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Brian’s Paris Tribute

Back in November (I’m still trying to get caught up), Brian contacted me with this idea:

“I am thinking of a somewhat subtle homage to honor courage in the face of the recent events in Paris.
So I see a street scene with an outdoor cafe, in the late, late afternoon, done in color. The place is one of the sites that was attacked, but you would have to be in-the-know to know this. The cafe is off to the right, taking up about half of the background, with the rest of the street to the side, and the cafe sits on a corner, so you see the backdrop of the intersecting street in the background.
A gay male couple are there, they have just walked from behind the point of the viewer, past an outdoor table, and so they are hand in hand with their backs towards us, walking away.
But, the table was occupied by a rather unique individual, and just a few heartbeats after they walk past the table, they both turn towards one another and both are looking back at the person, caught at the moment of “nahhh… couldn’t be, could it?”
The person at the table is Oscar Wilde, who, after his incarceration for homosexual crimes in London, had indeed moved to Paris. He is dressed in classic Wilde garb and sitting with his chin resting on his hand as he was often depicted. A cup of coffee and a newspaper on the table.
The caption below the drawing, in a classic handwritten-diary style, is one of Wilde’s sayings. I could see any of these working well, but I kind of like the last one best:

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.’
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination.When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.”

Okay… Brian’s nothing if not precise.

I came up with this sketch:


I mentioned to Brian that, ‘it occurred to me while drawing this to make the background people…well…dead or ghostly.. or subtlety mutilated…or full-on Walking Dead zombie gross… but in a tasteful, subtle way that you don’t notice at first… but I think something along those lines would give more relevance to the last quote.’

He really liked the idea and this is how it turned out:


…and here is Brian’s title and write-up:

1900 Paris 2015

The hotel where Oscar Wilde lived (and died) in Paris,in 1900, with its Ram’s head over the entrance,is located about 3 Km from this Carillon Cafe,where some of the 2015 bombings took place.

This composition is meant to evoke a parallelism between the past ideological war on homosexuality, which was widespread in 1900, and the violence inflicted on others (Wilde is a patron-warrior; we see progress in that conflict over the past few years, as the couple walk openly), with the current ideological wars currently underway that result in other violence inflicted on other patron-warriors (our friends at the cafe die with a more equal opportunity victimization and in a way that is much less self-conscious than Wilde’s).
And yet, still, all of these wars rage on. There are still plenty of circles (“here” and “there”) where the open couple is seen as a flagrant offense against God and Nature, and merely one more mere representation and reason given for a more wholesale violence against Western and/or progressive values that are perceived as threats against some existing ideologies.
The two men are intentionally racially ambiguous.

Quite a bit of a change from, “can you draw me a sketch of a boxing cow?”

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Paul’s PlanetSlade Grand Unveiling!

02 Planet Slade screen size 2 small

I couldn’t possibly come close to doing as good a job of presenting this as Paul and his team have done on his website.

So please check this out and enjoy:

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Paul’s PlanetSlade: the layout

I scanned in the sketches that I did of all the essays and articles from

Then, in PhotoShop, I placed all of the sketches into a 20×30 inch space and juggled and resized and fiddled until I got them to fit. Here’s a little gif of the last couple versions as Paul and I decide where to place the logo:

layouts gif

and here is the tight pencilled version, on paper, ready for inking:

(click on image to enlarge in a new window)

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Next: inking.

(Not an April Fool’s joke.)

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Happy Easter!

Ah… springtime in Southern Ontario…

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…and meanwhile, back at the PlanetSlade miscellany…


…next: the big question is how to fit all of the elements together into one composition…

in the meanwhile, have a Happy Easter!!!

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PlanetSlade part II

Continuing with Paul’s PlanetSlade commission.

These are my preliminary sketches for the ‘Secret London’ section of his website:

secret london

At this point it was becoming astonishingly clear what a massive undertaking this was going to be.

Next: Miscellany

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Paul’s PlanetSlade commission

Okay… so here’s what I’m working on now: Paul’s PlanetSlade commission.

Back in November (I am slowly getting caught up with my backlog of stuff), I received an email which read, in part:

‘I have a website called with 34 lengthy essays on it. They fall into three main categories: Murder Ballads, Secret London and Miscellaney. What I’d like is large landscape piece which pictorially represents every one of those essays somewhere in its composition. There are many images already up there on PlanetSlade which you may (or may not) choose to borrow as representatives for that particular essay on the finished piece. If you’d care to sneak a tiny Gerebus in there as a little grace note too, that’d be fine by me. I don’t mind whether it’s a “composite” piece with all the images sharing the same environment or a “panelled” one with each essay  consigned to its own segment. My only stipulations are that it be landscape in orientation and that the PlanetSlade appears very prominently somewhere on the piece. Everything else I’d be happy to leave up to you.
Thanks very much.’

One of my favourite things to hear: ‘Everything else I’d be happy to leave up to you.’

I spent quite a bit of time going through trying to quickly glean enough information from each article to get a sense of the core element that I could use to pictorially represent it. I found myself quite often getting engrossed in the article, having to tear myself away and move on to the next.

I also did a lot of searching through Google images for reference material. I’ve ended up with 547 files in my PlanetSlade folder. Here’s an example of some ‘period clothing’:


I decided to tackle the ‘Murder Ballads’ first, since they seemed most prominent on the website and have a common theme. The challenge was: how to portray the grizzly murders? Since these articles were about songs, I decided to include the musicians, which seemed to naturally lead to dance. I found a whole bunch of dance poses:


…and I turned the ‘Murder Ballads’ into ‘Murder Ballets’:


…except for ‘Stagger Lee’ which I based on the Jack Ruby/Lee Harvey Oswald shooting…

…just ‘cuz.

Next: Secret London.

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We are in Barrie, Ontario looking after a friend’s shop, house and cats while they are away in sunny Mexico.

Luckily, I can draw pretty much anywhere; like their dining room table:

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I can also draw at the shop:

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Stay tuned for what I’m actually working on: it’s a doozy!

Speaking of doozy, the view outside the window deteriorated rapidly…

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…and in the morning we had about a foot of new snow:

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Luckily, they have a new snowblower. Here’s the first pass:

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One of those times that I can’t wait to get back to the old drawing board.