Archive | November, 2011

Think of it as “Pekar Meets Friends…”

30 Nov

A graphic novel in progress…

So, for this entry I thought I’d share with you a quick look at a graphic novel
[in progress] that I am working on, with artist Roger Price. It was inspired by some conversations my old friends and I were having remembering our student days. The friendships you make during your student years are very different than those you cultivate later in life. You ‘work-a-day’ acquaintances can never get as close to you as the gang you could hang with 24/7 with nothing but coffee and a few packs of smokes.

Ya, I know, not very PC to mention the coffin nails, but once upon a time we hadn’t even thought of quitting, LOL. The time we invested in those friendships means that even now, decades later, we can run into eachother and pickup conversations and banter as though no time has gone by [even if it has been months since we’ve spoken]. I met my wife, Pauline during that time and we had a… well, ‘different’ courtship. LOL. On the night I met her, we were throwing a superhero themed Halloween party, back in University. I was Green Lantern and she was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. My girlfriend, at the time, was a drunken Wonder Woman busying herself with being obnoxious to all my friends.

As I retreated to one of the back rooms in order to play some cards I got to talking with Pauline and discovered she was into D & D, comics and Star Trek! I was immediately in Geek heaven. Over time our friendship evolved into, as corny as it sounds, ‘the love of my life’. Not without a whole variety of crazy adventures, of too much time and too little money, mind you. So I present to you:

“The Adventures of

Driving Boy & Coffee Girl”

Or

How I managed to

NOT screw things up with her!

A quasi-autobiographical look at my 20’s and the crazy relationships… bizarre circumstances and lasting friendships that led me to the woman I would one day marry. The story will take place over a span of seven years [from age 20 – 27] in mine, my friends, my future wife’s lives. It will begin on the day I met Pauline and finish on our Wedding Day. In between I’ll explore the relationships between a group of friends living on their own, for the first time, and trying to figure out what sort of adults they are supposed to be.

It will consist of stories about their struggles in school; the crappy jobs; their loves and heartbreaks; and the uncertainty of what the future holds.

Hitting On All Sixes… Speakeasy Style

29 Nov

“Well you walk into a restaurant, strung out from the road, You can feel the eyes upon you as your shaking off the cold You pretend it doesn’t bother you, but you just want to explode… 

Say, here I am, on the road again. there I am, up on the stage. Here I go, playing star again. There I go, turn the page… “

* Bob Seger, 1973

The act of creation.

The act of bringing forth something new into the world, this is often taken for granted. When we set out to create, we should keep in mind that we are the torchbearers of a long and wide spread tradition. The artists, writers and bards of mankind’s colourful [and often tragic] history gaze down on us from heights.

In order to do them any semblance of honour we must recognize our connection to them and our responsibility to those who will one day follow us. Creation is not a fancy… it is not a hobby… it is not a childish thing to be put away when we are no longer children ourselves but rather have children of our own.

Creation is the god within us all.

It is the spark of the divine. I am not saying a specific faith or deity has a part… I am saying that the essential element present in each and every human being, that sets us apart from the beasts, is expressed when we create.

We owe that spark a duty of care. When we step onto stages in spotlights [both virtual and actual] we are sharing that spark of ours with the world. Our creations shout out. They reveal the hidden mysteries of our own identities through symbols and imagery.

This is a powerful realization for many artists. Some embrace the perceptions of audience and relish the opportunity to share their work [and thus, themselves]. The possibility of rejection for our creations is the possibility of rejection for [a part at least] of ourselves. Some creators, insecure, never send creations out into the world…

Imagine that.

A cave drawing never found. An epic romance never read. A beauty never celebrated. A tragedy never performed. Cloistered, these unknown works do not add to the Grande Tapestry of Human Expression; their threads never added to the loom.

What we set out to create, with Speakeasy Primates, is a “studio atmosphere” within our little corner of the web. For all intents and purposes Speakeasy acts as a creative workshop for the artists and writers involved. Social networks have allowed us a “virtual studio” if you will, in which we could brainstorm, refine and produce our collaborative works. Finished comics, works of art, poetry & prose that have been crafted by individuals separated, in some cases, by vast distances – made irrelevant by the wonder that is the internet. Take the following sci-fi comic for example. Revamp [also known as Thunderhide] was written by a talented bloke in England, Scott Claringbold; penciled and inked, fantastically, by José Luis Gaitan from Spain; coloured initially by one Giorgos Tsopanos from Greece; finishing colours [shading & tones] niftily applied by Jon Biermann from Edmonton & finally lettered by my good pal David Marshall up in Ottawa. This sort of collaboration would not have been possible in years gone by.

The image of a publisher’s ‘bullpen’, from the editorial pages of the Marvel Comics we read as kids, was this workshop full of writers and artists brainstorming, exchanging pages and building upon one-another’s work. Now with the ability to upload and send eachother massive files, while simultaneously providing one another with instant feedback via comments and chat, we are able to replicate and improve upon that image from our childhood.

Until next time,

r. j. paré

PS – feel free to leave us comments & critique below; we thrive on feedback!

Brother can you spare… some time?

28 Nov

Time Management

Also known as “crunch time” or for all of our students “cramming”. Here’s the thing, your parents and teachers were right. If ya do the job a little at a time then ya don’t run the risk of missing deadlines due to an overload of last minute work. But where’s the fun in that?

Me, I work best under pressure. My home is always tidiest 2 minutes prior to company coming over. My tasks at work are completed “just in time” and I swear each and every month this magazine must get finished by gremlins while I fall asleep… eyes exhausted with my head on the keyboard. Ya know something? The little buggers do a decent job too. Though any editing errors can be completely blamed on them. They sneer at spell-check and shake their scaly fists at proof reading. I hope that everyone is enjoying the ride so far. I encourage you all to create whenever the urge strikes. Try not to depend on the gremlins too much, there’s already too many people waiting for their last minute services..:)

“Come writers and critics    –    Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide    –    The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon    –    For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who    –     That it’s namin’.
For the loser now    –    Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”

— Bob Dylan, 1964

The passage of time. We observe it. We feel the countless changes to both the physical world and our perceptions of thereof. These changes, if we are trying our best, are usually good. There will, however, always be some we regret. Yet change, can also a good thing. For without change we cannot grow and evolve. It is in this spirit I’d like to share with you one of my recent bits of verse. The following piece was inspired by the duality of change [regret for what’s lost; hope for a better tomorrow] as perceived in the cold of a harsh winter. The point of view is that of an early North American settler.

revenant

wilt thou return to me
after death?
spectral visitations o’er icy landscape
the pioneer trembles
— animate…

where hast all the verdant
bloom faded?
cold haunts, barren and infertile
the hibernal soil
— revive…

whence eidolon gardens
burst restored,
there chimera seeds awaken
my revenant soul

— reborn!

Alrighty-then…

27 Nov

So where was I?

Ahem… ladies, gentlemen & Speakeasy fans of all ages – here’s the ‘sitch’ – until them lefty, free-thinking, hippy artists get off their collective duffs and start adding to the Blog – I figured I’d share with you folks some of their amazing work..:)

And PS – the above is just me yanking their collective chains. These guys and gals produce the sort of fantastic art a green-eyed writer like myself only dreams he could create. They are without a doubt hard working and not the least bit lazy… though I stand by the lefty & hippy comments – after all, it’s common knowledge most artists wear berets and grow their goatees in utero!

So where to begin. In an earlier missive I mentioned that Buddha Monkey was one of our first 2 projects, so it does sound like the perfect place to start!

Buddha Monkey

From Hacky Sack to Kung Fu attack!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Buddha Monkey. 

The above pinup was drawn by Matthew Goodall, the penciler for issue #2 [more on that in a future post], the inks and colours were provided by the series regular inker, Roger Price. Buddha Monkey began as a series of fun & dynamic drawings that artist Stan Nelson submitted to RKYV ONLINE. They represented, for him, a sort of personal mascot. Being an avid Hacky Sacker Stan’s early drawings of Buddha Monkey involve him playing and repairing his Hacky Sack. I approached Stan about creating a back-story for the character and we were off! Stan’s images of Buddha Monkey inspired me to write, what I hope, will be a successfull and entertaining world for this interesting character to live in.

What I dig about Buddha Monkey:

Buddha Monkey combines my love of a few “genre-specific” elements: Fantasy, Alternate History, Martial Arts and Monkeys..:)

Buddha Monkey Storyline

Then:

A street performing monkey is caught in the middle of the Asian theater of WWII. This setting is an alternate history in which the Japanese Emperor flees the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with his forces, and sets up his
government in Manchurian controlled China. In order to ensure his survival he enters into a pact with the Dark Kitsune, demons of the void. They provide him with powerful warriors, the Kabuki Samurai, to do his bidding.

A simple monkey is transformed and empowered by the Buddha to stand against these dark forces and free China from the threat of Manchurian conquest.

Now:

Manchurian Japan is determined to expand and encompass all of China. Our monkey travels the globe with the performing Shaolin Monks to help spread good will for China as they seek allies to thwart the Japanese Emperor. They are pursued by the Kabuki Samurai, relentlessly.

Ultimately:

Buddha Monkey must seek out allies, champions imbued with powers from other benevolent “gods”. A war is brewing, in the heavens and on earth, between the forces of good and evil.

Mictecacihuatl: The Queen of the Dead & The Kabuki Samurai

Coyote Shaman & The Last Viking

Buddha Monkey – brought to you by:

r. j. paré & Stan Nelson – CreatorsWritten by r. j. paré

Concept & Cover Art by Stan Nelson
Concept Art, Pencils, Inks & finished Colours by Roger Price
Layouts & Lettering by David Marshall
Preliminary colours by Steven Howard, Jon Biermann, Roger Formosa, Drew Bird & Giorgos Tsopanos
Special thanks for early Concept & Design Art to Ruby Bumrah & Sueann Williams

Follow the adventures of this Shaolin Simian as he seeks out other champions in his efforts to save the world from the forces of darkness:

Buddha Monkey Facebook Group

Just another writin’ weirdo freak…

26 Nov

As an artist, and those of us who create are just that, [I do not adhere to the convention that only in the visual arts may one be deemed ‘artists’; musicians, playwrights, poets… are these not artists?] I feel compelled at times to comment on current events. With the near-constant violence, that is reported by the 24 hr news-machine, firmly in mind I am tempted to follow the zealous and erudite path of punditry.

But what would be the point? It is not as if countless spin-doctors aren’t doing the same. Tears are shed; fingers are pointed; anger and recrimination walk hand in hand with sympathy and grief. Yet,the world continues to turn. These are not the first violent tragedies we have watched and they will not be the last.

Perhaps as an artist I can share my thoughts and feelings in a different manner. To use the tools of my craft to illustrate or comment on an aspect of these shared experiences. Perhaps that is precisely what an artist is meant to do.

The following piece appears in my first collection of poetry, “Gist – poetic perspectives,” and was inspired by what seems, to me, a disturbing attraction [I won’t call it a love-affair, in my mind it is more like a deviant obsession] human beings have with guns.

.38 Special

The cylinder turns
In lascivious wantonness

The hammer cocked
Prepared, now, to penetrate

It pierces like fire
Explosive satisfaction

Final fading thought
As hot slug thru temple rips

Bang

What’s in a name?

26 Nov

Ya just might be asking yerself  “Self, just how did them hepcat indie creators come up with such a swinging handle as Speakeasy Primates?’

Well let me clue you in on the inner workings of the artist’s mind. It is an odd and disjointed place. One never knows which synapse is gonna fire and reveal the cure for some six-syllable syndrome…

… or just the cravings for another late-night cup O’Joe. Regardless, at this point I owe you a story. Not necessarily a good story mind you – just the truth [or as close to it as my addled mind can recall].

A few years ago – while editing the latest issue of RKYV Online a conversation began ‘twixt some of my fellow contributors and I. The gist of which, was this: being Indie Creators could often be pretty frustrating. Hardly a Revelation worthy of evangelical rapture now is it? I mean nobody is gonna go start some whack0-fun cyanide-kool-aid cult based on that sort of flimsy epiphany.

The initial discussions revolved around our “pre-social network” experiences in collaboration which fell into two categories:

 1. A ridiculously small circle of individuals, we personally knew in our home towns, from which to draw upon.
2. The obstacle of having to “hire/pay” someone, up front, if we didn’t personally know them.

 

Our solution was to form a creators’ cooperative. Any writers, artists, letterers etc, that wished to find collaborators, within the group, for a project of theirs only had to agree to collaborate with the other members on their projects in exchange. This way we would be assisting eachother in creating works we were not only proud of, personally, but mutually invested in as well. Here is an interview I did with Comic Related.com @ our first con appearance as a studio, discussing what Speakeasy was all about. [my oratory skills have improved since, LOL] Interview with Comic Related.Com

Anyhow, we’ve since expanded to produce a few collections of art/poetry books and short stories [with illustrations] in addition to the cool comic books we all love. But you might be asking yourself, between be-bopping on the dance floor with a smoking dame and downing what passes for hootch in whichever dive you’ve found yourself in, “Self! What the hell does any of that have to do with how they came up with the BLEEDING name Speakeasy Primates?” And you’d not be unwarranted in yer displeasure at my seeming digressions – so I will come to it.
Simply put the first two projects we started, as a co-op studio, were “Buddha Monkey” – the adventures of the Shaolin Simian…
more on him later… And an epic tale of golden age mystery men, fighting mobsters in the prohibition era, aptly called “When Heroes Were…” featuring heroes such as…
Well ya see gents [and ladies] we needed a name at that point, didn’t we? We bandied about, the rest of the founding members and I, several ideas trying to reflect the fact that we were a cooperative; that we were something new. We tried some combinations that might pay homage to our first two projects. When suddenly my darling wife, and talented author, Pauline Paré came up with the answer: Speakeasy Primates!! There were indeed several scenes in “When Heroes Were…” that took place in a speakeasy and of course our favourite kung-fu monkey definitely qualified as a primate.
The rest, barring a chorus of cheers from the throngs of adoring fans soon to be camped outside our doors, is as they say history… and so am I.
Until next time,
r. j. paré

All For a Coffee

25 Nov

I have been coerced into writing a blog entry. First it was my husband’s giddy excitement about the project that did  (slightly) chip away at my fugue  caused by spending 11 hours on the phone at my job. I thought he would go away and let me trudge around the house like an exhausted zombie but then he pulled the dirtiest trick. He bribed me with a new Vanilla Cappuccino from Tim Horton’s. So here I am trying to remember the layout of a keyboard as write my first sleepy, grumpy, dopey post.

How many writers here have forced themselves to write when tired, frustrated and exhausted for much less than a cup of frothy goodness covered in whipped cream and caramel sauce? Us writers may not have much pride left, but who needs pride when you can have coffee like substances in cardboard cups, warming your typewriter familiar hands.

I leave you now to enjoy my hard earned reward and if you find any grammatical or spelling errors in this post, you risk meeting grumpy from the first paragraph.