Friday, September 13, 2013

Featured Creature 2012-13: Last Bites Part IV, The Devil's Crucible

Despite the globally explosive second half of April, personally, the months of March and April were the most dramatic turning point of the 2013.  I began March determined and hopeful.  I was fully recuperated from my winter illness and was now being treated at local low income clinic should any new physical illness manifest.  I felt optimistic.

The first creature that month was an odd amorphous entity that inspired a strange fictional dreamscape transmission.  Simultanesouly, although not directly a part of the weekly Featured Creature, I was revisiting older artwork and creating fresh pieces in celebration of a local tattoo festival in Asheville, NC.  An older Featured Creature image of Krampus got a color makeover and reinterpretation as the mythic Mescalito.  This addition was an indicator of what direction my work would be taking, but I did not realize it at the time.  It amuses me sometimes, my inability to see the road for the highway.  Much of the work I was creating at that time was a precursor to opportunities awaiting me by the end of April.  However, there was a pit of chaos and disruption between me and those opportunities.

The second week of March brought Scratch, the first piece in a set of the most inspired work I'd done in 2013, The Devil's Square.  The Devil's Square was created from a set of sketches I'd posted in From The Archives back in January.  I had initially created The Devil's Square on a whim to see what inspiration I could draw out of the From The Archives post, but from the moment these guys showed up, they began growing and expanding their story and universe.  Soon after Scratch, Scream, Scrag, Screwworm, and a mysterious hooded figure followed.

I had been seeking a comic book vision to explore within Zombie Bites, and The Devil's Square became that vision.  As soon as The Devil's Square ideas coalesced into a team, within the story there immediately emerged a government agency to oppose them, the Department of Extranormal Phenomena (DEP).  The Devil's Square posts would occupy most of March, but due to personal challenges and chaos I would experience at the end of the month, would not be finished until the end of April.  

Mid March, I had established contact with Rachel Pandich, editor in chief of the Skin Crawling Comics Anthology. I was seeking to throw my hat into the ring and see if there were any creative positions remaining.  Although the writing, penciling, and inking slots had been filled and completed, there was a need for colorists.  I sent Rachel a set of color samples and it was that same week that calamity struck.  My computer crashed.

At the time I had various plans running for work to be presented during this time, but everything was derailed or put on permanent hold, including the possibility of working on Skin Crawling Comics.  I should also mention that during this same period I was attempting to go back to school for Web Design, but due to a series of complicated bureaucratic issues, that possibility was eliminated.  My computer crashing was simply fuel for my already bleak fire.  Everything I had tried had failed. 

Since my life began shredding to bits back in 2010 it has been one life catastrophe after another with no end in sight.  With no computer to effect an online presence or to create digital artwork with and my educational prospects for the immediate future in the toilet, I truly felt at the end of my tether.  I couldn't see a tomorrow for myself.  Everything I'd been working towards was becoming dust before my eyes.  I felt completely lost and hopeless.  Then a strange thing happened: everything turned around.

From the end of March until mid April it looked as though my connection to the digital landscape would be lost forever.  I won't bore you with the ins and outs of my desperate struggle to keep my older system running.  Just know that in the end I spent two weeks nearly gnawing off my arm while the universe determined my fate, but I quickly went from feeling at the end of my tether to feeling like I'd won the lottery.

Good luck finally won out and by April 15th, I was in possession of new to me/used Mac laptop with several upgrades to boot and I had managed in the chaos and fretting to get all my files off my old computer.  However, rebirth does come at a price and the new laptop cost me my federal tax return which was to be my financial cushion for the coming year.  Special thanks to Valerie, Casey, Vince, and Russell for helping me get through that tough time without completely losing my head.

On the national stage April brought a tornado of fear and disruption as the government tried to steal internet rights by slipping CISPA through.  Then the Boston Marathon Bombing happened.  If everything that occurred at the end of March served to break me down, these two events showed me a new direction and a fire burning in my chest.  I transformed one of my other art blogs, EXP3, into a personal news blog to help me keep track of the disruptive changes our world is experiencing.  Over the summer, this would send a wave of change through Zombie Bites as well.

At April's end, I was able to finally join Skin Crawling Comics as the colorist on the story, Buried and began working steadily.  Within the Featured Creature, I finished off The Devil's Square and prepared for May.  The coming month would bring a set of creatures that would dominate the next month and beyond: the illumination of the infection that is Vz.  This set of creatures and my work on Skin Crawling would reveal a new vista of possibility for my career that I had not considered before.

~ Concluded Continued in Part V ~


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