2018 Year End Summary

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Dear Ones,

It was a pleasure to spend time with those of you we saw this year, and if we didn’t have that opportunity, let’s try again in the new year! As Lee is off social media and Venetia is limiting her time there, we are trying harder to connect in person, or via old-fashioned telephone calls.

As usual, we’ve compiled a variable but heartfelt summary of our entire year.
It moves in fits and starts. Some sections will be overlong, and others condensed to bullet points. And there will be links – because that’s one of the the unique beauties of internet communication.

Please do not feel as though you must soak in it. Scan it, ignore it, or pore over it as suits. There will not be a quiz later.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, lists of your favorite films, TV shows, podcasts, et alia. But we like you no matter your approach to our strange annual catalogue of events!

Cheers to you!
Lee and Venetia

NOTE: Lee is writing a first-person noir detective novel set in 1915 San Francisco. While his book will be set in and around the Panama Pacific International Exposition, events as disparate as the onset of the War to End All Wars, the Japanese conquest of China, the US Invasion of Veracruz, the life of aviator Lincoln Beachey, the rise of the KKK, the Suffrage Movement, the move to Prohibition, the end of the Barbary Coast, and even US monetary Policy are all things he needs to know a great deal more about before he’s done.

If any of you lovely people have expertise in any of these arenas, Lee would love to hear from you.

2018 Art Year in Review

2018 IN REVIEW

•  In January things were pretty calm. And cold.
Lee has been working with Andrew Kafoury for more than a year on Andrew’s graphic novel No’Madd. In that time, significant progress has been made. Lee gives some details about the process here: Storytelling In Comics

•  In February things picked up as they always do – thanks to the blessed arrival of Theatre Poster Season and Month of Love. This year’s Month of Love challenges were color-coded, and Lee applied himself to the strange spectacle that came to the US as “The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”, because in a year so filled with hate, abuse, intolerance, and racism, sometimes one just needs something ridiculous….

•  In March, at Emerald City Comic Con and Wondercon, Venetia had her first shows with the ladies of Badali Jewelry – proudly displaying the new rainbow NC (for Non-Compliant) necklace that Hillarie made her.

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Lee has been trying to branch out from merely speaking on panels about art and Norwescon in Seattle kindly obliged. There, Lee spoke about Sherlock Holmes (amd recommended Kim Newman’s audacious Angels of Music) to a room absolutely packed with fans of ratiocination and shipping*, and interviewed old friend (and this year’s Artist Guest of Honor) Galen Dara.

Happily, we also brought home our favorite piece of hers from the art show!

Arts

Claire and Sam invited us to participate in their PowerPoint Party.
The rules were simple – you must speak about something you’re passionate about and you must not go longer than three minutes.
If you do go longer (really when you go longer), you must drink a shot at minute 3, and another for each minute past 3.

Sam’s presentation began with the creation of the earth and ended with the recycling of plastics! It started things off with a bang (and a lot of drinking as his presentation ran to 16 minutes) and gave us so much information in a short time. Astonishing!

Lee adapted his popular “Elements of Illustration” essay to this format, making sure that each element only got 1 slide, and trying to keep it as straightforward as possible.
But even then, his essay ran to almost 5 minutes and he had to throw back 2 drinks. Since he’s never drunk liquor or taken a shot in his life, and even though the hosts allowed water to be substituted for hooch, this proved a challenge. But both the presentation and Lee’s attendant drinking problems were positively received.

PowerPoint

The other presentations were delightful – especially the one about the right and wrong ways of creating Miso.

•  In April Lee left Facebook forever, and wrote a long (and admittedly profane essay) about its inexcusable evils. He hopes that those of you who don’t know the extent of Facebook’s abuses may learn more about them here.

Lee had a show of his Pin-Ups at As You Like It in Eugene, Oregon. This proved a wonderful chance to see those who came out to the show and to play a Murder Mystery game as an unscrupulous British Music Company rep trapped in Woodstock at the height of its folk-rock charm.

John and Emily Wenderoth’s Wedding reception in Garibaldi was glorious – so many lovely people gathered at the finest house in town to celebrate their union with incredible food.

•  In May we left Portland on a spring day so glorious that we questioned our long-planned journey just a little. In a kind act of nature, four irises (the maroon/gold ones and the purple/violet ones) bloomed just in time for our viewing pleasure the morning we left.

Bounty

The drive was pleasant, though Venetia slept through most of it. The path through Eastern Oregon is always more surprising and varied than we remember: canyons and rivers and mysterious mountains appearing and then vanishing as we traveled East. Our impression of Boise was markedly different than it’s been in the past. We got off the freeway (Venetia driving at this point to enjoy the 80 mph speed limit) and found ourselves immediately in a historic area where the streets were lined with leafy trees and grand houses. We continued up to our hosts house nestled in the northern hills. Sarah was Lee’s first yoga teacher and one of the amazing people we are honored to have in our lives. She and her husband and German Shepherds Lux and Nora have a beautiful home and grilled us fresh veggies outside on their patio. It was absolutely lovely.

We got up early in the morning because even though Salt Lake City is only 4 hours from Boise by the freeway, Lee wanted to take a more interesting route. So at Mountain Home we took a decisive turn south to head straight down into Nevada (and strangely, back briefly into the Pacific timezone) crossing over the high mountains and into Owyhee and the Duck Valley Reservation.

The road south from there – over the pinnacles of the unfrequented pass – was breathtaking, some of the most beautiful land in the west. The whole trip we were utterly enthralled at how verdant and lush all of the land was. After a surf-themed lunch in Elko we turned east again and drove through the salt flats. The “graffiti” there was some of the best we’ve seen: words spelled out in rocks being both charming and a lot less environmentally damaging.

Eventually we rounded a bend and there was Salt Lake City. When we arrived at Hillarie’s house there was much squeeing and hugging. We got a tour and then Venetia appropriated Hillarie’s phone and we went out in search of food and Pokémon. We found both and delicious gelato to top it all off.

It seems we may have a new bucket list of visiting all the IKEA’s in and out of the states. (Having also made it to an Ikea in Winnipeg, Canada and Brighton, England not to mention various ones in the states.) This particular expedition was in search of furniture for Hillarie’s room and we drove home in triumph through a glorious lightning storm.

We spent another five days in Salt Lake City – finishing up Hillarie’s room and getting the grand tour of the Badali workshop.

Adventures

Sadly, Venetia proved highly allergic to pretty much every process involved in the making of jewelry, and her dreams of becoming a jeweler were crushed. We moved in with Janelle for another few days and helped her with her home renovations and the cleaning out of her remarkable closet (Fibber McGee had nothing on Janelle).

We bought The Good Place Season 2 so we could watch it with Janelle.

On a lovely windy day (the wind is important, we’ll come back to that in a moment) we drove out to Antelope Island Park to see the sights. At the front gate we were confronted with a scary sign warning us that 1) it was “no-see-ums” seasons and 2) they were all out of face nets. Thankfully the day was windy enough that we never saw or felt any tiny biting bugs and instead got to hike up and around the island seeing birds and bison and fully enjoying ourselves.

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We had an amazing barbecue lunch with Janelle in Ogden and then moseyed on to Lava Hot Springs. We took all the tiny country roads, enjoying the scenery and driving near but never quite under a huge thunderstorm that kept the day cool and breezy. The hot springs were just as good as we had remembered. Venetia tried all the different temperatures and finally found her place on the steps next to the 112 degree pool, going and in and out until she was in danger of passing out. Lee succeeded in securing greasy Thai food just as the nearby restaurant was closing. It proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The first time Lee came through town, he was ten, and it was the lovely Sunken Gardens he remembers walking through. They are still there, but having been cleaved off from the pool complex, they are a little the worse for wear.

It was lunch time when we reached Idaho Falls. Unfortunately we were still in Mormon country and, on a Sunday, only national fast food establishments were open. We drove around downtown looking for somethign real and local when we spotted the beacon of an ‘OPEN’ sign at Diablas Kitchen. There were people inside and out and their food looked really good. We contemplated heading upstairs to sit down but the greeter suggested we sit at the bar where we could watch the food being made. And boy was that the best suggestion ever! Over the stove range was written “Tell us your food allergies.” We did and they designed most amazing lunch for Lee – A bed of arugula with a raspberry compote, steak cooked rare with soft blueberry goat cheese on top. Venetia oredered the baked caramel waffles and stole many bites of Lee’s lunch. We cannot recommend this place highly enough if you find yourself in Idaho Falls.

The next section of our journey was heading up to Yellowstone National Park through the West entrance. We arrived at the Old Faithful Lodge, checked in, and devoured a dinner of gluten-free bison spaghetti which we finished just in time to go outside and see Old Faithful erupt. We retired to our cabin pretty early, unexpectedly tired after such an idyllic day. The next morning we (as crossed the continental divide twice), we realized that even though the park is the crater of an ancient super-volcano, the overall elevation still really high.

Yellowstone

Leaving Yellowstone we took the road we’d never driven before. This turned out to be the road-construction route. It was still fun and each full stop on the single-lane gravel road gave us the chance to roll down the windows and enjoy the new summer scenery. We exited through the North Entrance and drove on to Venetia’s mom’s house. There we found a collection of Hamilton’s letters and writings which Lee read to Venetia and her mom (who knew nothing of this Hamilton musical we both so appreciate.) Hopefully she enjoyed the naughty innuendos in Hamilton’s letters to John Laurens as much as we did.

The rest of the day was spent at Chico Hot Springs. We soaked and met people and went inside for sweet potato fries then back outside for more soaking. Venetia’s friend Immanuela came out to have dinner with us and we invited her back to Portland (spoiler: she came a month later and had a great time!)

There are definitely ups and downs to Montana. On the plus side, Venetia’s purse was returned, phone and cash intact, after she misplaced it while we had lunch with her friend Patrick. On the downside, we ran head-first into Bozeman barbarous culture of barbering. Lee got the worst haircut Venetia has ever seen and while Venetia did eventually get a hot towel shave, it was stupidly frustrating. Really Bozeman? Barbering is not rocket science!

We stayed in Bozeman with Joanne and Trevor and their adorable baby. As always, Lee immediately found some home-work he could do – in this case, pulling down unwanted trim. Venetia went out for an interview and then spent time with her sister Tara shopping for graphic novels. Monstress is Venetia’s favorite graphic novel in case you were curious and you should definitely read it. We also met up with the owner of the charming local Country Bookshelf.

It turns out purchasing The Good Place Season 2 was a solid decision as we got to share it again, this time with Trevor and Joanne.

Then, as our hosts set off for Italy, we were off to the final leg of our trip: Missoula and Miscon! We’ve been hearing good things about Miscon for years from our friends, how friendly and comfortable and fun it is. We are pleased to report all of these things are true. One of the really delightful things is that because of the location and time of year, a portion of the convention is held outside. The hotel backs onto a park bordering the river and huge tents were set up and a roped off section allowed people to boff one another with foam swords and there was an aerial rig with performers and a VR trailer.

The convention kept Lee busy but we still had plenty of time to go out into the town, and on Saturday we enjoyed the outdoor market that was literally right next door along the river walk. We tried vegan cheese and gluten-free donuts and sampled lots of honeys. In honor of Lee’s birthday, the convention made a delicious gluten-free chocolate cake.

Venetia’s sister came up on Sunday and got a signed poster and comic by Rikki Simons, who is not just the the voice of Invader Zim’s Gir, but happily for Lee, a huge fan of Starstruck. She also got to see Lee’s Infamous Bad Book Cover Show, always worthwhile. Monday was the last day of the convention and after it was all over, Venetia found a matcha latte and sat by the river and wrote, while Lee hung out in the Green Room teaching his hosts how to play Cursed Court.

Cursed Court

The next day we drove all day to get home and rewarded ourselves with cheap and delicious conveyer-belt sushi as a welcome contrast to that one time we ate ridiculously-expensive sushi in Montana.

•  In June, the Laurelhurst Yard Sale provided more than its usual share of bounty (for us and for friends who’d shared their shopping lists with beforehand)- a solid oak desk, a Stickley chair, a metal bench, patio furniture, and – best (and least likely) of all – a new screen door. Probably really a very old screen door, but one that fit our front door perfectly (happily, Dan was visiting, napping at home, and amendable to being woken to measure our doorway. Thanks Dan! And thanks to Mary for loaning us her van – because almost nothing we bought fit well into our wee Honda).

Kevin came to attach the screen door properly and, much to our pleasure, also installed a proper stair rail to the attic after Venetia lovingly sanded down the cheese-grater texture of the stair walls. From there, the back steps got fixed, front steps and wide porch-beam replaced, the paint and the downspouts repaired, and the yard sorted out in wonderful ways. Elise and Jackie took the sad old plum tree in the back yard down, and planted a Pear and a Persimmon instead. And since there was so much to-ing and fro-ing in the basement, we decided to add finishing touches there as well – with 8 new overhead lights, trim, a new cabinet, new knobs and the removal of crumbling masonry. Paint is forthcoming, but we think it’s safe to say his house hasn’t been this safe or this well-appointed in decades. Nothing like kind and clever landlords (Thanks Aaron and Elise!) – we are so grateful and lucky to be here!

We visited with Rob and Lisa and their adorable new hound, Sammi Jo. Roo is missed, but Sammi Jo is a wonderful beast and we adore her.
From there we traveled to Jaym and Dylan’s where we consulted and helped improve the living room, kitchen and main bathroom.
The next day we went to (and below) Snoqualmie Falls (site of Twin Peaks). Then on to Sultan Washington to visit client and friend Jim Tinney and his remarkable Kiss the Sky Books.

Bookstores

From there it was a short hop to visit Tynley, Sean, and the lovely Bean girls. Delicious food was shared, and games were played.

Venetia saw (and ordered) these lovely silver feather earrings from Dawn Wilson’s Desert Talismans:

DawnWilson

•  In July, Lee got braces applied to his teeth. As he’d avoided them in youth, this was quite a novel notion for him. The novelty has since, of course, worn off, even as the braces seem ever more fixed. He hopes that another year should see them gone….

After years of anticipation, Lee had the great good fortune to re-team with Keith Baker on the new Eberron book. Given all the still-unrealized notions for Keith’s remarkable world, he hopes that still more will be forthcoming in 2019.

•  In August, we traveled (separately) to Indianapolis. Lee’s visit started slowly, with a too-long incarceration at Kansas City’s troubled airport.

Selfie

Venetia worked the floor at Gencon, and Lee popped in from time to time in support of Atlas Games’ Cursed Court. Lee stayed with his dear friend Katherine northeast of town – enjoying her hospitality, pinball, offspring, and food (especially the Ethiopian repast that ended their visit). He became with well acquainted with Katherine’s local barbecue joint and ferried foodstuffs every day to Badali’s crack troops pinned down on the front lines.

The day after GenCon, Lee joined the Badali crew on a trip to The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Given that we both grew up in actual western states, we would have called this a “midwestern” art museum, but myths of “The West” run deep….

A few days after we returned from the Midwest, we hosted Venetia’s lovely sister Tara. We showed her about and the sisters spent some quality time together, as clearly shown here at PDX, Portland’s superior airport:

Tara1

The following day we travelled south to San Jose for the World Science Fiction Convention.

Months ago, when we were still planning this trip, Venetia made some calculations on money vs. pain. How much is it worth to alleviate a certain amount of pain? In this case, we decided that if we arrived early, the cost of a hotel room was worth more than the pain of avoiding a 5am flight the following day. We arrived in San Jose Thursday morning but by the time we checked in, and lugged a suitcase full of art through the midday heat, and then changed hotels the next day… we decided that for future similar endeavors, it’s worth the money to avoid the pain.

The fulcrum of the convention for us was Lee’s set of 4 panels on Creating a Book Cover. In front of a live audience, over the course of 4 days, he and author Elliott Kay, guest editor Heather McDougal, and photographer Richard Mann walked through the basic steps of creating a book cover from initial consultation to reference photoshoot to painting in front of a live audience to the final critique and line design. Elliott’s book is called Wandering Monsters, and you can find the cover here.

Worldcon

Venetia by contrast had no specific schedule and spent much of the convention meeting amazing people and going to parties and re-reading all of In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan again. We were surprised and delighted by talented artists who came north (and in a couple cases, west) from The Mexicanx Initiative: Tehani Farr, Dianita Ceron, and Lauren Raye Snow.

After the convention, we visited the Body Worlds exhibit and Lee test drove an exciting new program from Adobe that mimics oil paints. While they have no plans to release it to the public anytime soon, Lee will buy it the moment they do. We then headed north to see (and stay with) our friends Tanya and Chadwick, whereupon we promptly collapsed on their couch for a few days, binge watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and entertaining their new kitten Alexia.

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Even though she was small enough to smuggle away in Venetia’s purse, Lee kept a stern eye out and the terrible crime of kitten-napping was forestalled (though, through our efforts, there was much actual kitten napping.)

Our dear friend Rina Wiseman took us on an intensive and magical tour of San Francisco, starting at the remarkable vegan restaurant Gracias Madre. There we had the best strawberry cheesecake ever, gluten and dairy free and tasting like some kind of heavenly ice cream. Our trip included Mission Dolores, the oldest cemetery still in San Francisco, and the Columbarium another palace of the dead. But it wasn’t all about dead people, there were the picturesque remains of the Sutro Baths and the tunnels thereby.

Sutro1

Then we continued on to the Palace of Fine Arts and finally, near to the old Anchor steam Brewery, the magnificent bookshelves of Tachyon Press. The tour was amazing!

The next day we had a delightful lunch with the lovely people at the Stoller Design Group in Oakland, then flew off to Albuquerque, New Mexico and our second Bubonicon in three years. Venetia was reminded at the pre-convention party how much she enjoys New Mexico’s green chilies and we got a tour of Patricia Roger’s amazing home and talked about the new additions to her collection since last we’d visited.

Lee was the Toastmaster at Bubonicon 50 and enjoyed his duties thoroughly – from providing the back cover of the program, touring people through the art show, sharing panels, and speaking. Beloved author Victor Milan had hosted the costume call for years, but after his too-early death, the convention organizers asked Lee to emcee in his place – an honor, but a sad one. He shared terrific conversations with authors Walter Jon Williams, Ian Tregillis and TED organizer Gordon Garb. He also had the great good fortune to handle the amazing original pulp artwork that Patricia brought in on the last day of the show – an Edd Cartier piece featuring an enormous black cat, and a heretofore unrecognized Virgil Finlay (an illustration for the first printing of Curt Siodmak’s classic ‘Donovan’s Brain’) and other pieces pulled unloved and ignored from a collector’s attic.

Venetia moderated her first panel on books for young readers. The art show was as every absolutely amazing and full of beautiful art. Peri Charlifu’s gorgeous celadon glaze was again a highlight and we were tempted by all of his things. The delightful Eric Velhagen
was this year’s artist guest and given his work’s popularity, we were especially glad we had secured a piece of his last time we were in town.

Bubonicon

Highlights of Bubonicon include late night auctions which Lee helped auctioneer. As usual, we kept a sharp eye out for values – including ARCs** of a couple Zelazny books with notes from author Fred Saberhagen. Lee enjoyed selling L. Ron Hubbard’s first Science Fiction story about “Scientology” to fellow-auctioneer Gordon Garb, and Venetia especially enjoyed bidding up personal Tuckerization*** in Mary Robinette Kowal’s newest novel. Quite a lot of fun for, and all for charity!

•  In September, after an emergency photoshoot to get Venetia some new branding via Roger Circle23 and Amy of BeeGirlMetal, we were bound for Dallas, Texas.

Photoshoot

Once we arrived, we rented a car and drove through miles of mini-mansions proudly displaying their belief in the loathsome Ted Cruz to the oasis of sanity that is Chez Dutton. After a tour of their new (to us at least) house, we headed out for good Mexican food, did a little grocery shopping, and watched movies – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Assassination Bureau– before getting into Art Directing their living room. It’s an amazing house, and Grey’s colossal French Lost Boys poster finally has the display it so richly deserves.

From there – seeking adventure – we drove to Austin in truly terrible weather on the truly terrible road through Waco (thinking of the Indelicates as we drove). After a day of sight-seeing, we met up with the talented Lauren Brown for dinner. The sushi was delicious and the conversation better. Though the roads were still dreadful, the sky on trip back to Dallas was clearer, and we could see the light pollution of Ft. Worth and Dallas from dozens of miles off….

After a lovely breakfast Dianita and a short goodbye to Grey, we again hit the trail – this time to Heather and Eric’s in Houston. There we at last met Beaker – their Bengal Cat. Lee was surprised to find this unusual cat so delightful, and eventually came to the conclusion that (maybe due to his less-domesticated genes), Beaker was more like a dog than a cat. We played with him endlessly and he seemed to enjoy it as much (or more) than we did. Their gorgeous downtown condo is filled with art (which Lee of course helped curate a bit). And Heather introduced Venetia to Mr. Sunshine – an amazing Korean drama about a crucial period in that country’s fascinating colonialist history.

The next day we headed to the hotel and met up with our fellow writers as anticipation built for the Writing Excuses Cruise which would set sail the following day.

Ship

Last year we had enjoyed the cruise of the Baltic, but mostly as a convenient taxi service, taking us to almost all the spots we wanted to gather knowledge and reference – from Copenhagen to Tallinn – and if some education about writing took hold, so much the better. But this year, Lee is writing a novel and Venetia short stories, so the cruise was far more about the writing. Lee boarded the ship with 11,000 words written. The excellent critique group that Mary Robinette Kowal led buried his prologue justly (if unceremoniously) at sea. Even so, he left the cruise with some 24,000 words written (among the top 10 wordcounts of his fellows).

Venetia’s group was led by the amazing Amal ElMohtar. Sadly, the xenophobic nonsense perpetrated by today’s racist GOP caused her (and her lovely mother) serious grief. But happily for Venetia, she led an amazing session that included the remarkable Erin Roberts. Their incisive critique left Venetia hopeful.

After three days at sea, the ship stopped at Roatan, an island off the northern coast of Honduras. From there we traveled a short distance via smaller boat to a private reserve where Venetia swam on a pristine beach, and was joyfully clambered over by tiny monkeys. Lee took a brief tour of the reserve before returning to the ship to write.

Roatan

The next stop was Belize City, where we journeyed by tender, by bus, and then by speedboat up the mighty Belize River to the ruins at Lamani “Sunken Crocodile”. We saw no crocodiles, but there were mosquitos, giant grasshoppers, and howler monkeys. In the middle of a giant meadow, Venetia held out her hand like a falconer and a giant grasshopper landed as though it had been trained to do so. Lee climbed the tall pyramid in the rain – falling once in the silica-rich mud (so slippery!)

The ruins were amazing, and the history of Belize, (formerly British Honduras) devastating. The idea that the British took possession of it for its wood and left none… well, that’s colonialism. We were glad we could share some of our tourist dollars with them.

Lamanai

The last stop at sea was Cozumel – a lovely island off the eastern coast of Mexico south of Cancun. Venetia got a little sun while she snorkeled. Lee got less sun because after a brief spin (the reason he is clean-shaven is that he learned years ago on the Great Barrier Reef that mustaches and snorkeling are a poor combination) he stayed on the boat above the Starfish sanctuary and wrote.

Cozumel1

•  In October, the HP Lovecraft Film Festival saw Lee win the Pickman’s Apprentice contest amid fierce competition. Historically, this live-drawing event can be…. ghoulish, but this year was unusually fuzzy as it involved a kitten and a zoog meeting in a Tiki Bar. It was created in front of an audience in 90 minutes and auctioned for charity.

Pickman

The Month of Fear gave Lee a reason to create a rare animation, to paint homages to Metropolis and Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show; and to express his dismay at Russia’s ongoing cyberwar on Democracy and the GOP’s ongoing exploitation of this country’s grotesque racism and exceptionalism.

•  In November, Laura (just one of our talented belly-dancer friends from Winnipeg) made her return appearance for Rachel Brice’s master class. She graduated with compliments and flying colors and it was delightful to host her. We look forward to seeing her (and the rest of our friends in Winnipeg) when Lee guests at Keycon over his birthday weekend next year.

Ambercon was delightful as ever, and this year’s shirt design went over very well indeed. And while Lee stayed for all seven games, Venetia and Hillarie headed north to meet up with old pals and go to a party.

After the unseemly (and unsafe) demise of our microwave, we got something the kitchen has long needed: A Good Stove!! (And a far better microwave.) This allowed us not to just to rearrange, clean, and polish the kitchen, but it ensured the ability for Jaym to work her Thanksgiving cooking magic.

•  In December, Venetia started working full time at Powell’s City of Books in the fast-paced Rose Room i.e. where all the tiny children run around and all the parents need to know what book to buy a 12 year old who hates reading. Thanks to Lee’s amazing client Drew, we visited the Allison Spa and spent a delightful weekend soaking in hot tubs and reading by the fire.

While Venetia toiled at Powell’s on Christmas Day (more fun than you’d think), Lee and his mom traveled west to his brother and sister-in-law’s riverside home. It was gorgeous and well-stocked with wonderful food, pets and presents as one could ever hope. Few things could have surprised Lee more than finding himself on the floor of the kitchen having been ambushed by an open cabinet door as he sought tupperware to Venetia her Christmas meal. Happily, he has recovered swiftly and looks forward to showing off his scar.

FunThings

 

MORE FUN

Game Nights with Jonathan Liu, Puzzle-construction with Mary, Game Days with Lee and Melissa, Dinners with Anneke, brunch with Alberto, Writing with Gregory, sharing Mystery Box shows with the lovely Stella, and Venetia securing a signature and original drawing for Lee from the amazing Claire Wendling, who was signing books near her at Wondercon in Anaheim.

 

PODCASTS

Lee was delighted to create portraits of Penda and Aethelflaed for The British History Podcast.

1 Penda full

One of the greatest things about this sort of work is getting to study (in this case, listen to) the subject. Lee recommends this podcast about the distant past as a window into the present – because exploitation, tribalism, and the challenges of progress are sadly eternal. Indeed the best podcasts of the year told us new things and allowed us to understand things that our own limited vantage points would otherwise never allow us to see; we recommend them very highly indeed.

Code Switch is possibly the best, most important podcast we’ve yet encountered. But just because its about the constructs of race and identity doesn’t mean it’s not also delightful. Some episodes can be hard to listen to (the trickle-down and hurricane abuses of Puerto Rico leap to mind), but there are amazing people doing good work (even in the same episode about Puerto Rico), and we think it’s important to understand this multifaceted and sometimes-thorny subject.

Invisibilia is pretty breathtaking – it fuses narrative storytelling with science, and it may allow you to view your own life differently.

The Memory Palace is a storytelling podcast about the past, conjuring forgotten moments. The episodes are small, but their impact isn’t. The show can make your morning walk, your coffee break, or your commute break your heart and blow your mind.

This Movie Changed Me offers an unexpected take on pop culture, transporting listeners inside the world of movies by celebrating our intimate relationships with them. It’s not a movie review podcast; it’s a conversation.

99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

But Podcasts aren’t all learning and personal growth. Some are just good fun. In Lee’s case that most often means:

The Allusionist is a podcast about language.

Imaginary Worlds is a podcast about genre narratives and our attachment to them.

Pop Culture Happy Hour is a delightful tour of the latest movies, television, books, comics and music which we might not encounter otherwise. Glen Weldon’s taxonomies are a particular favorite.

You Must Remember This revels in the secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. Learning about the business of show, and the extreme levels of abuse the puritanism, has been astonishing.

Filmspotting is a recent discovery for Lee. It is sometimes informative, but often hilarious to hear critics talk about the art of filmmaking.

Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, because it’s about time someone did.

 

FILM AND TV

Lee enjoyed two Movie Nights with Molly – the first Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s unhinged Inherent Vice. The second, Sarah Polley’s remarkable documentary The Stories We Tell.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is an anthology of seemingly unrelated tales. It seems like the perfect venue for the Coen Brothers. Where something like The Big Lebowski seems inscrutable and untenable on first viewing, it’s partly the format – as we know that the proceedings will take a certain amount of time. And if it’s hard to get on board immediately…. well, it can be a challenge. We find second viewings to be almost always be better than the first. But an anthology can present a sentence (“Near Algodones”), a tale (“The Gal Who Got Rattled”), and a story (“The Mortal Remains”) side by side, and the fact that they’ve labelled each of these with the word I’ve just applied suggests full intent. Even if the current tale vexes you, a little patience will serve you well, and it goes from the ridiculous to the sublime, with a spot in the middle of the six tales (“Meal Ticket”) so dark that, had it ended there, I’d scarcely be able to think of it with anything but a shudder (despite it’s obvious satire and nod to the Warner Brothers’ classic “One Froggy Evening”.) Until now, Big Trouble in Little China’s Jack Burton seemed the ultimate expression of American “heroism”, but Buster Scruggs takes that title walking (or flying) away.

Beyond to the aforementioned The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and Mr. Sunshine (each of which features surprising and engulfing world-building), Steven Universe is the strangest little cartoon we know. And after more than 150 short episodes, possibly the richest.

Dramaworld, which loves the cinema of Master’s Sun and Mr. Sunshine even as it sends it up.

Homecoming King by Hasan Minhaj was a delight. And this video lead in to his Netflix show Patriot Act made us laugh.

Nanette by Hannah Gadsby has been written about so often there’s a guide to the essays in the NY Times.

We enjoyed John Mulaney in everything we saw this year: Kid Gorgeous, The Comeback Kid, Big Mouth, and even that bizarre Les Miz parody set in a NY diner

We both enjoyed Black Panther and Spiderman: Homecoming but only Lee went with Tempest’s posse to see Avengers: Infinity War. Venetia may consider it when it’s sequel undoes some of the carnage. For now, she is happy living in the world that Black Panther promises.

CONCERTS

Shows

Janelle Monáe

Jason Webley & Amanda Palmer

Frank Turner

BOOKS

BestBooks1

Venetia’s Favorite Novel of 2018:The Poppy Warby R.F. Kuang

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Nightbooks by J.A. White

The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Schusterman

Like Never and Always by our friend Ann Aguirre (who we got to see briefly on her trip to Portland this year with her daughter!).

Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons (comes out in 2019)

Houseguests included: Tara, Jonathan, Dan, Immanuela, Jaym, Dylan, Carrie, Dan, William, Kasey, Sienna, Gabriel, Michael, Katie, PJ, Laura, Hillarie, and Brittany

 

Where to Find Us in 2019

Venetia’s Badali Convention Schedule:
ECCC in Seattle March 14-17
Wondercon in Anaheim March 29-31
SDCC in San Diego July 17-21
GenCon in Indianapolis August 1-4

Lee:
Norwescon in Seattle April 18-21
Guest of Honor at KeyCon in Winnipeg, Canada May 17-19

Lee & Venetia:
WorldCon in Dublin, Ireland August 15-18

 

footnotes

* Shipping is a term used to describe the action of wishing for two people to enter a relationship (whether romantic, sexual or, very occasionally, platonic) in books, movies, tv shows or real life. There are some very popular ships, some unpopular, as well as often lots of controversy between ships from the same fandom.

**ARCs began as an acronym for “Advance Review Copy” – these ARCs were given to people in the media industry so they would have time to review, reference, promote, and/or provide blurbs for the book ahead of its public release and are the intermediary version between the author’s manuscript and the final, finished book. But as time has gone on (and social media has become ever more important to the selling of books) the second type of ARC – the “Advance Readers Copy” has arisen. Sometimes it is all-but-final, with finished cover and blurbs in place. At other times, ARCs are clearly still works in progress – replete with typos, missing illustrations and truly boring covers. That said, we love both kinds of ARCs, and several of our friends collect them avidly.

*** Tuckerization (or Tuckerism) is the act of using a person’s name (and sometimes other characteristics) in an original story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson Tucker, a pioneering American science fiction writer, fan and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends’ names for minor characters in his stories. For example, Tucker named a character after Lee Hoffman in his novel The Long Loud Silence, and after Walt Willis in Wild Talent.

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Year Art in Review 2018

Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire

TricksForFreeX4

Theater Posters

VillainyFrontBleed

Months of Fear and Love

Coconut isolated on white background.

British History Podcast

2 Aethelflaed Full Revised1 Penda full

Eberron

Eberron Cover

NoMadd

NoMadd

Pallas

HP Lovecraft – Pickman’s Apprentice

Zoog Cat Tiki

Ambercon

Amber2018c

Inferno

Earth Ling

Earth Lings 6

Guide

Final

Kaiser Hank Magazines

Seraph Sophisticate

A SeraphSophisticate

Perry Rodent

PerryRodentFlat

The Dead

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The Sky Below

Cover10

Timberline Review

WW_Timberline Cover8a

Wandering Monsters

Working22

Furiosa

Fury Road

Spy

SpyLayers

Facebook

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Misc.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.