The interstellar sci fi comic from me and Sebastian Piriz is coming from Heavy Metal and we are excited about it.
The story is being serialised in the heavy Metal Magazine proper, but they are also releasing us in single issues through their Elements line and the first issue lands next month, but you can ask your store to set you aside the first 3 issues as they land because the third one just went up in Previews.
Here are the cover to what is half of this story, so please speak to your LCS and ask them to preorder and set you aside a copy of each of these as they come out monthly starting in July.
I’m so excited about this story coming out. The single issues are $2.99, and we’ve packed the back with extra materials and information and fun.
This article talks about how we need to plant more – like, the size of China more – in the coming decade.
I’m hoping people start to see the small part they can play. It all adds up. Can you, personally rewild a Chinese province worth of plant life? No, but that’s not the point. It’ll be used as a weapon against you, it’ll erode your mind’s resolve, but it’s bullshit.
Everyone should plant something. We should all learn how to tend to things that live in the ground. I certainly want to get better at it. 2020 helped many people discover the joy of gardening, and gave some new skills, and we gotta see the mental health benefits now, right? I know a decade ago I did not care for gardening, not at all. My grass would become a skyscraper horizon for snakes and gnomes, and any proper plants that required care would bellow to the stars when I signed a rental agreement because they knew it was their death knell. I hated gardening – let’s speak the truth. Which is why I find it so fascinating that I dig it now. I’m happy to have pulled a mental 180 on it, and hopefully more people can be inspired to do the same.
I want to do more for this through schools, but for now I’ll take my added brain massage and show my kids, and enjoy what I can. Here’s what I’ve got so far.
I love my compost, a stupid amount. I tend to it nearly every day. I don’t always know if I’m doing it right, but I do know I’ve got 2 massive bins absolutely chock-a-block with worms. There’s something stupidly satisfying about turning all the dirt and trash in there and finding it teeming with little worms just going about their regularly scheduled lunch.
We generate a lot of fruit/veg byproduct in the house – feeding two kids their daily vitamins through kiwi fruits and apples, and cooking meals with carrots and capsicums, and making pizza with as many mushrooms will allow it to still be structurally safe, plus my daily smoothie has a banana in it. I put stuff into the compost nearly daily, and it’s taken a solid decade of practice, but I’m finally figuring out how to keep it going. I, personally, manually turn the compost so the new stuff gets covered [which helps keep mice/rats out of it] and autumn has given me an ongoing supply of leaves to dump in when it gets too wet so I balance it out for the slimy critters – you gotta get some brown in with the green, as they say [I don’t know who *they* are].
I’m happy to not send all that fresh stuff into landfill to rot, I’m happy to feed some worms, and I’m happy to let one of the bins settle enough for me to be able to use the compost to fill a vegetable planter, or even just on the bottom of some pots when I plant some seeds.
THE COVERED LEAF PILE
This is a new one. I’d read about how you can collect autumn leaves into plastic bin bags and set them aside for a year and then tear them open to find good leaf mulch, or compost, or soil, or something. We have a lot of leaves, and I didn’t want a pile of ugly plastic bags loitering about, so I tried something I thought was close enough.
I placed all of the leaves, and some grass clippings, into the corner of our property where we’d built a leaf composting structure out of some bits of wood and metal from a decommissioned bed and swing set [separate things, not a bed *&* swing set, that would just be crazy].
The pile was a solid foot tall/thick. I watered the pile a little and then placed a big black tarp over it all and held it down with 4 bricks. That was in April. I plan to crack it open like the Arc of the Covenant in July, but I have taken 2 peeks under the hood so far. One was in May, where I could see it all compacting and starting to turn a little, some signs of worms, it was looking like a fun project, and then once was this month where I unveiled a thriving worm metropolis, the leaves mostly turned to soil, the whole crust of the affair thick and crumbly and delicious to the turn of my pitchfork.
It’s covered again and my hope is to use some of it in the vegetable gardens, and some into the compost bins to give them a little worm infusion and hit of inspiration.
The best part of this is, it required so little effort from me. Just pile it, cover it, and then wait a term – yes, my brain still measures time in school terms.
THE FRESH PRODUCE GARDEN
My wife is amazing, so when we bought this house 5 years ago, she saw the 1 vegetable garden bed this place had and decided we could do better. So, behold, we now have 8 different garden beds in which we can grow fresh produce. Most of them built, by hand, by the wife. A visionary and a hard worker.
When the spring/summer months treat us well, we grow: raspberries at a punnet or two a day, cherry tomatoes at a similar rate, strawberries have had some good years, and eggplants have definitely become a new quality addition to the turnover. We’ve done watermelon with success, and pumpkins quite well. I’ve yet to yield success with capsicum; the one time it grew well it tasted like plastic. Oh, zucchinis usually take hold, both green and yellow, at a rate that’s faster than any human family could consume, so I’ll take spares into work. Or just google random zucchini recipes, like the time I made zucchini nacho floats – my name, not theirs [whoever *they* might be].
In winter, we’ve seen beets and potatoes go well. I really want to try mushrooms, in a separate location. The herbs do well, and I need to get better at working out what fun single season floral stuff I could plant that might help the garden/insects/soil in general.
This garden serves to feed the family, primarily, and ensure we aren’t spending $50 a week on things like raspberries, but instead just invest a dollar a week into their watering – a task I find mindful to do, and really mindful when it comes time to harvest the ripe output at morning or night. And I did do the maths on it, and the watering of a garden really doesn’t cost all that much in the grand scheme of things. Compared to a 5 minute shower, or a family of 4 showering, watering the garden is quite cost effective, and makes you want to cut down your shower times, and you actually get stuff that’ll save you money from the garden. I never once sold anything out of my shower.
I still openly admit there’s way more still to learn than I’ve ever mastered, but I love doing it all with my wife, and hope our kids watch and enjoy and taste and learn from it all.
THE NEW GREENHOUSE
We built a new greenhouse recently, well, I got my son to build it. It’s 2 metres tall, and a metre wide, and it’s an experiment for us to see how we can use it functionally [we’ve never used a good sized one, usually we just slap them over stuff we don’t want the 9 months of frost to kill down here]. We set about filling the greenhouse with stuff we thought would work well.
The first thing, and the inspiration for the possible need of such a contraption/structure, was two kiwi fruit plants, a young lad and lass. Now, they might have died anyway when the temp got down to -6 one time, and I might just be soaking their corpses in the water, but I honestly don’t think we’ll know until Spring arrives and the plant looks alive or starts to rot in the oncoming heat.
Whereas the second thing we put in, a tomato plant that just sprung up out of some composted soil, is definitely dead. It’s still in the greenhouse, I definitely need to take it out and compost it, but that hasn’t happened yet. Because of reasons [laziness].
But the thing that excites me is the success I’ve had planting some seedlings in there. I took some small pots and grew all-season carrots, phlox, and something else. They started as dry seeds, they started to poke up out of the soil, and right now I’ve taken their little soft cardboard pot and put it into a larger proper plastic pot and continued to water them, and take them out for daily sun, and protect them inside the greenhouse every night, and now they’re showing more growth.
I like to believe I’ll later be able to repot them again into something larger, and maybe I’ll be able to make them flower, or something. I don’t *exactly* know what’s going to happen, but for now I’m keeping them alive, they’re green, and there’s the promise of…something…in the future.
MY OFFICE MATES
I have a few little green friends in my office.
I have a beautiful pot plant whose proper name I’ve lost to time, but it has striking red leaves, and they just keep growing up and out. I’m sure I read once that plants indoors create more oxygen, and considering my office is 50% paper, 40% dust, 9% other materials, and I worry 1% farts and carbon dioxide, then I think this plant might be keeping me alive.
I also like to wipe the leaves,and water it daily,and just enjoy the colours. I’m a simple, simple man.
The sidekick plant is a small aloe vera plant that I just nearly killed. I was watering it like a cactus, which it is not, and so it got very frail and almost felt “empty” to the touch. Some water immersion and direct sunlight brought it back to life and it’s looking good now. It’s also apparently a good oxygen producer.
I grew some red basil from seed recently, so that got its own little pot and is going strong. It’s a personal favourite because I like basil, and it’s red – it’s really just that simple.
And this month I planted 4 new seeds I hope to get to a state where I can repot into the greenhouse, like I did the 3 above. These are swan river daisy, which is doing alright. Zinnia, which is going well, as is the salvia. Then the cornflower is going gangbusters, which is the one I have my strongest hopes attached to.
Apparently all 4 of these seed well enough through winter, and should be good to really unleash into the spring sun and climate, which is more likely the time I’ll consider the pot transfer.
These are the trivialities that take up my mind, but they keep me sane, and bring me joy, and hopefully they do just a tiny little thing for the environment. Not much, but even if it just shows my kids how to engage with greenery, then I’m totally fine with that.
All steps in the right direction are, by definition, in the right direction.
Okay, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole, and I don’t ever want to come out. It started with this, and I wrote it for the ‘Perhaps You’d Care To Sample’ section of my newsletter:
“LOST IN THE DEEP – is a solo rpg game/booklet where you write your diary of the final dwarf lost in some mines and unable to get out. But it’s also still a game with a block tower, and 52 playing cards, and a table of events. It looks like such a cool way to lose a week. It’s got me absolutely dying to try and write a solo writing/rpg.”
But between that paragraph a few days ago, and now, I’ve fallen down a deep rabbit hole of solo, and specifically journaling/writing, role playing games.
I’ve long loved solo games. I grew up on Fighting Fantasy books, I used to read the cards out of Trivial Pursuit on my own, making a little column graph out of how many correct answers I could get out of 6, I recently fell in love with the DEEP SPACE D-6 solo board game.
Realistically, I don’t know how I’ve not fallen into this before. Considering I got into D&D over the past few years, but I acknowledge that finding time to sync up with mates and energy to get out can make it difficult, this looks like the perfect blend of a lot of these things, plus it’s just creative writing superfuel.
Okay, to explain, for those who might not know…
A solo RPG game is one where you have a little scenario and a rule set and some prompts and then you craft an adventure on your own. I like the ones where it’s specifically built for you to journal.
It’ll give you a character – like the last dwarf in a dungeon, or a trucker on a long haul ride in 1983, whatever – and then you craft their adventure, sometimes over hours or even months, using prompts found in the resource.
It’s usually like a small zine, or pdf, and you roll a die on different tables, or sometimes even draw from a 52 deck of cards, and then you write out what happens in those situations. The result is this written artefact that sounds amazing. There are also map making ones, and you can also sometimes just play them verbally, with a group even, and make it up on the fly.
But I like the writing ones, because you can really take your time, you get into your character’s head. You make something beautiful.
Naturally, I want more time so I can “play” all of them. But I also want to use them in class, so I’m thinking ahead for educational benefits. The ability to get students writing amazing prose pieces, or finding other ways to structure such stories: evidence boxes, image blended slidedecks, Flipgrid diary videos.
Some of my favourite ones I’ve found include the following scenarios: building the history of a weapon, exploring different planets on your space ship, inheriting a haunted house, living with your retired mech technology.
And, really, the sky is the limit for situations you could concoct, and ways you could explore them. To go through some of them sounds fun, to make my own sounds awesome, to take students through some sounds inspiring, to get students making their own sounds like the future.
All I can think of is taking a small notebook and dedicating it to one of these RPGs and then just building a library, or a class resource.
Waiting on my kids so I went for a wander to the local thrift shop and walked away with these two books:
One’s a series of small essays about weird science – I’m sure the internet is packed with this kind of thing, but who wants to keep staring at a damn screen anymore?
The other one, though, DARKWORLD DETECTIVE, was just the kind of mash up to catch my attention. It was available for a single coin, so beyond anything else, it’s a tax write off and a donation to a good charity, so I walked away with it, and looking at the opening line, I think I’m really glad I did. Or maybe this is shame I’m feeling…you decide.
There’s a beauty and a science to the world, and I believe both are sometimes in harmony.
Everfrost has been so long in the making, I’m now wildly excited to see it finally hit the shelves, and there are all kinds of emotions coming to the surface. The usual excitement mingled with fear is natural. Relief, pride, maybe even contentment. I’m really proud of this book, and it coming out heralds another new complete story I’ll have put into the world.
Getting the chance to tell a story is no small feat. I don’t want to brush over this, I never want to brush past this. Creating a full world, populating it, and finding some moments worth a damn that you want to share – that’s the alchemy of writing.
I really hope you like Everfrost, but honestly, I hope any of you get a chance to love it as much as I do.
Comic shops will have their copies this week – whatever day you head in, I hope you find a copy on the shelf [or you wisely preordered so they’d put one aside for you and you have no risk of missing out]. Buy it with a smile, tell your comic shop retail magus how excited you are to read it – I bet they love hearing that kind of thing. Comic shop peeps aren’t in it for the millions of dollars, either, they just love seeing stories connect from one human to another.
This sci fi heartbreak is full of passion and creativity and hope and lived experience and desire and energy and I could not have asked for a better team than Sami Kivela, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell, Dan Hill, and Matt Pizzolo at Black Mask Studios to help bring it to the page.
Thus begins our 4 issue miniseries, each issue packed with fun back matter pages, and our whole walking hearts. Keep your eyes out for this cover, and if you get a chance let us know what you think.