Saturday, December 24, 2011

Conversations with Critter

A few days ago, I pulled up to a gas station to fill up the MCP mobile. I've taught myself to use cash for most transactions these days. It's a little way to get out from the control of capitalism and corporate banks. The problem with using cash transactions in this ever evolving cyborg world is that you need to have an interaction with a human to do so. I question the direction we are heading as a society and more specifically in America. We are replacing tellers and cashiers with self checkout computers. This diminishes the demand for employees and we wonder why unemployment is on the rise in America.

I approached the quiosque. As luck would have it, the "CLOSED: BE BACK IN 15 MINUTES" sign was up. I'm a patient guy, so I decided to wait. I peered inside to discover a clerk counting cigarette packs. This can't take too long. I watched as people came and went, swiping plastic through greedy machines. I questioned what information is on those cards and how much of that information is being channeled to a database. Everything we buy, everywhere we go as well as our personal data is transmitted through that little piece of plastic.

Shortly, I noticed a homeless man approaching the quiosque. He offered me a drag off his smoke as he drew near. I refused. I gave up the cancer sticks almost two years now and don't need to relapse. As he approached the glass doors, I told him it's closed. He was wearing a trucker cap and his bearded jaw flapped loosely from it's hinges. He peered inside and made some half insane crack about the two attendants involving homosexual activity. I laughed and made some comment back which was probably not nearly as humorous. He decided to wait with me. As people approached and left as quickly as they read the sign, I realized that I am a rare breed and obviously have a schedule so incredibly dull that it pairs nicely with that of the homeless. Maybe it's not that my life isn't hectic, but that I can stop and smell the roses now and then. Even if it's the smell of stale cigarettes and hooch.

The homeless man turned to me and asked how my holidays were going. It was at this point that I noticed a "Y" shaped incision running vertically down his throat and up to his ear, held together with staples. I told him it was going alright and I couldn't complaint. "How about you?"

He sucked his bottom jaw halfway down his throat which sort of resembled a grin and responded with mediocre favor. After a pause he said, "Except for this" and pointed out the gnarly wound in case I missed it.

I responded with "Yeah. What happened there?"

He told me that he was asleep Monday night when a man off his meds came up and knifed him. Luckily a patrol car was there. The assailant was arrested for attempted murder and the victim received medical treatment.

"But I don't hate him"

What? This was hard to buy. Some guy took I shank to his throat and he had no animosity towards him?

"He didn't hate me. He didn't want to kill me. He just ran out of his meds. "

I was amazed at his unconditional humanity and love for another being. I see people hate other people all the time for simple things like getting cut off on the freeway. He then explained to me that the only reason he survived was because the man did it wrong. The incision should have ran horizontally.

I'm pretty blunt and say what's on my mind. Sometimes that gets me into trouble. I asked him if he wished he had died. He didn't really have a straight answer. But to sum up his Ghandi diatribe, he doesn't want to die but he doesn't want to live this life. Rather, he's ready to move onto the next life. He wont kill himself. "I'm not a coward" he explained. He just wishes someone would come and put a bullet in his head and do him off right.

I told him maybe it wasn't his time to go yet. This baffled the bum. He's been told this many times, but he doesn't know what his purpose is. He's had the cars, the house, the career. He doesn't want any of that. The system doesn't work for us. You can either fight to survive by being a part of it. Or you can fight to survive as an individual. He clarified that he would rather survive on the streets then look like a fool. I liked this guy.

It became apparent after a half hour chat, that the gas station wasn't going to open any time soon. I asked him what his name was. He said Critter and I shook his hand. He headed on his journey of freedom. Halfway across the parking lot, he looked back at me and waved his hand flashing the Hawaiian "Shaka" symbol. In Hawaii it is the call of the Aloha Spirit, a gesture of friendship and understanding between various ethnic cultures. In surfer language, it means "Everything's cool".

I really liked Critter. I'm not sure why the gas station was closed and the two of us got a chance to meet. But I can't help thinking of him this holiday as a constant reminder of what's important in life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I'm a HUGE John Waters fan and have an appreciation for his trashy films. So when I was asked to be a part of a group show centered around Waters drag queen muse, Divine, there was no hesitation in my acceptance.

My favorite Waters films are his earliest films: Pink Flamingos, Desperate Living, Polyester and Female Trouble. Although I really enjoy A Dirty Shame as a comeback and my guilty pleasure is Cry Baby. Instantly, I knew the theme of my painting was going to be Female Trouble. It is a story about the life of an ungrateful degenerate woman, from her delinquent youth, to her maladjusted family and her fame obsessed downward spiral.

So I began by slopping on paint.

In the film Female Trouble, Divine wears a pretty iconic outfit that is made of purple leopard print material. I thought that would be a good background. As the paint drips, I found my image materializing in the acrylic mess.

The painting is pretty much a montage of imagery from the film and a personal commentary that I added to the piece. The central attention is focused on a full body representation of Divine's character, Dawn Davenport, during the height of her self-obsessed fame and a three-quarters view of her head during her demise on death row.

In the painting above, you will notice a slight difference in the three-quarter view portrait and the one in the previous image. I had actually finished up the portrait and was so unhappy with the outcome, that I took an electric sander to it and started over. This version accomplishes the image I had in my head, whereas the other was slightly off. Sometimes you can't quite put your finger on it, but it just doesn't work.

Bloody babies were added floating in space.

An unforgettable moment in the film is when Dawn gives birth to her baby on a filthy couch. In a bloody mess, she bites through the umbilical chord. Most woman are obsessed with babies and when they have babies on the brain, logic goes out the window.

I'm not a street artist. Other than some delinquent graffiti I did as a kid, I've never used spray paint as an artistic medium. Visually, I thought it would look good to have Dawn's prison number from the film stenciled on the board.

Sometimes I choose to do things for a stylistic reasons opposed to remaining faithful to perception. This portrait of Dawn is one of those times.

When Divine's character is apprehended by the police, she is still in her stark make-up and pre-punk mohawk. She is tried like this, only dressed in prison garb. But when she is electrocuted, Her head is shaved and she is absent of makeup. The image I had in my head was a cross between the two. The grimace and make-up definitely comes from the trial, but the shaved head comes from the execution. What the hell.

I added a mass of dripping black goo to the background. This is not only for esthetic purposes but also to capture addiction and compulsion. Divine's character experiments with a new drug which is liquid eyeliner injected intravenously. This is the source for Dawn's narcissism and vanity.

During a performance art exhibition, Dawn pulls out a gun and shouts to the audience "Who wants to die for art?" before firing off homicidal bullets. Again, emphasizing a self absorbed attitude, the word "Art" is crossed out and replaced with "Me".

This was done in the same style as the title board for the film. This change being made in lipstick adds a feminist approach to rewriting history.

In the end, the piece speaks volumes to me. I hope that others will find their own messages in it as well. Feminism, reproduction, glamor and violence. I think Divine would approve. I even glued crystals to Dawn's outfit to match the one in her performance art exhibition (which I'm surprised there were no references for online). I will never use crystals again in another painting, but instinctually, it is quite appropriate for this piece.

"The Trouble with Females" consumed the greater part of two months. I'm very passionate about it's theme and subject matter and found myself completely absorbed in the process. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. "Pretty? Pretty?" The Divine Art Show will be on exhibition throughout the month of November at the Melt Gallery in Hollywood California. The opening reception is on Friday night November 11th from 8pm-11pm. Come see this piece and others in person. I will be there at some point.

If you are interested in purchasing this piece, contact the meltdown staff at 323-851-7223 or

7522 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween with Gris Grimly

Greetings Society of Grave Robbers,

The smell of death is in the air. Its crisp-dry winds knock yellow and orange leaves from gnarled trees. A genocide of fauna, as they fall to their resting place among the frosted ground. Samhain, (known for mischief, costumes and candy) is our benediction and Dia de los Muertos is around the corner. I love the month of October. We are so psychically joined together that I was birthed during these cold haunting days so many years ago.

There is much curiosity to how Father Grim spends his Halloween season. I am a purist and find much pleasure in experiencing Halloween the way my ancestors did, a tradition which is sadly fading away. I still decorate with orange and black streamers, play Bob Apple and Duck Apple and run around the fire pit on a broomstick.

It is a tradition for me to make my own costume. The craftsmanship is essential to the power and strength one acquires when they wear their costume. The strength of magic on Halloween is directly linked to this act. I prefer to dress as traditional characters such as a skeleton, ghost, devil, warlock...etc.

It is a tradition for me to carve Jack-O-Lanterns. The importance of carving Jack-O-Lanterns is in home protection. A creative (not necessarily well crafted) carving lit by candle at night will keep evil spirits away. This includes boogeymen, devils, demons, spooks and haunts who are all present and on the prowl during these dark hours. This magical protection lies in a creative rendition of a scary face. Forget your Martha Stuart concepts, vomiting Jack-O-Lanterns, manufactured stencils and other mockeries of the ritual.

Music is important to me at all times. I listen to music from the moment I awake to the moment I go to sleep. The perfect playlist is essential during the month of October for preparation. Everybody has their own taste in music. You may not agree with my eardrums, but that is irrelevant. My playlist consists mostly of Halloween records from the 50s and 60s.
This includes Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, Frankie Stein, Milton Delugg, Screaming Lord Sutch, Screaming Jay Hawkins and Vic Mizzy. There are also some amazing compilations that contain classic Rock 'n' Roll Hits like "Spooksville", "Vampira", "Wombie Zombie", "Dead Man's Stroll", "Haunted House", "The Blob", "Woke Up Screaming", "Dry Bone Twist" and more. You can't go wrong with Elvira who has a few compilations out on CD and Vinyl. Some modern albums that get me in the spirit are The Cramps, The Misfits, Bauhaus and Alien Sex Fiend.

October is the month for viewing horror movies. I'm actually a musical kind of guy, but I find myself leaving my comfort zone during the Halloween season. With The Rocky Horror Picture Show you can kill two crows with one stone. October and Universal Classic Horror films go hand in hand. This is when I visit my old fiends of the silver screen: Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula and the Creature From the Black Lagoon. I also make sure to watch the first Halloween by John Carpenter and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. And if I have time I will squeeze in some of the others in the series. A new favorite of mine is Trick 'R' Treat. I will also visit some of the children's films like Mad Monster Party, It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Monster Squad.

It is a tradition to give out candy for Halloween. Whether you partake in other season rituals or not, you most likely partake in delivering candy to costumed children when they knock and chant "Trick or Treat". The reason for this is (whether you are aware or not) if you fail to deliver a treat to those who chant at your doorstep, you will inevitably encounter a mischievous trick. Some are more malevolent than others.

My favorite candy is black licorice. But that is not very festive. My second favorite candy are the Mary Jane peanut butter blobs that are wrapped in orange and black wrappers. I used to give out popcorn balls and caramel apples. But I had to stop due to some neighborhood scare where sharp objects were found in these very same treats.

It is traditional for me to sit on my porch at sundown and wait for the children to come by. There is nothing more magical during this golden hour on October 31st. There is a haze in the sepia sky as the blood red sun runs to hide from the evil coming up over the horizon. This is when the Spirit of Halloween comes alive.

I prepare a few pieces of candy with special tricks. Won't they be surprised.

Then, as night shows it's ugly head, I creep out to partake in the festivities. I lurk in the shadows and watch from behind bushes. I sneak through the streets on a night when I don't appear unusual. I love Halloween! It is the one night when I am like everybody else.

Happy Halloween from Gris Grimly and the MCP Crew.

Be Grim!

Images by Riley Kern

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Shadows

Welcome to October of 2011. In the thirty six years that I have walked this earth, I can say with out a doubt that three years made me who I am, inspire my every thought, and gives me something to look forward to. Those three years are the thirty six months of October I have experienced. Okay...Thirty five and half months of October. I was born in October. Halloween is in October. The beginning of Autumn is in October. Everything dies, the air is brisk and spooks run rampant. I LOVE THIS MONTH!

For the past four years, there has been an art show celebrating Halloween in art called October Shadows. It includes a strong and hefty list of artists from around the world in fine art, comics, film, television and animation. I have been involved every year with many other artists that I admire. This year, I did three acrylic paintings on wood inspired by Halloween, familiar emotions and social problems.

I roughed out a few ideas in my sketchbook involving werewolves, devils, witches, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and the usual Halloween suspects. When I narrowed it down to three I wanted to proceed with as paintings I had...

I started by painting a checkered pattern on the boards using oranges, blacks and browns. Than I added my figures and proceeded with the details.

When you think traditional Halloween, you think ghosts, skeletons, devils, Jack-o-lanterns and witches. We've grown up with two types of witches- the hag and the succubus.

"Which Witch" is a portrayal of these two types of witches. There is the ugly hag and there is the beautiful temptress. But no matter which witch you choose...she is still a witch.

Who in America hasn't grown up carving a Jack-O-Lantern? I'm sorry if I've offended any deprived individual who has not partaken in this traditional act of Americana. But I think I can safely say that most people have in one form or another. Jack-O-Lanterns go hand in hand with Halloween like a corpse to a coffin. Traditional depictions of gourds with haunting faces haunt Halloween paraphernalia of the Victorian era. I've always been drawn to these tricksters.

In "The Horror Inside" I've depicted a more morose gourd spirit whose cavity is opened up and spilling with confetti, bats, candy and bones. It represents the importance of expelling the dark things that build up inside us because they can and will destroy our spirits.

I'm obsessed with Halloween. I collect vintage Halloween decorations and costumes. I love the old Ben Cooper vacuform masks. But even more so, I love the netting masks of the turn of the century. They are much more creepy. I find myself drawn more to traditional costumes than modern. My favorite costume of all time would have to be the skeleton jumpsuit and skull mask. Another favorite is the traditional sheet ghost.

"Unveiling the Heart Beneath the Sheet" is about acceptance and a social commentary about judging individual's characters by their appearance. A sheet ghost is thought to be empty, apathetic and cold. In this piece, the little girl is lifting up her sheet to expose a golden heart that is the absolute opposite.

Overall, I was really happy with these three paintings. I had started a fourth one depicting a devil holding a Jack-O-Lantern. But I was unable to finish it in time for the show.

These pieces are on display and for sale at the October Shadows art show in Altadena California. This free event opened on Sunday, October 2nd at the art gallery inside of the Mountain View Mausoleum, 2300 N. Marengo Avenue in Altadena, CA 91001 and will run each Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am – 3pm through the entire month of October.

Any artwork purchased must remain on display for the first two weeks of the show’s run, but will be available for pick-up on or after Sunday, October 16th.

For more information:

Mountain View Mausoleum
2300 N Marengo Ave
Altadena, CA 91001
Phone: (626) 355-9100

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aliens are Dodger fans

On August 26th 2011, I attended my first LA Dodgers baseball game. My girlfriend and I started a bucket list and on occasion we are able to cross off our accomplished goals. Sunday was baking in 100 degree weather with friends watching the Dodgers play the Rockies. We had great seats that kept us in the shade and the $10 bud lights were some of the best tasting beer I have ever had. I was a bit disappointed that the peanuts were the same bag you can buy at your local grocery store (only 5x the price) and they stopped serving Dodger Dogs in the seventh inning. But it was a great first game to have attended and after 11 innings, the Dodgers won. Go Blue!

But what made this game a memorable experience is the unexplainable activity we witnessed in the sky. The Dodgers weren't doing too well in the first four innings and I found myself zoning out and looking at details around the stadium. That was when I spotted the white orb set against the clear blue sky. It was bright and would pulsate slowly, dimming and illuminating like the butt of a light bug. Then I noticed another one close by, but not as bright. Without thinking much, I said "I think I see a UFO".

Now, at this point I didn't really believe it was a UFO. But it slipped out like sarcasm. My friends looked up as I pointed out the orbs. The biggest skeptic in the group passed them off as balloons. I had my doubts. About this time, the dimmer of the two started making it's way south. We discussed the possibility of them being planes, but as an actually plane soared by we realized how absurd that was.

The lonely, pulsating orb was now joined by six other orbs all lined up to form an upside down L. The skeptic was the first to notice this behavior and pointed it out. I looked around and noticed that everyone else had lost interest in the game and was fixated on the sky talking about UFOs and government aircraft. It was like a scene straight out of a Michael Bay movie.

We were still trying to rationalize what hell we were looking at. I mentioned it could be stars, despite the one light traveling southbound in the clear blue sky at approximately 4PM. sometimes the stars come out in daylight, right? I was reaching for some sort of sensical explanation. Then one of the "stars" zoomed southbound and the other five just disappeared, leaving the bright pulsating orb alone, again. Throughout the next half hour, it too, faded into the distance.

The next day I searched youtube for other sightings. It looks like there were others who saw UFOs on August 26th in their neighborhood, including New York.





I'm not saying I believe that what I saw were spaceships transporting aliens from another galaxy. But I can say that it defied any publicly known identity. UFO, as we all know, means Unexplained Flying Object. And that is exactly what it was.

Although I believe that anything is possible, I am a die-hard skeptic. I only come to conclusions when I have collected all the information I can which results in an overall fact. But even then, I'm the kind of person who questions everything. Even if the government and the Vatican came out and informed the people of earth that we have been visited by life on other planets, I would question it. After all, when have they ever told us the truth before.

This experience got my mind thinking and I conceived of three basic plots for Sci-Fi stories. Which is your favorite?

1) All ideas of man's origin are a lie. There is no God. We did not evolve from apes. We were genetically created by Aliens and placed on this earth like a child's sea monkey collection. Only, we don't get to swim around all day, eating and pooping in an underwater kingdom. Our main purpose is to harvest precious gold materials for the Alien race who are dependent on this element. It has always been this way. Discoveries of past fallen civilizations are proof of this. Artifacts of mummy remains left in the streets tell of an aerial attack. Hype is released to buy up gold, trade in gold for money and mine for gold. Which is exactly what the humans do. Every 2000 years, the Aliens come for their gold. That time is now.

2) There is a spiritual battle going on, unbeknownst to humans. What we believe to be Aliens from another Galaxy are actually demons and angels. The Angels come down from the heavens in aircraft to give us hope and watch over us. Where as the demons, a reptile like species, live underground and travel through tunnels. The demons too have aircraft, but they come up from the ground through volcanoes and oceans. We are nothing more than pawns in the game between good and evil. If the demons can strip the soul away from the game piece, they win that soul. How do the demons strip the soul? By eventually transforming the human into a mindless, apathetic, loveless robot.

3) In an attempt to gain control over the entire planet, the powers-that-be have been strategically maneuvering into a single world government. This government will be a giant dictatorship enforcing one religion, one race, one view over the entirety of planet earth. Slow steps have been made by destroying the value of paper money and converting to a single world currency made of gold and by removing the boarders between landlocked countries. But a tricky procedure is to attain one government. How is this possible without upsetting other countries unwilling to go along with the plan or evoking a citizen's riot? Fear. Presidents begin to speak about the possibility of life on other planets. If there is an attack, our only chance of victory is to retaliate as a single planet rather than separate countries. With advancing technology, it becomes possible to project holograms (so incredibly lifelike) to fool eyewitnesses. UFO sightings happen all over the world, conditioning people to believe in life on other planets. Then, a carefully planned mock attack stirs a panic among all earthlings. They relinquish control and the dictatorship is formed.

These are all fun ideas. Possible? I don't know. I'm just exercising my creative brain muscle.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

West Memphis Three on the cucking stool

Medieval times, England- A seemingly foolproof technique for identifying witches was with a cucking or ducking stool. The cucking stool derives from wyuen pine which means "women's punishment". It is basically a wooden stool fastened to a giant lever. The supposed witch was tied to the stool and dunked repeatedly into a large vat of water, pond or stream. This form of interrogation was later accomplished absent of the chair by binding the victim's right thumb to the left toe. A rope was tied around the waist of the accused who was then thrown into a river or deep pond. In either method, the verdict was the same. If the accused drowned, she was deemed innocent. If the accused survived, she was deemed a witch and burned at the stake.

August 19th 2011, America (land of the free)- A surprise hearing was held in Jonesboro Arkansas regarding the release of three men known as the West Memphis Three. For almost 18 years, the WM3 have been imprisoned for the murder of three boys. Although there was no evidence to have put them there in the first place, the WM3 have spent two decades trying to prove their innocence. The judge offered a deal with the prosecutors; The three men would be released from prison if they change their plea from not guilty to guilty. Tired and worn down from fighting, the WM3 agreed.

These two methods of judicature seem equally asinine. It is hard to believe in the American Judicial system with numerous cases like this. While it is written in ink that we are innocent until proven guilty, it is clear that we are all screwed unless we can prove otherwise.

I've been involved with the WM3 for about five years now. I don't know the accused men or their families but have been drawn to their situation; growing up an outcast in hicksville. I grew up on a farm in the sticks outside of a town with a population of 3000. Not only was I the same age as the accused Damien Echols, I had long dyed hair and wore black. But more than feeling a bloodline among the freaks, I gravitated towards the cancer in our judicial system made apparent by this case. That is what I fight have a fair and just America.

Martin Luther King Jr said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." That quote has been tattooed in my memory. I feel that we need to choose cases of injustice in our communities or that are close to us and fight to make them accountable.

I was away on a trip when this surprise hearing for the WM3 happened. All weekend my phone blew up with emails, tweets and facebook comments from fiends that are familiar with my involvement. I often question my efforts being unaware of what kind of an impact I'm making. Is any of this getting through? Am I handling things to my full potential? Does my little contribution make a difference? It was at this moment that I knew it had. I left writings on the walls and they had been read.

When I was finally able to soak in all the information I was ecstatic, confused and frustrated. As happy as I am that the WM3 are finally free, what I've been trying to fight and bring awareness to (which is injustice) still infects this case. The supreme court ruling that the WM3 are guilty and set free with time served is not justice. Again, victim's are being charged for a crime with no evidence against them. The case is being closed with the murderer(s) still in question. Individuals in power are not being held accountable for misrepresenting their position of authority.

I'm uncertain where I go from here. I will stay in contact with the WM3 organization and see where I can help. I still have a few sizes left in the two WM3 shirts that I created to raise money and awareness for the cause. They can be purchased through I will continue to pass on all proceeds to the organization as they will continue to have use for donations.

Wherever my path leads, I believe the WM3 are on it and I would like to take you with me.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I quit this publishing business!

It looks like my last post on ebooks generated emotions for many of you readers. In addition to the few comments to the blog posting, I received tweets, comments on facebook and personal emails. Those responses were broken up into two groups: Those who oppose digital books and those who support digital books. The general consensus of those who support this new technology use the same bases for their argument. The ebook allows one to obtain and carry an extensive library of literature that was never possible before. Also, the ebook allows more authors to be circulated without the stoic bouncing of editors and publishing houses.

These are all very valid opinions and they are neither right nor wrong but suitable for those making them. As is my opinion. The only factual point that I can make against ebooks is my love for the printed material opposed to the digital age. But there are a few arguments I would like to make against the ebook supporters that I chose not to bring up in the last posting.

First of all, I can't argue with the fact that the ebook allows for an individual to acquire and store more volumes of a fault. I compare this to the music industry and the same demise will follow. In 2009, a study followed 900 popular books. Of those books, each title was illegally downloaded around 10,000 times. This does not include all the other titles that were downloaded for free. If I did some more digging, I'm sure that 2010 would prove to have greater numbers. I can see why people approve of the ebook because you can own more than you can afford. It's the American way. I look at my book shelf as I write. I may only own half (or even much less) as many books in the physical form next to someone and their ebook collection. But each and every book means so much to me. I paid for it. If there were three books I wanted and could only afford one, that book means more to me because I chose it over the others.

Let's face it. Ebooks make it all too easy. Too easy to own. Too easy to steal. It will all trickle down (it's already begun). Book stores are going out of business. Publishers will publish less. Authors will lose jobs. Even those that will still publish independently will do so in less volume because they will have to have a day job to pay the bills. Digital music killed the music scene and digital books will kill the publishing scene.

Secondly, the ebook does allow for more authors to get their work seen. This is both good and bad. I understand the difficulty in getting published. I submitted my work to comic companies for almost a decade before I received my first publishing gig. And I still haven't been hired to illustrate a comic book. But it should be difficult.

Look at digital film and youtube. It is so extremely easy for anyone to get their hands on a digital camera, make a film and have it seen by millions of people. It doesn't even have to be good. Now, talent scouts will pick up individuals based on their youtube views. Does the amount of views equal quality? Absolutely not. This technology unleashed a beast of mediocrity.

The same is true for publishing. It shouldn't be easy to get published. And if you can't get a big publisher to believe in your work, then maybe you should have some ordeal that signifies your own confidence in your abilities. Take the risk and drop a few thousand dollars to get your book published and distributed. Rewards come to the deserving. Maybe I feel like the pot of gold should require some talent, effort and/or gamble. Maybe I think it is all too easy and we live in a society that expects entitlement.

Now playing devil's advocate, are there talented-hardworking authors out there that are not getting published? Of course. Be it bad luck, faulty charisma, censorship or that their work is never looked at and instead tossed in the garbage, they just can't get a break. Will the ebook rectify this unfortunate situation. Possibly, with an equally negative side effect.

Now here's where I may loose some of you. It appears that the ebook makes it easy for alternative literature to bypass censoring government. Hurray for the revolution, right? What will happen when the government owns the computers and the internet you rely on for this distribution. I'm going to give you the puzzle pieces and you can put it together however you like.

In 2001, George W Bush passed a law called the Patriot Act allowing government access to your computer and web activity without warrant. Nothing is being done to stop monopolization. Time/Warner/Aol are talking about merging with AT&T. AT&T are talking about merging with Verizon. Verizon is predicted to merge with sprint. We are close to one company owning and running the internet and phone service. In 2009, Barrack Obama increased and established a cybersecurity facility in the white house with an executive order to centralize all cyberactivity to be monitored and controlled by any one country. The government is attempting to take control of the internet as a whole with the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” (“PCNAA”). Amazon, the largest online retailer, is the creator of the best selling ebook reader Kindle.

In July 2009, The New York Times reported that deleted all customer copies of certain books published by MobileReference, including the books 1984 and Animal Farm from users' Kindles. This action was taken with neither prior notification nor specific permission of individual users.

If Amazon can do this, do you think alternative literature will exist in the future with the ebook? The government will control the one company that operates our internet service, which circulates literature, which we put on a computer device that is accessible to all of the above. It's a lot easier to delete a digital file with the push of a button, then to form a book burning mob and hunt down books. We as a society are making it easier for the government to control what we read, release disinformation and rewrite history.

This is just a theory of course. But my old man always taught me to look under the hood before I buy a car. Excuse the biblical analogy, but if the apple didn't look so ripe and delicious, do you think Eve would have taken it?

I'm not really going to quit in the publishing world. I just figured a tragic title like that would generate more attention. But there are many independent publishers, bookstores and authors who can't lick it. I'd rather see them stick around than obtain this technology. Zeitgeist. The sign of the times. Like Pee Wee once said, "I'm a fighter, Dotty. A rebel". No matter what happens, I'll role with the punches. If I have to, I'll release my books digitally. Although I don't know how that will help when a book that has not been coded into an ebook sells more copies as a whole than those that have been digitized.

I'll restate that so that you don't misconstrue me and focus on how much more ebooks sell than hardcover books. A book that is in the physical form ONLY has a larger percentage of purchased sales than a book that has been digitized because you can't access that book for free (without shoplifting of course). Get it?

And who has the balls to actually go into a store and shoplift any more?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preserving life on the shelf

#%$! the whales! Save the books!

You could call me a purist. Maybe a fundamentalist...An individualism fundamentalist. I have a strict and literal adherence to the existence of individuality in all things. I could write a 500 page thesis on this belief going into music, film, human liberties...etc. But I will focus briefly on books.

It is in everyday I breath that I am convinced that I was born into the wrong era. The things that I adore and make me happy are slowly becoming extinct. And it troubles me. In my lifetime, I believe the manufacturing of books in the physical form will be extinct. I strongly oppose this movement. There is nothing like the touch of a hardback book. I've removed the dust cover on every book I own, to run my finger senses across it's skin discovering a sensation of slick, cloth, leather or embossed textures. This is the individual personality of the book. And as the book lives on, it's physical characteristics do too. Abrasions tattoo the surface telling the history of every accident, fall and scrape. Years and hard life can be identified by the fragility of the spine like the eyes of a dope fiend. Pages get brittle and yellow. They start to crack and fall out. Some books have inscriptions from the buyer like a birth certificate as a reminder when and why this individual came into the world. Books are individual lives. The Kindle is not.

The Kindle is a slick hard device that digital clones of books are loaded onto. You are not reading a book on a Kindle anymore than you can touch a hologram. Your defiled reproduction of Chuck Palahniuk feels the same as your reproduction of Charles Baudelaire. This is because their soulless essence is imprisoned in the same body along with any number of other faux books (a concentration camp for literature). A gift from a loved one in the form of digital literature is made up of zeros and ones, the same as every other meaningless and forgotten gift. The only thing that differentiates one from another is the difference of words and their arrangement, as they appear to the reader on the screen.

What does this have to do with individualism? Although greatly flawed, I like who I am. I am the result of 35 years of experience that is not identical to another human out there. Yet, I am no more superior or inferior to anyone else. Nor do I feel like my existence is significant when compared to the size of the cosmos I'm lost in. But it is my god given right to be an individual and it is that liberty that I fight for. Every book I've read (along with all my other experiences) make up who I am.

When there are no more books being printed and the only way to receive literature is through digital mutations of the glorious form, our selection will become chosen. The printed word cannot be controlled, no matter how many mobs instigate burnings. A copy will get out, someone will reprint, and through the power of the black market the book will live again. This will not happen with the Kindle. I can't make a zine and sell it through the underground with a Kindle. The books that will be released for this device will be heavily controlled and censored. Many books will not be cloned and their physical form will be buried among garbage.

Some, if not all, of you are questioning this thought process. We have already given away too many of our rights. With the Patriot Act we've allowed government into our lives. Not only can they crack into our computers, but also into our smart phones and Kindles. There are attempts to control the internet. Alternative news sources are already being shutdown if not framed for lunacy or corruption. Say goodbye to our freedom of speech. If we are that close to the decay of the first amendment, we are closer than we know to controlled censorship. That is why the Kindle is an attack on everyone to exist as an individual.

So when I received an email today from a 14 year-old who loves books and adventures to the library, I smiled a bit knowing that there is hope for the future. He writes:

Dear Gris Grimly,
My name is Daniel ******. I am 14 years old born ******, 19**. I live in ******. I love to go to the ****** city Library. Its very interesting to hear from most of the librarians that they rarely see kids my age being so interested in books. I love books. They're amazing. You have to really seek in a book. Some people think,"hey, this is just a book". But for me a book is a wonderful adventure! When i grow up i want to be a director. I love movies. Your books are great. I love them. I read most of them but I'm trying to read them all. Too bad my library doesn't carry all your books. I wish they did. I especially wish they had pinocchio! I heard there is going to be a movie based on the book pinocchio. Is that true? I love your art work. It is really nice and well done. Are there any new books coming up? You are an amazing illustrator and what you have is truly a gift.
Daniel ******

Unfortunately, I have to keep up with the Joneses. That mean if all of you out there continue to buy Kindles and digital want-to-be books, I will have to produce to meet the demand. I say it again...UNFORTUNATELY.

Buy books. Support individualism.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kickin' Back at the Con

I first attended San Diego Comic Con to promote my work in 2000. I walked around with the tour of fiends promoting the release of my first book Monster Museum and passed out postcards and stickers. I had my first booth in 2001 and grew from there. I feel proud to look at my humble beginnings (10x10 booth with one book and one shirt) to the MCP mega store that I ended on in 2009 (10x20 booth with 40 shirts, 18 books, prints, buckles, stickers, DVDs, CDs, and more). It was a fun and memorial decade at the con.

In 2010, I decided to not come back to SDCC for a number of reasons. The main reason was that I was working as Director on the development stage of my animated film Pinocchio. But it was more than that. The person I was throughout that past decade was no longer me and I didn't feel like I could do SDCC as I had in the past.

Fast forward one year. I was asked by the publisher of Baby Tattoo Books to be a guest at SDCC to promote the release of my new sketchbook Atrum Secretum (you can order the book here: MCP STORE).

We worked out the details and I announced my return in 2011 to the geekfest (drawing in way over 150,000 attendees). So how did it go?

I had two signings scheduled both Friday and Saturday. The grim buzz this year was the pre-sale of Atrum Secretum. AND...if you were the first 100 to purchase a book, you received a coupon to be redeemed for a sketch among the pages of the sketchbook.

I want to thank everyone for supporting independent publishers and the arts by picking up a copy of this book. At every signing, I was welcomed by a line of fiends. It's good to see that even without my own booth and relocated on the other side of the convention hall, the loyalty remains. I enjoyed meeting you all, drawing in each and every one of your books, and hearing your stories.

I was blown away by a specific tattoo shown to me by John. Why does this tattoo mean so much? About two years ago I went to see one of my favorite artists perform on my birthday. That artist is William Elliott Whitmore. After the show, a few of the attendees found themselves at a saloon across the street. I was identified by John (then a stranger) who found himself emotionally moved. It being his birthday as well, he saw his favorite musician perform and met his favorite artist. We spent the night drinking whiskey and celebrating our birthdays. This tattoo commemorates that evening with Whitmore's logo of the crow clinching a bottle of booze and a piece of my art. Now, wasn't that a sweet story?

John- I'm honored.

Other than my signings at the SDCC, I stayed as far as possible from the gaslamp where the event is held. A place where I can focus on work, peace of mind and focus on my friends who matter the most. The last couple years I attended SDCC, I felt a yearning to stay in a hotel secluded from the hustle and flow. But servicing and managing a booth made it problematic for me or the crew to stay at any distance. This year, I had the luxury of achieving this goal and resided at a little Polynesian paradise I like to frequent in the San Diego area. My girlfriend discovered this hotel which I quickly found an adoration for.

2010 marked the year of the Tiki for me. The MCP crew and I found ourselves searching out Tiki bars and Polynesian architecture all over. I even resurrected a Voodoo Island in my backyard with a Tiki bar, thatch huts, shrunken heads and Tiki sculptures. Although I can't fully relate to the tiki culture, I've fully embraced the darker side of Tiki...Grimly-fied. With that said, there is no other place i would rather stay in San Diego than this paradise. Many hours were spent in the pool or hot tub, sipping Caribbean drinks or just wondering around amongst the tropical plants and Tiki sculptures.

I ate a burrito the size of a baby!

Mornings were spent walking along the shore where we witnessed fish being caught, dogs defecating and pelicans defending their turf against unwelcome foul.

A couple of my MCP brothers joined up with us. We visited one of my favorite spots in San Diego, the Turf Club, for drinks and grilled steaks.

We had a Polynesian feast at Bali Hai. Afterwards, we jumped in the hot tub and listened to the Fab Four (who were performing at our hotel) covering the Beatles. A Martin Denny or Dick Dale cover band would have been more appropriate. But nothing beats witnessing my MCP brother, The Preacher, get sentimental over John Lennon songs.

When all was said and done, SDCC was productive and relaxing. We sold through most of the pre-sale copies of Atrum Secretum. It felt good not being completely tore up from the trip. We even swung by Tiki Highway at Don the Beachcombers on our way back for a kustom car/tiki art show.

I hope I continue to be a guest at SDCC from time to time. I feel like there is a family there, the Society of Grave Robbers, that will always welcome me no matter where my life takes me. I look forward to the day I am on a panel joined by Guillermo Del Toro, co-director Mark Gustafson, Producer Allison Abatte and musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis talking about Pinocchio.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thanks to photographer Mark Berry for supplying event photos