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Monthly Archives: September 2016
Two views of Ben Bowman’s office at the Retropolis Registry of Patents

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Retropolis Registry of Patents, Office of Ben Bowman - left

I learned the hard way not to build complete environments for my illustrations. If you’re making a game – with free-floating player characters and cameras – you really want to build the whole thing. I mean, you don’t want the player to turn around and see that the world stopped while no one was looking.

But I’m not building games any more. And I found, often enough to notice, that if I built a complete and seamless set for a picture I would spend forever on it; and at the end the results wouldn’t be as good as if I’d worried only about what background I needed for the pictures I was actually making.

There are exceptions. I built a complete in-the-round set for Doctor Rognvald’s lab in Trapped in the Tower of the Brain Thieves, for example; but I was going to be rendering a lot of pictures in that one environment. So it made sense.

I’m working now on the last illustration for Ben Bowman in the Vault of Terror (coming in late November!). Up to that point we’ve closed every one of the Registry stories back at Violet’s desk in the Registry of Patents. But there’s a Reason why that changes here, and for that same Reason we will spend a lot of time in Ben’s office when we come to the sixth and finalish Registry of Patents story.

So I’ve built three whole sides of Ben’s office. Will we ever see the back wall? No idea. That may be where he’s stashed his televideo phone: I couldn’t find it anyplace else.

Retropolis Registry of Patents, Office of Ben Bowman - right

But apart from that mysterious back wall, we can see here the not-very-large office where Ben Bowman spends his days when he isn’t out in the field. He’s got a lot of books and manuals, stacks of files and boxes, and two whole card catalogs of… well, he doesn’t really know what’s in those. He never looked. I think there’s a pastrami sandwich somewhere in the right-hand cabinet, though.

There are industrial safety posters, because, well, of course there are; a science reference poster; and a blackboard. Also, I really like his carpet and I wonder where I could get one like it.

There’s a contrast between this working area and Violet’s. Ben’s a messy organic person, while Violet is mechanical and… not messy. But there’s also this: as a secretary, Violet’s desk is no more than the gateway to the Registrar’s office. She doesn’t really have a space of her own. So part of the difference we see is that Ben has staked a claim on his space, while Violet is still scheming to get an office where she might do the same thing. At that point, how would Violet’s office look? It’s an interesting question.

But I can guarantee that we won’t see an answer to it any time soon.

Please consider helping me to continue my creative work and deal with the financial aftermath of cancer
 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
The Asynchronous Bombastitron and other devices

Filed under Works in Progress

The Asynchronous Bombastitron

In a few illustrations for my fifth Retropolis Registry of Patents story I need to show a large number of devices in the vault where the Registry stores models and prototypes for patented inventions. So I’ve been working on a collection of these devices. You can see three of them here.

There’s no better place to begin than with the Asynchronous Bombastitron (above). This is pretty clearly an amended design, since in a prototype you wouldn’t see the warning notices.

Also, we should note that the Asynchronous Bombastitron features the hand-driven wheel preferred by skilled operators. In this it differs from the Synchronous Bombastitron – a favorite of amateurs and beginners – because it’s only with a hand-turned wheel that the experienced operator can exercise a nuanced, subtle control over the subject’s rotation.

The stepper motor of the Synchronous Bombastitron does make the device’s operation much simpler. Melodious Subsonic PlasmatronBut – as in most things – familiarity with the task leads one to try for those small, portentous flourishes that are only possible with the asynchronous version of the machine.

To the right we see the Melodious Subsonic Plasmatron, a machine whose function is entirely obvious from its name. We needn’t explain it here.

The third of these devices is so peculiar that I’m still trying to figure out what it does. You can’t discount the possibility that it doesn’t do anything (except to be interesting) but if that’s the case I don’t see why it was necessary to patent it. It seems to act on a large scale, but that’s about all I can be sure of.

This is far more information than you’ll find when Ben Bowman in the Vault of Terror begins, in November, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. By the time we encounter these machines there will be too much going on for any kind of explanation beyond “Let’s hope they don’t power up the Bombastitron.”

But it’s an election year. That hope’s certain to be smashed flatter than Subsonic Plasma.

Unknown Device from Retropolis

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Through September 21st, get free standard shipping on all my T-shirts

Filed under Works in Progress

Free Shipping On T-Shirts

Early as it is, I find myself looking out the window for signs of Autumn. The ornithopters are hanging out on the roofs and trees… and, anyway, ornithopters are mechanical. Any time you see them flying South for the winter you can be pretty sure that they’re just messing with you.

They do like their little jokes.

On the other hand, I always look forward with dread to the last T-shirt sale of the season. Is this it? I don’t know. But it could be.

Embrace the pessimism! Get right over to Retropolis or The Celtic Art Works (or even the Pulp-O-Mizer) and fill your shopping cart with T-shirts in time to enjoy free standard shipping on one* two or one hundred of them**.

The free shipping sale runs through September 21st. All you have to do is enter the coupon code SUNSET16 during your checkout and then sit by the window, watching the deceptive ornithopters, and wait for the postperson to come.


*Well, apparently they changed their minds. It’s now free standard shipping on orders of $30 or more.


** One hundred T-shirts is the recommended daily allowance.

 
 
New Page at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual

Filed under Thrilling Tales: Page Updates

A new page has been published in the story Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms, at Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual.

You can read it here.
 
 
Starting Wednesday: Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Fenwick's Improved Venomous Worms

So there’s that dream. It’s one of those dreams that’s so commonplace that it seems like everyone has had it, and maybe more than once: you find yourself back at school, standing in front of an entire room – or even an auditorium – full of students, and you’re about to speak when you look down and realize that you’re not wearing any pants.

This is not about that dream.

That dream is commonplace; it’s not worth our time.

Let’s imagine, instead, that the school we’ve returned to is the hellishly competitive, hellishly dangerous, and, in general, just plain hellish Retropolis Academy for the Unusually Inventive. This is the prestigious alma mater of every mad scientist in Retropolis. On graduation, students are propelled into the Experimental Research District where some of them will prosper and the other ones won’t be talked about very much. Not after the mess gets mopped up, anyway. Unless it’s a really amazing mess.

Awful as this is, it isn’t awful enough to compete with the no-pants version of the story, of course. And the good news is that there are pants in this version.

But that’s the extent of the good news. The rest of the news is that there are gigantic venomous worms, an unseasonal invasion of mole people, some devices that in all honesty should be better regulated, and very little respect for the guest lecturer. This is full contact, extreme higher education we’re talking about here.

And it starts this Wednesday, in Fenwick’s Improved Venomous Worms, at Thrilling Tales of the Downight Unusual.

 
 
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Down in the Basement. Where it Strains Against its Chains and Turns a Gigantic Wheel of Pain, for all Eternity. Muahahahahaha.