Saturday, March 8, 2014

#44 - Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1 - The Illustrations

Why do I do this?  I thought about how to illustrate this story of a city council meeting.  Of course, I thought about illustrating an entire council chamber with all kinds of people and murals on the walls.  No, I can't just illustrate Bartholomew, or a few people, I have to illustrate an entire chamber full of people.  Could I take the easy way out sometime?  Can I just write a short story and that's it? No, I have to write stories and illustrate them and animate them and put them in a big project involving many other people.

I started illustrating the story by pencil sketching out the large shapes and composition while ignoring the people.  After laying in the large shapes I created a sense of the rows where the people are sitting.  When I started inking the drawing, I had not yet created the people and their personalities. I let that happen as I inked.

I then began to watercolor the drawing.  The coloring took an under painting, a solid top coating and then final touch-ups to unify the piece.  On each half of the illustration I had one person who I was avoiding.  I don't know why, but I left one person on each half until the end.  On the right side, it was the woman in the front row, fourth from the bottom.  On the left, it was the man in the yellow and brown striped shirt and jacket.  

I enjoyed painting the patterns of the wood grain, carpet and some clothing.

Close up of right side

People on the left side of the illustration
A couple council members
Grandpa (left) is a tribute to Mad artist Don Martin
I don't know why Claire is painted the way she is.  I think she is sneezing.

Well, I hope you enjoy this illustration and the rest of the story that is published this coming Friday at The Book of Bartholomew

#44 - Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1 - The Story

Bartholomew decides to ask the city council to keep his garden, even though he hadn't asked permission to have it on city property.  It is the events of this council session that is covered in Bartholomew Before the Council, parts 1 & 2.     I greatly enjoyed writing this story because I have been to many city council meetings for my day job.  I have had to write resolutions and have them approved by the council.  Most of these were to accept donations of funds for programs.  None of my resolutions were contentious items, although an upcoming one by the Food and Nutrition Commission, of which I am involved, will probably have some lively discussion.

Yes, it's true. I write about my real life experiences, sort of.  No, I am not Bartholomew.  No, I have not tried to save a garden of mine that the city wants to destroy.  But I am involved in community gardens and the local food movement.

The Book of Bartholomew is a series of stories about making decisions.  In this story, I wanted to show that there is a way to fight for what you want - even against the city you live in.  And there is a way to reach out and work with others for what you want - even with the city you live in.  I have a good friend who thinks government is worthless.  My opinion is that government is not worthless.  There are reasons for laws and procedures.  But when an entity, like a government, has been around for a long time, it doesn't adjust to change at the same speed as individuals or even society.  Of course, in these stories, I deal with these issues in a humorous manner.  But I would like people to know, there is a way in this society to address your grievances.  Sometimes it is hard work and you might run into someone who is not very bright or thinking in a new contemporary way.  But there is always a way to find common ground and get to a place that works for most everyone.  Be patient,... and be persistent.

Here is an excerpt from Bartholomew Before the Council, part 1:     

Bartholomew had never been to the city council chambers before. He had never even been to City Hall. But here he was, about to defend his community garden to the council and ask them to create city food policy, which would include allowing community gardens. The elevator ride with Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey seemed to take forever even though it was for only five floors. The doors slid open and all Bartholomew could see were bodies. People had gathered outside the council chamber before the doors were opened. The crowd was backed up all the way to the elevators. Bartholomew had no idea this many people normally attended council sessions.

“Bartholomew!” yelled a voice that sounded like Claire. He saw a young woman with dyed-red hair waving at him. It was Claire, but she was sporting a short haircut in a bright color. He hardly recognized her.

“Hey, Claire,” waved Bartholomew, working his way through the crowd toward her with Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey in tow.

“Your hair looks great!” said Bartholomew as Aunt Josephine's eyes widened. Claire sensed that Aunt Josephine did not approve.

“Thanks,” replied Claire, happy that Bartholomew liked it. “Can you believe all these people? Most of them are here to support urban food policy. I just couldn't imagine that so many people are interested! But look at this,...” she said as she put her hands in the air and scanned the hallway.

“Wow. Really? They're all here for food policy? Wow,” said Uncle Jeffrey astonished.

Charlotte and Topping soon appeared out of nowhere. “Hey, Superstar,” said Charlotte. Bartholomew blushed. They both gave him a hug.

“Claire, setting up the Food SLAM was genius!” exclaimed Topping. “I can't believe this mob.”

Suddenly, the crowd moved en masse as the doors to the chamber opened. None of them had much choice, they were being swept into the chamber whether they wanted to be or not. Bartholomew was scared for a moment that somebody might get trampled.

The council chamber was an impressive space-- an ornate room with wood paneled walls and murals throughout. The murals depicted moments in the history of the city. One wall was the founding of the city. A second wall showed the history of industry, from sawmills to riverboats to airports. A third was covered with “the People:” butchers, bakers, mothers and children, streetcar workers, blacks, Native Americans, whites, Latinos and there were even dogs, cats, horses, eagles and squirrels. Every possible person seemed to be included. The last wall was a bit unique. Instead of the typical WPA mural type of painting promoting the archetypal aspects of the community, this wall was a simple depiction of an average house in the city. It was a life-size white wood sided house with a front porch. On the porch was a family with food on a table. Instead of eating the food, the family members were all sitting and facing the council chambers listening to the conversation, passing judgment on the laws created and wondering how those laws might affect them. Most unsettling was the little girl whose eyes were painted a bit too large, giving her a creepy look instead of someone rapt with attention.

The council members filed in and set about arranging their papers and conversing pleasantly with each other. Without any warning, the meeting began with a role call by the council clerk. The council made their way through what seemed like rather mundane and simple matters, voting on blocks of items instead of individual ones.

Bartholomew scanned the chambers and recognized a few people from the Food SLAM, but mostly the place was full of people he did not know. He shifted in his seat, not sure what to expect. The council did not seem as intimidating as he thought it would be. They seemed like regular people making decisions about things. Surely, they would see the benefit of what he was proposing.

Then the proceedings changed as individual items were now being discussed. The first item was a proposed new playground at a local park. Apparently, the equipment had become old, rusty and dangerous. At least that was what the people from that neighborhood believed. They stood at a podium before the council and shared their thoughts and concerns. They each called the council members by the title Councilmember. So, Albert Josten, Bartholomew's council representative, was called Councilmember Josten. It seemed odd to Bartholomew and he mentioned this to Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine.

#43 - One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane - The Illustrations

One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane brings back the wonderful illustrator and artist Martha Iserman.

Martha has previously illustrated Uncle Jeffrey the Violinist and Aunt Josephine and Her Long Ride.

I first met Martha as a student of mine when I was teaching a botanical illustration class at the Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory, Saint Paul, MN. Martha has since completed a scientific illustration program, has worked at the Smithsonian and is now living in Chicago.

Martha's work for The Book of Bartholomew is really wonderful, fresh and emotive.  As fine a story illustrator as she is, you should check out her amazing and exquisite nature illustrations.  Over the last few years, with each sharing of new work by Martha, my socks have been blown off (I mean this quite literally, and I am getting annoyed at the lint burn marks between my toes).  The detail, the exactness and the overall consistency of her work is breathtaking.  You can check out her science illustrations at her website Big Red Sharks (   Although Martha has moved away from the Twin Cities, she will always be a Twin City artist in my heart.  Hopefully one day we will get her back.

Until then, enjoy Martha's fine work in One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, published this Friday, May 18, 2012 at The Book of Bartholomew.

#43 - One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane - The Story

I am happy to finally introduce this audience to Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, a couple that have been rolling around in my mind since the beginning of Bartholomew.  Of course, Mayor Dick has been mentioned by Claire, who hates him.  Mayor Dick and Claire squared off in Earth Day.  But, here we meet Senator Jane for the first time and get to see the two interact.  It is very fun, and challenging, to write for these two because Mayor Dick never tells the truth, and Senator Jane is always fearful and alarmist.  The question is how to move the dialogue and story forward with one character constantly lying and the other always getting distracted by possible crisis.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Here is an excerpt from One Evening with Mayor Dick and Senator Jane, to be published on May 18 at The Book of Bartholomew:

“Where are we heading?” asked Senator Jane with concern in her voice, although she knew this park well.

“Just strolling, dear,” responded Mayor Dick.

“Aren't you afraid?” asked Senator Jane.

“Not really,” said Mayor Dick peering over his shoulder at a particularly dark shape behind a bush that seemed to be quivering.

The couple walked a bit further and then sat on a bench.

“Darling,” said Mayor Dick. “I have a question for you.”

“Please, darling,” protested Senator Jane, “it's not going to be a difficult one, is it?”

“I think Gerald is a fine man,” he said, followed by a very long pause.

A bit bewildered, Senator Jane asked “Is Gerald okay? He didn't have a heart attack or a stroke, did he?”

“He never asks me for favors... and I must say that I have never given him any advantage or played favorites with him or his companies. I never do that with anyone,” said Mayor Dick. He paused.

“And?” asked Senator Jane waiting for some awful news.

“I don't think I should influence the city council in his favor, even if he were to ask me to. Do you?”

“Oh, darling. Would it avert a catastrophe or create one? I mean, you have to do what you have to do to protect people from all the horrible things in this world. They would hate you if you didn't, and they wouldn't re-elect you. If they didn't re-elect you, what would happen to our finances. Oh darling, you're not thinking of doing something rash, are you?” asked Senator Jane as she clutched her small fur occasion purse.

“Well, it's not as if I even could influence anyone on the council, certainly not half the council. Gerald would be better off approaching them on his own. I am sure he would treat all of them with the utmost respect. Especially, Councilmember Lovett. I am sure nothing would get in his way of attending the council session. He has such a great kneed to serve his constituents.”

A rustling was heard in the bushes behind the bench and it sounded as if someone was running away from the area.

“What was that?” shrieked a startled Senator Jane.

“I'm sure it was nothing,” replied Mayor Dick.

#42 - Food SLAM! - The Illustrations

Sheeeee's Baaaaaack!  Yes, the wonderful, the indomitable Meghan Hogan. Above is her beautiful illustration of the spoken word event in Food SLAM.  Meghan also illustrated Claire's first spoken word event in Claire Speaks Out.  I like having Meghan revisit the same character in two separate stories.  I have also done this with Matt Wells and the character of Ned and with Mary Esch illustrating stories dealing with Bartholomew and Geraldine's relationship.  I like to give artists a chance to revisit a character and deepen the experience of that character for the reader.

I enjoy the rich colors of this piece.  I like the simple feeling of the piece, although there are three characters, a crowd and shifting perspective. The large areas of rich color (and the colors themselves) are calming and make me want to be quiet and listen to what these people are saying.   I ended up using the colors as background colors to the text in the layout of the story.  The feeling is quite different from the horrible experience of Claire's last spoken word event, captured beautifully in Meghan's illustration below:

Food SLAM!  is published tomorrow.

#42 - Food SLAM - the Story

Time for a little Food SLAM!

As The Book of Bartholomew begins to come to a close, I have felt the stories begin to write themselves.  Food SLAM had very specific plot points it had to cover, which made the action and progress of the piece inevitable for me.  This left me free to play with the characters and dialogue.  I find this approach to be natural in the art that I make. I look to create a structural foundation that will then allow me to be free to play with the elements.

My favorite element of this story is Claire's spoken word performance.  Yes, Claire stuck with spoken word even after the embarrassing and horrible experience we witnessed in Claire Speaks Out.  Even the polite and kind Bartholomew cringes at the thought of another Claire performance.  Writing the poem by Claire was difficult in that I had to make it not good, but also not bad.  One would think that if I were to write a poem it would naturally not be good or bad, but rather common.  After all, I am not a poet and make no claims to being one.  Yet, I was very aware of each word I wrote, worrying that perhaps it was either too poetic or too insufficient.  But I also felt, because Claire had failed so miserably before, all I had to do was not fall on my face.  It is quite a freedom and a gift to know that all you have to do is not fail.

Here is an excerpt from Food SLAM!  You will have to wait until tomorrow to witness Claire's reading of her poem.

Bartholomew gawked at a banner above the stage at one end of the cavernous auditorium that read “FOOD SLAM! - Save the Garden” and had images of vegetables scattered in the background. “How on earth did she pull this together in one week?”

“You can ask her,” said Claire as she pulled Bartholomew by the arm toward a woman in her thirties with a scarf tied around her head holding back an avalanche of brown kinky hair.

“Hey, Claire. Is this Bartholomew?” asked 'Rissa.

“Yeah, Bartholomew, this is 'Rissa.”

“Hey, Bartholomew. Way to go. I love that you were growing your own food. That's great!”

“Thanks, 'Rissa. And thanks for pulling this... SLAM together. This is amazing! How did you pull this together in only one week?”

'Rissa turned to instruct someone how to collect tickets. Turning back she smiled at Bartholomew, “This? This was easy. All you need is a big room, a great cause and space for people to speak their mind. Everybody wants to say something. Can't stop 'em.”

People started to filter into the auditorium. A small group found their way toward the front seats, stopping at the sixth row.

“You can sit all the way up front,” encouraged 'Rissa. “We don't bite.”

The group of people moved up to the second row and sat down. A second group of people entered and found their places near, but not next to, the first group. More people entered and in fifteen minutes the auditorium, though large, was more full than not. Minutes before the show was to begin, the seats were almost full. Bartholomew's eyes became wet realizing these people were here to help save his garden.

“Yo, Bartholomew,” someone yelled. Bartholomew and Claire turned to see Topping coming down the aisle. Bartholomew rushed to meet him and gave him a hug.

“Where’ve you been?” pleaded Bartholomew.

“I've been busy lately. Uncle Cy has had work for me and I started another job, too. Rent is a bit expensive without Charlotte there.” Topping looked Bartholomew in the eyes, “It's good to see you Bartholomew.”

“You, too.”

“Bartholomew,” someone else yelled. Bartholomew looked past Topping to see Charlotte coming down the aisle.

Topping stepped out of the way as Bartholomew gave her a hug. Charlotte and Topping spoke a polite “hello” to each other.

“C'mon, Claire and I saved some seats down front. Sit with us.”

The four sat down with Bartholomew on the aisle and Claire in between Topping and Charlotte. The air was a little tense, but Bartholomew was happy to have his friends together again.

#41 - Food Fight - The Story

Food Fight is a story somewhat like At the Library.  There is not a lot of action in this story, but it helps to string together different story lines and sets things up for the stories to come.  Although there isn't much action, there is still much I like about this story.  Claire really starts to change as a character.  Her spoken word classes have helped her to be more outspoken.  She has always been a bit abrupt, but now she is sharing ideas and helping Bartholomew to think bigger than just his garden.  She is also concerned about Charlotte not being a mope-bot (yes, that is a robot that mopes - whatever that means).  She lets Charlotte know this in her own style.

Charlotte in the meantime is struggling.  She didn't realize how much she would miss Topping when she broke up with him.  Being newly single can be hard.

And Bartholomew, well, he starts out the story not knowing what to do, but by the end there is a plan of action.

Yes, Claire is ready for a fight, preferably a personal fight with Mayor Dick.  But we will see what happens in the next few stories as Bartholomew and his family and friends decide to take on City Hall to protect their garden.

Here is an excerpt from Food Fight, to be published on April 20, 2012:

“Ooh, I wish I could punch Mayor Dick right in the face,” seethed Claire as she finished reading the garden eviction notice.

“What are you going to do?” asked Charlotte.

“I don't know yet,” answered Bartholomew. “Aunt Josephine wants to fight it. She says that land just sits there empty, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to garden on it.”

“She's right,” said Claire.

“But then if we can't plant on the railroad property, too, the garden isn't very big,” said Bartholomew.

“Isn't very big?!” exclaimed Claire. “Bartholomew, it is still plenty big for us. It was quite a bit of maintenance to keep it going. I can't imagine what we were going to do at harvest time.”

“Yeah, a lot of mine and... Topping's... food went to waste because we couldn't eat it all,” said Charlotte holding back her sadness at the mention of their old life together.

“Well, you don't have to worry about that now that I'm cooking as much of it as possible so it doesn't go to waste,” responded Claire.

“How's the new apartment?” asked Bartholomew.

“It's good,” said Claire. “Much nicer not having old Dumbo Ned around. Charlotte is a much better roommate.”

“Yeah,” agreed Charlotte with a forced smile.

“But Bartholomew, I think you are looking at this garden permission thing all wrong,” said Claire. “It's not just about this garden of ours, but the city should have a policy that allows community gardens all over the place. Everybody should have the right to a space to grow their own food. It's the sustainable thing to do. There's only one community garden in town and that's run by a church and the food is given to a food shelf.”

“Really, I hadn't even thought about other gardens, or the possibility of them,” said Bartholomew. “You guys want something to drink?”

“How about a gin and tonic?” asked Charlotte.

Bartholomew, who was heading toward the kitchen, stopped in his tracks. “Charlotte, I meant orange juice or water or coffee. It is only ten in the morning.”

“Oh...” said Charlotte, turning a little red. “Yeah, of course...” She let out a little laugh. “I'm just joking. I would like some orange juice if you have it, please.”

“I'll have some coffee, if it’s not a bother,” said Claire. “Otherwise, I'll have some juice, too.”

“Two juices it is,” said Bartholomew as he disappeared into the kitchen.

Alone for a few moments, Claire leaned over to Charlotte and asked “I have an extra ticket to the poetry slam tonight, do you want to go? 'Rissa is putting it on and some of the people from my class are going to perform. It's a fundraiser for a local battered women's shelter.”

“Oh, I don't know. I think spoken word in support of a women's shelter might be a bit depressing.”

“What do you mean?!” demanded Claire.

Charlotte suddenly felt bad about what she had said. “It's just that 'Rissa will start talking about her experience and about blood and bruises and … well... it’s kinda depressing. Don't get me wrong, it’s a good cause. I just don't think that's what I'm in the mood to hear tonight.”

“Fine. But these are my friends. It would be nice for you to get out and meet people instead of moping around the apartment every night.”

#40 - Ned the Accountant - Illustrations

The illustrations for Ned the Accountant were created by Matt Wells.  Matt is kinda my "Ned guy."  He illustrated the first Ned story, Ned the Giant. He also illustrated Ned in Earth Day.  I previously have mentioned that I did not originally want to have each character of the stories illustrated.  I wanted each reader to have their own image in their head as to what each character looked like.  I give simple physical descriptions of characters in the stories.  I want the reader to fill in the details from their own experiences.  That said, I love what Matt has done with Ned.  He has done visually what I wanted the readers to do with their imaginations.
Ned the Giant

Ned in Earth Day

Matt has a way of portraying people and objects with a lot of feeling and energy. Below are his illustrations for Ned the Accountant. I never know what I am going to get from the illustrators. They are free to choose the scene from the story they want to illustrate. I would have illustrated a completely different scene. Here Matt chose the "cutting himself shaving" scene. I love the jitteriness of the image. At times Ned feels very unstable to me, and at other times he is the most practical and direct of all the characters. In this story, Ned is unstable. Matt's attention to Ned's messiness is wonderful.

And talking about not knowing what to expect... Matt illustrated the washing machine. I love this washing machine. It is just a wonderful energetic illustration. And I like the ribbons with the text that Matt has been experimenting with in his work lately. I was happy to see it appear here in these pieces.

I thought I would throw in a few more of Matt's illustrations since they are so enjoyable. And you should check out his work at his website:

Ned the Accountant is published tomorrow at The Book of Bartholomew.

#40 - Ned the Accountant - the Story

Yes, back to Ned!  I loved writing the story Ned the Giant, oh so long ago.  Ned the Accountant is a story where Ned is still not wanting to grow up.  He hates his job, he can barely get out of bed and get himself to work.  If only someone else would take all this away and offer him a good job that matches his existing skills.  That would make the world wonderful!  Be careful what you ask for.

After I had written Ned the Accountant, I went back and reread Ned the Giant.   I was surprised by the similarities that I hadn't noticed while writing the second story.  I mean, I knew there were similarities, but there were so many more than I thought.  When I wrote about Ned getting all tangled in his sheets, I had forgotten that in Ned the Giant, he had grown so tall that the only thing he could wear was a sheet. There were other smaller examples that you may pick up on.  Yes, in the end, Ned gets a job that he wants.  But what sacrifice will he have to make to have such a job?  You will find out in story #45.

Here is an excerpt from Ned the Accountant, to be published this Friday, April 6, 2012:

     After breakfast, the young man lounged on the sofa scanning the want ads looking for a new life. He had called in sick yesterday to attend a couple of interviews for jobs he didn't really want. He sighed. He knew the jobs would not be offered to him. After so many interviews, Ned could tell when prospective employers were taking him seriously and when they were not. He rubbed his hands through his hair and couldn't help but think the interviewers hadn't liked his dreds.

      “Really?” he said to the ceiling. “Is that why no one will give me a job? MY HAIR?!”

      Ned lay on the couch for quite some time burning through excuses for his life like a chain smoker. Once he could no longer stand his own addiction, he groaned and rose up.

      “Arrgggh!” he yelled as he stretched his torso, hands behind his head and elbows raised to the ceiling. “Fuck.”

      Ned dragged himself back to the bathroom where he thought he was going to take a piss. Instead, he stood before the mirror. He stared at his own eyes – bloodshot. “That's what you get for playing computer games all night, you idiot,” he said to his reflection. Ned had indeed played several games until five o'clock in the morning. He slept for one hour and then woke to his alarm at six o'clock to get ready to go to the “Seventh Level of Doom.” That's what he called his job. Fortunately, Ned's skill-less job would not be affected by a lack of sleep.

      The razor cut his thin skin here and there as it was hard to keep his head up while shaving. He fell asleep for a moment only to jerk awake with the sting of another, deeper cut. “Shit!” He grabbed toilet paper to stop the bleeding, but the thin white paper stuck to his wet fingertips instead of his face. A blur of flicking fingers tried to release the white patches from his skin. They would not come off. He flicked once more and caught his fingers on the edge of the mirror, scraping his knuckle and causing a trickle of blood. “Tsssss,” he breathed in pain and annoyance at himself. “Fuck.”

      Ned decided that the bathroom was a dangerous place and went to his bedroom. He noticed a spot at the top of the door frame where he once hit his head. He went to his closet, and pulled out a dirty towel to wipe up the blood from his razor cut and on his knuckle. He then went back into the closet and pulled out a polo shirt and a pair of khaki pants. He slipped them on and surveyed himself in the mirror. His shirt was wrinkled in a couple of spots and his pants were stained and tattered at the bottom hem.

      “Welcome, Mr.Ned. Please sit in the back of the room where you won't embarrass us,” he said to himself. He quickly pulled off his offending garments and went back to his closet. He surveyed the contents of his wardrobe – all polo shirts and cotton or denim pants. He did have one suit, nice shirt and a tie for special occasions. These were several years old and a little short in the leg and sleeve. “Fuck.”

      He flopped on his unmade bed. How had he become such a loser, or was that who he had always been? He had the degree of an accountant but the wardrobe of an ultimate frisbee player. No wonder he couldn't get a better job.

      “I don't want to dress differently! Suits and ties and dress shirts are uncomfortable. And dress shoes...ugh.” He twisted himself up in his bedspread and his sheets as he thrashed at his demons. Soon he found himself on the floor, arms pinned to his sides in his sheets. It was then that he realized he should have taken his “piss” earlier. Suddenly, his bladder was about to overflow. Ned tried to thrash his way out of what he thrashed himself into, with little effect. He rolled toward the door, but what good would that do if he couldn't get out of this straightjacket?

      “Oh, what does it matter? I can't do anything right!”

#39 - Get Out of Jail - The Illustrations

This is the first time I have ever done marijuana.  Let me rephrase that.  This is the first time I have ever drawn marijuana.  Unlike Bartholomew, I did not have a live sample to work from.  I Googled marijuana images thinking there had to be a botanical drawing of marijuana I could work from.  But, man, there were so many bad images, or at least worthless images.  Here are the best I could find.

Really, this is the best!  Sad.  Marijuana has such a place in the history of this country and this is the best Google Images cold come up with.  Below is what I came up with.  Much better as far as I am concerned.

Nice thick lines that don't blur.  Strong color.  It's kind of a banana yellow in the background.  Wow, dried banana chips would be great right now.  I wanted lines to represent prison bars, which they do, but they're a little wavy and bent and could seem like stripes on some fudge covered cookies.  Mmm....  Or maybe they are the stripes on top of a pastry.  Perhaps they are black licorice whips.  Mmm...  The green is very St. Patrick's Day green beer color.  Or, have you ever had those... what are they... they're like... OH! I can't think of it, man...  It's right on the tip of my tongue.  Ngnnhh.  (I'm sticking my tongue out) Giggle.  Ha, ha, man.  What is the word?  Phfttp.  Oh, man.  WTF.  Those green things.  What are they?  Hah.  PIMENTOS! NO! I mean OLIVES!  Oh, man. I could eat a hole jar of those right now.  Ha "HOLE", not "WHOLE".  Ha ha.  Shit, man.  I think I gotta... what?  Oh, man.  I think I'm gonna go take a nap.

#39 - Get Out of Jail - Mistakes and Regrets

Get Out of Jail is a rather obvious story, it is about Bartholomew getting out of jail.  He stayed in jail for three days because Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey were away at the cabin for a few days.  Sometimes life isn't fair.  Sometimes we get in trouble and the only reason is because we didn't know what to do.  Bartholomew had never had someone else growing marijuana in his garden.  He didn't know how to handle that situation... and now he's in jail.

We only get one life to live.  We don't have the luxury of going through it a second time having learned from past experience.  How do you get through without completely screwing up your life?  There are so many opportunities to make the wrong decision, to face a new situation and go the wrong way.  Oh boy.  And then once you have realized, too late, well, it can just make you sick.  I'm sure we all have our own stories of these types of situations. If you have one to share, go to The Book of Bartholomew Facebook Page and share it.

Here is an excerpt from Get Out of Jail, that will be published on Friday, March 23:

“We're so sorry we didn't get home sooner. We just feel awful that you stayed in here for three days. If we had known we would have rushed down here immediately,” apologized Aunt Josephine.

“Yes, we heard your message as we were heading home this morning. We're sorry,” said Uncle Jeffrey. “We turn off our phones when we get to the cabin. I guess we should leave one on or check one regularly. We're very sorry.”

Bartholomew didn't care about their reasons, he was just thankful that they were there at last and could help straighten everything out.

“Will you explain to them that I wasn't growing the marijuana?!” pleaded Bartholomew.

“We already have,” said Uncle Jeffrey. “We told them that Mr. McBarden was growing it and that the rest of us had no idea. They said that you had just discovered the ma... marijuana just before they got there.”

“It’s true!” confirmed Bartholomew, “I had just gathered one stem and was going to wait until you got home to figure out what to do. I didn't know how to handle something like that.”

“I would have just called the police,” interjected Aunt Josephine.

“But Mr. McBarden is my neighbor,” said Bartholomew. “Perhaps we should have talked to him and asked him to get rid of it. If he didn't, then we could have called the cops.”

“I have to agree with Aunt Josephine,” responded Uncle Jeffrey. “When it comes to breaking the law, you should just call the police and let them deal with it. After all, what has Mr. McBarden done? Nothing! He is home all the time and he must have seen what happened. Has he come down here to help you out? No. Now we know why he was so protective of his plot.”

Bartholomew squirmed a little. He liked to give people a chance. “So you don't think confronting Mr. McBarden would do any good?” he asked.

“Bartholomew,” Uncle Jeffrey said very sternly, “did Mr. McBarden ever check out the property lines and get the okay from the railroad?”

“He said he did. He said everything was fine.”

“That's what he said, but you don't know if he actually did it, do you?”

Suddenly, Bartholomew felt sick in his stomach. When they were starting the garden, Uncle Jeffrey had reminded Bartholomew several times to check on the property lines and utilities. Bartholomew wasn't sure how to go about doing this, and he put it off. Then Mr. McBarden assured him that everything was okay. It was Bartholomew's fault that the garden was built on railroad property without permission. He felt like throwing up.

#38 - Broken Dreams - The Illustrations

Broken Dreams is illustrated by James O'Brien. Here we have Geraldine - the pug - at the feet of a man.  She approaches a few men in this story who are destroying Bartholomew's garden.  She is trying to scare them off, but she just isn't big and ferocious enough.

In my last entry about James, I mentioned that he was a real "great guy."  I've changed my mind..  James is a stupendous guy.  The other day, I found out that Charles Schulz (Peanuts - Charlie Brown and Snoopy) went to the College of Visual Arts, where Jim is the chair of the Illustration Department.   So I called him up and I said "I didn't know that Charles Schulz went to the College of Visual Arts."  To which he replied, "yep."  It may seem small, but it was a bit of an epiphany for me.

James is also a very accomplished illustrator (as witnessed by his illustration above and the one he created for What Will Be Will Be, story #29).  Besides The Book of Bartholomew, James has illustrated for several Fortune 500 companies and some of the biggest and most popular magazines and newspapers in the country.  You can check out his bio here.   Here is James' website:

Broken Dreams is published this Friday, March 9 at The Book of Bartholomew.

#38 - Broken Dreams - The Story

Broken Dreams is a story about how loss can drive us to action.  The destruction of Bartholomew's garden is part of the loss Geraldine feels as she can do nothing but witness.  But it is also the loss of Bartholomew, her best friend, that drives her to defend his garden.  It is the loss of Bartholomew that also brings Geraldine and Oliver, passive enemies, together.

Have you ever defended a friend?  At times it is not easy and can be scary. But if you won't fight for your friends, will you even fight for yourself?  It is by supporting other people that people then want to support each other.  The example, the action in the face of danger, can inspire or lead people to be kinder, more supportive.  And Bartholomew will never know the support his pets gave him in this situation.  He is not there and they cannot tell him.  Yet, they can, because their actions and attitudes toward him will change in light of supporting him when he is not around.  He will experience the change in them, and it will speak to him.  What would this world be if we just supported our friends more?  Even when they are not around.  What would our lives be like if we were dedicated to others, not because of a sense of duty, but because we understand we are less without them?

Here is an excerpt from Broken Dreams, to be published at The Book of Bartholomew on March 9, 2012:

That afternoon, while she napped on the front steps of Bartholomew’s house, a van pulled up to the garden. It was big and had all kinds of letters on the side. Out came two men. Geraldine was hoping one of them was Bartholomew. Seeing that neither was him, she went back to napping. They opened the back of the van and pulled out tall tripods and a couple of cases. The men looked over a map and then placed the tripods in the garden. From the cases they took instruments for measuring distances. For the next twenty minutes they took measurements throughout the garden and all the way to the railroad tracks. At times they would spray paint on the ground.

Geraldine was not liking the look of this and decided to go tell the two men. She ran down the street and barked at them. They turned around quickly to see what ferocious beast was going to attack them, and then they laughed and continued working. Geraldine got within a couple of feet of one of them and barked as loud and a fast as she could. He paid no attention to her. She went to bark at the other man, but he just turned and walked farther away with his equipment. Geraldine was not happy that they were ignoring her. She went right up to one man and barked only inches from his shoe. He looked wary for a moment but then continued his work. Geraldine began to panic a little bit. Why weren’t they stopping what they were doing? She felt a little helpless and didn’t know what else to do, so she mounted the man’s leg and began to hump.

Now the man paid attention.

“Get off me,” the man said as he shook his leg. Geraldine did not let go. He reached down and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and yanked her off his leg.

“What should we do with this, Charlie?” asked the man to the other.

“Put it in the van,” said Charlie.

The man threw Geraldine into the back of the van, slammed the door shut and went back to his work. Ten more minutes went by without a sound from the men. Geraldine was alert. She was alert and ready for anything. With her heightened senses she smelled something, something tunafish-like. She found a brown bag just behind one of the seats. It smelled like tunafish sandwiches, an apple and potato chips. She was about to dig in to it and eat it, but decided instead to pee on it instead.

Meanwhile, the men outside finished measuring the edge of the railroad property and marked it on the ground. They called another crew to tell them they were finished. Five minutes later, Geraldine heard another vehicle drive up. The men discussed some things about the markings on the ground that identified railroad property and then she heard loud noises. The new crew started up their weed whips and brush cutters. A couple of men removed all of the wire cages and solid objects and then the others started walking through the garden and mowing it down.

Mr. McBarden’s plot, which had already been cut down by the police because he had been growing marijuana, was trimmed even lower and his hedge removed. Bits of red tomato whipped through the air and splattered the men’s pants. Carrots and beets were sliced in half as the men dug them up. Lettuces, green onions, herbs and radishes were cut to a nub. And Bartholomew’s beautiful towering kale fell mangled and distorted like a broken body. What wasn’t completely cut to the ground was tromped on by the men’s boots – smashed back into the ground from which it came. If that weren’t enough, the men then sprayed the garden with an herbicide. Some of the liquid death drifted to the part of the garden not on railroad property. Their work was thorough and complete.

About two thirds of the garden was on railroad property. When the men were finished, that part of the garden looked like a pile of weeds. The part of the garden not on railroad property had been trampled by the workers and didn’t look much better than the rest. The railroad company left the pile of plants where it lay. It didn't matter if it was a mess, they just didn’t want someone growing a garden on their property. In reality, they didn’t really mind someone growing a garden on this piece property, but the owner of the railroad owed Gerald a favor.

#37 - The Garden Exposed - The Story

The Garden Exposed is a short sweet story about the relationship between Bartholomew and Geraldine the dog.  Like any classic relationship; Antony and Cleopatra, Luke and Laura, Linus and Sally or Kermit and Miss Piggy, Bartholomew and his pug end up having an effect on each other.  Geraldine's tendency to hump legs and objects has waned in the light of Bartholomew's attention.  Bartholomew's appreciation of life has increased by having to tend to another living being every day.  Yes, Bartholomew has Oliver, but Oliver is not open to change.  He assumes Bartholomew is not able to teach him anything.  But Oliver is a cat.

I often wonder the effect the people I am closest to have on me.  I want to be changed by those closest to me.  What is the point if we are not?  How does a best friend, someone you can't wait to talk with almost every day, changed how you see your day?  Often, when we are younger, we have more intense relationships with friends because our hormones are racing and we are thrown together into a schoolbox for most of the day.  When I was a teenager, my best friend was also named Mark.  We lived near each other, were in many classes together and hung out at each other's houses every day.  I was aware that we breathed the same air, shared the same thoughts and lived a life together.  Although we haven't seen each other in twenty years, it is obvious that I am who I am today because of him.

My daughter definitely is changing me, almost daily.  These changes are almost beyond comprehension for me they are so subtle and constant, like adding one more piece of paper to a stack everyday.  Now fifteen years later, I can't remember placing any particular piece of paper on the stack, but in front of me is a pile of paper that rises above my head.  Are we open to letting people change us?  It is hard.  We are so driven to achieve our own individual goals we don't always take the time to really know somebody and let them in.  Let someone in today.

Here is an excerpt from The Garden Exposed, to be published at The Book of Bartholomew on February 24:

For her part, Geraldine had become more content having a home with Bartholomew. With regular attention she has become less needy. It has been quite a remarkable change. Many of Bartholomew’s friends can’t believe the difference, and some of them still call her Hump-Pug. Bartholomew discourages this whenever he can.

For Bartholomew, having the little companion has been satisfying. The moment he saved her from falling out of the tree in his backyard, Bartholomew came to know a quiet and appreciative side of Geraldine. He also appreciates a pet that will spend time with him in the garden. Oliver is not interested in gardening.

For Oliver this dog has been an adjustment. He does not like sharing his “animal space” with another. He also is not happy with Bartholomew’s affections going elsewhere. But Oliver’s concerns have been mitigated because Bartholomew still does whatever his cat tells him and Hump-Pug (that is what Oliver still calls Geraldine) has not been intrusive. Geraldine is happy to have her own space and not go near Oliver (who is bigger than her and has claws.) All in all, Oliver and Geraldine have worked out their differences. This has pleased Bartholomew greatly because, at the moment, all of his friends are mad at each other and he has been left alone to tend the garden. His Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Josephine help at times, but they have been on a lot of weekend trips to their cabin.

The sun shone all summer and made the vegetables abundant. This really was the perfect spot to put a garden. Lots of sunshine, water from Mr. McBarden’s hose and near to Bartholomew’s home. The garden was his solace. His friends had come together over the garden, and the summer had been filled with many satisfying conversations while planting, weeding, harvesting and eating. Although the garden was now just his, Bartholomew was pleased with the outcome. His life was richer and healthier. What more could he ask for?

Geraldine, after running ahead of Bartholomew, would run back to him jump onto his leg with her front paws and then run away again; always taking off, always checking in. Sometimes she would chase away a snake or a squirrel. She liked to bark at birds and even the occasional large insect. When a large train would come by she would sometimes run away or sometimes defend her ground. But still, once in awhile, she would mount a log, a tree, a rake, a tomato cage, a telephone pole, etc.

“Oh, Geraldine,” said Bartholomew, “I’m so happy you’re here gardening with me. I miss my friends. I don’t know why they have to be so mad at each other.”

Normally, when Bartholomew talked to his cat Oliver, Oliver responded by sharing his wisdom and experience. Geraldine was different. When Bartholomew talked to her, she just looked at him with her tongue out and waited for him to say the word “food.” It quickly became apparent to Bartholomew that discussions with Geraldine are one way. He picked up a carrot and threw it. Geraldine gave chase. She took it in her mouth but, not liking the taste, very quickly dropped it and pranced back to Bartholomew. This time he picked up a stick and threw it. The stick landed near Mr. McBarden’s plot of vegetables. A brown blur of fur missed the stick and crashed through Mr. McBarden’s perimeter hedge. Bartholomew waited for the pug to return. She didn’t.

Bartholomew started this garden with the help of old Mr. McBarden, his neighbor. Although he was a bit cranky, Mr. McBarden had been helpful when dealing with property line issues and letting the gardeners use water from his house. When divvying up the plots, Mr. McBarden insisted on having the furthest plot and planting a hedge around it. He said the hedge would keep the vermin out. He seemed a little old and a little kooky so everyone let him have what he wanted. Bartholomew had seen his neighbor watering the garden and tending to his plot, but he had never peered over Mr. McBardon’s hedge to see what he was growing. And now Geraldine had disappeared behind the hedge.

“Geraldine, come!” commanded Bartholomew. No response.

“Geraldine! Come here, girl. C’mon!” Nothing.

Bartholomew began to worry a little bit, “Geraldine?”

Maybe she was just busy humping something in Mr. McBarden’s plot Bartholomew thought.

“Geraldine? C’mon. Come here.”

#36 - I've Come to Say I'm Going - The Illustrations

The illustration for I've Come to Say I'm Going were created by Liz Carlson.  Liz is an artist and illustrator living in Saint Paul, MN. She was suggested to me as an illustrator by Tim Jennen, her partner and illustrator of Bartholomew and the Cabana Fire.  Tim was not Liz's partner when he illustrated Cabana Fire... and now he is.  Now, I don't want to overplay this aspect of The Book of Bartholomew, but it does bring people together.  Yes, its true, The Book of Bartholomew is for lovers.  For example, observe Liz's illustration.

It is obvious that the characters in The Book of Bartholomew are extremely attractive.  Full hair, pouty lips, vibrating eyes, beautiful skin and well formed hands are the hallmarks of a Bartholomew character. They are all upbeat and excited about life - and excited to find that special someone.  Bartholomew found, not only, the heavenly The Nanny, but also the devilishly sexy Geraldine.  Claire? Well, what is sexier than chickens?  Charlotte and Topping - hubba hubba.  Aunt Josephine and Uncle Jeffrey are the counterpoint that makes "hot" seem even "hotter."

Of course, they are all stylish as well.  This is obvious from the shoes they wear and the purse The Nanny carries.  This is also true of the artists and readers of The Book of Bartholomew.  They are all amazing specimens of the best human culture can provide: beautiful, glossy pin-up people you would die to be with.

Yes, our artists are amazing.  Liz has the most penetrating blue eyes you will ever see (this is true).  And those eyes have a way of penetrating the human spirit.  Here, the beautiful The Nanny comes to tell a depressed (depression is only for dramatic effect with Bartholomew characters, artists and readers) Bartholomew that she must leave him.  Bartholomew has just lost all of his friends and his family.  The Nanny was all he had.  Liz let's The Nanny's heavy words lay in a murderous cloud of red.  The lack of color in the environment reflects the lack of life in Bartholomew's heart.  His stylishly slumping nature portrays his desire to become a puddle on the floor.  The cupcakes in front of him taunt him.  They dare him to take pleasure in them knowing that he will taste nothing, he is in such dire straights.  Yet, there is hope.  The message from this angel before Bartholomew tells of a future, a wondrous ending.  The twining vine on Bartholomew's chair hints that all is not lost.  Life can again become full of beauty, passion and love.  Yes, Liz has dissected Bartholomew's soul to its most essential point: life sucks but it will get better.  It makes my eyes wet, my nose rims with mucus, my throat chokes back my humanity.  Thank you , Liz, for reminding me that the world of Bartholomew is one of beauty, within the book, within the community that has created Bartholomew and within the larger community of fandom.  God bless, you Liz.  God bless you one and all.

I've Come to Say I'm Going will be published tomorrow, Friday, February 13, 2012.  If you want love in your life, I urge you to read it.

#36 - I've Come to Say I'm Going - The Story

I've Come to Say I'm Going was one of the funnest stories to write in the entire Book of Bartholomew.  The title is in reference to a song (Hello, I Must Be Going) sung by Groucho Marx in the movie Animal Crackers.  Here is a clip of it.

In I've Come to Say I'm Going, Bartholomew meets up with The Nanny, his only friend willing to hang with him.  Bartholomew's friend's had all left him after a disastrous dinner at his house (see Harvest Dinner). At least he has The Nanny.  Oops!  Oh,well.  As it is with Bartholomew, even in the darkest times he learns something important.  At this moment when he is all alone, or about to be, he realizes why he has been a sucker for salesmen.  He realizes why it has been so hard for him to make a decisions.  And this, will eventually lead to a most important revelation in the final story of the book.

Here is an excerpt from I've Come To Say I'm Going which will be published on February 13, 2012:
Bartholomew got up from his chair and went to the counter. The barista offered several options of muffins. They all looked tasty to Bartholomew, and being a little confused, he bought five muffins. Bartholomew had a habit, after his parents died, of buying more things than he needed. That’s why he has twelve phones, eight toasters and three televisions. As he walked back to the table with five muffins, four of which he knew he wouldn’t eat, he realized that when he’s confused he has a hard time making decisions. He was so confused and in a daze after his parents died that he couldn’t decide what to buy when offered several options. Thus, he ended up with twelve phones, eight toasters and three televisions. Bartholomew also realized that he hadn’t had this problem since Charlotte and Topping’s New Years Eve party where he made several friends and decided to start a garden.

“By golly,” he thought as he placed the muffins on the table where The Nanny was waiting, what he wanted had come true: he wanted friends who could help him make better decisions. He figured this would happen by discussing decisions with his friends but, in fact, they seldom talked about making decisions. His friends helped him make better decisions simply because he knew they were there. They were an anchor, and their support made him more confident and more able in his own life. And now they were all scattered and mad at each other – all except this beautiful woman sitting across the table from him.

“Bartholomew, I have to leave you,” blurted out The Nanny as soon as he sat down. “I have to leave you, but someone else is coming who will make you happy, even happier than you are now.”

It wouldn’t be hard to make Bartholomew happier than he was at that moment.

“Why?” he asked like a lump.

“Situations are almost where they need to be. You are going to have to make it the rest of the way on your own. I’ve done all I can to prepare you.”

“Prepare me for what?”

“Hard times.”

“Do you know about Xavier wanting to kill me?” asked Bartholomew.

“Yes, but he won’t. But he will destroy something you love and he will hurt the ones you love the most.”

“How can you possibly know this?” Bartholomew asked raising his voice. “How can you possible expect me to sit here and listen to this when someone wants to kill me? I come to you with my concerns and you pretend you can see into the future, like you’re some seer or something. What I need is for you to help me!”

Without saying a word, The Nanny stood up and walked behind Bartholomew. She wrapped her arms around him and placed her chin on his shoulder. Bartholomew instantly felt a warmth and peace move through his body.

#35 - Mo and the Tree of Want - The Story

Since the beginning of this project, I have been very aware of the influence of fairy tales and folk stories in my writing about Bartholomew and his friends.  At times I stick very close to typical formats of folk tales: things come in threes, characters become stereotyped or simplified, there is an emotional aspect to the story that is acted out, and oddities and peculiarities do not have to be explained.  At times I swerve away from these techniques or try to make them more subtle.  In Mo and the Tree of Want I return to blatant fairy tale format.  Mo is a bit slow and dimwitted, unexplained things happen, and Mo is acting out his desires.  AND... there is a moral to the story.  It's not spelled out but fairly obvious.

This incident with Mo also puts in motion events that lead us to the end of The Book of Bartholomew.  Yes, this is story number 34.  There are only 14 more stories after this one.  Mo and the Tree of Want will be published on January 27, 2012.  Here is an excerpt:

Mo peered through one more window and saw Hump-Pug blankly staring back at him. For a moment Mo thought he saw something else in the window, something shiny and gold. It took him a moment to realize it was a reflection. He assumed it was from one of his many rings or necklaces or maybe his gold tooth. But the reflection seemed to be something else. He looked behind him at a gigantic old tree in Bartholomew’s back yard. There in the lower branches was a shiny gold object.

He went to the tree. He grabbed hold of the first branch and pulled himself up. It was dark out and Mo was afraid of heights, but he had to see what this was. It was a rather easy tree to climb with branches at even intervals as far up as he could see in the dark. He only had to climb three or four branches before he was at his destination: a small mesh bag of gold pieces. Mo thought that this was an odd, but fortuitous, placement of a bag of gold pieces. There were eight to ten pieces in the bag, which was heavy for its size. Mo unhooked it from the branch and put it in his pocket. “How lucky I am,” he thought.

He started down the tree but caught a glimpse of something else in the corner of his eye. It was another shiny object much bigger and much further up the tree. “Hmmm,” Mo thought, “that one is much higher. I don’t like heights. I better let it go. But… it is much bigger than this little bag in my pocket. It must be worth much more than this.” Because Mo wanted wealth more than anything else, especially wealth that took little effort, Mo climbed on.

The branches were easy to reach until he was about twenty-five feet off the ground. Suddenly, Mo wasn’t sure how to proceed. He made a few attempts at the higher branches, but, being afraid of falling, didn’t try anything difficult. One branch was almost in his grasp. He could touch it with his fingers, feel the ridges of its bark, but couldn’t quite get a hold of it. In the trunk of the tree was a bump, a canker, that if he put his foot on it, maybe he could reach the branch. But it would mean letting go of the tree with both of his hands. He panicked a moment at the thought and held close to the tree.

“Xavier would think I was such a woos for not trying,” thought Mo. “I can do this. I know I can.” Then with all his adrenalin pumping, he stepped on the canker and swung his arms upward. It worked. His hands grabbed around the branch and then he scampered up. “Well, Mo ain’t no woos after all,” he said to an Xavier who wasn’t there. He rested on the branch for a moment and then continued his ascent.

Mo reached the next object a few minutes later. It hung in a large mesh bag tightly tied to a branch. It was impossible to untie the bag from the branch, so Mo pulled the very heavy gold object out of the bag. It was a vest made of gold chainmail. Mo estimated it weighed about forty pounds. “What the heck?” said Mo as he pondered this object being hung so high in the tree. It looked like it was his size, so he wrapped his legs around the branch and he very carefully tried it on. It was a little small and he almost fell when his elbows were stuck in the arm holes. It was so small, in fact, that once he had it on he couldn’t get it off.

“Crap!” said Mo.

Resigned to wearing the golden vest, Mo began to climb down. He went very slowly, worried about the added weight. “How lucky I am,” he thought as he knew the golden vest would be worth a fortune. Then he caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. It was something a bit higher up in the tree. From the glimmer of moonlight he could see that it was something encrusted with jewels. He could see green sapphires, red rubies and clear bright diamonds – lots of diamonds. This one object alone would be worth more than all the gold Mo had found thus far.

“Crap,” said Mo.

#34 - The Eve of Destruction - The Illustrations

The illustrations for Eve of Destruction, the 34th story in The Book of Bartholomew, are by local Twin City artist, illustrator and indie publisher Meghan Murphy Suszynski. She and two friends, in August of 2009, began the uber-hot, sassy and sexy lit magazine Paper Darts.  For Eve of Destruction, she created this wonderful illustration of Xavier and his MG Roadster his father gave him.

I love the sense of falling in this piece. I wrote to Meghan that the circular-revolving feel of this piece makes me want to animate it.  Or print it on a plate and then twirl that plate on top of a stick. I also like the dapperness of Xavier with his vest, striped pants and patent-leather shoes. Xavier is not a slob.  Khua is.  I like the thought that Xavier, though a bully, has a sense of style.

As is the way of Bartholomew, different artists can have different ideas of what the characters in The Book of Bartholomew look like.  I use this approach to the project because I think everyone who reads the stories probably has a different image in their head about the characters.  One representation might capture your image better than another.  Here are other representations of Xavier by artists Matt Wells and Justin Terlecki.

Eve of Destruction will publish this Friday, January 13, 2012at The Book of Bartholomew.

#34 - The Eve of Destruction - The Story

One right of passage is when a young person decides on something they want to do with their life and wants to ask their parent for help.  No, not just ask for money, but actually want to use the skills and talents of their parent because it will make things better.  When I turned twenty-four, I had an idea that I wanted to... When I was twenty-five, I asked my father... I actually can't think of a time like this in my life, but I'm sure it happens.

In The Eve of Destruction, Xavier wants his father, Gerald, to help him hatch a plot to destroy Bartholomew's garden.  The Nanny, on the other hand, is trying to persuade Xavier to partake in better and more positive activities, like looking for his lost sister.  This story again visits Xavier's need for some kind of rush or excitement to keep him happy, satiated.  Boredom is not to be tolerated.  If you become bored, you might actually start thinking about yourself and having feelings.  Xavier is a psychopath in training.  Would it be better if he followed The Nanny or his father?

Here is an excerpt from The Eve of Destruction which will be published on January 13, 2012:

“Xavier?” a voice surprised him. It was The Nanny.

“What do you want?”

“Xavier, why such a harsh voice? I just wanted to know what you are up to today.”

“Nothing, nothing at all,” he said trying to sound more casual.

“Good, I was wanting some help with…”

“I’m busy,” interrupted Xavier.

“I thought you just said you were doing ‘nothing,’” said The Nanny.

“Did I? I meant I’m doing… something,” said Xavier.

“You are? What are you doing then?” asked The Nanny patiently.

“Eh… nothing. Nothing that concerns you. What are you doing?” Xavier replied.

The Nanny looked at him suspiciously. “I am going to look for Geraldine. Care to help me?”

Xavier, whose sister had been missing for five months, was startled to hear her name for the second time in two days. “The police haven’t found her and my father’s people haven’t found her. What do you think you can do?”

“I know her better than them. I know she’s out there. She’s out there right now getting the life that she needs, the life she deserves. You wouldn’t even recognize her, but when she comes back you are going to be surprised. She is going to be beautiful and at peace and have a happy ever-after life.”

Xavier’s face folded-up in disbelief at The Nanny’s words. “What the hell are you talking about?! Have you gone looney?!”

“Now, Xavier, you should trust me more instead of only trusting yourself – and trusting Khua to beat people up for you. I know that you want to be happy and at peace, too. You let this need for excitement get in your way. Hurting people and planning their destruction might be exciting, on some level, but its not going to make your life better. You can break this addiction you have. It only draws you away from people, away from yourself. Please Xavier, come help me find your sister, your own flesh and blood.”

Xavier had known The Nanny for quite a long time. He found her curious in the way she would suddenly say things that went right to his soul. It seemed to Xavier that The Nanny would spend a lot of time with Geraldine and barely pay attention to him, Khua and Mo. Then, out of the blue, she would say something to them that proved him wrong. She had been paying attention to them – so much attention that her words would penetrate their violent and addictive world. This was one of those times.

#33 - Harvest Dinner - The Illustrations

I'm doing something I haven't done before when it comes to the illustrations for Harvest Dinner:  I am using images I've used previously.  Until now, every story I have illustrated for The Book of Bartholomew has been a new and unique creation.  In fact, each story I've illustrated seems to be in a completely different style than the previous one.

page 1 - Bartholomew Makes a Decision
Page 1 _ Harvest Dinner

As I was painting the image for the cover of this story, I felt like it was similar to the image I painted for the very first story, Bartholomew Makes a Decision.  This made me think that I should also play off of the images on the pages, but do them a bit different than before.  There are a lot of similar elements in these stories.  Both are about a meal.  The first is Bartholomew eating alone and the second is with his family and friends.  Both meals get interrupted.  So, there should be similar pages.  Here, you will see an example from Bartholomew Makes a Decision and then one from Harvest Dinner:

I am also busy finishing up the last stories in this book.  As I am doing this, I am becoming aware of the need to bring certain early elements back into the stories so that a sense of closure will happen by the end.  In similar fashion, I am thinking how to bring closure visually to the illustrations that have appeared throughout this book.  For the last several stories I will be going back to some of the artists who have been involved in this project and give them more specific assignments in order to bring this about.

I am frantically trying to complete the cover illustration of a wok full of vegetables.  The story is to be published Friday morning and I still have a little ways to go.  Vegetables in a wok?

More food paintings?

Yes, they make a stir fry of vegetables they harvested from the garden.  Well, here is the Harvest Dinner illustration almost done:

Here is the cover illustration for Bartholomew Makes a Decision:

Here is the final cover for Harvest Dinner:

Harvest Dinner is published this Friday, December 30, 2011 at The Book of Bartholomew.