BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 28 – Anniversaries

Week 28 – Anniversaries

Two anniversaries to observe this week, and I’m going to start with the sadder and more personal one, if you’ll indulge me.

Today marks ten years since we lost Doug Marlette. Mr. Marlette was a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist known to us Southerners for his devastating wit, his lengthy feuds with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and former North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, and his comic strip Kudzu. He was also my friend and mentor figure.

When I was in eighth grade, I had a school assignment to interview someone who worked in the job I wanted to have as an adult. I wanted to be a cartoonist at the time, so I sent off letters to all my favorites: Jim Davis, Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, Bill Amend, everyone I could think of. None of them responded. I was at the point of despair when I learned that there was a nationally-syndicated cartoonist right there in North Carolina, the next town over from mine, in fact. Surely, I thought, there was no way that someone of that caliber would give me the time of day, but since I was out of options, I decided to give it a shot. I was incredibly nervous when I called his number, but he spoke to me like an old friend. He not only agreed to do the interview, but he invited me to his home out in Hillsboro. He was patient and friendly with the stammering, star-struck kid who showed up at his door, and he not only gave me all the time I needed for my assignment, but he looked at all the drawings I brought to show him, he gave me a pile of autographed books, he showed me his Pulitzer and his wall of signed cartoons from famous figures, and he even invited me upstairs to his office to see where he worked. I’ll never forget the first sight of that great big inkstained desk, or my shock when he presented me with an authentic signed original Kudzu cartoon, the kind that were usually given to celebrities, politicians, and Presidents. I had that cartoon framed, and it’s still in my room today.

Our association could have ended there, but over the next few years, I saw and spoke with Mr. Marlette many more times. I attended the lectures that he gave on the UNC campus, and no matter who was there he always recognized me and made time to ask how I was doing. He always spoke to me when I called him on the phone, even if he was busy. And at one of those lectures, the audience was called to sit down while he was still looking over my sketchbook. During the long and boring introduction from the campus reprepsentative that followed, I looked over to my side where Mr. Marlette sat in the front row… and saw the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist nearly in tears laughing over one of my cartoons, not paying attention to the rep’s intro speech at all.

I always hoped that one day I could present him with a signed copy of my own first book, as thanks for all the time he gave me, but ten years ago today, my mentor and friend died in a car accident in Mississippi. He was mourned by dozens upon dozens of his fellow cartoonists, by his friends and family, and especially by me. I will forever regret not being able to return the favor.

Mr. Marlette was more than just a cartoonist. He was a man who refused to bow down and shut up, who made a career out of savaging the famous and powerful and always stuck by his guns when they struck back at him. He was an activist, a scholar, and a philosopher. He taught me more than he will ever know, and I was blessed to be treated as his friend. I wrote the following poem in his honor.

There is a quiet field of green

Where my teacher rests.

Within the red clay, lost in peaceful sleep

With withered wreaths and flowers above his head, left by friends and family.

I arrive there long after they’ve gone, bearing no gift but what I can remember.

There is a distant field of green

Where my teacher rests.

Where my thoughts run deep with sadness

In a memory from long ago I hear his laugh

And see the welcome smile upon his face

As he greets a stranger like an old friend.

There is a peaceful field of green

Where my teacher rests.

And as I kneel upon the dry grass

Waiting for the tears to come

Instead, I find myself smiling.

Because somewhere, far away, my teacher laughs

And once again touches pen to paper.

In loving memory of Douglas Nigel Marlette
1949 – 2007

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

The happier occasion this week is the 20th anniversary of the release of my all-time favorite movie, Princess Mononoke. I’ll have more words and a tribute up on Wednesday.

– BHS

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 5: 0.25 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 2 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 1 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 27: 5.5 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05: ~10% done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Mini-Episode 01: 50% done

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 27 – Underrated and Overhated

Week 27 – Underrated and Overhated

I’m making decent progress on the next chapter of Shattered Skies. More about Dead End and what exactly Joker is doing with his hostages will be revealed in this chapter, so look forward to it. I also feel the music bug itching at me again, so I may try composing another piece for the Tasakeru soundtrack.

In between writing, petsitting jobs, and diving further into Kamen Rider, I’m putting some more time into gaming this week. I’ve been putting my new PS4 through its paces, this past weekend especially. I preordered Crash Bandicoot The N. Sane Trilogy, and I’ve made the lovely discovery that those games were (and are) friggin’ merciless. Since I never had a PS1 as a kid, I missed out on the Crash series for the most part, though I always have liked the characters. Well, one character. Coco. Her being playable in all three of the remastered games in the trilogy convinced me to give it a shot… and, well, I’ve always prided myself on being excellent at platformers, but CB1 is giving me a hell of a rough time. And I understand that these games were even harder originally? Good lord. So I made these…

The real reason I bought a PS4 comes out at the end of the week, though. At least, I assume it does… there’s some troubling uncertainty in regards to the US release date, and so far my efforts to clarify it have met with complete failure. I just need to hope that it shows up on PSN on time.

Now brace yourselves, readers, for this may come as a shock, but… I’m buying Accel World vs. Sword Art Online.

I can hear some of you gasping and/or vomiting, you can stop now. Please allow me to explain.

Despite its current position as the #1 anime that everyone loves to rag on, and despite its enormous and disproportionate hatedom, I like the SAO series. Does it have problems? Oh yes, absolutely, it’s got a mountain of flaws any way you look at it. Even at my most charitable, I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece… but it’s hardly the rancid crime against humanity that the average anime fan says it is.

If you take the time to actually watch SAO for yourself instead of obeying the whims of the kneejerk lynch mob that is modern fandom, there are things that it does well. The music is by the divine Yuki Kajiura, for one. The animation is gorgeous. And Kirito, far from being the insufferable chick-magnet God Mode Sue that his reputation would suggest, actually has depth to his character that’s not apparent at first. Maybe I’ll lose a few internet brownie points for saying it, but when it comes to bad anime, SAO isn’t anywhere near the bottom of the barrel.

Besides. Most of the SAO video games so far have been well worth purchasing even if you don’t like the series. They’re single-player RPGs with tons of content and replay value, how is that a bad thing?

And as the title suggests, SAO is only half of this game. The other half comes from its sister series Accel World, which makes up the “underrated” part of this week’s Report title. It’s really unfair that SAO is both so popular and so detested, because A) AW has always struggled to find an audience despite having a much better story and characters, and B) the hatedom automatically assumes that any flaws SAO has must be present in Reki Kawahara’s other works as well. Because he’s a loathsome irredeemable sexist pervert hack and anything he touches is trash, many would claim.

I wish the people saying stuff like that would bother to check out Accel World. The protagonist is Kirito’s near-total opposite, a chubby, unpopular loser who’s a legend in the game but a nobody in the real world. The main love interest is badass, confident, shrewd, in total command of her relationship with the hero, a brilliant tactician, and unquestionably the coolest character in the series. The plot  has way more depth than just “try to win the game”. And the villain, if you go into the series past the point where the anime ended… hoo boy, the villain is a trip and a half. As I said, AW is sorely underrated and underrepresented, despite the fact that it’s generally better all around and even occupies the same universe as SAO (albeit 40 years later). This game will mark the first meeting of the two series outside of a non-canon light novel chapter and appearances in other crossovers, and with a roster of 48 playable characters (!!!) from both series (and no, playing as Kirito is NOT required), it’s got pretty much everyone represented. The free flight mechanics from SAO: Lost Song have returned (for the SAO-verse characters and at least two of the AWers, that is), the combat system has been tweaked and improved, there’s PVP and co-op multiplayer… forgive me if I sound like a commercial, but I see very little downside here. I’m damn well looking forward to Friday, and I hope at least some of you will watch when I stream gameplay.

– BHS

 

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 26 – Halfway Point

Week 26 – Halfway Point

We’re halfway through this year, even though it seems like several decades longer than that. Considering that I thought Lord Voldemorange would kill us all within maybe two months tops, I think we’re all doing pretty well, all things considered. If we can stop His Fraudulency from dismantling and selling off our health care system, our internet, our free press, our democracy, our environment, and our organs for another… ugh, three and a half years, or until whenever the FBI gets around to yanking him from office, maybe we’ll be okay.

My, someone’s cranky today, isn’t he? Please excuse me.

Anyway. After an obscenely lengthy series of delays, Chapter 4 of Soulsnatcher is finally done. As I said when I posted the other day, it’s inexcusable that it took me so long, but I’m trying my best to make up for it. It’s the site’s eighth birthday on Wednesday, so I may try to have something special up for the occasion.

Shattered Skies Chapter 27 is also now underway, though I’m shifting its priority back a few slots to work on other things, including some photo projects and the upcoming episodes of Silent InvenTOYry.

Little Witch Academia is over, and ahhh, what a ride! Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is its only competition for Anime of the Year in my book. Having just seen the last episode, which hit all the right notes and prompted more than a few manly tears, I’m confident in saying that I haven’t felt so good about an anime’s final episode since Madoka Magica, and that’s high praise indeed. Anime endings are hard; most series blow it in the clutch, even some of my favorites. LWA, however, gave us an appropriately Gurren Lagann-esque jaw-dropping spectacle for the finale, wrapped up pretty much all of the story’s loose ends, and brought the house down in its final scene. We need more feel-good anime like it, dammit. I watched it in between paragraphs of this entry, and I think you can tell there’s been a marked improvement in my mood. XD

Back to work I go… I wanna take advantage of the warm and fuzzy feels while they last.

– BHS

(Original post on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-26-688899865)

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 4: COMPLETE!
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 2 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 27: 1.5 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05: ~10% done

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SOULSNATCHER, CHAPTER 4

Chapter 4

Order under siege

An assault on sacred ground

The night of slaughter

 

“There has never truly been a wolf in the Silver Order. While of course the Order touts itself as open to all species, and a few of our kind have followed its beliefs, in all recorded history there has never been record of a brute Brother, a fae Sister, or a knight of either.

“Admittedly, there are some practical reasons why this is the case. Wolves wander; the urge to travel is ingrained deep within, and staying in one place for too long is antithetical to us. Since officially joining the Order requires constant contact with Aedis Centralis, most of us would not be able to follow the vows.

“Sadly, the other major reason for our lack of representation in the Silver Order is simple prejudice. For all the strides made by the Argenteus House and their followers in advancing society, they have historically been either unwilling to treat us as true equals, or content to ignore us altogether. This is hardly uncommon; in too many places in the world, our kind is still seen as ‘uncultured’, our ways ‘primitive’. The less charitable tend to call us ‘savages’.

“We have heard ourselves called as much for generations upon generations. We are ‘savages’ because we prefer not to wear clothing. Because when hungered, we favor red meat rather than fowl, fish, grain, or produce. Because we eschew the noise and complexities of life in Unify and the surrounding villages for a plainer, quieter existence. Above all, because our ways are strange and alien to those sentients who call themselves ‘normal’. We are, therefore, less ‘normal’ than they… though perhaps just a bit more normal that our half-brethren, the wolfoxes. But what, to a wolfox, would be considered ‘normal’, then?”

[Excerpt from the writings of Io of the HearthPack]

 

Oh, he remembered the Silver Order. Elite. Self-righteous. Pretending to be dedicated to “life” while suppressing or excluding those who did not fit their narrow definitions of the word. Worst of all, serving as a front for the damned stinktails and their poisonous belief that females were to be elevated above their natural station. The florises… the florises honestly told people that they cared about all life while forcing their males into subservience. Blatant hypocrites, all of them.

And yet. The Silver Order’s diversity was exactly what Stalker needed to revive Mother, to make her proud, to give her new children to avenge the slain. How ironic, that a former sentient of the one species to be excluded from the Order would see to its downfall.

That last thought gave Stalker pause. Former? Of course he was still sentient, and he still considered himself a wolf at least partially, though he was altered with his rebirth. A wolf, and yet not a wolf. One of Mother’s children, and yet different from any who had come before: able to speak sentient languages, walk on two legs, think and act independently. A true study in contrasts, was he not? A crossbreed of sorts, but certainly a more worthy crossbreed than any of the blue-furred taints.

Wolfoxes… he never despised the taints like some of his brethren did, like the foxes as a whole did. Some of them had to be decent… and a female was a female, though of course his preference had been for proper fae. Still, in his old life he preferred not to think of the wolfoxes at all. Now he realized that using one of them to pave Mother’s way home would be inappropriate. She deserved better. Better, as her new children would be. Not misbegotten things like wolfoxes, but children with the best of every species.

Stalker thought of these things as the mouths in his hand did their work, siphoning the last of the ferret watcher’s blood as his soulless body quivered in its death throes. He had been a good, strong hobferret. Faithful to his Order and his Grand Mistress to the last. Worthy of being a sacrifice. Daring enough that when Stalker climbed over the edge of the battlement, the hobferret did not cower or flee in terror, but made a desperate charge with his spear… the spear now broken and protruding harmlessly out of the wolf’s belly. The sight had rattled the watcher enough that he dropped his guard. Stalker pounced upon him, ripped off his leather breastplate, and extracted his soul. Without it, the hobferret’s body slipped into living death, and he made no move to resist as Stalker tore out his throat with his fangs.

More

New Fan Art!

Two new items in the Gallery from Silver and Suoish!

Chibi Zero, by suoish

Tasakeru rabbit sketch, by Silver

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 25 – Shameless Self-Promotion

Week 25 – Shameless Self-Promotion

Well, not like I don’t shamelessly self-promote normally, but anyway. I finally got Episode 04 of Silent InvenTOYry done, which you can watch below.

Please remember to like, comment, subscribe, and share. As I mentioned before, CoPromote seems to be irreparably broken, so I’m going to need serious word-of-mouth to drive up my view count.

Anyway, if that wasn’t enough, there’s this short but incredibly stupid promo I just made for Episode 05. It’s going to be quite an occasion. Unfortunately, YouTube’s blasted auto-copyright flagging struck again, so the music I had in mind for this promo is… much less impressive than it should be. I’m sorry, but it was either this or silence.

Anyway. My goal for this week is to finally get Chapter 4 of Soulsnatcher up, so everything else is on hold until that’s done. I wanted to have it up today, but… bleh. Brain no work good.
– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-25-687502305)

  • Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 4: 10.25 pages done
  • Tasakeru Patreon: 2 Patrons
  • Book II Appendix: 0.5 pages done
  • Shattered Skies Chapter 27: 0.25 pages done
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 04: COMPLETE!
  • Silent InvenTOYry Episode 05: ~05% done

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 24 – Back in Business

Week 24 – Back in Business

I finally got back to work on Tasakeru this weekend. Maybe it was thanks to knowing that I have an ungodly busy week coming up, but I was able to finish all but the last scene of Soulsnatcher Chapter 4. It feels good to be out of my rut, not gonna lie.

There’s also good news on the Silent InvenTOYry front: Episode 4 is almost finished, and the item that was going to be reviewed in Episode 4 and is now the subject of ep 5 has finally shipped and is on the way. So the plan is to put ep 4 up this week, then get to work on 5, and do three mini-episodes to make up for the hiatus.

I think I may hold off on doing more of Shattered Skies for a while. Back in January I made a resolution to finish the revised edition of Soulsnatcher by July, and that’s coming up fast… I mean, there were unforeseen circumstances what with the death of my hard drive and a huge upsurge in petsitting jobs, but still. I’d like to keep that resolution if I possibly can.

Here, have an Overwatch thing that I did.

– BHS

(Originally posted on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-24-686128654)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 23 – The Things I Do for Laughs

Week 23 – The Things I Do for Laughs

No writing progress, but I’ve got some great news for all four fans of Silent InvenTOYry… To make up for the two-month hiatus, I’m going to be putting out at least two full episodes this month, and possibly three more as mini-episodes. I spent most of this weekend working on the new Episode 04, in fact. Because I finally got sick of waiting for the other item to ship out, I decided to go ahead and bump what was going to be Ep. 5 ahead one. This one will be slightly different than past episodes, but I think it’ll add some variety. That said, since the preparation for this episode was particularly expensive and CoPromote seems to have utterly borked itself, so I’ll need you guys to push this episode hard when it goes up this week. Watch it multiple times with your ad blockers off, like it, subscribe, share it with your friends and encourage them to do the same. I mean, in a show of dedication to my craft and/or horrendous financial irresponsibility, I spent $30 for one gag in one shot that lasts for maybe fifteen seconds of the video’s running time… as I said in this week’s title, the things I do for laughs…

Hoo boy, am I all in on Kamen Rider now. I’m not even finished with Gaim yet, and I’m watching W and seriously considering Ryuki too… My first of what will surely be many KR Figuarts is arriving tomorrow, so maybe it’s time to start investing in some more shelves… As I’ve been telling people, it’s a very deep hole I’ve found myself in, and if the franchise weren’t hitting so many of my personal fandom buttons I would be a lot more concerned for myself.

Sad news today… the original voice of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit, Peter Sallis, died peacefully at 96 years old. Wallace and Gromit is much-beloved for very good reasons, and I count myself lucky that I was introduced to the series at such a young age. It’s right up there with Monty Python, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Good Omens as one of the pillars of British comedy in my book. I’m going to be watching the whole run of Wallace and Gromit as tribute later this week. Rest in peace, sir. Thanks for all the laughs.

– BHS

(Original post on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-23-684791469)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 22 – Colorful Language

Week 22: Colorful Language

Whaddya know, I actually managed to write a bit this past week. And since my item for Silent InvenTOYry is still not here as of this writing, putting that project officially on hold, I might as well try to spend the week ahead working on Tasakeru.

Whatever I end up doing this week, I’ll be glad for a respite from petsitting, however brief it is. Capping off almost a solid month of jobs was my “problem child”, a dog that’s more trouble than ten of my other usual clients put together. I’ve known for years that he’s badly trained (whoever attempted to housebreak him didn’t finish the job properly), but he topped himself on Sunday night by getting into his family’s kids’ art supplies, tearing up a bunch of their drawings and eating an entire bag of (thankfully non-toxic) crayons. This is in addition to peeing on their kitchen floor. I came in the house to find an ungodly mess that took a good half-hour to clean up, and second very colorful mess in their basement this morning after the crayon bits passed through his system.

It’s a good thing all these jobs have paid off handsomely, at least. I made enough to afford some new equipment for SI, plus a refurbished PS4, which should be here by the end of the week. I’ll do my best to not let my new gadget distract me from what I should be doing, despite the temptation to the contrary.

I’m afraid it may be official: I’m now all in on Kamen Rider. I decided to restart Gaim after getting two-thirds of the way through it, just so I could watch it again with :devVdrake:, an unprecedented move. As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also started Kamen Rider W in my off-time, and I’ve received recommendations for Den-O, Fourze, Drive, and this year’s Ex-Aid from various other friends. This could be a very, very deep hole I’m falling down, but if the series continues to impress me like Gaim and W have… well, at least buying a whole new franchise’s line of Figuarts should be fun until the inevitable bankruptcy.

I am seriously tired, but before I crash for the night I have the Season 5 premiere of Steven Universe to comment on over on my Tumblr. Head on over there to see if my feels survive.

– BHS

(Original post on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-22-683423690)

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BHS Blogress Report: 2017, Week 21 – Sick as a Dog

Week 21 – Sick as a Dog

To get right to the point: nothing got done this week. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I had a new client for my petsitting business, taking care of a very friendly but high-maintenance dog for almost a solid week, and that would have been tiring enough without my entire family, including myself, getting sick in succession from the same respiratory bug.

So yeah, that was pretty much the sum total of what’s happened to me over the last seven days. If I can get through the next week without any major complications and/or disasters (knock on wood), then maybe, maybe I can actually get back to writing.

– BHS

(Original post on DA: http://tasakeru828.deviantart.com/journal/BHS-Blogress-Report-2017-Week-21-682129382)

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