Blood Skies, a few Sketches…


A few weeks ago, an author I follow on twitter announced an awesome deal, the first book in his current series was free on the Kindle.  So naturally I had to check it out.

In his series Blood Skies, Steven Montano has managed to rekindle my faith in humanity and our ability to realize that monsters need to stay monsters.  Anne Rice, while she based her writing style on one of my all time favorite horror writers: H.P Lovercraft, began a trend that saw vampires emasculated, feminized, de-fanged, and then rolled in glitter.  I am not a huge fan of “modern” vampires.  But Steven Montano has brought them back, made them ugly, horrible, purpose driven monsters, and then crafted a world around them that astounds me in its detail.

Also a few of my “forgot” short stories and screenplay treatments share a few broad strokes in common with his beautiful crafted world… Almost a “great minds think alike.. and so do horror authors minds”, scenario.  Blood Skies is the first novel in the series and it is a great military/sci-fi story, set in an awesome and deadly world.  At this point I have made it to book 3 and at this rate, well he better write them faster… if he pulls and R.R. Martin on me…

Anyway, like other great examples in media, his books inspired me to make a few sketches, and those are the subject of today’s post.

First we have Eric Cross the main character:cross

Next is a Shadowclaw Vampire, kinda like a badass Navy Seal but with fangs…

shadowclaw

 

Take a moment to check out Steven Montano’s website. 

-TheGrav

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Creature and Character Development: The that Kor’Jorian


The Kor’Jorian are another race of Savaged.  Often modern authors play with the concept of man attempting to become God, and the repercussions of those actions.  From the “Terminator” movie series to Michael Crichton‘s Jurassic Park novels.  This concept is something that fascinates us; as our technology level increase it is a boundary that we flirt with on an almost daily basis.  From cloned sheep to the exponential advancement of computer processors, it is possible (in our minds) that at some point soon man might be able to create life.

This brings up a load of fears, will our creations become us?  Just as we have become gods in creating them?  Will they replace us, as we are seeming to replace our gods?  The Kor’Jorian address this fear in my science fiction world.  In a much different way, as these are not man’s mechanical monsters, nor are they purely mechanical constructs, but what has evolved from a biological creature merging with their technology.

The Jori were a hive race, made up of clusters of semi intelligent multiple cell organisms, each about the size of bacteria.  As the hive clusters grew in size their intelligence level increase exponentially, some of the larger hive groups (about the size of a basket ball) are considered hyper-intelligent.

Their hive clusters often splitting and merging with other clusters allowing an entire population to share the same experience or focus on the same tasks.  In their ancient past the Jori encountered another space faring race, and were forced to defend themselves.  As a race without conventional bodies,and were almost exterminated, before they created their mechanical bodies.  The Kor’Jori were born.

KorjorianHunterKiller

In the Eons since their race was forced to inhabit Mechanical bodies, the Jori have evolved  considerably.  Now longer are the clusters large, their science and technology advanced enough that smaller clusters and even single organisms have expanded their abilities through artificial means.  At times it is hard to distinguish whether there is a even a surviving biological component to some Kor’Jori.

The Kor’Joirans have ruthlessly protected their planets for Eons, forever paranoid that another race will try to subjugate or destroy them.  Often seen as warlike, unfeeling machines, they have little to no contact with other races, and often when they do it is violent in nature.

Look for their spacecraft in my next post.

-TheGrav

 

 

Creature and Character Design


What does Creature and Character Design mean?  Why are they used?  What purpose do the serve?  When you sit down to pitch an idea, depending on the team involved or the complexity, sometimes it is better to have a formed presentation before you sell the idea in 15 words or less.  In the case of City 7, I wrote the entire script, formed the production team, and then we took another 3 months to go over and rewrite everything.  And that was before we looked for a location, spoke to any actors, or filmed a a single episode of our webcast.

Though most of them have now been lost to time and the filing cabinet that holds all things dealing with the film.  One of the steps that existed in tandem, with this process, consisted of cutting out photos of military uniforms and generating sketches of what our actors costumes would be.  Then we did the same process for our zombies!  Once the film schedule was decided upon by the production crew, I then had to form a make-up/costuming team, and another set of sketches/photos/magazine cuttings were generated.

Most of this is normal, every team goes through this.  Even for an episode of the most trite teenage drama.  The high school sports team’s uniforms have to be designed, and the main characters don’t just show up in what they had in the closet that morning.  Someone designs how they will look before each episode.  Even in a show like Supernatural or The Walking Dead, where the characters wear the same things every episode, those props were designed.

However at times the creative process has to go a step further.  A sci-fi television show, horror movies, and video games normally have concept artists.  This is a guy, like me, who sits in at the meetings and hear the more off the wall ideas, and then has to translate them into art work so everyone not on the creative team has a chance to get the idea.  These art works are then used by everyone else to make the film/show/game feel the way the production team wants it too.

A big part of any creative process that involves an element of fantasy is the Creature and Character Design.  Most of my personal Creature and Character design centers around the Savaged Universe.  A science fiction world/universe that I have written several short stories in, and am currently attempting to unify into one book.  I use this type of illustration and concept art to decide on what my aliens and main characters look like, so I can get the rough idea out of my head and take a look at them on paper.  It helps when it comes time to describe them to the reader.

On the fringe of the Human Empire, during the turbulent times of expansion, exploration and colonization we run into two other struggling empires, the Sage and the Jarn.  Naturally the language, social etiquette and racial differences are great enough that wars and conflicts arise.  However in both cases these first two alien species become some of humanities earliest and strongest allies.  We are going to look at both this week, starting with the Jarn.

The Jarn were originally “Space Orcs”, literally.  My only idea was they were savage brutes with green skin that crawled out of a Tolkien novel, into a space shuttle and then went on a smashing spree.  Then they became more than just savage and mindless creatures tossed in from another genre to satisfy the need for conflict.  They became an developed race, that somehow got their act together long enough to make it off their home world, and develop a small fledgling empire.  An empire that later, after a few wars, would join humanity and the sage in creating something larger.

EarlyJarnConcept

This is an early concept, I was still going with the “orc” base model.  Big muscle clad brutes that lived and died for war.  At the time,  the Jarn were a race that was brought to their knees by the Sage and Humans in a war that lasted almost a hundred years, and saw the death of most of a solar system, they just had to be more than I was giving them credit for.  I mixed in the idea of honor and pride, then a feudalistic society where dueling and single combat were often used to settle disputes between Jarn tribes.  I came up with this mix of Japanese and Native American cultures, a mix that would allow a society to advance into the space-age.

The Jarn were reborn, still brutes and giants, still more likely to get into a bar fight over a spilled drink than to talk about their feelings.  But focused and honor bound, intelligent and ambitious.  In fact even as I reworked how they looked, and how their society functioned, I reworked how they became part of the Empire.  The Jarn Wars were ended by a Peace Treaty, where each side saw the damage the war was creating.  However the Jarn Civil Wars were born in the same event.  Half the Jarn tribes siding with the Human and Sage Empire, while the other half declared war, and fought a retreating battle into what has become “Wild Space”.

Jarn

Still brutish, their bodies reflecting life-times of war, their technology bulky and inelegant.  But they had their own look, something that didn’t make them just “Space Orcs” anymore.

I still have yet to tackle what their spacecraft look like!  If you wold like to know more about the Savaged Universe check out my other blog:  One Hundred 

-TheGrav

Why write?


I have a huge issue with writing.  I am good at it.  Sure I am one of those guys that needs an editor, but at the end of the day I have stories.  A lot of times these stories are born into life as art pieces themselves.  But there are a few cases where art is only a side effect of a story, not the best way to tell the story itself.

Two examples, would be City 7 The Movie, and the ever expanding world of Savaged.  In both cases there is a certain amount of “art direction” involved with each process.  In the case of City 7, I was largely responsible for all the special effects/make-up and props; in the case of Savaged I tend to have an idea, illustrate it and then fill the blank space of the sketch page in with quotes, notes, and bits of history.

Savaged is my science fiction world.  Well maybe more a collection of inspired designs, ideas, and illustrations done by an artist who was largely influenced by his parents love for Star Wars and Star Trek.  My influences expanded as a teen, moving into some of the more fringe culture works, such as Tank Girl and later the illustrations that graced album covers of Punk Rock bands like Operation Ivy and Dead Kennedy’s.  As time has gone on I have continued to collect inspiration from the world at large, and count about 5 artists in my all time tops… but we are talking about writing fiction here.

Science Fiction, has long been a genre that has fascinated me, and it has taken me some time to realize the how and why.  Sure, gleaming cities of endless splendor, near perfect cultures, robots, and the idea of what technology might become, are cool; but it takes a deeper look to find out why a genres inspires and drives you.  Added to this mix is the fact that I have this desire to start writing a novel.  Time for a bit of soul searching.

I have been writing short stories since high school, playing around with ideas ranging from a Genetic “Frankenstein” to the idea that the Dust Bowl of the 1930s never ended and swallowed the world.  A lot of times these stories are personal accounts, almost like reading over a collection of Civil War letters, they give a picture of a wider world but that’s it.  Savaged is the exception, for whatever reason I continue to return to this idea of an immensely rich and dynamic Galactic Culture, on the verge of complete collapse.

The question has become: why?  It is a question that can be posed to our wider, cultural, obsession with a dystopian future.  From films that predict the end of the world like 2012, to video games like Bioshock and Modern Warfare, to the massive success of The Walking Dead.  As a culture we are on a dark steak when it comes to entertainment.  The Space Opera is dead.  In away even shows like Star Trek no longer have any relevance.  Just looking at the massive success of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, it is easy to see, we like the idea of it all ending in tears.

But we don’t.  Two nights ago, myself, along with every other science and science fiction geek, sat glued to live feeds of JPL and NASA as Curiosity made her crazy 7 minutes of terror, plunge to the surface of Mars.  Some of us cheered, even though we were completely alone in a dark living room.  Achievement is still something we strive for, so why is dark fiction such a draw?

More importantly, why do I want to tell this story, in a Space Opera setting, that has massive implications on our modern world and way of life?  Why am I currently writing the next screenplay that is set in the City 7 world?  The Gulf War, China, The Middle East, 9-11, the Patriot Act, Police State tactics… does any of this make sense?  Does any of it scare you?  22 years ago we went to war in the Middle East.  I remember it well, my dad being deployed for the majority of that “Military Action”.

Sure by 1991 the War was over, but it really wasn’t it had just started.  In fact we are still at war with the Middle East, don’t let recent events confuse you.  Sure Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq, but read a blog, turn on the radio, just don’t watch the news.  We are still at war, we still have troops on the ground in Afghanistan.  Sure you could argue that we have always been at war, but think about how the last 22 years have re-shaped our culture and our brains.  Look at when violence and darker stories became interesting.

Add on top of that that our Government now reads our mail, listens in on our phone calls, makes judgement on who we are through blog posts.  By the time this is posted I will have been flagged on someones list, and for what?  Exercising my right to free speech, and a way freedom of the press.  Things pass, without notice, that look like Police State tactics.  Gun laws, established for the very reason that we can defend ourselves from a rising monarch, come into play to “protect us” by the same people that have become the 1%, America’s Royalty.

Here’s a little hint, those guys, they still have guns, remember when Dick Chaney shot some dude.  Then there is China, and maybe more importantly North Korea.  Some crazy guys, that are not American, who do not share our values, who may be able to take us down a few pegs.  But how does it relate to Entertainment and my writing project specifically?

These fears, these events, these uneasy truths, burn at the back of our minds.  Fueling a need to escape, but that escape quite often shows it all ending.  Of course the Hero or Heroes are always okay, and in most cases that is the key.  As humans we are selfish and we see ourselves as these heroes.  “Sure the world might go to shit, but I will be okay.”  Now how do these fears effect a writer?  How do the effect an artist?  They drive my need to show a world in parallel to our own, an outline of a decedent and lost people, on the verge of collapse.

But also to outline a fantastic world, full of ever expanding wonder and discovery, a silver lining, a path to redemption .  Even as I continue to write in the City 7 setting, striving to continue a story about a Zombie Apocalypse, is that my real aim?  No.  I aim to outline a rugged, colonial people, who have to change everything about our modern world to survive.  I aim to show a world where neighbors are neighbors again, where a community cares about those that make it.  A world where the SUV is a tool used for a job, not a status symbol of a gas-guzzling egotistical culture.  A world where we grow our own crops, share our resources and coexist with our world, rather than thrashing and harvesting her.

This is the dream of a writer and artist, not only to entertain but to educate.  To enlighten, to outline a possible better path.

-TheGrav

Crowd-sourcing…To write a Novel?


Yeah wack right?  But hear me out…  Back in high-school I started to work on several concept, which as I have mentioned I recently decided to combine under the name: Savaged.  At one point in life I even considered becoming a high-school literature teacher so I could “write a book”.  Well life happened, I went into Computer Science, then Illustration, and then into web-design and graphic design to pay the bills.

The next chapter of my life has begun, and I am working as a Producer and Screenwriter for Digital Raven, with one film finished and a short web-series in production as well as a few screenplays in development.  Somehow I still have a huge stack of illustrations, ideas, and short stories all pertaining to this one science-fiction world, and no concrete outlet.

In comes Crowd-sourcing.  A quick jump over to Indiegogo, the platform we used to fund part of City 7, revealed a few novels, self-help books, and non-fiction books all in various stages of funding.  This idea comes right on the heels of my decision to, once again being work on my own Science Fiction novel.  Well more accurately collect all my notes, short stories, sketches, and random ideas together into a novel.  However as a freelance web-designer, graphic designer, illustrator, and movie producer, everything I do needs to feed me, and let’s face it novels may get written for free… but they don’t get published for free.

Here comes the punch-line.  I have begun a bit of research into crowd-sourcing a novel, and then publishing straight to the Kindle.  Once I have a business model, “designed” I am going to look into starting a campaign to get my first Sci-Fi novel Crowd-sourced, helping me focus more of my time on writing, and getting an editor or two on board.  Now the question is what will my perks be?!?

Stay tuned for more!

-TheGrav

Want to follow along with this project and more?  Be sure to follow my blog!  Keep an eye out for my future crowd-scoured project!