opus books

great comet on broadway

i saw great comet on december 28 and my life has never been the same, this is a summary of my experience 

buckle up this is gonna be a long post

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I once wrote & illustrated a childrens book based on a packing slip I received for someone else's Amazon order

The title of the book on the slip was too intriguing to ignore, plus, what if the recipient had never received her book? I took it upon myself to create the best facsimile I could manage having only seen the book’s cover.

Thank you for reading! I hope you all enjoyed this tale of adventure and redemption. Here is a bonus gif spidoman from the Something Awful forums kindly made. 

'Troll Bridge' Review by Counter Monkey John Arminio

It’s that Neil Gaiman story that’s a mature fairy tale for adults with the pale, wan protagonist dressed in black.

Um, I need more.

You know, the one where childhood sins have a lifelong effect on the soul of the main character? With art by Coleen Doran?

Um, can you be more specific?

Heavy implementation of magical realism with a sympathetic antagonist and lettering by Todd Klein?

I need more….

Hardy har har. In all seriousness, I am a sucker for Neil Gaiman and one would be hard pressed to find something of his I don’t love. But why should anyone else love him, and Troll Bridge, the way that I do?

Troll Bridge is a graphic novel adaptation of a Neil Gaiman short story originally published in 1998, two years after the conclusion of his magnum opus in the comic book world, the Universe-spanning Sandman series. Troll Bridge itself is sort of a distillation of every Neil Gaiman trope and why they work and how they are conducive to compelling storytelling. Since the 1980s, Neil Gaiman has picked or has attracted talented and perfectly suited collaborators; creative individuals who complement and enhance his work. Colleen Doran is one such collaborator, one who has been illustrating Gaiman’s writing since the Sandman days. Her ability to manifest the fantastical tales that Gaiman creates in lucid dreaming detail is unparalleled. Her characters are immediate and realistically rendered, even when they are mystical beings like trolls, but the worlds they inhabit, the environs they cross, are straight out of our shared dreams.

Troll Bridge’s protagonist is as archetypal a character as can be envisioned; a young boy exploring a newly discovered path. Such journeying youths are familiar to anyone who has read Gaiman’s comics or novels, or fantasy literature in general. What makes this venture so engrossing is the landscape Gaiman’s character chooses to traverse across is initially a meadow so pristine and glowing, it brings to mind suggestions of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. Like Wyeth’s painting though, there is an air of foreboding mystery, a sense of something lurking, waiting to entrap us. And oh, is there ever.

The titular troll’s entrance is both shocking and expected. Sure, we go from golden meadow to a Mirkwood-like maze of gnarled trees and shade of unnatural darkness, but our protagonist’s curiosity and urgency in pressing forward provide a certain veil of security. Seeing the troll’s tusks, giant stature, and wiry-haired nakedness break this bucolic boyhood fantasy of woodsy exploration is thrilling; a sudden material danger in a world previously devoid of it (or at least concrete forms of it). When the troll declares that he wishes to “eat your life,” it is almost as if he means the reader just as much as the young boy who has wandered too far into this land of tangible dreams.

Since this encounter occurs so early in the book, it’s obvious that the boy’s life is not eaten, but his method of escape lends an air of dark foreboding to the man he might become. Like the boy, the future of his idyllic childhood town, tucked away in a countryside of memory, is only destined for darker things. Such is the synchronicity of so much of Gaiman’s work. The same horrors are occurring to the boy as are committed by the boy as are enacted upon the land the story takes place in. Even the reader is not immune to this effect, as the caress of the troll’s gnarled, clawed hands reach out from Doran’s luminous pages and Gaiman’s glowing prose to caress our face just as they threatens the boy’s.

As Troll Bridge progresses, this multi-mirrored storytelling continues. The town of our protagonist’s birth drifts further and further from the form he once knew just as he becomes more cynical and distant, drifting further and further from the boy he once was. His own language matures but, at the same time, is more inhuman in its lack of hope. He walks across plains more purgatorial than fantastical; endless plateaus of steam and smoke with soulless prefabricated homes dotting the dreamscape. There certainly has been some “life-eating,” but who has done the feasting and to whom is open to interpretation. 

Ultimately, Troll Bridge is a dark fairy tale and the narrative follows the path laid out by the form of such stories. However, like much of Gaiman’s work (and the best of fairy tales in general), Troll Bridge uses these paths to find something new within us, something nascent and unexplored. It is touching and tragic but leaves us better for having experienced it.


Our theme for #MisonFingersFriday on August 14, 2015 is BOOKS. I’ve done this theme before, but it was Tom with books in all of his various roles. This time, though, it’s all pics of bookish Crane in Season 2 of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod loves his books–and since I work in publishing, I love him for it. More books, please!


May 3rd 1469: Niccolò Machiavelli born

On this day in 1469, the Italian thinker Niccolò Machiavelli was born in Florence. He went on to become a central figure of the Renaissance that coloured Florentine life during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Machiavelli was involved in city politics, especially during the fourteen years when the powerful Medici family were exiled from power when he was a diplomat. Upon their return, Machiavelli was dismissed for his opposition to their rule and thus occupied his time writing what has become considered his magnum opus: The Prince. This book is often considered a kind of handbook for ruthless politicians, as it detailed how one must be prepared to use any means to preserve political power. However, some scholars have suggested that the work was more of a satire than prescriptive guide. Machiavelli died on June 21st 1527, aged fifty-eight, and was buried in the Church of Santa Croce in Florence.

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”


My work from Mexico that I’ve been exploring and organizing since 2013 is finally coming together into folios to ultimately make up a new book! I’ve finally gotten the layouts and curating finished - ready to hit print and bind them. Needless to say, I’m extremely happy with how its coming together.