‘We Made It’ Issue #2: Fantastical Unicorn-Themed Zine Action…

What is best in life? Some people would answer “fat unicorns“. Those people have a good point. Rembrand Le Compte is one of those people and he decided that fat unicorns should be the theme for the second issue of the We Made It zine that he edits. That zine is now here…

It’s a very nice anthology package packed full of sweet illustrations/stories/poems/photos from a diverse array of ace artists, all inspired by the fat unicorn theme. I’m happy and humbled to be in there alongside them, for this issue features some of my work as well – a comic titled ‘Una the Aurous ——-’. Cheri Borgstrom illustrated the short story and she brought the whole thing to life and turned my idea into something beautiful. I’m really pleased with the end result and it’s a thrill to see something I wrote made real as a printed comic that I can hold in my hands.

We Made It. Yes we did, and you can see what we made by ordering issues – print or digital – from the We Made It site. You might also be interested in the first issue – themed around Whales – which features my short prose story/alternate history ramble ‘Whale Caesar’. You also might be interested in submitting to future issues, so keep an eye out for news of issue 3.

What is best in life? Well, if it isn’t fat unicorns, it’s probably making things. Yeah, I think that might be it…

Sweet Memories, Feelings and a Sentimental Summary of my Summer in Italy…

Allora, I feel like I should write a blogpost about my adventures in Italy because I’ve been back a while now and time is ticking away. The moment is passing. The trip is becoming old news and something that has been and gone, fading from view in the rear view mirror. If I don’t type up some stuff soon then surely soon will be too late, right?

Even so, I’m feeling ambivalent about the idea of blogging. I could write a blogpost about my travels, but what’s the reason for doing it? Is it because I feel obliged to – that I have to account for myself or file a report because if I don’t I’m being oddly evasive or acting as it’s like it didn’t happen?

I’m also wary because I know that some people out there are interested but I also know that others don’t care much at all, and that’s fine. People – people like me and probably you – put a lot of stuff out into the aether and upload things into cyberspace but cyberspace is vast and indifferent, and that’s also okay and understandable. People have busy lives and there’s just too much going on in real life and on the internet to engage with everything. If I share something on the web and it doesn’t register or cause a ripple, hey, never mind. I’m not very precious and create stuff, first and foremost, because I love creating things. “Do what you love and if other people like it as well then – hey! – that’s a brilliant bonus!” is my kind of general mindset and a terrible working title for the creative self-help guidebook that I’m never going to write. “‘Tis better to share and find that others aren’t interested than to never share at all” is a similar summary of the way I tend to see things, though that line is going to need some editing if it’s ever going to make it into a poetry book or onto a teatowel…

Anyhow, in spite of that it’s not pleasant feeling like – and knowing that – you’re pouring out your heart and soul out in public spaces for no purpose. If I were to write a blogpost on my recent trip, I know that I would be pouring my heart and soul out because Italy has given me feelings. So, so many feelings. This trip meant a lot to me and I don’t want to wrench out all those feelings and beautiful memories and do them a disservice by knocking out a badly-written blog treatment that folk quickly skim over. I don’t think I can adequately encapsulate what was possibly the best six weeks of my life so far in a few thousand words accompanied by context-free photos. There are so many details, moments and intangible elements – way too many to try and tie up neatly and definitively in a post.

I wouldn’t know where to begin and I wouldn’t know how to shape it to do myself and my experiences justice. I also fear – and this is one of my major worries as a writer who says things on the internet – that I’ll come across as smug or insincere (and that is never my intention). I also don’t want to be insufferable and irritate others by banging on about how I had the most awesomest of amazing times. I did, and I feel I can better represent that in person on in more personal sections of the internet (namely, via emails or among friends on Facebook). These black and white bits of text on a screen can’t carry the full, authentic force of emotion and convey the deep truth of what I’m trying to express either. I’m a gushy sentimental soul and there’s a danger that cold pixels will distort or dilute the genuine passion and feeling, making me seem trite and mawkish.

Altogether, I’m not satisfied that a blogpost chronicle of my six week trip around Italy is going to cut it so I’m not going to write one. I can’t find the words and effectively articulate my feelings about the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve had the privilege to spend time with and all that they have all meant to me. Italy is a very special country for me and I’ll treasure this particular trip especially for the rest of my days. All I can do to express that is shut up and scribble down some doodlings on a piece of paper in a sort of reminiscence mindmap to try and give a visual picture of my happy memories.

Basta. I will finish and move on by saying thank you to everyone and everything that was a part of my Italian experience. The best time of my life… :D

 

Summer Camp Lunchtime Doodles – Part Two: Goofy Sketches in Gussago…

Buongiorno mi amici! How about some more summer camp lunchtime doodles? These ones come from the second camp which was located in the beautiful town of Gussago on the outskirts of Brescia. Having finished up in Fino Mornasco (see this blogpost for sketches) the company sent me off on a train to the other side of Lombardia to work there.

First, some possibly-not-very-interesting contextual background info for those who are interested in ‘ze process’. Conditions for the daily drawing action were different – and better – at this camp. The school had a large, well-lit mensa and a great grassy garden outdoors in contrast to the dark canteen cave and cramped stone courtyard of the first camp. The actual ‘eating inside’ part of the break took longer because the meals here were provided on-site (not packed lunches). With the organised distribution of several courses – and it’s Italy so there are many courses as standard – I had a bit more time to draw in relaxed fashion. This was also the case outside where I had a lot of space (temporal and physical) to doodle away. The Gussago kids liked my sketches but, with a whole massive grassy area in which to freely play, they weren’t as interested as the Fino Mornasco bambini. Regardless, I did sketch requests (two particular children demanded daily vampire bats) and kept on doodling. Here are those daily diary doodlings with explanatory annotations…

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Summer Camp Lunchtime Doodles – Part One: Inky Fingers in Fino Mornasco…

Allora, by way of trying to (literally) illustrate what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks, here’s a blogpost with some pictures. (Woohoo! Pictures!) They are pictures drawn by me on the fly during the lengthy lunch breaks in the middle of the summer camp day. I’ve been away in Italy working as an English language tutor in a couple of Italian schools. Every day in the break from all the singing, dancing, didactic classroom activity and suchlike I’d sit down with my lunch and doodle. I’d do this on my canteen placemat (my personal daily diary sketches) and then take the art action outside and reel off sketch requests for bambini to take away. Seeing kids’ faces light up because they love the little scrappy cartoon kittie (or horse, or shark, or panda, or erm, carnivorous plant) that you’ve drawn for them is so rewarding, plus it potentially helps them learn some English. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun for me and, y’know, I like having fun…

Without much further ado then, here are my lunchtime sketches from the fortnight of the first camp which was in Fino Mornasco, Como province, Lombardia. The children here really liked my sketching and I got a lot of requests every lunchtime. I’ve probably never been so popular. I mean, look at these enthralled fans…

I’m like the Pied Piper with a pen…

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I’m Back from Italy and I’m Confused but I’m Gonna Create Some Stuff…

Ciao ragazzi! I’m back. Here. Here I am, sono qui. Mi scusa, I had to go off and have some adventures and abandon ‘th’norm’ for a bit because I’m in love with a state (both a geopolitical state, state of existence and a psychological state of mind) called Italia. There are lovely people there. There are amazing experiences there. There are children there who have been sent to summer camps to learn English and they need people like me to draw things for them and sing at them for their entertainment and education.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past six weeks but now I’m back in Blighty, plugged into this laptop and connected to the wider internet and ‘th’norm’ again. This feels very strange. Where am I? What am I doing? What is this alien land? I’m in a weird-and-confused state (both a geopolitical state, state of existence and a psychological state of mind) and I’m very tired, lost and listless. I haven’t had much sleep these last few days. I’m all out of kilter and discombobulated. Mamma mia, I’ve left my love behind.. *cue beautiful memories, bittersweet sensations and then the inevitable melancholy when imminent reality seeps back into conscious awareness…*

Allora, anyway I’m back and I’m now trying to adjust (re-adjust?) to the stark change. I’m doing this as a changed person because I think I have changed or have been changed because travel changes you. In spite of that, I’ve got to get back into some of the loops I’ve not been looped into for a while and move to some ‘old’ grooves I’ve not channelled for six weeks. For a start, I’ve got to get back some keyboard mojo and relearn how to type stuff on a computer.

I’ve also got to get these camp songs out of my head (no more ‘No More Monkeys On the Bed’, per favore) and condition myself to stop automatically responding with words like sì, grazie and salute! (that last one for when someone sneezes or farts). Mainly I’ve got to accept the fact that I’m not in Italy though I still think I’d like very much to be in Italy. È troppo difficile, so I’m going to find some progressive and therapeutic comfort by doing what overemotional creative types do when they need to perk themselves up or deny reality – imagine up some stuff and create things. I then might share it on the internet, ’cause I can do that again now that I’m reunited with my beloved laptop. (But it doesn’t show me as much affection as all the sweet Italian children and their families and hasn’t even touched the frittata I made for it yesterday afternoon. A laptop is a poor substitute for real love…)

In summary, avanti, creative action is go and there will be writings and doodlings all over the show again (on this site, on my art blog, on Instagram and possibly other cyberspaces). There may be some blogposts about my adventures, there should be some fresh fiction bits, maybe some new ‘projects’ and ideas and there will definitely be a lot more sketching. At least there will be when I’ve refound some rhythm. Anyway, welcome (or welcome back), I’m here again and – in spite of my melancholy and yearning to be somewhere else – I’m psyched to get back to earnest, online creative action again. Here, have some of my delusional fancies and some frittata. I’ve got a lot to spare…

 

Andiamo! Abandon the Internet, Amico, and Escape to Italy…

Andiamo! Go, go! I’m like Super Mario in the above sketch – on the move and all amped up to take on some colourful adventures. I’m also, like Mario, a two-dimensional fake Italian. The nice thing is that I now get the chance to make myself a better fake Italian by spending some time in Italy.

So, yes, it’s a me, Super-Giacomo, and I’m a-going! Io vado in Italia, to put into practice what I’ve been learning on Duolingo, to see friends, to soak up some culture, to experience some sunshine, to eat the best pasta and to make an ass of myself at kids’ summer camps. I did this last year, and it was such a blast I’m that going back for more. I am now all psyched for the whole experience and can’t wait to have another crack at the “I’m an educational entertainer/entertaining educator, kids! Now let’s all pretend to be bananas!” craic.

First though, I’ve got to do some packing and leave behind an ‘out of office’ note. While I’m on the road I won’t be wired up to the interwebs (the laptop gets left behind) so don’t expect much in the way of online noise from me for six weeks.  That means no Den of Geek columns, short stories or doodles on my sketch blog for a bit but a break is good. What’s more, I’m making the resolution to return creatively re-invigorated and full of fresh energy to kick out some new jams. I can guarantee that I’ll be getting up to creative trouble and forming fresh ideas while I’m flouncing about and pretending I’m in a Fellini film – doodling, scribbling in notebooks, doing the Kerouac thing and suchlike. Then when I return, I’ll unleash some things on y’all and it will be ultra-enthusiastic, dramatic and expressive because I’ll have spent six weeks around Italian people. Hey, I’m a fake Italian whose desperate to fit in. When in Rome… *frantic gesturing*

On with the adventures then and I will now begone from the internet and finish packing my bags. Until July then, mi amici, ciao! Vado! Andiamo!

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Third One, Not a Charm’…

It’s Saturday morning, so it’s the perfect time for a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy. I will, thus, give you a slightly silly sci-fi fantasy and upload my May Pictonaut challenge effort onto the internet. To recap for those unfamiliar with the format, every month the admirable Imagino-Admiral John Steele picks a picture and urges people to write a short story inspired by it. Participants then take up the challenge, weave a yarn and exhibit them in their own private section of cyberspace. I do this every month and it’s a nice creative exercise, albeit one I won’t be exercising for a while while I go off travelling and unplug from this laptop for a while. (That blogpost is coming tomorrow, so watch this cyberspace-space for further details.)

For May 2014′s Pictonaut image, John picked the following photograph (credit unavailable and unknown, unfortunately) of a woman doing some hardcore stretching atop a mountain…

Epic stretching…

It’s a very evocative, beautiful image and, most of all, it made me want to do yoga because I miss doing yoga as a proper discipline. It was a great opportunity to take some yogic spirit to writing but that got a bit lost as all the spiritual ideas somehow got sifted out in the cerebral sieve. A clunky lump stuck in place and that ended up being a half-written story about a very weak and woolly character who runs away from all her domestic heartbreaks and liberal middle class anxieties to a mountain resort (“What the hell is this you’re writing?” I asked myself). There was a fantastical twist though to save me from banality that just ain’t me as our protagonist finds that the resort’s yoga instructor is actually an underage supersoldier war child in the Hanna vein who is undercover and on a mission to assassinate a Russian secret agent.

It was beyond tolerable levels of terrible, so I swiftly discarded it, re-aligned with some yoga stretches and asked myself what I really wanted to write right now. The answer: “Hey, I want to have fun and space is fun so, by the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, I’m gonna go full-frontal sci-fi on this, sister…

So I did, and the result is an out-there yarn I’ve quickly blasted out called Third One, Not a Charm. It’s silly and off-the-cuff but way more fun than my first idea and way more ‘me’ in terms of style and themes. If the mood takes you, feel free to take a read of my Pictonaut challenge effort for May 2014 and, of course, please consider writing your own before the month is out. As for myself, the lesson I’ve learned is that life is better if you meditate a bit, align some yogic spirit and write the things you love the most…

Travelling Back Through Time to the Temple of Doom…

“Okey dokey, Dr. Jones! Hold on to your potatoes!” And your hat. Oh, and your heart as well. You wouldn’t like it if someone else got a hold of it…

Let’s roll, ideally in a runaway mine cart. 30 years ago this week, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit movie theatres. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, Paul Bullock – the man behind the brilliant From Director Steven Spielberg archive website – is hosting Temple of Doom week. He put out a call for thoughts on the movie and, because I love it and got caught up in sweet nostalgia just recalling the second Indy film, I duly responded with an enthusiastic email.

Paul has, very kindly, taken those transcribed thoughts and uploaded them on to the blog as part of the celebration. You can read my reflections by heading over to the site and I hope people enjoy them or, perhaps, are moved to re-appraise Temple of Doom. I’m very happy to have been able to make a small contribution to an excellent blog that I recommend to all cinema aficionados. Paul’s devotion is amazing and I’m in awe of the hard-work he continues to put into building and curating his free online archive of all-things Spielberg-related.

Roll on, and here’s to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Oh, and here’s also to Dr Jones holding on to his potato…

Barbarians Work (and Kill) on Bank Holidays…

Yesterday it was a bank holiday, but I don’t think we should have holidays for banks. Really, banks are among the most awful institutions ever conceived. I’m thinking about banks and feeling nauseous. Ick. Oh, I’d love to to live in a world bereft of such things alongside people and creatures who do not care for economic systems and suchlike. Barbarians who inhabit fantastical realms only visitable within the imagination care not for banks. Barbarians of said fantastical realms do not take bank holidays either. Yeah, let’s trip back to yesterday and head over to those realms…

Yesterday The Working Barbarian was working (what bank holiday?) for a new chapter surfaced in cyberspace. The collaborative crowd-sourced saga continues apace and it fell up on me to take the narrative on after the climax of our hero Jala’s boss battle with the dread Magebane. Readers voted on the story’s direction and decided that Jala should kill the villain, so I have duly killed her. You can read that in the new instalment – chapter the two-and-twentieth which is titled Death Drives. After reading you then get to cast your vote and choose where we go from here. I encourage you to do so, and you can always go back through the various chapters or check the Recap-O-Rama I wrote if you need to get up to speed with the unfolding story and surrounding mythos we’ve built up.

I will leave you with the power metal-heavy Working Barbarian Workout Mixtape I used as mood music for writing the fresh episode. Savage sounds for scripting slaughter can be found in the playlist. It might make excellent motivational music for your next visit to the bank…

 

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Blissful Existence Beneath the Meru Mountain Complex, Brought to You By Moksha-Co. International’…

Say, I think it’s time I shared some science fiction visions. Yes, I shall, because I have sci-fi visions but I’ll come to those in a second. First, let me break down some details and set up the framework on which I will stick some ideas and sticky creative writing bits…

Here’s what happens: every month, the most excellent Generalissimo John Steele sets a short story writing challenge. This is the Pictonaut challenge and the gist is “See this image? Write something inspired by it, around a thousand words in length, okay?” It is okay and I do this every month because I like a challenge and it’s a nice creative exercise that sometimes yields interesting results. April’s Pictonaut image was particular interesting and really stimulated my mind. The chosen inspiral picture was a piece titled Relay by the artist Steve Renn

A high-priest of hi-tech by Steve Renn…

I like this picture and it speaks to me (and it speaks in an eerie hushed whisper). It has science fiction and it has a figure meditating and thus it combines technology with spirituality and grooves with a lot of topics I’m fascinated by and that I debate with myself. Occasionally, I try and write about these topics to articulate all those inner philosophical dialogues – like in last week’s Den of Geek column on Transcendence and the notional uploading of human consciousness into the non-organic state of an artificial intelligence.

Coming back to the challenge at hand, though, this month’s Pictonaut challenge gave me a chance to ruminate on these things that concern me and attempt to distill ‘em into a blast of flash fiction. I have difficult dilemmas. Conundrums like: ‘Can technology improve our wellbeing and elevate us to a more enlightened, advanced state, mind, body and soul?‘; ‘Can I harmoniously follow Zen Buddhist philosophies and function in the modern materialist world?‘; ‘Do technological self-help and wellbeing solutions commodify the human soul?‘; ‘Will there ever come a time when transcending mundane existence and the suffering of this world and the past and so on becomes more imminently achievable for regular folk?‘ There are more but I’ll spare you and save ‘em up for face to face convserations because spending all this time staring at a computer screen and asking the indifferent artificial face of the internet all these techsistential questions is turning into a dehumanising downer…

So then, sci-fi and some thoughts around technology and spirituality. In the end, my Pictonaut effort for April 2014 is more of an exploration of an idea – a speculative utopian/dystopian vision – than an actual story. Feel free to read it and see what you think. I hope it stimulates you in some way and I’ll leave it to you to appreciate as you see fit – here is the short creation that I’ve titled Blissful Existence Beneath the Meru Mountain Complex, Brought to You By Moksha-Co. International

‘We Made It’ Zine Available to Download…

Ahoy! We Made It! Yes, I’ve written this blogpost before, but am flagging up the issue again because there’s fresh news. Fresh news is this: the first issue of the We Made It zine edited by Rembrand Le Compte is now available to download. Download it and you get the opportunity to enjoy an excellent anthology package anchored around the theme of ‘whales’. My secret history short story about Whale Caesar (Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus) is in there and if you’d like to read that, you’ll have to click on that link because We Made It is the only place it will be published. Esoteric mysteries do not make themselves conspicuous, y’know, and you have to make certain pledges if you wish to reach enlightenment…

And some more news: We Made It is now accepting submissions for issue 2 and the theme is ‘Fat Unicorns’. I’m determined to have a fat unicorn of my own creation in the zine so have already begun work on my masterplan and started consulting the arcane literature as research. Manifesting mythical creatures is something I’m very much interested in…

Anyhorn, We Made It #1 is there and available online for your reading pleasure. Enjoy…

The Working Barbarian Rises…

The Working Barbarian Rises again and so I doodled some timely fan-art…

Holy hot dragon halitosis! It returns! The great, bloody, sprawling, astonishingly-compelling fantasy epic is back! Oh, and the new season of Game of Thrones has started as well but, please, don’t talk about that. I have not the means to access this glorious thing until a later date and have appropriately erected my filters and advanced spoiler protection system (it’s a 700-foot high wall made of ice, stone and magic). Still, I’m not convinced that it’s strong enough so I may go into hiding and exile across myself the Narrow Sea, only to return when I’ve read the original books and allowed my dragons chance to mature. Yeah, maybe…

Anyway, to fantasy fiction I can talk about and that I am actually involved in – The Life and Times of the Working Barbarian. After a winter break, Saga-Father Magus John of Steele has declared its time to thaw out the tale and pick up the perishing plot threads. The crowdsourced collaborative adventure will continue and it will continue by bringing you the climactic boss battle we promised before the break.

You may have trouble remembering that or not remember it at all. In fact, you may not recall any of this or have any familiarity with this thing of which I speak and are now asking “Che cosa? What is this Working Barbarian? I am confused and clueless and do beseech thee! Enlighten me!” Okay, that I can do and that I have done. Before we proceed with the adventure, let us take you back with a brief catch-up-slash-primer…

You can, of course, get up to date with the story so far by reading each individual episode. If you lack the time and inclination, however, the recap-o-rama I wrote is a handy aid that’ll set you up nicely for the much-anticipated restart. I hope you enjoy it. Go forth and embrace the Barbarian adventure

The End of the ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ Parallel Dimension News Service… Again…

The Alternate Reality News has broadcast its final broadcast…

Meanwhile, in this reality…. the alternate reality news service I run hits a total of 222 daily bulletins. Hitting that number means The End. Fin. Skwaa’t, as the ice miners of Scorpius-Gliese 667Cd say at the end of every single hard shift (Unionise, guys. Unionise). Enough and no more. The Universe (as in ‘personification of cosmic consciousness’) of this Universe hath declared that it’s The End so, yes, I’m done.

I am done because there are no more news stories to elaborate on, for this recent Alternate Reality News run was an expanded edition to accompany the original ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ site. Recapping briefly, last August the James Clayton of a not-too-dissimilar parallel dimension experienced a timequake and was forced to relive the entire past year all over again. So he might do something useful with himself while living through the repeat, he decided to go through all the daily alternate reality news bulletins and provide additional details. I – James Clayton in this timestream – then duly typed up his reportage for the denizens of this reality. That’s why there’s no more – as I say, the original run of daily updates ended at 222.

So that’s that. Finito. I’ve had so much fun engaging with these alternate realities and I’m stepping away with feelings of ambivalence. I’ve got some more mental space to concentrate on other projects and responsibilities. I’m liberated from my rigid morning routine. At the same time, I’m going to miss my daily dose of far-out, otherworldly thinking ’cause engaging with alternate history and immersing yourself in fantastical possibilities and ‘imagine ifs’ is so much fun and essential for your mental wellbeing.

I will, thus, continue to look back in the direction of ‘Meanwhile, in an alternate reality…’ in the future because it’s a treasure trove of material and ideas for creative writing. For now, though, I’m going to step back and have a moment of peace, taking satisfaction in what actually amounts to a pretty impressive achievement – that is, observing and fulfilling a self-made commitment to write material on a daily basis for no reward beyond my own absurdist enjoyment and the slight possibility that a few others might enjoy it too. It has been nice to see people responding well to what I’ve offered up and if you’ve read and shared, just know that I’m sending huge thanks and appreciative fist-bumps your way. Special thanks are due to a select bunch of cyberspace champions who’ve been especially supportive of my online activities – namely this Warlock, that Necromancer and the Bearded Charmer.

At some point down the line I’ll pull together a print collection of the Alternate Reality News to accompany – and surpass – the first newsletter edition. For now though, I need to find some solace and meditate on what this all means, what my purpose in life is and what I’m going to do to ease the epic void that has just opened up in my soul.

Oh, okay. The James Clayton of another alternate reality has just appeared in my mind’s eye and he has reassuring sweet words of wisdom. I’m off. So, is Alternate Reality News. Thank you for reading and good life…

*The quintessence swirls and warps, the cosmic weave dances and then sweeps all tangible and intangible matter into a hole that is nothing and everything and then everything is nothing and nothing is everything. Silence. Fade to black. Titles say ‘The End?’*

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Black Bella Donna’…

Time marches on and March is almost over so it’s high time I got the monthly Pictonaut short story challenge out of my system. It is now out of my system but first, the fundamentals. At the beginning of every month, the most rawksome Steeley John throws down the following challenge: “See this picture? Write a short story about it. You’ve got around 30 days. Do it.” I do do it, and I’ve duly done it this month. For March 2014′s challenge, Mr Steele selected the following photograph taken by an enigma named An Nguyen or Pournoirr

An evocative black-and-white photograph by An Nguyen…

Looking at this picture I got vibes and a drive to tell a certain type of story. This photo whispered to me and it whispered “Giallo“. The decor suggested Italy, the clothing suggested fashion and that also suggested Italy. There’s also something cinematic about this monochrome scenario and I felt stirrings of vintage art film in here. Hey, that also makes me think of Italy! Altogether, thoughts blended together and I came to the conclusion: “I want to dabble with something a bit sinister and tell a short tale that channels Giallo“. So that’s what I attempted to do, even though I’m in no way a great expert on Giallo – an Italian film and literature genre that revolves around crime, mystery and sometimes the supernatural. With films like Dario Argento‘s Profondo Rosso and Mario Bava‘s Blood and Black Lace on my mind, I set to work.

In the end, the various ideas I started typing up got rejected in favour of a different story and then they were subsequently also switched aside. Finally I stuck with a particular premise – partly influenced by the ethereal kitchen sink sci-fi art movie Under the Skin - and turned that into a rough ‘first draft blast’ short script. It’s the opening sequence of an imaginary film titled Black Bella Donna and, though it’s formatting ain’t quite proper, ideally it gives you a feel for what I’m picturing in my head and sets up some beguiling mystery. I hope you enjoy it or find it in some way interesting and perhaps, after reading, are intrigued to watch the rest of a vintage, arty chiller that doesn’t exist but if it did it would have been made on the cheap in Italy in 1974. You can read Black Bella Donna‘s opening here

The ‘We Made It’ Zine and the Secret History of Whale Caesar…

We Made It! Well, Rembrand Le Compte made it and put in the real effort of actually pitching and putting together a fresh collaborative creative project. Kudos, then, to Lord Rembo for his initiative and editorial effort because We Made It #1 is an excellent collection that contains superb material from an array of talented artists and writers.

The theme of the zine (the zine-theme) is whales and, because I really like sea creatures and alternate history, I offered up a piece of writing titled Whale Caesar. I figured that it was time to share the truth about the forgotten Roman Emperor Publius Cetus Traianus – a mighty and fascinating figure whose name was shamefully scrubbed from the chronicles. I’m just happy to have the chance to tell his story and to have my work included in the mix.

We Made It is a limited-run publication but there may be more copies available at some point in the future. There will definitely be more issues with different themes for artists to submit to and for further information please visit the website.

Here’s a photo giving you a hint of my whale-of-a-tale

‘Whale Caesar’ in the We Made It zine…

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