In the novel I recently entered in the Chanticleer Reviews YA Novel-Writing contest, I used the fairy kingdom of Tellosia to be the land of the little people integrated into hometown Iowa. As part of my cartoon stories page, I intend to take up the tale of The Hidden Kingdom once again and expand and complete it. I will post it as a web comic on Word Press. I know I can’t make money giving it away for free… but I hope to have my stories and cartoons read a little bit more through the buzz I hope this generates. And perhaps Petit Zam can come up with some fairy magic that will help… so I can cast a spell on you.
Here is installment one of The Hidden Kingdom;
Today is going to be difficult with a lot of important work to do that I can’t even write about for a while. It involves taking risks with my secret identity and pushing for good things to happen. You are aware that Mickey is my secret self… the superhero mask I wear to fight evil, right? No? Oops! Forget that I said anything. I have no secret identity. We are just doing this post today for the whole Red Nose Day thing. There is no hidden agenda. No secret sauce and super powers. I swear, on my honor I only tell lies in my fiction… that’s the truth… I tell lies.
Here is a link explaining the whole red nose thing…
And if you see a hero who seems a little goofy around the edges, wearing a red nose as his super-hero disguise, and he fumbles and bumbles as he tries to do the right thing, remember… that isn’t me. It is somebody else.
Here is the link to my vault where I am storing stories in a storied way… erm, well… there are cartoon stories there, anyhow.
Mickey’s House of Fiction
Yes, it’s true, my house is fiction. There are nothing but lies living there… and me of course.
I have been working on the beginnings of the novel When the Captain Came Calling. It is not the first draft. It is the third entire re-write. I wrote this as a graphic novel before graphic novels were an established form. Then I tried to rewrite it as a traditional novel, and it is now coming into its YA novel form. But I can’t begin to explain this novel-writing project without telling you about the Clarkes. Yes, they are a very important Iowegian family who farm and are entirely fictional. (Kids, what other words do you know that begin with the letter F?) They are based, at least a tiny bit, on my own family when I was a kid, but very specific parts of it. My Uncle Larry, mother’s older brother who is now gone (but never forgotten) was the inspiration for Dash Clarke. Kyle Clarke, the father in the picture, is Dash’s younger brother… though he is not based on my other maternal uncle. The daughter in the Paffooney picture, Valerie Clarke, is based on my own daughter combined with a girl I had a crush on in grade school and a girl who had a deeply felt crush on me when I was a young teacher. The Clarkes are third generation farmers, just as my own family were back in the time this story is set. Unlike my family, the Clarkes do not come out of the 80’s with their family farms intact. What grandparents built, the sons lose hold of, and the world becomes a much sadder place because of it. The story is about a lot of things in addition to a family losing their farm. It is filled with magic, telling sea stories and other lies, and the truth behind both the magic and the lies.
I posted this today because today is the day I finished the Paffooney illustration that started the post. Here is what it looked like in progress;
Paffooneys are a made-up thing by which I name the whole great glob of artwork and stories I have created that represent the never-ending music in my soul. I am not a singer or a song-writer. The only way these tunes come to life is through the toons which I ignorantly call the Paffoons because the loons have nothing on me.
Here is a cover mock-up for the novel which shows another picture of Valerie Clarke, the most beautiful little girl ever born in Norwall, Iowa (a phrase that her Uncle Dash christened her with when she was small, and it caught on with the entire town.)
Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer
You may already know about my doll-collecting mania. You may have already called the mental health people to come take care of the problem, and they just haven’t arrived at my door yet with the white coat that has the extra long sleeves. But you may not know that my mother is a doll-maker and has something to do with my doll-collecting hoarding disorder.
In the early 1990’s my mother and I put our money together and bought a kiln while we were visiting my sister’s family out in California. It wasn’t the most expensive model, but it wasn’t the cheapest, either. We both had enough experience with ceramics that we didn’t want to buy a burning box that was merely going to blow our porcelain projects to kingdom come. Mother had doll-making friends in Texas who taught her about firing greenware and glazing and porcelain paint and all the other arcane stuff you have to know to make expensive hand-made dolls. Now, honestly, at the start we could’ve made some money at it selling to seriously ill doll collectors and other kooks, but we were not willing to part with our early art, and by the time we were ready to do more than just have an expensive hobby, everyone who would’ve paid money for the product was making their own. So dreams of commercial success were supplanted by the hobbyist’s mania that made more and more charming little things to occasionally display at the county fair.
The two dolls I have left to share on my blog from that era were both crafted by my mother. She lovingly fired the porcelain body parts, painted the faces by hand, and created the wardrobe on her Singer sewing machine. I made some dolls too, but never with the wondrous craft and care that made my mother’s dolls beyond compare.
Tom Sawyer was originally a boy doll who was supposed to be able to hold a model train in his hands. My mother had the pattern for the little engineer’s uniform and hat that she would use on another doll instead. He is named after the Tom Sawyer clothing pattern that my mother bought and sewed together to dress him in. He has a cloth and stuffing body underneath his clothes together with porcelain head, hands, and bare feet.
The other doll I have left to brag unctuously about is a doll named Nicole after the niece my wife and I have whom this doll bares a striking resemblance to. She displays a beautiful little girl’s sun dress with quilted accent colors that my mother sewed from scratch with the help of a pattern she was truly fond of and used more than once.
These dolls were gifts to my wife and I, presented shortly after my mother bought out my share of the kiln when she retired and moved back to the frosty land of the Iowegians. I haven’t kept them as thoroughly dusted and cobweb-free as they deserve because I have been a somewhat lazy and slovenly son… but I do love them almost as much as (and sometimes more depending on recent behavior) my own children. (After all, porcelain kids rarely make a mess, overspend allowances, or hog the television too much.)