Our friends at Fathme records have commissioned Niall McClelland and I to do their next ten album covers and backs, which is alright by me, as they are always over-the-top gnarly and fun to make. Here is the back of Vankmen's new album "Carpathian Death Rights". lot.



(From the Top):
Niall Catherine Chris Jana,
Lia Dylan Dan Roxane.

A Few Words About Collage

Collage is a medium that can create some very unique creations. It's kind of the melting pot art form. Regardless of how you came to get to the pieces you've assembled, the pieces find themselves on a new plane, as citizens of a new kind of imagery. Your pieces may have been a photograph in a magazine, or a drawing in some scientific publication; they may have been torn from their home in an unspeakably violent manner, or carefully tabbed and photocopied, their shape surgically removed from its environs by a steady hand; they may have been a scrap, discarded and readied for recycling, or they may have been an important piece of something greater, without whom the something would cease to function as a complete thing. It matters not where or whither of whence they came - they are now part of a collage, and this is the only identity they'll maintain.
You might well reason, and you're right to do so, that it's not always easy for collage bits to get along. As the builder of a collage, it is your responsibility to create a balanced and cohesive habitat for your displaced bits and peices. If your intentions are true, and your goal includes the successful coexistence of even the most meager of pasted scrap materials, then there is no reason your collage should not grow and one day become a full-functioning work of art.


Evil Compass

This here evil compass won't point you in the right direction; in fact it is sure to get you lost and into trouble. I wouldn't use it for orienteering. But it was used as cover art for a Directors DVD collection from (I can't remember the name this morning).


Holiday Food

If you eat big meals for a week, you will get fatter. This is a phenomenal fact that the majority of us witness during the holidays, much to our chagrin. Although the traditional period for adding fodder to the larder lies in and after Christmas, my journey to Ruben's folly began on the first night of our perennial family trip to Florida, more than a week before Christmas. Here are the details of my four day expedition into exceptional fare along Interstate 75 and parts south:

The first night on the road we had a chance to eat at the Waffle house - a southern American tradition that our family never really took part in, though it's never too late to start. Unfortunately my parents have been dead-set against diner-style dining since the mid 80s (when a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast cost $1.99 and there was no reason to eat anywhere else. We made an effort to get to know our breakfast buffets somewhere in '88 or '89 but the two flavours of whipped cream at Shoney's didn't agree with carte blanche dining authority and our parents vetoed the whole lot of discount American family restaurants - Friendly's, Kelsey's and even Bob Evans), so our table was set for two. There were some special people serving us at this particular Appalachian location, people you might not find anywhere outside this perticular battered hotspot except in a hollywood movie impecably cast to rightfully depict those people, and though the cook covered my browns with cheese as opposed to smothering them in gravy, onions and mushrooms, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. My brother and I enjoyed our meal of grilled chicken (grilled to satisfaction on the griddle), eggs, browns and double pancakes, and we especially enjoyed having a cigarette afterwards, as this is a rare treat these days, primarily because I'm not an avid smoker but also because restaurants outside of Appalachia have unanimously decided against seasoning their ambiance with the sultry scent of tobacco. This Griddled spithouse could still empathize with the life-affirming conduct of the stick and filter crowd, to the point where there was no discernable smoking section throughout the diner's box (please note that on Sunday, Kentucky pays homage to our lord and savior by challenging the devout and refraining from serving alcohol. The lord rewards those locals who think ahead, those travelers who possess prescient knowledge of the policies of their destinations, and those lucky few that are addicted to vices other than the consumption of poisoned libations).

The second great meal I ate was a beautiful plate of biscuits and Hillbilly gravy along with a helping of browns covered in cheese, which I tacked on to the order cause I liked em so dern much last night. My mother insisted that putting flower and water into my system by the small shovel-full would do me no good, however I kept from her heeding call and cleaned my country fare lickity straight off its plate. The dessert for this meal was an extravagantly realistic Appalachian Rabbit doll made in modern-day China - we didn't eat her though, we bought her, as she looked uncannily typical of something someone might've pulled from yonder mountain crib a hundred or more years ago; and although she was not food, I would not have traded her for the lascivious decadence of Chocolate apricot layer cake or the sweet comfort of Georgia pecan pie.

The third great meal I ate can be experienced nightly at JL's, on the outskirts of Macon, Georgia. It consisted of an all-you-can eat Rib fest and salad bar, along with the most salubrious sweet potato and southern beans I've yet to taste. Brown sugar seemed the telling answer to bland food at this particular Rib house, and by my right foot I'd be wary to doubt the catch-all soluble properties of brown sugar ever again. I would have been plenty content with the contents on my plate minus the salad bar and as many extra ribs (I started with three whopper pork ribs that wouldn't’ve embarrassed a cow's carriage) as I cared to take to the toilet with me. But the salad bar required a visit, and my brother insisted on more ribs which I was then obliged to devour alongside him, and thus I became the fullest I'd been since our Town and Country Christmas buffet eating contest a fortnight ago. That sordid night at the Town and Country led four of our party to throw up at least some portion of their dinner, but not until everyone could make it home and find a right private place to do the deed.

The fourth large feast on the road was not as large by any means as JL's Ribs, but was still substantial (and it was held responsible for some very heavy bloating, as this meal fell only hours before another meal of stature). My aunt Gaja had put together the first of two smorgasbords (the other would be breakfast brunch the following morning) upon our arrival at her house in Gainesville, Florida. It successfully married a bowl of corn, guacamole and black bean salsa to a bowl of corn tortilla chips (the bowls were about the same size, which meant a lot of topping for every chip). Also attending was a hearty chicken noodle soup with vegetables, various spreadables for two distinct types of grained breads, and also an assortment of meats and cheeses with which we could further substantiate our slices of bread. This meal was a real sneaker, as we hadn't yet eaten that day and it was into the afternoon. As a result we filled ourselves to a comfortable brim, knowing full well tonight's fare would be served long and thick.

That night's meal, a proper European home-cooked treat (with a bit of American flare of course) was prepared by my cousin Ron and his wife Amy at their glade-green Gainesville ranch house. It consisted of barbequed pork chop served with apple sauces, Potato Latkes served with sour cream, Corn on the cob, and a house-style salad. Any home-cooked holiday meal exploits economies of scale and thus consists of more than one portion-per person-per item, and this meal was no exception. Add wine, cookies and He-brew beer (strong ale), and that's another heavy shipment of foodstuffs perched at the GI's doorstep. (A fantastic new invention came to my attention during this meal - a small pat of butter placed on a large square of bread was used to butter the corn on the cob. This pragmatic arrangement allowed for even distribution and a butter-soaked piece of bread to eat after the corn had been fully flavoured. No messy butter tray, no clumsy knife work to embarrass those of us less adept with cutlery. Simple Genius. If this method seems elementary to you, that's a real treat. To me it's something new and utterly remarkable in its efficiency).

The following morning saw us back at our Aunt's table, under the watchful eyes of a pair of hungry dogs, eating once again to our heart's content, uninhibited by our previous days' indulgences. What a big heart I've got, for despite my lack of needing more kilojoules, I ate once again like it was my solitary duty on this here Earth to put as much of what's on any given table into my very able belly. I took to the spread of scrambled eggs, sausage links, French toast with syrupy strawberries and bananas, and also tomatoes, cucumber, bread and cheese as any proud young buck should, and my reservoir was once again gilled to its upper gates.

This was the last great meal I ate on my flavourful passage from Toronto to South Florida. I refrained from mentioning the lesser victuals and snacks eaten during the trip, of which there were enough to supply me with my requisite number of daily calories. The majority of foodstuffs aforementioned went above and beyond the call of nutritive duty, and this is the reason why I am now fatter than I was before the holidays.

The photographs in this missive were taken during our real Christmas dinner, which I didn't talk about (because everyone eats a big Christmas dinner), but they fit.

NERO Magazine

Nero magazine is a free publication you can find in Italy. Niall Mclelland and I had a chance to do some illustrations for them, as well as the cover for their new issue. It's got a some sort of elegant brute design style that's very appealing. you can download the entire magazine online, here. If you can read Italian, then you're in for a treat. If not, you really don't need to spend much time browsing through the magazine, as the majority of the words are in a language you won't (and I don't) understand. Not understanding a language is a bonus perhaps if you're a cynic and are sure that, were you able to follow the content, you'd be dissapointed (this is common and more factually true than cynically biased when it comes to song lyrics. Take, for example, any foreign-language band in the history of rock and roll). Below is one of the type treatments I did for the magazine.


No Mine or Thine Divine

That is the title of this piece here, which you'll see atop all this writing. The title comes from one of main themes of Thomas Hobbes' critical political theory concerning men and their poor judgment when left to fend for themselves, which generates the need for a social contract between the lot of us to agree upon doing more than just trying to kill one another.
To speak truth, men don't actually show poor judgment in a natural state, it's just that there's nothing keeping one man from brutally slaying the other for the things that he has. There is no justice in a state of nature (so says Hobbes), and so we've all got to spend the hogshead of our short time on earth defending ourselves from our neighbor’s axe. Luckily, we've got options. Hobbes' solution is for all to agree to a social contract, wherein a small portion of individual rights is given to an authority (a king) in order to receive defense against harm from your countrymen.
Hobbes thinks this king's authority must be absolute, and that it comes from the all-seeing, all-knowing grey bearded man of eternal all (God), and as a result a king is accountable to none, but should consider his moral obligations before doing anything rash. This was kind of the weak part of Hobbes’ argument (as the King is the only one left in a natural state, and there's nothing physically stopping the old robe and crown from grabbing at whatever he may please, so long as it's cool with God; and God's not very good at saying 'no', outside of Old Testament accounts, so when the king plays the "I'm going to bathe in the blood of whomsoever I choose, and if you agree, just say nothing" game, a game we all figure out is rigged and unfair by the time we're ten years old, there's nothing keeping him from drawing a daily bloodbath and soaking his crotchety old bones in some poor farmer's right to life). But nonetheless, his basic precept was 'do no harm' and his social contract theory is a (can there be more than one cornerstone? is it always 'the' cornerstone? It seems like the most basic of structures would have at least a couple) cornerstone for modern western politic thinking.
The title 'No Mine or Thine Divine' is a reference to that state of nature I mentioned earlier; a place where no one can lay rightful claim to anything because there's no higher power imbued upon anyone. All these silly monsters have no good reason to keep away from one another's throats, and so they've become a big bundle of battling brutes. Try and spot the edges of a page where you can barely make out the date 1651 (the date of Leviathan's publication) in my drawing. It's not easy to spot. In real life the edges of the little page in my drawing glow in the dark, so it's easier to spot. The one goblin figure who's perusing the page, he's about to figure it out, so don't worry, these poor monsters won't be pulling hair for much longer.
I will be offering Gyclee prints of this image in an edition of 100 in the near future, so please write me if you're interested.