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Table of Contents

RKYV # 45 {Mar. 2011} RKYV ONLINE LOGO – David Marshall {current} r. j. paré {modified}Roy G. James {original} Virtual Cover # 45 - Photo by Ryan Ruffatti - Design/Layout by David Marshall Interior Art - By r. j. paré, Mike Grattan, James ‘Jig-One’ Titman, Roger Price, Roy G. James, Russell Ashley, De Tourist, Amber Blair, Marc Olivent, Larissa Gula, Tindersen Blacktree Hoopdriver Editorial Column - “At the Outset: A Few Thoughts from - “Crossing Over” the Editor” - by James Gibson - By r. j. paré - “Grimoire – Act Three” Crafts Corner - by Scott Claringbold - by Mia Tokatlian Poetry Syndicated Comic Strip Review - By Frances Nichols Vargas, Wanda - “Bob and Doug McKenzie - the VanHoy Smith, Stephen Campbell & Comic Strip” r. j. paré - By Nik Poliwko & Tom Nesbitt Pop Culture Featured Artist Review - “Digital Scribbles,” “O.E.L.ove” & - “Ryan Ruffatti” “Manga Maximus” - By r. j. paré - By Darke Raven Short Fiction - “Raised on Saturday Morning - “On a bicycle built for three – Part 2” Cartoons” - by R. Patrick James - By Pauline Paré

by De Tourist

At the Outset:
A few thoughts from, The Editor…
by r. j. paré
Hey, well, I'm the friendly stranger in the black sedan, Won't you hop inside my car? "Vehicle" - Ides of March Welcome everybody to issue # 45 of RKYV Online. As many of you know, I’m an old school comic geek. I also write & publish my own comics under the Speakeasy Primates banner. In the last few years, with an economy that has been spiralling down the drain - I have noticed this art-form struggling to stay alive. Arguments have been put forward about the advent of new technologies and the changing tastes of new generations. Some of these are valid… but really, only up to a point. Let’s be frank, comics, especially comics aimed at a younger audience are supposed to be an inexpensive form of entertainment. They cultural and educational benefits of comics are quite tangible: they foster an appreciation for art in children and encourage them towards literacy. So, why has the industry been going bankrupt? In my, humble, opinion it all comes down to cost. The publishers have tried to convince us that inflation, or increased production costs are to blame… but I just don’t buy it! Inflation doesn't begin to cover the gouging the big publishers have done to readers. I am 41 and starting reading comics in grade school. Early on, they were usually on the newsstand for .25 to .35. In the last few years, 3.99 has been the norm. That is an almost 1500% increase. Yes paper and print quality have improved, yes creators are paid more... but please - in no industry would consumers accept such an increase. And so the industry stopped marketing to children. It made the disastrous decision to put all of their eggs in one basket: keep marketing to an older age group, essentially give up on ever gaining new readers and just hope the ones you have - a) continue to buy & b) don't die on ya. That is an insane way to run a business. Absolutely it was right to take advantage of older fans and market some books with more adult themes and content towards them. However the industry's massive print runs in the old days were built on marketing to kids and without each generation of kids growing up loving the medium, there are no older fans to buy the more expensive books. It was a bankruptcy spiral just waiting to happen.

What can be done to save this medium? Well, let's compare: when I was a child and went to the store with my .50 allowance, my brothers would spend their entire allowance on chocolate bars, whereas I would buy a comic and still have some money left over for some penny candy or liquorice. Now think about that...chocolate bars have gone up in price as well... from .50 to an average 1.00 - 1.50 in most places. They were once more expensive than comics and are now less than 1/2 the price of a comic book. This is a HUGE factor when trying to develop a younger audience. In fact with the push on to stop kids from having sugary sweets you'd think comic companies would use this as a marketing strategy for an entire line of DC/Marvel 1 dollar comics. These could be situated right next to checkout stands again, specifically to give parents an alternative "treat" when out shopping. If they want to have another generation fall in love with this medium - they'd better start getting creative. In fact we could dub this campaign "Comics Instead of Candy" and the books could be printed on a cheaper type of paper... heck if you went back to a more pulp paper style 4-colour edition of Superman @ 1.00 a pop you could sell a million copies and make your profit via volume. LOL – I swear I should be running these publishing companies… But I digress… This issue of RKYV is chock full of art – lit goodness. From Ryan Ruffatti’s eye catching work, which he has graciously shared with us, in the Featured Artist of the Month column; to our Columnists Darke Raven and Pauline Paré, who once again share their often thoughtful, witty and revealing opinions. As well, returning poets Frances Nichols Vargas, Wanda VanHoy Smith, Stephen Campbell & yours truly – r. j. paré – provide some new poetic verse for you to [hopefully] enjoy. I would be sorely remiss if I did not take a moment to thank the talented artists [credited throughout this edition] who have shared their amazing work with us. Their contributions to RKYV truly make this e-Zine a joy to produce.

Cracked Actor – by Mike Grattan

Now, for those of you looking for more RKYV entertainment than we can fit into a PDF, look no further... LOL. We have got some fun and engaging sites set up for you by the ever-intrepid RKYV staff. Darke Raven’s RKYV Blog & Pod Casts – vote for your favourite segments! http://rkyvrevue.blogspot.com/ Official RKYV Blog – send us your comments, questions & suggestions! http://rkyv.blogspot.com/ RKYV Editorial Video Blog – watch me act the fool and hype the Zine! http://www.youtube.com/user/RKYVONLINE RKYV ONLINE Facebook Group – post submissions and interact with other contributors! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2399067108 Well folks, that’s about all outta me this time around. It’s time to shut my yap and let you enjoy the Zine. Publisher’s Note: Really, any time is a good time for Mr. Paré to shut his, aforementioned, yap and let you, the readers, enjoy your monthly fix of RKYV ONLINE.

Ray Charles – by Mike Grattan

Tat Art & Designs

by Roger Price

Should you like to know more [or perhaps even have Roger lay some ink down on ya] you can e-mail Roger: moleman00x@hotmail.com or… Follow him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629478508

Ben – by James ‘Jig-One’ Titman

Crafts Corner
This month’s focus on:

Mia Tokatlian
BIO: I have been creating wire wrap, beaded and sculptural
jewelry for over 20 years and I enjoy adding magical elements to what I create. small spiritual or

Copper Circlet

Copper Dragon - Red If you would like to see more or different images please let me know.

Water Goddess

Earth Air 2

http://www.etsy.com/shop/elementaljewels mia_tokatlian@yahoo.com

Links:

Spirit Amulet – Purple Web

Dippy the Dinosaur – outside of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History during a January snow storm – by Larissa Gula

Digital ScribblesOELManga 1OELManga vs of 3 Star Trek Mainstream versus
by Darke Raven

Introduction
It's not often, but sometimes you can pit mainstream comics versus OELManga (and occasionally Japanese Manga) by the titles they keep. For instance you can pit, say, Manga Styles of MARVEL Comics versus mainstream... if you have an eternity, happen to be immortal, and a total MARVELite... which I'm not so I'll never do it. Hmm... how about something simple? After all, it's only 1 year to go after June 2011 before we get Star Trek 12. Star Trek 12, aka Star Trek 2 (Version 2), the sequel to the most recent reboot of Star Trek opening an alternate reality (or to be more precise what I consider continuing where Star Trek Enterprise left off with the 23rd Century of that reality) that... well... hasn't been touched at all and won't be touched here. To count down we'll have two Trek on Trek bash fests, Mainstream versus OELManga.

But first... a brief history.
The first Star Trek comics began with Gold Key, and while the comics were drawn by a person who never actually saw Star Trek (for years and years and issues on end the glaring visual errors done by a person who hadn't watched a stitch of Trek could fill a book with content) it was also one of the most fan favorite series for being most ground breaking, engaging and rather innovative for it's time.. even if it suffered the slings and arrows of writing problems that took forever to flesh out the characters to fit the ones from the core TV Series, and those glaring errors (fire flying out of the warp nacelles and sometimes the shuttle bay, interior shots that didn't match the series, glaring errors with races like Klingons and so forth). By Star Trek the Motion Picture the next company to have hold of Star Trek, MARVEL Comics, hit the ground running... and fell flat shortly after launch. It won't be until post Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan, and DC Comics first go, that a Trek run will be as fruitful and iconic as Gold Key's run (especially the ground breaking run between Star Trek III and IV in which Kirk was Captain of the Excelsior after stopping an invasion from the Mirror Mirror universe, Spock had his own command as Captain of the USS Surak (sadly only a few stories exist of Captain Spock and his crew of the Surak before Star Trek IV turned everything upside down and demanded a redo of the comic killing off the entire crew of the Surak in the process). Star Trek then shifted back and forth between MARVEL and DC for a time, with only one other company (Malibu Comics, which was swallowed up by MARVEL Comics eventually) holding reign over Trek up to the most recent past. Over this time a few special events happened, most notable the Star Trek/X-Men crossover books (I read the first one, which was rather good). Today of course Star Trek is in the hands of IDW Publishing, though to date they have only touched on the original Universe Trek, and have not gone father which is sad since next year I'm focusing on Star Trek the Next Generation in next year's Trek battle Mainstream vs. Manga... but I have words on that, believe you me, I have words on that. But this is OELManga versus Mainstream, so let's get to it' Starting off... oh, wait, one more thing of importance concerning the entire review batch of Star Trek the Manga. One of the most prevalent and constant complaints I have heard from people concerning Star Trek the Manga is that it's artwork doesn't do the series justice. It doesn't look like the cast, it doesn't look like Kirk and Spock and McCoy and all that, and to be truthful it won't instill that impression on you (the three volumes)... but that's the nature of the beast that is manga, and to be honest a lot of you are rather spoiled (myself too) when it comes to Star Trek art. We too often compare mainstream comics (DC or MARVEL or IDW) and their solid down pat artwork that reminds us fully of the cast quite well, which manga isn't... at least... not this batch of Artists that I've seen. I know a small handful of artists of manga who could probably do as solid a job as DC or MARVEL or IDW's finest... but then this wouldn't be OELManga, this would be Manga Maximus... because those artists? They're in Japan, and they're not doing this manga. It's manga style, not the die hard realism of mainstream comic art, it's playful and artistic and beautiful... and yes, takes way too many liberties at times with the looks of well established characters like Kirk, Spock, McCoy and so forth... but it's manga. We can forgive it for not being photo perfect because it's manga, and that is the nature of the beast... OK, now the versus review challenge.

Digital Scribbles
This Month's Experiment

Star Trek Vs Part 1 of 3 Star Trek Assignment Earth
By John Byrne (Writer/Artist) IDW Publishing Before we review this you need to go back, back, back to the end of the second season of the original Star Trek. The season finale episode, Assignment Earth, was originally meant to be a spin off series starring the pairing of Gary Seven (a Doctor Who meets James Bond style human trained by aliens from a distant part of the galaxy as part of a secret policing force that watches over the events of their assigned worlds and keep the peace), and Roberta Lincoln (aka a young Teri Garr). Obviously Assignment Earth never happened, and it wouldn't be until years later that spin offs became all the rage (after Star Trek The Next Generation synched with it's audience) with shows like Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and finally Enterprise (not to mention the legion of spin offs that only saw creation in print in both books and comics, video games, and other forms of media both physical and internet virtual). So bring in IDW, as they launch a five part mini set as the TV Series that never was, starring Gary Seven, Roberta and Isis keeping an eye on the late 60's and early 70's one mission at a time. Issue One takes place three months after the end of Assignment Earth as Gary Seven and Roberta are hanging off the end of a tall skyscraper in Alberquerque New Mexico on the trail of transporter blocking future technology... which seems to have been cobbled together by the Soviet Russians for some strange reason. But that, for now, has to be shelved as they are in pursuit of a Russian spy out to sabotage a new weapons project codenamed Hercules, which may be more dangerous than anyone realize as it is America's first attempt at Fusion Bombs (capable of laying waste half the country in one shot). Issue Two suddenly puts Seven and Roberta in a pointless tie in with the Season 1 time traveling episode of Star Trek (Original Series) when they end up back in time by accident, accidentally pick up an Air Force Pilot and a military guy, and almost end up disrupting the space-time continuum by accident... the story is pointless, their being in the story is pointless, and the ending "hand" they have in the story is just too pointless... bad story, bad.

Issue Three has Seven and Roberta investigating unrest on a college campus where students protesting the war in Vietnam clash with the National Guard, amidst a strange plot by the military to clone soldier Star Wars Episode 2 Attack of the Clones style... oh, and Roberta hooks up with a student leader and gets herself some... you go girl. Issue Four is another pointless exercise, this time revealing a strange but ultimately shallow Suliban style throw away race called "Counter Strike"... and no, it's not a cross over with the video game of the same name. Counter Strike, it seems, is a bunch of large insectoid-like bug monsters who travel the galaxy wiping out races who grow too fast, technology wise, for their own good... oh, and the ending is too horrible to even attempt to explain... Oh, but on the bright side it's mostly a nice adventure for Seven and Roberta (one page has Roberta using the Beta 5 to help her dress for a weekend date, a short Isis story where Isis puts on her best Catwoman persona to stop a purse snatcher, and Roberta and Seven trying to go undercover as a married couple with disastrously fun results).

Bad side? The story tries to explain the death of the two supervisors before Gary Seven, and you at last meet... well, you'll see. Issue Five? Remember the start of Star Trek VI “The Undiscovered Country” where Spock said that only Nixon can go to China? Well in this issue apparently, once you get Nixon to China, you kinda gotta make sure only Nixon returns from China... especially since the Chinese and Russians have made a sleeper agent look-alike of Nixon and plan to see if anyone can tell the difference when they secretly replace Nixon with an imposter... and the rest? Well... you have to see it to believe it. One more Isis tale (this time with Roberta) and that's it for the mini.

Scoring and final recommendation shortly, but first...

Star Trek The Manga Volume 1 Shinsei Shinsei "New Lives/New Stars"
Written by Christ Dows, Jim Alexander, Joshua Ortega, Mike Barr, Rob Tokar Artwork by Gregory Giovanni Johnson, Jeong-Mo Yang, Michael Shelfer, etc TOKYOPOP Star Trek as a manga? Yeah, I'm sure it must exist... too bad this isn't it. While there must be some form of manga Star Trek in Japan somewhere (and by that I don't just mean porn or quirky one shot porn stories like that weird William Shatner slash Leonard Nimoy hooking up with some hot ladies behind the scenes on the set of Star Trek in this one story I remember... from "Milk" I think"... ) I mean mainstream manga tales of Star Trek. It must exist. This, however, isn't it. TOKYOPOP, one of its quirks is getting mainstream talents together to crank out OELManga style series... and fresh original content for companies like Disney... and stuff... but that's for future talk. This is the first of three volumes of Star Trek the Manga (OELManga technically). Split into three factions, Shinsei Shinsei (New Lives/New Stars), Kakan ni Shinkou (To Boldy Go) and Uchu (Space), the series is a trilogy anthology featuring a batch of different Artists and Writers (May we have a Will Wheaton slash Ensign Crusher written tale about the Klingons BTW) and while it seems IDW has big gun talents that isn't to mean that you can sneeze at the talents doing Star Trek's manga... even if this volume comes off as rather... pedestrian. First off if you’re buying it off the Playstation Network like I did? DO NOT BUY THE FIRST ONE! That is a half sized color version of the first story, Side Effects, and it looks nice but you have to buy the second one anyway to get the full story so you might as well skip buying the first one. Save yourself a dollar.

First off is Side Effects, which is in short the non-canon "origin" of the Borg... but mostly an excuse to set Kirk and company versus the Borg, explain their origins (which seems to tie them into the Delta Quadrant body wasting disease known as the Phage.

Though they don't come out and call the disease they're dying from the Phage but it does have similarities... for instance the cannibalization of multiple body parts from many alien species in order to survive) and the origin of the Borg Queen... yeah, right. Second story is a rather bitter sweet tale of a colony that shouldn't be, filled with people that should be dead, lead by a man who is the crux of the riddle and the one who suffers for his people's existence... tear jerker people. Sad. Third story is just sad but for all the wrong reasons. Til Death has the crew running into a dysfunctional male and female who turns the entire crew's male and female populace upon each other... until the two die a rather pointless "War of the Roses:" (as in the Michael Douglas movie about how bitter divorce can be) death... geesh! Fourth story has the Enterprise at wits end... probably because this is the work artistry work of all five stories... as they are running diplomatic duties bringing gifts of rare animals and funny interactive alien art between formerly warring planets looking to make with the peace... oh, expect one of the species to not want peace as their gift is a booby trap... guess which gift! Go on! Guess! Finally it's your one and only chance to see what Star Trek versus Gundam would look like as the Enterprise is set upon by mobile suit like mechas, being drawn into a situation with child warriors now out of work since the war they fought is no longer happening or something like that (forced to steal and terrorize to survive).

OK. That's the manga side... now the finale, the breakdown and the score.

Breakdown and Score {Brief since we went so long already}
Story 1 I liked Assignment Earth's issue better than the Borg story from the Manga. It just had more punch, and wasn't a throwaway story easily forgotten by Trek continuity... damn you Paramount! Story 2 Star Trek the Manga. It was more touching, poignant, sad... and wasn't entirely pointless unlike the Assignment Earth issue. Story 3 Star Trek Assignment Earth. Anything but Til Death... that and Roberta... well... you know. Story 5 Star Trek the Manga. Heck, it's Star Trek versus Gundam (sorta)... and it's pretty solid even if they draw Kirk to look like a kid sometimes in this story... what the hell! That leaves the tie breaker, Story 4... and the winner is... Star Trek Assignment Earth. Both stories had their good points, and both stories were a bit rough. And while each had it's reasons to fail (whale) (Assignment Earth's pointless nemesis and ending versus the obvious story roll and end to Oban in the Manga) I have to say the quirks of Assignment Earth were just more satisfying than with the Manga... and really, that story was the worst drawn of the lot as they really, really did NOT look at all like the main crew at all the way they were drawn here! Come on! So Month 1 goes to IDW. Congratulations. Next time? In May it's Part 2 as TOKYOPOP has another chance to catch up. We'll review Star Trek The Manga Volume 2 for TOKYOPOP, sided against Star Trek Year Four The Enterprise Experiment for IDW. Next time. But it's April next so OELManga takes a month off for a double feature of Digital Scribbles. Next time it's Spartacus the Motion Comic, a "fearsome" (cough, cough) tale of blood, violence, rape and naked women giving birth (with their nipples covered throughout)... versus a truly fearsome and terrifying tale of a girl... 8 years old... ginger haired... full of destructive intent and a brilliantly askew intellect... fear, for over the hills, and far away, Amy has come... to slay! (Raising Amy the Bundle set!) See you next month!

The Weeping Willow – by Amber Blair

Featured Artist Review
Ryan Ruffatti
by r. j. paré
Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Power Girl Sketch [© DC Comics] Medium: Micron pen ink & paper Date Created: Aug 2009 1. Have you always known that you wanted to be or, rather, were an artist and/or photographer? For a while growing up I wanted to be an animator at Disney. But then I gradually learned that Disney is kinda evil, so I moved on to wanting to draw comic strips for the newspaper. I really didn’t think about becoming a photographer until I was in high school, where it was something that came very quickly to me. 2. Did you study or major in art / photography while in school? I originally was a Computer Science Major, and continued to take art classes and work as a photographer for local newspapers on the side. After a couple of years, and never given the opportunity to learn a proper programming language I decided it wasn’t what I wanted and switched to Mass Communications with a focus on web and graphic design. 3. Who was your primary source of encouragement, as a child, in pursuing your craft? My parents were great with encouraging me growing up. My mom is very craft-y and would give us art projects to do. My dad was a computer engineer and would do larger more physical projects with him, as well as he got me going with an interest in science. It was a great balance. I personally think having a good knowledge of art and science really does complement each other.

4. What is your favourite media to work with? I’ll safely say I like working with digital photography the most over film and drawing mediums. Basically because I’m really impatient. It’s a grand level of instant gratification to just be able to see the images right away if I got the shot that was in my head. I still love film, and love the smell of the chemicals in the dark room. But I shoot some weird stuff, and there is often a lot of prep and time at stake. I like knowing that I have the shot I want before calling it a wrap. When drawing I like the classic pen on paper. I have nice Microns pens I use while drawing my cartoons. Painting with a brush still eludes me.

Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Alice Drink Me Medium: Photography Date Created: Aug 2007

5. Do you use any special tools and techniques? I spent a lot of time working at a costume shop where I got to learn to be a make up artist. It’s a great skill that I really enjoy bringing to my photos. It really helps me make more unique characters, monsters and zombies then I could without it. Also I apparently have a special technique with my lighting. Other photographers have wondered what I’m doing with the lights to get the shadows in my work. Personally I love the shadows. I think it really gives the images more of a comic book and pulp look to them. 6. What inspires you? I like looking at comic books, drawings and paintings. Something that is depicting the world in a unique way. I find it’s a great challenge to look at what comes out of limitless possibilities and see if there is a way I could translate some of that idea into a image captured in a fraction of a second and bound by the laws of physics. Beyond that movies are a great sense of inspiration. Finding a film with great camera work where they are willing to push the limits of lighting and how they tell the story visually is always a great place to look for ideas and things to challenge myself with.

7. How would you categorize your style? Weird. Ok, maybe not. I really never tried to put it in a box or label it. I like to try to tell a story with my photos. Sometimes it’s a more abstract story, but none-the-less. But regardless, I’m never trying to tell a normal story. There does seem to be an ongoing sense of something extraordinary in them. Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Curse Medium: Photography & Makeup Date Created: Jul 2010 rjp: Who says graphic sequential storytelling is strictly for pencil, ink & brush. Ryan portrays the captivating, horrifying moments of a monster’s post transformation identity crisis. The tragic realization, pain and anger are thoroughly explored in this sequence without even the need for words. 8. Would you say that there is a "message" or "unifying theme" in your work? I can’t say there is one. There does tend to be a leaning towards sci-fi and fantasy throughout, but I wouldn’t really call it a message or unifying theme. I’ve joked a couple times that it is that “No one can ever smile” since it tends to be kinda rare that one of my characters is overly happy. 9. Which famous artists or photographers have influenced you? Why? Alex Ross and Frank Frazetta were probably the first whose work kinda pushed me to doing this style of photography. They tended to be very realistic styles and it made sense to me strive and try to attempt some of the things they were doing in painting in a photographic setting. I think Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and Joss Whedon’s Serenity really showcase an outstanding level of pushing things with the camera work and I visually get a lot out of that. Then I’d have to give some props to Salvador Dali for shooting weird ass photos even back in the day.

10. What do you think of the term "starving artist"? Specifically, does the struggle to pay the bills; to be compensated for one's work; influence what an artist will or won't pursue based on perceived commercial value? I’ve joked before with friends when I’m working on a commission that I don’t care much about that, “Their money is just as green as anyone else’s.” I think if you are struggling to pay the bills that there is absolutely a desire to make art that is going to bring in a little cash. When you are creating work in an environment where money doesn’t matter it definitely changes the playing field for the outcome. But I don’t think that making art for money instantly corrupts the work itself. I think a great artist will put themselves, and find the creativity, in their work regardless and will make what they really want to see. That shared vision will be what earns them money. Making art 100% to chase after money I think will always fail. I think with art is making something they don’t believe in and entirely based on what they think other people as whole want, that people will sniff it out because there is something missing from the soul of the art.

Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Join Us Medium: Photography & Makeup Date Created: Oct 2008 rjp: Is it possible for a Zombie to have sexappeal? This disturbing image from the talented Mr. Ruffatti has me wondering if I am in need of psychotherapy for a [hopefully treat-able] undead fetish.

11. With advancements in photoshop technology there has been a marked increase in digital enhancements. Are the days of "hands on" skill doomed to the realm of fading memories? I think the illusion is that people tend to think there weren’t post production enhancements before. Many of the core features in Photoshop tend to be based off things photographers had been doing in the darkroom for decades. The main difference was it was only available to people with skill and [access to] a darkroom before. “Hands on” will never go away, because you still need a great photograph to start with. I know people who will do a half-assed job while shooting and say the classic, “We’ll fix that in Photoshop later.” No matter how good they are at Photoshop, it will not look as good as it would if it was shot properly in the first place. Photoshop is a tool when used properly is a great asset, but can’t be used as a magic wand to take the place to skill.

12. If you could meet any famous creator, living or dead, what would you ask them? This might be unpopular choice, but I have always been a fan of Jim Davis growing up. I don’t know if I have a specific question for him, but I would like to sit down and chat some time in general.

Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Noir Medium: Photography Date Created: Dec 2007 rjp: Ah… the immortal femme-fatale. “It was a dark and snowy night… when this dame showed up packing heat.” Great composition, btw, I love the frozen moment, steely eyed, before the trigger is pulled. – In fact, I would have loved a follow-up piece, a second later with the shot captured in freeze frame…

13. Do you feel more a sense of community with other artists or a sense of competition? I never really feel a sense of competition. Everyone is kind of doing their own thing, and I think that’s awesome. I’ll admit I do get a twinge of jealousy when I see someone do something I’ve done or want to do and they do it better. 14. How do you market yourself? I’m pretty lazy about marketing myself. I have a full time job as a graphic designer. Actually my title is Marketing Coordinator. I put so much work into marketing their that I have a tendency to sit back and let whatever happen, happen art wise. But my marketing philosophy has always been to try to be a part of the community and provide something where people will want to consistently come back to you. 15. Do you find it difficult to stay motivated / inspired? Most of the time, I have a pretty steady stream of ideas. I keep a couple sketch books that I keep around that I write stuff down so I have a good place to draw stuff from. Not every idea is epic, but I have fun chasing after any idea big or small.

16. While traditional publishing and distribution has become a difficult goal to achieve for the modern Indie comic creator, what do you think of the impact that social networks and POD services have had as an alternate means of connecting you, your work and your audience? I think is going to make a large difference, especially with comics. People want to feel like they are part of the process, and that freedom to feel like they are connected and communicate with a creator is going to be crucial going forward. I have a feeling it will not only be the work but the personality of the person behind the work that is going to see the material. Also people are going to find creative cool new ways of outputting a product with these networks. Brave new world.

Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Not of this World Medium: Photography & Makeup Date Created: Jul 2010 rjp: For me, the most intriguing pieces of art are the ones that leave me wanting more. Who is this alien nymph, where is she from and why is she here? And, more importantly, what is that she is looking at, stage left? 17. What other interests do you have, besides art? I’m a bit fan of science in general. I think there is a great overlap between science and art. The more you understand about one, the better your understanding will be about the other. 18. What advice would you have for a young artist / photographer starting out today? Basically I would say learn everything, try everything. Figure out what you like the best and expand on it. I’ve taken some classes and learned some things that seemed utterly useless at the time, but they have come back to help me out in a large way sometimes.

Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Power Girl Shoot Medium: Photography Date Created: Apr 2010 19. Do you have any big plans, shows or Cons coming up? I’m taking it quiet from the shows at the moment. I’m focusing on getting a lot of art done this winter. Hopefully I’ll have a photo comic for next year. I haven’t signed on for it but I really enjoyed the Springcon show in MN, so I’ll probably be there in May. Still deciding where else. But I’m constantly putting up new art work on www.hallopino.com . Artist: Ryan Ruffatti Title: Comix Medium: Photography Date Created: Jun 2007 rjp: This was a no-brainer choice for us to adapt as the cover to this month’s issue of RKYV. The fan-boy fantasy of the hot neo-punk girl that appreciates our geek cred and doesn’t roll her eyes when we stop by the shop for our weekly pull-list. 20. How would you like your art, and by extension yourself, to be remembered? Maybe my artwork can haunt the internet for decades after I’m gone and no one will be able to figure out how to get it off. rjp: Many thanks to Ryan for sharing his awesome work with us this month; if you have the opportunity to stop by his booth at an upcoming con – do so and let him know what you thought of his Featured Artist Review – in RKYV ONLINE – your art / lit e-Zine!

Constrained by the Ego – by Stephen Gibb

Syndicated Comic Strip Review
Bob and Doug McKenzie - The Comic Strip
by Nik Poliwko & Tom Nesbitt

Thanks to Nik & Tom for this continuing look back into the world of those iconic Canadian hosers... “Bob and Doug.”

Russell Ashley Art & Tattoo Designs

St. George & the Dragon My full portfolio is at - www.russellashley.daportfolio.com I am (always!) available for commission, my email address: plan.b.studios@hotmail.com Cheers, Russ

Short Fiction

ON A BICYCLE BUILT FOR THREE
by R. Patrick James - Part 2 –

The next day, about twenty-six hours later, two inquiries were filed with the Missing Persons section of the
police department. The wife of the general manager of a local credit union financial reported that her husband had not come home that night as per usual; service employees at the credit union reported that that same general manager had failed to report to work. His name was Tim Connolly; he was no longer the general manager of Delta 1 Credit Union nor would he be playing golf again. The financial institution has a staff of thirteen including section mangers, a Board of Directors of ten, and 1420 members. All suspects. *** The Jones Gang sat with puzzled looks on their unshaven faces still dressed in their golf duds in an old sixtiesstyled diner slash pub slash watering hole sipping lukewarm coffee, munching limp, soggy toast. Their ever present, trademark bicycle chained to the ’No Parking’ sign by the curb outside where they could see it. “If we could find that club head, we could get forensics to match it with the spear shaft.” Rex, Jr. postulated. “And it would help to find the damn wallet.” stating the obvious. “Probably pitched ’em in a nearby creek or the river.” suggested Danny. “True, but wouldn’t the club head float? Metal heads are hollow, no? and wooden ones would naturally float,” Dad wondered just like his favourite ‘investigator’, Jeremy House of that Fox hit series on Tuesday nights. At that moment the air in the pub suddenly mutated. A stranger entered the pub. He was a presence - a big raw-boned ox of a man, steel wool for hair, with hamhocks for fists, who’d just as soon batter your face raw as tip his hat to your presence in a crowded room. His bearing not regal, but haunting, overbearing, sort of filled the room. Needless to say, he was noticed. The place suddenly became quiet, deathly quiet. The question was, “Why? What did he want?” The hope on each imbiber’s mind was, “Not me!” Eyes darted from the ox to the glasses of golden barley soup in front of each as their shoulders slowly rounded, then to one another with a weird quizzical look in their bloodshot eyes, hoping to blend into the tattered vinyl and chrome sixties-furniture of the diner. He never said a word, just held up two thick vertical fingers in a ‘V’ and then the same two gnarled digits horizontally. The bartender, transfixed, quickly brought two draughts and a double chaser of Southern Comfort - fuel for whatever troubled him, temporarily soothing his calamitous soul. The anxious occupants fidgeted inside their skins not wanting to show any signs of overt concern, nor make any sudden movements. Yet one by one they slid quietly off their stools, glided as if part of the dirty linoleum across the floor and slipped out the worn vinyl-covered door with brass studs into what they thought was the safety of the sun-drenched exterior. Deluded fools they were. He had already infected them with his look and silence. They couldn’t forget, merely escape.

All, of course, save for the Jones Gang. They couldn’t be intimidated that easily. They had to deal with Bulldog Mulveney constantly. They sat in a bit of a dumbfounded hush. Still the hair on the back of Danny’s neck did stand up. He leaned over and whispered, “Suspect number 1447.” *** The two sons and their dad peddled up to the front door of Delta 1 Credit Union. They felt out of sheer instinct that the horrific tragic death of one Mr. Tim Connolly was directly connected here and they came to become members, aware from the promo brochures that “members were owners”, and their queries had to be answered. There was a definite pall as expected over the premises as they entered. Not exactly business as usual, but business does roll on. Rex. Jr. was immediately seduced by the shelves of used books off to the side as a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Danny estimated his brother would be distracted from their primary purpose for at least the next half hour. Opening an account, processing the paperwork and depositing into a shares account took about twenty minutes, enough time to ask about the institution’s operating procedures, its by-laws and affiliations and the responsibilities and obligations of their, now ’our’, Board of Directors. They each had spoken to a section manager, a Loans Officer, a Public Relations Officer and a Mutual Funds Officer, none of whom really cared for the deceased. It seems he was always attempting to tamper with their salary/ commissions ratios. Rex. Jr. had learned that there were strained relations between Mr. Connolly and one of the Directors, a Mr. Thomas Johnsville, whom Connolly threatened with physical harm. Most of the other employees were quite satisfied with their jobs, always looking for promotion opportunities and seemed fairly respectful of the deceased. As they peddled in unison away from the CU, Danny reinforced their theory that that was a place for concern, which Bud said was a nexus of trouble, playing his one-upmanship card. Rex, Sr. agreed, but pointed out that he was still bothered by the odd appearance of the Ox back at the diner. “There has to be a connection. He’s new around these parts.” Dad was the only one clever enough to note the license plate number of the ‘97 candy apple red Mustang driven by the Ox. He checked with a longtime lady friend of his down at the Ministry of Transportation bureau and learned that it belonged to a Gerald Semande, known address London, Ontario. Records revealed that the Ox had a history of violence. The information took the form of satisfaction as Dad was convinced that Bulldog Mulveney would have no knowledge of this. In fact, Max would likely still be questioning the deceased’s wife based solely on the fact that he learned the two of them were estranged for over two months and in a hostile debate over possessions. For him, she was prime suspect. Reasonable but unlikely and too obvious, according to Dad. Max was simply barking up the wrong tree. When Dad had revealed his information to his boys, Bud’s memory banks went into high gear. He remembered a large plaque over the bookcase back at the CU commemorating those who had achieved 50 years of membership. One of them was an Olivia Semande. It didn’t take long for the Jones Gang to arrive at the doorstep of the elder stateswoman’s residence. Their odd mode of transportation and the utter intimidation of size and numbers made widow Semande quite nervous. Not wanting to appear defensive, she readily invited the trio in. She offered them tea, but they all declined.

After introducing themselves and stating their purpose for being there, Rex, Jr. began by confirming that she was a member of the Delta 1 Credit Union. It was apparent that that opening question struck a high note in Mrs. Semande as her eyes widened and quickly narrowed. “We were wondering if you are familiar with a Gerald Semande.” “Why, yes. He’s my nephew, son to my late sister, Agnes. Why do you ask?” “He’s been spotted here in town. Have you seen him lately?” “No. Can’t say that I have. He lives in London, you know?” Dad took that as “No. Won’t say that I have.” “You must be very pleased with the services at Delta. You’ve been a member for quite a long time.” “Over fifty years. Why do you ask?” “Oh, nothing really. It’s just that the General Manager was found dead yesterday. Were you not aware?” Widow Semande showed no marked reaction, no surprise. “This is the first I hear of it. This is shocking! How did it happen?” “It was his heart.” “Heart attack on the golf course, I suppose? He was always on that confounded golf course.” “You seem to know a lot about his off business activities.” “Well, he was always bragging about his accomplishments in golf, joking about it at the AGM, annual general meeting of the membership. Should have spent more time looking after my money, instead of eliminating privileges for seniors and reducing interest rates. Called it “The business of doing business, the cost of doing business. Gotta keep the business above water.” So we paid for it with our hard earned money and my late husband’s inheritance, while his salary kept increasing annually. Probably paid for his club membership, too.” The anger in her voice was shrill and grating by this time. Danny said it was time to leave. Agreeing that she posed no flight risk at her age, and that the octogenarian quite clearly had motive and means through her nephew as accomplice, they paid a visit to Max Mulveney’s office. Within the next half hour, the proud trio sat on the bicycle seats outside the Semande home watching as Olivia was lead away in cuffs screaming in that same shrill voice, “Someone had to put a stop to him!” Bulldog Mulveney took one glance in the trio’s direction and mumbled something unintelligible under his breath. Gerald Semande was bound in another patrol car. The missing club head and wallet were found in the trunk of his candy apple red ‘97 Mustang. Money is a great motivator.

Grimoire
*************************************

by Scott Claringbold
Cover Illustration by Marc Olivent For Lisa My better half Additional Images by r. j. paré

Chapter 4
Chapter 4 Grimoire hung in the night sky searching for the fleeing Deadwood. Several blocks down the black-clad figure moved with purpose, jumping from rooftop to rooftop. With a beat of his mighty wings the creature thrust forward and was soon circling the man from above. “Forget it!” Deadwood shouted. “The sample is ours. There’s no going back for you my friend.” “Friend? That’s one thing you and I will never be.” retorted Grimoire. “I’m crushed.” Deadwood mocked and continued his run across the roof. Grimoire alighted and landed the on corner of the roof. He took several quick strides and was soon only a few steps away from Deadwood.Deadwood pulled a gun, this one was much bigger than the pistol he had held to Marks’ head. “Not another move.” The creature froze where he was. Grimoire knew he had a thick hide but he wasn’t sure it could stop bullets or whatever this contraption fired. “What are you trying to achieve Grim?” Deadwood asked. “Redemption.” Grimoire replied sincerely. This caused the man to bellow with laughter. The sound reverberated through the night. “That’s a good one. I really don’t think there’s a place for you in Heaven.” “I have done terrible things but it was not by my hand.” Grimoire replied.

The man snorted. “Yeah well when I first entered that room and saw all those body parts they were ripped apart by your hands.” Deadwood shot back. “Just hand over the sample and you can live to fight another day.” This infuriated Deadwood and the man shot forward as if to throw a punch at the creature before him. Grimoire darted to his left and a fist narrowly missed connecting with his head but caught him slightly in the eye causing a sharp pain in the socket. Grimoire snarled and a guttural roar grew in his throat. Before he could act Deadwood was on the ground and shoving both feet heavily into the demon’s stomach. Grimoire doubled in agony as he found himself fighting for breath. Deadwood made use of the situation by grabbing the horns on the beasts head and pulling him off his feet. Despite his lean build the man was surprisingly strong and Grimoire felt himself sailing through the air with some speed. Deadwood reached for the case that he dropped and pulled himself up into a fighting stance all in one move. “You think you’re a hero? Heroes don’t eat people Ryan.” “Ryan Winters is dead.” Grimoire shot back. “You and your Organisation made sure of that.” “We gave you the chance to extend your life.” Deadwood replied. “It cost me my humanity.” Grimoire snapped and hurled himself at Deadwood. The man soared over the edge of the building and clattered onto the fire escape below. Deadwood winced as he tried to stand. The fall had broken a bone a bone in his leg he was sure. He grimaced at the effort but he steadily began to descend the fire escape. He glanced upwards looking for the next attack from Grimoire. The creature peered over the edge and the light caught the fury in his eyes. Deadwood realised that he needed to put some distance between him and Grimoire before the demon lost control and it decided that the man was lunch. Deadwood reached the end of the fire escape, he heard the wings of his aggressor fluttering in the light breeze and he dropped the last ten feet. He squealed with pain as his feet hit the ground but he was into a run within seconds. Grimoire tried to keep to the shadows so as not to give away his position. Deadwood fished around in a pocket in his suit. He pulled out a cell phone but as he looked down to punch in the number the device disappeared; snatched away by the creature pursuing him. “Damn it!” Deadwood screamed. “Even if you take the serum there’s no way your ‘condition’ can be reversed. You are what you are. Accept it.”

“I don’t have to accept anything.” The winged monster dropped from the sky and grabbed the man roughly by his shoulders. It lifted him off his shoulders and hurled him into a wall. The impact caused the man to howl as the brick bit into his skin. Grimoire noticed that the case was attached to his belt by a clip. The beast reached for it but the man brought up his knee and caught Grimoire squarely in the chest. It seemed to catch the beast off guard and he staggered backwards. Deadwood swung his pistol and it struck Grimoire on the side of his head, cutting the thick hide. Dark red blood trickled down his face. “You should just work with us Grim. You can’t lead a normal life anymore. Let us find you a place you belong.” “I have somewhere I belong. Here in this city. Keeping the people safe from the likes of you.” “You ate these people or did you forget that!” Deadwood sniggered. “I can only do the decent thing and try and make amends.” Grimoire replied. “Well that’s ok then. You probably ate someone’s mother, sister, daughter, father, brother or son but they will sleep better at night knowing there is a freak like you looking out for them.” Deadwood glanced down the alley looking for a way out but Grimoire wasn’t about to let him out of here that easily. Overhead he saw lights in the distance and Deadwood grinned. “That will be the cavalry.” He said. Sure enough Grimoire made out the high-tech helicopter as it approached. The blades whispered silently so as not to draw attention to itself. A searchlight hit the alley and settled on Deadwood. A ladder dropped from the side and two men trained their large taser weapons on Grimoire. “This is your last chance to come with me.” Deadwood said. “I’ll pass.” Deadwood grabbed the ladder as it came nearer and he heaved himself upwards. For a second the men with the weapons were distracted and Grimoire vanished into the dark. “Where did he go?” one asked. “I dunno.” As the helicopter started to lift Deadwood could see another ‘copter in the sky. “Come on get out of here it’s the cops.” “Freeze! Police!” barked a bullhorn from the police chopper.

The other helicopter was lifting up and away as a police searchlight settled on Deadwood. From out of nowhere Grimoire appeared. The creature used his shoulder to ram Deadwood and the man was so taken aback that he let go of the ladder. Grimoire watched as the man tumbled downwards. The beast flexed his wings and swooped to catch the man but his timing was off. Deadwood crashed through the glass roof of a trendy bar. As the glass rained down on the patrons of the bar Grimoire dropped from the sky. He landed with a thump as people ran screaming. The bartender stood with mouth agape at the scene before him. Deadwood lay in the middle of the floor. A large shard of glass stuck through his chest. The man held the glass upright and looked at his reflection. Blood soaked the floor. Grimoire loomed over the dying man. Deadwood began to giggle. “It looks like you failed again hero. I’m going to be another ghost to add to the faces that haunt your dreams.” The monster grabbed the glass shard and yanked it from the man’s chest. “Arrggghhhhh!” “No you don’t pal. I’m not letting you off that easy.” Grimoire replied. The creature grabbed the satchel still clipped to Deadwood’s belt. It clicked the locks and removed the syringe. “What are you going to do?” Deadwood asked looking worried. The monster grinned, his fangs jutting out of his mouth. “Don’t do what I think you’re going to do.” Deadwood pleaded. “I can’t let your bosses get their hands on this. If Doctor Marks has any sense he will be long gone. He will destroy his research and disappear. Deadwood shouted angrily. “They will kill me and you know it.” “That’s the beauty of it. You would give your life for The Organisation. I wonder how your priorities will change when they come for you.” The demon bent towards Deadwood and the man spat at Grimoire’s face. The action caused him to bleed heavily from his wound and Deadwood’s eyes rolled up into his head as he gagged on the blood spilling into his lungs. Grimoire looked at the needle in his hand; he could use it on himself and leave the man to die. The creature knew it wouldn’t do that though. It already had the blood of many on its hands and wanted no more. Grimoire jabbed the syringe into Deadwood’s neck and pressed down.

The man shook viciously on the floor as the serum began to run through his veins. Grimoire stood and watched Deadwood as the blood began to quickly congeal on his chest. Within moments the man was propping himself up with his elbows and staring at the winged figure standing to the side of him. “You just signed your death warrant.” Grimoire laughed. It sounded like a stone being rubbed along sandpaper. “I will hunt you down and clip your wings. How would you survive if you couldn’t fly?” Deadwood snarled. “I think you will have enough to worry about.” Grimoire whispered. “That was the last sample. If The Organisation find that out then I think they will have no problem in cutting you apart to decipher its secrets.” Deadwood winced. He knew that was the truth. Some of the patrons that had been hiding behind tables began to poke their noses out to see what was happening. This was the last place that Grimoire needed to be. It stood and spread its wings blocking the light; just in case anyone tried to take a photograph on their cell phone. “You will rue this day for the rest of your life Grimoire.” Deadwood snapped pulling himself to his feet. He still felt a little shaky but that was to be expected, a moment earlier he had been at death’s door. Grimoire grabbed a bottle of beer that had been left on the bar and took a swig. “You’re right I probably will.” The creature exited the bar. He could hear the copters looking for Deadwood and it would only be a matter of moments before they zeroed in on where he had landed. Grimoire decided to use his legs for once and he sprinted for cover. The powerful legs pumped like pistons and he covered some distance in no time at all. The shadows proved his ally in times of need and this was certainly one of those times.

To be continued…

by James Gibson
gibsonjs@mnsi.net It This very short story, although fictional, is inspired by a true event. expresses both the emotions and a lesson learned from the unexpected, even unnecessary death of a sibling.

I ponder it. Life’s lessons lost. But logic is lost as thoughts tumble in my mind. It’s metamorphosed into
an out-of-body experience, like an image from a satellite, like an unemotional mirage rather than the reality of warm blood, skin, and bones. It’s chimerical. And while it generates angry dreams with color turning to grey, energy to a cold, lifeless shell, it’s spiritual. People prayed. Hands touched. Networks formed as chains of faith were forged. Tears flowed. Hearts opened. But the damage was irreparable; and some said irredeemable. A sunspot, born years ago on sundrenched beaches with waves crashing, burst from cellular depths: bloody, cancerous squamous-cell tentacles and seeping mucous, creeping out and over her forehead, her eye, her ear, disrupting hearing and sight; it’s appearance like an old grey, well-used baseball glove closing in on her head as though it was a baseball. Family was called and a vigil begun. Then fights: Recriminations; Tests of faith. All while she refused food and her voice faded. All while she lived in darkness like a bat in a cave. All while her sisters sang to her; and when her legs cramped massaged them. All while her organs shut down: Highs and lows ebbed and flowed; Revival; failure. Then death: quiet; no gasping; no rattles; just the black abyss and a crossing over. Death: My sister had departed. It was summer. 1951. Our neighbor, Old Mr. McLachan was smoking his pipe and rocking on his front porch. As I watched from the far side, my sister happily skipped up our street. From Old Mr. McLachan’s house I heard, Get off my sidewalk, to which her reply came, You don’t own this sidewalk. Then she skipped on. Little did the old bastard know that we’d set his back lawn on fire that summer and were responsible for the autumn pilfer of his grapes. The street was our world. It was ideal: no fences to interfere with backyard games, a toboggan hill and an open lot for baseball, construction-holes for clambering into and springing back out of to heave a dirt ball, a livestock sales-barn with an auctioneer for marketing our pigeons and rabbits, and a barn with stalls for dairy horses. As kids we played hide-and-go-seek with flashlights in the upstairs loft of that stable. We'd pull bales of straw apart to jump into. One night old man Duncan came into the barn and turned the upstairs light on causing all the hide-and-go-seek kids to scurry into hiding. Then my sister ran into a beam and arrived home with a goose egg on her forehead.

It’s mid-January, and algid with blizzard conditions. I’m headed for the village where my sister spent at least two weeks per season in the old red-brick homestead on the South River Road, far from her California psychiatric practice. She’d purchased and renovated the house after her grandparents’ death. On the walls hang posters incorporating memorable childhood photographs- feeding a deer in Algonquin Park, playing her German Autoharp- and Amish paintings about horse-drawn buggies and the gathering of maple sap. She experienced rural life and Amish culture at a tender age. When our mother’s parents died we spent more time with our grandparents. Our grandfather, at retirement age at the time, ran a berry patch with pickers and the Amish were customers. We could pick and make money. But my sister didn’t like spiders and thus didn’t pick the row clean. One day our grandmother asked if she wanted to stay home and help with the laundry. She did, and the two of them worked away at domestics. In the evening, like later in life, she went for walks after supper and chatted with neighbours she passed. Relationships were important. Occasionally, our grandmother would do my sister’s hair in rags and use a curling iron so she would have curls for Sunday. But she received her true immersion in rural life from her grade five teacher, who married a farmer that year. One day she and a friend picked up on the teacher’s comment that anyone could come to visit on the farm, so they asked if they could. She said, Yes you can. They asked, How long can we stay? She replied, Well, a week or two. From then on they made regular summer visits to the farm. They worked hard, had lots of fun and helped with their teacher’s five babies. The teacher taught in England prior to teaching my sister and obtained pen pals from England for those that wanted one. My sister, I discovered while sifting through mementos, wrote to a Carol in England through all these years and last December received a Christmas card. Snow and ice cover the windshield where the wipers can’t reach. I filch a cigarette from my wife’s emergency pack stashed in the console, light up, and watch the smoke ribbon toward the crack opening in the passenger window. I meander north on the wind-swept and snow-covered road with its death-defying drainage ditches. The radio is on and the local news is reporting an accident between a horse-drawn Amish carriage and an automobile. Then a black, wooden horse-drawn buggy passes heading south on the far shoulder. I stare at the large, well-kept Mennonite barns with their homes and attached grossdoddy houses for retiring parents and grandparents sitting atop the rolling moraine hills. This can’t be happening, I grumble morosely while descending to the blue-painted iron bridge that crosses over the steep canyon walls of the dark, narrowing river far below. The entrance to the Pentecostal church suddenly looms ahead. A scan of the parking lot identifies a sister’s rental amongst the few arrivals. I park, heft a bundle of several baskets of cookies intended for later, and head inside.

I spot my wife and sisters conversing with the pianist. Let’s use the key of B instead of C, suggests someone. They have talked me into singing. I’ve always been hesitant but today it’s all right. It’s for my sister. While my persnickety younger sister solos the first verse and I wait for the harmony on the chorus, my heart pumping in my ears and my hands sweaty, I peer down, like a camera, focusing and absorbing the image of a framed portrait of my sister atop the mahogany casket draped in the yellow long-stem roses. In that beloved moment I have the epiphany that the memories one makes and captures through words and photographs are our landmarks for lives that are otherwise but a vapor. They celebrate our existence and uniqueness. I silently weep. Eulogies follow. I stand and stare through moisture-laden eyes. The faces of the black mass before me are blurred, as though I’m peering out from a bubble. I explain that these are my sister’s words, memories she sent for a family memoir. I was her big brother. I recall to the audience a conversation before the service with a friend of my sister who said she remembered her needing to finish something for her brother and could she please wait. In her own words I let my sister describe the hikes to the Cheese Factory Road: We each had one of my brother’s knives- I add ‘concealed weapons’. There’s laughter. People are listening. We cut branches to cross a small creek. We did an all-day bike ride to Branchton and back with a picnic lunch, starting out on the Cheese Factory Road. And there was the time we used the carrier of my sister’s 28" wheel bike to go to the Humane Society to bring our Tuxedo cat, Trix home in. The cat was not allowed in the house, but played in the apartment being built onto the back of our house. Then, she slowly moved into the house. Many a time she climbed onto the roof and tried to get into the window screens. She would lose her footing and fall to the ground. I don’t want to ramble on. There are other speakers. I abruptly finish with, Those were my sister’s words, her memories, and I’ll miss her. Later I sit with family and friends, eat sandwiches and sweets and receive condolences. A woman timidly approaches and says she knew my sister. Her name, she says, is Carol and when she heard, she had to come. Somebody’s camera flashes.

by De Tourist

Manga Maximus
by Darke Raven
This Month's Experiment: Ghost Hunt Volume 1 Story by Fuyumi Ono, Artwork by Shiho Inada Published by Tanoshimi (2005)
Ready for a good ghost story? One with scary hauntings and frightful spirits and body fluid extracting fear? Well... tough, you got this. Ghost Hunt, a page turning gripping ghost story that isn't about the flash and pomp of violent ghosts tormenting the living as a ghost story that is more engaging and page turning, presenting a mystery that'll keep you reading until the very end... and hopefully bring you back for more... and oh, there might be a romance brewing here, just you'll have to come back for more to see if such a thing happens. Mai used to just be happy hanging out with her pals, telling ghost stories, but a chance encounter with one Kazuya Shibuya may change everything... well, not until she realizes he's connected to the school's old school building, and ends up maiming his assistant with him forcing her to become his assistant or pay for the ultra expensive equipment she broke along with said assistant. It seems the building may be haunted as many an attempt to destroy it to make way for a new building or something has met with failure. To this end the school principal has called upon Shibuya to investigate the ghost in a rather Ghost Hunters slash Ghost Hunters International technological style of ghost hunting... then the principal flakes, and calls in more ghost hunters and exorcists in the form of an exorcist, a Buddhist monk, a "Ghost Whisperer" like lady, and a Shinto priest... which kinda sounds like a joke except it seems the building might be haunted by spirits who are dead set to keep their "home" at any cost... or is the truth even more bizarre?

The story is not so much a horror story as it is a drama mystery as Shibuya and his reluctant new assistant Mai are drawn into the investigation, complete with a cast of characters to enhance and muddy the search for the truth, red herrings and false leads, and ultimately a "guilty party" and answers to all the ghostly happenings... followed by a twist ending that makes you scratch your head and wonder. Along the way maybe a little romance (and I mean little as while Mai begins to think she's falling for her "boss" you'll have to come back to Volume 2 to see if that goes any further) and ultimately a satisfying ending to a most engaging story... unless you're looking for Paranormal Activity style over the top spirit encounters then... you'll probably not be likely to want to read this. It's more of an intellectual ghost story, and like I said above a ultimately satisfying one. Not of the blood drenched walls, tortured souls, and the like but spiritual activity that may or may not be real done in away that keeps you turning page after page, hooked on the read until you see how it ends, and hopefully makes you want to get Volume 2 and keep reading (which seems to involve a possessed doll).

It's been five years since it first came out (2006) so by now you can find it on the bargain bin no doubt of your better stocked online book store, and there's also an anime to check out (which a friend of mine says is most recommendable and quite watch-able), so either or both is recommended for your collection. A 4 out of 5. And yes, in the future I'll see about getting more and reviewing subsequent volumes of Ghost Hunt in the coming months. Stay tuned. Next month is April, so we'll review the silly nonsense of BoBo-Bo BoBo-BoBo...BoBoBo-Bo BoBo Bo...whatever! That over the top parody title about fighting for the rights of hair. May we're deep into spring so how about something cute? We'll review the next great series from Kiyohiko Azuma post Azumanga Daioh, his book Yotsuba&! (aka Yotsuba and Everything), starring the girl who looks like Chiyo-chan (Yotsuba) and her own strange adventures with... everything! That's in May. So take care, and keep expanding your reading experiences (you'll never know when you'll find a great treasure if you don't try new things).

Poetry
Selected Poems
by Frances Nichols Vargas
There are days when the world seems to spin so fast And days when it seems too slow The best days fly by faster than the wind blows The worst days drag on slower than a snail crawls There are those special days where everything clicks into place And helps to bring a smile to a very special face Then there are the days that nothing goes right from the start of the rat race Still there are those days that you wish time would stand still While the memories become etched in the mind To feel each and every millisecond with superhuman power A lasting snapshot in time A short but unforgettable lasting event That is replayed over and over till the end of time

TIME

Of course there are those days where the clock clicks by so fast Events happen quicker than the blink of the eye Leaving a heart broken and filled with regret that more was missed in that blink than in a lifetime

Persistence of Inspiration – by Stephen Gibb

Literary Escape
Craving the great escape If only for a moment to avoid real life Open up a story and turn to any page retreat into another time and space move along in a visual of another place Even, if only for a chapter at a time Turn the page Seek refuge from the daily grind If even for a little while Dive right in Lurk in another’s rhyme Transported to a fake world filled with all the same emotions Distorting the psyche A story created to pass some time To pretend to be a sleuth, villain, hero or superstar Once in a While Hanging onto each paragraph To complete you Making the written artistry of words the story of your own life A vivid glimpse for just a moment Scanning the horizon for the twilight that you pictured once upon a lifetime Remembering the cliff hanger stolen from the story that now binds Wanting to be the hero of the action packed adventure Written from a great amp’d up mind Investing heart and soul in the romance or crime Wondering how to prevent the impending disaster to come as you turn the page And return to life.

Beneath the Surface – by Stephen Gibb

Crawling through the dark forest Cutting away the vines that have choked, tripped and tested me Leaning against the tall trees for shelter from the many endless storms The leaves providing safe haven from the strong hot sunlight Carrying the burdens of those who came before me and for those who remain Carefully reading the notes of encouragement and the directions To find my way Knowing others have found their way in this jungle Suddenly brings both solace and sadness For knowing anyone took this journey and for having Grasping for the clearing Found their way Looking for the path that will bring a breath of fresh air From a journey that has battered, weathered and changed me Older and wiser for the journey now I move along cautious Grateful for being in this place Knowing the next turn Comfortable with my new found strength Can bring another storm Or a dragon to slay Pausing to take a moment Confident I will manage any storm Looking down from the fragile ledge from where I stand And the dragon won’t live to see another day I can see the twisted and entwined roads that have Taught me so much Looking up, I can see the sunshine I can see where the dark clouds ended Warming me with its gentle touch What an awesome sight I know everything will be alright Now eager to see what’s on the other side

The Forest

Mystic Forest – by r. j. paré

VALENTINE SOAP OPERA
All she wishes for from her love on Valentines Day is one red rose. He buys her a bar of soap instead at Rite Aid drug store. He proudly presents the cake of Caress as if the soap is a bottle of Prada perfume from the Champs-Elysees. The Caress wrapper glosses with a label promises a gentle touch and will sooth skin tortured by kiss of sol and Santana wind. In her lonely bathroom shower at the witching hour she smooths the lavender lather over shoulders and breasts suds caress her stomach, thighs and all the pink places between. She thinks of the giver and sighs The cake of soap has magical powers turns her life into showers of red roses.

Selected Poem
by Wanda Smith

Lavendar Rose – by r. j. paré

Selected Poetry
by Stephen Campbell

Collision
Taking the handbrake firmly and securely, I push it down with all my might. The car takes flight, me and my friend veer Down the street and career Into a newly mangled vehicle, The car shatters at the impact of steel. While we within are rolled against the dashboard; Forever that dark leather reminds me of a head sore And naive to a metal monster, that bored Into another, bringing such calamity as was never seen By a young boy on the verge of his teens. Gravity – by Stephen Gibb

Writers Block
I don’t know what to write now So writers block I talk to. It stalks me when I bow To work and when I write to you. Writers block is a wall that stares And taunts you into despair, Because if you can not confront the walls Of your own mind, then you shall surely fall Into the confines of a bad writers den, With no one to comfort you but a rusty pen.

My Thought Are Not My Own – by Stephen Gibb

Poetic Perspectives
by r. j. paré

Once even Centurions with mock venerations, cast lots o'er saviour's vestments tragedy testaments. Now this ill a neon dream sin no more it would seem. Embracing vice debased unclean our own lots we've cast… … as bones on the felted green

What Vice, These Dice?
From the dawn we've loved this dance our choice to hazard chance. Clever hands throughout these days inventing many ways, to oppose the earnest known spinning coins, cards and bone.

Six-Sided Tragedy & Comedy – by r. j. paré

The Emperor’s New Clothes – by r. j. paré

Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons
by Pauline Paré

TIME FOR BED, KIDS!
Just recently, I tried an episode of Showtime’s “Shameless”. Then I watched another until I had watched 3 episodes in one night. “Shameless” is an American remake of a BBC series and the name says much about the plot. This is another example of a very adult weekly series that pushes boundaries that network television never could. “Shameless” is funny, irreverent, well acted and highly recommended by this writer. The story follows a family of 7 children with a single dad and showcases the extreme dysfunction as well as the fervent love and loyalty this family shares. Mixing drama and dark comedy works well in film and now in TV as well. This series should be enjoyed when the kids are safely in bed and it is not for the squeamish. William H. Macy is a brilliant surprise in the role of the ne’er do well-alcoholic father. I know Macy as an amazing actor but the role is surprising for him and he makes the part his own. The viewer goes through mixed feelings for this character who loves his kids but is inadequate as a father. Emmy Rossum in her first starring series role is an absolute delight. She lights up the screen so well, I found it surprising that I have not noticed her work before. The cast is rounded out with interesting and quirky actors in the roles of the children. Specialty channels have been bringing us edgy and unexpected television for years and Canada is no exception. The HBO Canada series “Call Me Fitz” is like viewing a car wreck. You know you should not be gawking but it is so hard not to. Every episode of last season, I said that the show could not shock me any further than it has and I am proven wrong time after time.

Jason Preistly drives all images of sweet Brandon Walsh out of mind with his portrayal of the unrepentant Richard Fitzpatrick, a used car salesman, heartbreaker and poor example of a human being. The entire dealt with Fitz’s conscience becoming a physical manifestation named Larry who is trying to change Fitz for the better. Thankfully, Larry never really succeeds or the story would not be much fun. Again, kids out of the room for this one.

While there is very little nudity to speak of the subject matter is very mature and in many cases, very, very wrong. The comedy is very raw but every episode has had me laughing so hard I feared I might injure myself. I can’t write an article about dark comedy without a special mention of “Hung”. The series stars the gorgeous Thomas Jane, as Ray Drecker, a down on his luck gym teacher with one special asset. (The clue is in the title, folks). Ray decides to become a male prostitute to bring in extra cash and hilarity ensues. I love how this is set in areas of Michigan that I know well. It is a great backdrop to this edgy dark comedy. “Hung” is entering its 3rd season this year.