Mantis and Cactus Flowers

mantis and cactus flower 1 - zoomed

Today is the first day we’ve seen the cactus in the front yard burst into bloom overnight. Perhaps it liked the rain we got yesterday. To make the event more rare, we have never seen a preying mantis here in the urban desert either. But this morning, when we stopped to admire the flowers, one tiny mantis had already staked a claim to them.

mantis and cactus flower 1

We suppose if the flowers attract ants, bees, and other pollinators, then this is the mantis version of a hunting shanty or hidden fishing hole. Maybe the mantis will chop the heads off little bugs and stick them on the cactus spikes like trophies. How awesome would that be? We’ll check in on mantis later and see how the hunt goes.

mantis and cactus flower 2

Oops, we disturbed the mantis. See how it moves down into the spikes? Smart thinking, mantis. Now sit still!

mantis and cactus flower 3

mantis and cactus flower 4

mantis and cactus flower 5

Indie Spotlight: Dead Girls Graphic Novel!

dead girls  punch

The UK trembled with fear last Saturday as runaway cyber-vampire girls descended upon it to spread their robotic mutation to the general populace. Author Richard Calder launched his Dead Girls Graphic Novel on August 16 at the World Science Fiction Convention. Though we could not attend, we do have some pages for you to preview!

Dead Girls Cover

Reviewers are praising Leonardo M. Giron’s manga-inspired renditions of characters based on Calder’s 1995 cyper-punk novel, Dead Girls. Giron’s style perfectly fits a story that takes the reader from the UK to Bangkok on an adventure involving the mutated descendents of robotic sex dolls who infected their masters with a nano-virus. Did that sentence just blow your mind? Then check out these socks on the title page, and a four-page sample.

dead girls title page

dead girls sample four pages

The Dead Girls Graphic Novel began with a serialization, expanded into eight full-length comic books, and has now grown to a 208-page full-color book. You can still score a signed copy of the book, with a cover by Jim Burns, at, with the signed copies currently available on the pre-launch page.

SFX called the Dead Girls Graphic Novel “a fiendish futuristic fairy tale full of style and invention. A thrilling tale told at a breakneck pace with beautiful manga-inspired artwork. Highly recommended.”

dead girls 08 panel

dead girls Page 8 panel 1

sketchbook sundays?

Sketchbook Sundays has not really gone extinct. It has evolved. We are indulging our lifelong obsessions with animal illustration, science fiction, and the Lane Bryant catalog in a little project called Meteor Mags. We make the drawings available as prints, and then use them for adventure stories.

Yes, we would love to be making full comic books from them. But, we will probably not master sequential art in our lifetime. So, let’s just take this thing one illustration at a time. We’re about 13,000 words and a dozen illustrations into a novella so far this summer.

Meteor may be imaginary, but she has her own blog. There you can follow her adventures and development as we build her world from the ground up.

meteor mags character sketches_mags14

Meteor Mags 14
Micron 05 fine-point pen and Sharpie marker

Buy it as a framed, canvas, or metal print.

Dan Dare

Dan Dare 2000AD 1-20 (29)

For years, we passed up UK science fiction hero Dan Dare because of his utterly terrible name. Big mistake! But, some scans of his early adventures in 2000AD really floored us. Fantastic space art full of raging aliens cranks the awesome-meter into the red. Dan Dare has the interesting points-of-view and dramatic panel layouts chock-full of action that typify the 2000AD classics.

Dan Dare 2000AD 1-20 (10)

If you know of a collected edition that features these 2000AD tales, we would love to hear from you. We can’t find one! Many artists and writers, including Pat Mills, Dave Gibbons, and Massimo Bellardinelli worked on Dan at 2000AD. We will share with you a few of the scans we found from these late 1970s stories.

Dan Dare 2000AD 1-20 (19)

A more vintage take on Dan Dare “The Pilot of the Future” awaits readers in a series of Titan Books reprints collecting early Frank Hampson tales in the 1950s and 60s. Readers wanting a more contemporary take on Dan might enjoy the Dan Dare by Garth Ennis Omnibus, Ennis being well-known for his work on Preacher, The Boys, and Punisher.

Tiki Lives!

tiki on the road

In the misty dawn of the 21st century, a young human purchased an incredible vessel. Carved from glass in the likeness of the great Tiki gods, this sacred vessel cost merely twenty-five cents. First it served as a planter for small cuttings of succulent plants. Tiki served in this capacity on his second but not final cross-country journey.

tiki lives

Of his many travels and ill-advised drinking adventures, Tiki remains silent. He offers no more explanation than a frightful but strangely ecstatic smile. These days, Tiki’s brains are full of Sharpie markers and paint pens.

Please Select Your Offering of Praise to the Great Tiki:

I Refuse!


Itto Ogami refuses in this panel by Goseki Kojima from Lone Wolf and Cub.


Kojima’s use of vertical lines as a midtone in this black and white rendering of the moon seen through leaves inspired us to approach midtones similarly.

superheroic soundtrack

We are not the first to offer up a playlist based on comic book themes. But we do have the top ten list that rocks the hardest. Crank it up and hear for yourself.

Surfing with the Alien – Joe Satriani

Silver Surfer 1 -  (35)

The alien in the title to this instrumental is none other than Norrin Radd of Zenn-La, better known throughout the cosmos as the Silver Surfer. The cover of the album Surfing with the Alien features the Surfer issuing forth from the gigantic hand of Galactus. In his concerts in the late 1980s, Satriani sold bright red t-shirts featuring this cosmic cover. Satriani also features the Surfer’s girlfriend in the title of Back to Shalla-Bal from the the album Flying in a Blue Dream.

Arcadia – Clutch

captain america 112 -  (15)

“Captain America / where are you now? / Minutemen / please show me how / to wash this blood from my hands / Make it go away / The evils of our forefathers / pale to those today.” From Clutch’s brutally heavy album Pitchfork and Lost Needles, the opening lines of Arcadia make two comic book references. You get Marvel’s Captain America, and DC’s Minutemen. In case you slept through Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, that’s the name of the superhero team based on Charlton’s golden age characters.

Superhero – Jane’s Addiction

“I want to be your superhero.” Even if it means getting bitten by a radioactive spider and enduring a curse to wear long underwear under my street clothes for the rest of my life. Janes Addiction’s ultimate cosplay anthem comes from the album Strays.

Ego, the Living Planet – Monster Magnet

fantastic four 234-003

Our favorite story about Ego the Living Planet took place in the pages of the Fantastic Four, written and drawn by John Byrne. Monster Magnet’s riff-based jam has a menacing vibe and heaviness that suits a deranged planet hurtling through space.

Spider-man – Ramones

spidey romita008

Got a lame cartoon theme you need to make into a rocker? Give it to the Ramones. “Is he strong? Well, listen, Bud. He’s got radioactive blood.”

Ghost Rider – Rollins Band

ghost rider poster book-004

Rollins takes a repetitive new-wave jam by the band Suicide and makes it his own. Ghost Rider tells us all we need to know about the man killed in his youth who now rides a motorcycle with his skull on fire. A longer version of the song appeared in edited form on the soundtrack for The Crow. But, our favorite is a live version where Rollins appears to enter some sort of satanic trance of awesomeness and takes us riding. That concert footage seems to have disappeared from youtube now, so we offer you Rollins first recorded version from Hot Animal Machine.

Vampira – Misfits

When we first posted this list, we had Vampira confused with Vampirella. OOPS. But Vampira had her own comic book, too – sort of. That is how the name of the X-men character Rogue translates into Portuguese. Check it out.

Iron Fist – Motorhead

Motorhead’s song has nothing to do with the American Kung Fu hero Iron Fist. It says nothing about focusing your spiritual energy into your fist and smashing the heck out of everything with it. But you can easily focus on your hand, raise it into the air above your head, and make the sign of the devil. \m/ Rock!

Silvergun Superman – Stone Temple Pilots

This song claims, “I can hear when the pig whispers sweetly.” Isn’t having super-hearing nice? We don’t really have a clue what this song is about, but we’re going to guess heroin. Heroin or maybe sex. Or perhaps, sex on heroin. Kids, don’t ever try that. It’s worse than kryptonite.

Geek USA – Smashing Pumpkins

Comic book geeks unite. The anthem is at hand. We don’t know if Billy Corgan ever makes it to Comic-Con, but we never get tired of the drums and guitars in this colossal jam. If you’re going to be a geek, then make it rock.


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