Hallowe’en Extravaganza!

skeleton-clip-art-15UPDATE!

We only have to wait a week now! Next week I will post the first contest. Get ready for some crazy halloween fun!

—————

Yea. So what if I start preparing for Hallowe’en in August. I still have a bride and groom skeleton set hanging from my window from last year. In my world, everyday is Hallowe’en.

We won’t start any of the festivities until Oct. 1st (whimper heard around the world). But I wanted everyone to be aware that there WILL be festivities. I had to take last year off, but I’ll more than make up for it this year!

I already have some amazing books from extremely generous publishers like Little, Brown, Walker, Quirk Books, and Abrams, lined up for giveaways. Ghosts, skeletons, murderers, maniacs, and good old spooky fun haunt these pages.

There will be contests to win books. And they are difficult contests. They involve writing, and reminiscing, maybe some old Hallowe’en pictures?! There will be plenty of books, thus plenty of creepy contests.

Get ready…

Set…

Wait a month and a half…

‘A Box Story’ by Kenneth Kit Lamug: The Review

Kenneth Kit Lamug is a trend setter.

Sure, the habit of children playing with and/or in boxes has existed for ages. But if my 18 nieces and nephews have taught me anything, it’s the boxes that house their precious (and expensive) toys that they play with.

What Kenneth’s magnificent book proposes, is that a box can lead you down a rabbit hole of adventure, just as a box. Not as a box that held a 200$ tricycle or a beloved American Girl Doll. Just a box. A Box Story strips the box down to its skivvies and then the real fun begins.

Starting with the cover. I can’t tell you how much I love this cover. It’s as simplistic as a box itself, but holds a certain mystery about it. What could possibly be between the covers of a book called A Box Story, it asks the viewer. It’s so simple that it becomes completely eye-catching.

The first page on the inside features one of my all time favorite things: a This Book Belongs To space. As a child, there is nothing greater than being able to mark something as your very own. And then the adventure begins…

Something that I found incredibly remarkable about the illustrations is that the box stays in the same place on every single page, but becomes something new and exciting every time you flip to a new page. This gives the reader the impression that it is in fact, the same box being used for a myriad of adventures.

I first came across Kenneth’s illustrations while working on my children’s magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree for which Kenneth regularly contributes. He was asked to do one of our earliest covers because his art is so exceptional. While A Box Story keeps the illustrations somewhat simple, that classic Kenneth comes out and it’s downright stunning.

The words are simple but thought-provoking. They help build the imagination while simultaneously challenging the reader to find a purpose for their box. A purpose all of their own. Every child will want to build a life inside a box after reading this story.

I’ve been an avid proponent of children using their imaginations to entertain themselves, and I couldn’t be a bigger fan of this book.

I challenge you. Buy A Box Story for your child, read it with them, run to the store and pick up a brown cardboard moving box, tape the bottom together, and watch your child’s imagination grow. Join the revolution: www.aboxstory.com

Beautifully Macabre: The Beauty deep within the Macabre

“…only a real artist knows the actual anatomy of the terrible or the physiology of fear – the exact sort of lines and proportions that connect up with latent instincts or hereditary memories of fright, and the proper colour contrasts and lighting effects to stir the dormant sense of strangeness.” -H.P. Lovecraft

I have two very close friends. The macabre and beauty itself. They greet me every day, in my work, in my play, and in my sleep. The closeness we share has created a blissful trifecta. We have become so entangle that no boundaries remain. But often times, I find myself stepping back, observing the creations born out of the bond between macabre and beauty. For a long time, I had a great obsession for these creations, but I did not understand them or my obsession.

I philosophized for years over this matter. What is it about a splatter of blood that interests me? Why do I eat up literature on beheaded queens like it’s candy? Why do I envy ghosts? What is so beautiful about death? All questions I have asked myself for years and had recently given up trying to answer…

My whole life I’ve wished that there was a monster in my closet. I would friend him. Call him Frodile. He’d protect me. He’d read me scary stories and draw me pictures of the ghastly things from his world. Most importantly, he would understand me. Well unfortunately Frodile never came, he won’t exist in this lifetime. But I found his human equivalent. And no one will ever be as lucky as me.

About two years ago, my Frodile stepped out of my closet in the form of artist Rebekah Joy Plett. Rebekah and I became fast friends–I believe on a subconscious level because neither of us knew about our mutual love for the macabre–and today we partners in the dark arts. I am Rebekah’s literary agent, her art representative, and business partner in the macabre children’s literature and art magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree. Merging our sensibilities (she brings the macabre, I bring the horror) we’ve opened up a labyrinth that continues to amaze me and continues to answer the questions I’ve pondered for years.

Through conversations with Bex, and possibly even more importantly, through viewing her art, I’ve found my answers.

“I think beauty in horror — or horror in beauty — is such a successful match because beauty itself is not enough; it’s great to look at but eventually the brain becomes bored. It’s with the combination of the two that something truly interesting is created. We want to look, but we don’t; we want to enjoy the piece but something is horribly wrong about it. The beauty tells us ‘It’s okay to look at me’, while the horror says, ‘What is wrong with you?’ I think this is why many people are drawn to the Shakespeare character Ophelia, or Waterhouse’s nymphs, or Girl, Interrupted. When you combine beauty and horror, the result becomes unpredictable and irresistibly desirable.” -Rebekah Joy Plett

I remember the first time Bex showed me this image:

Rebekah has always had a penchant for unique, pop-surrealist, ghastly, and creepy art. If not straight horrifying art (Read: Rebekah’s Human Nature art series that is yet to be completely unveiled but involes a lot of blood and death).

Yet when she showed me the above art, I was stricken with an overwhelming sense of belonging. Rebekah’s previous invisible or obscure monsters were now blatant monsters. Real life monsters. This quickly became a series for Rebekah because the monsters and the beautiful girls did exactly what we had both been dreaming of for years. They married the macabre and beauty… equally.

It was at this point that I described Rebekah and her art as being “Innocent yet sexual, macabre yet beautiful, horrifying yet earthy, and completely organic.”

One of Rebekah’s greatest qualities is that she doesn’t fetter her creativity.

Creativity — like monsters — never sleeps. It only waits.” -Rebekah Joy Plett

And when her creativity is done waiting, it just blooms and blooms and blooms until it’s a wild monster’s tongue reaching out from the painting, trussing you up in its sickly slime, yanking you back into the painting with it. Rebekah is the Lewis Carroll of art, she’ll push you down the rabbit hole.

While discussing the marriage of beauty and the macabre with Rebekah, we both agreed that the majority of adults have lost the ability to still see monsters. They’ve grown too old to think that there may be something underneath their bed. The only thing adults think might be lurking under their covers is a spider or two. Horrifying art like that of Stephen Gammell makes the average adult shrug or say Why would anyone want to look at that?

(Well that’s a subject for another time, because I do love me some Gammell.)

But what Rebekah (and other artists like her: Mark Ryden, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Camilla D’Errico, Elizabeth McGrath, Matthew J. Price) has done is made deeply morbid and disturbing art beautiful and more accessible to those who might have lost their ability to dream darkly.

While Rebakah and I strive to open the imaginations of children with our children’s magazine, Rebekah’s art strives to do the same but for those adults who subconsciously want to feel scared, want to be intrigued, want to feel shock and delight simultaneously.

The girls? Lovely. The monsters? Devilish down to the tips of their tongue and claws. Like Rebekah says, Blood is in the details.” 

Death, monsters, blood, insanity… it’s not always about evil. It can often times be about creativity, love, imagination, and yes… still insanity.

a work in progress by RJP

“Something beautiful alone, or something only macabre doesn’t say much, but once you put them together a conversation is started. Why is there a pretty girl laying in the grass? Why is that bird making off with her entrails? A story has begun.” -Rebekah Joy Plett

I want to thank Rebekah for the interview, the images, and the friendship. She’s the monster in my closet, the darkness that takes over when the candle flame dies.

 

 

I’m inspired by…

The Velvet Underground.

Lowbrow art.

My clients.

Otis Redding.

Pin up girls.

Pulp comic books/fiction.

Ransom Riggs.

Science fiction.

Halloween.

Kitsch.

The Royal Tenenbaums.

Spirit in the Sky.

Wuthering Heights.

Neil Gaiman.

The macabre.

Elizabeth McGrath.

Circa turn of the century dolls.

Invisible Monsters.

Refurbished frames.

Jeux D’enfants.

Cap ou pas Cap.

Dares.

Deer antlers.

Kanye West.

Maus.

Geoff Johns.

Lady Godiva.

Monsters.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Writers.

Anne Boleyn.

Watching others paint.

The dark.

Horror films.

Tragicomics.

Freud.

Marilyn Monroe.

Chuck Palahniuk.

Commentary by Chuck Klosterman.

Prince.

Haunted the novel.

The Brothers Grimm.

Elizabeth Bathory.

Pushing Daisies.

Dark red.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Musical instruments.

The male gender.

Creatures that don’t exist.

The minds of children.

Bees.

My family.

The Puget Sound.

Takashi Murakami.

Bridges.

Old stuff.

Dark tales.

Camping.

Singing with my brother.

Sunset Rubdown.

Brian Selznick.

Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Vertigo comics.

Accurate and good pop journalism.

Pulp.

H.P. Lovecraft.

American Horror Story.

Roller derby.

Gris Grimly.

DIY anything.

Dancing.

Writing.

Joanna Newsom.

Stick figures.

Intelligent people/conversations.

Love.

Terror.

Speaking with children.

The 50s.

Mixed media art.

Pretty and original book covers.

Installation art.

Mark Ryden.

Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Pop up books.

Blood splatter.

Cheesy comic sound effects from the Golden Age of comics.

The Industrial Revolution.

16th Century England.

Lykke Li.

Le Petit Prince.

Unusual and unique talent.

Inspiration itself.

a word on creativity…

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.”-Rita Mae Brown

Often times I find myself standing at the edge of a cliff. Arms out, eyes closed. Although I can feel the exhilaration of the decision I am about to make, there is always a bit of hesitation. But falling slowing into the ravine always turns out to be the most exciting creative act I could ever do.

Sometimes I break an arm. Sometimes I end up with a headache. Often times I realize it’s a lot of work to find a successful life for myself inside that ravine. But I always trust my instincts. And through that essential trust in myself, I find creativity in myself. And it’s my creativity that ultimately makes that jump.

I’m once again plugging Underneath The Juniper Tree because it is the embodiment of all that is creative. In addition to pushing your creative boundaries, it pushes your comfort zones. Both of these things lead to becoming a better writer. Which I assume is your goal since you are reading this post write now.

(A piece from UTJT)

Check out the NOVEMBER ISSUE and learn from all of those who have made that leap into the dark ravine of creativity.

 

Three VERY important things…

One: Princess Prep: Fashion & Words Contest. Ends October 10th. (https://www.facebook.com/princessprep)

Two: Guys Read Thriller Contest. Ends October 13th.

Three: October Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree!

This is such a fun time of the year, get into the spirit of the season by dressing up princess dolls, writing thrilling tales, and reading spooktacular stories!

Contest worthy of a Princess!

The girls at Princess Prep: The Royal Academy are beyond sugar and spice: they’re sassy, snarky, witty, and sometimes nice – but always, always stylish! Now YOU are cordially invited to style along with them, just like a real princess, in our Princess Prep Virtual Style Contest!

Before...

After...

The co-authors and illustrator of Princess Prep, Jessica Elizabeth Cole & J. David McKenney, have designed three “virtual” paper dolls: Bennie (our story’s heroine), Simone (the bad girl leader of the “Parasol Mafia”), and Prissy (all-around-sweetheart member of the “Cupcake Club”).

With these three virtual paper dolls, YOU have the opportunity to create the most stylish Princess you can. Remember, at Princess Prep, style is everything!

Visit the fabulous world of Princess Prep: The Royal Academy and click on the “Contest” tab for information and guidelines! 

Contest ends October 10th!

Visit and “like” us on facebook for up-to-date information, and follow the girls on Twitter @itsprincessprep!

July Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree!

Happy July! The July Issue of Underneath The Juniper Tree online magazine has dropped and it is gruesome!

Go here to download it. Read it. Love it. Share it. And be inspired by it.

Sneak Peek:

 

The world needs people who’ve come alive!

Before I begin. Watch this trailer:

Are we feeling the gravity of the world that we are a part of? I’m not talking about this universe (or multiverse, according to the geek Bree that I am), I am talking about the publishing industry. The literary world. Are we understanding the GRAVITY of this beautiful world that we are a part of?

Recently I have had the pleasure of sitting down for a delicious lunch with former Vertigo senior editor Joan Hilty. And as we spoke of graphic novels and art, and books, and creations that have yet to happen in the literary world, my head started to spin because of the sheer potential of the literary life.

Things are changing.

Let us embrace and intensify it.

Art and literature are mixing, and I’m not talking about graphic novels and comics. I’m talking about novels such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, and now this incredible unique work of literature Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which utilizes old photographs throughout the book.

There’s not much of a point to this post except to say this:

OPEN YOUR EYES. UNFETTER YOUR MIND. LOOSEN YOUR IMAGINATION. CAPTURE YOUR CREATIVITY, HARNESS IT, PERFECT IT, THEN UNLEASH IT ON THE WORLD!

There is so much uncharted territory. DO NOT for one second believe that because this territory is uncharted that it is not meant to be explored.

In fact, quite the opposite.

Go there.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman