Sunday, June 30, 2013

July 2013 Spaceports & Spidersilk Cover-Art

My artwork depicting the murderous River Tees hag Peg Powler has finally been published! It appears on the cover of the July 2013 issue of Spaceports & Spidersilk.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Azure Lion Productions CafePress Shop

I have resurrected my Azure Lion Productions CafePress shop. I figured, since I sell through Zazzle AND RedBubble, I should give CafePress another try. And what's the first image I added to my CafePress Shop? Why, no less than my best-selling design, "Red Dragon of Wales", that's what!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Darker Side of Fairy Lore

Many people today think of fairies as rainbow-winged pixies prancing about in a sylvan wonderland. However, traditional tales about the denizens of the fairy realm spoke of beings and practices that were far from benign. In the minds and hearts of country folk across Europe, fairies posed a real and dangerous threat to life and well-being.

Although many fairies held an ambivalent attitude towards mortals, some maintained an undying hatred of all humankind. The Scottish called the various types of malevolent fairy the Unseelie Court. This unsavoury collection of malignant entities contained the evil trooping fairies known as the Host or Sluagh, as well as a variety of solitary miscreants.

The unsanctified dead banded together during the darkest hours of the night in the roving host known as the Sluagh. These wretches flew in clouds above the Earth and captured unprotected mortals. Those unlucky enough to fall into their clutches would be dragged along, beaten, and made to fling paralysing elf-shot at cattle and other humans.

Shod in heavy iron boots, Redcap haunted ruined peel towers on the Scottish Border. This fiery-eyed goblin carried a pikestaff in his left hand and periodically re-dyed his crimson hat in human blood. Impervious to ordinary weapons, this vicious fiend could only be routed by Holy Scripture or the sight of a cross.

Duergars, the black dwarfs of northern England, hated mankind with a bitter passion. These taciturn beings clad in lambskin coats, moleskin trousers, and moss caps would use illusion to fool any unwary traveller into taking a fatal misstep. Only those wise in their ways could avoid the wrath of the duergars.

Female beings of a decidedly malicious nature lurked beneath the waters of various English rivers. Peg Powler resided in the Tees, while Jenny Greenteeth inhabited Lancashire streams. Grindylow and Nelly Long-Arms were similar water-demons found in other waterways across the English landscape. All delighted in drowning and even devouring naughty children who strayed too close to the water's edge.

Monstrous trolls troubled the people of western Scandinavia. These hirsute beasts dwelt in mountain caves and preyed upon humans.  They were only seen during the hours between dusk and dawn, for the light of the sun would turn then to stone.

Underground spirits known as kobolds plagued German mines. They harassed miners as they worked, frustrating human attempts to find precious metals by stealing tools, meals, and water, and replacing silver ore with that of nickel or arsenical cobalt. However, there were times when kobolds could be unexpectedly helpful.

Bogies, bogles, and bug-a-boos delighted in causing mischief. Some merely played annoying pranks, while others attempted to inflict grievous harm through their malicious tricks. Many, such as the Hedely Kow, possessed the ability to change shape. This trait was often used to torment unsuspecting mortals.

Even those fairies with a kindlier disposition towards humanity still posed a hazard to mankind. Beneficial brownies could become troublesome boggarts if their work was taken for granted by ungrateful farmers. Prying into the secrets of the fair folk was dangerous business, often rewarded with bruises, blights, blindness, or other ills. A mortal partaking of fairy food while visiting their enchanted realm risked eternal entrapment. The fair folk were also responsible for a variety of thefts, including the theft of mortal children.

A coveted child, especially one that lacked the protection provided by Holy charms or cold iron, was at risk of being whisked away by the fay. A changeling would be left in the babe's stead. This replacement may have been a wooden stock imbued with fairy glamour to look alive, a deformed fairy child abandoned by its own mother, or a cantankerous senile fairy disguised as a youngster. In any case, the changeling drained away all of the good fortune of the human household until it was driven from the home, usually through the use of fire or heat. Then the mortal child would be returned unharmed.

Any encounter with the fair folk, "good" or "bad", could be perilous, given their alien morality and emotions. Mortals had to tread with care through a countryside inhabited by a wide variety of potentially dangerous beings. Those that ignored the proper respect toward the "good neighbours", or who didn't protect themselves from their powers, faced possible injury or death. Humans that sought to learn fairy secrets faced savage retribution.  Perhaps the best advice regarding the fay came from the Fairy Queen herself, in what she told William Butler Yeats:

"Be careful, and do not seek to know too much about us”.

Further Reading

An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs.

Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee.

A Field Guide to Irish Fairies by Bob Curran.

The Celtic Twilight by W. B. Yeats.

(Originally published in Doorways Magazine, Killer Holiday Issue, Issue 4, January 2008.)

Copyright © 2008 Richard H. Fay

Cloud Photos

A small thunderstorm came through Brunswick last night. As the storm departed, the setting sun reflected off and refracted within the clouds in rather dramatic fashion. I tried my best at capturing the sight in a few photos, but the human eye picked up the various colours better than did the camera lens. Still, here are my photos:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Some Thoughts on Poses in Art

I suppose some people might have issues with the pose of my sorceress in "Conjuring the Dragon", but it's not meant to be a static pose. The sorceress isn't just standing there; she is in motion, casting her conjuring spell. Actually, I based the pose on a drawing of a cowgirl in action in Barbara Bradley's book DRAWING PEOPLE: HOW TO PORTRAY THE CLOTHED FIGURE. I doubt Ms. Bradley had set out to draw a sexist image of a cowgirl.

Anyway, my point is, art is not necessarily all about capturing still-life; art can be about capturing a fleeting moment, an action snapshot, as it were. People in motion may be posed differently, more dynamically, than people standing still. Those criticising the poses of women in fantasy art do have to take this fact into consideration. Those who know anything about art should know this.

Conjuring the Dragon
Cover-art for OG's Speculative Fiction 32, September 2011
Copyright © 2011 Richard H. Fay

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Few More Thoughts About the SFWA Sexism Brouhaha

Ha! Ha, ha! I saw a comment in one discussion about the whole SFWA sexism mess that I just HAD to steal, because it sums up my own feelings SO well:

"It seems that many people associated with the SFWA have waaaay too much time on their hands."

Yep, that's what it seems like to me, too! (Says the fantasy and science fiction artist who often depicts women in his art in practical garb and reasonable poses, and one whose wife and life partner of 23 years is the major breadwinner of the household.)

Oh, I gather that some of this sexism stink is over art by Jeff Easley? Has anyone asked Jeff Easley (a rather successful fantasy artist) what he thinks of all this?

BTW, I had heard of Jeff Easley LONG before I heard of any of the writers involved in this latest genre brouhaha. I have been a fan of his art for YEARS. To be quite honest, I wouldn't know of most of these loud-mouthed writers if I didn't keep running across their on-line blogs, comments, and complaints.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Crazy Lawsuit Win, but the Craziness Might not be Over

My daughter and her boyfriend won the crazy lawsuit over their legal adoption of a cat from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. The judge ordered that plaintiffs' motion for summary judgement is denied and further ordered that defendants (my daughter and her boyfriend) are granted reverse summary judgement and the complaint is dismissed.

Not that this means the craziness is over. There is the slight chance that the plaintiffs could appeal the judge's ruling. Also, we gave the main plaintiff in the case the nickname of "Crazy" for a reason. She has already exhibited a pattern of harassment, which was reported to the police on several occasions.

Alas, my daughter and her boyfriend were too kind. They never had Crazy arrested. If Crazy or any of her family members or cronies show up at my place of residence screaming and threatening (which they might), no second chances; I WILL have her or any of her family members or cronies arrested!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Whose Opinions Matter to Me as a Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists/Illustrator-For-Hire

Speaking as a science fiction and fantasy artist/illustrator-for-hire who has composed SF&F works on assignment, I'm going to be perfectly honest with all those writers out there who feel that SF&F art should be done a certain way: in my mind, the ONLY writers who have a legitimate say regarding what I draw and how I draw it are those writers/publishers/editors who hire me to do artwork or illustrations.

What About the Artists?

Question for the writers on all sides of the "women in SFF art" debate: has anyone asked the artists what they think of all this? After all, the artists are the ones actually producing the art.

It seems to me that most of the complaining and debating is being done by writers. I could be wrong; maybe writers are just complaining and debating the loudest, and their voices are the ones I'm hearing the most.