Comic Conquering Part 3

SDCC has come and gone. Following its dwindling sparkle is a steady stream of movie trailers to feed our anticipation for the coming year. As exciting as it is to read up on the latest Comic-Con news, there’s something magical about walking the floor of the exhibit hall and experiencing it in real-time.

Set-up each morning was like being backstage at an amusement park or theater production. There was a quiet energy amongst the exhibitors and a sense of the vast scale of the convention floor. Youtube videos do the elaborate booth displays an injustice.

My booth was near Mondo, so I had the unique pleasure of watching con attendees do battle as they speed-walked to save their spot in line. I will probably show up in a few pictures of Mondo collectible figures from the convention since they were on a table parallel with my booth. Regrettably, I did not use the opportunity to practice my photobombing skills.

Comic Conquering Part 2

Comic Con is just beyond the horizon. Not only will this be my first time exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con, but this will be my first time exhibiting at a convention. Period.

This would be an impossible feat by my own efforts, so it’s imperative I mention the Kevin Workman Foundation. It is through their amazing generosity I have a booth and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re attending SDCC, you can stop by the “Preview Night” Happy Hour Fundraiser that the Foundation and Comickaze are hosting. Of course, you are more than welcome to stop by my booth, #934 in the main exhibitor hall of the convention center!

So, what does one bring to one of the largest convention in the world? EVERYTHING. No, don’t do that. It’s important to get inside the mind of the con-goer and think about what they’re interested in. And the answer is probably not a balanced number of Harley Quinn and Star Wars prints. The approach I’ve taken is to:

  1. Present a uniform branding that gives people a clear idea of my work. If I’m going to have a banner with an anthropomorphic Victorian insect-man on it, I better have more where that came from. This is is one of the reasons I embarked on my Gentlebugs series, which I have made into a nifty button pack and prints for the convention. I have also added some touches of steampunk aesthetic to my booth and will sport a complementary costume for a few days at the Con.
  2. Have an element that encourages crowd interaction. I will have the Triptych booklet for people to read and listen to with a pair of headphones. Aside from the opportunity to share such a cool, collaborative project, this interactive element will attract the curious passer-by.
  3. Sell a variety of items. Not everyone collects prints, but there are definitely people who love items with functionality, like buttons or bookmarks. Also, it gives me a variety of price points benefiting both small-spenders and serious collectors.

We’ll see how well that approach works because I have no idea what will happen.

Lets have a look at some of the items I will have at my booth, shall we. For size comparison purposes, I have the help of my trusted model, Pablo*:

Like I mentioned last week, I will have copies of the Triptych booklet. In addition, you will find a button pack featuring your favorite Gentlebugs.

I will have some traditional-media work as well, including several miniature portraits at about 5″ x 4″ and my original acrylic painting for The Fisherman’s Bride, that has been uniquely framed within convex glass.

Last, but certainly not least, we have bookmarks and a postcard pack containing 3 of my illustrations.

The conclusion to my Comic Conquest will be posted next Tuesday, so keep an eye out for what will likely be an article of epic proportion. And you can expect a whole lot of cosplay photos.

*Pablo is a 12-inch figure available at Sideshow Collectibles

Comic Conquering Part 1

Nothing can completely prepare you for a first time exhibiting at Comic Con San Diego, but I like to think one can try! There’s only about a week left and preparations are nearly complete. One item in my arsenal for the convention is a sampler of Triptych stories:


Also doubles as a makeshift cosplay.

The booklet has 3 of our completed triptychs, including Descendants of Twilight, The Fisherman’s Bride, and Servant of Anubis. In the back of the booklet is a QR code and link that allows you to access and download the music that accompanies those stories.


Guaranteed bird certified.

The process of forming the booklet involved deciding which stories to feature and then designing a format that suited them as a printed booklet. We picked a combination of our favorite stories along with stories that represented a variety of “moods”. The presentation is similar to the blog with the illustration presented first and then the story following.

Gentlebugs of Lacewing Manor




Dear Diary,


Scarcely can I contain my excitement for tomorrow!  I’ve long awaited the day, and finally it has arrived!  Tomorrow I, Chrysalisa Flutterbey, shall make my debut in society in the presence of all my friends, relations, and our numerous connections.

I have, of course, invited my dear friend Motharie Dustiwings, and I must say we’ve picked the perfect hats for tea before the occasion.  (Thank goodness for Honeybee Hat Shoppe!)  I do hope she’ll enjoy herself at my debut.  She is such a nervous, particularly flighty thing lately, the poor dear.  At the last party we attended, Monocle Mantis asked her for THREE dances—could anyone imagine so bold a thing?—knowing PERFECTLY WELL it would be impolite of her to refuse!  So I am now sworn to protect her in case of the gentleman’s attention and to thwart his advances in any way that a lady might.  After all, there may be plenty of other fellows who would wish for a dance with my dear Motharie, who is such a pretty, wide-eyed thing with beautiful, feathery antennae.  She fears they are just too afraid to cross a praying mantis.  “Preying mantis,” more like.  But Mother and Father insisted that we invite him, so I’m afraid there’s no way around it.

Endless Refinement

I have talked a little bit about concept and reference gathering, but for this week, I wanted to share the refinement process.

Creating an accurate final drawing is typical for most of my illustrations, but I’m getting more patient with the level of detail. Not only will this show me where different objects are in the composition, but it is also an opportunity for me to work out the lighting. I made pretty polished drawings this time around for the upcoming Triptych illustrations:


From here, it’s mostly downhill. I’m starting with the Moth Lady on the far left, which will be the most detailed. For your viewing pleasure, I made a little animated gif composed of different stages of rendering:


The Art of Collaboration

Lepidoptera program header

Four eons ago, a writer and a composer huddled over a table in the vestibule of Armacost Library at the University of Redlands, two cups of chai steaming in their hands, a collection of papers with typed print and handwritten notes scattered between them: the birth of an opera.

Okay, maybe that was four years ago.

And if you haven’t guessed by now, those two collaborators were Holly and I, on the brink of finishing our respective programs of creative writing and music composition, ready to plunge into a whirlwind of new post-undergraduate adventures. I’d wanted to work with Holly ever since meeting her a few semesters earlier in a fiction workshop, and our musical drama Lepidoptera grew out of our shared passion for storytelling.

The re-spinning of two ancient folktales, Lepidoptera is the story of a young noblewoman who must hide her love of the natural world from society’s condemning gaze. When a betrothal announcement unravels her web of secrets and threatens her only friendship, she struggles to restore the fragile balance of her public and private identities.

Holly finished the beautiful fifteen-page libretto by the end of our senior year, but it wasn’t until I was partway through my Master’s degree at the University of Michigan that I was really able to dig into the musical side of our drama. I am forever grateful to my undergraduate professor, Anthony Suter, for believing in me and encouraging me to embark on that journey to begin with; and to my graduate professor, Kristin Kuster, for also not only believing in me but for offering unwavering guidance as I pursued this project for my thesis. And for the occasional cookie lesson, which helped keep me sane as I batted away questions like what on earth was I thinking and how am I ever going to finish this on time?!

Missing Persons: Characters You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s funny how sometimes a character essential to a story doesn’t always appear at the story’s conception.  In “The Last Sun Sage,” this character was Bekthe, the Sun Sage’s daughter.  AKA. the main character.  She did not even exist in the original ideas for the narrative.  Then how did she come to be?  How was she ever “not a thing” in this story?  Well, sometimes the “hints” creators unknowingly or subconsciously leave for themselves help them discover their creation’s missing ingredient in due course.  And sometimes it takes a little while to pick up on those hints, which seem so obvious in hindsight.

“The Last Sun Sage” will be the first Triptych we’ve ever created with a “Part 2.” Natalie, our composer, introduced the idea of two fictional figures, one having to do with the sun and one having to do with the moon. The idea is to have one Triptych focus on the “sun figure” and a corresponding Triptych focus on the “moon figure.” For the Sun Sage, I believe Natalie had envisioned something apocalyptic, in which the Sun Sage needs to make some kind of holy sacrifice for the greater good. The three of us took this idea and ran with it, building a world around it in the process.


Inspiration for the dying jungle.

I spent a lot of time focusing on the Sun Sage himself (or herself—I wasn’t sure for the longest time…), brainstorming about who and what he was, his world and his place in it, and his role in whatever would take place in the narrative. I played around with point-of-view, unsure if I should write from the first person or third person and how far the action would go. I’d dabbled with it in first person initially, but if this Sun Sage sacrificed himself, could I really write that convincingly from the first person? How in the world would he even be able to tell the story if he died at the end of it? That would imply that he’s either resurrected, reincarnated, a ghost, or a Jedi.  And if a character can simply be “brought back” in some form or another after they die, their death has no real drama or consequences.  Therefore, (my) logic dictated that the story should be told from third person in order to be more compelling in this instance.

The Last Sun Sage




My people have lived beneath our Father Sun for many lifetimes.  As one with our world, we have ever grown with the touch of his rays, without interruption.  We are the Creations that Walk, living amongst our Brothers and Sisters: the trees, vines, bushes, and flowers.  The moss, the water reeds.  All that make up the canopy and forest floor and everything between.  We are all of the same essence.  We are Brother and Sister Creations, fed by the interconnected springs welling throughout our world.  Together we form the forest, nourished by our Father Sun.

Along with life, our Father Sun bestowed upon my people another gift.  The Sun Sages. Creations that carry the Sun’s power within their blood.  Guides, messengers, leaders through the ages.  We are at all times warm to the touch.  Our skin gives off light in the shade.  And when we bleed, the blood is blinding.

It is this blood that will salvage all life in the coming age.  The blood of a Sun Sage.  My blood.

As the first Sun Sage foretold, our uninterrupted sunlight wanes.  We have lived in an age of Day.  But soon our forest will be covered in a darkness that will last many ages, a darkness called Night.  The very last of my people have died since I last beheld our Father Sun above the horizon.  The sky’s bright blue has deepened to near blackness, the gold at its edge the only indication of our Father Sun’s remaining presence.  Now even that glow has dimmed almost completely.  Night is nearly upon us.

Without the sun, my people have perished.  Water alone could not sustain them.  The bright green of their bodies became dull, wan.  Their leaves and skin withered, until they could no longer walk or move at all.  They are laid to rest now throughout the forest, as nothing has been able to revive them.

Two of us remain, kept vital by the sun’s power flowing through our veins.  Myself and the one chosen by our Father Sun to awaken and lead our people in the new age of Night, after my blood brings life back to them.  Her name is Bekthe, and right now she is only a child.  She is my daughter.

I set out now to perform my sacrifice.  The time is here.  The next person who will read this will have been revived by my blood and awoken by my daughter, the last of the Sun’s children born in the age of Day.

The words of Rahmrev, final Sun Sage before the coming of Night.

Praise to our Father Sun.


Praise the Sun


As well as our next triptych, The Last Sun Sage.

laudate solem / praise the sun
infans ignis / child of fire
incende / burn
duce nos / lead us
per diem decrescentem / through the waning day

sun sage and cat

Cat and random clarinet sonatas not included.

Dusting the cobwebs off my vague Latin memories and scribbling apocalyptic text can only mean one thing: time to write for choir!

Nothing beats the joy of collaborating with real, living vocalists. But sometimes we can’t afford to hire our own personal choir. I’ve used non-text choir samples in past projects, such as One with the Light for Noniko Hsu’s collaborative multimedia production Asah & Raeq. It’s easy enough to assemble “ooh” and “ah” tones into a gliding melody. But for Sun Sage I wanted to do something more. I’ve had my eye on the text-building function in my fancy EastWest choral library for awhile, and its time has finally come.

Transcribing my handwritten sketch into the music notation software Sibelius was a breeze.

sun sage intro score sample 3

I know I know, I broke one of the syllables wrong.

However, no one would try to pass off Sibelius vocal samples as a legitimate representation of music, not least of which because it stays on the same open vowel. The lyric text is purely for appearance. (And for vocalists reading your music, obviously.)

Case in point.

That apocalyptic refrain I sweated over and conjugated and declined and pored over dictionaries and re-conjugated and consulted the random Latin scholars of the internet dredged up by the Google search engine and re-conjugated again because did I mention I remember almost nothing from the Latin classes I took six years ago? Yeah, you’re not going to hear any of that in a Sibelius playback.

We’ve passed the 4 month marker!

To our incredible fans,

Triptych has just celebrated its four-month anniversary, and the project is going strong!  We’ve now completed two full cycles of triptychs since our first one debuted on January 19, and along with that we’ve created a Facebook page, a Tumblr blog, a Twitter feed, a newsletter, an art print shop, and, of course, our very own website.  Your support continues to mean more to us than we can express, and we want to thank you for viewing, reading, and listening to our collaborative art.  We hope that you’ll continue visiting us to see all the new triptychs and enjoy your old favorites.

Descendants of Twilight – January 19

Beneath the Tumtum Tree – February 9

The Path Witch – March 1

A Dance with Death – March 22

The Fisherman’s Bride – April 12

Servant of Anubis – May 10

Leave us a comment and tell us which is your favorite triptych!