Art: High School Sucks

Inspired by Wen-M (and the fact that I did go to a private school), I designed prep school outfits for my characters, trying to put them into classic high school stereotype roles. A large part of me is just amused by how much petty drama there is in high school that we make it such an ingrained part of our media culture - think, teen horror films, teen romances, teen slice-of-life shows.

These pseudo-bios will be pretty bad since I am tired, so I apologize beforehand.

Despite the large amounts of money put towards his education, Brian Taylor, the Jock, has little more ambition than to get a soccer scholarship to a state school and spend as much of his junior year as he can getting drunk. Outside of that, he has an uncouth sense of humor that, while well-meaning on his end, is both surprisingly sharp-witted yet lewd. Haha, boobs.

Fenwick Arthur III, the Nerd, has two, rich parents - descended from a couple on the Mayflower - whose first date was at Renaissance fair. However, when he placed first at city-wide MathCounts, his competition pants-ed him on stage, resulting in three years of self-esteem therapy. He spends his free time playing Dungeons and Dragons and preparing for the SATs which he is taking early, as a sophomore. If he had his way, he would turn into a minotaur and gore everyone else.

River Aaron, the Punk, was named after the movie star, but no one realized that and just made fun of him. His grandfather fought in the Korean War and took home an "Oriental" wife. Their resulting daughter became an active, protesting, hippie. The ensuing filial drama tore the family apart - which didn't bode well with all three generations under the same roof. As a result, Rivek thought it would be a good idea to "make a statement" with multiple facial piercings and rock concerts. He secretly prays his track scholarship will get him out of this mess, but he still has a year to go. Worst comes to worst, he'll join the Air Force.

M. Aaron, the Burnout, would never admit her real name is "Mirabelle," nor that she is repeating her senior year. Completely devoid of ambition, she pays no attention to her brother or anybody unless they have smokes or a bottle they're willing to share. Oddly enough, she has concentrated much of her unexplainable inner rage into amateur boxing, but she never tells anyone why she disappears from school since she prefers the social anonymity silence provides.

Sophia Williams, the Art Kid, came from a family with no financial hardship, where she was constantly told to express herself. Despite being unable to control a pencil, she owns a very expensive camera and takes artful but painfully cliche photos. Sheltered most of her life, she has a tendency to dramatize ordinary events - like pop quizzes and break-ups - to seek attention, preferably with herself in the middle. However, to her parents dismay, she desires to go to art school, not invest her talents at the Ivy League university they, as alumni, would have preferred. Luckily, she is a freshman, and they still have four years to convince her.

Stephen Anderson, the Prep, was the only sophomore to have a car - and it was a Lexus convertible. He was born to powerful parents who made their fortune in the stock market (particularly in the energy sector) and weren't affected too badly by the recession thanks to embezzlement to offshore accounts. However, most people know him as an unsympathetic douche, so he has a tendency to only form relationships with freshman girls who dump him once they realize there is better out there.


Art: King of Hell

Happy Halloween! I've wanted to do a crazy ink piece since high school with a strong manga feel. If you've followed me for awhile, you'll find a lot of recurring themes from my work. I wanted to do a (very feminine) prince-like demon which at first looks very regal, but upon closer inspection, is more disturbing. This was done entirely with felt-tip, Staedtler pens.

Also! This is my first submission to our Boiled Fish Art Book project, coming Spring 2011! At least forty pages of illustration, sketches, and walkthroughs from ten great artists. Also include exclusive content - and you get more exclusive bonuses if you preorder. You may even win an original sketch! Please support us - through donation or advertising - here.


Art: 027/100 Themes - Foreign

"Etrani." - Foreign. 27/100 Themes.

Rivek and Mirab are Alisian on their father's side and Brennan on their mother's. Prejudice, violent history, and no effort from either side to understand the other resulted in both societies growing increasingly xenophobic of the other. Each child was raised and assimilated into one of their respective countries but their peers would make sure they always knew what it was like to be foreign. Not completely relevant, but Rivek is 5'10" and Mirab is 5'8".

Funny how those lambasted for being foreign consider those that ridicule them just as foreign. And those with half-blood are foreign to both. In addition, Mirab was much more of a crybaby when she was little.

If there's a sudden change in writing quality (be it better or worse, it's because this excerpt was written over three years ago.

The wooden boat skidded to a stop on the rocky shoals. “Careful not to poke a hole in ‘er,” muttered one of the two actual seamen on board. “These islands aren’t friendly. In more ways than one.”

Rivek stepped out of the boat and rubbed the light drizzle off his eyelashes. Ocean travel had never been his thing. He dropped his dagger and sword in the bottom of the craft seeing as he wouldn’t need them. “You all stay here. Don’t go exploring until I’ve returned.”

“Not like we’re particularly hell-bent on being slaughtered by you demon-blood types. I’m happy right where I am,” muttered the sailor. Rivek threw him a glare, but decided that reprimanding him was not worth the effort.

The shallow water lapped at his boot heels as he circled the cliff base to find a passageway he hoped he had not forgotten, but a decade was a long time to remember a secret road. Despite the cliff face, this was the easiest place to dock ships around the entire island. Any other inlet threatened to rip off the outer layer of one’s hull.

There it was. The path looked smaller, but he suspected it would since he had been only a child when he last left it. It was a little thing, meant for people to move single-file up the rock.

He ascended slowly, unsure of his footing. He kept his dark cloak wrapped around him, hood over his face, to keep the salt spray away from his eyes and to keep the chill out from under his shirt. He forgot how often it rained and how cold it became. Occasionally, he put his hand out on the rock to steady himself and wondered how many extra calluses he would have if he had lived his whole life here.

At the top of the cliff, he walked to the side of the road and let the pine branches brush against his arms. It was something stupid he had done as a child. People had made fun of him for it, but he hadn’t noticed them enough to stop. The trees felt the same. All things considered, they probably were the same, just older. He was the one who had changed as he aged.

The road itself was little more than footpath. Horses were too large to be commonly used on the islands. Things like plowing and pulling carts were usually done by people. Te tens, te resbilas. “Your things, your responsibility,” was one of those Alisian-mother phrases burned into his head, one that had carried over into his Mainland life. Albeit, in his case, his father was the one who usually did the Alisian reprimanding. His mother never bothered to learn much of the language outside of what she would need in a marketplace. He rubbed a drop of water off the tip of his nose.

“Akero.” Stop. More like 'halt,' actually.

Rivek stopped walking before stepping into the sword blade inches from his stomach. “I hold no quarrel with you,” he said, fumbling with the much more formal, now slightly foreign, syllables. “I wear no arms.” What a waste of time, but he had known it was something he’d have to put up with. From what Rivek knew, most Alisian actions were driven by nothing more than tradition, and everyday occurrences – security patrol among them – turned into bizarre rituals.

“Your accent is unfamiliar.” The other man sneered. “Where are you from?” Rivek knew there were probably now at least two other people behind him, also pointing something sharp in his direction.

“Mainlaid, Tirid.” He felt those two other weapons close in to rest against his back. The extreme xenophobia of his own people – although justified in most cases – did prove rather inconvenient on occasion. “I am here to speak with Ailinar Ailinar Mirab Imrin.” He carefully reached up to put down his hood, revealing the distinctive scar on the right side of his face.

The guard blinked a few times. It was uncommon to know someone’s fourth name let alone to use it. The blade poked at Rivek’s navel, but he knew the man wouldn’t try anything. To draw blood was an action with many connotations, over half of which could get you into trouble. The patroller motioned to a bush. Or rather, someone hiding in a bush. Rivek’s guess would have been someone with a blowgun, just in case things had taken a turn for the worst.

Waiting with three blades pointed at your torso was not something Rivek enjoyed doing, but it was something he would put up with. Even so, he hesitated to roll his shoulders a bit despite their stiffening up.

The fourth guard would have to run back to town center, or whatever the Alisian equivalent was, to get Mirab. There was probably a fifth somewhere, a magic-user in all likelihood, someone who didn’t need to be seen in order to fend off intruders. Alisian patrol tradition tended to have two or three groups of five circling the community at once. It was an odd version of town watch that most adults took part in although it was usually unnecessary, and the only things they killed were feral animals.

Rivek wasn’t sure if he could call this place a city. It was too small, and the physical structure wasn’t like that of a town. If you wanted to buy something, you wouldn’t go to a store. You would simply knock on the door of the man you knew made the things you wanted. Domara, the word for Alisian community, derived itself directly from the word for ‘family,’ and the two were usually considered one and the same no matter how confusing lineages became. Lacking space on the island, the Alisians had built upwards rather than outwards, and carved homes into hillsides and stacked shelters up trees. A record number of small children died from falling off of things. Even Rivek still had a few scars.

The runner returned, followed by a tall, blonde, woman whose long hair, decorated with random braids, flapped against her lower back as she walked. She would be what, now? Twenty-seven? She was four years older than he. Few people would see the similarities between the siblings. Her eyes were green and her nose significantly smaller, but they shared the same thin, regal, skeleton trademark to the wiry Alisian people. Lucky her, though, she got the prettier traits from mom.

“You’re dead,” she hissed.

“I sure don’t feel like it,” he replied in Common, their mother’s language, the language his sister and him used to speak between themselves when they didn’t want other people to know what they were talking about. Although, most people who had been off the islands at some point or another had picked it up. “Although if you don’t call these fellows off in a second, I very well could be.”

It took her a minute to process the words. She hadn’t heard this tongue used in ages. It struck her that she would have no idea what her younger brother looked like now. The only resemblance between this man and the eight-year-old boy she once teased was the scar across his face. And, well, scars were relatively common and easily lost and gained. Ten years, you’d think it would have faded. She was not about to get her hopes up. “I need verification.” She nodded at the runner. “He says you came across the channel, and we do not take kindly to strangers.”

Rivek sighed, but he had come prepared for this. “You have a birthmark on your shoulder that looks like a pig,” he said, switching back to Alisian.

She scoffed. “Everyone knows that. Try again.” He could feel those pointy things in his back sinking into his skin.

“You’re missing one of your back teeth because it rotted out when you were seven.”

She made a face. Obviously, not her favorite piece of information. “Someone could have told you that.” She reached for her own sword, a curved, one-sided blade that one could visibly tell received regular usage.

He sighed and switch to Common. He didn’t know why, it just made him a little more comfortable. “When you were nine, you had a pet snake, Dudu, and he died when our cousin stepped on him. We gave him a funeral in your best friend’s back yard and scattered the ashes over the ocean, but that night, you slept outside with the sheep because you didn’t want anyone to see you cry. And I went to look for you when it didn’t look like you were coming back. And then, I found you sobbing against a ewe. And then - you made me promise never to tell our father.”

Mirab inhaled sharply as the whole story played out in her head. She waved the guards away. “He has my custody. Go finish your duty.” They bowed and walked off, glancing backwards on occasion. Rivek took the opportunity to stretch his shoulders.

“I really thought you were dead. Word got back that Mom was caught in a fire…”

“That’s not the nicest thing to say to your prodigal brother when he first comes back, is it?”

“Fine, how’s this? You got tall.”

He smirked and hugged her. She came up to his chin. “Better. And you got short.”

She flicked him in the ear. “Still talking to birds?”

“As if I could stop.”

She laughed and returned his embrace.

“Welcome home.”


Art: 026/100 Themes - Tears

"Triez". - Tears. 26/100 Themes.

Born in the lap of luxury with a gold-star education, Willowren is a flawless healer for most people. However, most people don't have dark magic - something entirely foreign that no class could have prepared her for. Given that she takes a lot of things for granted, her inability to easily heal Rivek's physical (and emotional) wounds is troubling, challenging, and humbling for her.

When I design magic powers, I don't really like them to be flashy, no glowing lights and smoke and stuff. It's grotesque, organic manipulation with an academic overtone - representative of how we try to study to understand the things around us. I want it to be something humans have attempted to harness but is powerful and mystic but a little bit horrifying in such a way that it draws respect from its users.

Haha, everything I write has the same tone. Too much of what I write is driven by dialogue and too much of it is painfully sarcastic.

Despite the warm, muggy weather, Willowren felt goosebumps on her shoulders. "I'm so sorry, oh my god. I've never done this before." Her fingers were so stiff, they trembled as she unbuttoned Rivek's torn shirt.

"I'm sure you've seen a little blood." He winced. The wound was deeper than he'd expected, and his corrosive, acidic blood was widening the gash every second.

She massaged either side of the tear, trying to coax the muscle and intestinal fiber back together. The skin would hold itself together momentarily, but seconds later, the blood would burn its way through again and put her back to the beginning. She grimaced as she felt the muscle underneath her fingers writhing as he breathed.

"Really, usually, it stays closed." On any other man it would have. How disgustingly ironic that her best friend would be the only one she couldn't easily help.

"I'm thinking you'll have to do this manually." He coughed, partially to clear the blood welling in his throat but more fighting to stay conscious.

She fumbled while threading the needle, cursing her own hands as her friend's complexion grew paler. She swallowed, hoping not to retch from the stink of burning flesh. Finally, she was able to dig the needle into his skin. Relative to his current situation, the needle felt like a minor nick.

"You can do it." He scoffed to cover how bad the pain was. "But wipe your eyes. I'd rather not have you crying when you operate on me."


Art: Rivek... in Color!

I have realized it's been years - probably since high school - since I've drawn Rivek in full costume, in color.

Happy birthday to me. Haha. I'm so old.

Art: 025/100 Themes - Trouble Lurking

"Erumna delitesa." - Trouble Lurking, 25/100 Themes.

Finally, a quarter of the way through!

The Historian hasn't had his visual design completed, but he is a highly specialized magician. He reads bodies like he reads books, and re-opens the old wounds of his victims. Formerly a Heilmdoran professor, learning magic he wasn't born with drove his mind to a very sadistic edge. He works under Sorian, but is probably fated to die. He's one of my better magician concepts. I try to come up with things that aren't particularly standard (as in, "oh, ho! I control the elements!"). I'm happy to take peoples' ideas if they have them.

Also, I realize there are other characters out there with the same name. I might change it if I can think of something better.

Rivek wiped his good hand in the snow, trying to clean off the clotted blood from holding his wounded shoulder. As little respect he held for them, it wouldn't be proper to leave a stain on church doors.

"Hello?" he knocked, leaving a mark despite his previous efforts.

No answer.

He tried again. "My name is Ari Faulkner, and I am in service of her majesty. I need a place for the night - and clean bandages if you have them."

It was true, though, that the church had never looked well upon soldiers. Well, a half-truth couldn't hurt.

"My regiment is dead, and I am the sole survivor."

He didn't bother to mention his regiment consisted entirely of himself.

A church, he winced, really? Hell, a brothel would have been better - less judgmental, if anything - but he had no money left. Were it not for the gash on his arm, he would certainly be sleeping in the much less expensive outdoors.

The door frame creaked open, covering him in the thick stench of prayer incense. It smelled like a skunk took a piss on a bag of tea leaves. As his pupils adjusted to the candlelight - much weaker than palace mage-light - he noticed a lone, hooded figure at the altar, perusing a heavy, ragged book.

"I need a place to stay," he muttered.

"Rather forward, aren't we?" The hooded figure clicked his tongue. He stood and picked up a lantern, holding it to Rivek's face and revealing his scar. "Courteous strangers give their names."

"Ari. Faulkner."

"Well, Ari," he chuckled. "If that is what you wish to be called, so be it. I am the Historian."

He shut his tome and laid it on the table, making no gesture to welcome his new charge inside.

"People are much like books, in a way. I can tell under your composed, hard cover, you have a number of pages, filled with rather interesting stories. Many of which are painful. Many of which are lies. Isn't that right, Rivek?"


Art: 024/100 Themes - No Time

"Ni teimpo." - No Time. 24/100 Themes.

"Take off your armor."

"Rivek, you're fucking nuts. What if I got hit?"

"You're already hit. It's magefire - you can't see it, but you can feel it, right?"

Bohren nodded.

"It's white magic - white magic that's going to burn inside you until it reaches your spine, rendering you immobile until it burns through to your brain."

"Fantastic bedside manner you have, but I'm pretty sure don't want to die."

"Then shut up and take off your shirt." Rivek unlaced his gauntlet and slashed open his palm. "Not the best, but really all I can think of at the moment."

Rivek tore a corner off the now-useless shirt and clenched it in his bleeding hand, letting the fibers saturate until the gray fabric had turned a deep purple. As he peeled the wet cloth from his cut, he felt a distinct sting for every strand trying to stick to his wet palm. The area which had been closest to the self-inflicted wound had already begun to thin from the acidity. Sloppily, he used it to bind Bohren's shoulder.

"Now how long do we have?" Bohren muttered. The fire was already starting to cool as the black blood ate away at the fire's magic source.

"Until I die from blood loss. Let's just hope that's not anytime soon because I"m not a great doctor."

"I think I prefer Willow."

Art: 023/100 Themes - Cat

"Mao." - Cat. 23/100 Themes.

Fenne has a pet cat. Rivek hates it with a passion. Undoubtedly the stupidest theme I've done so far. I can't draw animals.

"You're never full, are you?"


Art: Doll

For a brief moment in high school, I wanted a ball-jointed doll. Now having seen them in person, in normal lighting conditions, I am convinced I don't. They hit the uncanny valley fast and hard for me, but that doesn't keep me from liking them in the right light.

Dude looks like a lady... or a scene kid. My friend said he looks like a guy from Twilight.

Referenced face from a photograph of a doll Lynsey sold a few years ago.