Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Followup: It All Worked Out Fine

So, my wife's tumour turned out to be a super-rare benign schwannoma. Now it has been removed she's all set to live forever. Forever!

Four weeks after the thoracotomy she's recovering in a gradual sort of way but doing great.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Temple of the Aphids

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Amicable Meeting

About the only thing rarer than a human woman on Greasefire-G is a human woman who still fires warning shots.

Monday, October 07, 2013


Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Dzar-Pel greets visitors to the hivelands, for his sense-spines are the handsomest of all.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On The Source Of Kryptonite, An Essay

'Kryptonite', eh?

I'm not aware of any satisfying canonical explanation of what kryptonite actually is, or why it affects Superman like it does. 'Radioactive chunks of Krypton' is all the explanation you seem to get. Why would it be all over Earth, then? Superman didn't just blow in on some cosmic breeze; his ship navigated thousands of light years to get here. It banked around a gas giant or two. Maybe you could argue that some kryptonite got caught up in his ship's spacetime-warping wake during the destruction of Krypton. Maybe. But why does it make Kryptonians sick? Isn't it a chunk of their home turf? It should be revered like those little sods of 'Irish' muck that some Irish Americans buy. Kryptonian Americans should have kryptonite on their mantelpieces and rub it for luck.

(To be fair, I haven't looked up the Wikipedia entry. They probably have an explanation. Let's ignore it!)

I have an explanation--a new piece of the narrative puzzle, if you will--that will transform how you read Superman comics from here on. Bear with me, ok? Don't just close the browser tab after you read the next line.

Kryptonite is Superman's poop.

I said wait! Read on.

Kryptonite is his excreta! The product of his exotic metabolism! The equal and opposite reaction, the yin that balances his yellow-sun-powered yang! This is why he is repulsed by it. It is metabolic waste made crystal by the action of his supercolon. He is disgusted by it at a cellular level. Little bits of it fit into slots in his various proteins that are meant to be kept empty. His instinct is to shrink away from the radiation it emits.

1. This explains why Kryptonians lived on planets with red suns. They could live as gods on yellow-sun planets but they would soon be up to their necks in shards of kryptonite. One or two Kryptonians knocking around on a yellow-sun planet is fine. More than that, you have deadly sanitation issues. They are a self-limiting species.

2. It explains why kryptonite first appeared after Clark's ship landed in Kansas. Children go to the toilet! They do. The Kents had no idea what to do with it, so they just buried the stuff in fields or fly-tipped it at the side of the road. Maybe they kept some around to enforce punishments. How do you make young Clark Kent stick around to finish his fish fingers and peas? How do you get him to stay on the naughty step? His own radioactive feces is how.

3. It is a satisfying answer to age-old questions such as 'what is Superman's poop like?' and 'why doesn't Superman use his poop as a weapon?' It's too dangerous to just fling about. I'd bet he feels sort of queasy once a week, pops up to a private spot on the far side of the moon, does his superbusiness and seals it under tonnes of sintered lunar regolith. That's what I'd do if I had his powers and my poop was my only weakness.

4. Nobody has found evidence of fossilised corn embedded in kryptonite but they haven't not found evidence of fossilised corn either. The petrifying eye of canon has not dared or bothered to look. If I was in charge of DC this discovery would have been made on page one of the New 52 reboot and they would have sold a million copies.

(Why have generations of Superman writers failed to tackle how Superman goes to the toilet? This is why. This is one of the great secrets they tell Superman writers on day one. They brief P.O.T.U.S about captured aliens and mind control rays and they brief Superman writers about the true source of kryptonite. See, the solution is too beautiful to ignore or explicitly write out of canon--but who would want this to be the legacy of their time writing Superman?)

Next time you see Luthor triumphantly brandishing a chunk of kryptonite, have a think about where it came from, and how he would feel if he knew.


Oh, here we go.

'But what about red kryptonite?'

Kal-El isn't the only Kryptonian on Earth, is he? Earth is home to a couple of versions of the same supercousin. She's a woman and women have wombs and... What? It's natural! Do you hate nature? Do you hate women? Why are you making that face and reeling in horror? Why do you hate nature and women? No, you disgust me.

'What about blue kryptonite?'

I don't know, do I? Maybe it's like the blue ice that crashes through suburban rooftops around airports. Maybe it fell from the waste system of the infant Superman's ship on its way in. That would make it condensed Kryptonian baby pee from a Kryptonian baby exposed to the light of a hundred suns. That would make it fairly potent.

'What about all the other colours?'

Combinations of red, green and blue can render any colour. Or you can have chemical/radiological bastardisations of green and red kryptonite. Or Bizarro poop. (Does Bizarro poop sunlight? Golden kryptonite? Who knows.) It could be the poop of Kryptonians exposed to other environments (e.g. the Phantom Zone)--perhaps their metabolism switches between various pathways based on available resources.


That's it, everyone.

I'm glad we had this talk.

Friday, June 14, 2013


So I close my eyes--

--I'm standing on the footpath of a nearby road, at night. Car headlights on the far side of the road. nnnNNEEEEUUUMM--a scooter zips by, close to the kerb. The sound dopplers correctly. It clips a puddle and I feel the water on my legs. It is followed by a breeze. The scooter is crimson. The driver is large and hunched, wearing a dark padded jacket with a drawstring or belt pulled tight around the waist.

But I also know that I'm sitting up in bed and no time has passed. It's been three seconds. The whole thing happened between breaths. I'm aware of the dark behind my eyes, and at no point did that awareness fade. I'm not asleep or dreaming in any conventional sense. I'd just pulled the covers over. This was an instant awareness of a moment in some other place.

It was quick and gentle enough to have gone unnoticed. (I suspect that most of these visions do go unnoticed, or else we couldn't function.) But it was powerful enough to merit writing down. It was embodied, I was right there. It wasn't a case of imagining I was there--that's different entirely. I'm imagining it now as I recall it. Instead this had the immediacy of reality--kerb, car, sound-scooter-spray, breeze! Where did that come from?

There's no forcing it. It's not enough to stare into the dark of your closed eyes and try to make out shapes. That's a whole other input stream! You have to turn away from it. You just have to angle your mind in such a way that you notice the visions come and go. With enough practice you come to realise that they are always coming and going, images, sounds, text, entire experiences bubbling up and fading away, twenty-four hours a day. Some part of the mind seems to be very, very busy.

They are closer and closer, the visions, the quick flashes and fully-embodied moments. This is something I've been working on for years as they are a great source of imagery. Pure, context-free inspiration.

Like today, I blink--

--I'm looking up from below a beige dirigible, an airship, huge against a heartbreaking blue sky. Some sort of intricate square scaffold hangs below it, tiny below the balloon. A curving guy rope trails from it right into my hands. The guy rope passes right by my face, right by my eyes, so it's a huge part of my visual field.

That's it, that's the whole thing. It came and went just like that. What triggered it, maybe, was a tiny throwaway thought about weather manipulation--forcing rain from clouds by hanging refrigerant coils covered in metal whiskers from balloons. I wasn't mulling over it, I wasn't trying to imagine what it would look like. I had a thought, put it away somewhere, and a little while later--vision. The mind seems to do its best work when you don't get in the way.

A handy thing for an artist, potentially.

(I wonder if hypnagogic images are associated with the time just before sleep because it's the only time we routinely point our minds away from all the noise and colour. I bet they are available all the time.)

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Shockwave and Cyclonus

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Failed Cities: Truck

An illustration for a pamphlet of art to go along with the upcoming hardback release of The Failed Cities by Matt Wallace.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kingfisher Lookout Tower