, to a gorgeous old piano stool (We didn’t know we were looking for it but it was absolutely necessary!)

This fall, Petra led an expedition to the magical bra shop in Portland – The Pencil Test.
Venetia will happily take anyone who needs a proper fitting bra to this fine establishment.

With Halloween impending, Lee figured the time had come for his best Roy Batty. Happily the remaining hair cooperated with the nice lady at the salon, and the lighter tone seemed to go over well in all corners, though he was bemused to have people ask if he was costuming a character from friend Chris Roberson’s TV series I, Zombie. Apparently the key to a successful Blade Runner costume is to carry a rain machine with you at all times. The movie is so much more about atmosphere than mere accoutrements….

22740000365_f95a99fd88_oNews on the work front:

At long last the Doom saga has been laid to rest! In June of this year, the FTC came out with their first ruling on Kickstarters with the Doom that Came to Atlantic City. While it was a major news item, we are happy to move on knowing that the game is out and available and it is a relief to know that justice was finally served. Many stars finally aligned, for the three game creators to be in the same place for the first time ever:

DoomLee was on several podcasts this year but our favorite was the interview on creativity.

Venetia has started volunteering at a daycare and is greatly enjoying her time spent each week holding tiny babies and reading stories to them.

Progress continues on Starstruck, Lee received the final pages from Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta this month and, even as you read this letter, is (with the invaluable help of James Ratcliffe) hard at work finishing them.

StarstruckLee created almost 2 dozen pieces for this year’s Months of Love and Fear challenges, even as last year’s adorable trick-or-treater (the adorable Rowan) found his way into Stephen Jones’ The Art of Horror.

ArtofHorrorSome delightfully random and fun work was created this year, and a great many portraits. Lee was able to do another cover for the fabulous Elliott Kay, as well as see previous covers go on to new heights with Amazon and Audible.

2015PaintingsThe Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan Volume 2: Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea came out and it looks great next to the previous volume. Subterranean Press does the most elegant design for their books, and Lee is grateful that collaboration with Caitlin, Bill and Yanni always yields such fine results.

OilDarkSea31Below is the latest painting for 13th Age – with pencil work by the amazing Aaron McConnell. It’s our favorite dragon painting to date.

GMScreenOnlineMiscellany:

Lee continues to attend yoga three or more times a week. After guiding Lee’s practice for more than three years, the marvelous Sarah and her husband moved to Idaho at summer’s end. It occasioned an excellent party thrown by her grateful students, but she will be much missed.

Venetia got a keyboard and enjoys playing scales on it (she swears she’ll get some YouTube tutorials this year and graduate to actually playing songs!) There were many milkshakes and crepes at one of our favorite food carts in Cartopia and due to mix-up in shake orders, Venetia has now replaced the dulce de leche shake with their strawberry shake as her new favorite. Our other favorite food cart in Portland is just around the corner and Vivi’s Yummy Rolls was especially outstanding in providing pho-to-go for Venetia’s colds this winter.

2015TreeKnown Adventures in the Coming Year:

Well it promises to be busy! These are the places we know we’ll be for sure, several conventions are still pending confirmation.

March 24-27: Norwescon in Seattle

June 30-July 3: Westercon in Portland

August 11-14: World Domination Summit in Portland

August 25-28: Bubonicon in Albuquerque NM – Lee is the Artist Guest of Honor

November 3-6: Ambercon NW

And as always, please let us know if you are in Portland! We would love to see you, show you around, put you up if you need a place to stay.

2015 Christmas Letter: Nice

Congratulations, you’ve been GOOD this year.
That’s so important, and we thank you for your goodness.
May kindness, charity, and love continue to attend you and yours in 2016.

Nice Card B 20152015 was a strange year in many ways – it was spent closer to home than usual, and deep in thought for the future. We saw many guests, attended many events, and ate a lot of delicious food. Lee took to wearing glasses most of the time (and while he cannot yet bring himself to consider actually wearing the bifocals, it seems a fair guess that that time will come sooner than he’d like).

Guests:

We had several major slumber parties this year, the first being the Librarian’s Slumber Party in March when our house was headquarters to librarians coming into town for the ACRL Conference. June saw a full roller derby team down from Seattle, courtesy of Liz “Betsy Nails” Argall, a member of the Socket Wenches. And we again had a full house in October when more friends from Seattle came down for Orycon. It’s a good thing we have lots of flat spaces for people to sleep on! Right now the record for the most people in our house at one time is at 7 (plus the 2 of us) for 9 warm adult bodies. No one has yet tried to sleep on the massage table, but there’s always 2016….

We also hosted many more friends this year as well as some delicious lunches and dinners with friends passing through (and hope to continue opening our house and giving tours in the coming year): Ang, Rose, Gail, Miko and Jackson, Alaina and William, Erika, Kristina, Jaym, K and Tamra, Andy and Merrill, Debi, Priscilla, Leighton, Laura, Liz, Scott, Kat, Katelyn and Janelle.

Conventions:

We planned to stay close to home this year, and we didn’t really intend to attend so many gatherings. Oops?

1. The one big exception to our “Year Without Jet-Lag” was Lee’s Guest of Honoring at Arisia in Boston. We knew it was off to a great start when Lee collaborated with Nora Jemisin to create the Blue Lotus from her Dreamblood books for the Arisia badge. Lee was honored that Nora got the Lotus as a tattoo!

Nora'sTattooWe saw so many lovely friends in Boston, both at the convention and out in the chilly and slightly snowy city. Crystal took us to the MFA and we saw their Goya Exhibition along with Olivia and Mark. After the museum, Venetia got to hear Mark read from his book and turned many shades of red while laughing at his reading bad romance fan fiction. Meanwhile, Lee enlisted Barb, Grey and Kat to assemble and frame 50 pieces of art for the art show and, later, hang those (and the additional 50 Small Gods). We could never have hung the whole show on our own, but thankfully Michelle, Talia, Jacob and others toiled while Lee began his first day of programming.

ArisiaArtShowPanorama2. April saw us up to Seattle for Norwescon. It was especially busy this year as Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin was the Writer Guest of Honor and the halls were stuffed to (or past) capacity. The brilliant Julie Dillon was the Artist Guest, and we were lucky to come home with one of her large canvasses.

3. CthulhuCon brought the too-long-absent Paul Komoda to Portland. We were extremely glad to use Paul’s trip north as an opportunity to make him a glorious coloring book to sell (adult coloring books are currently all the rage, but we just wanted to create something so that Paul’s fans could take a little bit of his extraordinary work home with them).

CthulhuCon2015Trio copy copy4. Lee later attended a most unusual and inspiring convention in Portland: The World Domination Summit. This (ironically-named) convention took the place of San Diego Comic Con on Lee’s calendar for the first time in a decade, and will do so again in 2016. Our dear friends K and Tamra were going and graciously invited Lee to go with them and we were delighted they did! He had a marvelous time and was very inspired and motivated by the many creative people he got to meet and listen to.

5. August saw us struggling through the fiery gates of Mordor to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane (which was, at that time, surrounded by a ring of terrible forest fires). We made the most of our one breathable afternoon to explore the park and the gondola over the falls that had been built for The World’s Fair in the 70s, but other than that it was not safe to venture outside. Venetia and Liz may look slightly shady in the picture below, but going out without a facemask was like breathing pumice! The red sun you see below is, if anything, less red than it appeared to all of us in Spokane.

6We finally met the outstanding Jim Wright, the blogger better known as Stonekettle Station, and bought one of the  wooden asterisk ornaments he made for the event (it adorns our Christmas tree even now). We wrote a more detailed accounting of our World Con adventure at the time.

IMG_2621 copy6. Lee was a guest at the Cascade Writers event in Seattle, educating traditionally and self-published authors about the work of designing cover art and design.

7. Lee designed the poster for this year’s 20th HP Lovecraft Film Festival as he had the 10th, a decade back. Having won the previous year’s version, he couldn’t compete in the live painting competition/demonstration, but he looks forward to a spirited return next year.

HPL2015onlineThe undoubted highlight of that show was that it brought our beloved friends Janelle and Katelyn to stay with us in Portland. We spent as much time with them as we could, with adventures at Powell’s, the Audubon Society, and the Rose Garden. The perfection of that day is hard to even comprehend as Portland enters its 24th day of rain, but hopefully the pictures tell the story.

JanelleKatelynRoseGardens2015(Photos by Janelle.)

8. Lee attended Portland’s own Orycon where he displayed more than 40 pieces, hobnobbed with old pals, and met several wonderful people.

9. Ambercon NW at Edgefield was marvelous as always. Lee’s t-shirt design this year featured the Unicorn (much to Venetia’s delight), and Lee ran his first game in the long history of his attendance there. This year the demonstration of taiko drumming by Murray and Emma (coincident with the celebration of their 30th anniversary) was an especial highlight.

Ambercon201510. While we did not attend the Rose City Comic Con, we enjoyed two of their after-parties immensely – the first, Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men’s fabulous Days of Future Past bash, the second Stephen and Nicolle’s costume soiree.

11. Venetia and Tracy made several trips to Seattle, however the one for the fabulous Drinks with Authors event after Emerald City Comic Con and the drive up in a rented Prius stand out particularly. While Venetia enjoyed the video game aspects of driving this strange hybrid vehicle, she still prefers our older and less flashy Honda Civic.

Some highlights of the year:

Rob and Lisa figure largely in our highlights of the year – showing us an amazing time in Seattle, Port Angeles, the Olympic Mountains and Victoria BC. Below are three panoramas shot on our phones.

PanoramasThey introduced us to the wonders of the game Legendary and despite Lee’s noted antipathy to games involving “too much randomness and luck”, it quickly became part of our every day routine. As much as we love the game for it’s storytelling, background and math, I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy its collaborative nature most of all. We are pretty fierce team! On average Lee wins every 4/5 games but that just means Venetia can do an extra dramatic victory dance whenever she beats him.

IMG_2206Liz Argall also introduced Venetia to the dopamine pleasures of Neko Atsume and Venetia is now very devoted to checking on her cats in her zen garden and buying them all the best toys.

IMG_2426When birthday-girl Alaina B visited early in the year, she took Venetia to her first strip club. The ladies had a splendid time enjoying the artistry of pole dancing, and were impressed by the skill and musical taste of the dancers (one girl danced to a Firewater song!)

We attended our friend Marysia’s astonishing Renegade Birthday Party and were entertained late into the night so by many talented people – jugglers, poets, acrobats and singers. Lee’s modest contribution was a rendition of Monty Python’s classic Not Noel Coward Song.

While we never seem to have the time we’d like, we managed to see several memorable TV series and movies, Agent Carter, Daredevil and part of Game of Thrones and AntMan, Mad Max: Fury Road, Spy, and Song of the Sea.

Venetia made an apple pie when Miko and Jackson came to stay with us on the day of pie singularity. Not only did we enjoy the pie, we shared it with Lis via the miracle of the internet.

After much debate and consultation we bought a new washer and dryer – the kind that sings when it’s done. Venetia can now do several loads of laundry in one day and is still thrilled by the power.

The abundance of our garden this summer was overwhelming. Literally. We were able to satisfy many friends and the most delightful flock of cedar waxwings with our two crops of figs and Venetia had fresh raspberries every morning for breakfast for almost two months.

2015RaspberriesPostmodern Jukebox visited Portland two times this year, at the Crystal Ballroom. While standing at the front of the crowd and dancing was splendid, we both appreciate the view and relaxing in the balcony on their last trip. Ariana Savalas’ whistling and Sarah Reich’s tap-dancing elevated their version of Bad Romance to new heights.

As usual, this year’s Laurelhurst Yard Sale was (as usual) a huge success! We found everything we were looking for, from a drinks hutch for Liz (requested that very morning, the first item we saw, and hand-delivered by the previous owners in their truck. My, but we love this town!) to the gilded kimonos seen above in the Worldcon photo, to a gorgeous old piano stool (We didn’t know we were looking for it but it was absolutely necessary!)

This fall, Petra led an expedition to the magical bra shop in Portland – The Pencil Test.
Venetia will happily take anyone who needs a proper fitting bra to this fine establishment.

With Halloween impending, Lee figured the time had come for his best Roy Batty. Happily the remaining hair cooperated with the nice lady at the salon, and the lighter tone seemed to go over well in all corners, though he was bemused to have people ask if he was costuming a character from friend Chris Roberson’s TV series I, Zombie. Apparently the key to a successful Blade Runner costume is to carry a rain machine with you at all times. The movie is so much more about atmosphere than mere accoutrements….

22740000365_f95a99fd88_oNews on the work front:

At long last the Doom saga has been laid to rest! In June of this year, the FTC came out with their first ruling on Kickstarters with the Doom that Came to Atlantic City. While it was a major news item, we are happy to move on knowing that the game is out and available and it is a relief to know that justice was finally served. Many stars finally aligned, for the three game creators to be in the same place for the first time ever:

DoomLee was on several podcasts this year but our favorite was the interview on creativity.

Venetia has started volunteering at a daycare and is greatly enjoying her time spent each week holding tiny babies and reading stories to them.

Progress continues on Starstruck, Lee received the final pages from Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta this month and, even as you read this letter, is (with the invaluable help of James Ratcliffe) hard at work finishing them.

StarstruckLee created almost 2 dozen pieces for this year’s Months of Love and Fear challenges, even as last year’s adorable trick-or-treater (the adorable Rowan) found his way into Stephen Jones’ The Art of Horror.

ArtofHorrorSome delightfully random and fun work was created this year, and a great many portraits. Lee was able to do another cover for the fabulous Elliott Kay, as well as see previous covers go on to new heights with Amazon and Audible.

2015PaintingsThe Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan Volume 2: Beneath an Oil-Dark Sea came out and it looks great next to the previous volume. Subterranean Press does the most elegant design for their books, and Lee is grateful that collaboration with Caitlin, Bill and Yanni always yields such fine results.

OilDarkSea31Below is the latest painting for 13th Age – with pencil work by the amazing Aaron McConnell. It’s our favorite dragon painting to date.

GMScreenOnlineMiscellany:

Lee continues to attend yoga three or more times a week. After guiding Lee’s practice for more than three years, the marvelous Sarah and her husband moved to Idaho at summer’s end. It occasioned an excellent party thrown by her grateful students, but she will be much missed.

Venetia got a keyboard and enjoys playing scales on it (she swears she’ll get some YouTube tutorials this year and graduate to actually playing songs!) There were many milkshakes and crepes at one of our favorite food carts in Cartopia and due to mix-up in shake orders, Venetia has now replaced the dulce de leche shake with their strawberry shake as her new favorite. Our other favorite food cart in Portland is just around the corner and Vivi’s Yummy Rolls was especially outstanding in providing pho-to-go for Venetia’s colds this winter.

2015Tree

Known Adventures in the Coming Year:

Well it promises to be busy! These are the places we know we’ll be for sure, several conventions are still pending confirmation.

March 24-27: Norwescon in Seattle

June 30-July 3: Westercon in Portland

August 11-14: World Domination Summit in Portland

August 25-28: Bubonicon in Albuquerque NM – Lee is the Artist Guest of Honor

November 3-6: Ambercon NW

And as always, please let us know if you are in Portland! We would love to see you, show you around, put you up if you need a place to stay.

2014 Holiday Letter

PinUpsJanuary began with preparations for Lee’s big art show of Pin-Ups (featuring more than 3 years of literary calendar art and a few others). Below is one of two longs walls at the Catalyst Studio. And in the next shot, the gorgeous Kiana Phi hangs out with us, and with Miss Kim Stanley Robinson for whom she posed. She has us surrounded!

ShowThe opening presented a splendid chance to meet up with many of our friends as they mingled and enjoyed the delicious cheesecake (and other hors d’oeuvres, natch).
The month ended with a trip to Seattle, where many colleagues and co-conspirators were seen, much fabulous food eaten, and several adorable pets petted.

Guests are marked “G•” and shown in burgundy throughout:
G• Ang, Echo & Her Traveling Troupe d’Arte

February was marked by collaborations with Todd Lockwood: Two paintings in honor of Jeff Easley (one of the original D&D artists), and an unusual Superbowl party where both our “home” teams were playing (like me, Todd grew up in Colorado and now lives in the Pacific NW).  The paintings ended rather stronger than the Denver Broncos, but our other home team won.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 8.17.54 PMG• Gail & Rod

March began with the departure of dear friend Dan Cottle – bound for the wilds of distant Massachusetts. The opening soiree for Kate Ristau‘s book Commas: An Irreverent Primer left us with a new coloring page on our refrigerator (as you know, Lee cannot really be trusted with loose crayons) and a cryptic phrase that might be… a pass code? Mere Dadaist ramblings? Who can know?

DraggyA few weeks after the big Pin-Ups show first appeared, it moved to the Radio Room, site of the original Pin-Ups show some 5 years gone, and we got to spend some time with models Becca and Saamanta into the bargain!

Our friends Tara and Accalia came to stay with us from icy Winnipeg while they attended Rachel Brice‘s intensive belly-dancing masterclass. They were marvelous, even despite their exhaustion and overwork.

We opted for Health Republic (an actual public health co-op) as we sorted out our coverage in light of the ACA.

G• Tara & Accalia

April marked the arrival of The Doom that Came to Atlantic City (just in time for the HP Lovecraft Film Festival!) and the real beginning of Guest Season – Gail and Rod’s visit ending just as Andrew and Anya arrived. The weather was perfect, and a good thing, since Mina and Jamie would arrive from DC the very next day – both couples intent on the HP Lovecraft Film Festival.
Happily, after several years of near misses, Lee finally bested his colleagues at the Film Festival’s live painting demonstration/competition – thus allowing him the right to design the festival’s 2015 poster.

G• Gail & Rod, Andrew & Anya, Mina & Jamie

Doom copyVenetia got a mohawk! She had pondered it for the better part of a year at Lee and Phryo’s suggestion and decided it was the best idea ever. It was… and is!

MohawkCropWith all our guests returned home, we headed back to Seattle that Lee might participate in panels and hang artwork in the show at Norwescon. Artist and Faerieworld’s impresario Robert Gould was this year’s Guest of Honor, but happily past guest John Picacio was in the house too, with Lee rounding out an unlikely trio of Honored Guests. The panel on mapping with Bradley Beaulieu was delightful, and moderator Brenda Carre introduced Lee to the marvelous Carol Berg afterwards (oh, how Lee would love to make the maps for her cartographically inspired books a reality!)

NorwesconHaving done some type design for the von Trapp Family (4 of the grandchildren of the original Sound o’ Music bunch), we ventured out to a local bookstore to see them sing. And while we’d seen them perform with Meow Meow at the Schnitz and Pink Martini in Pioneer Square, the little solo concert was particularly sublime.

The World Horror Convention came to Portland in May. And while we were too busy with work to attend, Lee did put art in the show and pop by the odd party. More importantly, we got to host most of the Illuminaughty – that amazing group of guests we’d met the previous year in Winnipeg. From Mexico, author Ann Aguirre; From Canada, authors Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Chadwick Ginther and GmB Chomichuk – a sort North American Embassy was established here on Alameda Ridge.

Lee created a coloring book and a couple Golden Tickets as part of the party favors for his birthday party and costumed whing-ding at the end of the month. We must again thank the marvelous Jessie and Annabel for hosting, and Ang and Gail and Alanna for abetting! And of course those who could attend. Such good food and idyllic weather!

G• Ann, Silvia, Chadwick, Gregory, and Ang

BirthdayJune. At this point there is precious little we need to acquire, but the siren call of the annual Laurelhurst Yard Sale is irresistible and beautiful objets de art have to live somewhere.

Is there a more curious juxtaposition than ‘Showboat’ and The March Violets? We took in the former at Lakewood Center. The latter came to town (and the menfolk in the band to our house) from England. Sadly, Lee missed meeting up with talented singer (and author) Rosie Garland, the wife of Lee’s friend and collaborator, Aly Fell. Next time for sure!

Larry and Serena’s wedding celebration brought many notables to town – including Dr. Melissa Ganus and her assistant Tara, who we were happy to host. Doctor Mel’s research on children and their cognitive development is quite interesting, and Lee did a little design for her upcoming book too.

G• Tara, Si & Tom

SquidKate Ristau’s birthday Kickball party gave Venetia her first sport’s related injury in years, and cost her a favorite pair of pants (being a ruthless competitor clearly has it’s costs). We enjoyed the ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ with Kimberly, and looked all the more forward to comparing an actual grand Budapest hotel with Wes Anderson’s more fantastic one.

July began with Roxanne’s sublime show of Gummi Bears as the appetizer, and Keith’s birthday the main course. Lee and Kimberly ventured up the Oneonta Gorge, and enjoyed the sushi in Troutdale thereafter (both of which sound oddly like euphemisms now I come to write them….)

We stayed with Ang in her timeshare during this year’s pilgramage to San Diego, and traveled to both the Hotel del Coronado and the San Diego Zoo with her. The San Diego ComicCon was mad as usual, but seemed to peak with the appearance of the amazing Francois Schuiten. Lee gave him a calendar, and Francois drew the hand you see below in pen! And it’s one thing to get your caricature drawn at the mall, but another to get it drawn by the astonishing Bill Plympton!

SanDiegoG• Zan & Sam

In August, we drove down through Salem to see ‘Avenue Q’ with our friend Kim’s star turn as Christmas Eve, arguably the world’s worst therapist. Seeing the Bad Idea Bears try to sell Venetia (sitting on the aisle) on Scientology was especially delightful!

BadIdeaBearsLater in month we were delighted by a surprise visit from Doug & Lisa. Time was shorter than we’d have liked, but so much good food (at Verde Cochina and Laurelhurst Market) and such lovely sights (the Falls, the Hatchery and Bonneville Dam) were taken in!

G• Doug & Lisa, Gail & Rod, Rose

September was our month of adventuring overseas: to Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. We’ve written about that journey HERE.

The timing of our trip abroad was specifically designed to put us back into DC in time for Della and Kevin’s wedding in Alexandria  – as well as allowing Venetia to get back to the precious Smithsonian! This time the highlights were largely sculptural, but the exhibit of Andrew Wyeth still lifes was a refreshing break from the Euro-snobbery that so defines the National Gallery. We didn’t plan on having our luggage kept overlong in Brussels, but when we arrived in DC, our luggage did not. The Barkers kept us in high style and we used the opportunity to see everyone we could amid our wild ride around and through the Beltway. This included the Kate and Heather Hanna at Kate’s home in Annandale, and Helen Svensen in Raljon (Actually Landover. Thank heavens the grasping Jack Kent Cooke couldn’t tar the community with his spoiled children’s names forever!). Helen kindly donated one of her late husband’s shirts for me to wear, and directed Venetia to an amazing shoe store. After our stop in College Park to pick up a frame for the wedding gift, we found Ellie at home in Tacoma Park, where we patted her adorable wee rabbit and dined alfresco. Then, we made the mad dash through the dark heart of DC, arriving at the wedding exactly on time. It was a sort of miracle!

You can probably tell how happy we are watching Della and Kevin married:

023DK_blog_-1024x682Despite the three weeks of traveling, we still managed to fill the last weekend of the month with guests from all points, and luncheon with Stephen, Nicolle, Rajuli, Alaina, and Rose.

Though it happened while we were overseas, one of the definite highlights of the month, (and the year in general), was Arisia’s Author Guest of Honor N.K. Jemisin getting a tattoo of the blue lotus design Lee rendered from her description of it in the Dreamblood Duology.

JemisinTattooG• Rajuli, Rose

In October, Lee was invited to reprise his Month of Love with a Month of Fear. Other entertaining projects this month included Lee’s heartfelt tribute to Kim Newman‘s exemplary ‘Anno Dracula’ in the online comic (beloved of Librarians everywhere) Unshelved. (We had found Kim’s ‘Life’s Lottery’ earlier in the year and found it, though completely different from ‘Anno Dracula’ or the ‘Diogenes Club’ books Lee has illustrated, to be quite astonishing. As she navigated the complex and surprisingly meta narrative, Venetia had some bad life experiences that left her bitter. Lee, by contrast, enjoyed his golden life so thoroughly he couldn’t bear to dip back in for results virtually guaranteed to be less pleasant.

We traveled with Tracy traveled down to Salem for a splendid autumn party hosted by Kim and a couple of adorable dogs. Venetia journeyed on her own via Portland’s excellent public transit to see outed-spy and budding-stateswoman Valerie Plame at Powell’s in Cedar Hills.

We attended Halloween Parties hosted by Trinity & Sam, and Stephen and Nicolle. While Lee’s Willy Wonka seemed to go over well, who can compete with Totoro in any form? Much less as Iron Totoro?

HalloweenWe finally replaced our iPhone 3s with iPhone 6s – not because they were lacking or busted, but because the 6 is large enough to serve as a proper little portfolio (well, in Lee’s case 28 different little portfolios), thus allowing us to leave the iPad at home far more often.

Peter Beagle, Connor Cochran and ‘The Last Unicorn’ started our November in style. The following week we flew out to DC for the World Fantasy Convention in Lee’s old suburban Virginia stomping grounds. The Art Show was as fancy as an convention art show could hope to be and there were many parties and delightful people throughout – especially Les Howle’s fine Clarion West Party where I almost tripped over that tightknit Ben Rosenbaum/Lis Argall cabal! We found the private Kelly Collection as inspiring as the Belvedere’s more famous one, and spending quality time among the Pyles, Wyeths, Leyendeckers, Cornwells and Schaeffers was a real honor!
ArtMina’s lovely houseparty provided Lee an opportunity to see some old friends, and meet the marvelous Christine Watson at last. And since she had experienced a flat tire en route from Richmond, we put her up that night in our Crystal City hotel room. Here’s to that extra bed!

Panels were moderated and participated in, with the creme de la creme of artsy society – from British art guest/s of honor Les Edwards/Edward Miller to Irene Gallo to Chris Roberts to Michael Whelan. A good time might not have been had by all in attendance, but we had a fine time indeed. And not just because the mohawked ladies were representing.

WFCBack in Portland, we treated ourselves to a concert by Postmodern Jukebox which is currently the most popular band playing in our house. (Maybe tied with Andy Prieboy, but at least our most recent favorite.) Within the same week, we went to Amanda Palmer‘s book launch which Lee wrote about earlier.

And we continued the tradition of inviting our multi-talented friend Jaym to help us host a Thanksgiving feast:

ThanksgivingJaym proved herself to be an especially amazing friend by sacrificing her computer to Venetia’s lust for Civilization V. The game is addictive as can be, but can also easily be used as a teaching tool to show why the world is in such an ongoing state of disaster.

CivG• Jaym

December started out with Lee deep in the throes of pneumonia (he might well have stayed healthy had not the furnace died amid November’s vicious cold snap) and while taking excellent care of him, Venetia and Jaym had their own adventures in Portland and in Seattle – shopping, visiting friends, and seeing the final night of Todd Lockwood’s art show at Krab Jab Studio. This year also saw the last of Lee’s teeth receiving it’s own golden crown and some festive holiday parties: our neighborhood block party, cookies from Andy & Susie (well, Susie’s Mom), Krampus cheer with Michael and Liv, and a gorgeous family meal the day after Christmas. Venetia also saw Jason Webley‘s return to Portland for his kickstarter tour of ‘Margaret‘. And Ang brought her lovely family up and took Venetia to see the sparkling Zoo Lights.

ZooLightsOur year ended full of parties and friends and we hope to see much more of both in the coming year.

G• Ang, Jordan, Kitra

Work

Lee’s art year in review for 2014 is in it’s own separate blog (to keep this one from being overwhelmed with images) and you can view it HERE.

Harry Palmer: Starstruck with Elaine Lee, Mw Kaluta and James Ratcliffe is not quite finished, but we made some serious headway! And from where I sit, the book is looking like a masterpiece…. Here’s a small sampling of 3 non-consecutive pages:

StarstruckTrioStill-unrevealed: the cover for ‘The Best of Caitlin Kiernan, Volume II’, a board game for Sasquatch games, and the branding for a fabulous wedding in 2015.

Other activities

Yoga

Kickstarters We Supported
Periscope Studio: Maiden Voyage
Grandmother Fish
Margaret by Jason Webley and Friends
Strong Female Protagonist
EVOLUTION: The Art of Rebecca Guay 1993-2014
The Tooles Record
Reading Rainbow

Books We Read
Carol Berg’s Lighthouse Duo
Impulse by Steven Gould
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
Life’s Lottery by Kim Newman
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Passionate Journeys: Why Successful Women Joined a Cult by Marion Goldman
The Shelter Cycle by Peter Rock
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Dreamwalker by C. S. Friedman

Movies and Shows We Watched
Game of Thrones
Venture Bros: Season 5 (and then re-watched Seasons 3 & 4)
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Rocketeer
Boardwalk Empire
The Tick (the series)
The Lego Movie
The Artist
City of Ember
X-Men: Days of Future Past
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Snowpiercer
How to Train Your Dragon
X-Men: First Class
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Winter’s Tale
House of Yes
Sky Captain: World of Tomorrow

Theater
The Last Five Years
Lizzie
Avenue Q
Showboat
39 Steps

New Artwork
Three posters from the Kelly Collection: Pyle’s extraordinary ‘Angel’, Leyendecker’s triumphal ‘Saturday Evening Post’ parade, and Mead Shaeffer’s sublime ‘Count of Monte Cristo’; a stupendously framed print of James Christensen’s ‘Superstitions’; Malachite Glass ashtray-turned-crystal-globe-holder from Prague. Also: Paul Komoda’s Ceratosaurus as well as a mystery commission as yet unrevealed!

Grrr

2014: Art Year in Review

I started 2014 off in collaboration with Todd Lockwood. These two paintings were for a Jeff Easley tribute. Both reference Jeff’s early work on Dungeons & Dragons. I drew the first, Todd the second, and we switched off painting until we were happy.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 8.17.54 PMTheater Season is almost always the first big job of the year. And this year marked my 10th Anniversary of painting the full season of posters and the program cover for Northwest Children’s Theater. Time really does fly when one is working with great people!

nwct2014 Lakewood Theater presented such a great mix of plays this year – from the classic Mame to the world premiere Seven Wonders of Ballyknock:

lakewood8The premiere of Zombie Strippers (a heartfelt musical) at the New York Musical Theatre Festival required a design that could be used in a variety of ways – from temporary tattoo to poster:

ZombieStrippersAaron McConnell, Patricia Smith and I worked with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Robin D Laws on 13 True Ways, the fulsome second book in our game 13th Age. Here’s the wraparound cover:

13TWCOVERfinalPart of the beauty of 13th Age is how closely I can work with the writers. The spread below required that both Rob Heinsoo and I be at our best in collaboration, passing ideas back and forth, the better to ensure that the final piece has the ability to surprise and intrigue the reader – something that I fear happens far to little in most game projects.

SantaCoraSpread2This piece shows the Horizon, City of Magicians, as seen from the ocean.
It was used as the endpapers of the book.

HorizonIt was a great pleasure to work with rising star Elliott Kay on Days of High Adventure and Natural Consequences. The latter cover only occurred to me after I spoke with Elliott about a completely different design, and I was delighted when he preferred it to the one we’d agreed upon!

Ladies Poor Man’s Fight and Rich Man’s War will, I hope, get a third companion soon. War is hell, and I just hope that poor Tanner survives his….

Poor&RichI was commissioned by book affectionado Tracy to create a designer slipcover for Brandon Sanderson‘s new book ‘Words of Radiance’ which was presented to Brandon at his book tour stop in Portland.

40 EndlessPagesWhat can one do with odd Lovecraftian suggestions (in this case – Nyarlathotep in an Amusement Park) from a boisterous crowd? Real fingerpainting?
It may not be much, but it won the annual HPL Film Festival‘s Pickman’s Apprentice competition:

HPL2014aIn May, I finished my full year of Small Gods with Small God #365.
I plan to continue the series as I have since then – with commissions, and as inspiration strikes. I also hope to put a book of fiction together with various writers this year.

SmallGodsPersonal commissions for friends can be the most mixed of blessings. The first piece below was a memorial for the late lamented Lobo. The second a birthday celebration for Andy Jewell. Here’s to them!

CharactersMy friends Brian and Scotia opened their store A Muse N Games in Winnipeg, and this was the logo I designed for their store.

MUSEBlueOther logos I enjoy: the Fool, Fun Mines, and The Karuna.

I was commissioned by Aeon Magazine to do a piece to accompany their interview with the great Alan Moore. They wanted a relatively simple editorial style, and the piece should have been simple, but the research took 2 days!

MooreTallerAlthough I missed this year’s Ambercon NW to return to DC for the World Fantasy Convention, I again designed their t-shirt, this year an Edward Hopper homage from a gas station in shadow. The wee black rabbit and the Power Station sign are homages to Edgefield (where Ambercon NW is held).

AmberB2014I created a Naga to add to the pages of Lands and Legends.
I learned a lot doing this painting and especially appreciate the kind embassies of Mary Anne Mohanraj and the second pair of eyes Todd Lockwood brought to the party!

NagasWonderful Boston artist Kristina Carroll invited me to participate in her Month of Love, for which I painted a daily Small God, and then again in October to participate in the Month of Fear. This month marked my return from Europe, and I was definitely the better for the inspiration I found there.

MonthOfFearI also got to write a book review for my favorite book, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula.
My appreciation appeared on Halloween day in the Unshelved Book Club:

UnshelvedEDITfinalIn November, Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking came out. Upon reading and relating to much of the message therein, I made her the Small God of Asking. Synchronicity was in the air though, as that very day saw the release of her “Dear Daily Mail” nudie pens. I’d drawn them months earlier, but manufacturing can be tricky, and I had no expectation that the timing would synch up so well. Much to the surprise of all, the pens sold out in a day. Happily, do to popular demand, you can preorder the next batch here.

AmandasThe year ended quietly but, I think, with significant progress. Since returning from Europe in September I’ve been working more and more on pieces that are personally interesting and delightful. I’ve actually completed many more than this and they will premiere at Arisia this month.

10689669_10152851304702495_8783437240540942638_nVenetia and I have enjoyed listening to Rachel and Miles X-plain the X-men so much I had to create a Christmas card for them, as well as collaborating with Zach Fischer for a very special Christmas gift.

RachelMilesAnd I will end this year’s summation with one of Venetia’s favorite images of the whole year – sketched at Kathi’s in Vienna and painted digitally upon my return.

Here’s to a splendid 2015!

SorceressFinal

2013: Art Year in Review

2013 was delightful in its variety. And while I cannot show (or in some cases even mention) some of that work (due to confidentiality agreements and other arcane processes), it all made for a challenging and rewarding year. Below is a short tour of the year’s many images:

Check These Out: 2014

2014CoverAs I’ve done each of the last 3 years, I painted a pin-up calendar in collaboration with a non-profit. This year it was The Clarion Foundation for their Writer’s Workshop – a fitting group for Literary Pin-Ups. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with so many talented authors and I am quite pleased with the result of our collaboration. Pat Murphy wrote a splendid piece about working with me on her painting.

The 2014 calendar I did is eligible for a Hugo as Best Related Work.

2014CalendarCompilationFULLCovers:

Good Intentions & Natural Consequences by Elliott Kay

IntentionsFinalEviscerated: Feminism’s First Daughter by AJ DeFaria

eviscerationfinalThe Best of Joe Haldeman by Joe Haldeman for Subterranean Press

BestOfJoeHaldemanCD Covers for the eponymous Copper & Coal and for Horsetamer by Julia Ecklar

2013CDcoversStarstruck by Elaine Lee, Michael Kaluta (and me).
2013’s successful Kickstarter campaign was the easy part – I’ve still many a page to paint!

Starstruck copyConventions:

Lower left: Norwescon program cover, Lower right: Keycon program cover

fgddfgsThis is the “quilt” of pre-existing images I made for Norwescon, the first of the conventions it was my honor to serve as Guest of Honor this year.

CenterfoldFLATAmbercon Northwest T-shirt Design

Amber20130finalGames:

13th Age and 13 True Ways

https://i1.wp.com/www.pelgranepress.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/13thAgeCOVER.png

13thAgeIcons13th Age (which I Art Directed and painted with Aaron McConnell) did come out in 2013.
And while its follow-on book 13 True Ways isn’t out yet, below is the cover in progress (with several obvious instances of Aaron McConnell’s excellent pencil work still on display):

13TrueWaysThe Doom that Came to Atlantic City, a game I’ve been playing and talking about for decades, is finally set to appear (with rules by Keith Baker and pieces by Paul Komoda) in Q1 of 2014 from Cryptozoic. And in addition to adjusting the assets to create a print-and-play version, I reworked the assets for the final printing. Here are some of the card backs:

DoomI worked with Patricia Smith on 15 pieces for Rich Baker’s game Primeval Thule.
I look forward to seeing the final book!

PatPosters:

Andy Prieboy in Los Angeles

zAndyFlattererMacBeth in Philadelphia

MacBethFinalLakewood Center for the Performing Arts

Lakewood2013Northwest Children’s Theatre

NWCT2013

Collaborations:

With the marvelous Aly Fell:

AlyFellCollaborationPainting over the pencils of Mark Dos Santos in the style of JC Leyendecker:

SIFMiscellaneous:

My annual live-painting carney-sideshow at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival
This year the audience suggested The King in Yellow at a Sushi Bar.

KingInYellowSushi copyKitty and Drew knew winter was coming. Judging by her photos of Boston, she was right!

Vikings28Glorianna was painted for the Starstruck Kickstarter.

GloriannaWide2Before guesting at the North American Discworld Convention in July, I had begun a series of Small Gods, inspired in part by Terry Pratchett. But that was months ago, and at the rate of one per day, I have now completed more than 200. I post them daily on:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 5.43.28 PMThey can be purchased on my new web site at www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

BlogSmallGodsI have on occasion taken the opportunity Small Gods resents to work a little beyond my 1-hour time-limit to create paintings, like the Small God of Holiday Turduckling below.

JohnMaddenEatsDucklingsI had some real breakthrough pieces in 2013 and I am looking forward to seeing where my work goes in 2014. Already on the agenda: 2 covers, an alphabet book, an overview of Hobbiton, a whole lot of Starstruck, and the desire to find a literary and merchandizing agent for the high-concept books I want to see published in 2015!

2013: The Year in Pictures

CyclingClausCard4“Life is for LIVING.” – Sir Noël Coward
“Huhnnn!” – James Brown

As 2014 comes in on the wings of hope and relief for so many, it’s time for the annual reportage of the year past, the year of travel. Six countries in all – and many cities, states, and provinces into the bargain. And for every thing that went wrong, numberless others went right. Isn’t it odd that we are utterly used to “went wrong” but that “went right” sounds odd to us? Oh what self-important creatures we humans are, always foiled by cruel fate, but bold in forging every piece of our own good luck!

Overview of the year:

We started off in January and February with a month-long adventure to New Zealand and Australia (stopping in LA en route ~ delivering samples to ad agencies and seeing friends.)

MapFlat2We visited Glow-Worm Caves, Hobbiton and WETA Workshop. We took a tiny plane over the Southern Alps of New Zealand, went Zorbing and zip-lined down Gravity Canyon, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, marveled at the flying foxes and blue fairy penguins. We visited even more agencies than we’d imagined, and ate much less lamb than we’d expected. AustraliaNZCompilationWe stayed with Stacy and Eric in Wellington, Jason, Kim, and Iona in Melbourne, and John and Pippa in Canberra, saw Trey Ratcliff in Queenstown, friends of Venetia’s in Melbourne and Sydney and made many new friends along the way.

FriendsDownUnderI also found my Guest-of-Honor-suit in Melbourne, thanks to Lauren’s kind attentions in Anton’s, and starred in one of Trey Ratcliff’s brilliant photographs with Venetia.

TreyRatcliff2013(Photo by Trey Ratcliffhttp://www.stuckincustoms.com)

For a brief and lovely time in February and March (and before travel interfered with her schedule), Venetia went running with our friend Scott. Now that she can actually breathe, she is very excited to see how her running stamina/enjoyability index will improve.

In March, I introduced Venetia to The Up series (which we now recommend to all of our author and story-telling friends). We watched the series together culminating in a trip down to Corvallis to see 56 Up. I also got to show Venetia Who Framed Roger Rabbit at our beautiful Hollywood Theater and she is now a fan, especially of Jessica Rabbit.

As a result of being Art Guest of Honor at Norwescon, I met Andri Magnason, the Philip K. Dick Award nominee who wrote Venetia and my’s favorite book of 2013: Lovestar.
I had a lovely time at Norwescon and look forward to it again this year.

April was the Month of Starstruck. Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta (aided and abetted by Tym Stevens) set up their Kickstarter campaign and I painted the cover, patch & t-shirt designs, and a few scenes from the story itself. I somehow also managed the solo painting of Glorianna (below right) – it was something of a breakthrough for me discovering how much I actually love painting, how easy and enjoyable it can be, if one will but let it. Now some wags among you might think this could have been achieved as many as 35 years ago…. and I’m not saying they’re wrong. Not at all.
But I’m very grateful it happened at all.

StarstruckThe month of May saw another HP Lovecraft film festival and a trip to Canada to be the Art Guest of Honor at Keycon, in Winnipeg. They had a splendid line-up of guests there, and many of them were good enough to take me up on my invitation to come visit me in Portland: Scotia (who ran Keycon’s splendid art show) came to see us in August and a great majority of the Keycon guests (dubbed “The Illuminaughty”) will be having an extended slumber party at my house in May 2014 for the World Horror Convention.

This was also the time that I worked up a proper poster for Andy Prieboy, one of my favorite musicians. I can only hope this recent group of concerts will yield a recording of its own!

In June, I proposed that Venetia cut her hair and after a week of skepticism, she realized what a brilliant idea it was. We documented the whole process and she is happier than ever with her new hair. The masses of long hair going not to Locks of Love (who have not managed their growth at all well, and cause much charitably donated hair to go to waste), but to Pantene (whose record is much better).

HairCut1_1We drove down to Corvallis to give a talk on Kickstarters to their local group of business creatives. We stayed with the lovely Lainie and had a marvelous brunch with Patricia Smith.

Then Venetia took a road trip back to Montana to be a bridesmaid at her friend Joanne’s mountain wedding. She and Trevor were (and are) adorable, and their wedding managed to chill the bridesmaids while insuring sunburns all around.

Joanne'sWeddingI stayed home to finish a job and was struck by inspiration to start my Small Gods series which has become a major part of this year. Today, January 1st of 2014, is the 200th Small God, although I was certainly not thinking of the New Year’s numbering when I began it. Small Gods are now available for sale on my website and have their own Facebook page.

BlogSmallGodsAfter Venetia returned home, we began our Journey to the East Coast, starting with Roanoke, Virginia where I spoke and held a workshop for Todd Ristau’s astonishing MFA program – The Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. Venetia got to see her first No Shame Theater performance, and I enjoyed performing my piece No Nude Bathing.
I toured her through many of the areas that I once lived and, with the exception of my parent’s old house in DC which has of course been torn down that an oversized McMansion might take its place, she has now seen everywhere I’ve lived on the East Coast.

EastCoast2013CompVenetia’s  first time in Washington DC was of course a real treat, featuring a whirlwind tour of many museums, and the Bungalow’s classic Independence Day Soiree. We are looking forward to returning this year and hopefully spending much more time at the Smithsonian.

But after a too-brief stay, a Carlyle Grande dinner with 2 tables of wonderful friends, and the hospitality of the Barkers, it was off to Charm City (by way of Ellicot City). It was my privilege to be the Art Guest of Honor for the North American Discworld Convention. Many old friends were seen there, and new ones too. The expensive early morning trip to the ER (for a stabby ear infection) was more than made up by meetings with old friends Sally and Yvonne. And a trip to the Baltimore aquarium with Yvonne and Dirk. I had a splendid time meeting people, butting heads with the estimable Bernard, and drawing even more Small Gods.

In Philadelphia, we visited dear friends Kyle and Trillian, and I set out with Trillian in the muggy summer heat on a scavenger hunt to find materials to build them a bookshelf. As you can tell from Kyle’s photo below, the mission was a success and the bathroom now sports its own library.

the-lee-loo-libraryAfter a quick turn-around in Portland, we were right back on the road to San Diego for the Comic Con. We were hosted by the Haxos and were guardians of a sort to Jack Vance’s lovely granddaughter. This marked Venetia’s first visit to the madness of the ComicCon and she enjoyed it far more than she expected to. We spent an acceptable amount of time on Coranado Island and much more time eating exquisite food and sightseeing with the Badali sisters. My ComicCon encounter with Hugh Jackman was hilarious, and my signings for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund well worthwhile.

August was one of our two months of guests and I spent much it happily taking folks sightseeing. To my utter shock and dismay, Eric Chevalier, the person who was producing The Doom that Came to Atlantic City declared he was walking away from the project and had somehow spent all of the backer’s money – all 122,874 dollars of it. Designer Keith Baker and I spent much of that month dealing with the crisis and putting together a print-and-play version for our backers. After some agonizing weeks, the day was happily saved by the amazing people at Cryptozoic Studios. I am incredibly grateful to them, and touched by the outpouring of offers of help and support from others in the industry. I spent weeks thereafter working to hone the assets to make the game even better. The people who supported my game deserve it!

DoomCryptoVenetia’s August held a number of interested events: she was called for her first-ever jury duty. Her disappointment at not being called for trials might well surprise the many who strive to avoid that very duty. However Amanda Palmer’s timely surprise appearance at Powell’s more than made up for that lack.

NinjaGigIn September, I began the 3-month labor of love that is my 2014 Calendar, this year working with the Clarion Foundation, collaborating with the authors of their choice. It was, as ever, a delightful experience. But I hope next year to start rather sooner. We shall see what develops.

Two major concerts this month, first international cabaret performer Meow, Meow in the grand Schnitzer Auditorium, and then a debut of Pink Martini‘s new album with special guest performers Meow, Meow, the Von Trapp Children, Storm Large, and China Forbes.
This second quite free, staged in Pioneer Courthouse Square, sometimes called “Portland’s Living Room”.

We had even more guests this month, this time Venetia’s dearest friends. I got to meet Joanne and her new husband Trevor and play with their sweetie pie dog. Sarah and Oot Rothfuss were a delight to have in the house and we enjoyed many Portland adventures with them. Young Master Rothfuss commissioned a special dragon from me which I painted while he and his mother watched – one which has become a very popular Small God:

SG113printIn October I finished the calendar in the very nick of time, and then it was off to England via Iceland. Andri Magnason threw the dinner party of the year after a tour of the Power Station where he writes. Iceland was as magical as imagined and I am looking forward to seeing how the Northern Lights influence my art in this coming year. More about Iceland HERE.

IcelandoverviewDiscworld friends Richard and Amy took us on a Dickensian tour of London and we talked about travel and parades with Jessica Rabbit whom we had met earlier in the year in Australia.

We met up with Maha and her wife Sinead in Oxford and by utter chance in our wanderings we came across the Bodleian Library and the most surprising and exceptional exhibit: Magical Books. Then to Birmingham, more precisely Solihull, where Liz and Matt delighted us with musical horror from around the world and we mourned the death of Lou Reed. The biggest surprise of Birmingham was the multicultural shopping – we spent wonderful day searching through of Islamic Charity Shops with Liz and meeting many helpful locals who were very happy to help Venetia find exactly the right attire (“No dear, try these instead. The Mughal colors work better with your skin”). While the wedding suit I tried on was too dear, Venetia left with some stunning outfits.

The World Fantasy Convention in Brighton was all about the people. I had more fantastic meals – the food was pretty good too – than I could hope to remember. Happily I’ve already documented them in previous blogs. One of the major highlights was meeting The Indelicates.  Every bit as interesting as their records suggest, we hope to see and hear much more of them in the near future.

England2013There was still one last convention for 2013: Ambercon Northwest. We were extremely pleased to introduce Kat to the raven Aristophanes during the tour of Portland before we all headed for the wonders of Ambercon at Edgefield. Then, in order to really make 2013 a good year for Venetia, she went in for surgery on her nose. Earlier in the fall we discovered she had a deviated septum and was barely breathing at all through her nose. The surgery was a huge success and, despite a few weeks of imposed idleness, Venetia is now breathing well and deeply for the first time in her life.

CalendarProofBecause Venetia was incapacitated for the rest of November, our multi-talented friend Jaym graciously agreed to help us with Thanksgiving. The unanimous highlights of Thanksgiving dinner this year were the sausage and apple meatballs. And our friends of course!

November also brought author Peter Beagle and his tour of his film The Last Unicorn to Portland. It was great to see Peter and to discuss art and business with Connor.

And finally, to round this busy busy year out, a comparatively quiet December.
I watched football while I drew Small Gods. Venetia baked apple pie and apple crisp.
For Christmas this year we traveled to Seattle for a week. I saw many people (though only a small percentage of everyone I know in the area. There seems never to be a sufficiency of time). While I gallivanted, Venetia house sat with a sweet dog and less-sweet chickens and read, on average, one book for each and every person I talked to.

Houseguests
January: Jaym Gates
April: Nathan Bardsley
May: Rich Gain, Venetia’s sister Tara and her boyfriend
July: Jaym Gates, Bhil and Fritz
August: Heather & Eric, Scotia, K Wiley, Jacob & Henni, Chris Pramas
September: Rob, Lisa and Bonnie, Joanne & Trevor, Sarah, Oot and Sarah’s mom
November: Connor Cochran and his wife, Jaym Gates

Books
Andri Magnason’s: Lovestar
Terry Pratchett: Lords and Ladies, Pyramids, and our favorite (naturally) Small Gods
Pierce Brown‘s Red Rising – 2014’s most-anticipated book? A terrific read. With more books to to come. We hope to meet up with Pierce in the new year.
Robert Rankin’s madcap The Japanese Devilfish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions

Noteworthy Movies
Cloud Atlas
Thor 2 and Iron Man 3
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Up Series (with the new 56 Up as the latest installment)
Big Trouble in Little China

ShowFlyerFinal2014 SCHEDULE
(2013 went to plan, so we’ll pretend that this is 100% Accurate)

January 18: Pin-up Gallery Opening 6:30pm
April 11-13: HP Lovecraft Film Festival
April 17-20: Norwescon
May 8-11: World Horror Convention in Portland
May 24-26: Potential dates for my 50th Party
July 23-27: San Diego Comic Con
August 14-17: Considering GenCon
August 29-Sept 1: Considering DragonCon
September/October: Vienna, Budapest and Prague? Here’s hoping!
November 6-9: World Fantasy Convention in Washington DC
Christmas in Hawaii? We shall see.

2015 will see me as Art Guest of Honor for Boston’s Arisia (Boston Waterfront, January 16 – 19 2015) where I will join Writer Guest of Honor N.K Jemisin and Fan Guest of Honor Colette H Fozard.

2012: The Year in Review

ZoomJANUARY

2012 was a beautiful and amazing year, and the fun started immediately on New Year’s Day. At 12:00:01am, I asked Venetia to move to Portland. She said “Yes!” We’d worked together at a distance in 2011, building the 2012 Literary Pin-Up Calendar for bestselling author and all around good guy Pat Rothfuss‘s charity Worldbuilders. Fitting that the first moment of that then-theoretical year would be such a celebration. The 1st saw us drive to the Coast and return via Cornelius Pass, the first of the many road trips that would follow….

FEBRUARY

A month later I flew into Madison Wisconsin and was gathered up by my dear friend – and Venetia’s former colleague – Kat. After a couple days of packing and hanging out with the splendid staff of Worldbuilders, we hit the road.

On our way home, we had great sushi outside Dubuque, got to see a little of the surprisingly interesting Iowa City, and barely avoided the major snowstorm that had swallowed all of Nebraska by traveling south through Kansas City. We stayed that night with my wonderfully hospitable cousin Keith and his wife Christy. The storm had left plenty of snow in Denver, but it was nothing but stunning set-dressing by the time we arrived. We had breakfast with a dear old friend of Venetia’s from Montana, then set off to Red Rocks. After an icy ascent to Hanging Lake as the sun dipped low, I showed V my childhood homes in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Happily this was only the first of our many, many hot springs visits this year.

Luncheon in Grand Junction was with my cousins Larry and Sue; from there we headed west to Arches National Park. Arches was sublime and the weather supernally calm. While we remained safe and dry, basking in sun, we witnessed a grand snowstorm half a county away to the East. We watched microstorms come and go, but a fantastic Weather Application for the iPad kept us safe us all the way across the country.

The sun set on us as we descended the passes and came into Salt Lake City. There, we were bemused by the billboards in Salt Lake City (“Tired of being normal?” A smiling couple asks, as they shill for some odd hormone therapy, “Pretend it never happened” were the words next to the man with the bag on his head advertising laser tattoo removal, and finally: “Transvaginal Mesh!” We saw this billboard at least three times in Utah but never came close to figuring out it meant). That night we got to Logan and the home and hospitality of Newton Ewell. After breakfast with Newton and Cat, we set out again. From there, Oregon was easy. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the entire trip? We talked the whole way across country without radio, tape, or other interruption.

We renovated one of the upstairs guest bedrooms of my beautiful Portland home into a charming and cozy office space. Venetia was converted to the MacIntosh OS with little difficulty. Having most recently traveled from the icy heart of small town Wisconsin, her joy at living in a thriving city is constant.

Anne Hindman and Carolyn Turgeon stayed with us later that month. By cunningly playing chauffeur, we got to accompany Carolyn to a clandestine meeting with a man who collects, among other things, American performing-mermaid memorabilia – the sequinned tails and the showbills and props used in such far-flung places as Weeki Wachee and Idaho Falls. And the hints of his other collections (like the family of larger-than-life fiberglass A&W Rootbeer mascots from the Dakotas that dominated his back yard) also amazed.

After years of being on different continents, or at least on opposite ends of the country, Venetia’s best friend Jennifer now lives only two hours away in Seattle. Immediately folllowing NWCT’s splendid gala, we drove north to Seattle for business and pleasure. After a day of meetings in interesting, historical buildings festooned with walruses, Venetia and Jennifer were at last reunited when we attended Jennifer’s costume party as a beret-wearing artist and his muse – not much of a stretch, but it served as a great ice-breaker.

My beautiful pictureI had the honor of being present when my Father and sole remaining Uncle last met. Dick’s son Donnie and I attended the meeting with Mom and Venetia. Men of few words, their conversation now was hampered by the loss of memory and encroaching darkness. But they were clearly, if laconically, happy to be in one another’s company. There wasn’t anything soppy or weepy involved, no big sentiment – it was typically stoic. No definitive statements that would indicate this would undoubtedly be their last meeting.

Their siblings had gone before them – all manner of ill health, bad luck, patricide, suicide and misadventure attended them. Elmer and Dick had worked together skidding logs and hunting and doing all those unglamorous things that the poorer denizens of little Rifle Colorado did. They were the last of that ornery pioneer generation, the last to remember the details. So successful had his campaigns in quest of fur been, that my Dad was the star of a magazine ad for muskrat and beaver traps back in the day. Dick had run the big mill in Meeker while my Dad, recovering from a broken jaw the falling tree had caused, went to the big city to College. But for all that my Dad worked in offices and Dick in a Cat or a Mill, they always got along. It felt somehow fitting for them to be the last two.

The main thread of their short conversation was an assurance to themselves and to each other that they had brought the next generation, Donnie’s and mine, up well. That they’d done right and could be proud. And when that agreement was reached in a small flurry of animation and elevation of volume, the meeting was adjourned. And we left.

MARCH

Jennifer came down to visit Venetia and I in March. We took her to many of our favorite Portland spots, including shopping on Hawthorne Street which has become our standard tour for out-of-town guests.

Our baby Persian Ironwood was planted by the Friends of Trees and Venetia has tended it most faithfully, it is doing splendidly. And after a non-existent crop last year, the fig tree produced 150 or so figs in its first crop alone!

APRIL

We traveled north to Seattle’s Norwescon for the first time. When I lived on the East Coast, this show had a fine reputation for programming and guests. Last year was no exception. I got to surprise my award-winning artist Guest of Honor friend John Picacio and visit with my 13th Age colleagues Jon Tweet and Rob Heinsoo. Plus Jason McEachen, my old colleague at Maryland’s Digital Addiction, into the bargain.

On the way back, we stopped south of Tacoma and closer to Rainier for a visit and Painter ™ demo with Todd Lockwood. Todd and I have many points of vantage and experience in common, and spending time with him was definitely one of the year’s highlights.

Venetia also got a glorious birthday party, courtesy of my family. She had an amazing time and was positively glowing for a week.

MAY

Some of you who read last year’s Holiday Novella may remember me talking about how close Keith Baker, Paul Komoda and I came to getting our game, The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, published in 2011. One reader thought that he should do a Kickstarter, and publish it with crowd-sourced capital. The Kickstarter was a great success, and Erik Chevalier’s company took in a pretty vasty sum (with the help of many of you. Thanks!) And I thought that finally, after 20 or so years, the stars were finally right. But delays and corporate interference pushed the production into 2013. I am not thrilled with any of the delays, but I remain hopeful that the patient Kickstarter backers and I will finally get our long-awaited rewards.

The HP Lovecraft Film Festival moved itself to May and came together with the tender care and feeding of Brian and Gwen of SighCo. I participated in a couple of fine panels, and though I lost the coveted Pickman’s Artist award to young Nick Gucker, I was pleased with the results of the audience-directed event. And my Katherine-wheeled- unicycle-riding Shuggoth has found a happy home with author Nikki Guerlain (whose donation went to charity).

shoggothsizedAt the end of the month, we drove down to the San Francisco Bay for BayCon. It was the first time we listened to the music on my iPhone straight through, and many of the songs are now set in our minds at particular locations along the beautiful northern California drive (i.e.: The Austin Lounge Lizards singing “I pull off in Yreka” as we drove into Yreka).

Staying with Miko, Lis and Jackson is always a treat. Miko introduced Venetia to many fascinating and immediately applicable concepts, including the Vitamix and the “green smoothie.” While their chard smoothie was a little… intense for us, we later succumbed to the lure of the Vitamix and spent the rest of the summer enjoying delicious smoothies (though Venetia’s were usually more viridian than mine).

While in the Bay area, we spent my birthday with Doug and Wendy, old friends from the East Coast who’d been lured west to civilization. We, and their delightful kids found a delicious Lebanese joint in the midst of Santa Clara’s labyrinthine warehouses and played a rough game of Anagrams. My cousin Cathy and her homophone Kathy took us for a fine Zodiac ride on the waters around Redwood Shores. Later, I created a fierce visage of Boudicca for the spinnaker of their racing boat.

BoudiccaCropJUNE

We hosted Melissa and Illyeanna and got a closer look at some of Portland’s newest food carts, the splendid ice cream of Salt & Straw, and sushi.

In another epic road trip, we drove out to Montana to visit Andrea, Glacier, hot springs, and Venetia’s family. In the old days I’d have included it here, but the beauty of this new format is that reportage can occur more promptly and accurately. So, for a much more scenic and fulsome account please visit my journal HERE.

When we returned, Venetia and I visited with my Dad. He didn’t know us. Venetia was new to the party, so his lack of memory was not surprising. But he didn’t know me either. Still, he was glad we were there, and the feeling was mutual. We had a sweet visit – all the worries and frustrations of our long relationship were past, and he could be purely happy to see me. I’ve heard people talk about heaven: about being reunited with loved ones and the memories of life. But there and then, I felt that this Lethe –  so impossible to fight, so hard to witness – was somehow right. I had made my peace with my father in therapy and then, in person. I hope that when his light finally faded, in early July, that he had all he needed.

JULY

Immediately after driving to Montana and back, we flew out to the East Coast for a two week tour of New York. Starting in Newark, we stayed with Jim and Rhymer in Jersey, Michael Kaluta in NYC, Stephen Hickman in Red Hook NY, and Jacob Lefton in Armherst, before arriving at Scott and Rachel’s house in Melrose. The blog is again the place to go for MORE.

The main purpose of the trip was guesting at ReaderCon where Elizabeth Bear, Michael Swanwick, Kyle Cassidy, and I created a story together.DismembranceJason McEachen and his young family stayed with us briefly in July – before emigrating to Australia. We look forward to seeing them next in Melbourne.

AUGUST

I was finally able to begin the 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar with a full line-up of amazing authors – including my all time favorite writer, Ray Bradbury. The next three months were devoted almost exclusively to the calendar, though we did take a break to debut 13th Age the game I’d been working on with Jon Tweet and Rob Heinsoo and Aaron McConnell – at the massive PAX show in Seattle.

LeeAndV13thAgeIt was there, showing off the game to passersby with Venetia, that I found out that I had won a Chesley Award. I was so surprised to have been nominated thrice that it never even occurred to me that I might win one. Quite a wonderful surprise to be honored thus by my peers!

Our work on the calendar began and ended in Portland, with Roger Circle 23 Photography shooting Venetia (and eventually me). Roger was great at getting us what we needed. But our itinerary took us to Los Angeles where we stayed with the adorable Nicole, Ed and Magoo (their pug). The loss of my friend (and their Clarion classmate) Leonard Pung hit hard. Leonard was a fine fellow and avid punster who is much missed. We were honored to work with the talented photographer Alan Amato and his muse Ulorin Vex. Alan took the reference photos of Clare Grant and Milynn Sarley, half of Team Unicorn.

Jim Butcher’s assistant Priscilla Spencer was the model for his pin-up, in 4 separate reflecting poses. We met with photographer Zakk Eginton at her house and shot for a wonderful couple of hours on a balmy night in the City of Angels.

We got to spend another day in LA visiting friends and seeing sights.

First: Jason and Kemi. It seems like only yesterday that Jason was living at my house after Katrina. And a blink since I saw him get married in New Orleans. But now? A big old townhouse in the Valley – all gussied up and festooned with the best books and comics. Hard to even put my happiness for him and his family into words. Here’s the cover I did for his comic “One Nation“:SundiataFlat

Then: Kitty Cat Mihos. We shared a sinfully delicious breakfast al fresco and between personal stories talked about Neverwear and other excellent charity work. She’s started up a new facebook page HERE. I can’t wait to work with her and Neil in the new year!

Finally: Paul Komoda. Despite the chaos of his move to a new apartment, we still were able to see some of his amazing work – from dinosaurs to dollies. And the lovely lady Stella came home with us. My house is as filled with art as it can be, but the more work by Paul, the merrier!

Stellasized

We also took in the many sights LA has to offer – from the Santa Monica Pier to the mountain canyons north of town. This included a visit to the Lake Shrine I remember so fondly from my childhood, a visit to a an empty Dodgers Stadium, and plenty of other beautiful scenery too!

Back in Portland, coinciding with Keith’s move from Austin back to PDX, we hosted a party for Dan and Zephy in commemoration of the brilliant game they’d run. We commissioned the perfect yin and yang boxes in to present the players’ Thank You gift to them: decks of Exalted Tarot cards I designed and illustrated with help from Felicity Shoulders and Sarah Barker at the beginning of the year.

Sarah4The cards were immediately broken in with a version of Dan and Zephy’s custom baccarat game. Some big league ante was lost and won therefrom. Included in the haul, was the original set of Keith’s “Cards Against Academy”, a custom and hilarious permutation on “Cards Against Humanity.”

OCTOBER

Only one bit of reference eluded me – the ever-moving Amanda Palmer. Happily we’d discussed this with Kyle Cassidy at Readercon in Boston, and our plan worked to perfection. I drew up a rough of what I was looking for, and Kyle did the rest in the midst of Amanda’s busy US tour. Whew!

At the end of October, we were back in SF for a new show called Convolution. I got to present Peter S. Beagle with a framed print of his pin-up in the calendar, and spend time with Deborah Grabien. The panel on Kickstarter with Steve Jackson, Howard Tayler, and Steve Berman was a hoot. Kickstarter is such a complex beast that we could have carried on all day…. The proximity to SFO meant that we got to see Miko again on his way to Japan. And our afternoon walking tour of Burlingame was surprisingly entertaining as well. We met Heather Lam’s beau and hatched devious schemes with other friends in the course of our stay.

NOVEMBER

I’ve designed t-shirts for AmberCon Northwest for many years now, and this year’s was the only job I took amid the Calendar mania. The gathering at McMenamin’s Edgefield is always amazing, and this year was no exception. While we missed Murray Writtle, Katya Kornmacher came from Germany, and joined my long Saturday tour of waterfalls and dams and the Bridge of the Gods. The games I played were splendid – from Felicity Shoulders’ Amber in Space to Simone’s ongoing Court Dances – but the best fun of all was playing a bespoke, bemused and befuddled Bertram Wilberforce “Bertie” Wooster (tragically sans Jeeves) in Amanda Robinson’s Hooray for Captain Spaulding game. Afterwards, pancakes were taken on the West Porch.

AmberConBertie2012

Our stay at Edgefield also allowed me to visit The Artists in Cellblock D. The McMenamin brothers bought the former Multnomah County Lock-up, a strange spoke and hub panopticon that had hidden next to the bigger institution quietly for years. While I didn’t get to see Lyle the Night Owl, I did see Myrna and Olivia and their mates hard at work on exquisite curvilinear headboards. Behold! The Ever Glamorous World of ART!

CellblockDAt Convolution I had invited our friend Jaym Gates, publicist and horsewoman extraordinaire, to come visit for Thanksgiving. She joined us for a bounteous Thanksgiving day with my family, and then, the next day, for a gathering here with some of the amazing friends we have been blessed to know. But while Venetia and I knew the guests, they didn’t know one another – it was a fine experiment in old-school dinner partying. We achieved some critical mass of fun – the laughter was constant and the impromptu games of introduction remarkable. The meal that was gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan thanks to Venetia’s hard word and our visiting Master Chef, Jaym.

TurkeyDay

DECEMBER

A couple days ago, my painting inspired by Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notionpremiered in the upstairs hallway at McMenamin’s Kennedy School here in Portland. So wonderful to have my work there among that of my friends.

ErinPhotoCropThe picture above was taken on Christmas Eve by our hostess, my sister-in-law Erin, when the family gathered at their house on the Tualatin River (And I don’t mean near the river, I mean on the river. The water is further away in summer).

Today the party moved to Vancouver for a delicious and loot-filled Christmas. We look forward to a second-breakfast party with Kate, Bob, and Rowan Ristau New Year’s Eve. And we will be finishing the year as it began – at Steve Lieber and Sara Ryan‘s New Year’s Eve evening party.

BOOKS READ

“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by the sweet Jenny Lawson. We managed to find standing room the night she read at Powell’s where she signed a book for Heather Lam. Jenny later helped me with the George RR Martin Pin-Up by photographing her own dire Wolf Blitzer to be Cersei Lannister’s bedwarmer.

“Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”: This book brings the context.

“Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal” and “My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging” by Rachel Naomi Remen. True stories of love and death.

CALENDAR-RELATED BOOKS

Remember kids: When it’s research, no one is allowed to interrupt!

“The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle. Details of the pin-up HERE.

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. Neil was the first author who signed on for this year’s calendar. His kind note and wee present are much beloved. More about his pin-up is HERE.

“Kushiel’s Dart” by Jacqueline Carey. We went out to the Beaverton Powell’s to hear her read from her new Agent of Hel series, spoke with her and gave a few members of her audience the 2012 calendar to better prepare them for the 2013 one.

STAGE AND SCREEN

I painted many theater posters for the NorthWest Children’s Theater and Lakewood and we’ve loved the productions we’ve seen.

There were no shortage of plays and movies in 2012, but our vote for best theatrical performance of 2012 is the Portland Center Stage production of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, tickets courtesy Keith and Jen. Three of our party (including Venetia) had never seen it. What an astounding production!

PUBLISHING:

The wrap-around cover for M.K. Hobson’s “The Warlock’s Curse”.

WarlockFinalThe covers for Mark Hodder’s “A Red Sun Also Rises for Pyr”.

Cover painting for “Axe Cop”, over drawings by Ethan Nicolle.

Spectrum 19 (my 7th year).

KICKSTARTER:

I never expected to work on a single Kickstarter this year, much less 5 of them! The Doom That Came to Atlantic City opened more than one can of unknown worms. Venetia and I learned a lot more than we ever even considered possible. Rather than inevitably failing to convey crucial parts of Kickstarter’s complexities in conversation, we opted to write a long and involved White Paper on the subject. (More than just my Holiday notes go on forever!) Much to my surprise, it was quoted prominently in Forbes. If you are planning a Kickstarter or other internet funding campaign, I hope that you will find something of use therein.

The wrap-around cover for M.K. Hobson’s “The Warlock’s Curse”; “13 True Ways”; “Geek Love”; and Broken Continent all followed. I don’t know all the projects that await in the coming year, but at this point I’d be surprised if at least one more Kickstarter doesn’t find itself on my To Do list.

VENETIA’S LIST OF FIRSTS:

First Milkshake
First Jellybean and Gumdrop
First Chocolate
First Ham
First time in New York City
First time in Glacier National Park
First time in Los Angeles

L&VFirstMilkshakeForBlog2013 SCHEDULE*

2013 promises to be just as busy and wonderfully fun as 2012.

Would you like to see us in Portland?

Or while we are on our many adventures out in the world?

If so, please let us know (extra points if you want to put us up on our travels and wine and dine us)!

January 16-17: Los Angeles
Jan 19-27: New Zealand, North Island
Jan 28-30: New Zealand, Queenstown
January 21-Feb1: Melbourne
Feb 3: Canberra
Feb 4-6: Sydney
Feb 7-9: Cairns
Potential: March 1-3: Emerald City Comic Con
March 27-31: Art Guest of Honor at Norwescon in Seattle
May 17-19: Art Guest of Honor at Keycon in Winnipeg.
June 16-23: A Montana Wedding
June 27-July 2: Roanoke, Virginia
July 3-5: Washington, DC
Potential: Travel up the East Coast to Boston stopping in Laurel, Ellicott City, Baltimore, Newark, Philadelphia, Princeton, NYC, upstate New York for ReaderCon in Boston
Potential: Going to the mighty San Diego Comic Con July 18-21
Oct 21- Nov 3: World Fantasy Convention in Brighton England.                                Potential: Travel around that time in England and France
Nov 7-10: Ambercon Northwest at McMenamin’s Edgefield

*The schedule for the year ahead is a still-congealing mass of dates and time. That said, this is easily the highest degree of  specificity I’ve ever managed so far in advance.

MerryDalek

Wishing each and every reader a very grateful and joyous 2013!

Love,
Lee & Venetia