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

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Fall Travels Part 1: Iceland

2014 Clarion Calendar

My 2014 Literary Pin-Up Calendar will benefit the Clarion Writer’s Foundation – the very same charity that brought Liz Argall to the states, and has been such a cornerstone to the writing careers of so many stellar talents, in both the writing and the teaching. As with the last two, it is a labor of love. And while the work of the redoubtable Neil Gaiman again graces its pages (this time it’s Neverwhere‘s Hunter) all the other authors are new to the project – from Kim Stanley Robinson to Kelly Link. And I got to illustrate Damon Knight‘s classic ‘To Serve Man’ into the bargain.

Here’s the link!

AdArtPre-Trip

I’ll spare you the tale of the miracle last-second finish, the broken tooth, and the drive up to Seattle.

The birthday dinner with Rob and Lisa’s family for Tessa Tweet, returned from college with friend Talia and sporting a Nabokov shirt, was a much jollier affair – filled with delicious curry, cake and cacophonous laughter.

The next morning we commenced the actual packing – making sense of the piles of unsorted foolery we’d tossed into the car in Portland the previous evening.

Chris Pramas, rocking the new neck scar from his successful spinal surgery, joined us for lunch in a curious neighborhood in West Seattle. But the North American fun was as short lived as the day itself.

Iceland

Tuesday came to us in Iceland. We watched the sun rise (barely and with exquisite autumnal slowness) from the giant window in the front of the bus to Reykjavik – dark and volcanic Iceland giving way to a curious city with just enough Dr. Seuss to temper its IKEA.

Iceland1The Best Western deserves credit for letting us check in so early and suggesting we enjoy breakfast before the inevitable nap. Though we’ve long been used to Venetia’s gluten-free diet, this was first time out in the world figuring out my new food restrictions. Corn flakes with brown sugar, ham and oranges did the job. The nap would prove fiercesome… and habit-forming. But we arose in time for the 12:30 tour.

Our brilliant young tour guide spoke French as well as Icelandic and English, but with no Francophones present, it was pure intelligible data. Amid her recitations she suddenly exclaimed “this is my husband and two year old daughter”. She was quite surprised to find them outside the big concrete church that occupies the city’s highest point. It looks deceptively large from a distance but feels comparatively small close up. And oh that autumn wind!

Iceland2We were startled to learn that Iceland, so progressive in many ways, has no separation of church and state, and that tax dollars regularly roll into church coffers. We were disappointed to learn that those politicians responsible for Iceland vast banking crisis were once again in charge of the island nation, but voters everywhere seem to have short memories. Even here, in a land small enough to see cause and effect with comparative clarity, and through one’s efforts, effect change.

Iceland reminded me of Duncan Jones’ film ‘Moon’ in some ways, and it’s no shock that Hollywood’s ‘Oblivion’ (which also reminded me of ‘Moon’) was shot here. It is a beautiful and fierce place – one that I think every writer of hard science fiction would do well to visit. Where else would they take the 4 enormous hot water towers that supply the reserve geothermal power to run a city and pop a glass dome and spinning restaurant on top of them? We did not enter the Viking recreation “Madame Tussaud’s” museum either, but it made us think strongly of our Norse-loving friends.

Iceland3The city is largely crisp and clean, however there was graffiti everywhere (well everywhere but the trains anyway – it seems that a history of Danes left them with no trains). Apparently waiting until winter to mark one’s territory old-school just wasn’t on. When does it get too cold for the taggers? When do children start being admitted to emergency rooms frozen to their spray cans? And why, in a country so small, is there not an obvious way to dissuade them? Perhaps because there is so much heavy industry. Maybe unlike America, the punks steal their spray cans from the docks rather than buy them in a hardware store.

Iceland4While Iceland’s national politics continue dismal, the city’s anarchist mayor is changing their political culture any way he can. An actor and performance artist pal of Björk, he’s taken city hall to areas heretofore unknown. Sure, a big city mayor might pop on a red dress for a gala in Portland or San Francisco, but actual cosplay? This mayor in his Luke Skywalker get-up would be right at him at the San Diego Comic Con! And after a full term, he still maintains the 30% popularity that got him and his “Best” party elected the first time.

The massive performance hall the ‘Harpa’ ended our trip and proved to be V’s favorite building. It remained unfinished when the economy tanked, but happily for all they found the will (and kroners) to finish it properly.

Iceland10What could follow such a spirited tour of the city? Only one thing. More napping.
And then another very different tour (if “tour” is even the word I want here, perhaps “quest” would be better)… In Search of the Northern Lights!

At our first hotel pickup, the driver parked on an incline and came back to help someone with a bag or two. As the bus very slowly started rolling backward down the hill, we passengers (strapped in by Icelandic law) were startled:

V: Um, I think we’re moving…
Lee (loudly to the driver): We’re moving! WE’RE MOVING!
Just another example of our well-oiled collaborative style. ;)

But unlike our previous tour, this one pretty much involved driving east in the dark, and hoping the guide, a crotchety old chap who whistled like a quieter Nordic version of Peter Lorre in ‘M’ and easily set the Icelandic record for sarcasm, wouldn’t too often interrupt the silence of the night, the bright clouds and nearly-full moon. Hoping all the while that there would be the perfect opening in those clouds, and that the moon would not outshine any aurorae. We finally stopped at a man-made pumice parking patch paved amid ancient lava flows where at least 2 other buses would also alight. No Northern Lights had been seen in this part of Iceland for the previous 4 days, and the internet held dire prognostication for this night as well. But there was an opening in the clouds to the north, and it seemed worth squinting into gap as best we could, huddled among the masses of foreigners, yearning to see the lights. At first we couldn’t see anything at all, but our splenetic tour guide wisely took pictures to locate them (as his camera’s abilities were beyond even his own) and pointed out the very hazy cloudlike shape in the sky.

But it was incredibly cold, and was that patch his camera detected really a hint of lights, or just reflection of moon light on the breaking clouds? Eventually, the clouds cleared enough for us to see the low wide horizontal smudge that was the Aurora Borealis.

iceland111It wasn’t the bright colors one sees in retouched photos, but it did ebb and flow in intensity, and was certainly interesting in a quiet sort of way. After watching the horizontal bar fill in, be briefly joined by another small bar beneath the vastness of the newly-revealed Big Dipper, and then ebb away – the cold finally overpowered us. We’d come, we’d seen, and if we didn’t exactly conquer, well, that was all in the game. But then…
Just as we were heading back to the bus…

Pow!

Northern lights!

Suddenly a blaze on the horizon of retreating clouds fired up and up. It was joined by others all rising, blazing and eventually, fading sweetly away as other shapes crossed and sparkled in the sky. And all the while the Big Dipper, that enormous shape so familiar in the sky, was dwarfed in every aspect.
Several minutes and many configurations later I leaned into to Venetia and said “this is the best planetarium show ever.” And quickly appended “but with the whole PLANET!” The two most surreal and beauteous moments were the Forum – where a long row of vertical pillars were topped by a bold horizontal line, and the Arch – wherein the back of the ladle and stars of the Big Dipper’s handle formed a perfect arched top to two huge pillars of the aurora that stretched up past them into the night sky. If Hollywood (or even Bollywood) had scripted the show we got, I dare say I shouldn’t have believed it. Not since I saw Night on Bald Mountain as an 8 year old child have I been so awed.

On the speechless ride back, I silently thanked our lucky stars and thought at length about the arbitrary nature of the universe, about the work of Nicholas Roerich, and about how my own work might change accordingly.

On Wednesday we were up at 7:30am for breakfast and swiftly packed onto a bus for the Golden Circle tour. By the time we transferred on, the bus was almost full, leaving us the only two seats toward the back.

First, we headed south-east, leaving Reykjavik to heavy cloud cover, and listening to our new guide share the history of this fascinating island. The Icelandic horses and sheep are rightly well known, less known is that their attempts to raise pigs all failed, and none remain. Many charming summer houses, small and tidy, dot the landscape, and the guide clearly enjoyed tales of the elves who live in the countryside as well. I did not anticipate a stop for tomato soup in a vast greenhouse (one never knows about the kickbacks wily tour guides arrange), but the soup (just herbs and tomatoes with basil plants one could cut and apply at will) was good, so why worry? The point of the stop (beyond the obvious commerce) was to show how Iceland’s command of waters warm and cold made it an effective garden spot. The endless rows of tomato plants producing massive bounties on almost no soil was indeed interesting. Their importation of bees (one of whom clearly found both Venetia and I irresistible) without a desire for the complication of a hive (lady bees are useful, but male bees just make things complicated) seem prone to unwanted interruption and unsustainable in the long run, but so far they seem have outsmarted nature on this strange moonbase of an island.

Iceland12Next we visited Gullfoss or Golden Falls, this massive waterfall is an astonishing multilevel diagonal cataract, and but for the dogged efforts of Sigríður Tómasdottir this important site would even now be a giant Hydroelectric plant….

iceland13We looked down from the upper palisade at obnoxious tourists who’d chosen to ignore the careful guidelines for their safety and trod out onto the snowy and icy rim of the chasm. While we found their behavior galling, I must admit that their stupidity has given our photos a fine sense of scale….

iceland14Looking at the sweet little creek above the waterfall, one might be forgiven thinking that no danger lurked, but as the sun shone free of the morning clouds, the spray of the falls was visible for quite a distance.

Iceland2013_139-1Bigger still, the enormous glacier visible to the north swallowed a mountain the way the ocean wraps around the land. But the glacier’s “sea-level” is not level at all, rather, it’s a hard-to-fathom diagonal. Quite disorienting and wonderful.

Iceland2013_099-1As we were exiting through the latest in the long line of gift shops, we saw a figure who reminded us of Journey, the game we had played in New Zealand. We named her Aurora and brought her with us.

photoUnaccountably, as we shared the local lamb stew, on view in this massive tourist dining hall was an episode of Scooby Doo featuring Harlan Ellison and Cthulhu. Ah, the profundity of our cultural exports!

We’ve been to geysers before, but this was the original accept-no-substitutes Geysir. The same fools who tempted the edge of the icy falls made themselves clear here as the obnoxious father modeled idiot behavior for his teen offspring. He crossed the ropes and thrust his hand into the hot water. He and his children walked all over the geysers. Even as the largest among them fired off a spectacular plume every ten minutes or so. It was lovely, but compared to Yellowstone quite tiny.

iceland16We napped a bit en route to the site where the plates of 2 continents (Europe and the US) meet, and where the citizens of Iceland meet for the Althing.

iceland17I longed for a close look at the falls to the north, but time was short and we walked south to the old camping and meeting site where the crag opened up and gave a view of the waters and plains below.

Iceland18The Obnoxious Tourists (TM) continued to be obnoxious of course, and we silently thanked the powers that be that they weren’t American….

After brief nap at the hotel we awoke at 7:30 to prepare for dinner with author Andri Snaer Magnason, who we’d been lucky to hear read at last year’s Norwescon.AndriHe pulled right up to the hotel on the sidewalk, startling Venetia. But in a town where there is so much snow, and so few parking spots, it seemed to work fine. Before dinner, he took us to his work place: the Power Station! A coal-burning back-up for the city’s power, it had been rendered obsolete some years earlier as Reyjkavic moved inexorably to geothermal and had lain idle. It was even said to be haunted, which might well have spared it some break ins and vandalism. When Iceland’s economy cratered, many lost their jobs, and the Station beckoned to unemployed creatives and became Iceland’s home to:

Deathstar acoustics!

Pagan altars!

Dials and levers and electricity (still working?) for film and television.

iceland9After the tour Andri and his wife treated us to a dinner party in their home. Their own children were largely inconspicuous, but the two and a half couples they’d invited made for great dinner conversation. They numbered a jazz player and composer, theater director, artist, designer, and craft artist among them. Andri’s wife upholds the long Magnason medical traditions as a nurse. All spoke flawless English and kindly did so while we were there – humoring our sadly monoglot ways.

I could try to describe the warmth and beauty of the scene, but suffice it to say that it resembled nothing to me so much as a scene of the ideal European house party you might see in a film – all the people handsome and well spoken, piles of sushi and home-made rhubarb crumble, obvious long-time affection and mutual respect. In short – the party of the year!

After the first guests had left, we moved down to the living room, and talked about design, music, Small Gods, and Andri’s books as he kindly signed copies for us. All the while, their youngest daughter lay sleeping in her improvised tent under the wooden stairs with their sweet brindled whippet (described by Andri as half kangaroo, half koala), a leg occasionally arcing out from the blanket before disappearing again. We got back to the hotel at 1, amazed to have seen so much of Iceland’s past and future in a single day.

On Thursday, we slept in until 8:30 (living the high life!?) ambled to breakfast (corn flakes, the official breakfast of the dietarily restricted!), checked out and and stowed our bags.
It was snowing lightly as we walked downtown, and the city was quiet. As we window-shopped, we noted the stylish Icelandic clothing stores, but luckily for our wallets, nothing was open before11am, except the wool store where we tried on silly hats.

iceland20We met Andri at the big central church, seeking shelter inside for some short period before he arrived. I wonder if drawing Small Gods in church is any more blasphemous than drawing them elsewhere? When Andri arrived we went to a vegetarian place so full that we were forced to the meat buffet across the street in retaliation. After lunch we grabbed our bags, and the bus to shuttle us from one hotel to another. This time the hotel, Northern Lights Inn, was an hour south of Reyjkavic. And while we were excited to visit the Blue Lagoon, first we needed a serious nap.

iceland21The hotel shuttle dropped us at the Blue Lagoon just in time for sunset, and reflected colors in the milky blue water outside were amazing. Venetia had a wonderful time taking pictures.

iceland5One of the Lagoon’s traditions is making mud masks for one’s face. Venetia’s hands were small enough to get through the cracks to the mud bucket without the tiny scoop so she slathered us both with mud. This meant it took a really long time to dry, and that we looked like golems. She got too cold to let her mud mask set fully, but enjoyed the sensation of its removal all the same. As the darkness came on, we explored all the bits of the lagoon – the soaking areas, the grotto, the bridges and the entire perimeter. We had all manner of fun in our explorations, but were occasionally surprised by outcroppings of stone and rocks from the bottom.

We encountered a wedding party in matching swimsuits and flowered swim caps, the men dressed identically to the ladies, save for their bow ties. The Blue Lagoon is very expensive, and while this tends to dissuade the natives from visiting (there are countless other, more convenient and vastly more affordable springs) it was clear that exceptions were made for big events. As well the man wading into the lagoon balancing a huge tray of cocktails might have told us, were he not struggling so valiantly not to spoil a drop.
We stayed until closing, and while Venetia was sad to have left our silver Ambercon thermos, I wonder what Icelander might be using it even now.

The next morning we arose in the black of night and e glow of the nearby power plant, stumbled through the morning ritual of cornflakes, and hopped on a plane to England. Part One of the trip was over. What would next lay in store? All we knew for certain? More napping.

Really Big Doings

Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Lend me your electrons!
Life is full of goodness and I have a lot of news to share:

• THE NEW WEB SITE!
It is remarkable how much work has snowballed during these last 35 years. Curating this curious compendium of work for a cohesive web site presented constant surprises and challenges, but was really great fun. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing them, and that you’ll let me know which pieces you like most, what is missing (and if you have pieces from the distant past that I lack a proper scan of):

www.leemoyer.com

For those who have kindly been following me on WordPress, please know I will gradually be switching my writings over to my new journal on the Zenfolio site: http://www.leemoyer.com/blog

I will keep cross-posting for a while longer and will let you know when I post my last entry here!

• 2014 LITERARY PIN-UP CALENDAR FOR CLARION WRITER’S WORKSHOP
2013’s calendar featured collaborations with modern masters Ray Bradbury, Charlaine Harris, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher, Peter Beagle, and Sir Terry Pratchett, and benefitted author Patrick Rothfuss’ charity Worldbuilders. This next year’s features the Calendar Project’s first authorial return engagement as Neil Gaiman once again graces its pages. Hooray!

I thrilled to be working with Clarion and the award-winning authors they invited to be in this coming year’s calendar.

Their IndieGoGo campaign should be lighting up the internets this very week. We’ll be sending the details to everyone on our mailing list of course, but more important than anything I can do is you spreading the good word.

IndieArt2• 120 SMALL GODS! SO FAR!
I have been drawing Small Gods for one third of a year so far. The story of the project’s origins is here:

https://leemoyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/1035/

It has been wonderful to have people approach me in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter with stories and ideas for Small Gods.
I look forward to the next hundred, and hope you’ll join me here:

www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

Also, people can now purchase prints of Small Gods directly from the website. Progress!

• STARSTRUCK
Earlier this year Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Harry Palmer: Starstruck.
I am pleased to announce that in addition to the cover (below), I will again be painting the entirety of this astonishing work.
Even as I write, new pages are being created and Harry’s story promises to be even more beautiful than the previous.

HPalmer3• ARISIA 2015 HONORS
I was even more pleased to accept the Artist Guest of Honor invitation from Boston’s Arisia when I learned that the Author Guest of Honor is none other than the dynamic and delightful Nora Jemisin. It was an honor to draw a pin-up of one of her fascinating characters for my 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar. I only hope the piece is as elegant and challenging as its source material.

JemisinPinup• ICELAND & UK
In a weeks time I will be heading out for the UK via Iceland for the World Fantasy Convention. I am very much looking forward to the new friends and old I will see, including authors Kim Newman (whose Diogenes Club books I have been lucky enough to illustrate) and Andri Snær Magnason whose remarkable book LoveStar was runner-up for the Philip K. Dick Award last year. We are especially excited to meet up with The Indelicates, one of our favorite bands – as delightfully subversive and compelling as one could wish!

• 13th AGE
My game with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Aaron McConnell 13th Age is out (to rave reviews) and available from Pelgrane Press.
I am working on the artwork for its follow-on book 13 True Ways (the wilier among you might notice a couple sneak previews of that art in the vasty Games section my new website):

www.leemoyer.com/13thAge

• DOOM in REVIEW
The rescue of my game ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’ by Cryptozoic was a wonderful thing to be able to announce last month.
I just found this charming review of it from GenCon (where rules designer Keith Baker was present for play tests):

Edit: Upon posting this entry I was informed I have reached my 50th post on my journal! A milestone I didn’t even realize I was making.

13th Age Bookplates

Good News everybody!

I’ll be signing calendars (and whatever else anyone wants signed) at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth 1920/1922 at the San Diego Comic Con this very week!
Times: 3pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

LeeSignsSigning these bookplates I designed is not the most fabulous way to spend my time.
Surprising I know, but there it is.

It does, however, provide a wonderful time to think.
And while the whole domino-effect-stream-of-semiconsciousness catalogue wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, a few random thoughts from that stream might.

1. What am I doing? These are the worst signatures I’ve ever made in my life!

13thAgeBookplates2. Well, I guess it’s pretty clear which of us is the most extroverted. I bet Rob and Jonathan haven’t marked all over their desks. And clearly they don’t own the whole prismatic pack of Sharpies.

3. I might finally be getting the hang of this. I really shouldn’t have signed the smaller pile of meant for the limited edition hardbacks first. I’m glad I’ve switched to a lighter pen color.

4. Holy cow! There are a lot of people who will have this book in their hands. I’m really proud of it, and I hope that those folks take it to their hearts. I’m glad the early reviews have been so positive.

5. I wish that I’d been able to fit GenCon into my travel schedule this year.

6. How lucky am I to have such a short name?

7. I’m so impressed with that nice (and wildly successful) Neil Gaiman. He’s signing way more than bookplates – and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a tsunami of roiling books – even in Tennessee. And that doesn’t even take into account the books that his fans will bring with them.

CatGaiman8. What would my younger self have thought if he could see this future? Would it have made the compulsory weekend “assisting” my father more tolerable? Or less so?

9. Hey, that dice ring is really shiny. How fun to think that those symbols I made will become essentially invisible User Interface – that they’ll become so standard that people won’t even think about them – or about the fact that the mechanical designers had to fit 13 spinning pieces around the outside. Nicely done people.

10. This is amazing. How unbelievably lucky am I to be where I am right now – living in Portland, working with such stellar collaborators, traveling, with this wonderful life?

13thAge1

2012: Art Year in Review

2013 took off like a rocket with work and adventures (and a flu that allows me a moment to look back on the wide variety of work I did in 2012). As Rod Serling might have intoned, “Submitted for your approval, the work of one Lee Moyer hanging here, in the Twilight Zone.”

The largest grouping of pieces is of course my calendar. It’s my favorite project ever! Not just because of the work, but because of the amazing writers I got to work with and the fact that it raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity (it’s also eligible for the Best Related Work Hugo award. Just sayin’.

2013 ‘Check These Out’ Fantasy Literary Pin-up Calendar

2013CalendarCoverBack copy

2013CalendarBlogCovers:

A Red Sun Also Rises and The Warlock’s Curse

BookCoversAlso check out my journal entry on the making-of A Red Sun Also Rises and my essay on Mary Hobson’s previous covers, wherein I try to understand why the first worked and the second failed.

A Stark and Wormy Knight and Confessions of a Five Chambered Heart

BookCovers2Axe Cop

AxeCopPresidentOfTheWorld

Honey West: Murder on Mars!

MurderOnMars2©LeeMoyerShadowrun: Jet Set

ShadowrunUnpublished color work:

I spent a lot of time last year working on 13th Age. The game is still in it’s final stages of pre-print and will be published late spring:

13thAgeIconsThe pieces below are from Aaron with my art direction and occasional emendations:

13thAgeSceneseThe book is the work of noted game designers Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet with me and illustrator Aaron McConnell. Even as this first book goes to press, work on the art for the expansion, 13 True Ways is already underway. It will include maps like the one below:

13thAgeMapMisc. Fun Projects:

2012 marked the end of Dan Garrison and Zephy McKanna’s remarkable Exalted game. This set of Exalted trumps were a collaboration with Felicity Shoulders and Sarah Barker, and served as a tribute to Dan and Zephy’s work:

ExaltedDeck2This year also marked yet another successful Ambercon NW ( portraying that young chowderhead Bertie Wooster is always a delight) and another Ambercon t-shirt design (this, the first to work on a tie-dyed shirt):

Amber2012Working for Wizards of the Coast is always interesting. One never knows quite where work done for a book will appear. In this case, on large exhibit-screening banners at PAX.

DrowSymbols_PAXMy yearly posters for Lakewood and NorthWest Children’s Theater 2012-2013 seasons:

LakewoodSeason12-13

NWCT12-13SeasonThis is the design for a spinnaker, recently seen intimidating the other racers around the San Francisco bay:

BoudiccaTrioThis surprise book cover from Readercon 2012 is a collaboration with authors Michael Swanwick, and Elizabeth Bear, and photographer Kyle Cassidy (and audience members like Bracken, Tom and Venetia):

DismembranceA just-for-fun Christmas Dalek to wish all my friends happy holidays. Rumor has it that a couple crew members of BBC America put it to good use. And this Circus Shoggoth hails from last year’s Pickman’s Apprentice competition. The masterminds at Sigh Co. are already Kickstarting the HP Lovecraft Film Festival.

Shoggoth_DalekSometimes I get surprisingly interesting commissions quite out of the blue. This time I was asked to draw a series of rare antique telephones:

RarePhonesThis year I was asked to do my first piece of art for the McMenamin brothers for the new wing of their splendid Kennedy School. At any other time I’d have been happy to paint from The Two Towers, The Wizard of Earthsea, or 100 Years of Solitude. But the opportunity to honor my father who died last summer in a painting from Sometimes a Great Notion was too much to resist. Elmer Moyer is the man in the middle:

SometimesFlatAnother Kickstarter I worked on was for the logo for Broken Continent:

BrokenContinentLogoAnd finally, some random memes for 2012:

Trouble_with_the_ChairReallyKeeblerNumberSpiceThere are of course still more projects I worked on in 2012 that have yet to be revealed by my clients. I hope to share them as they are revealed in 2013.

Kickstarter – What does it all mean?

Ever since the conclusion (actually long before the conclusion), of our recent Kickstarter campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, I’ve been receiving congratulations of one type and another. When I seemed momentarily startled by their kindness, people asked me why. And when I came out of my fugue state, I told them the simple truth: “Mistakes were made”.

With a little prompting, I went on to explain some of these mistakes. And I told all my friends to please let me know before they began their own Kickstarter campaigns, to help them better prevent the mistakes we made. But I soon realized that rather than repeat myself over and over, I should simply write a white paper on the subject, so that I could more easily disseminate the facts without forgetting crucial information with each repetition.

Before I get to practical matters however, there is no shortage of more diffuse and impractical thoughts to get out of the way from my month-long addiction to Kickstarter.

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1. Kickstarter is the best thing ever.

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2. It’s Kickstarter’s world. We just live in it.

Kickstarter is an amazing font of crowd-sourced capital, yes. But where does that crowd come from? Our first supporters had already supported between 2 and 178 other Kickstarter projects. In short, they were already “of the body”. They knew and loved Kickstarter for allowing them to help create products they wanted, for helping to change the playing field, for telling them about projects they would never otherwise have even heard of, and perhaps most important of all, for changing, deepening, and strengthening the relationship between Creator and consumer. They understood the paradigm and paid attention to the site’s many categories and recommendations.

As our month went on and we got stellar press, Kickstarter habitués gave way to people who’d never used, or in some cases even heard of, Kickstarter. I don’t know what the workers at Kickstarter Central call these wonderful people – Newcomers? Virgins? Noobs? Lambs to the slaughter? But this was the most surprising point to me. Not only were we using Kickstarter to fund this game project that no game publisher would touch, Kickstarter was using us to bring them more users. And the larger the user base grows, the better for everyone involved. Especially, Kickstarter shareholders.

Because Kickstarter makes its money on the success of projects, it is deeply incentivized to assist clever campaigns. As a result, we were featured on Kickstarter in a couple places: as Portland, Oregon’s top campaign for most of the month, and as a top pick in the Games category. In fact, during our tenure in Kickstarter’s Staff Picks, they restructured the “Games” category to include both “Board & Card Games” and “Video Games”, ensuring Doom’s status as a top pick for an even longer period of time.

I had initially guessed that our project was getting love from Kickstarter because it was graphic, we presented it well enough, and that the resumes of the 3 creators were pretty impressive. That may be true. But were we also a likelier candidate for success by virtue of the creators’ pre-existing social networks? Was our old-school board game meets HP Lovecraft vibe more likely to ensnare Kickstarter Virgins? I don’t know, but what I do know is by the end, few if any of our new backers had supported even 1 other Kickstarter project, and that may have been the really important part for Kickstarter.

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3. Kickstarter is the best PR other people’s money can buy.

I had never heard of the Pebble watch until masses of our backers proved to be supporting their Kickstarter. The word of mouth and feeling of involvement a strong Kickstarter campaign can generate is phenomenal, and all without traditional Venture Capital or Angel Investors to pay off! It’s a funding platform that sells you rather than one that buys you. Sure, you’re giving them some of your supporters in perpetuity, but isn’t that transaction more agreeable than selling them a whopping percent of your company? And besides, each backer can use the wonders of the Internet to get you more backers! To get Kickstarter more! To get your next project more! To… well, looking forward, things get mighty interesting.

Does the current boom go bust as all the cool kids exceed their Kickstarter budgets and the whole thing shuts down? Or do projects get better and better the way evolution should work? This is an interesting point to me as I’ve watched actual capitalism wither and die in some parts of the economy. Yes, there’s been no shortage of shoddy product on Kickstarter – projects born of pity or in reaction to the dominant paradigms, et al. – but will such campaigns continue?

Will they be allowed to?

Will the marketplace of ideas become more discerning, and the bar for projects that Kickstarter will even approve be set much much higher?

Will Kickstarter self-censor strongly and effectively?

What will make them leverage their power more specifically, and control access more tightly?

Will some projects be so successful that Kickstarter finds itself paying for their virgins?

We can’t know at this juncture, but it’ll be fascinating to find out.

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4. All the cool kids are doing it.

As 2012 dawned, I had never done a Kickstarter project. By the end of the year, I’ll have done half a dozen. A few with young, largely untested talent, but the vast majority with award-winning authors like M. K. Hobson, sculptors like Paul Komoda, and top-tier game designers like Keith Baker, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. And that’s just a hint of what I’m doing. Most of the Creators I know are currently working on some level of campaign (thus the white paper to follow)!

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5. Creatives and Corporations – why can’t they all just get along?

I worried a little before Doom that ours would be the project with which Kickstarter would officially jump the shark. But that was apparently just nerves. It had, however, happened once before. The wonderful Z-Man Games (publishers of Pandemic, see above) purchased Doom, but then Z-Man was sold to a European game company right before our publication date, and the new owners didn’t want our game. And neither did anyone else. How is that working out for those publishers now I wonder?

When we took in 122k in a month, an old colleague suggested that, “The market was clearly ready for your game.” Maybe so, but the game companies were not. At all. The Creators’ willingness to market their game, the public’s desire to see Lovecraftian Gods trash Atlantic City, the pedigree of the creative team (games, novels, films, posters): none of that mattered one whit. They didn’t see a return that showed any kind of clear profit for them, and they passed.

In the decline of the working and creative class that we’ve all weathered these last 30 years, major monopolist corporations have intentionally made Creators the lowest people on their totem poles.

The odious work-for-hire contracts, the hierarchical apple-polishing, the constant cancellations of green-lit projects to protect their jobs at the expense of others and to “bolster” their bottom line: it’s all been designed to maximize their profits and strip Creators of their chance for licensure, and the passive streams of income Creators might otherwise have enjoyed. There are still plenty of artists who need corporate paychecks, but many artists are viewing this as a long-overdue sea change. In Portland, many people suggest that the only way to move up the ranks at Nike is to go to Adidas. And vice versa. In New York, people leave DC for Marvel. And vice versa. Does Kickstarter mean that Creatives will be getting more respect from the big players now that they can set their own terms elsewhere? Or will the big companies simply ignore them when they ask for more respect? As exciting as Kickstarter is now, what will it be in the future? Will it morph over time like the massive powerhouse whose informal corporate motto was “Don’t be evil”? We shall see.

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6. Make no mistake. This is an addiction.

The shots of dopamine that accompany every new dollar the Refresh button reveals are the most obvious example. But the fact is, we Creators are on the line here. Every mistake or miscue is now on us. And that’s not the sort of responsibility that leads one to sleep like a baby. Kickstarter is not for the faint of heart. Can you imagine working a month or more (more really, even for a “30 day” campaign) only to have that campaign stall and fail? Many of the best and brightest Creators have already experienced that very thing. Sobering. Kickstarter will take every ounce of energy you can give it and want more. Believe it.

Every mistake we made weighs on me, and I suspect it’s the same for many others. So, with this prologue, I hope you’ll enjoy (and be informed by) the paper to come.

Part 1 of Kickstarter White Paper

Part 2 of Kickstarter White Paper