World Read Aloud Day is on February 2nd this year and I will be Skyping with classrooms across the country to read to and talk with students. I encourage anyone and everyone, of any age, to share a moment like this with someone you care about. You don’t need to be a kid, have a kid, or even have one around to read out loud, or be read to out loud.Read More
For this year’s Inktober I wrote and illustrated a short comic about my nephew and niece. I posted on social media every two or three days as I finished each illustration. It was very disjointed and probably hard to follow… so here it is in its entirety to you, my faithful readers. Enjoy!
It had been a rather uneventful evening when J-Walk and little Kennedy discovered the plug.
J-Walk would have put the plug back, of course, but a horde of zombies burst from the hole and began to chase the siblings.
After the zombies, some rather unsavory clowns with their gnashing balloons crept out of the crevasse.
It was when the witches flew out of that hole that J-Walk and Kennedy decided it was time to get the heck out of those woods.
Having taken control of the witch’s broom, the siblings marveled at the march of monsters beneath them. Goblins, creeps, ghouls and all manner of monstrosity, large and small, crawled over the earth.
J-Walk and Kennedy knew that they might be spotted by the witches if they tried to escape by broom. Kennedy found one of the largest monsters and demanded safe passage. Believing Kennedy to be a most fearsome witch, the monster agreed.
They escaped the chaos, knowing that it was their responsibility to fix what they had wrought, but first they needed to regroup. Kennedy named their monster Rafi.
In the calm of the pumpkin patch, an idea began to form in J-Walk’s mind.
They worked through the night, ready to put their plan into action. If this didn’t turn the tide of terrors that was still spreading, they didn’t know what would.
An engulfed, evil entity rose into the night sky behind the monsters. They turned and stared in wild wonder as this new master hovered above them. It was the fiercest creature they had ever seen and they would follow its dark pursuits wherever it led them.
The monsters followed the flaming, pumpkin headed wraith back into the woods. Rafi remained in the rear, corralling the stragglers, as J-Walk and Kennedy controlled the wraith from under a sheet atop their stolen witch’s broom.
All was going according to plan. They positioned the wraith above the hole, J-Walk gave the pumpkin a mighty push but then the unthinkable happened! Kennedy plummeted off the broom toward the evil creatures below.
It was an impossible catch. One that could have only been made by the love of a sibling. They danced in the air for a moment, as the horde of monsters shuffled toward the opening.
Their plan worked. Each witch, goblin, zombie, clown, creature and every manner of monster followed the flaming pumpkin into the pit, descending into the darkness from whence they came.
With the danger passed, the siblings snuggled up on their new friend Rafi. They took comfort in the stillness of the moon, knowing that it was only temporary, for new adventures awaited beyond the horizon.
Stephen King describes stories as found things, like fossils in the ground. A writer’s job is to dig up that fossil and keep it as intact as possible. I really like that metaphor. When people ask me where I get my ideas I struggle to come up with a satisfactory answer. Most of the time it just feels like they’ve been there and I just kinda found them. But those fossils had to get there somehow right?
I had a book launch a few weeks ago at Stories Bookshop and Story Telling lab in Brooklyn. Do yourself a favor and check it out, great spot. As I thought about what I might speechify about, I think I stumbled upon the origin of one of those fossils. It was way back during one of my many summer nights on Cape Cod.
Our friends had gotten together atop the sand dunes of Chappy beach, drinking Nantucket Nectars mixed with Poland Spring Vodka, the type of vodka that no matter how little you drink will give you a blinding headache in the morning. Avoid at all costs. As my brother Jeffrey and I often did, we broke off from our group of friends to get in a quick walk down the beach a.k.a "bro sesh." On our journey we came across a kindly fisherman, we approached and asked if he’s caught anything. He smiled and shone his flashlight at the shore. The waves were crashing hard and just out of reach of tide's pull was a flailing, floundering…shark. The fisherman looked up at us and said, “Go save it.”
My brother and I exchanged a glance, rolled up our sleeves and got to work. The shark was twelve feet long if it was an inch (minus about ten and a half feet). Picture Jaws but 1/25th it’s size and probably not a Great White. I grasped the shark by the tail and behind its head, my brother Jeffrey walked with me into the water. We went about chest deep, past the stronger pull of the waves, Jeffrey gave the shark a loving pat on its head, we wished it luck on its voyage, and counted to three. One. Two. Three. I threw the shark into the sea and Jeffrey and I BOLTED. Although small the shark still had some serious teeth. We high fived the fisherman and headed back to our friends.
But Justin what about the part that inspired your story? How bout that fossil?
I’m getting to it.
We felt GREAT about ourselves. We strolled down the beach like the heroes we were. And right then, Jeffrey spotted a beat up umbrella, stuck in the sand dune. With no hesitation he ran over, picked it up and climbed to the top of the dune. He backed up, got a running start and leapt off the dune with the umbrella in his hand, opening the umbrella at the apex of his jump. Now what if, instead of plummeting back down to earth the umbrella lifted him up into the moonlit sky, rocketing him up into the clouds, zooming this way and that reaching super sonic speeds!? He didn’t of course. He fell to the ground, hit the sand with a thud and twisted his ankle pretty good.
But the damage was done, the fossil was buried and a decade or so later I’d write a story about a boy who picked up an umbrella and flew.
Stay tuned for posts of my sketches, paintings, upcoming happenings and the general musings of a working author and illustrator barely keeping it all together. Should be fun.