The first cartoon has been drawn, inked, and uploaded to my Patreon site, ready for the first round of rewards in February.
Want to know what it is? You’ll have to pledge.
I’ve just realised, as I was writing an upcoming Five for Friday post: I took the stage for my first stand-up comedy performance in 1992.
A few fevered, and not particularly serious, attempts at publication in my University years aside, that performance was the start of my continuous arts practice: after that night, via cartooning, theatre, and writing, I have been a practicing artist in one form or another for 25 years.
So: two days ago, three murders burst into the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and gunned down two policemen and 10 members of staff. At least another 11 have been injured.
There’s a lot of talk around the content of the magazine, the cartoons it published, the religion of the assailants, the nature of terror and of terrorists. Truth is, right now it’s all hearsay and speculation. The full reasons behind the attack will not be known until the gunmen are apprehended and interviewed, and even then, it’s likely to be veiled by a thundercloud of polemic and grandstanding– on all sides of the argument– for longer than it’ll take to convict and sentence them.
In the meantime, here’s what I know: journalists and artists were gunned down, in their place of work, and it’s likely that they were murdered because somebody didn’t like the nature of their art.
So let’s be clear: If your response to a work of art is to kill the artist, you are not a soldier, you are not a freedom fighter, you are not a terrorist or a religious zealot. You are a murderer, pathetic and tawdry like all murderers. And you should be treated accordingly. No soapbox to stand on, no flag to wave. Who gives a fuck what Martin Bryant wants to say? Or Ivan Milat? That’s you: you’re scum.
Now, here’s a thing, or for me, at least, it’s a thing: way back when, I wanted to be a cartoonist. It was a serious ambition, until I came to realise that I could be an author, or a cartoonist, but not both– I did not have the time to hone my skills in both departments well enough, and writing was a more immediately applicable use of my practice. But there’s always been that desire, and in the meantime, I had accumulated a collection of a couple of hundred scribbles and thumbnails, put aside until I had the skills to translate them to full drawings properly. The skills never arrived, the thumbnails endured, that’s why Thumbnail Thursday began.
The idea that I might be brutally murdered because of a drawing is one that resonates along my bones, and I haven’t quite been able to shake it for the lat couple of days. I know there are acts of brutality and awfulness that occur across the globe, every day of the year. I know that somewhere, someone will be lining them all up and readying a response that says “Oh, this one or that one or this one over there is worse.” I believe you. I’m sure you’re right. But this is the one that’s still shivering for me.
I’ve wanted to do something, and my initial response has been: I want to draw. It seems a stupid, small thing, but I want to make a little note that says: hey, French artists for a magazine I didn’t know existed, and which I had never read! Me too! I’ve held a pencil. I’ve made the image. I have my art.
Art must always win.
For two days, I couldn’t think of a thing: I’m out of practice, and pretty much, I couldn’t think of anything profound enough to pretend that I had a place amongst the myriad of genuine artists who were publishing their responses. Until I realised: that’s not the point. My whole thing has been the thumbnail, the scribbled outline on a post-it note or scrap of notebook paper. So I decided I would post a blank page, torn out of my notebook. That would symbolise my response. And then I came up with this:
So I’m drawing with the kids after dinner tonight, and, you know, we’d watched Walking With Dinosaurs with dinner, and, you know, Erin was drawing a tyrannosaurus, and Connor was drawing a stegosaurus, and, you know, I wasn’t reeeaaalll sure what I was going to draw…..
Skinosaurus. Because I am the drawing equivalent of the bloke who comes out of the shower after yowling the house down and announces “Never been formally trained…” to his bleeding-eared family….
Well, (claps hands) that’s that.
All the submissions have been read, all the rejections have been sent, and now that the dust has cleared, I’m left with the 12 stories and 3 poems that make up the contents of Midnight Echo #4. Assuming nothing falls over between now and April, it’ll be my delight to present you with stories from the likes of Aurealis Award winners Chris Green and Geoffrey Maloney and international man about town Dan Braum, as well as the first poem penned by the lovely Jenny Blackford in many a long year.
I’ve received well over 200 submissions from all corners of the globe (quite literally!), and it’s a good feeling to be able to look at the final list and be satisfied that the works I’ve chosen are an accurate reflection of my views towards the art of horror writing, as well as damn good pieces in their own right. Will you enjoy them? It is to be hoped. But for now, I can move on to the second-stage editorial work— writing the editorial, shaping and editing submissions, discussing art and contracts with the appropriate AHWA Kahunas— and start to mold the final shape of the issue.
Stay tuned, and as soon as I get the all-clear from Midnight Echo Big Banana Marty Young I’ll give you the final Table of Contents.
A QUICK GLANCE INTO A NEARBY BUCKET
With the time-intensive scutwork of submissions editing out of the way, I can finally indulge myself once more with thoughts of my own work. The Battersby Art machine has been quiet of late, and there’s a lot of product to be fed into the business end. To whit:
SO IT BEGINS….
It began in a dream.
It has taken me a million years to leave my father’s embrace, and now I am falling. I am supposed to fall forever. I am never to touch the ground again.
Eight minutes after my fall commences, I start to burn.
Those are the opening words of the Father Muerte novel.
A QUICK WORD ABOUT PEOPLE TALLER THAN ME
He likes his privacy, so at his request I don’t make mention of him too much on this blog, but I’m breaking that rule because Aiden turned 17 a couple of days ago, and you need to know just how proud I am of the young man he’s become.
I simply couldn’t wish for a more intelligent, funnier, more capable, caring (as anyone who’s seen him with Connor can testify) and just generally excellent Bonus Son, and I’m excited by the thought of what’s coming to him in the years ahead as he navigates his final year of high school and heads on to University and the world beyond.
As soon as he acknowledges that System of a Down suck the devil’s dangly bits he’ll be perfect…..
It started out well: Lyn rang me on Friday afternoon to tell me she was picking me up a couple of train stops early, because she was at our friend Tehani’s place and they’d decided to stay for dinner. And a fab evening it was, too: I committed Australian Man Adultery (cooked on another man’s barbecue without his consent), we sat and chatted far past the kids’ bedtimes, and Tehani let me borrow her copy of X6, Coeur de Lion’s collection of novellas by 6 Australian authors. I’d forgotten just how much I love sitting around and jawing about writing and writers. Part of the reason I’ve yet to really find a village for myself in the writing world– I’m a writing geek, not an SF geek, when it all comes down to it.
And much satisfaction there has been this weekend. I’ve completed another 2 cartoons, and sent out another two short stories, as well as inputting line edits for half of a third (dinner calls me, or I’d be finished that one too). I’ve finally finished chopping down a diseased hedge that’s been spoiling our front yard, spent an enjoyable afternoon drawing with the kids, and even managed to fit in a couple of good exercise sessions with the Wii Fit Plus– love that rhythm karate, folks! Luscious and I even found the time to watch a DVD together without the kids– looxury, bloody looxury.
The new week starts tomorrow: I intend to lose another 500g, finish another couple of cartoons, and start wading my way through the first round of Corpse-Rat King edits, as well as send out the remaining shorts in my ‘In Progress’ folder. But for now, it’s dinner, relaxing with a nice glass of Myalup Vines Wineries port (okay, my second glass…) and resting my bones before heading into the new week.
It’s been a good start to the year.
Not bad so far. There’s a lot of year left, and some big goals to achieve (2 novels to edit and submit, ya know?). But I’m on the way…
The contracts for Father Muerte & The Flesh to appear in this year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Vol. 20.
IT’S ENOUGH TO GET A MAN THINKING
I’ve been cleaning the office today, and now that I have a box for them, I’ve discovered just how many thumbnails for single and three-panel comics I’ve scribbled down over the years.
In fact, at one or two a week, I wouldn’t have significantly less than a year’s worth of material.
Song of the moment: All Along The Watchtower Jimi Hendrix
Reading: Still amongst the Vukcevich stories