Twenty years of no lines.

This is the oldest image in the gallery section of my website. It is not the first thing I drew with Illustrator. But it is the first thing I drew with Illustrator where I went from a scan of a pencil rough to flat shapes, instead of putting color under a scan of an inked drawing.

The date on the gallery is August 29th, 2000. Twenty years ago. The date on the copy of the Illustrator file on my hard drive is 2005, but that’s a lie; somewhere along the journey from a bulky second-hand PowerPC Mac clone running MacOS to a Powerbook running OSX 10.14, all the creation dates on my files got lost.

I’ve been doing this no-lines thing for twenty years. I pretty much stopped doing outlines entirely once I did this piece. It was hard at first, but as I learnt various tricks, I got to a point where using lines feels too easy. Feels like cheating.

And twenty years later I’m finally doing something with this character, too. She was originally the sidekick of “Ensign K”, now Baron K is her sidekick in Parallax. They’ve both got pretty much the same shapes, though the costumes and worlds are different.

That’s from late July of 2001. There’s only a couple finished images between these two, I was mostly busy riding the bus to Spumco, working on Flash animation for a horrible man. And my process was a lot slower back then: I was still learning to draw, to a certain extent. I was figuring out Illustrator from scratch. Illustrator was a smaller toolbox, too – it had just gotten transparency in 2000. I hadn’t found out that the Pencil tool has settings, with terrible defaults; I just thought it was kind of shitty, and painstakingly made all my shapes with the Pen.

The first image is also a skin for Audion, an MP3 player for the Mac that had a very flexible skinning setup. You could arrange your buttons any way you liked, and have whatever weird shape you wanted for your play-control window. Nowadays all my music is in iTunes, which spends its time hidden and being controlled by the media keys on the keyboard; back then those media keys didn’t exist, so we ended up with little desk toys like this.

Or like this. Which was a self-portrait from November 2001, according to the dates in my site’s gallery. It’s a self-portrait of me at the time: a skinny, not-very-masculine guy, who was trying to figure out just what “gender transition” would really entail, and if it was something he wanted to do. I’d been signing most of my art that I posted online as “Peganthyrus” since about 1997 so this was clearly a thing I was playing with; I wouldn’t actually start on hormones until about 2002 or 2003. It’s been a while, I’m not exactly sure beyond “somewhere after Weekend Pussy Hunt collapsed and before Katrina”, which means somewhere between 2000-5.

But I digress.

Here’s one of my earlier experiments in Illustrator. Still clinging to lines but very close to letting go. This is also just about the only piece of mine that involves a gradient mesh, a tool I find to be far more fiddly than its results justify. I think a lot of this might have been experimenting with the pencil tool? Zig-zag effects on simple curves for the ferns – one of my first halting explorations into territory I would end up returning to much later when I started trying to pull on everything I’d learnt over two decades to do full-color comics by myself.

This is pretty typical of my Illustrator-with-lines work. Scanned ink work – this looks like it’s probably some kind of brush pen – with Illustrator shapes below.

Or this. With a badly-drawn version of my then-roomie Gabe Swarr. Who has been spending the last couple of years working on the remake of Tiny Toons. Complete with occasional meetings with Steven Friggin’ Spielberg. I couldn’t hack it in the animation industry but he sure could, geez.

There was experimentation with other tools now and then, too. I’m pretty sure this is Painter. Does that default to saving as a .RIFF file? Because I have this on my drive as both a PSD and a RIFF.

And this. This was done with Creature House’s Expression, a vector package built from the ground up for faking natural media. Sadly by the time I had enough money to buy a legit copy of it they’d been eaten by Microsoft, who made it Windows-only and much less natural-media focused. If they’d stuck around I might be putting out very different work nowadays. But I went with Illustrator because that was the least awkward tool for doing the color workflow I was used to from my formative years in Deluxe Paint I-V on my Amiga, where I could twiddle a palette swatch and see everything drawn in it change. I still rely on that to this day.

Also man I sure did draw stretched-out torsos and necks back then. The arm’s deliberately stretched out to stylize motion; the body and neck, I think, are stretched out because I just… did that a lot.

And finally in this tour of Early Art From Me:

I learnt so damn much about working in sharply limited palettes drawing this. I remember feeling like the whole thing was a complex puzzle: this part has to be this color, but this part that also has to be the same color has to pass behind it – can I make it work solely as silhouettes? or do I find an excuse to use one of the other two colors as a highlight or shadow to create a contrast? Mostly I pushed myself to make it work entirely as silhouettes in this one. I also learnt something important about zooming in; I think it was after finding myself zoomed in and drawing reflections on an iris in this drawing, which were not even a pixel at final size, that I made myself learn the habit of hitting command-1 (view>actual size) on a regular basis to keep myself from getting lost in minutae nobody would ever see.

And for contrast, here’s a piece I did last week:

(click this one for the full size image)

I’ve felt like I’ve been getting too painterly in my recent work so I took this one back towards a limited palette, though I had to expand that out a bit to include the colors of the bisexual and trans flags. Other than that the palette’s only slightly less limited than the “four tints of two colors” that I used in Absinthe. This only took three hours; I don’t have any time tracking on these old files but I am pretty damn sure most of them took a lot more than that, despite their general lack of any kind of background!

(this one links to the full size too)

(yet another link to a full size image)

And some recent painterly stuff: a page of Parallax I’m happy with, and a stream commission that’s actually clean (I’ve been streaming now and then lately, and it has mostly been very horny stuff.). I like the airbrush feeling I have in these; 1990s me really loved the look of airbrush art but found actually dealing with the noisy compressor and trying to organize endless layers of physical masks to be a lot more hassle than it was worth. 2020s me just does a bunch of gradients and blurred shapes and slaps a noise texture on top and figures it’s close enough to airbrushed Dr. Martin’s on cold press illustration board for something that took a fraction of the time. But I’ve been chasing that look pretty hard for the past year and I think it’s time for some fucking around with flat stuff when I’m not working on the comic.


Anyway. If you wanna look at more old art by me, the last page of my site’s gallery is here. Perhaps someday I should make it work better on mobile phones and whatnot, it’s full of neat visual effects that happen when you hover your mouse cursor over stuff.

an unexpected megadose of Nostalgia

Oh, damn.

So most of my listening lately has been out of an iTunes Smart Playlist called “not recently overplayed”; it contains all the music in my collection that hasn’t been played or skipped in the last three weeks, and that hasn’t been played more than fifteen times. It’s been part of an attempt to make me go find some new music. Which has sort of worked, sort of not.

I just made its counterpart: a playlist that automatically shows stuff that hasn’t been played or skipped in the last three weeks, but *has* been played more than fifteen times. And holy shit is it full of music I know by heart. All the albums I can halfway play in my head. And a few tracks that have a much higher play-count than the rest of the album because I clearly really like them – or have put them on a manually-curated playlist for some reason.

I should still go Look For New Music now and then. Finding a source for recommendations still kinda feels like work; figuring out how to convince an algorithm to give me music I might enjoy without it just feeding me the same stuff that’s already on my “recently not played but clearly beloved” playlist sounds even more like work.

No-lah, or, A History Of The Golden City Of Monsters.

So there is a thread going around Twitter right now, in which an RPG designer looks at maps of New Orleans and lists all the things that he would find fault with if this were a map handed in by a freelance cartographer for a worldbook he was editing. All of these things, of course, have sensible explanations, which mostly boil down to “it’s the least terrible place to put a port near the mouth of a river that drains 1/3 of an entire continent, and the land has changed a lot due to us no longer letting the river wander back and forth across its delta”.

My opinion of this hot take on my home city? Don’t say that the place is too weird, too dense with complicated history to fit into your idea of a fantasyland formed by third-hand imitations of the maps in the endpapers of The Lord Of The Rings. Embrace the weirdness. Look at the reasons the city is and land is like it is; transform them into something magical, and use this as the basis of a far weirder city than you would have otherwise.

And then I decided to have a go at this myself.

Ages ago, the gods all died. This much we know. They fought amongst each other and laid much of the world to waste in their wake. We have only the faintest rumors of who they were and why they fought, spun from the shredded memories of generations busy scraping out a living in the lands that escaped the worst of their wrath.

Six centuries ago, the Elvish explorer Lemoy-ville followed the many rivers of the fertile North to the place where they join into one mighty torrent and drain into the Gulf of Monsters. Legend says the Gulf was formed by the three overlapping imprints of the Foot of the Thunderer, as she crushed the Worm of the Stars before surrendering to its venom; all we really can say for sure is that the Gulf of Monsters is full to bursting with strange bones and stranger objects, many of which have found surprising uses in modern hands.(1)

Lemoy-ville planted a golden flag at the closest to the Gulf she dared set up a semi-permanent camp. But by the time prospectors followed in her wake, drawn by her tales of the ink-black beauty of the Gulf, the rich bounty of strange beasts, and the handful of iridescent crystals oozing more puissance machicx than any found in the North, the miasma that drifted in off the Gulf every winter had tarnished it to a sort of greenish-purplish iridescence. And thus was the seed that grew into the city of No-lah(2).

Over the decades, No-lah grew. From a tiny camp of thrillseekers and fortunehunters, to a small town of inns and shops for those, to a place sprawling past the borders of the benevolent influence of the clear waters of the mighty River ‘Tchafallayall(4), to a bustling city of the descendants of fortune-seekers both failed and successful, refugees from the wars of the North, and outcasts. Its architecture came to incorporate strange hints of the buildings of the vanished gods, drawn from treasures found further and further out in the muck of the Gulf of Monsters, built in part with the puissance machicx cracked from the bones of the Serpent Gods who perished in the god wars.

Despite the regular intrusions of strange gibbering beasts that crawled out of the Gulf, No-Lah became a successful, lazy city.

And then, three hundred years after Lemoy-ville stuck a flag into a benighted hump of land near the Gulf of Monsters, the man who would be known as the Weather Witch-Lord came into possession of the Heart of the Star-Worm. Pulled from the middle of the Gulf, somewhere along a four hundred mile long coiling underwater rise, it drew the dark syrupy liquid of the Gulf up the ‘Tchafallayall with it. Rendered into powder and sprinkled along the banks of the ‘Tchafallayall, it stopped the river’s wandering far better than any previous efforts. And most notably, after much effort and pain, after cracking it open and learning the secrets of its center, it… it summoned something, a nameless, seemingly-mindless shape that rose up from the river and mirrored its Gulf-tainted curves, its head high in the sky above No-lah, its tail fading out somewhere over the Gulf it came from.

We called it Katrice. Or, more precisely, Nashro’ber, the Weather Witch-Lord of No-lah called it Katrice, and everyone who wished to remain on his good side did the same. Other city-states making tentative footholds around other parts of the Gulf of Monsters called it other things: the Devistaciour(5), the Skrt’t’xa(6), and, well, within a decade pretty much everyone within three week’s ride around the Gulf was calling it Katrice, and regularly paying tribute to the Imperial City of No-lah, because that was better than what happened when Nashro’ber decided you were insufficiently respectful. Mine towers sprung up in the Gulf, digging for more of the Heart of the Star-Worm, and whatever other miracles they could find along the way. The banks of the ‘Tchafallayall between No-lah and the Gulf became armored walls, sprinkled every year with freshly-powdered Wormheart mixed with the blood of some of that tribute. Every year, Katrice grew thicker and darker in the sky; every year, the city celebrated with a party that grew along with the ghost of a god that moved to the city’s bidding.

After two hundred and eighty-seven years of this, Nashro’ber, the Weather Witch-Lord of the Fourth Golden Empire(7), died. The official record of his last words is lost; the rumor around the city is that they were, simply, “Run”.

Four and a half weeks after that, Katrice had laid waste to fully two-thirds of No-lah. Half of the Weather Witch Corps perished before one desperate Witch tore the Heart of the Star-Worm from its resting place in the half-embalmed skull of Nashro’ber, stole a skiff, and vanished into the Gulf. Katrice scattered into a thousand thousand wisps of heartbreak-colored cloud, and has not been seen since. Nor has that heroic, unnamed Witch.

Surprisingly, none of the former client states of the Fourth Golden Empire came in to finish what Katrice started. They didn’t lift a finger to help rebuild, either. Not without demanding a heavy price first, at least. Not without laying claim to whatever prizes they desired from amongst the city’s richer refugees.

It is twelve years later. The city’s population is, at best, half of what it was. Some of it is changing, made strange by the backlash of the power beneath the Gulf. Some of it is still in ruins.

But Lemoy-ville’s flag still glistens purple, green, and gold in the center of the Elvish Quarter(8). And we still throw one hell of a party every year, even though the riverwalls are mere rubble along the course the ‘Tchafallayall took before Katrice changed everything.

Welcome to No-lah, o adventurer. What wonders will you find?

1: As well as the fairly unsurprising use of fighting the numerous monsters that give the Gulf its modern name.

2: Literally, “Tranquil Rest”. Lemoy-ville and her Company participated in a long explorer’s tradition of giving the least hospitable places of the world inviting names with this one; unlike their name for the Gulf(3), this one stuck.

3: Sigs-bee, lit. “Mirror-to-the-sky”.

4: corrupted from the language of the local wood-fey, our best guess is “Don’t drink that you idiot, can’t you see the god-rot not ten feet up the bank from here”; sadly, little of their oral tradition survived the Storm of the Horse and the subsequent “land reclamation” push that saw No-Lah triple in size.

5: Orkish, lit. “Rain of Filth”

6: Spinnerish, lit. “Opener of the Myriad Carapaces”

7: Much ink, blood, and ichor has been spilled on the tenuous connection, or lack thereof, of the Fourth Golden Empire to the previous three. For now, let it suffice to say that even the most ardent supporter of this claim would gleefully proclaim it to be “pretty complicated” before attempting to simplify the argument with the aid of such conceptual aids as a board with strategically-placed nails, or a godsrot-tarnished rapier.

8: Which is largely high-arched Draconate work, built after the Storm of the Melody razed the city for the first time.

Thirty Thousand Pounds Of Memories

Holy crap that opened up an old wound.

Today I found myself humming bits from two Harry Chapin songs, both off of “Verities and Balderdash” – one of the tapes I inherited when my father died. I used to listen to it on and off when I was younger, and took it to California along with the rest of my tapes and CDs. And like almost everything else I owned then, it was in a shipping container in one of the parts of New Orleans that got inundated when I gave up the animation dream and moved back there.

It was never a favorite. But it was one of my few lingering connections to my father.

So when I found myself humming half remembered fragments of “Cat’s Cradle” and “30,000 Pounds Of Bananas” today, I pulled them up online and played them. And holy crap I was not ready for the upwelling of old loss and sadness that released. It didn’t help that “Cat’s Cradle” is the first song on that album, and it’s all about ruing the disconnection between a hard-working father who never quite has time for his son, until the son grows up to be just as hard-working and just as lacking in time for Dad.

And of course, for me, there’s no option of having time for Russell any more. There hasn’t been for about thirty-five years, now.

I’ve mostly dealt with it, over the years. Don’t think about him much any more.  Don’t have much cause to.

Mortality sucks.

looks great, plays terrible

Somewhere back in August, I made a file titled “Peggy At The Con Of The Crimson King”, and meticulously reverse-engineered Roger Dean’s logotype for the 80s/90s computer game company Psygnosis. There’s a font out there that claims to be based on it, but half of the characters are swiped from his logo for Shadow of the Beast and they only sort of work together, so I just ended up making a bunch of art brushes based on his shapes and using those.

And then I let it languish in my working directory for the rest of the year because I didn’t like any of the sketches I’d done for the character. Today I loaded it up and did a decent rough, then did my best to pretend I was an airbrush jockey via a bunch of gradients and blurred shapes and masks.

Now I just need someone to do a furry con whose theme is “vaporwave” and I’ll have the perfect badge for it. But I probably won’t do badges in this style at the con because holy crap the typography took at least twice as long as the figure. I could re-use the brushes and styles I made but it’d still be like twice the work of “type name in a font, draw character” and I dunno if I really feel like seeing if there’s any market for $100 badges.

also here is a closeup showing the amount of detail I made Illustrator do in the eyes, because I wanted to capture a little bit of the INSANE STARING GLARE that Dean put into the stylized owl-head of Psygnosis’ secondary logo.  There was also a bunch of angular bullshit around the eyes based on that but it got covered up by the chrome hair, oh well.

Someone on FA asked for this on a t-shirt, so I posted it on Redbubble. Go here if you want one too.

respeck yo’ elders: George Herriman

Today is George Herriman’s birthday.

Who’s he, you probably ask?

Well. He was one of the early stars of newspaper comics. He’s most famous for “Krazy Kat”, in which a mouse named Ignatz expresses his disdain for the titular Kat by repeatedly throwing bricks at her head. Or his head. Krazy’s choice of pronoun varied on a regular basis but never really made much of a difference to anyone in the shifting desert land of the strip.

He was born in 1880 and died in 1944. When I encountered his work in the 70s, as a kid reading through the Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics, I was blown away by his full-page compositions and surreal backgrounds.

A few years ago, I took a trip to Monument Valley. This was pretty much entirely due to falling in love with the American desert through Herriman’s sparse, shifting abstractions of the place. There’s something in those jutting alien rocks and the hot sands that calls to me in ways I really can’t put into words. But that call is spoken of at great length in the backgrounds of Krazy Kat.

“Mock Duck” in the bottom tier there is a reminder that old cartoons are full of really unsubtle ethic caricatures. This strip will be a hundred years old on my birthday; the past is a different country.

George’s history is as hard to pin down as the backgrounds of Kokoino Kounty or Krazy’s gender: he claimed to be a California kid, of Greek extraction, but in recent years some deep biographical research has revealed that he was actually born in my hometown of New Orleans, and grew up about five miles from where I did. And that he was born to a white father and a black mother. His family moved to California when he was ten, started presenting as white, and he would continue to do this for about a hundred and twenty years.

Speaking of broad ethnic caricatures of the past: This is one of the three episodes of Herriman’s early short-lived strip “Musical Mose”, about a black musician failing to pass for other ethnicities. It feels like a very different thing now that I know he was doing a bang-up job of just that.

Krazy Kat’s goofy, drifting obliqueness was never popular with most people, but it had a following among the intelligentsia of the day. That plus newspaper publisher Hearst giving him space and money to draw pretty much whatever for a long time let him accumulate a large body of work, that’s survived long enough to still have people like me deciding to put his birthday in their calendars a hundred years later.

Herriman’s scratchy, goofy pen lines bear little resemblance to my inhumanly-sharp Illustrator shapes. But the weird dimensionality I almost always give to moons comes straight from his work. And now you know part of the secret code that marks a fan of his. There are other ones; I’ll leave you to discover them yourself.

RIP, George. Thanks for the wonderful drawings.

If you would like to see more of his work:

  • I cannot recommend the Sunday Press collection enough. It’s got a hundred and fifty lovingly-restored Krazy Kay strips, both color and B&W, as well as a whole bunch of Herriman’s pre-Krazy work. It’s also a hundred bucks and half the size of a newspaper broadsheet. Great if you have the money to spend and the space to keep it, not so great otherwise.
  • Fantagraphics has somewhat less spendy collections, of various sizes and prices.
  • My first exposure was The Smithsonian Book Of Newspaper Comics, which has a decent sampling of Krazy and his other works as part of its wild ride through the entire history of the medium from the 1900s to the 1970s.
  • Check your local library, if you’re lucky they’ll have some of these books.

A fragment of memory

So. Let me tell you about a little sore tooth in my mind. A fragment of memory that just doesn’t fit with the narrative of the rest of my life as I remember it. Every now and then it bubbles up and I wonder what the hell was happening; the other day I went for a long walk through the park and… poked at it.

The scene: upstairs in a sunny house in New Orleans. Probably summer. Probably next to Bayou St. John. Probably around 1986-88.

There are two children sitting there listening to a man, dutifully taking notes. One of them is a skinny boy with black hair, who would eventually grow up to be me. One of them is a girl. Was she someone I knew in school? I don’t know. I don’t even have a solid memory of her ethnicity, let alone her name. The guy is white. I want to say he’s slim and possibly balding. I don’t have a solid memory of that either.

My brain says this is somehow related to Future Problem Solving, which was a thing I did in high school. Which is where I get the 1986 guess from.

But the content of what this man is telling me and this girl doesn’t seem to match with any kind of preparation for this very rational exercise in Creative Sci-Fi Thinking. Because I am being told a bunch of New Age sounding stuff about… well, that’s misty too. I mostly recall being shown diagrams. Concentric circles. Rounded off teardrops. A general sense of the text being about the Shape of Reality. Mystical stuff. In a relatively new book.

Something vaguely like this? I dunno. There were labels.

I dutifully took notes on a yellow legal pad. I don’t know if I copied any of the diagrams. Or wrote down the name of this book.

I don’t know where those notes went.

I don’t remember talking to this man ever again. Or anything else along these lines.

I have a memory of wondering what the hell this new age bullshit had to do with anything but this might actually be a memory of remembering this later on and wondering just that.

I’m pretty sure my mother was there. As was the other kid’s mother. I don’t know if she was listening to all this. I don’t remember talking with her about it later. And I can’t ask her about this any more; I’d have to perform a seance for that.

I can’t recall any more details. And to be honest I would be suspicious of the truth of any more details I managed to dredge up; I’ve read enough about how easy it is to get people to remember things that never happened.

It feels weird. It feels like something that tugging on hard enough could be the start of a paranoid conspiracy novel set in the eighties, with children being recruited and programmed into… well, pick your own narrative here, really. Indigo Children becoming soldiers in a secret psychic war or whatever.

My memory of most of my teenage years is a tapestry of holes. I’ve always just assumed it’s due to the depression I fell into after my father died; when every day is grey and sad despite the blazing New Orleans sun, it’s easy to disassociate and just… forget. But pulling this out into the light suggests an alternate story of… something. Something secret and buried and hidden from me.

Part of me is reluctant to talk about this publicly. What if there is some kind of Secret Society involved? What if They see this and decide it’s finally time to activate my programming or whatever? What if I really am in a Phillip K Dick novel instead of the sensible mundane life I’ve always thought I had? Maybe you’ve only ever heard of me because this was a test that I failed, so I was left to make my own way through the normal world instead of being a character in a real-life version of Psychonauts. Or the X-Men I guess but I’d rather imagine the goofy cartoon version.

I wish I could remember anything about the title of that book with the diagrams. Anything to ask Google about. But I can’t.

It might just be a dream I had. I’m pretty sure the time I walked into my parents’ bedroom at night when I was five and saw a glittering crystal cavern hidden behind their dresser was a dream, for instance. But this feels like a thing that really happened.

Welcome to the hole in my head. I don’t know how deep it goes. I don’t know if I want to find out.


It is 10:30 on a Saturday night and I am lying alone in my living room looking at a list of New Orleans area BBSs and feeling impossibly old. This is promoted by someone asking “what was your first screen name” on Twitter and me replying that it was “Raccoon” on a bunch of c64 and ms-dos BBSs*. Mostly running Ivory and WWIV.

Later on I switched to “F.R.E.D. III” which was the name of a robot character I drew for a while. Then there was the Internet and mucks and moving to California and, well, about twenty years of things happening.

Most of the boards I was on aren't on that list. No c64 boards, very few Amiga boards. But a few are. Assassin's Guild. Ravenloft. The Bowels. The Land of Rape and Honey, which changed its name from that Ministry reference to something I can't remember. And other names are hanging at the back of my brain, not quite coming out. All my notes from then are long gone so I'll never find an old notebook with records and phone numbers to trigger memories.

I sort of miss the days when it was this weird little zone of freaks and nerds and weirdos. Now everyone's on the Internet. Your whole family's on Facebook and there's Uncle Racist posting another hilarious reason Facebook tries to hide posts it thinks you won't enjoy.

And on the other hand last night my ex-with-benefits told me some of the younger postfurries** are getting excited about rebooting the MUCK my exes ran back in the early 00s. They're digging up the old database and the wiki and using it for a starting point to reimagine it. I got asked if I wanted to have a hand in writing the new version of one of the zones (Strangewarp, infested by a curiously polite dataplague) and kept on almost falling asleep, then having to pick up the iPad next to the bed and scribble down ragged fragments of broken prose hinting at my vision for the place and a new character to play in it and and and. I don't know if my having discovered the joys of marijuana since Puzzlebox collapsed will make my contribution to the new version better or worse; I don't know if anyone will be able to tell since I plan to try and write it in the disconnected, fragmented syntax of the repeat-suicide butterfly I played for a while.

Nostalgia. I don't have a point here. I'm just thinking about what triggers it for me. Apparently a list of 504 BBSs can.


* BBS: Bulletin Board System. Run a terminal program on your computer, connect it to another one sitting on a phone line, leave public and private messages, swap files of various types and legalities. What we had before the Internet ate everything. Usually very local because long distance calls cost money back in those days.

** Postfurry: a combination of “posthuman” and “furry”, a bunch of furries who like to pretend to be robot cats and hypnotizing alien space vixens and silver metal elephants instead of plain old animal people. Possibly a bunch of pretentious over-educated asses, possibly just a bunch of genderqueer nerds with more brain than they know what to do with, depending on who you ask. Puzzlebox is now a legend among the younger generation of this subset of furries.

the dream of my mother’s six-car fetch quest

I dreamed I was in New Orleans. My mother had apparently left me five or six cars, parked around the city. I needed to go acquire them. My father was helping me get them – never mind that he's been dead a lot longer than she has, he was around in this dream. I was using my phone to help navigate to the first one. Eventually we got there.

There was a gap, and I was walking. A sports car in transit livery pulled up, and I got in. Apparently New Orleans was experimenting with high speed transit, as this car then drove off at high speed with me and the previous two passengers, all in the back seat. I realized I'd just gotten in the first bus that pulled up, and took out my phone to figure out if I was on the right one. It took a while to type in its route number properly (25), but I got it eventually. It was a weird one that went a long way across the city, well outside the eastern and western bounds of New Orleans proper, careening through the Quarter at high speeds, sometimes on the sidewalk – it was not obeying normal traffic laws, that's for sure.

It's worth noting that this is possibly the first time I have gotten any use out of my phone in a dream. It used to show up as blocks of wood carved into the shape of a phone, or 1970s approximations of a smartphone or something.

Then I was faced with trying to figure out where the other cars were, so I could decide if I was on the right route. And I could not figure out how to do that on my dream phone. Especially while also trying to figure out the logistics of my father being the one who drove, and me being the one who could navigate to the car.

The woman sitting next to me asked if I was alright and I kind of unloaded on her about just having gotten off an airplane the other night, and my mother being dead. She looked at me with her weirdly huge golden eyes, which had immensely dilated pupils. “She must be rolling,” I thought to myself. She got off the sports-car bus at a corner where there were multiple people with similar eyes, and even a couple dogs with similar eyes, so maybe not.

As we drove through the corner gas station lot full of these golden-eyed people staring at me, the other person in the sports-bus – an old guy who had seemed to be with the woman – took out his phone and started fiddling with it. Every time he touched a key it made a loud click like an old mechanical keyboard, with occasional noises like a dot-matrix printer spitting out a line that I knew were him hitting return. It was pretty annoying.

And then I woke up.

An Amiga Moment

Sssso apparently some folks on the Internet have declared today Amiga Day. It’s the birthday of Jay Miner, the guy who designed its graphics chips.

I wasn’t planning to do anything for it beyond snark about how the Amiga was ten years ahead of its time when it came out, then Commodore refused to do any R&D for the next twenty, but then Auntie Pixelante put up a font that she described as “evoking the feel of dumping cracked Amiga games”. And then I found myself in Illustrator, putting a fake copper-list through the text, and starting to warp and twist it in a manner seen on a lot of demo crew logos. While listening to Jarre.


The Amiga shaped one of the fundamental ways I approach color; I grew up using Deluxe Paint, which worked fairly directly with the Amiga’s thirty-two color palette entries. So I got used to a process of blocking out shapes, then fiddling with the color sliders to get just the right look – and possibly fiddling with those sliders as one of the last few things done on a piece. Being able to reproduce that method with “global” color swatches is the reason I started using Illustrator when I shifted from Amiga to Mac; the infinite scalability was a nice perk, but I was really after that very selective power to change colors with very little effort.