C'mon in, take yer shoes off, and set yerself down. Here you will find comics, cartoons, musings, rants, . . . whatever strikes my fancy, or "Spins my Plush", so to speak.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Day After . . .

4-The Eye of the Beholder

All male genies on the planet were drafted into Drakon's police force at birth, each raised as perfect soldiers in the perfect war, since they were the only army. Human females were left behind to run the planet on all levels, from manual labour to business to scientific applications. Once a year, a lottery was held to determine which two inhabitants would generate society's next soldier or worker. The pairings lasted only until conception and only as many pairings were allowed as criminal cases had been processed in the previous year. The results were then given to a communal raising centre, if they were fortunate enough to not be a male human or female genie.

Special Forces Officer 21-387 was one of the fortunate, placed in military care upon birth and raised into the Special Forces, assuming active duty upon his thirteenth birthday. Over the succeeding years, he served Drakon admirably in squadron 21. He obeyed orders, spoke when he was spoken to and thought what he was told to think. As was the assignment of all Special Forces officers, his duty was to enforce the laws. Any insurrection could mean defeat at the hands of the Alien Threat, destined to return, was to be immediately--and permanently--exterminated. He did this diligently, knowing that after the aliens had been defeated he would be well rewarded by the gentle Drakon.

Then, on the third day of the third month of his twentieth year, the call came that he had been chosen in the lottery. This was considered a great honour by all--the call to procreate the mighty Earthrace. He was brought to the Crucible, where the act was to take place. As one of approximately 175 men, he entered into a large stone chamber. Inside along the far wall were a series of doors seemingly leading nowhere in particular. Upon all four walls were painted large murals of females depicted in strange poses and dress. He had never seen anything quite like these women, but somehow the pictures pleased him in a strange way. Below the portraits were females much closer to those he was accustomed to. These were undressing each man and burning his clothes in a pyre at the centre of the room. Then before each man entered one of the doors at the far end, the women would perform the ritual of cleansing, pouring steaming water from the pot above the pyre over the man's head and reciting some type of prayer that he couldn't quite make out.

When his turn had come, Special Forces Officer 21-387 was stripped and led to a door. As the scalding stream poured over his head, he struggled to hear," All goodness comes from Drakon," over the sizzle of water boiling off his skin. He stepped forward and placed his hand before him to prevent himself from walking into the door ahead of him. As it was about to open he paused, slightly apprehensive about what may lie on the other side. In that instant it struck him that he had heard the women's prayer before, but, like something partially seen through a thick fog only to disappear as if it never existed, the thought passed, and he was inside a much smaller room. This room was all in white. The brightness of the colour blinded him as he struggled to make out any objects that might break its monotony. To his left he found a bed, but could barely make out its white sheets in the white room. Hoping to regain some semblance of reality he reached out for the bed only to fall into a seated position upon it. He clasped his sweaty hands over his closed eyes and savoured the precious blackness.

The blackness was cut by a click. The noise startled him, and his hands fell to his lap. Again blinded by the sudden whiteness, his eyes struggled, darting furtively around the room for whatever had stolen them from the dark. Almost instinctively, he found himself looking at a female closing a second door behind her. This one, however, was much more like one of those in the murals of the last room. Red-brown waterfalls cascaded down a face of softest ivory into two shimmering green pools below. His gaze followed the cascade to strawberry lips that called to his own without saying a word, and further to delicate curves that he wanted more than anything to reach out and touch, but would surely shatter if he did. More beauty than he had ever known sat upon pillars more beautiful than the ancient redwoods yet more delicate than a rare tropical flower. At once he knew that he was dead, and this was heaven, as the most precious of all the angels reached out to him with a hand much like his own, but so much more in its perfect form, like a exquisite ruby-tipped crystal. A foreign object moved to block his view. At first angered, he realized it was his own hand reaching for hers. When they touched, a calm rushed through his whole body even as a wave of passion struck him. They were suddenly together, and he and she ceased to exist, becoming one. As their union began, one final thought reached out to his mind: ". . . all goodness comes from Drakon . . .."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Taking up Space . . .

So I says to myself, "Joe, . . .", that's what I calls myself, Joe, "Joe," I says, (and, no, Joe isn't my name, but that's what I calls myself), "Joe, I'm bored."

"Well, what do you want me to do about it, Joe?" I answer.

"I dunno, Joe, . . . maybe we can start posting that webcomic?"

I shoot back, "But it's too late on a worknight to start drawing it.

"Maybe we could just Tweet something?"

"I'm feeling chattier than 140 characters, " said Joe. "What about just typing something on our blog?"

"But you promised me that you wouldn't post anything without a picture to go with it!" Joe shouted, not really angry so much as tired and a little annoyed.

I replied, "Well, what if we linked to one of our pictures at www.artwanted.com/l_okeefe?"

"But, Joe," I retorted, "the line at the bottom says the all the content on this page is copywrited to you and me--or me and you, I always forget--and www.artwanted.com/l_okeefe is all fan art!"

"Yeah," I said dejectedly, "I guess that won't work.

"What if we just post that old sketch of our character Morning Star? You know, the one in front of the Toronto skyline?"

"Oh, yeah!" I jumped back to life at the suggestion, "That could work!"

"Now let's get out of here before myself shows up, . . . I can't stand that guy!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Day After . . .

3-How We Got Where We Are

In days past, Earth had seen its share of good times and bad. After five world wars and near desolation due to a poisoned environment, not to mention the struggles first between humans and their renegade computers and then humans and their own genetic offspring, Earth weighed the minuses against the pluses of a supposed golden age, and eventual utopia, and determined that the humans had to go. Massive geological upheavals, flooding, electrical storms, radioactive clouds, and global warming forced civilization into the stars. Finally, it was as aliens that humanity reached its longed for greatness, even amongst countless other races it eventually encountered and befriended or destroyed.

Colonizing most of the known Milky Way Galaxy, humans established a new planet, Jordan, in the Misagi-Ho III System, as home. Much like their former home, many of those unhappy about their eviction remained there creating a population of ten billion in a three-hundred-billion- member family.

Having gone so far as to make the leap to the next nearest galaxy, Andromeda, humanity decided that their alternate name of "Earthlings" must once more be proven, and the old homeworld was reinhabited, as technology eventually triumphed over hardship. Now, however, Earth was reserved for very few humans and became a refuge for genies and A.I.s, the genetically and technologically advanced. In spite of this, the population grew to rival that of Jordan.

Like any good neighbour, humans wished to have a nicer yard than the family next door. And so, in a show of solidarity and strength, Arcana, newly elected Premier of the Human Alliance, the first white human male to hold the post, decided that the Capitol should be returned to Earth. Human race supremacists answered with violent outbursts. Feeling this stinging backlash and taking it to heart, genie and A.I. protectionist groups responded in kind, angering each other in the process. One act of violence led to another. One earthyear later, Arcana declared martial law on one hundred and thirty-three worlds and a state of emergency on the remaining colony planets. Three hours later, he was assassinated. Ragnarok began as Utopia crumbled.

Some planets found their entire populations extinguished, either exterminated or rendered incapable of providing for themselves. These planets were called by some the fortunate ones, as others were simply destroyed along with every organism on them. Some survived, but never intact. The Human Alliance simply ceased to exist, now nothing more than a few splintered planets and empty space junk.

By some standards, Earth fared better. After fifteen earthyears of fighting, Drakon came. Like a dark angel, a force unlike any seen before swept over the planet. It succeeded in uniting the genie forces that had been crushed early in the fighting due to lack of organization. Unlikely allies came in the form of sympathetic and unsympathetic human forces. You see, witnessing the devastation of the Alliance, an earlier defeated alien race attempted to use the opportunity to grab the human homeworld for their own. From this came Earth's "salvation" as the alien, A.I., and remaining human forces were crushed and the planet united; one nation under Drakon.

Sliding into place at the head of all, Drakon's rise was as enshrouded as the being himself - if "himself" indeed is appropriate. A dark heart cloaked in darkness, using myth as deftly as any of the great prophets of the past, and possessing a mind like few dictators before, he - or it - took the rabble from the gutter and gave it purpose. Creating a new army from the discarded, the weak, and the frail, and using abilities termed magical by those not in the know; providing the knowledge and tools necessary for its competition.

The alien armada was first to fall when their electrical systems mysteriously failed. The attack was as immediate as it was deadly. A newly found alliance of all of Earth's forces rushed upon its weakened foe. The mothership was breached first, and the head cut off. Then, like the hydra of Greek myth, the stump was burnt in a nuclear fire to prevent two new ones from growing. The flailing arms and legs then were easily dissected by the humans and A.I.s, who then collapsed from exhaustion, their own systems having caught the "bug" that the aliens had brought. Their carcases were taken in by Drakon who asked only for undying obedience and worship in exchange for the favour.

So now the new god of the planet stands over a beaten people. Drakon's castle sits upon a site in a place once called Manhattan, though it hasn't gone by that name in years. "The 'world's greatest city' for the world's greatest ruler," is how Drakon might put it, if Drakon ever spoke. Oh, don't get me wrong, Drakon does have the power of speech, presumably from a mouth somewhere under his black, jewelled cowl - after all, he does have eyes, which look out on a world only slightly less devoid of life as they themselves, and even horns, just it is usually devoted to speeches and orders and the like. Even were he to engage in conversation, there would be no one to do so with, as friends were a weakness not possessed by the dread king. He had chosen a consort, however, as it seemed most successful rulers needed, but somehow Facade seemed as empty as her name would imply. Such a shame, though, that a fine sense of humour would go to waste. You see, Drakon had chosen his home to be on the exact geographic location that had once been the address of a group known as the United Nations. Fitting yet somewhat ironic.

Here Drakon can now get up in the morning and walk out on his balcony and look over a utopic world where disease and crime have been eliminated - usually at the source, as capital punishment is the preferred method of both surgery and imprisonment. Population growth is strictly regulated - ". . . no worries about famine . . ." I believe were his exact words - as the cloning banks had fallen into disrepair, and the repair technology had been outlawed. The "old-fashioned method" was now necessary. This usually created what Drakon termed "unnecessary attachments" however, so the human male population was virtually exterminated as were all genetically-engineered females. This provided a bond between the remaining races in a mutual need for the other but also insured a distance between the sexes for at least several generations.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Arcadians #1

So this is the cover of my comic book.

Well, issue #1 of my comic book, anyway.

And, as I type this, a stack of the first--or second, depending on how you look at it--printing sits on a cupboard in the next room, waiting to see if I have the guts to try to sell it

Hmm . . . .

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Day After . . .

( . . . and thanks for the help, Harv! . . .)

2-The Devil’s Treehouse

Space Station Andromeda-Class XXIII, had been heralded as the greatest advance in space travel at the time of its inception. A fully operational living environment for thousands, a full ten lightyears from the nearest colonized planet, Powell. The most advanced research facilities of the nearest fifty-seven solar systems. Full A.I. operating systems. And most importantly, all of these facilities occupying a structure held in stationary orbit about the crushing pull of black hole 32A, aka the "Bowl."

The space station had taken fifteen years to build - ten years longer than anticipated. Thousands of what the Earth government termed "glitches" were blamed. What was known was that over one hundred men, women, "genies", and A.I.'s died in its construction; more than the space station program had lost since "The Contact," when humans learned that they weren't alone in the universe, as they attempted to convert an inhabited moon into a useable vessel. Even after it had been commissioned, these "glitches" had continued until it had all but been abandoned when it was deemed obsolete.

In spite of the fact that Ragnarok had reduced the Earth Commonwealth to all but a few sparse planets and space stations, including government headquarters on Earth and former headquarters on Jordan, which were now splintered in the devastation of the war, S.S.A.C.XXIII still rises up as a glowing sphere over the lip of the Bowl; so named because, although a fracture in space possessed of no matter, looking down from the space station, it appeared almost like a giant black bowl as objects and even light itself were pulled in, swirling almost like puffs of wheat in a child's cereal, spun round and round by a spoon that would ultimately deliver them to be devoured and destroyed as if they had never existed. A closer inspection of the station reveals an odd site. The oddly purple "gleam" that had been apparent before can now be seen to be only off the upper portions of the large central globe, outer wheel, and the three "spokes" once used as passages between the two. The lower portions seemingly cease to exist, as any light at that point can no longer escape the pull of the Bowl. Even in its heyday, the station always appeared lifeless to all but an A.I. as windows and portals were deemed useless in the pull of a black hole, and the only breaks in the unendingly cold metal surface were odd, plate-like antennas, less easily broken in the stress of an unyielding gravitational pull. One portal provided access through the top of the globe--if such references as top and bottom, up and down matter in such an environment--to boarding scientists and explorers and, later, weary star travellers when the station had become little more than a way station, paradoxically providing life-giving sustenance where life was never meant to exist. Even the sight of approaching ships and far off stars would flicker like ghosts as their images were sucked into the bowl like all other life signs save the odd structure hung unmoving in this, the coldest region of space.

In this hellish environment, Space Station Andromeda Class XXIII gained the appropriate nickname "The Devil's Treehouse," where the gods could merely rent a room - from which they had ultimately been evicted.

If one were to enter this treehouse, they would find, much like in a treehouse he or she had abandoned in youth, the toys of a child: cavernous rooms filled to capacity with rows of keyboarded computers, burned-out lights and signals and buzzers, labs lined with beakers and test-tubes and vials, and probes and scopes that once told of the power of the life now as dead as its toys. Were one to pass through these walls they could but marvel at the darkness that can fill an airless, man-made void; only the low hum of an ancient engine meant to preserve a tenuous, life-giving environment amid the antithesis leaves any trace of that life.

It had once been believed that nothing could resist the irresistible forces found only within a black hole. Imagine, if you will, a collection of matter--the same material from which all we know and do not know is composed, if only a bit less organized and a bit more dense - filling an area millions of times the size of our home, the Earth. From this collection spews light, energy, and warmth, giving life and creating life where none once existed; in essence, a life in itself, herself. Long before humans dared to reach out and touch this heavenly body, they dared to peer at her and her brothers and sisters in the sky, painting them, wishing upon them, singing of them, and naming them: stars. However, in daring to live, they also dared to die. And so each star eventually does die, imploding in upon itself. As a drowning man struggles to survive, clawing and grabbing for life, so to does the dying star, reaching out for life, hoping against hope for salvation. When a life burns as brightly as a star, however, none but a universe may dream to save it, and the black hole is the last child of the star. Heaven becomes hell.

And the Bowl is hell.

Then, one day, the day that concerns us, when the story begins, the inexplicable occurs. If anyone remained upon the space station that day, and if they could somehow pierce the untelling darkness below, they would witness a "crack" in the bottom of the Bowl. A crack that would begin to open up, almost as if something were trying to force its way through. Indeed, they would soon learn that something was not only trying, but succeeding in passing from death to life. A hand, clawing and grabbing, would appear. The realization that would occur would be that a long dead star was giving birth one last time. Or perhaps the devil is merely coming from hell to play in his treehouse.

A final sign of life echoes from the station as a forgotten command issues a signal to home, and the devil, deciding his plaything no longer pleases him, tosses it aside. Somehow sensing that the final spark he allowed to issue forth may lead him to more playthings, he catches its scent and chases after it.