Saturday, May 30, 2009

"The Faces" Illustration in ABANDONED TOWERS

© 2009 Richard H. Fay

The above illustration has just been published in the on-line version of Abandoned Towers, alongside my dark speculative poem "The Faces" (published in Abandoned Towers October 2008). Eventually, I want to illustrate many of my poems appearing in the e-zine, in part because black-and-white versions of these same illustrations will also be appearing in a work-in-progress (if all goes according to plan). Submitting them for publication in Abandoned Towers gives me a chance to showcase the full-colour versions as well. Of course, I could just post the colour versions to my blogs, web site, and DeviantArt gallery, but I find the idea of zine publication more appealing somehow. Besides, Crystalwizard can always slap the images on merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle store, too.

My illustration for "The Faces" also shows the benefit of a change in tools. Instead of using Pitt artist's pens for all of my inking, I've switched to Pigma micron pens for most of my line work. The Pigma microns produce finer lines, and yet their ink seems to scan better than that in the Pitt pens, leaving less "touch-up" of poorly scanned lines in the colouring phase. It makes my job that much easier.

By the way, in case anyone is interested in something weird and creepy, "The Faces" is actually available on several types of merchandise in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store (just click on "Artist Richard H. Fay", and then click on "Recent").

Friday, May 29, 2009

Niteblade Art Blog: Magick & Fantasy

I just added a new entry to the Niteblade art blog: "Magick & Fantasy: the Artworks of Lori Baratta". A full-time professional artist and illustrator, Lori creates everything from New Age and mythical designs to portraits of people and pets and contemporary fine art. Much of her work definitely has a magical quality.

Check out a few samples of Lori's work at the Niteblade art blog! You can also find products featuring her designs at Lori Baratta Artworks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art , Social Responsibility, and a Moral Compass

Recent discussions about what the job of an artist is supposed to be, and the possible application of social responsibility to artistic endeavours, have made me think about these issues once again. It's a tough topic for me to trudge through unsullied, a regular quagmire. I'm still torn two ways, but I will try to present my thoughts and feelings on the matter in a somewhat coherent fashion.

I've talked about creativity and social responsibility before, and received heated criticism from certain corners of the artistic sphere for daring to suggest that writers and artists might want to practice some sort of social responsibility before deciding how far to go, before deliberately setting out to offend for the sake of offending. Some claimed my suggestion of self-imposed limits strayed too close to that dreaded concept of censorship, even though I merely suggested that artists and writers place limits on themselves out of some sense of social responsibility. Never did I suggest the expansion of institutional limitations, although such limitations do already exist (to protect children and the like).

And yet, when I suggested that it's wrong for writers and artists to tell other writers and artists what they should and should not create, that they are perhaps placing too many external restrictions on the freedom of expression of others, I got criticized for that as well. Perhaps the criticisms of my concerns over these attempts at peer-pressure restrictions came from different corners of the artistic sphere than the criticisms over my calls for social responsibility. Perhaps some merely took issue with my use of the word "censorship", a term already used by others to argue against my point about social responsibility.

However, taken together, these two incidents seem to betray a general inconsistency of thought and attitude. In my view, it becomes a real Catch-22 situation, damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't. Perhaps certain artists and writers are just all too eager to deal out damnation (or condemnation), while most are all too likely to suffer it themselves.

Anyway, I truly believe one can reveal truths, even make readers or viewers squirm, without blatantly setting out to offend certain groups of readers or viewers. A true artist should be able to walk that line between somewhat disturbing and downright offensive. Anything over that line becomes cheap tricks, a mutated perversion of art relying on shock and disgust to get attention, rather than using true substance to make a point.

Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that artists should indeed have a moral compass, but in a free society, that moral compass should probably be internal rather than external. Unfortunately, you can't allow for broad creative freedoms without also allowing for the potential creation of offensive materials. And as has been pointed out to me more than once, more often than not, someone, somewhere will likely find something offensive within a work of art, whether that art be visual or textual. As the old saying goes, you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

By the way, in my humble opinion, art doesn't always have to have a deeper message beyond what the art actually portrays. It can contain such messages, and often does, but art for art's sake is just as valid as art for some higher purpose. To say otherwise is to ignore a multitude of masterpieces by diverse artists that did not necessarily set out to radically changed the world, but simply set out to make the world a slightly better place to live in through the creation of a thing of beauty . Perhaps that does change the world after all, but it does so by subtle means rather than in-your-face ones. Sometimes subtlety does work, in its own subtle ways.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Own Voice

Occasionally, I receive some criticism of my poetic works for my choice of words and style. My use of somewhat archaic, certainly less-than-modern, language can garner some rather negative feedback. And while such criticism is perfectly valid, I stand by my creative choices.

Why do I continue down such a path even after receiving repeated suggestions that I should do otherwise? Why do I seem to be ignoring the possibly reasonable advice of my critics?

Because, in most instance, my verbiage continues to work for me. Because, if I wrote poetry the same as everyone else, my poetry would sound the same as that penned by everyone else. And I don't want to do that. I want to be true to that voice in my head, not the voice others try to put in my mouth. I may be a stubborn fool at times, but I'll keep going my own way.

I understand that my poetry might not work for all readers. I know that it might not be right for all venues. However, I think I can live with that. Besides, my muse might not allow for a radical change of voice anyway!

(Yeah - when in doubt, blame it on the muse. It might be horribly cliche, but I don't really care.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses

The Monsters Next Door horror poetry anthology Scattered Verses, Moonlit Curses is now available for purchase HERE. It contains, along with the darkly poetic verse of several other horror poets, six of my own dark works. "Nightmares Fell my Fantasy" and "Howling on the Moor" are previously unpublished, while "The Accursed Castle", "Life is the Life", "The Incubus", and "Your Bloody Face" have been previously published in various venues.

"Nightmares Fell my Fantasy" in particular went off in an interesting creative direction. It mixes medieval fantasy or even historical imagery with a definitely horrific bent. I guess I decided to combine at least a couple of my interests with this one!

"Howling on the Moor" is fairly standard lycanthropic fare, with a slight twist. Let me just say I had the hunting techniques of mundane wolves in mind when I penned the piece.

Buy the antho! Read the poems! Suffer the eldritch chill of moonlit curses!

Submissions Wanted: Niteblade Art Blog

Although I've been quiet about it lately, because I haven't had anything to post, I am still the art blogger over at Niteblade. Unfortunately, the zine had some problems a while back, and the previous art blogs were lost. However, the art blog is still supposed to be an ongoing feature in the Niteblade News section of the zine's web site.

Weird thing is, I've received a few queries, but then I've gotten no replies to my follow-up e-mails asking for actual examples of art to feature in the blog. This leaves me scratching my head in puzzlement. I can't post examples of art if I have no examples to post.

Come on, all you fantasy and horror artists out there, I know what it's like to prefer payment for your artistic endeavours, but a little free publicity never hurt (and it has been known to help). And that's what we're offering at the Niteblade art blog, a bit of exposure for up-and-coming horror and fantasy artists. So send a few examples of your work (previously published is fine as long as you retained the rights to your work), along with a little bit about yourself, to:

(Full submission guidelines can be found HERE.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Venomous Dragons

Gila monsters and beaded lizards were once thought to be the only venomous lizards. Well, you can now apparently add Komodo dragons to that list:

Scientists discover deadly secret of Komodo's bite
(link to article from the AFP on Yahoo News)

Come to find out, their bite contains not only an array of deadly bacteria, but venom as well. (Or is that instead of?)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ifs and Whys

Answer me this...

If you view me as ignorant,
Why watch where my mind goes?

If I be just a hopeless fool,
Why follow my fool's rants?

If you question my intellect,
Why cross wits with a dunce?

If I be such a simpleton,
Why bother with my thoughts?

If you think me a stupid dolt,
Why care what I might say?

If my opinion matters not,
Why regard it one bit?

If you feel I speak mere nonsense,
Why listen to these words?

If my life be a total loss,
Why tarry in the wreck?

If you consider me worthless,
Why waste your precious time?

If I be a nonentity,
Why pay me any heed
At all?

© 2009 Richard H. Fay

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Freedom of Speech and Expression

I thought freedom of speech and freedom of expression, freedoms always strongly espoused by most creative types, meant someone is free to create something that others disagree with. I assumed they meant that creative types were pretty much free to create what they want artistically, regardless of who thinks the resulting works are "politically correct" or "politically incorrect".

Isn't that how the argument goes. Or am I missing something here?

Must creative types have their creativity restricted by what other creative types consider right and wrong, pass or fail? Must they invariably remain within the safe bounds of political correctness, or face the wrath of the culture police?

Previously, when I suggested that creative types not set out to offend, I was told that this amounted to censorship. From what I heard from certain corners of the creative world, any restrictions on creative expression are wrong, and not to be tolerated.

I truly don't think you can have it both ways. Either you accept the fact that creative individuals have the right to create potentially wrong, offensive, or politically incorrect material, or you accept a form of censorship (or creative policing, depending on how you look at it).

Of course, others are free to disagree with certain concepts in certain creative works. However, may I suggest you take care how far you carry that criticism. Suggesting that a creative work should never have been created to begin with strays awfully close to the long, dark shadow of censorship (at least, according to what I was told before).

What am I getting out of much of what I've seen lately? To heck with threats to creativity from the government and the public at large; I think creative types nowadays walk a treacherous minefield laid down by their own peers. One misstep, and BOOM, blasted by the PC bomb!

Personally, I think someone has the right to write something stupid. Perhaps they shouldn't write such stupid things to begin with, but that's not for me to decide. Of course, I also have the right to call something stupid stupid. However, I don't have the right to call for all writers to stop writing stupid things. In a society with creative freedoms, I don't have the right to dictate what others should write.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"When Wizards Dream at Night" in TALES OF THE TALISMAN

There was a large envelope in the mail today. It contained my contributor's copy of the Spring 2009 Issue of Tales of the Talisman containing my fantasy poem "When Wizards Dream at Night". I recognized several names in the ToC. That's always a nice thing to see.

However, I happened to be taking a look at this very same poem a little while back and I saw something not so nice to see; I noticed a mistake. Oh no, not that! I actually used the wrong homophone for a certain word; I had typed "reign in the wayward dreams" instead of "rein in the wayward dreams". And this error got past me, my "first readers" (my wife and daughter), and the editor. So now the poem with "reign" instead of "rein" is in print. (I think I probably noticed it too late to try to get it changed.) Bugger!

Moral of the story - things like this happen. Typos happen, word misuses happen, verbiage mistakes happen, even to the most careful and conscientious writer.

Of course, it still bothers the heck out of me. I'm just like that. And I should know better. Shame on me!

Excuse me while I give myself twenty lashes with a wet noodle. Thwack! Splat! Thwack! Splat!...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Poem and Illustration Accepted at ILLUMEN

I received some good news today. My poem "At the Wheel" and my illustration "Tom Tit Tot" have been accepted for publication in the Spring 2010 issue of Illumen. This will be my third poem in an issue of Illumen ("The Haunted Isle" and my scifaiku "rainbow against black" both appeared in the Spring 2008 issue), and it will be the fifth publication of my Tom Tit Tot illustration. The drawing previously appeared in Flashing Swords, Abandoned Towers, Macabre Cadaver, and Horror Bound. I guess it's a popular image.

I'm always especially glad when my verse appears in a journal dedicated to poetry. It makes me feel that I may actually know what I'm doing. Sometimes I do wonder. At least I know the poetry isn't simply being bought as a filler between stories.

Anyway, this poem/illustration combo happens to be one of those instances where the image inspired the poem, instead of the other way around. I was prodded into writing a poem based on the illustration. Although the editor that did the prodding didn't think the end product would work in her publication, it certainly seemed strong enough that I sent it right back out after a slight revision. And it was picked up by the very next market.

So, I'm starting to already build next year's list of forthcoming publications. Now I just need to get a few things accepted for the intervening period. I already have publications slated for May, June, July, August, (possibly) October, and November.

Have I let my roll go to my head? Am I asking too much when I wish it will continue into 2010, shooting for a third year? I guess I'll just have to see what the future brings.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cover and Colouring Page

While I was working on the divider art for Abandoned Towers/Cyberwizard Productions, Crystalwizard suggested that I should do a cover for Abandoned Towers. Not one to turn down a golden opportunity, I began work on a cover image as soon as I had a chance. It took me some time to work out exactly what to do, but at the core of the drawing I always knew I wanted to have a sea serpent similar to the one I did for the divider art. Since Crystalwizard brought up the whole idea of a cover right after I sent her the coloured in sea serpent for use in the Abandoned Towers Zazzle Store, my mind continued down that road, artistically speaking.

I finished inking the drawing yesterday. I e-mailed Crystalwizard the line drawing today, as a preview to what I intended to do for the cover. She likes the line drawing so much that she wants to use it in the magazine as a colouring page. That is in addition to my full-colour art on the cover! And Crystalwizard has suggested we do a colouring page as a regular feature. Considering I possess a collection of Dover and Bellerophon colouring books that I use as reference and inspiration, I find the idea of doing such images myself to be quite exciting.

My art is certainly going places I never dreamed it would go. And that's a good feeling indeed. I would feel even better about it if I wasn't currently suffering from a cold. My daughter is always good about sharing, at least when it comes to her germs!

I've Become a Deviant...

at least on deviantART, anyway! Meaning, I've set up a profile and gallery on deviantART HERE. Certain pieces from my gallery are also available as prints through their site.

I figure any effort that gets my art viewed by more eyes is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Temporal Crack" in APHELION

My scifaiku "temporal crack" now appears in the May 2009 Issue of Aphelion. This piece combines two of my favourite things, dinosaurs and knights, into one compact little poem. As a matter of fact, you could say it even has a little bit of dragon thrown in for good measure.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Infinity Worm

© 2009 Richard H. Fay

Infinity Worm
by Richard H. Fay
Ink on bristol board

The one problem I face when I compose unsolicited artwork; I really don't know what to do with pieces that end up getting rejected. This happens to be one of the five pieces of "filler art" I sent to Dreams and Nightmares. The editor bought two of the five; the other three, including this one, remain homeless.

Over the past two years or so, I've developed a pretty good idea of what sorts of speculative poetry markets are out there. I have few problems finding other potential markets for rejected poems. Finding potential markets for certain pieces of rejected art, however, still proves troublesome. I would probably do more unsolicited artwork if I knew what to do with those pieces that just don't make it into the market I originally made them for. As it is, I tend to do most of my art by request, avoiding this issue altogether.

Duotrope's Digest and Ralan's Webstravaganza are both wonderful market listings for writers, but what about artists? Anyone know of a Duotrope's for artists? Anyone know of any markets looking for filler-type art, art like my "Infinity Worm" (especially ones that don't mind the fact that I just posted the piece on my blog)?

Night Ship to Never Promotional Illustration

© 2008 Richard H. Fay

Night Ship to Never Promotional Illustration
by Richard H. Fay
Ink on bristol board, digitally coloured.

I created this illustration at the request of Crystalwizard as an accompaniment to David C. Kopaska-Merkel's poem "Home at Last" for use in materials promoting the Diminuendo Press publication of Night Ship to Never, a collaborative poetry collection by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans (the same collection I wrote a foreword for). I never really did give this one a title beyond "Night Ship Promo Illustration", which is unusual for me.