Hide Your Skyr! Here Comes Skyrgámur!

Starting on the 19th of December, Skyrgámur descends from his mother’s volcanic cave and wreaks havoc on the poor, humble folk that leave their Skyr unattended. Skyr. Mighty cultured dairy product of the gods. It’s like thick yogurt, but less intensely flavored.

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Skyrgámur, like all of the Yule Lads, loves to menace the common folk. His prefered brand of menace seems a little passive compared to, say, Stekkjarstaur, who loves to harass sheep. Skyrgámur just likes to break into people’s houses and eat all of their skyr. His name literally means Skyr-gobbler. I’m starting to think old Gryla was running out of ideas for terrible deeds for her sons to commit by the time Skyrgámur came around. Then again, he does have a brother who licks spoons, so maybe Gryla just has a skewed sense of menace.

Still, I imagine if Skyrgámur came calling with his assembled brothers and that infernal Yule Cat, things might get a little freaky.

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Image from Brian Pilkington’s the Yule Lads

On the Creative Impulse

I used to manage the entire overnight operations of the banking arm of a Fortune 500 company. I was promoted to the position because I could see inherent flaws in certain types of operational practices and came to the table with multiple solutions that might work to solve that problem. Said company was impressed, and thought “let’s give this guy a team comprised of student loans specialists, as well as a smattering of investment ninjas from the consumer banking department.” There was a parade, balloon animals, and all was good in the world.

That was, to put it bluntly, the second worst decision made in any of my vocational arrangements. The first worst decision was me accepting the job. I am not in any way a Leader of Men. I don’t have a lot of compassion for people who don’t want to work, and I have little patience for laziness. I work my ass off, and if anyone is working with me, I expect the same. I don’t work well in the traditional American Corporate Management structure because I don’t want to babysit, coddle, or motivate anyone… I just want to get the job done. Quickly, and in a preferably efficient manner.

The first realization that they had made a terrible mistake was when they had me take the Carnegie Strengths in Business test. The typical Strengths that a strong manager would have were WAAAAAAY at the bottom of my list, whereas problem solving traits were towards the top. Something called Ideation was the giant cherry on top.

What is Ideation? Well, it’s a mindset that is always thinking of new ways to do something, or just new somethings in general. I do it all the time. I am doing it right now. Imagine, now, working for someone who isn’t in the slightest bit worried about how your work performance is today, because he’s thinking of ways to streamline the way you do your job in the future? It’s a trainwreck scenario for a call center. For a creative job, though, it’s pretty cool. It’s the kind of thing that turns a mundane afternoon of reading history into the life and times of vampire Andrew Jackson.

Imacon Color Scanner

I am self employed. I get to make decisions that could make or break our business, and that keeps me pretty motivated to stay on task and keep things moving. The only time it gets bad, though, is when my brain starts working on something else altogether. We might be working on new menu items for the restaurant, but my brain is trying to figure out how to work a gear on a puppet. I don’t make puppets, but my brain is trying to work it out. I have to shove that aside right now, and focus on the task at hand.

Here’s the problem, though; I have this idea for a game literally rampaging around the brain right now. Yesterday, it was a variation on the traditional Rummy card game, but instead of face cards and number cards it would have been body parts and sabotage cards, with the goal of laying down a stitched together monster before your opponent can sabotage your lab. Today, it’s a deck building game. (I don’t know anything about deck building games…) Tomorrow, it might be a traditional board game with dice and pawns. By next week, it might be a fully interactive RPG using puppets (what is the deal with freaking puppets this week?).

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Puppet Shatner? Just putting it out there. Might explain a LOT.

This is the curse of the creative process. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s a huge part of what makes me who I am, and part of how I go from drawing a graphic novel in July to having a published coloring book in August. The creative ammunition is crammed in there, waiting to be fired off. I just need to aim a bit.

 

Tis the Season (for Shameless Plugging)

The wonders of the internet, folks. Seriously. I have been slogging through Shopify for the last few days, uploading art files for shirts and other goodies. When I got to this one, though, I just had to share! I am actually buying this for my own phone… I LERVE IT.

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It’s already one of my favorite pieces that I have done, and being able to protect my super-sweet iPhone with it? SOLD.

Anywho, Shopify is pretty cool. It might be the smoothest, easiest to set up, goofball proof system I have played around with. I would seriously recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good plug and play e-Commerce solution. I’ll break it down a little more in a later post.

If you’re interested in this item, or some pretty cool Gorinka shirts, please feel free to click the “Grimmleighs Custom Tees” link on the right. I will be posting new stuff there weekly!

The Wax Statue

During the earlier part of November I was able to fulfill a long-standing, bucket-list level personal wish and spend a few hours wandering through Guillermo Del Toro’s collection of monster and comic book ephemera. It was, to put it mildly, a life changing experience.

We arrived at the LACMA early on a Saturday morning, and were greeted by a statue of this fellow:

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That was just the beginning. A whole wing of the museum had been set aside to showcase the collection of my absolute favorite director. I saw props from movies going back to the beginning of the art form. Wax statues wearing actual costumes from movies like the Bride of Frankenstein, Crimson Peak, and Hellboy.

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I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. It was like something was following me around the building, but I couldn’t put my finger on it…

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There where original pages from comic books going back to the 1960’s, and statues of genre giants like Ray Harryhausen, H.P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allan Poe. The Poe statue was pretty cool, and the room he was in was full of Victoriana. And a really weird wax of someone I couldn’t place. He was propped up against the wall, like some sort of diminutive, vaguely Asian Tor Johnson wannabe. He was also one of the few standing waxes, and the only one propped against a wall.

poe-wax

I got a little closer to the Poe, trying to figure out who the dude against the wall was. I needed to be a little sneaky, since there were super cool film nerds all over the place, and the last thing I wanted to do was let on that I didn’t know who this guy was. Just look at him, though: He had to be someone

poe-wax-2

I got closer to the guy, and right when I was about 5 inches away, he reached up, scratched his nose, and went back to sleep. I choked back a scream, and tried to act like my sudden ability to levitate was perfectly natural.

My wife pointed out his ID badge, and really, it should have been a pretty strong clue to his being a real, live human being. Then again, he looks like a freaking wax statue, and if there is anything I have learned from Westworld, I really shouldn’t take any chances, right?

Regardless, it was the visit of a lifetime. I wish we had more time, and that the building had been empty. It was really hard to stand and gawk at everything for the appropriate amount of time. I could have spent an hour looking at these guys alone:

toothsome

the Lionfish

I was working on a mermaid concept for the mythology book last night, and realized that I didn’t want your standard fish lady to represent the Undersea Realms. So, I looked up a bunch of different fish and got really into the lionfish. They are pretty amazing to look at, and have some really neat spines, patterns, and colors. I decided that the lionfish would be the basis of my mermaid design, and here she is:

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I still need to work out a background image for her, it’ll probably be a shipwreck of some sort or another. My grandfather loved old sailing ships, and I inherited a little of that. I love the haunted mystique of a wrecked ship on the sea floor.

the Vodyanoy

A friend of mine recently remarked that some plumbing problems we were having were due to Vodniks; my confused, vacant-eyed response led to a really fun story about some Czech friends of hers that blamed Vodnik on any plumbing problems that came up.

It’s been a few months now, and as the resident Cryptozoologist of Salt Lake City, I decided to do a little digging on my drippy little house guests.

The Vodnik is the Slavic cousin to the Russian Vodyanoy, a far more sinister fellow (they are all males) that haunts lakes and rivers. The Vodyanoy are frog like creatures, with aged bodies, froggy faces, fish tales, and long, stringy beards and hair. They paddle about on half sunken logs with their webbed hands, looking for unwary locals to drown. They seem to like wandering about without any clothes, too. Sound familiar?

gollum

The Vodnik, by contrast, seems more human like in features, although they are a greenish tint and tend to be covered in moss. They wear tattered, cast off clothing, and also loiter about lakes and rivers. Unlike the Vodyanoy, which are mostly malevolent, Vodniks can be beneficial or dangerous, depending on their mood.

One area that Vodyanoy and Vodnik overlap is that they keep little ceramic containers with them, in which they store the souls of people who have drowned in their domain. The crockery is considered currency to these folk, and a large collection of souls is a sure sign of wealth and influence. If the crockery is opened, however, the soul escapes in the form of a bubble, leaving the vessel it was in worthless.

Fishermen and people who make their living on the water will leave offerings of tobacco to the vodnik, in hopes that they will leave them alone or help them in their industry. A vodnik who feels slighted may attack local water features, such as dams, well, (possibly plumbing) and locks. This behavior has also been reported with Vodyanoy.

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artwork ©2016 L.G. Kade

Monsters and Luchadores! Monsters! AND! LUCHADORES!

I get these horrific creative blocks from time to time, and nothing that I am working on has the power to move my pen. When times like these come up, I draw monsters. This week, though, luchadores worked themselves into the mix, because, well, luchadores.

Luckily for me, these little drawings got me fired up about the Night Circus, so I designed the background monsters for the circus:

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the Night Circus artwork ©2016 L. G. Kade

I got lucky this week, too. The next page for the Miller’s Daughters decided to stop being such a brat, and I was able to get the inks done for that one, too. I should have the fully finished page up tomorrow!

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I have a few friends that extol the virtues of warming up with “meaningless” doodles before a drawing session, and I am really beginning to understand why. That practice not only loosens up your wrist and fingers, it also loosens up the creative faculties in your mind, making you a better conduit to express your thoughts!

Beware the Bower

In Leicestershire, England, there is a little cave carved into a sandstone cliff. There is an oak tree growing there, and tatters of thin, translucent cloth can be seen fluttering in the breeze upon its branches. This is the bower of Black Agnes, and should be avoided at all costs.

Where the story of Black Agnes (or Annis) originated is lost to history; some say she is the spirit of an ancient Anchorite who died in the cave, others say she is the remnant of the old goddess Danu, pissed as hell and haunting the cave. Some speculate that she is a remnant of the Hindu goddess Kali, with whom she shares some characteristics. Others say she was manufactured by exhausted parents who needed a good bogeyman to keep their kids out of the woods.

Black Annis is a stooped and aged creature, with sharp iron talons. Her skin is blue, which helps her blend into the night and hunt her favorite prey, which consists entirely of human children. Agnes would lurk outside of a home and wait for a child to wander away into the woods, were she would grab them and haul them off to her bower to eat.

The ancient oak tree outside of Annis’s cave was used to cure the skins of her victims, which she would later drape across her body as skirts and shawls. It is said that Agness carved out the cave herself with her iron-clad claws, and that she still lives there to this day.

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Black Annis, from Grimmleigh’s Mythic Horrors, coming soon. Artwork © 2016 Leigh George Kade

 

The Crystal Ball Predicts…

This week’s look at the workbench is for an upcoming storyline in Grimmleigh’s Morbid Tales for Dreadful Children. The story is called the Night Circus, and it only draws a ton of inspiration from Something Wicked this Way Comes. In this story, the circus comes to a new town during the new moon, and when the sun rises all of the adults of the town are gone. The hero of the Night Circus is a little girl who wakes up during the night, and realizing her mother is gone decides to take matters into her own tiny hands. Here are a couple of pages of concepts for the story: