January-Tale

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You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to / been meaning to share this photograph.

If you remember, ages and ages ago, I was super excited about the Neil Gaiman Calendar of Tales project. We ended up missing the competition because I can’t tell time, but I don’t even care because this turned out so fantastic. If you somehow missed the project as it was happening, you should definitely check it out. (Here’s the post I wrote when I finished the dress.)

This photo is of the scene in January, when 1914 greets 2012 in the place where years go when they’re over. In the background, you can see several of the other years hanging out, enjoying life beyond time.

The photography was done by Sonja of Soulfire Studios (facebook, tumblr). Isn’t it fantastic? Everything feels magical and sort of timeless. (My favorite part is how she got the color of the water to actually match my dress, haha).

2012 is modeled by Matthew Sumner, of Beat Down Boogie.

I think my favorite part of this project is that I didn’t even know half the people I was working with when it all started. I just decided “Hey, I want to do this. I won’t be able to pull it off alone, so I should find some other people who want to do this.” And I sent out a bat signal, and friend of friends of friends responded. And this happened. And it was fantastic. Love of art and love of neil gaiman collide, and cool things happen. 

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This is my entry into the “Calendar of Tales” Project by Neil Gaiman and Blackberry.

This project is amazing as Neil has written twelve stories inspired by his community via Twitter.  He wrote one story for each month and put them up for artists to contribute artwork for the project.  It will then be collated together in a digital hub for the Calendar of Tales Project.  

I’m still just a beginner as a writer, with only a few years of consistant writing practice under my belt.  But even though I am not an artist, I really wanted to contribute in my own way to this project.  So, I took one of his stories I loved the most and wrote my own in that universe.  I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I love that this project exists for anyone who is creative.  It’s given me my own push to keep writing and just have fun with it. 

If Mr. Gaiman or any of the Keep Moving Project at Blackberry is reading this.  Thank you for this.  It’s an inspiration for creative people everywhere.

Whap!

“Is it always like this?” The kid seemed disoriented. He was glancing around the room, unfocused. That would get him killed, if he wasn’t careful.

Twelve tapped him on the arm. “Nope. Not always. If there’s any trouble, it’ll come from up there.”

He pointed to an attic door, in the ceiling above them. The door was askew, and the darkness waited behind it like an eye.

The kid nodded. Then he said, “How long have we got?”

“Together? Maybe another ten minutes.”

“One thing I kept asking them at Base, they wouldn’t answer. They said I’d see for myself. Who are they?”

Twelve didn’t answer. Something had changed, ever-so-slightly, in the darkness of the attic above them. He touched his finger to his lips, then raised his weapon, and indicated for the kid to do likewise.

From January Tale, by Neil Gaiman for Blackberry's A Calendar of Tales

January ('Tween the Dream and the Real)

He could just go, if he wanted.

That’s what was terrifying about it all. If he wanted, if he truly wanted to, he could just give it all up and leave everyone and everything behind without so much as a goodbye. What was stopping him? He had a car, and some money, and God he certainly had the desire. It always came at this time of year, when the year was changing in the depths of a pale bright winter, that longing to give it all up and vanish. Something about the newness of it all, the possibility, the weight of anticipation that would linger for months until the coming of a spring that would leave him feeling undone and unsatisfied, it made him ache.

But to throw a handful of possessions into his crappy old car and start driving, now there was a thought. To load up the Civic with its busted tape deck and AC that liked to think that it worked but wasn’t fooling anyone, to weigh down the underinflated tires with just enough to keep him clothed and fed for a while as he drove and drove, it was the most seductive thing he could imagine. No more classes, with professors who forgot him and assignments that didn’t matter, no more work, with a thousand dishes to be washed and no money to show for it, no more lonely nights spent painfully alone in an apartment he could barely afford to heat. Just the road, the whistle of the wind both wild and free, and his own thoughts to keep him company. God, think about it.

He would strike out west like the adventurers of old, seeking out the open spaces and the mountains and the endless possibility in between. He would forge new paths untrod by generations of 24 year old losers before him, discover a brave new frontier of unguided exploration, fulfill his dreams like he so obviously wasn’t doing right now in the mindless grind of school and work, school and work, school and work and nothing more. And when the road stretched out before him, sharp as an arrow in endless flight as it winged straight and true through rolling seas of grass into distant mountains, he would feel complete.

But…

Oh there were a thousand buts. But what about school, and all the work he’d put in to get here? What about money, that pesky thing he slaved and slaved for and never had enough of? What about family, and the people who called themselves friends, and the responsibilities that came with both? For every daydream of zooming down an open road away from his worries there were two realities that stepped in to drag him back down to earth. No matter what he told himself, he knew the truth of the situation. He couldn’t just leave, no matter how much he wanted to.

And yet when the pallid January sun shone down on him with no warmth at all, when the wind whistled through the city buildings and avenues to ruffle his hair with the promise of freedom, when the sky and the road and the journey called to him, the tiny flame of rebellion that never left him sparked itself into life again. And in those moments, when the terrifying, heady danger of a brand new year surged within him, Tanner could smile to himself and whisper a private truth that was both affirmation and promise.

“I can’t just pack up and leave. Not yet.”

The Calendar of Tales is up and running!

Which means I can officially state that my art will be on the January Tale page at http://acalendaroftales.com/. I totally recommend checking it out. It’s a marvelous project. The illustrations chosen for the ebook are stunning, I really hope they’ll make a little novella in print for the whole thing.

When I heard I was chosen for runner-up I was absolutely thrilled. Strike that. I was absolutely giddy with the thought that my art could be liked by one of my absolute favorite authors of all time. Complete with jumping up and down, burying my face in pillows, calling my parents and mad giggling.

It was an embarrassing sight for many of the onlookers.

Neil Gaiman has been one of motivations for attempting writing. If I had never picked up a copy of Coraline or Stardust, I’m sure my life would have been a whole shade duller. I wish I could go back in time like in the December Tale, and tell my eleven year-old self. (She of course would be a little dismayed by my love of dresses and enthusiasm but be thrilled none the less.)

A January Tale.

I drew this one at the very beginning of the challenge, on February 19, but had not posted it here yet. So here it is.

I like how I got different scenes of the stories in one drawing. Not sure about how the Darkness came out, it looks a bit too solid and distracting. Maybe I should re-draw it with my newly discovered Dry Brush technique…

This looks like it might be a nice comic cover though, with the black extending to the back cover.

Neil Gaiman is the consummate campfire storyteller

The words themselves don’t always win me, but that’s okay because the guy could read me the back of a cereal box and have me on the edge of my seat. For instance:

“They came down like sparks from a sparkler, beautiful and white and possibly slightly dangerous.”

On the page, you go, “Oh, not bad, I suppose.”

When Neil Gaiman reads it aloud, you go, “It combines the slickness of a futuristic automobile with the grim inevitability of Greek tragedy.”

I mean it, those are the exact metaphors I would use.

And if those metaphors sound lousy to you, they’ll sound fantastic after I get Neil to read them.