The Company Of The Wet Stone (8-30-13)

(This is the waterfall, where The Company later freed an imprisoned Turtle-Dragon)

Waterfall Canyon.

Grandor had been walking too far in ill-fitting boots and his chain-mail was chafing the tops of his thighs. His purse was empty and so was his stomach. So he tried the only magic trick he knew.

He lit a fire. A fire of New Beginnings.

He used his last pipe smoke to light the mosses off a dry branch. They in turn lit an abandoned bird’s nest. That caught the birch twigs and eventually a piece of an old wagon.The smoke filled his belly and the heat warmed his pain.

Just then a woman stepped into the clearing. She peered out from under her wide-brimmed hat. “You got room for two around that fire?”

Grandor smiled and slid his shield away to clear room for her.

As she sat down she pulled two dead rabbits out of her sheep skin cloak. “You any good at skinning?”

Grandor looked at her deer-skin dress, her leather boots and leather gauntlets, and that wild sheepskin cloak. “Probably not nearly as good as you are.”

She smiled and said “I’ll share the meat, I just don’t want to do all of the work.”

Grandor pulled a sharp knife out of his belt. “I got this whole thing covered.”

Grandor then performed a second magic trick, A pair of hare prepared for an affair.

 

Grandor and the Woman-in-skins shared her pipe smoke as the rabbits roasted on the fire.  As the aroma reached it’s climax, there was a loud clattering in the trees.

A young man came crashing through the underbrush, swinging through the thicket with an old sword, and singing loudly to himself.

I of Smoon, They’d call me boy, Nay!

I am a man of one and twenty

So along this knotty trail I roam

killing giants by the plenty

I care not where my Ma and Da are

I know not where my sister dwells

I lead this bold life in the woodlands

hunting down the best of smells

 

He stepped into the clearing, put his hands on his hips, thrust out his chest and said, “I am Marthyn, from Smoon, at your service”. He took a step forward and bowed deeply before the fire. “Can I join you in your adventure?”

The woman looked at Marthyn’s smooth face, his oversized leather armor, his too-small pants, his shoes, split open at the toes. She looked back to Grandor. He smirked, and poked at the fire. He kept his head down.

“This isn’t an adventure, this is resting,” she said, “You are barely older than a boy. What could you bring to an adventure anyway?”

Marthyn from Smoon, knelt before the fire holding his sword in front of him,

“I lived in Smoon with my family, until the Dragon came. They all fled to the castle, but I thought I smelled something good in the woods, so I went to investigate.

“While I was going along the road, I happen to find my Grandfather’s sword, I don’t know how it got there.

“Then I ran into a Giant. He swallowed me whole. I went down his throat, but when I got to his heart, I pulled out my Grandfather’s sword and sliced it in two.

“Then I ran back up his throat and out his mouth before he fell dead to the ground.”

The fire crackled but no one spoke for a moment.

Finally, Grandor pulled the crispy meat from the fire and said, “That’s a good story. My name is Grandor.”

Marthyn looked at the Woman and said “What’s your name? What’s your story?”

Grandor looked at the woman with interest, he’d been wondering too.

…Then they find a small elf-child and end up following a Unicorn through the woods on a life-changing adventure…Just a campfire story, right?

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Yeah, well, sort of…

I introduced my family to the amazing first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the summer of 2013. I guess all the recent dragon imagery and Hobbit movies sparked my old interest in fantasy role-playing games.

 

I grew up right outside of Lake Geneva, WI, home of TSR, the company that brought us Dungeons & Dragons. I grew up knowing the legendary Gary Gygax, and I was fortunate enough to intern for TSR in high school. I got to know some of the artists (Brom, Easley, Robh, and others), my mentor being the awesome Dana Knutson (famous for designing the Shadowrun logo). They even let me contribute in some small ways to designs they were working on at the time (I think they found it advantageous to pick the brain of an enthusiastic sixeen-year-old kid).

Anyway, I thought my Green Dragon decapitating days were long in the past. Although my gaming friends were really great gamers, they were replaced by girlfriends and then a wife.

But, before I got to finally kiss girls, I was a serious Dragon Slayer. Once apon a time, you see, I even decapitated a great Green Dragon in one shot by using an enchanted +3 Vorpal Sword, named Noslom Nedlog (which is just Molson Golden in a mirror, duh).

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But after sitting around the campfire in the werewolf and vampire infested forests of Forks, WA, I started to weave the tale of the Company of the Wet Stone.

I would assume the duties of Dungeon Master (running the game portions and controlling the actions of the non-player characters and monsters), and I would be playing the scruffy, broken reluctant hero of the group. The down and out illusionist on-the-run, Grandor.

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Megan took the name Madame Franz, a former wizard, raised by cougars, who was now learning to avoid using her magic metal arm and embrace nature’s magic.

My 8-year-old Son, became the wandering, giant-killing ranger, Marthyn from Smoon. And my daughter became a six-thousand-year-old elf-girl, named Pink (who is permanently six-years-old) and only wishes to get to Unicorn City

So in our secluded cabin on the Olympic Peninsula, far away from anybody, and let our imaginations, and Glow-in-the-Dark 20-siders, roll.

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When I got back from the vacation, I started writing and drawing out our adventures searching for the City of Unicorns. 12-14-13-Unicorn-City-Overview-MapWEB

The game-play was good, and the life-lessons were even better.  I thought they’d make a good fantasy novel at some point, or at least a silly, family friendly game-module. But most importantly, like our ramshackle characters, we learned to work as a team. And we rediscovered that we truly are a family. The real-life Company of the Wet Stone.

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Baddies! Deadies! and Creepy-crawlies! Roll for initiative!

 

Alley Dragon Mural (4-30-13)

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I painted this (roughly 5′ x 5′) mural in our alley, to cover-up an older mural, which covered-up some graffiti.

The idea of the golden sub-conscious dragon, lurking under all of our houses, ready to destroy or bless you, (depending on your point-of-view) came from several story ideas my wife was kicking around, and from my daughter seeing a dragon in a river when we were camping that April. Our basement also had a drainage issue, and I think this guy was responsible. I figured he comes and goes by using the drain under his beard.

I painted our dragon in a yellow/blue color palette, with a goofy, non-threatening gaze. And the white cherry blossom pedal-theme again. Our cherry trees are really inspirational around here!

Leukemia Girl (5-12-13)

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Kate Albert Ward asked me to draw her “X-Men style” for this Post Defiance story about surviving Leukemia her senior year of high school.

We met by the local middle-school, where the pink cherry trees were just dropping their pedals. I had this idea that her ‘mutated blood cells would blend with the graduation-springtime cherry blossoms, whirling around Kate as her ‘mutant power‘ manifested. The bright orange chemo-bag serves as the dangerous reality check, suppressing her abilities. The orange contrasting with the blue patient pants and jacket. I scanned actual hospital gowns and scrubs for her clothes. I climbed up on the fence and took some reference shots down through the cherry tree branches. I layered these ideas together, then I had to imagine her ten years younger and without her hair!

It was a powerful, and emotionally rewarding assignment, although I never heard much feedback on it. It proves to me that when an illustrations does it’s job, and serves the greater story, nobody notices it at all.

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