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Woodcut: King of the Blues

A woodcut marathon this weekend!

Working for the first time on MDF board, I completed an artist proof hand pull of an image that I almost did as a small linocut, and I am so glad I took the plunge with larger MDF board!

“King of the Blues” is my tribute to not only B.B. King, but to his (and my) home state of Mississippi. The blues were born in the Mississippi Delta, and many of the greatest blues musicians were as well. By using the shape of the state as the borderlines for the main image, I tried to convey that feeling of coming forth from it.

King of the Blues Woodcut

King of the Blues Woodcut

Now, as this was the first time I used MDF board, let’s discuss its pros and cons…

PROS

  • Inexpensive for it’s size (a 24×48 board ran me less than $10)
  • Very easy to carve and cut
  • Absorbs ink well

CONS

  • Dulls your blades quickly
  • Absorbs ink TOO well
  • Difficult to seal, as it absorbs so well
  • Seems somewhat brittle at times, especially if you dig to deep

So clearly, it would seem that I think the pros outweigh the cons, but here is the thing, I enjoyed it.

This image will ultimately be a limited print. I pulled a few section tests on butcher paper and then one Artist Proof test on 20×33 inch, 140lbs watercolor paper. The butcher paper was continually coming back lacking full saturation, and I felt that was the fault of the paper and the wood.

However, when I got ready to pull the first Artist Proof, I found that the MDF board was soaking the ink up as an amazing rate. I ended up using more ink that I ever have before and was actually worried that I still did not have enough on it. As you can see from the above image, I may not have. But, this is also the fault of my pressing method, which involves a rolling pin and body weight.

What I found interesting was my first worry proved false; that the wood would resist the ink due to the shellac layer I used to seal the design down. Nope, but again I wonder if this was part of the spray shellac I used or the MDF’s high absorption rate.

Currently I am planning on making a few adjustments, those include thinning my ink slightly and pre-watering the paper. Both of these methods combined should raise the absorption rate of the paper, but may do the same to the wood. Anyone out there with MDF experience feel free to drop me a line and share your experiences or techniques.

That said, I did get a little crazy with the inking, and inked WELL outside of the image area. I have to do some cleaning up outside of the outline. The above print was large, larger than anything I have done, and I ended up getting a little assistance in placement from my wife.

After I clean it up some, I have a novel way of printing the run, and will start that with just a little research.

It may be offered as a limited print, the size of which will be determined by how long the wood cut lasts. I really don’t think its lifespan will stretch much into the double digits, and I’ll be ecstatic if I can get a run of 10 after another Artist Proof.

If you would like to be informed when the run is available for purchase, including prices and other information, feel free to let me know in the comments and I will start updates as soon as they are available.

 

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Printmaking tonight…

A few weeks back I finished up a series of linocut pieces for the classic EC Comics three horror host, The Old Witch, The Vault Keeper, and The Crypt Keeper. Tonight, I prepare to hand pull some prints.

The original art graced the covers of many of the EC horror comics, mainly Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, and the Haunt of Fear. Jacks Davis was the original artist, and I based my #linocuts off of his work. I love the Graham Ingels art that came alter, but The Jack Davis work had a simplicity ot it that appeals to me.

The first one I did was The Old Witch…

The Old Witch

Kinda tough, the color adds a lot in the original, but I was able to transfer it and got close to the original look.

The next one was The Vault Keeper…

The Vault Keeper

This one I was not as happy with, I shaved off a spot on the chin I did not need to, and they eyes are suspect. I need to do a repair on the chin and we will see how this one comes out.

The last one was The Crypt Keeper…

Crypt Keeper

This one I am extremely happy with! My transfer came out great, my hand did not start cramping up, and it was very representative of the original.

The point is that I am about to sit down and do some really-real prints of these tonight. The image area is 7×5 and will be printed on 8×10 paper 100lbs printmaking paper.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Stacy

Questions About Writer Tools & How Long It Takes To Write…

I’ve had several people send me emails inquiring about the tool bars you see over top the right of your screen on my website, unless you are on a mobile browser and then they may be at the very bottom of the page. Those are my word count progress graphs. The overall questions I’ve had about them is , where did you get them, and are they helping?

I originally saw them several years back at Cheri Priest’s website and she linked over to this website, Writertopia. Of the two styles they have available, I use the more straight forward one. They have one with a cute little cartoon that you can have show your mood, but that one just wasn’t me. The page I linked to a few sentences back has complete directions on how to use them, and they should be no problem if you chose to go that route. By the way, if you have not read at least one of Cheri Priest’s books, you are missing out, go pick one up today.

How much do those counters help me? To be completely honest, not much. All of the word counts are currently out of date. A few of the works have been finished and one was put away to peculate for a while. If you are on your page several times a week posting and updating it, I can see it being a great boon. For me, not so much. I just have spurts of updating consistently, and then weeks of nothing, but I’m trying to get better.  Hopefully tonight I can find time to delete the onces that are no good and update the others.

#

     The other question I have noticed popping up is, “How long does it take to write your book/story/whatever? My answer is this…

“It takes as long as it takes.”

     It’s kinda trite, but its the truth. There are writers out there that can set themselves a deadline and on that day they are FINISHED. I am NOT one of those writers. I just can’t, I guess I am not disciplined enough yet. I finish a few works, submit them, and get on to other projects while waiting for the rejection slips to come in. I’ve been working on my two long form projects for a while and have to bounce between them every few weeks. Makes for slow writing, but it keeps my mind busy and on a different problem all the time.

     All that to say that I will endeavor to be more consistent in my writing projects and on this website. I will try not to bore you, but I wont go weeks with nothing either.

     On that note, I leave you with this little meme…

How Long to Write Novel

How Long to Write Novel

Have a good day, and keep on writing!

Stacy

@stacybaugher

REVIEW: DEATHSTROKE Vol. 1 – Gods of War

TITLE: 9781401254711_p0_v2_s260x420                Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars

WRITTEN BY:    Tony S. Daniel

COVERS BY:      Tony S. Daniel, Sandu Florea,

PENCILS BY:      Tony S. Daniel

INKS BY:             Sandu Florea

PUBLISHER:       DC Comics

OFFICIAL BLURB taken form the DC Comics website…

In these tales from issues #1-6 of the hot new series, Slade Wilson’s entire life is turned upside down after he learns that his involvement in a top-secret mission was wiped from his memory. Now, a new, mysterious enemy known as Odysseus has targeted Deathstroke and everyone involved in the decade-old mission. But Slade’s journey into his past takes an unexpected turn, leading him to Gotham City – and into conflict with both Batman and Harley Quinn!

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Deathstroke.

In the worlds of DC Comics, he is the most dangerous mercenary to ever  raise a hand in violence. He has been a henchman, an instigator, a mastermind, and a pawn. He has been a foil to everyone from the Teen Titans to Batman to Green Arrow. He is the man, and few in the DCU have ever matched him in ability, until now.

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Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars, sends a rejuvenated Slade Wilson up against a threat that is more dangerous than any weapon, his family. Collecting the first six issues of the latest series to bear his name, we start out seeing a veteran Deathstroke preparing for his latest mission; minimum people, no electronic exposure. The mission takes Deathstroke to Russia where he cuts a bloody swath across the land of the Iron Curtain, only to find that he has been set up by one of the few people he thought was on his side. Glorious two-page spread battles ensue, only to find him laid low just when he can afford it the least.  After he awakens, he finds himself in a completely new situation with no money, limited abilities, and no friends. Even his own body betrays him as he attempts to find out who is responsible for the new paradigm he finds himself trapped in.

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Writer Tony S. Daniels (SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN) is the architect of this globe-spanning adventure which takes Deathstroke from the dirty streets of Moscow, to the mean streets of Gotham City. Along the way he uncovers a new backstory for the man known as Slade, one filled with family betrayal and more. Appearances from everyone from Batman to Lady Shiva to Harley Quinn add to the story as it builds toward an explosive conclusion which sets up Deathstroke in his new surroundings.

This is part of the issue which some readers may have with Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars; the new surroundings. The story is good, solid, and entertaining, but there is a major aspect of it which may make longtime fans of Slade feel it was included less for the good of the story than to make the viewers of a successful television show more comfortable. I read through the book several times, and each time felt that it would have been just as strong without this particular plot line. I have not read the subsequent issues following this trade, so I do not know if this twist was just temporary or if it is permanent. Regardless, on the whole, it is an exciting adventure worth a read.

Pulling double duty, Tony S. Daniels also delivers the artwork for the series, with inks by Sandu Florea (SUPERMAN, BATMAN). They are gorgeous, acrobatic pages. There are one and two page splashes where Deathstroke battles various enemies which simply sing with a fluidity of motion which many artist would sign over their good right hand to achieve. Daniels pencils, fleshed out with spectacular inks by Florea, sing with action.

With exception of the hiccup in the set-up, the story is an exciting one which every fan of Deathstroke should read.

Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars is a solid book with wonderful art. Thumbs up!

Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars, collects issues 1-6 of the regular series from write/artist Tony S. Daniels (SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN) and artist Sandu Florea (SUPERMAN, BATMAN)

Reprint: Star Wars, The 30 Year Gap: Luke

This is a continuation of a series I originally started on another blog last year and I only got a few in. With all the Star Wars: Force Awakens news and rumors running around, I thought it would be fun to repost it on my main blog….

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Star Wars: The Thirty Year Gap.

Part Two: Luke Leaves the Rebellion

You either stand by your principles or you suffer…

                At the end of Return of the Jedi, we see a Luke Skywalker who has grown in the Force to the point of defeating the remaining known Sith by bringing about the redemption of his own father back to the lightside of the Force. Now, that done, his next steps may be harder than any lightsaber battle he has been in…

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                 Luke Skywalker returns to the Rebel Alliance fleet after the celebration at Endor. He has a sense of satisfaction and a belief that he is on the right track. Now, he sets forth to do that which he knows now he must do, find a way to return the Jedi to the galaxy.

To that end, Luke goes to his sister, Leia, and asks her advice on what he should do. He tells her that he feels there are people out in the galaxy that have access to the Force, but may not know it. He is certain that his next step must be not only finding and researching any remains that may exist regarding the Jedi Order and their ways, but finding other Force sensitive and bringing them into the fold of a New Jedi Order. Han jokingly asks if Luke is getting ready to build an army of cocky kids wielding lightsabers, but Leia hushes him. She agrees that he must do something about the Jedi and continuing their legacy, but believes that there are more pressing matters at hand. She tells him that she has a meeting with Mon Motham and the other Rebel Alliance leaders to discuss their next steps, and that Luke has been asked to join.

After several hours of political and military planning, Luke has begun to think that Mon Mothma and Leia had forgotten him. Just as he is preparing to leave, Admiral Ackbar turns to him and asks, “And what can we expect from our resident Jedi; how long till we can expect some support from a revived Jedi Order?”

Luke is somewhat taken back by this. He had come to ask for some assistance in helping search for signs of the original records from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, not to give a timeline of some sort of Jedi return. He tells Ackbar as much, and then adds that he is not even sure that the old Jedi Order should be brought back, even if he could.

An argument follows. It is clear that the leaders in the Rebel Alliance had expected that Luke would bring a new Jedi Order to their side and assist them as part of the military, much as they had done prior to and during the Clone Wars. Mon Mothma tells of how she specifically remembers the power that a single Jedi could hold, able to sway a battle simply by being on the field and to turn difficult negotiations around with words of wisdom. All at the table agree that a new Jedi Order would be essential to the success of any new government which would take hold.

Everyone agrees, except Luke. He gives an impassioned speech in which he explains that, from his research, the closeness that the Jedi shared with the Old Republic may have very well been a large part of both organizations downfall. They spent too much time looking at the larger picture of galactic politics and not enough time watching out for the people they were protecting. With what his research has uncovered, though the diaries of Obi-Wan Kenobi and reports found in pre-war archives, was that when the Jedi became a military force within the splintering Old Republic, that they blinded themselves to the real problem; why did the people feel that they needed to leave to Old Republic in the first place? And what of the Jedi themselves? They seem to have fallen into much the same situation as the Old Republic, as they refused to look past their own indoctrination to the concerns that some of their own members had about the actions they were taken.

The members of the Rebel Alliance council seem taken aback by this. Their assumption had always been that they were working toward a goal of restoring the Old Republic and the Jedi Order with it, and the possibility of Luke, the last Jedi, having fought beside them all this time only to disagree with them now had never been considered. The debate gets heated. Han quickly takes Luke’s side, as does Lando Calrissian. Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, Wedge Antillies and General Dodonna all push for Luke to official declare that the Jedi would be a part of the new government. Luke reminds them quietly that their new government does not exactly exist as of yet. Shocked silence. Leia finally intercedes; she moves to table the issue of the Jedi until a more suitable time, after Luke has made a report on any discoveries and Jedi candidates that he may find. Once again everyone agrees, except Luke.

Luke declares that he does not intend for the Jedi, if he is successful in bringing them back, to become a tool, politically or militarily. Mon Mothma, obviously furious, dismisses him from the meeting.

As Luke leaves, Leia quickly rushes after him, intent on being the mediator and soothing over the situation. Luke reiterates his position, and lets her know that no one, not even his new found sister, was going to change his mind. If he had any doubt about the Jedi Order’s place in a revitalized Republic, they were gone now. He fully intended for the Jedi to be an autonomous entity with no obligations to anyone.   He kisses his sister and tells her he will be in touch.

A few hours later, as he tries to access his waiting X-Wing, the hanger chief tells him that the ship has been grounded waiting for re-assignment. Before much more can be said, Lando approaches and tells Luke that immediately after he left, Admiral Ackbar had his ship marked for reassignment. Leia had protested, but Admiral Ackbar had declared that if Luke intended on leaving the New Republic, he was not taking New Republic property. Lando them offers to give him a ride in his ship, the Lady Luck, to wherever he was intent on going, or at least till he could procure a new ship. Luke accepts.

As Luke boards the Lady Luck, his looks longingly at the hanger bay, realizing that for the first time in his life, he may be truly alone. As Lando takes off, he hears a soft but familiar dweep-doop come from the back of the ship. He turns to find R2-D2 rolling toward him. Lando laughs, stating that he knew the little droid wouldn’t stay hidden for long. R2-D2 then plays a hologram message for Luke from C-3P0. It seems that after Ackbar grounded Luke’s X-Wing, Leia sent C-3PO off to arrange R2 to accompany her brother. A short message of encouragement follows, and declarations of love from Leia and Han, and it is over. Luke realizes that he will never be alone as long as he has his family, blood or not.

Lando then gets a transmission from Home One. It’s from Wedge Antillies, and he asks to speak to Luke. Wedge tells him that he realizes that Ackbar may seem to have been a little rough, and that Mon Motham would come around, and a few more seemingly stressed statements. As they listen, R2 begins to beep excitedly and lets them know that Wedge is sending them a secret message in plain sight, stressing certain syllables and such for a different message. Wedge has given them a set of coordinates, and instructions to go there in 36 hours.

At the appointed time, Lando and Luke arrive just outside the Tantooine system. After a few moments, a strange signal comes through, and a familiar shape drops out of hyperspace. Wedge Antillies has arrived driving a proto-type X-Wing fighter with two seats. He docks with Lando’s Lady Luck and tells Luke that despite the words spoken he has the support of Rogue Squadron, and they want him to have the proto-type X-Wing to help him in his search for new Jedi trainees.

So with renewed encouragement, Luke departs. His journey leads him through many adventures and his new Jedi Order grows steadily.

Thanks for reading, more to come…

Stacy Baugher

Reprint: Star Wars, The 30 Year Gap: Han & Leia

This is a series I originally started on another blog last year and I only got a few in. With all the Star Wars: Force Awakens news and rumors running around, I thought it would be fun to repost it on my main blog….

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Star Wars: The Thirty Year Gap

Part One: Han and Leia

My friends all hated it at first, then I explained…

                After the Battle of Endor, the job of the politicians became almost as important as that of the warriors. The Empire’s central governing official may be gone, but the Moff’s controlling their individual sectors would still be there to deal with. Leia, being a politician and royalty, would most certainly be asked to help form the new government. This would put her in the spotlight. Additionally, her being royalty could and would be used as propaganda in recruiting more systems into the government. Would those governments be willing to follow the lead or advice of a woman of high birth who consorted with a known criminal and smuggler? Most likely not. So she would at first try and keep her relationship with Han quiet, seeing him between missions and in hiding, much like her mother did after having married Anakin. She marries Han in secret, again, as her mother did her father. But happines would not be hers…

Unfortunately, a space paparazzi or rival politician would find out and they would leak the news. When confronted with it, I do not think that Leia would chuck it all and declare openly that she was married to an underworld figure (because rebel hero or not, he was a smuggler before joining the Rebel Alliance). I think that she would talk about Han as a hero to the New Republic and her rescuer, and a dear friend who helped her after the destruction of her home world, but she would say they never married. And this would be true, as you will see in a few moments. Leia essentially leaves Han and asks him to try and not to see her again. I see her getting married, legally, for political reasons later on, and I think that to whom I would have her marry would be a shock. But I’ll save that for another day.

Now, regarding Han…

After the Battle of Endor, Han is on cloud nine. His life is in the best place that he can remember it ever being, he is in love with a princes and she loves him, moves are being made to revoke the bounties and death marks he has; he is truly free and clear for the first time since he began his career as a smuggler.

He has plans for the future, and for the first time they involve someone more than himself, his ship and Chewbacca. But he slowly starts to realize that his plans are not important to the universe. Leia explains to him, they have to be careful because the public opinion, and that of thousands of planetary governments, relies on her being seen as a symbol of hope in the future. Han persuades her to go to the wookiee home world of Kashyyyk to see Chewbacca’s family. While there Han confesses how much he loves her and wants to be with her, no matter what. He opens himself up completely to Leia, drops the hardened smuggler shell and tells her of his history, his whole history, things that even Chewie did not know. Leia, realizing how much she cares for him, asks him to marry her. They seal their love with a marriage ceremony on Life Day, Chewbacca’s father, Attichitcuk, performs the ceremony. Afterwards, Chewbacca explains that, due to his planets current status in the galaxy, that the ceremony is truly only legal on his planet. Han says he doesn’t care about the rest of the galaxy, but Leia seems a little more shaken with that information.

Upon returning to their regular life, Han begins to feel like a third repulsor. Leia insists that there are delicate negotiations in the works that may be upset if they announce their marriage and tells Han they have to keep it quiet. When questioned why she is so often seen with a New Republic general of questionable history, she states that he is her Chief Security aid, and his presence with her is completely warranted. Han tries his best to play along, but eventually begins to feel smothered by his inability to be with the woman he loves on his own terms. It is Han, through an unwitting C-3PO, who sets the space paparazzi on their trail, and ultimately Han who sets up the meeting which finally exposes their relationship. He belives that if it is all out in the open, people will have no choice but to accept it.

Feeling betrayed by Han, Leia holds the press conference which cuts Han from her life, privately and politically.

Han resigns any commission he had in the military, and with Chewbacca, returns to a life under the radar, swearing to never let his shields down for a woman again. He is occasionally spotted on the Outer Rim worlds, flying the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca by his side. His last know coordinates placed him as part of the criminal underlord Crimson Jack’s fleet, with a purple haired woman known as Jolli manning his guns.

He would not see Leia gain for many years, when circumstances would bring their lives crashing back together and they would have to face the consequences of their decisions.

Next up, see what plans I would have for Luke Skywalker during the thirty year gap.

Stacy Baugher

@stacybaugher

Focus is not just for cameras…

Okay, so this in yet another informative (not really) fun filled (uh…no…) blog entry into my writing. Its part of what I have charged myself with doing to keep the blog up to date while I procrastinate regarding some photography work that has be down and getting more writing finished.

I’ve always been imaginative. The first time I can remember actually creating a story and putting it in print was when I was around seven years old. I had gotten the new Missile Command game for my Atari and was completely enthralled by it. I remember handwriting a four page story about aliens that were attacking the Earth and trying to take out our cities, and a group of Missile Commanders that were given the assignment of protecting those cities; very Buck Rogerish (my favorite television show at the time) and very optimistic. I later took that four page story and turned it into a twelve page hand drawn comic complete with folded lined paper and staples in the middle. It was modeled after some of the small comics that were starting to show up in the Atari games at the time. No idea what happened to it, but it most likely was tossed as my Mom cleaned my room.

I related that story because at seven years old I had more focus than I do now. Of course, my life revolved around school, comic books, fantasy novels, old classic monster movies, and playing an Atari 2600 on a black and white thirteen inch television I was allowed in my room. I remember building a three story play set for my Star Wars figures out of nothing by tape, Popsicle sticks, bendy straws, and old cereal boxes. I really believe that if kids ever realize the power of their own minds at that age, all of us “adults” will be in deep doodie.

So, as if to illustrate my point, let me know get back to what I originally wanted my subject to be, how I stay focused on writing.

The answer is simple, I don’t.

I currently do a good bit of my writing while I am at my real world job. Often have some down time and I am stationed in-front of a computer anyway (all day), so it works out. I keep my writing on a little sixteen gigabyte thumb drive and carry it from work to home daily. I work on multiple projects at a time. Currently I have am editing/revising a short story, working on something that looks to be turning into a novella, translating a two-hundred and sixty plus page graphic novel script into a prose novel, and trying to work on an outline for another novel. I have a backlog of short stories and a couple of partially complete works that need attention as these other projects are finished also. I also take the occasional photography gig when time allows, and play Mr. Mom in the afternoon for my kids while my wife works her tail off teaching music to elementary and high school kids.

I sometimes get to hang out with friends, and occasionally run a pen and paper roleplaying game. Those times I am inevitably asked, by those who know I write, if the adventures they are playing will end up in my stories. My answer is always, much to the players disappointment, is no, they won’t. I know of several writers who run their adventures past role players as a way to proof their work ( few big name ones), but it just never seemed to be something I was interested in doing. A RPG session consists of collaboration between the Narrator (Dungeon Master, Storyteller, what have you) and his players. Whether you are running an original adventure or a pre-written module, it is a give and take. I’ve been burned on collaborations to often to give something that I’m pouring my heart into to someone else again. Don’t get me wrong, I want to collaborate in the future, just not right now… not with my current batch of babies.

So to reiterate my earlier statement, as this article shows, I really don’t focus on any one thing, unless it is the thing currently in-front of me. I tend to jump around and listen to the voices in my head, whichever is yelling the loudest is the one who will get the most attention. After a while they get tired and take a rest so I can let one of the other kids out. But lately, I think they have realized that they need to give each other more space, as I am getting more and more work done on one piece over another.

Everyone is different. I know of an author who claims she cannot focus on writing unless she has her over the ear headphones on listening to white noise. Another once told me that he had to have a cigarette before he started writing, and a cold glass of wine (or two) to loosen the spirits as he wrote. Me? Well, if I am at my real world job, I seem to need the hum of fluorescent lights, a constantly ringing telephone, and people coming up to me every ten or fifteen minutes asking me to help them with some office related task or needing to be checked in for their appointment.

At this stage, I need the interruptions; they force me to focus on what I am writing just that little bit more than when I am at home with my Spotify playing whichever soundtrack I need for background sound that day.

To each his or her own.

But I do have my own dream writing place, that place that I promised myself when I sell a novel and make a little money off the writing that I will be able to transition to.

I’ll talk about that next time.

Till then, take care and God bless…

Stacy