Thursday, June 14, 2018

Fantasy Writing

I have always wanted to write fantasy.  I was big into LOTR and regularly read SF&F short stories.

I've filled a few pages of the stuff but not much at all. When I have sat down to do so I have zero plan so it goes nowhere. Also, I haven't tried for years. My last real efforts yielded a couple weird short stories that were more atmospheric than anything, all about slugs floating through walls and such. No characterization, no real plot.

I studied lit in school some decades ago so one would think that I could figure out the basic building blocks of story writing. Thing is I simply don't put in the effort. I don't give myself the proper allotment of time at the desk to finger peck my way towards a complete short story.

My efforts in comics have seen some fantasy but not the elf/wizard variety. More the dimensional portal/trickster bunny type.

Also, as you can tell, my prose style is choppy.

And next I'll show you an example of how I was going to start this small text piece :

Oblique pathways towards fantasy literature, an early and as yet undying love, take the shape of psychedelic posters, stoner comics, asemic jottings, sigil crafting, magical street art, 

From choppy to snotty.

The stuff I most enjoy reading is sword and sorcery. When I discovered C.A. Smith I was floored. I've loved the old R.E. Howard stuff too. I don't draw this stuff. I don't sketch it, I don't design it on paper. nothing. But I enjoy reading it. I'm not up on the contemporary voices and don't care to be. Still chipping away at the classics.

I've read lots of fairy tales and children's classics. I'd love to write a kids book but here I am stuck with stilted confessionals.

The task is to inch towards a practice that leads to writing fantasy. It can be hybrid, urban, anything as long as it's coherent and complete.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Towards a Writing Practice

The impulse to write is camouflaged as a choking sensation that I recognize much too late for what it is. So I turn in circles. I go for walks and I chant. I scribble. I practise asemic writing, convinced that I am making headway into new lands. I collect series upon series of art projects, potential books languishing in my drawers, projects neatly organized waiting for an editor to knock on my door wearing nothing but devotion, patience and a huge cash advance.

A couple of years ago I participated in fun-a-day, a community action inviting peeps to choose a project and work on it, for fun, a bit every day for a month. I chose writing text. No concrete, no alien tongues, just word after word in English. I posted each offering online elsewhere. I went for 2 months plus. it was much needed. I got a lot off my chest. I felt a release. Some days were a tough slog other days a whiz of excitement, thinking faster than my two chicken pecking fingers could deal with.

Today the writing I do is on this blog and is centred around the creative process. I upload an image of some visual art of mine and start riffing. The image below is of some hand lettering on found blue canvas. I like the idea of such simple poem signs, an I very much enjoy making text-based visual art. It's simply that I think I wasn't to write write. And do it much more consistently and much more often. 

I want to write and let myself be taken by it. What a romance! I want the practice to steer me and not the other way around and I'll tell you why. I make excuses for not just starting something. I collect fragments that are never revisited. I have no aim, no plan, no plot, no characters, no setting. I have a choking sensation telling me that I'm not expressing myself. Chanting helps, it's immediate and lovely and I'm improving my singing voice. Asemic is radiant in that it stretches my imagination in unforeseen ways but I still fear writing straight and long form.

Here are some I use the computer or longhand? Should I get a dedicated notebook? Should I force myself to create a list of characters and a setting and start plotting? Should I trash all fragments to clean house and just choose one project and go with it? When should I write? Family life is demanding. Should I wake up earlier than everyone else and sit at a desk for 20 minutes? Should I remind myself that in other aspects of my life I've near successfully jettisoned the word should?

To date, I've told myself to at least hit this blog more often, maybe once a week, on Thursdays. Maybe the regularity will breed discipline.

I've been told that discipline is the name of the game. Showing up at the office, every day, for a 500-word jaunt or something.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Unearthing Monster Island 2

Occasionally I act as editor. In 2003 I edited a small comics zine called Monster Island. I invited a few friends and my brother John to contribute artwork for it. It was a typical ledger size folded in half.

In 2004, bolstered by the excitement of the first issue, I set out on a more ambitious project for Monster Island number 2. Around 20 artists contributed comics, artwork and essays. I also included some bits from reference books on mythology and world mysteries.
The book sported two fold-outs, one silk screened, the other copied, a dime bag full of stickers stapled in, some half pages, kids drawings, essays like I said and was generally a headache to collate.
It was an edition of 150 and I pulled it off for Expozine, Montreal's zine and small press fair.

Well, languishing in storage for the last 14 years or so were 15 remaining copies, uncollated. Just this last week I delved in, finally pulling this stack of paper out of deep freeze and put it together, complete with cardstock covers and french flaps. It was an act of will, spring cleaning and desperation. This stack had been kicking around my studio for far too long in a state of limbo and if I didn't bite the bullet and just deal with it I was afraid it would eventually get tossed away out of frustration. I saved myself a bit of heartache and just did the job, So now there are 15 copies of this thing in my shop. You are welcome to buy it, I want 15 bucks each because it was a pain AND it's vintage now I guess.

Here's the contributor list:

Young Adonis (Jesse Bochner)
Marc Bell
Helene Brosseau
Andy Brown
Jake Brown
Patrick R. Burger
Howard Chackowicz
Meaghan Garner
Francis Hitchings
Shawn Jefferies
Leyla Majeri
John Mavreas
Bernie Mireault
Marc Ngui
Joe Ollmann
Owen Plummer
Salgood Sam (Max Douglas)
Carlos Santos
Zachary Silberberg
Egerton Sykes
Sara Tonin (Jen MacIntyre)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Make a simple collage zine

Collage zines are satisfying to make for a number of reasons. They can be made quickly, they accommodate accidents and improvisation, they can use text and/or image, they can be launched from found source material.

I usually use one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, folded over twice. I keep track of which end is up and which quarter will be the cover, back cover and centre spread. I glue and reglue, spinning the sheet around as I go. Narrative emerges when I'm quick enough to think I've spotted one.

Collage, in general, does away with any kind of blank page syndrome because you can redirect your focus on the found material, such as a few measly pages of a magazine, instead of your lofty art goals. Zines, as opposed to finished frameable art, have an ephemeral quality that is also pressure relieving. You can make 10 photocopies of your zine, leave them in the coffee shop and start working on the next one. The idea that you are making serious art should be left with the snippings you toss in the recycling box. This letting-go gesture just may be what bolsters your sense of actually making meaningful work.

I usually make a few copies of a zine and then tackle my next project.

That's it. Today's blog post, as inconsequential as it is, was sparked by me finding the above image on my desktop and thinking I can write a paragraph or two about it.

Also, try to make collage without scissors, it really brings the beast out and that direct use of hands-on paper is quite emotionally satisfying too. It also does away with preciousness and persnickety scissor habits.

Friday, April 06, 2018

First to Last Lines

There are shudders through the body demanding to be honoured. If they aren't addressed, these small breezes can catch a corner and turn vicious. Full emotional sweeps can leave one shaken, can rend otherwise fine days, can turn love sour. Also, and this is key, they (the feelings buried) can rise and erupt in ways unwanted - as disease. Dis-ease, as they say, and discomfort.....signs that something is not being addressed. Not only, of course. Illness isn't a one-track nightmare, the reasons for it way surpass any unscientific understanding of mine. I just know, that for myself, if I do not address my strong emotions they plunge down deep and wail away somewhere in my system, making the house crazy.

Hey, sometimes I actually forget that what I need is exercise. I need to engage my body in action, pound out the squeals through a brisk run or a goodly chant. Voice demands space. Voice not given turns bitter. And so sometimes when direct bodily action is somehow neglected, the quick flurry of small art making happens.

Here is some. The last few distilled bits from a much larger stack of full sheets. I took looseleaf binder paper, blue lined, classic. I rubbed it on stamp pads making ink clouds. I sprayed my fingers in minor wand work against the back of the paper, the front resting lightly on the ink pad. I kept going. I looked at the results, some too discrete some too loud. I chopped, I chopped, I sequenced. Me Me Me.

I chose a few, the final stragglers that made the cut, the rest went in the bin. Then I stamped some small words on them. I was left with the above. I like them fine. they are small scraps. I don't know what to do with them now. They are fragile little things, whisps. is it one piece of work now? Is it a poem? Does it remain a jpeg, a blog post or do I wrap it up in formality and present it for coos in a proper setting commanding eyes and cash money? Ha.

These are the remnants of a tiny storm that brewed one afternoon. Honour one's emotions. They hint loudly.

A List of Potent Words

When I was thirteen or so, maybe fourteen, I combed through my copy of Roget's Thesaurus highlighting the words that inspired me, words like 'wretch' and 'talisman'.
At one point it seems I wrote some out.

I refound this card in a small box I've labelled "handwritten notes'. I sell them each for a buck in my shop. I tossed the note in there when I was clearing out my teen poetry a couple of years ago. (don't you worry, I saved some of it, the dazzling examples of purple jottings I'll wow you with one day).
I plucked this one out again because as I get older I realize that the important things for my well being are things I was inspired by before sex drugs and rock-n-roll came and ruined everything.

If I am to move towards wholeness and healing I am going to have to make a clearer space in my being for magic and spirituality. And that includes the darker aspects of things as well as the rainbow light.

When I was fifteen I acquired my magic name. I associated it with some weird abstract art I had begun to make. It then got associated with some ufo saint iconography I developed. As well as asemic languages.

Lately, I feel I have to explore my personal faith a bit deeper. It entails trying to reach out to this imagery, much of it scary as hell. It means accepting that I am able to access shadow realms. It means proudly delving into these realms and erecting a structure of odd shapes, weird creatures, unknown tongues. It means invocation of seemingly demonic forces. Oh well. Such is life.

I know these things/ languages/gestures aren't really demonic. They are shadowy, though, and kinda heavy. But I like them, they are familiar. They are kinda metal and kinda D&D and kinda me. It's ok to serve Chaos. It's ok to delve into shadow. It's ok to snark at oneself and smirk at the whole world. It's ok to scream and laugh and cry. It's ok to not know. It's ok to have allies that would scare the shit out of you if they walked into the room.

Blessings to all

Thursday, February 15, 2018


I draw on the computer with a mouse. My arm is killing me. 
I should get a tablet and all that but you and I both know how 'should' works. It'll be a while, although it already has been a while. It wouldn't be so bad if the desk was the right height but it isn't so I'm all out of place. I also draw at a desk and sometimes I don't sit in the right chair. I also don't draw for 6 hours on end but I do go on jags where I am drawing every day for an hour or two a day.

One of my preferred methods of digital drawing is actually collage. I use an existing scanned image, made by me and uploaded or found on the net, which I then manipulate. I usually do it like so; turn image into high contrast black and white, select a random bit, copy and paste, overlap, crop, continue, finish, use finished image as initial image, start again. 

The image below was sourced from a digital illustration of a bird that I drew to satisfy some desire to prove (to myself and others) that I could draw a bird. I drew the bird. It was ok. I cut it up and made this thing.

I like it because I like asemic nonsense, metal iconography, industrial culture aesthetics, minimal forms.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

New Abstract Comics

I've been drawing this way for a long time but only this week have I formatted these drawings into a decent series of abstract comics.
I've often thought how I would / should go about piecing together my scratchy doodles into way can be presented as comics.
After a decade or so I have figured it out. I have drawn six pages as of this blog post writing. Six pages today. In the last couple of hours. I draw like I tap my foot.
I get frustrated with myself regarding making comics because I think I should draw comics fast too and have tried various ways to do this. It's a silly thing to try to draw comics quickly. One really cannot draw comics as fast as one can jot down words unless one goes the minimalist stream of consciousness route. I've gone down that road and now have 200 or so pages to show for it yet they languish because editing needs to happen.
With textless abstract stuff like this I can pound it out, so to speak, and still enjoy a certain satisfaction of holding finished product.
I drew these using a nice Bic pen with a classic nib that someone left in the shop. I don't pencil or edit, just start, allowing panels to merge into each other. I outline my thin panel borders with a Sharpie and it's all done.
I'm hoping to add to this series until there is a hefty amount to either file away for ever or possibly get published.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Studio View w Bunnies

Where the bunnies multiply - My studio inside Monastiraki

I've Kept Busy

I have. My studio space, a corner of the shop behind the counter, is working. I am painting, I am exploring. My papers are getting in order without a vast army of help. Some key angels stepped forth, heeded my bidding and helped in ways that would have kept me behind for years without them.

A piece of large furniture was cut down to size making room, a closet was regained and stored with my boxes of scraps. I went through some of my art archives and maybe have a handle on it now.

I don't want to run screaming from retail any longer. I like my shop. I think it's in a good place.

This is not something I have easily said in the last many years.

I'm taking up more space in this place. My name is on the walls and so are many of my pictures. I don't scramble to show what I do, I put it up online and in house all over the walls. If you've ridden along with me for the ride this has been you'll know that this just may be quite the feat. I've never had a  problem with attention, I've sought it out honestly. But this time I may have put aside the shame of it and told myself and thus the world, it's ok, this is your corner, show yourself.

How many years did it take for me to realize what it is that I had the whole time ? Way too may but here I am.

The Sandwich Board Wording That Struck a Chord With Me

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Recent Bunny Paintings 2017

Here are a bunch of recent bunny paintings. 
They all date from this year. I had a rather large acrylic painting on panel outburst come unbidden in deep Montreal January. It was a good way to get through the mid winter and magically I was able to sell some online which countered the rather poor performance of my retail space which is routine come the freeze.
I have been making my peace with these little bastards. I have left far behind me some of my high art pretensions and embraced the fact that I enjoy these things and it's ok to make them. I used to have no problems at all in this area but sometime several years ago I started thinking way too much about things like the art world. Even while I knew perfectly well the non hierarchical glory of things like mini comics, zines and mail-art.
In any case, the bunnies are here and they are multiplying. I tried rebranding them as demons a few years ago but they've bounced back as bunnies. Sure they could be mice or bears or owls or bats too. they are made of joy and nightmare. Some are gleefully happy, others brood. They aren't psychotic or malicious though.
I make sure that the facial expression is one I can honestly sanction before declaring it done.
Some below may not be finished, most are. 
I'm sure there are other things I wanted to write concerning these things but i think that may be it for now.
Thanks for reading this far and thanks for taking a look at the critters below.
You are welcome to contact me via my brick and mortar shop, Monastiraki (drop in or email) to inquire about availability, sizes and prices.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

EmojiBunnies : heartsick and revolting art for the weary citizen

I spent the day yesterday painting acrylic bunny creatures on either found pieces of wood scraps or right over other bunny paintings on panel. I paint over a bunny if I find that it's facial expression is somehow lacking.
In any case I feel I had a productive day. I usually post crappy photos of my painting on FB to show my friends and maybe get someone interested in buying art.
I've made peace with painting bunnies.

What I haven't made peace with is the bullshit violence that occurs all around the world.
Yesterday there were a few attacks in London. I was home when I settled into the angst of responding to this bullshit in my own way.

The kid was sleeping and my dear one was out for the night having supper and cocktails with friends. I was home alone and still felt the creative fires burning. I turned to my handheld device and a cheapo drawing app to express myself vis a vis terror attacks, environmental degradation and all around heartsickness at the handful of prickish billionaire industrialists and their buds that make up the global scene of warmongers, slave traders and culture killers.

Here are those digital responses, pop art masterpieces composed of the appropriately relevant emojis, bombs, trucks, shit, fire, planet earths, soccer balls, disco balls, etc.
Some of my finest work ever if I do say so myself:

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Time Flies

Always thought that would be a great name for a garage band, The Time Flies. Kinda SF, kinda horror, kinda mind bending. In any case, it does and this year it did. My to-do list hung over from February lies faded and incomplete taped to my desktop. It's November now and I don't know what happened. I had some serious plans. Our late winter illnesses spread out and engulfed the spring and then summer said a brief hello while zipping by on it's bike and well, here we are.

So I'm simply checking in to say I did, to send another 'there, ok?' into The Universe, a symbol of my waddling intentions.

I remain confounded about my role as shop keeper / gallerist. I need a serious leave of absence away from the public, I take things way too personally and, to boot, I require full time assistance here. I need a crack team of devoted interns to hoist up my flagging morale and to help me get my papers in order. papers like scraps and drawings and photos. My official papers, taxes and the like, are not the problem this time.

I think the problem lies in the fact that the heart of my collection is the art that I myself have made coupled with the papers and objects I consider sacred. These collections are in disarray. They are stacked here and there and I've lost control of them. Before i had a shop my special collections remained tight and tidy, i knew where everything was and I'd go through the boxes and organize.

Those boxes are now equivalent to several cubic meters of material and I feel at sea. With that, a tiny muffled cry into the wilderness, heard slightly over my stubborn reminders to myself to be grateful, I send my hopes and my desires.


Friday, February 26, 2016


With tyke down with a cold and me sneaking by with half of one myself, it didn't happen this week, the usual writing/drawing thing. I still somehow managed to stretch and meditate.
Last night I did so at four in the morning when I found myself suddenly awake and having trouble re-submerging. I got up and hit the rug with some attempted plow positions and general groin stretches (TMI ?). Then I sat on the bench and had an uneventful sit.
Nothing emerged, nothing to write about but here we are.
I recalled how as a teenager the best effects in meditation occurred after I was convinced that I couldn't handle any more of it. Now I'm awestruck when I can sit for ten minutes without a neck snap.
I've also dusted off the aura seeing exercises this week. I figure, I've seen bits before I can see more if I apply myself. Reading Light Emerging by Brennan certainly has it's effects on ones outlook.
I'm just rambling now, rambling my intentions to communicate and commit to being a full-on swinging new age guy. Peace.

Image from forthcoming zine from Toronto's Run Through and plunked here to make up for the ramble above.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Twice a week, very Tuesday and Thursday, I drop the tyke off at daycare and head for the third floor corner seat of the McGill library to pore over the Blue Book, which is my business strategy and enhanced lifestyle notebook, and to pound out an average of ten pages of minimalist comics, today I did twelve.

The Blue Book is where I've been detailing plans and thoughts for my business, Monastiraki, and my art and career in general. In blue ballpoint pen, I write down schedules, attainable goals, ambitions. All in a fairly clear and organized way, cross referencing entries and everything. I do this to warm up. I get into it. Sometimes I find some book on branding and read a page or two to bring the experience up a notch. This is new for me. My notebooks of yore have been havens for scribbles, stoner notes and doodles, all words hardly revisited let alone legible.

When that's done, I crack out a couple of mechanical pencils and my clipboard full of fresh 8.5 x 11 white sheets and start drawing minimal little heads, six per page, each with a few words, telling a simple story. I started this comic project last year and mostly spun my wheels, creating a frustrating stream of consciousness comic about the false starts of the creative process, all in real time.

Since the new year, since I've turned the corner, as they say, the comics are considerably less about humming and hawing and more about the thoughts and experiences I've been having rediscovering my path as a magician who is intent on authoring his life proactively. It's been liberating to say the least. I draw simple lines and write simple words in a way that feels like journaling and comic making. I thought today that if I were to make a zine of this stuff, which I will (for TCAF 2016), I may write as part of my bio on the back cover that the author has shown he can draw elsewhere, this is about something else.

I've often derided what I call 'Head-Coffee-Head' comics, comics that simply show the characters head in some panels, and a coffee cup or other mundane feature in other panels. Well folks, I've come a long way and I'm done for the time being busting my back on ornate guitar solos. I've searched for a way to write and draw quick stream of consciousness work and I've found it. It's one floating head and a few words in an open panel six times per page. I've got a nice stack of the stuff now and I like where it's going. Some of the pages, even when they are part of a sequence, seem to stand up on their own, like a serial, so I'm thinking hard of uploading them as a webcomic. I'll also make a series of 12 or so page zines, each with a simple cover design that repeats, kinda like King Cat.

I'm truly excited about all this stuff, Wr for writing and Dr for drawing, whether it's journal and notebook focus or simple comics. Stay tuned. I'm going to share this stuff.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Turned Corners

Shall I go out on a limb ? Sure, why not.

I've recently rediscovered that authorial authority is within my domain, ie: I'm writing my life.
I've known this for a while but a bout of mundanity, lasting maybe ten plus years has recently been sloughed off. What was revealed was how to continue scripting.
You see, since childhood I made up stories about who and what I was. This continued well into adolescence and adulthood. Somewhere along the way the narrative fell off, the story was dropped and consequently I was at sea. I knew I was somewhat lost but couldn't put my finger on it.
Late last year I started addressing my dilemma. Dissatisfaction with my job and my art led me to realize that I had to find a way to continue telling the story of my life in a way that I wanted it to be told and lived.
I had the past down. I knew what had happened. And I knew there was this vague interval where mythologizing myself was replaced with a pity party, bitterness, frustration, anger and all that.

Since December 2015 many factors have converged allowing me to see that I can resume storytelling, rebuild meaning and continue on my way towards a happy ending or even a to-be-continued.

I am religious. My religion, I remembered, was mine. What religion are you ? Mine. Period. It's my religion. I built it and I build it. My art once paid attention to it and now i'm learning to siphon my art back through my religiosity. Sure, I'm spiritual too if that makes anyone feel better.

I now openly admit to gnostic revelatory experience. I have on occasion been graced with understanding in the form of geometric models that speak volumes to my personal mythology. These models look a lot like the kind you get via the study of esoteric subjects in general. They are hard to word and often are benefitted by diagrams and drawn symbols. They are devices to know and to learn from.

They come at me and they come clearly and better when my head isn't in my ass lamenting my lost sense of meaning. Meaning has returned and it is imperative that momentum is sustained. Momentum will be sustained via regular somatic/spiritual work as well as regular writing and drawing.

Henceforth, and until the next revelatory moment, I will be working on the vertical as it seems I have the horizontal down pat. The voice told me this clear as day. The voice that was so much like my own voice but as if it knew something I didn't. I've been puzzled by how the horizontal becomes the vertical since forever. I've been looking for that crux left and right. I found it in the cresting nexus point of the now. That place where mystery becomes known and collects behind you in an ever widening cloak. It's slippery to write about but it's also head rattling, exhilarating and liberating.

I'll continue this ramble in future posts.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Asemic Scrawl

A close up of a pencil poem

Hold your pencil higher up so it feels like you have less control over where it would go if you pushed down and away while letting go. Add branches to the lines you've made. Twist the pencil with each slight release. See how and where it goes. Repeat.

The Hidden History of Mail-Art

As an occasional mail artist and a full-time collector of books and ephemera I came across this battered old copy of a Ripley's Believe It Or Not paperback. In it's yellowed pages was this account of the popularity of the brand.

Here is what the man himself, Robert Ripley had to say in regards to the scads of post he received as ringmaster of the sensational and the bizarre.