Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did.

Two of my favourite cartoon artists collaborating. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Pearls Before Swine

Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning.

He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. 

Few in the cartooning world have ever spoken to him. Even fewer have ever met him.

In fact, legend has it that when Steven Spielberg called to see if he wanted to make a movie, Bill wouldn’t even take the call.

So it was with little hope of success that I set out to try and meet him last April.

I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. I also knew that he was working with Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis on a book about Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson’s art.

So I took a shot and wrote to Nick. And Nick in turn wrote to Watterson.

And the meeting…

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A small update (to the tattoo)

BeforeI got my first tattoo when I was 19. A friend drove me through to Jo’burg to one of the few reputable tattoo parlours that existed in Gauteng back then. It hurt much more than I expected but I was thrilled by the result. I showed it off whenever the occasion permitted. I had been planning that tattoo since I was 7. Reaching goals is a good thing, right?

Fast forward through large amounts of living to the present day (add a music montage if you like) and my little tattoo is looking more like something you would find on a sailor. Blurred lines hint at what used to be a pretty awesome tattoo (at least, I thought so). I told my mom that one has to repaint one’s house every once and while. And boy, my paint job needs maintenance, so tomorrow I am going for a touch-up. I found a tattoo artist that does beautiful work and after facebook stalking his page for more than a year I finally made an appointment.

Tonight is the last night of blurred lines in this house. Tomorrow will hopefully bring some awesome ink. *tries not to bounce too much*

Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall

Storm Dancer | Dark Fantasy Fun

I found Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall on Twitter where I have been spending a questionable amount of time lately. The book also came with a warning about the dark nature of the story and the disturbing themes running through it. It’s a sensible thing to do if you don’t know the person you’re recommending a book to but I wish it wasn’t necessary. The warning tinges the reader’s preconceptions and to be honest, I’ve read much more violent and disturbing books without warning and thoroughly enjoyed them too (Stephen Donaldson‘s Thomas Covenant novels springs to mind).

Now that the warnings are out the way, let me get to the book. The story is set in a desert country reminiscent of Ancient Arabia one finds in Arabic fables. The protagonist, Dahoud, has turned his back on his past and his nature. After an illustrious career as one of the most violent and effective war generals in the Quislaki army he returned to the life of a labourer in the hopes of atoning for his crimes. We first meet him when he is summoned back to the Quislaki capital and ordered back into the fray.

I was drawn into Dahoud’s battle with himself from the start. Driving his desire for violence is a Djinn that takes advantage of his dark side and goads him to ever worse deeds. The Quislaki ruler, Kirral, is possessed by a similar Djinn, but one that has not been curbed by its host. The contrast between the two makes for some great reading. Add to this a feisty, beautiful magician called Merida who is trapped in Quislak by Kirral’s machinations and the scene is set for a great read. Hall’s characters are vivid and many faceted and one can’t help but empathise with all of them and their personal struggles.

Although the main theme of the book centers on violence against women I found the subtler theme of the struggle and acceptance of one’s dark side to be the more intriguing part of the story. Both Merida and Dahoud are unwilling to accept their failings and they are lessened by the limitations they place on themselves. Only with complete acceptance is each able to move forward. There may be a lesson there…

Storm Dancer is a wonderful tale of magic and myth woven into one. I couldn’t put this book down and would recommend it to all lovers of Dark Fantasy. You may want to avoid this if you’re sensitive or on the squeamish side but if that’s the case you should probably steer clear of all Dark Fantasy.

Happy Birthday

On the significance of birthdays

Ever since I can remember I have loved celebrating birthdays. The quiet sulking of apparent old age was not for me. Instead, I would start planning my birthday (which is this month) in May. It used to drive my mother round the bend. She forbade me to start planning anything sooner than July. I ignored her of course. You can never start planning your birthday celebrations too early.

But this year the birthday doldrums made an appearance. They snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking and leapt in front of me with their anti-birthday signboards. I’m turning 40 in three weeks and somehow I’ve managed to avoid all planning and thoughts of celebrations since May. You can imagine my mother’s surprise when I said there was no party. I blamed it on being overworked and tired, as one does. The truth it that for the first time I’m taking a look at what I’ve done with my time so far and I can’t help but feel that I should have crammed more into it. I’m not sure where exactly but the feeling remains. Perhaps the older one gets the more one is aware of how fleeting life is. Perhaps I’m just having a pity party.

I don’t feel much older than 20 most days. When I look down at my feet it seems like nothing has changed. However, when I look in the mirror a lifetime gazes back. It’s hard to ignore how vulnerable we are to the passage of time. I phoned my Aunt for her birthday on Saturday and she set me straight. Never mess with Aunts – they don’t put up with silliness. She informed me that after 40 you only have a birthday once every decade because you won’t notice how quickly life rushes by, so best throw out the pity party and invite some friends over. She has a point. Birthdays remind us that we are alive and kicking and if that isn’t worthwhile celebrating, I don’t know what is.

The difference between having and getting

I was handed a portable hard drive this week. You know the kind – filled with all kinds of illicit goodies. This particular drive was filled with books. All the cool sci-fi and fantasy books you could dream to get your hands on. On one drive. I have been handed these before and for some reason, once I have this unimagined literary loot in my grubby little paws, the excitement fades.

The thing is, part of the joy of books for me is in the discovery of them. Finding a new author through careful searching (this includes trawling second-hand bookstores), reading reviews or simply being handed a worn, well-loved copy of a book by a friend accompanied by the phrase “You’ll love this”. I know for a fact that I may never look at any of the books on that drive simply because I didn’t discover them. And there’s a part of me that believes that if you’ve enjoyed the story, you should recompense the author.

Yet, I hate the idea of DRM on my electronic books. Once I have discovered a book and paid for it, I want the option to share it, just like I do with my paperbacks. To me the joy of books is in the sharing of them. When sharing a book you are sharing more than a story, you are sharing ideas and memories. Books are viral and I believe authors benefit from this.

Some of my favourite authors became favourites because somebody lent me their favourite book. The Magician by Raymond E. Feist was given to me by a school pal. Frank Herbert’s Dune was a loan from an ex-boyfriend. Each book has it’s own memories tied to it. Both of these are still in my bookshelf along with everything else I could get hold of from each author. I now have them in electronic format too because it’s easier to have all your books with you at the same time when they’re on one device. *rubs hands gleefully*

Will I refuse the next hard drive that is handed to me? Probably not. Will I repeat the process of disappointment at not having found all those books myself? Definitely. This is the difference between having and getting. Getting is so much more fun.

Kev and Book Club

I am a bookworm. Books move me. I love the feel of them, their smell and their magic. And most importantly I love to share them. This is where my dilemma starts. I like to share my books with Kev. He will read the offerings I send to his Kindle but for some reason he is intensely secretive about which of my offerings he is busy reading. And there is no discussion about them. None. De nada. Zip. Zero. You get the idea.

According to Kev, the first rule of Book Club is that no-one talks about Book Club. How does one share a book if the other party won’t participate in all the sharing activities? I was complaining about this in roughly the same breath I was wondering how one would stretch a scene over several chapters when Kev made his point, “See, this is why we don’t have book club. I told you to read Abercrombie and you ignored me.”

He was right, of course. I once read Abercrombie and was bored out of my skull. How am I to read a 400 page book that describes one day? It might be a trap. I might wade through Abercrombie’s literature only to be reminded about the first rule of Book Club. I’m starting to suspect that the first rule of Book Club is only there to frustrate me. In the meantime I have picked up Abercrombie again. He has an interesting writing style. It seems Kev knows how to drag me kicking and screaming to the water and then get me to drink. I may buy him a horse for Xmas to see how he does with that.

Thanks to MOTH ART – Marta Bevacqua for the image.

Dax, my little oldie dog

A mixed bag day

Today was one of those mixed bag days. I was excited because Kev was due home from Canada after more than a week away. Two steps out the door with my dogs changed my excitement to worry when Dax fell over. Widget bit her last week and her tail is all bandaged up after the operation to stitch it all back together. Falling over is not a good thing for recovering patients, particularly if they were doing much better the day before.

I gave her some meds and she nibbled on her food too tired to do more. We went back to the vet as Kev stepped in the door, worried that we would have to put her down. It seems I’m a hypochondriac when it comes to my dogs too. After a day’s observation the vet concluded that she’s not using her tail for balance because it’s too sore – hence the continued falling over. I’m not convinced but I’m not going to argue with someone that has a theory that sees my little oldie dog get better.

She still looks tired and drawn. I arranged to work from home tomorrow (best boss ever) to make sure there is no dangerous falling over while trying to navigate steps around the garden, which is one big terrace. I’m relieved that I don’t have to leave her alone all day. It seems my emotions have been a bit like the weather in Cape Town today. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.