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I'll keep posting these updates because all y'all have said that you sincerely care. I do appreciate that. It's humbling to think my little illustrations have had that kind of effect, and that Aura and Katie are real enough to you for you to want to continue knowing them.

I finally figured out the art gallery theme for WordPress. So, Aura's gallery looks pretty darn good, if I say so myself. Sorry, DA, but my image display is much larger than yours. Image envy! Centering the page title and menu bar is the holdup. I have a question into the theme forum. It's just a question of if anyone logs in to read it who can answer it.

The larger display means a much more close examination of every render going forward. Is the character's foot actually on the ground, or can I slide a sheet of paper under her foot? Is that finger pressing into the handle of that coffee cup, or naturally bent around it? Those things slipped under the visual radar in a DA display.

Once Aura's site is ready, I'll just duplicate it for Katie and Erotic scenes. I may as well go ahead and make a fourth gallery for Fantasy work. It is my favorite genre. I'm long overdue for a "pack twenty characters into one scene" image.

And it's time to bite the proverbial bullet and read up on SEO. I need to for the main website anyway, but Katie deserves some actual internet search engine optimization.
  • Listening to: A nice quiet day.
  • Reading: The Dallas Morning News
  • Watching: Wife read something on her computer
  • Playing: Um?
  • Eating: Pancakes
  • Drinking: Fourth pot of coffee
Let me clarify what my plans are.

I'm not leaving DA. It was my original plan, but I'd miss you guys and gals too much. So, I'll stick around until the last one of you leaves and turns off the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'll be watching, faving, and commenting. I'll still accept commissions. Those are now wide open sexually (within limits). I won't be posting it, so why not? Making it isn't against The Law. And my gallery will remain as it is.

I simply won't be uploading any more art, except for birthday specials and holiday images. Those are acceptable to the Purity League and DA Admins. Today, that is. At some point, they'll ban Christmas. And I'll fire off some raised middle finger type images, aimed at the Purity League.

All art will now be uploaded to my own sites. You will be provided links when they're operational and have something worth looking at.

Bummer. I had planned to feature Stephanie on the cover of Playhero this month, but the Purity League will insist I aged a teenager just to take off her clothes. Yeah, Stephanie grows up during the course of the comic! Whysper is 18. See? That's why I won't be uploading any more art. You can't argue logic with someone who thinks with a sociology textbook and spews Ivory Tower theories.

But I am sorely tempted to make a render of full blown obvious penetration and post it without a filter. Just to raise the middle digit.
  • Listening to: It's quiet this morning.
  • Reading: It's too early to read!
  • Watching: The cats wonder why I'm awake.
  • Playing: Why am I awake at 5AM on Saturday?
  • Eating: Ugh!
  • Drinking: Coffee. Are you surprised?
What I am about to say will probably insult some people, and that is not my aim. I simply have a different personality and outlook on life.

I cannot remain here on DeviantArt and pursue what to me is a Policy of Appeasement. To me, that is exactly what I would be doing. Acquiescing to the desires of the Purity League by curtailing my erotic images (as mild as they may be and as few as I actually make). Oh, and it wasn't just the superheroine and bondage communities who were targeted, apparently. I've noticed a drastic decrease in submissions by the nude art groups I follow. What little they've published has mostly been of the topless nature. I suspect that the Purity League is endeavouring to prohibit even showing a woman's pubic mound and buttocks. So, watch yourselves. The noose is tightening, and there is nothing any of us can do to stop it.

So to me, leaving isn't quitting. Leaving is victory. Staying is quitting because I'd have to play by the Purity League's rules, knowing good and well that the DA Admins will support them and not me. There are such things as lost causes, and staying and trying to get a bunch of corporate masters who are focused solely on money to see reason is a lost cause.

If you think you can stay, fight, defeat the Purity League, and gain positive changes with the Admins and the TOS, go for it! I support you. I just don't share your optimism.

Leaving and taking everything "in house" is victory because I get to do what I darn well want, with the only TOS being my own conscience. And doing what I darn well want is one of my major life motivators, even if what I darn well want would qualify me as a Methodist.

The worst part of all? Two weeks ago, I extended my Core Membership for six months! Well, I've wasted money before. I mean, I once bought a Hyundai Excel, and I'm 6'4"!

All that said, efforts to bring it all in house are moving along at a rapid pace.

You know that the Valkyria comic site is going steady. The major news there is I said screw it! I'm switching to Comic Life 3 in the middle of Chapter Two. It's a heck of a lot easier to use than GIMP. Katie simply broke in with an announcement that the next page is going to be a bit of a shock.

The Valkyria Shorts site is fully operational. I'm not ready to give you the link yet. It only has three pages. I'll wait until you have something more substantial to read.

The Enchantress and the Warrior site is fully operational. Converting the images and description into a full graphic for the reader is easier than I suspected. It's just copy and paste. I already converted 25 of the 215. In about an hour. There are a few technical glitches. Rather, I don't like the way it looks. That's just a matter of finding the right line in the CSS and adjusting it. Overall, I think EW looks phenomenal, and much more readable on my site than it does here. Sorry, DA, but my navigation systems knock yours back to the 10th Century. BC.

The art galleries are the obstacle at the moment. I'm not nearly as familiar with portfolio and gallery themes on Wordpress as I am comic readers. So, it's a matter of installing one, testing it, and trying to configure it to do what I want. One at a time. And darned if they look on my site like they look in the demo! Durnit, I want three columns, not one. How did they do that? They do make slideshow plugins but beats me how I get them to show up.

Once I get that where I like it, that will be Aura's gallery. It's easy to duplicate it for Katie.

I may make a third gallery for erotic art. If everything else is coming in house, that may as well, too. Otherwise, it's at the mercy of Renderotica's rather shotgun pattern looking gallery. You'd have to sort through page after page of mostly clunky looking tentacle action to find anything of mine. I do have plans for Brooke and Cavewoman that are blatant violations of the DA TOS. But not my TOS!

Well, enjoy your weekend. We're going to finish decorating, then kick back. It's time for egg nog, bourbon, and holiday movies staring people who were dead before you were born. Heck, many of them were dead before I was born and I'm older than God's dog.
  • Listening to: The neighbors hanging pictures
  • Reading: CSS files
  • Watching: I'm not sure
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: I'll have a sub in about an hour
  • Drinking: Water
Ironically, it's Pearl Harbor Day in the USA. And I'm cooling off.

A bit.

As you no doubt witnessed, I do have a streak of anger. It takes tremendous effort to rile me, but when I'm riled, it takes even more effort to calm me down. Dad bequeathed that to me. I'm an absolutist about only one thing -- the Freedom of Speech. The Purity League used the Freedom of Speech as toilet paper, and the DA Admins let them get away with it. So, of course, I was furious.

I think I'll hang around, just to see what you post. I still won't upload any art again. It's too risky. Meaning, I'll be a lurker, but the rare variety that actually has a gallery and favorites.

The Purity League will get around to me eventually. I can think of two images that violate the TOS. Makes me proud! At some point in 2018, I expect the Purity League to declare a woman's bared nipple to be pornographic, and the Admins, who have the spines of jellyfish, will agree. Plus, I've lost all respect for the people who run DA. I no longer consider this site worthy of my efforts. It's a total joke. Deviant? Not by a long shot. Art? Not since DA changed its logo. But I'm not going to take anything down. I can't hinder the Purity League, but I won't help them, either.

You know, I owe the Purity League a nod of gratitude. They lit a fire under me and forced me to do something I should have done no later than this past January.

I am a professional. I have skin invested in the publishing world, as well as a significant amount of money, time, and a few headaches. Quite a few triumphs, too. While the books are my bread-and-butter, the images are promotional items. One day, they may be profitable if I compile them into art collections and graphic novels. So, as a professional, I need more direct control over my creations. Instead, I was using a public, community forum for my primary means of showcasing my characters, primarily Aura.

That's fine for a hobbyist, but I really haven't been a hobbyist all year. Using a community forum is limiting to someone like me. For instance, I have many friends who will not come over here to see my Aura images solely because of the name DeviantArt. They would if Aura were on Elfwood. Name connotations. Www.NJBMedia.com/aura_art (hypothetical site) is much easier to publicize than nathanomir.deviantart.com. The professional artists who used to inhabit DA when I joined in 2005 (this is my second account here) used DA to highlight their work, but never as their primary gallery. They had their own galleries on their own sites under their own names.

Now, thanks to the bullies knocking down our finely wrought sand castles, I have my own, too.

Valkyria Shorts is up and running, with the first three pages of "Gunfight at the Not-too-Bad Corral" already posted. And they're mine. All mine. Okay, so direct control is a bit illusional. Right click > save > whee. But having them on my own site gives me more copyright leverage. The only way for the Purity League to take the comic down is to buy Abaco for a cool $ 100 million.

I figured out what to do with The Enchantress and the Warrior, but I want to run the idea by Akizz to see if he's on board.

The art galleries will take more time. Setting up "Shorts" occupied most of yesterday. There's no real rush. As long as something is working by Monday, I'll be happy.

When the sites are all functional, and have some images to actually look at, I'll post the various links.

This doesn't mean I've forgiven the Purity League. Although, I pity them. I'd be ashamed to admit that I was so fragile that my whole world was destroyed by one image of a woman holding a dildo. What are these Special Sneauxflakes going to do with Tumblr, Imgur, and Twitter, where worse is easy to come by. Or come to.
  • Listening to: The town waking up
  • Reading: Searching for an art gallery program
  • Watching: I'm not sure
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: I hate breakfast
  • Drinking: Coffee. Are you surprised?
A major award of my applause to the first person who recognizes that the title of this post is also the title of a book from a movie, and can name the movie.*

Several of you have asked where I'm going, and what I'm arranging. So, I thought I'd share How I Did It. It's pretty simple, really. It just takes a bit of internet savvy and some minimal pocket change. You can do it for free, if you don't want a specified and personal domain name.

I have two separate websites, hosted by two separate servers. The first is nboutwell.com, hosted by Abaco, a subsidiary of Yahoo. The second is NJBMedia.com, hosted by Coffeecup. I also have a blog, nboutwell/me hosted by Wordpress dot com. All three will come into play.

I set up nboutwell.com ten years ago. My God! Has it been that long? No wonder I'm feeling old. In 2007, I hired out as both a professional editor and a genealogical researcher (yes, I have done that, too). I needed a website, so I went to Yahoo, and acquired my own domain name. It worked. A local oilman found me through that website and hired me to edit his family history. Let me just say that gig paid five digits, to the left of the decimal. After I shut down that operation to go to grad school, I kept the site and server. It's been through many incarnations, ending as Aura Lockhaven's domain in 2013, as well as the host of Dandelions.

This past January, when I prepared to self-publish the first Aura novel, A Path of Stones, I decided to totally overhaul her website.** Until then, it was more a fan-site for non-existent fans, complete with a clunky and cantankerous art gallery. She now needed something more professional that facilitated buying her books. I hard-coded the site with HTML. But between 2007 and 2017, the world shifted from desktop monitors to mobile devices. That required responsive site design. Enter Coffeecup! Their Responsive Site Designer program may be pricey at $169, but it is so easy to use and I've barely touched the surface of its capabilities.

There was just one problem. Abaco fought the .css files required for the site to be responsive. The three most important would not upload at all. No wonder Yahoo is declining! The best option was to let Coffeecup host the site on their own server, since it was specifically set up to host sites designed with their programs. Instead of migrating the old domain name, I launched a new one, NJBMedia. It sounds more professional. Besides, I plan to incorporate as an LLC in 2018. That will give me more copyright protection, more leveraging power should Jennifer Lawrence decide she wants to portray Aura on screen, and the ability to publish the books of others. Yes, I am a genuine Publisher of Record. I own the ISBNs on A Path of Stones. Amazon and Lulu are merely my printers.

I kept the old server and domain name for reasons I won't go into in public. Besides, it's really cheap. It turned out to have been a fortuitous decision.

In October, I wanted to put Valkyria online as a comic, not just here. Having had Dandelions online, I knew I wanted to use Wordpress dot Org as the hosting platform. Dot Org is different from Dot Com. I'll get to that in a minute. There was one problem. Coffeecup's server did not permit the use of Dot Org, or any other third party system. Good thing I kept the old site that did host Dot Org! Back to Abaco!

So, at the moment, here is how it's looking:

NJBMedia will be the home of Aura Lockhaven.

Nboutwell.com will be the home of Katie Ashe.

Nboutwell.com will be the home of art galleries for both.

Nboutwell/me (my Wordpress dot Com blog) will be the home of all non-character specific art.

Renderotica will be the home for when I really want to put Brooke or Cavewoman through their paces.

My total cost for all that? $ 20 a month. That doesn't include the initial outlay for Coffeecup's software, the two domain names, or a personalized name at Wordpress. Those were one-time purchases.

You can set up a similar system. Or you can go free.

Either way, I highly recommend the Wordpress platforms.

Dot Com is free (unless you want your own name and expanded customization). It is hosted by Wordpress's own servers. It's a traditional blog. As far as I know, they don't have many restrictions on mature content. At least, not nearly as many as WholesomeArt here. Their TOS is firmly written and does not include weasel words like DA, nor is it prone to be defined at the whim of whatever spineless moron is the Mod that night. People certainly do post nudity and sexual content over there because I see it all the time. Dot Com however is not very flexible. The themes available are not all that customizable. 

Dot Org is the better option. It's also free. It's highly customizable, and has more free themes than I can identify. It's open source, supported, and the community is great. Dot Org has a wonderful comic host theme called Comicpress, and a plug-in called Comic Easel. They're both designed by the same guy, and he has a wicked sense of humor. Valkyria uses both. Dot Org also has a slew of art gallery options. I'm sorting through sixteen of them. It's simply a matter of finding the one that does what I want it to do. To use Dot Org, however, the host server has to accept it. Hence, why I have Abaco.

That's my system and it certainly is not the only one available. I would definitely recommend you use your own blog, not something like Tumblr. You do want to be taken seriously.

Whatever you do, DO NOT use Go Daddy or Bluehost. Go Daddy will hijack your domain name, and hold you hostage. Bluehost has a highly deceptive billing system, advertising a cheap monthly rate, but charging you for an entire year at once.

The beauty is I get to post what I darn well want, without being at the mercy of a spineless DA moderator, murky TOS wording, or a fire-breathing Puritan watching my every move. My site. My money. My rules.

The drawback is I will probably lose the community and camaderie we've built up here, as well as the ability to banter with you. I have no idea what will become of the Aura-Viona crossover, and I do want to see that through to its conclusion. I'll also lose the contacts and advertising necessary to do commissions. Those are considerations to think about tomorrow, after I get all the various sites up and running.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

EDIT: If I'm talking about these sites, I guess I better give you a way to look at what I've done, huh.

Aura's site: NJB Media

Katie's site: Nboutwell.com

The Wordpress Blog: Nboutwell/me

* Hint: It could be worse. It could be raining.

** If you're interested in self-publishing, let me know. I'll send you the links to my rather extensive blog posts about how to do it yourself.
  • Listening to: The local news
  • Reading: Searching for an art gallery program
  • Watching: I'm not sure
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: About to eat macaroni and cheese
  • Drinking: Elijah Craig! 94 proof top-shelf bourbon, people!

So, we lost our fight. We are at the mercy of the Purity League. We must obey a set of murky, ill-defined rules regarding the depiction of sexual pleasure; rules that can be defined and redefined at the whim of whatever DA Mod happens to be on duty at any given time. They ought to change the name of the site. WholesomeArt is more appropriate.

I left a DA Group over perpetually shifting and vague rules like that. I’m on the brink of leaving DA entirely for the same reason.

Some see rules like the Anti-Sex Purity Rules in the DA TOS as walls that protect. I see them as the walls of a prison. It’s bad enough when the walls are clearly defined and made of steel and concrete, but at least I know where I stand with them. When they’re made of Jell-O, semi-transparent, and can be moved at the whim of whoever built the prison, that’s when things happen. The affable crackpot leaves the room. In his place stands the berserker with one thought on his mind – destroy the enemy at any cost.

However, I am smart enough not to engage in a war I cannot win. Idealism is one thing. Lunacy is another. Different tactics will be required than a direct confrontation with an enemy I cannot defeat. In other words, go around him. Leave him holding his sacred hill.

That means leaving DeviantArt and taking all my art to my own website, where I can do whatever I damn well want. My site. My money. My rules. I don’t do squeaky-clean! And I am no corporate master’s marionette.

If I understand correctly, I cannot depict, nor describe, a man making love to his wife. It sounds like I cannot even use “softcore,” or a full body shot of him between her legs, even if the action between her thighs is totally hidden. However, I can show the same man carving the same woman up alive with a chainsaw. I can show her crucifying him, with nails. I can show either flaying the other with a lash. I can show either of them dissolving slowly in the stomach acid of a giant snake. At least, an hour’s search through the DA TOS revealed nothing to say I couldn’t depict violence of that nature. Personally, I’d rather see something beautiful and natural than anything cruel or horrifying, but pleasure is evil and violence is sacred I suppose.

There is also some politically correct hypocrisy here. I cannot show a man’s genitals touching a woman’s. I can, perhaps, get away with showing a woman’s genitals touching a woman’s. Uh huh. I see how DA is.

That is just plain, unadulterated bullshit!

Now, let me say that you will never see me make a pornographic image. As I define pornography, which is pretty much the standard concept of hardcore. I write what I want to read and render what I want to see, and frankly, I’ve seen too many pornographic movies to care about seeing genitals pounding again. I’ve seen one porn clip, I’ve seen them all. I don’t even have to watch to tell you what positions will be used, the order they will appear, and that you can see the “talent” count their money as they “act.” It isn’t that I find pornography offensive. It’s that I find it boring.

Written pornography is worse. Written pornography relies on the overuse of abverbs and adjectives to titillate the reader. Reading even one paragraph gives me a headache and makes me reach for my red pen. Writing it … I can’t. I just can’t! I’m an English major!

Erotica is totally different, and that you will see me render and write. In fact, I’ve already done it. A Path of Stones, for all its philosophical foundation, has undertones of eroticism. The Fires of Tallen Hall contains a full score erotic scene. In one chapter, Aura seduces a man. In the next, she reflects on what they did the night before. That’s how I like to do it. Erotica invokes understatement. It focuses on the beauty of the moment. It emphasizes the connection between the couple, with the sex as the medium of exchange. Writing it is a pure joy, from a technical point of view. The less I say, the hotter the scene becomes. It’s a little more difficult in an image, but a challenge is always fun.

There is another difference between erotica and pornography, and permit me to delve into the theories of writing here. One of my writing instructors said that a sex scene in a story was quite permissible, but it had to serve two purposes. The purpose of titillating the reader (or viewer) is legitimate, but not enough. It also had to either further the story, or develop the characters. Pornography doesn’t satisfy the second reason for existence. Erotica does.

Two of my storylines will require erotica at some point. Katie’s enhanced libido (which she should be receiving in about four more comic pages – the transformation scene will take time) is going to get her into trouble. It will also bring her great joy. I have a story outlined in my head that’s poignant, and requires her to be laid to reach full poignancy. That scene will develop her character in a way that won’t be as full if the scene isn’t included. I know good and well that many of you who follow The Enchantress and the Warrior are itching for Aura and Viona to have a tryst. Well, so am I. In their case, such a moment will develop the story. I can’t just cut from the opening kiss to them lying asleep in each other’s arms. It wouldn’t work. Trust me. I’ve already written it!

But I can’t show them to you.

Let me say right now before someone asks, I also do not support child pornography in any way, shape, or form. That isn’t sex. It’s cruelty. A child doesn’t understand what’s happening. But I don’t consider child pornography to even be part of this issue. Just take that card off the table and call it holy right now.

There are only two things preventing me from hitting the Delete Account button today. First, I don’t have a good art gallery script for my website. I need one, and this madness prompts me to spend the day shopping. The second, and most important, reason is that underneath the affable crackpot, the philosopher, the artist, the storyteller lurks a mercenary. I use DA for marketing the Aura books. The more fans I attract here, the more books I can potentially sell. It’s happened enough for me to keep my finger off that button.

Today.

But it’s going to be some time before I post anything here again. I just don’t feel like playing DeviantArt’s game.

  • Listening to: Too angry to listen to anything
  • Reading: Searching for an art gallery program
  • Watching: Steam rising from my hose
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Not damn hungry!
  • Drinking: Coffee. I will remain civilized somewhere
Just some random facts about Katie, Stephanie, and Jessica.

Katie's full name is Catherine Roberta Ashe. She is named for her grandparents, Cathy and Robert Ashe, Sr.

Stephanie's full name is Stephanie Gayle Ashe. She is named for her parents, Stephen and Gayle Ashe.

Jessica's name at birth was Corduroy Teal Ashe. Her mother was a fruitcake! Her father, Bob, finally convinced her mother to give her a decent legal first name before the poor girl started kindergarten. Jessie has never forgiven her mother.

Jessie's mother ran off with a gangster when Jessie was twelve. None of Bob's family really recovered from that.

The only member of the Ashe family who is dead is Stephen, Katie and Steph's father.

Stephen was a detective who died ten years ago negotiating the surrender of a bank robbery gone bad. Two of the robbers wanted to surrender. The third had a bomb. He set it off. Stephen grabbed the bomb and ran with it to the bank vault. It exploded, killing him, but sparing the lives of the fourteen hostages and two of the thieves (the one with the bomb chased Stephen into the vault). He is still celebrated in Parthenon as a hero cop.

Stephen's younger brother Bob is a lieutenant for Parthenon Police Department, specializing in organized crime. He is Jessie's father, and Katie and Steph's uncle.

Bob never called Gayle his sister-in-law. She was always his older sister. She still is, even though their formal relationship ended when Stephen died. Bob always calls on her to see how she is doing. He feels he owes Katie a debt for keeping Jessie alive.

The Ashes still consider Gayle to be an Ashe girl.

Frank Mason was a decent man when Gayle married him. But a highly successful skyscraper contract ruined him, turning him to power and money. He became a tyrant. Katie especially embarrasses him.

Bob really wants to shoot Frank Mason between the eyes. Katie and Jessie told him to stand in line. Twice a year, Bob threatens Frank with a speeding ticket every block for the next six months.

Steph is the most tolerant of the three Ashe Girls of Frank's abuse. Being the youngest, she's afraid of him, even though she mouths off to him every chance she gets. She's also the one who has to live in the same house with him.

Cathy Ashe, nee' River Otter, and Katie, Steph, and Jessie's grandmother, is a full blood Shawnee Indian. Katie, Steph, and Jessie inherit their full figures from her.

Katie and Steph inherit their blonde hair from their mother, Gayle Peterson, who is Norwegian. All other Ashes have brown hair.

Blue eyes are an Ashe trait.

Steph's reddish hair is a recessive Peterson genetic trait, triggered when she was genetically enhanced.

Both of Katie and Steph's grandfathers were beat cops. So was their father and their uncle.

The Ashes trace their lineage in the USA back to 1660, as Quakers who came to Philadelphia. Back in Britain, it appears the Ashes were notorious highwaymen. Oopsie.

The name Ashe is believed to originate with the way the family would cover their faces with soot from the fireplace before sacking a farm. How a family of thieves became a family of cops is still an Ashe mystery.

Katie wants to defend Parthenon. Stephanie wants to help. Jessica wants to defend Katie and Stephanie. That's how it works.

Katie and Stephanie see Jessica as their middle sister, not their cousin. Jessie returns the sentiment.

There is one other close Ashe, Jessica's younger brother Bobby. He is in the US Marines, and won't be seen much.

There are also six other Ashe cousins, descendants of Robert Sr.'s brother David. They live in Pittsburgh.

Denied a normal childhood because of her bad heart, Katie turned inward. Comics became her world. She lived vicariously through the strong bodies of the characters, especially Wonder Woman, Cavewoman, and Red Sonja. She began drawing her own at age twelve. In college, her drawing professor, Thusla Altman, encouraged her to draw what she wanted, when the other teachers ridiculed her. He saw comics as modern mythology and Katie as the high priestess. Katie has never forgotten him.

Some possible parings. Katie and Jarred are in love with each other, but are too committed to the mission to mention it. Stephanie is taking a shine to Sherman, who teaches her gymnastics. He is smitten with his student. Bob thinks it's time to find new love, twelve years after his wife abandoned him and his children. Lady Amanda is the perfect choice, since they're close friends. Although straight, Ali and Terri can't take their eyes off each other. Maybe their paths bend a bit. Jessie plays the field. Too many pretty boys to settle down with just one. Once a Bad Ashe, always ...

Jessie threw out her codeine and heroin when she found out that her cousin Katie was the heroine Valkyria. Although she refuses to quit smoking for anyone.

Jessie believes she is only alive because of Katie. Her cousin drove her to the hospital when she overdosed on heroin. She forced a spoon down her mouth to make her vomit up a bottle of sleeping pills. Katie held Jessie's hand on both trips to an abortion clinic, and is the only one who knows Jessie was once raped. Katie hasn't said a word. So, Jessie doesn't say a word about who Katie is now ... as long as Jessie can help her fight her crusade against crime.

Gayle knew about Katie the day after she became a Valkyrie. Jessie was the next to find out. Steph didn't know for almost a year.

Before she became Whysper, Stephanie was a highly accomplished athlete. She earned first prize in the Pennsylvania Cheerleader Competition in her junior and senior years for Quad Somersault and the Air Split. Those are still her most lethal moves, made even more devastating by levitation.

Katie was the smart but weak one who got the powerful body. Steph was the strong one who got the powerful mind.

Steph is no dummy. She graduated valedictorian of the Class of 2018 at Gifford Pinchot High School, with a GPA of 3.99 (she got a B in home economics). Steph was also voted Most Popular and was Homecoming Queen. She is currently majoring in psychology at Parthenon State University and is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. Not bad for a cheerleader.

Katie's greatest challenge is to act sick when she's disguised as "Little Katie," and to not recognize anyone when she's "Big Katie." It's even worse when she goes out with her mother. Which of her two personas should she wear on what day?

Katie is the author and artist of a fairly successful online comic, Beastlygal. It is a ripoff, parody, and tribute to Katie's second favorite comic character, Cavewoman. It doesn't pay bo diddly squat, but it does get her invited to local comicons.
  • Listening to: Ah, the quiet of December.
  • Reading: A groovy book on writing
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Nothing.
  • Drinking: Ice Tea
Well, if that didn't grab your attention, nothing will.

An upcoming arc in The Enchantress and the Warrior will feature some heavy erotic moments, as Aura figures out how to restore Viona's power. In Valkyria, Katie's enhanced libido will get the best of her. For EW, I planned to hint at what was happening, by using close ups of faces, hands grabbing backs and blankets, and toes curling. For Valkyria, I planned to use silhouettes.

Considering the current state of affairs regarding the Purity League, I decided screw it! Literally. I'm showing and describing everything. If I can't show something as mild as I planned, then there is no reason to not show it all.

I just won't post it here. Tweaking the nose of the TOS is one thing. Lobbing a bottle of nitro-glycerine at it is quite another.

So, there will be gaps in the stories. EW will jump from 300 to 304, while Valkyria will be missing something like Chapter 4, page 7. The jumps should alert readers that there are things to read elsewhere.

I plan to provide a link to a page on my website. The page won't contain any images or stories. Just information as to what the reader does from there.

It isn't a link to a pornographic site. It's a link to a mainstream publisher's site. Yes, I am a certified Publisher of Record, with my own ISBNs. So, the letter of the TOS will be upheld.

As to what the publisher does beyond that page, it is none of DA or the Purity League's concern. If they want input, they can darn well pay for the site.

I haven't figured out how to get the link to you, yet. But I have time. The scenes and pages I'm talking about won't happen until January at the earliest.

But you won't have to suffer gaps just because of a few self-righteous prudes. And they did me a favor. They knocked me out of a timid "how am I going to pull this off" stance.
  • Listening to: Lawn mowers. It's Wednesday.
  • Reading: A groovy book on writing
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Peanut butter
  • Drinking: Water

I'm still seething over the recent attempt by two or three holier-than-thou self-righteous pricks to destroy several decent artists (and by decent, I mean their humanity). That struck home.

I am not absolute about much, but one thing I am an absolutist about is the Freedom of Speech.

I have the right to say, think, believe, write, sing, play, draw, render, and paint what I wish. I have the right to read, watch, listen to, and look at what I wish. You do, too. You may live where the government does not enforce or protect that right, and if you do, I hope that soon you will enjoy it as much as we do in the USA (or did – the situation here on DA is a microcosm of what’s playing out in our streets). There are limits of course. I can do those things as long as no one is harmed, and in a way that is blatantly clear to all, as in child pornography or snuff.

The DeviantArt Social Jerkoff Warrior Purity League doesn’t get that. They think that they have the right to interpret the DA TOS as they please and greatly restrict access to the Freedom of Speech. Granted, the TOS is vague, and has been expanded into some silly territory without notifying any of us who signed it before it was expanded (I could make a legal case out of that – I do have big lawyers). Of course, the end result is that we will be able to read, watch, listen to, and look at only what they want us to. We will be under their direct control.

Bastards!

In my six years with this account (and five more with another that I shut down in 2012), I have reported only two Deviants for violating the TOS.

The first scanned paintings by Boris Vallejo, posterized them in Photoshop, posted them as his own works, and sold prints. No reference at all to Boris, or saying he was trying his hand at copying the style of a master. Don’t try that in front of a Boris fan. Just don’t. I reported his ass for plagiarism.

The second wasn’t a report. It was a war. I noticed a series of photos showing up in the nude photography groups I follow. These were of a famous porn star, in a pose and situation that blatantly violated the TOS. But what caught my eye was the caption on all – “(Name withheld because I forgot it) with me in her kitchen. I wonder if her boyfriend knows!” I knew who the model was, that wasn’t her name, and no model uses her full legal name. I did some detective work, found the real woman in the Northwest, actually contacted her employer, and heard the story. This poor woman was being stalked by someone hellbent on destroying her. She even had a restraint order against him. He was posting pictures of a porn star, saying they were of this woman, and making her life miserable. I made screen shots, and sent them to the employer to give to the woman for legal reasons. Evidence of violating that restraining order. Then, I contacted all my DA friends, told them what was up, and forty of us attacked him. Within 48 hours, he was shut down.

That’s it. Only twice.

After I became aware of that war against those artists in question, I began keeping track of the number of TOS violations that cross my feed in the groups I follow. This morning alone, I saw two cases of a woman holding herself open, and seven full male erections. All photographic, not 3D. In the past few months, I've seen full penetration of women by both men and objects. My response? So what. I'm not offended. Not my cup of coffee, but so what. I find vore much more offensive. The very idea of someone (usually a highly attractive woman) being horrifyingly and painfully dissolved alive in utter darkness without any hope of rescue is nauseating. Yet, that is perfectly permissible here on DA (apparently the digestion scene is, too, because I see way too much of that). My response? So what.

I treat things I don’t like with a quote by River in Firefly: “Keep on walking, preacher man!” Don’t linger and stew. Just keep moving on. Why torment myself and get angry over something I don’t like? That’s stupid and life is too short to be stupid.

Some people don’t think like that.

Go back to what I said about the Freedom of Speech. It works in reverse, too. I have the right to not say, think, believe, write, sing, play, draw, render, and paint what I don’t wish. I have the right to not read, watch, listen to, and look at what I don’t wish. Just because it’s out there doesn’t mean I have to participate. That’s true of anyone. I really don’t care about seeing two men make out. Someone else does, however, and that’s fine. No need to make it illegal just because I don’t like it. I am not the center of the Universe. Where my rights end, someone else’s begin.

I expect things like this Holy Crusade from the Religious Right. They still adhere to a centuries old misinterpretation of St. Paul’s letters to say that all sex is a sin, unless it is for procreation. The thing about the Religious Right, though, is they at least have sacred texts to base their doctrines on, and they don’t mess with websites like DA. They expect heathens to be heathens and let us go our merry way to Hell. This is coming from the Secular Left, and that is baffling to me. In the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the Secular Left championed the beauty of the human body, the total freedom of artistic expression, and the Sexual Revolution. In this century, they’ve done an about face and adopted a more stringent tone regarding the body and sex than their conservative counterparts. They now think the body should be completely covered and that all sex is rape. The foundation for their doctrine is an Ivory Tower sociology textbook. The Left used to say “I disagree with what you’re saying but I will defend your right to say it.” Now, they say, “I disagree with what you’re saying and will destroy you until you agree with me.”

These SJWs think they can make DA safe and make life safe. Until they do, they want DA to be a “safe space.”

Let me tell you something. DeviantArt is an art site. Art is not safe! By its very nature it is dangerous. It’s supposed to be challenging, often uncomfortable, and sometimes offensive. When we’re offended, we’re thinking.  I’ll give an example from one of the most innocuous artists of the 20th century – Bambi, by Walt Disney. Who can watch that without crying, and then want to shoot a deer or play with matches in the forest? Most art is far more challenging than that. To make art safe is to totally censor it, to choke it, to kill it.

Furthermore, life itself is not safe. Life’s job is to smack us in the back of the head, knock us to the ground, and grind us to a pulp. From the time we’re born, Life tries to kill us, and eventually it will succeed. Our job is to get up, spit Life in the eye, and walk on with our heads up, defiant until the day that Life does finally get the last laugh. Life doesn’t give trigger warnings. There are no safe spaces. No matter where we are, any of us can be stricken with murder, rape, theft, famine, poverty, disease, or worse. Ten nations on Earth have the ability to destroy a city on the other side of the planet without even seeing one of its victims. These SJWs think they can make that safe? I do not share their optimism.

In my opinion, these Purity Leaguers are spoiled brats who were given too many participation trophies. When a Purity Leaguer says “I’m offended,” what he means is “I am too immature to control my emotions so I need you to control them for me by not challenging me.” And he pitches a petulant fit until they get what they want. He thinks the whole world revolves around his feelings. There are seven billion people on this planet, and only three of them care about the feelings of a Purity Leaguer: the Leaguer himself, his Mommy, and the fourth grade coach who gave him that participation trophy. The rest of us care about his behavior, and his behavior sucks. His behavior matches that of any given recipient of a “he slipped on a bar of soap, sir” incident in the Armed Forces.

I’ll bring this long tirade to a close with a quotation by Neil Gaiman:

I absolutely understand somebody going: you should not be able to depict images of violence towards women. But they’re lines on paper, and they’re covered by the First Amendment. That’s the deal here, because if it doesn’t cover that, then it doesn’t cover the stuff that you need to save.

There are people saying to me: well, are you saying people should be allowed to make snuff movies? And I’m going no, they shouldn’t, because that involves murdering somebody, and murder is a crime, and you shouldn’t be murdering anybody. And pedophilia is a monstrous crime because it is hurting kids and that’s real. A child cannot give consent, this is bad. I get this. And then, suddenly I find myself having pointless arguments online with people about Japanese manga drawings of couples with babyish faces having sex or whatever. “This is being used by those pedophiles to excite themselves and work themselves up.” And I’m going, No. You can’t do that one. These are not real people. These are drawings. And if you think they’re real then you also have to imprison people for murder every time they kill a fictional character.

 

 #Wewantavoice 

 

 

  • Listening to: Not sure what it is
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Just had cheese grits
  • Drinking: Coffee
I'm declaring this done.

Katie Ashe now has her own website.

She gets the entirety of my old site, www.nboutwell.com

That's the portal page, the one the public gets. All that "this comic contains" and "are you sure you're at least 18" boilerplate. We all know kids are going to lie. Y'all have been following Katie long enough to know what to expect.

So, here's the link to the main page: www.nboutwell.com/Valkyria/

Just because it's "done" doesn't mean it's "finished." I'm not happy with the portal. The background image is fighting me. It refuses to show up. I won't go into all the techie stuff I had to do just to get that page to even display. Let's just say the host for that server doesn't like the website design program I use and I had to hard code the .css for it. I also don't like the format for the news blog, but after 10 hours of wrestling different Wordpress themes, I said, "screw it, it just has to be functional." Both of those will be corrected, but not today.

I also want to add an art gallery to the site, but haven't settled on a format or system yet. There are several options.

What you won't see there are Stephanie as Whysper and Jessica as Strykana. Not yet. Y'all get the sneak peaks over here. Ain't you the lucky guys and gals! I will ask that you don't comment about Whysper or Strykana on the blog, if you comment at all. The website will be distributed beyond DeviantArt, and I don't want to spoil things for those folks. If they want to be with the "in crowd" they can darn well come over here and play with all of us. Our sandbox is fun. We have action figures.

Now, to make some stuff to go on the website.
  • Listening to: Traffic (the cars, not the band)
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Oatmeal
  • Drinking: Coffee
Art, like life, has its little ironies. Unlike some of life's ironies, art's tend to be funny. This one is about the location of Valkyria.

Originally, I wanted to set Valkyria in Atlanta. I have deep ties to that city and have always loved it. The problem is I would want the city scenes to actually look like Atlanta. That required building the landmarks from scratch in a modeling program. My skills aren't near that level. So, a fictitious city was required.

A fictitious city uprooted the story geographically. Was there a real need to locate it in the South? No, not really. In fact, not setting it in the South was appealing. Dandelions is set in Dallas, and I have a novel series on the back burner set in North Carolina. At that point, Pennsylvania popped into my head. Pennsylvania is gorgeous. It's Mid-Atlantic. It has no blatantly identifying geological or geographical features that required inclusion, such as kudzu in Georgia, granite cliffs in New York, or the Rocky Mountains in Colorado or Wyoming. It's just a gently gorgeous green landscape of mostly farms, hills, and forests with the Allegheny Mountains on the western side. It also doesn't have a defined accent (outside Philadelphia) that I would feel compelled to at least hint at, like I would a Southern or New York accent.

Pennsylvania it is.

I wanted the city to have a classic name. That mean Old World, preferably European as it's probably close to 250 years old, having been a small town during our Revolution. Something City was out. Too common. No slight to y'all who set your stories in Something City. I'm specifically thinking about the DCU, where nearly every city save Metropolis is Something City (Gotham City, Bay City, Keystone City, Central City). New Something was also out. Too many actual New Londons, New Bristols, and New Dublins.

A one word name appealed to me. I searched several like Corinth, Rome, and Athens. They existed. Then, I expanded to other classical words that weren't the name of cities in Europe. Olympus sounded a bit too pretentious. Olympia smacked of Oregon. Then, I thought of Parthenon, the grand temple of Athena. There wasn't a Parthenon, Pennsylvania. There is now! It is a bit of a stretch to think that the people of such a Christian era would name their town for a pagan temple, but Pennsylvania was the most likely of our thirteen rebellious colonies to do that very thing.

That leads to this morning's little artistic irony. I've been mentally working up a fun scene where Katie and Steph go to the county fair with Jarred and Sherman, and play the baseball toss. A totally unfair competition! That barker is going to be skinned, between Katie's howitzer arm, Steph's ability to telepathically control an object up to 20 feet away, and Sherman's knowledge of trigonometry. Jarred is the only one with a "mortal" arm. The availability and cost of props will determine if that scene happens or not. Anyway, the fair required the county to have a name, and it should anyway. It may come in handy.

I knew that two of the three names involved in England's 290 year dynastic upheaval of 1199-1488 were represented in Pennsylvania: Lancaster and York. A quick search revealed that the third, Plantagenet, was not. So, Parthenon is set in Plantagenet County. Now, where is the county? Central Pennsylvania is obvious -- not near either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Gotta keep it away from Harrisburg, too. So, I called up a map of the state.

In looking at the northern center of Pennsylvania, my eyes fell upon a nice sized town.

The town's name?

Lock Haven.

So, guess where Parthenon is going to be located.

The probability of a crossover portal between Katie's world and Aura's world already exists.

A little bit of trivia for you Game of Thrones fans. The three dynasties involved in what would be known as the War of the Roses were Plantagenet, Lancaster, and York. George R. R. Martin represented them as Targaryen, Lannister, and Stark. Given that I just set Katie's city in a county named for the dynasty represented by Targaryen, it looks like some dragon sightings may be in order.
  • Listening to: It's quiet this morning.
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: I'm still full from lunch!
  • Drinking: Water
Just for fun, I thought I'd explain where the name Nathanomir came from.

My real first name is Nathan. I don't mind saying it. As a published author I am a public figure after all.

From 1999 until 2002, I worked as a janitor for a medium sized church and private school in the Orlando, Florida, area. It was situated on thirty gorgeous forested acres, nestled in a heavily wooded suburb, and bordered by the interstate. I was one of two day janitors, with a third guy working nights to clean up the school.

The winter of 2001 was extremely rainy. As in, every day, sometimes all day. Even Florida can get cold, so the average daily temperature was about 40, and wet. All that frigid rain drove the black rats from the woods into the building. Our congregation was half rodent. They came out to sing hymns with the members, leading to quite a few cases of spontaneous speaking in tongues. They also didn't pay tithes.

I was assigned to pest control.

My remedy was pretty direct: glue traps baited with peanut butter. As I don't like any creature to suffer, I decided to kill them outright, instead of tossing the living trapped rat into the dumpster. So, I took an oak dowel rod, one and a half inches thick, and three feet long and used it as a club. A quick smash to the skull ended their misery. And ours. Every time I killed a rat, I marked the rod with a red ring. By the time that winter was over, I had marked the club thirty-sx times.

Fellowship of the Ring was released in cinemas during that time. The night janitor and I were both Tolkien geeks and often quoted lines from the movie to each other. One afternoon, he walked into our janitors' office, just as I was adding a ring to the club.

He took the club from me and said, "Kneel!"

I did.

He tapped me on the shoulder with it and said, "I dub thee Nathanomir, Ratsbane!" Holding the club aloft, he said, "And this is Ratdring!"

I was known as Nathanomir around the church after that.

When I developed a more pronounced internet presence about seven years ago, Nathanomir seemed like the perfect online name.

So, there you go.
  • Listening to: Computer fans
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Ceiling fan
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Too full to eat
  • Drinking: Water

Thank you everyone who voted in my three Superpowered Jessica polls. If you haven’t voted, please feel free to do so. I’ll consider those open and valid as long as DA lets voting continue.

In the first poll, should Jessie be superpowered, the vast majority said yes. Although, I don’t think you guys care as long as she’s Jessie. :D

In the second, what should her powers be, the plurality said electricity, with shockwave voice and symbiosis with machinery right on its heels.

In the third, how should she be transformed, the answers were all over the place.

These polls show me that there’s room for her to become superpowered, and plenty of space to explore how. I do like the idea of electricity. It tends to be a villain’s power mostly, so for a hero to wield it would be interesting.

This may or may not happen. I’m not sure yet. As :icondangerguy01: pointed out, a superhero doesn’t always need powers. Batgirl doesn’t have any, and not only does she fill out a suit like no one else, she can kick some serious ass. I really won’t know until I get there. At the moment, I’m just at the threshold of Katie’s transformation into Valkyria. She needs some adventures first, and to deal with her own angst of being able to do something physical (as a heart patient, she’s never run before and her sexual experience is extremely limited), and for her reflexes to catch up to her speed. That needs to happen before she starts mentoring Stephanie. Steph needs to get comfortable as Whysper before Jessie even looks at that ancient Lemurian meteorite Sara Luthor (the Lexington’s sister ship was the Saratoga … see what I did there?) is about to throw at her during a lightning storm.

If it does happen, it will probably be deliberate. As in, Jessie needs to be more than she is to save Katie and Steph. She goes to the power, instead of it coming to her. It fits her personality. Katie and Steph protect Parthenon. Jessie protects Katie and Steph. That’s the name of the game for the brunette Ashe girl.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t ask for assistance in creating a character. Creating characters is the most fun part of storytelling. But this was a bit baffling.

I can create a fantasy character in my sleep. I’ve done it for a decade. Within an hour, I can give you a fully developed character with nuanced layers, ready to go. His or her abilities may take some research, but the human is solid. Even the abilities are foundational, although I’m not quite sure what a pikeman needs that’s different from a swordwielder.

A superhero is different. I haven’t developed one since I was seventeen. That was before the bulk of you crazy hep cats were born. The human inside the suit is easy. Katie, Stephanie, and Jessica are solid characters in their own rights and could easily fit any genre, just with differing abilities to match the needs of that set of tropes. It’s those abilities that stymie me. Katie was easy. I wanted her to be a tribute to Cavewoman. Stephanie was difficult. It took me two weeks to figure out she was a telepath, deciding only after a friend commented, “You gave the weak one a powerful body and the strong one a powerful mind.” I’m a sucker for that kind of symmetry. The Protectors were also fairly easy. They don’t have powers, only terrific skills (with the exception of Ricochet, but he wouldn’t be anything if he wasn’t already an Olympic gymnast). Jessie? I was out of ideas.

Making the polls helped me focus on the basics. What would be a plausible power? And, no, there aren’t any real plausible powers per se. But flight, electricity, phasing, strength … all those are the kinds of abilities that make me say “I can see that.” I wanted to avoid the X-Man Curse, that with each new X-Man the abilities become more and more weird (just what are Cable and Bishop’s powers anyway?).

Whether Jessie becomes superpowered or not is almost irrelevant. She’s always going to be Jessica Teal Ashe. Oh, about that name … her birth name was Corduroy Teal Ashe. Her mother was odd. Before the poor girl started kindergarten, Bob was able to talk his wife into changing her first name to something normal. No wonder Jessie has an attitude.

  • Listening to: Peacefulness
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Internet going in and out
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Just finished yummy leftovers
  • Drinking: Water

To see if I can even achieve a decent commission, as in pulling off someone else’s concept and story, I’m opening to take four commissions in November and December.

It also lets me see if I can write a novel, design and develop a comic, and maintain my own artistic goals, while working on something for someone else.

If you’re interested in a slot, comment below or send me a note, and I’ll send you the link to my guidelines.

This is limited to a few options. If it works, I still get my stuff done, and I make the clients happy, I’ll expand the services.

Brief synopsis of images and pricing:

 

Single Image: $ 25 per render.* Size is from 1500x900 to 2500x1500.

Series: $ 20 per render.*  Up to five images.

Captioning: Free.

Character Design: $ 25. This is in case you have a written character but no 3D version you can transfer to me for your image.

Character Cards: $ 15 (you provide the image), $ 30 (I make the image from your model), $ 55 (I make the image using a model I design for you).

Special Purchases: Depends on the item’s price; we will split it 50-50. This is for something I don’t have that your idea requires.

Character Transfer: Free. Getting your character to me for the image is too easy for me to charge.

Hiring My Characters: If you want to hire one of my actresses (like Sasha) or characters (Katie), it’s included in the price.

 

* There are situations that could cause the final price to escalate, which is why it says per render, not per image. Please read my guidelines for details.


 

  • Listening to: Gravelys! It's landscaping day
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Cats tormenting each other
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Drinking: Water

When I worked as a reporter for a small town newspaper in Alabama, one of my colleagues told me this tale. He was out driving one Saturday, and saw the local college art professor standing on the side of the road, facing west, and staring at a blank canvas mounted on an easel. Thinking it may make a good story, my colleague stopped his car. He approached the man.

Even from ten feet away, he smelled the man. The professor was stone, cold drunk. Even though he knew it was a bad idea, curiosity got the best of my colleague. He asked, “What are you doing, Professor?”

The professor slurred, “I’m making art, mother fucker!”

That’s how I feel today. I’m making art!

Except I’m sober.

It has been said that the United States introduced two art forms to overall world culture: jazz music and the comic book. They are both certainly part of my own consciousness.

I have memories from when I was three, and one from when I was two. Those are hazy shadowy things, slippery at best, but still there, buried under decades of other memories. The earliest clear memory I have was when I was four. I made a comic book!

Knowing even at that tender age that ruled notebook paper was for them amateurs, I used typing paper. I folded it in half across the page, and stapled it to make a spine. Told you I made a comic book. My squares looked more like squished ovals, but the masterpiece still had panels. My figures were stick men, but they did things; things about stuff. I even had voice bubbles, written in the coarse, blocky printing only a four year old can make. At least, I guess only a four year old can make it. I was one of only two children in all of first grade who could read. I cannot remember ever not being able to read and write. Naturally, the protagonist of this epic was meself, as the first man on the Moon. Okay, the first boy on the Moon. That, too, was natural. We lived forty miles from Cape Canaveral, and I stood in the front yard as the Gemini rockets carried my heroes Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, John Young, and Neil Armstrong into space. I wanted to go with them. Since I couldn’t, I went in pencil on paper.

I always wanted to draw comics. Later, when I discovered Frank Frazetta, I wanted to paint like him. Same concept, bigger medium. There was no encouragement for that from my family. On one hand, that was strange. My father’s family was littered with self-taught musical geniuses (Dad included), while Mom’s produced three people who were so good with a pencil they could have become professional artists at any moment (Mom included). On the other hand, there was nothing strange about the lack of encouragement. All of them had survived the Great Depression. People who endure a cataclysmic upheaval of that nature tend to have a steel-eyed, cold-hearted opinion of what makes a viable career and what is best left for a pipe dream on Sunday afternoon.

I'm not exactly sure how I slipped being a writer under the family's monetary radar, except that while they never encouraged me, they never discouraged me, either.

Fifty years later, I am making comics! Good old 3D. Even if it is limited compared to pencil art (this dang cloak will not flow in the wind like it should!), it still permits the story to come out in the graphic linear narrative.

Sure, there’s no money in it. Mostly because I don’t plan to charge. Oh, I may compile Valkyria or Dandelions into a book and sell it, but I won’t charge you to read a simple page. Besides, free comics make a decent platform for increasing potential readers of the Aura Lockhaven books, and that’s where my income lies. See, Granddaddy? There’s some marketing savvy stuffed into my Sunday afternoon pipe.

There is, however, tremendous satisfaction in it. There is fun in it. There is a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. And there is the joy of seeing a story – a story I made – come to life, and be enjoyed by others.

Moral of the story: so what if it takes five freaking decades? You’re never too old to see your dreams become reality. Get cracking, you crazy kids!

 

  • Listening to: Gravelys! It's landscaping day
  • Reading: Tutorials
  • Watching: Cats tormenting each other
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Drinking: Water
Nice short title.

I'm postponing my planned schedule (Aura on Monday and Tuesday, Valkyria on Wednesday and Thursday, and Danelions on Friday) until December.

For once, I'm going to take advantage of NaNoWriMo. Usually, I don't. No need. But I'm so far behind where I wanted to be with The Fires of Tallen Hall, even after splitting it, that I'm going to use the "pressure" of a month dedicated to writing a novel to light a fire under myself. I'm not joining the official NaNoWriMo site. For one thing, group efforts like that just ain't my bag, man. For another, it wouldn't be fair. Tallen Hall is 85% complete, while Scarlet Cloak is at 35%. Knowing the entire month is dedicated to writing a novel, however, ought to be enough to get me moving.

My goal is 3,500 words per day. Easy. If the words flow from my brain to my fingertips. I've written 10,000 a day before. At 3,500 words a day, for the 22 work days in November, that's 77,000 words. That will definitely finish Tallen Hall and probably bring me close to the final chapers of Scarlet Cloak. Not a bad way to conclude 2017.

That means I'll work on Valkyria and The Enchantress and the Warrior at night. Or earlier, perhaps, if I reach my word goal.

Both are about to have a major change. I'm using the upgraded skin shaders tomorrow. No different from changing colorists for a print comic. I've already changed Aura's hair once, and Katie's morph is totally different in chapter two from chapter one. This won't be the last change, I'm sure.

I'm going to install the trial version of Comic Life 3 tonight. See how it works. There's no way I'll use it for Valkyria at the moment. That kind of change in the middle of a chapter is too much. However, I have a six page short in mind that's perfect for a test.

Finally, my wife said "I think you should do it." Who am I to argue with a redhead? Meaning, I'm going to open for commissions. This will be a test. I'll take two in November and two in December. If I can handle two, especially with this schedule for November, then I'll fully open in January.

That's it, Aura and Katie fans.

Have a happy Halloween.
May November be good to you.
And may the Houston Astros bring home the trophy tonight.
  • Listening to: Wife preparing shepherd's pie
  • Reading: Probably a tutorial in a few minutes
  • Watching: World Series updates
  • Playing: Not much
  • Eating: Tobacco
  • Drinking: Ice Tea (without the D at the end of ice)

I need someone to hire me named Gordon. Think about it.

Anyway, I’m a lot more calm and focused today. Thanks to being slapped upside the head by :icondangerguy01: with some good thoughts. I also spent last last night writing guidelines for commissions, as if I’m actually going to do this. It helped realign the synapses and get the neurotransmitters firing properly. Coping with depression? I rassle that thing to the mat and call it my bitch! Sometimes. Last night was one of those times.

So. It boils down to the question “What can I bring to the table that’s unique and will anyone hire me to do it?”

There is only one way to find out.

I’m not quite sure I’m ready to do that yet. I need a bit more research. Definitely some more development.

For November and December, I’m going to push my limits and knowledge of set design, textures, POV, Studio tools, and especially lighting. I’ve never been happy with my lighting techniques. I’m also going to sit down with my Frank Frazetta compendiums and study his composition style again.

Personally, I think my scenes are too color saturated, almost too Disneyesque. Now, if that’s what everyone likes and it’s my signature look, who am I to argue with accidental success. The whole concept of photorealism is both highly subjective and a bit of a narcissistic illusion. However, the appearance of my characters has already swung toward a more realistic look, now that I’ve stopped engaging every single available shader slider. So, I’m a bit more confident that I can pull off a more satisfying look now.

Get ready for some new scenes and possibly new looks in the upcoming months. And get ready for some defined, and possibly jarring, changes in the appearance of The Enchantress and the Warrior. With Aura’s return from the Fusion Zone, it’s the perfect time to make them.

I may also open for three commissions in the next two months, just to see if I can achieve someone else’s concept and satisfy a client.

If so, then I’ll fully open in January. If not, then I’ve definitely grown as an artist and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • Listening to: Wife cleaning the whatnots
  • Reading: This book I forgot I had ... oh, right. Later.
  • Watching: Wife cleaning the whatnots
  • Playing: Cleaning
  • Eating: Dust
  • Drinking: Windex

Don’t get your ennui on my angst, man!

I’m still considering opening for commissions. While pondering the possibility, I came up with a nice, tidy set of reasons to do it, a couple of reasons to reconsider, and one big ugly reason to just say no to the whole idea.

Positives

To start, the most compelling reason is the challenge. I’m working on :iconakizz:’s prize render for winning the “Give Jessica a Codename Contest.” It isn’t something I would have done for myself, mostly because I wouldn’t have thought of it. It’s a great challenge. It has forced me to think outside my own box, and if you saw my creative box, you’d think “You call this a box? It’s more of a shape-shifting quantum octagon made of ectoplasm and it doesn’t even have a lid!” Doing commissions for people would expose me to more of the same: concepts, characters, subjects, props, sets, POVs, and other artistic elements that otherwise would never cross my mind. One can never have enough tools.

Yes, I used the words box and tool in the same paragraph.

Then, there is the money. Oh, I don’t fool myself. It’s cheeseburger cash, or perhaps a few items from the DAZ store that are currently out of budget. But it’s helpful. I wouldn’t charge all that terribly much. Not as much as I’d charge for writing. Trust me! You do not want to hire me to write for you, and you certainly do not have the money to hire me to edit. I am expensive, and downright mean, as an editor.

Third, exposure. Let’s face it, I’m a fame whore. Every little bit is nice. The more people who know who I am, the more potential Aura fans I have.

Neutral Pauses

The big one is time. With a novel series to write, the ongoing Aura-Viona crossover to produce, a production comic to plan and render as well as lay up, and my own art to make, do I have time to make anything for anyone else?

Second, I work on a laptop. It’s a beast, but still a pipsqueak compared to a full tower. It doesn’t have the speed, and probably the endurance, of some systems used by most commissioned 3D artists. I wouldn’t be nearly as prolific as some of you.

Finally, there is the question of why would someone hire me? Having been in this hobby since 2009, I consider myself between competent and pretty darn good. Better than mediocre, certainly not pedestrian, but not excellent and nowhere near breathtakingly qualified for the cover of a magazine. There are many features of DAZ that I don’t know. Only recently have I discovered the uses of Geometry Editor. A friend here on DA just showed me how to get soft skin indentations using Studio instead of externally designed morphs (I won’t name him in case he doesn’t want to be bombarded with requests for a tutorial). I haven’t touched weight mapping, and my Hexagon modeling skills are primitive. Obviously, using those features and modeling something specific increases the price considerably, but it’s what I would consider to be skills that separate the hobbyist from the semi-pro. They make a scene unique instead of looking like yet another assembly of the same props and clothes everyone else uses for fun. At the end of the day, I’m still just a hobbyist.

There are many more people better qualified to accept and complete commissions than I am.

That thought right there leads to …

ANGST!

Ah, anxiety, the twin brother to my eternal roommate, depression. If these two are going to live with me, they can pay cash for rent instead of dousing me in self-doubt and plummeting confidence. But it happened today.

Comparing oneself and one’s work to that of another is the worst trait of any artist (be he writer, musician, painter, or actor). But dammit, I did it and now it’s the Godzilla in the room.

Why would anyone hire me? There are far more who are better. I can name about five right now, but I won’t embarrass you. The prize for Akizz is the first piece I’ve done that I would consider holding up to some of the commissioned work I see on DA. Yeah, many of you who take commissions leave wow on some of my pieces, and are kind enough to add them to your favorites. Still, I can’t help but think that you who take commissions could do it a heck of a lot better with the same scenes.

With the current state of angst, comparing my work with the work of others, then thinking about doing commissions, makes me feel like some teenager who drew Naruto in felt tip marker on ruled notebook paper, posted it here on DA, then expects to make a killing on Patreon. Pathetic. That thought makes me want to shelve the whole idea.

Why would anyone hire me? I’m a half-crazy old fart who plays with naked 3D chicks because he can’t draw. Does that sound like someone you’d trust with your $20? Sure, I have plenty of other reasons for working in 3D, most of them legitimate, but they all escape me at the moment. Something about 3D art being an alternative language for storytelling, but angst knocks that pitch right out of the park like a toss from a Little Leaguer, and a Little Leaguer is how I feel when thinking about playing in the Majors of commissions.

I don’t have Zbrush. I get bamboozled looking at Blender. After eight years, I still can’t get lighting right. Heck, I can’t even afford a $30 dinosaur to complete an image for myself! How am I supposed to design and develop an image for someone else for pay?

Like I said, at the end of the day, I’m just a hobbyist with a laptop. David and Goliath notwithstanding, you don’t send a Boy Scout to hunt lions with a slingshot.

There is one beer left in the refrigerator. It’s going down!

 

 

 

  • Listening to: Computer fans
  • Reading: Hmm ...
  • Watching: Nothing
  • Playing: At knowing what I'm doing
  • Eating: Peanuts
  • Drinking: Beer

So, I have a question or two for those of you who do commissions, or have in the past.

At the moment, I have a “No Commissions, No Requests Period” policy. That was put in place in 2010 after two different people requested renders and I delivered. The first asked for a picture of a dragon attacking a town defended by topless women who were putting up a stiff resistance. No problem. The second was by a man who wanted an image of his wife in bondage. Okay … I can understand the wife asking, but the husband? I mean, I had to see her nude photos to pull of the likeness (and man, was her face awful … no, her face was great … my attempt to execute a likeness sucked swamp rocks). Yeah, sure. Why not. They were both happy. For a week. Then they wanted more and more. Dragon Boy wanted five more renders, each one sillier than the one before. Husband wanted his wife in genuine pornography. I have nothing against silly or pornography, but I don’t want my name associated with either. So, I instituted a no commissions, no requests policy.

I’m thinking about changing that and opening for limited commissions. Not so much for the money (although some extra cash to store away for an actual production computer would be nice), but mostly to interact with the superheroine community because it is a total blast.

I don’t consider the Aura-Viona story a commission. That is a collaboration with :iconakizz: stemming from his simple question, “What would happen if Aura and Viona met?” I was thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time. We’re discovering the answer together. I also don’t consider Duster’s appearances to be a commission. :icondangerguy01: was generous enough to loan her to me for the cover of Playhero and she has an open invitation from both of us to drop by any time.

Speaking of Playhero, the twelve covers of 2018 are wide open and available for your OC. Note me if you’re interested. <end advertisement>

There is about to be a quasi-commission in the works. What else is the award for the Name Jessica Contest? I have no idea what it’s going to be. I know what it won’t be, and that’s about it. The rest is up to the winner. And I do get paid – Jessica gets a name.

My concern isn’t so much the subject. I know how to limit those, having done so with the contest. My concern is time. I have my own art pieces, promotional images, two production comics, and a novel series to write. The latter must be priority as it’s how I get paid (remember, I am a professional writer). I won’t be as prolific as Dangerguy or :icontiangtam: because my machine is a laptop. It’s a beast compared to its predecessor, but still slow and a complex image slows Word down to an insufferable crawl. I’m also obsessive about details. That prop has to be right, that skin text best be seamfree, this set needs normal maps, no, this pistol was made in 1854, it won’t work in 1845, etc. Getting those details right requires time. So, images for other people would have to be spaced out.

I guess my question is how do you limit who you work for and how much you produce for them? I sure as heck don’t want another Dragon Boy!

Anything you wish to share about your experiences? Do you want to warn me to change my mind now before it’s too late?

 

  • Listening to: Chickadees in the feeder
  • Reading: Hmm ...
  • Watching: The walls dry. Seriously. I washed them.
  • Playing: At being young enough to move this furniture alone
  • Eating: Tylenol. I pulled my back!
  • Drinking: Water
DoneDid

50,000 Pageview Pinups: Aura, Allyson, Katie, Stephanie, and Jessica done and posted.

A Valkyria Halloween: Done and posted.

A Brooke Halloween: Done and posted.

MJ-Rogue-Cavewoman Threesome: Done and posted.

The Hall of the Sewer King: Done and posted.

Halloween Pinup: Done. It's a freebie featuring Sasha (remember her?). I'll post it later. Your monitor can handle only so much buxom nudity in one morning.

Katie's Morph Issue: Obviously not a render, but I do need to track down why Katie's butt squishes when she bends her legs when none of my other V6s do that. Urgent. Taken care of.

Moved and Rerouted Aura's Textures Files: I use customized texture maps on Aura, the Dandelions, the Girls (Sasha, Amber, et. al), the Ashe Girls, and the Sarethian Seven. At the moment, they're located on my C drive. It's starting to creep a little too close to two-thirds filled for my comfort. So, the texture files are going to be moved to D drive. The Ashe Girls were moved last week. Aura is today. She is the most extensive as I custom mapped her clothes, too. Moving the files means redirecting the paths for every single channel in Iray and Reality. Fortunately, I only need to do one, and can then use a preset to handle any other appearance of Aura. The Girls will be moved over the weekend. I need to totally overhaul the Dandelions and S7 maps anyway, so they'll be next week sometime. I don't feel like spending that much time in GIMP right now. Moving Aura's file alone will clear another gig off C. All of them together, ought to clear roughly 7. Aura's texture maps moved and successfully repathed for Iray. I'll take care of the Reality presets at another date. For "My Fair Ladies 2," I'll use a still-set-for-C-Drive Aura and call it a day. I'll need to fix some of Viona's jewerly, as she wears the same gold texture Aura does on a few items. No biggie.

In Progress

Take Comic Life 3 for a Test Drive: Again, not a render, but several of you recommended it, so I downloaded the trial version. That's a project for the weekend.

Beach Volleyball:
Composition is tough on this, trying to capture the comedy of Rogue slamming a ball into Fairchild's face from twenty feet in the air while Cavewoman and MJ insult each other. It will take some finagaling.

An Aura Samhain: I finally decided on a subject. Now, to assemble the set and pose Aura.

Back in Town: Because Katie, Steph, and Jessie look darn hot in those clubbing dresses by the one and only 3DLust! Oh, my soul! It's really a matter of finishing the light tests. Then, six hours of rendering (night scene).

My Fair Ladies II: I want to update "My Fair Ladies" to include my characters, not necessarily my models. So, Stephanie and Jessica will replace Brooke and Sasha, while Tiffany and Becky will replace Claire and Iryndelle (a character, but she's stepping back for a bit). It's my computer desktop image, so I'd like to get that done.

ToDo

Name Jessica Winner: Not worried until October 26. More worried about who wins. Some of you crazy hep cats are just sick!

Aura Throughout History: I forgot about this series of concepts. No rush as I only have half the needed costumes. I'd like to cover Medieval (primarily the War of the Roses), Renaissance, Jacobean Witch Hunts, Pirates, American Colonial, Napoleonic, Victorian, WWII, and 1970s. I'm a history geek with a minor in it. This was probably a mistake but I'm hooked now.

Cavewoman Naked Bondage Peril: I love the irony of needing a dinosaur when I'm 54. And they mocked me in fourth grade! Mine is an evil laugh!

The Fetishmonger: Because who doesn't like Katie Ashe stripped naked and tied up? Especially when tormented by a dominatrix.

Sister Time 4 and 5: Not at the front of the list. Maybe next month.



Other than the contest winner, I'm not going to put much emphasis on the ToDos for a while. There are too many things I need to buy to compose them, and that won't happen this weekend. The one I may do first is Fetishmonger. Besides, how can I resist a nude Katie?

If I can clear the In Progress list, I'll be on track to fully implement my schedule on Monday.

EDITS AS THEY FINISH

Edit 9 AM, 10/20: Moved Katie's Morph Issue to DoneDid.

Edit 7:30 PM, 10/20: Moved and repathed Aura's texture maps.
  • Listening to: Coffee pot gurgling
  • Reading: Hmm ...
  • Watching: Wife getting ready for work
  • Playing: Not sure
  • Eating: Pipe stem
  • Drinking: COFFEE WHEEEEE!