Gentlebugs of Lacewing Manor




Dear Diary,


Scarcely can I contain my excitement for tomorrow!  I’ve long awaited the day, and finally it has arrived!  Tomorrow I, Chrysalisa Flutterbey, shall make my debut in society in the presence of all my friends, relations, and our numerous connections.

I have, of course, invited my dear friend Motharie Dustiwings, and I must say we’ve picked the perfect hats for tea before the occasion.  (Thank goodness for Honeybee Hat Shoppe!)  I do hope she’ll enjoy herself at my debut.  She is such a nervous, particularly flighty thing lately, the poor dear.  At the last party we attended, Monocle Mantis asked her for THREE dances—could anyone imagine so bold a thing?—knowing PERFECTLY WELL it would be impolite of her to refuse!  So I am now sworn to protect her in case of the gentleman’s attention and to thwart his advances in any way that a lady might.  After all, there may be plenty of other fellows who would wish for a dance with my dear Motharie, who is such a pretty, wide-eyed thing with beautiful, feathery antennae.  She fears they are just too afraid to cross a praying mantis.  “Preying mantis,” more like.  But Mother and Father insisted that we invite him, so I’m afraid there’s no way around it.
Continue reading Gentlebugs of Lacewing Manor

Of Carapace and Fiddlehead

Within the fairy court you find a small throne perched on a branch of oak….


My process for illustrating the upcoming triptych has involved imagining a dark fairy queen and her twisted throne. Because we’re dealing with fairies, all of the materials that they’re wearing have to be both organic and naturally small in scale. Building a mental list of objects, I thought of the traditional fairy mediums: flowers, leaves, branches. However, there is an untapped bounty of natural objects like seed pods, insect parts, and bone that are not often used, and also happen to be on the creepy end of the spectrum. Take two fern fiddleheads, some insect carapaces, and a couple of twigs and you have yourself a stylin’ seat.

Something unusual with the initial stages for this sketch was the relatively direct progression from thumbnail to final sketch. I always make a couple initial sketches to explore a concept and experiment with the composition, but the best composition for this one ended up being the first scribble I laid down on paper. It will probably be another 5 years until I witness another miracle.

In the above series of images, the top left is what I would call the “final thumbnail”. I made the reference image directly below it by assembling together two sculpts I made from scratch (the throne and mouse skull) along with a default female model in Daz3D. With this image and two other pages of photo reference, I made my “final sketch”. The final sketch will provide me with a detailed road map while I make the final digital painting on top.

What will transpire in the fairy court? You’ll find out next week! In the meantime, you may want to refrain from crossing woodland bridges.

Fairy Bells and Midnight Spells

You have done well to make it this far, traveler.

The bridge and stream lie at your back; never mind the course of water now flowing at an uphill tilt. Before you, a moonlight-dappled path twists away through the tangle of trees. You may hesitate and think to turn back, but a sweet chiming of bells drifts to your ears, beckoning you forward. They seem to weave a serene enchantment through the entire forest.

A warm summer breeze caresses the shivering leaves. Is that an owl calling in the distance? No, the breath of wind carries the keen of a pipe carved from a weeping tree…

Your footfalls reverberate in time with the low beat of a drum. As you approach the fairy court, a new passage of music comes into focus, plucked by elegant fingers on strings stolen from a silver horse in a vale bathed in moonlight–long before your kind first ventured here…

Do not push aside that broken branch and enter their circle, stranger.

Do not fall in step with their swaying dance.

Do not listen too closely to their lulling song, trespasser.

It may be the last music you’ll ever hear.

Simple Instructions for Entering a Fairy Realm

Perhaps no one has ever told you how to reach the fairy kingdoms hidden around the world.  Someone you’ve met has probably known, but they were wise enough to keep it to themselves.  I really shouldn’t disclose that I am one of those people with such knowledge.  Let’s just say, I’m not so much interested in being wise as I am in seeing what someone might do with this information.

So.  Fairy realms.  Here is how you might find them.

On a night with a full moon, you must find a natural stream far from any city.  A brook or a creek will do.  The important thing is that it must have a bridge arching over it.  Once you find this bridge, stand upon its center and wait.

Should the stream fall utterly still and quiet while you stand there, you will know that a gateway has been opened and that the fairy court beyond it has welcomed you.  You may now cross to the other side–to the fairy realm.  Once you set foot there, you will hear the stream begin to flow again.  When you look, you will see that it is moving–in the opposite direction.  This is normal.  

But keep in mind, volunteering yourself as a guest in any fairy realm is an open invitation to mischief, and mischief will find you, you can have no doubt.  Keep in mind as well, if you do not leave the fairy realm on the same night, you will be trapped there until the next full moon.  So be sure that mischief–or whatever else–does not keep you past dawn, or it will surely be too late to go back.  And when the next night with the full moon finally returns, who knows what manner of being you’ll be by then?

Fairy enchantments change people, for better or for worse.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell which.  So be cautious when you step off that bridge.  If you treasure who you are, then remember what that is.  It is easy to forget on the other side.

For those of you too afraid to make the journey, I will take you there with an old story of one fairy court, whose Queen is no longer what she once was.

fairy bridge 02
Photograph by Gary McParland


Our next Triptych is on the way!  But to tide you over, we have released our first official booklet, Triptych Book 1, featuring 3 of our past triptychs, with the illustrations presented in bold and beautiful color and the three musical tracks available for download.  Don’t wait too long to snag one!  There are a limited number of copies remaining after San Diego Comic Con!

Purchase here with no regrets.

Find Your Step

At long last, I’ll be the true social butterfly I was meant to be, and no one can say otherwise. I, a grown-up lady, will finally be allowed to dance the waltz, to step and turn amidst so many happy adults…and be one of them. Dare I even dream that Detective Chief Inspector Spindson might ask for a dance? He usually refrains from any dancing, but perhaps the stars will align in my favor on such a magical night.
from the diary of Chrysalisa Flutterbey

We’ve featured several Comic Con-themed posts this past month to celebrate Candice’s first convention adventure, and now we invite you to step back in time a few weeks for a reflection of our last triptych, Gentlebugs of Lacewing Manor. The gentlebugs will welcome you at any of their fashionable gatherings, although you may want to bring your own tea and food, unless milkweed brulée and pollen tarts are up your alley!

Candice’s yet-to-be-named “dapper bugs”.
Monocle Mantis, at your service.

Before Chrysalisa’s debut, before the waltz, before Chrysalisa herself, we had Candice’s first work-in-progress trio of portraits to springboard our ideas. Candice also noted that these anthropomorphic characters belong to the same universe as her Monocle Mantis, a dapper gent with a steampunk-esque flair to his attire, but aside from that introduction, Holly and I had completely free reign. We were two intrepid explorers on the brink of uncharted territory, eager to boldly go where no one had gone before yet mapless, unsure of the path to forge ahead. (Forgive me, I saw Star Trek over the weekend.)

The daydreamer in me has fantasy on the brain pretty much all the time, so perhaps it was natural for my brainstorming to gravitate toward the Regency/Victorian-era + magic books I’ve read and enjoyed: Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward duo, and most recently, Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix. (If you know of any other good ones, shout ’em out in the comments!) Both alternate-history universes share the imaginative element of magic as well as the more historically-accurate social settings: sweeping manors, twilight parties thrown by the wealthy, young ladies’ debuts into society, dances…

With these various scenarios swirling around in my head, I latched on quickly to the dance theme. Every dance needs music! And thanks to yet another external inspiration–Joe Hisaishi’s delightful main theme for Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Howl’s Moving Castle–I knew I would have a lot of fun composing a waltz. Waltzes are also fitting for the era, and in that period have the added social context that only young women who have debuted in society are permitted to dance them. Because, you know, Propriety and All That.

Continue reading Find Your Step

Comic Conquering Part 3

SDCC has come and gone. Following its dwindling sparkle is a steady stream of movie trailers to feed our anticipation for the coming year. As exciting as it is to read up on the latest Comic-Con news, there’s something magical about walking the floor of the exhibit hall and experiencing it in real-time.

Set-up each morning was like being backstage at an amusement park or theater production. There was a quiet energy amongst the exhibitors and a sense of the vast scale of the convention floor. Youtube videos do the elaborate booth displays an injustice.

My booth was near Mondo, so I had the unique pleasure of watching con attendees do battle as they speed-walked to save their spot in line. I will probably show up in a few pictures of Mondo collectible figures from the convention since they were on a table parallel with my booth. Regrettably, I did not use the opportunity to practice my photobombing skills.

Continue reading Comic Conquering Part 3

Comic Conquering Part 2

Comic Con is just beyond the horizon. Not only will this be my first time exhibiting at San Diego Comic Con, but this will be my first time exhibiting at a convention. Period.

This would be an impossible feat by my own efforts, so it’s imperative I mention the Kevin Workman Foundation. It is through their amazing generosity I have a booth and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you’re attending SDCC, you can stop by the “Preview Night” Happy Hour Fundraiser that the Foundation and Comickaze are hosting. Of course, you are more than welcome to stop by my booth, #934 in the main exhibitor hall of the convention center!

So, what does one bring to one of the largest convention in the world? EVERYTHING. No, don’t do that. It’s important to get inside the mind of the con-goer and think about what they’re interested in. And the answer is probably not a balanced number of Harley Quinn and Star Wars prints. The approach I’ve taken is to:

  1. Present a uniform branding that gives people a clear idea of my work. If I’m going to have a banner with an anthropomorphic Victorian insect-man on it, I better have more where that came from. This is is one of the reasons I embarked on my Gentlebugs series, which I have made into a nifty button pack and prints for the convention. I have also added some touches of steampunk aesthetic to my booth and will sport a complementary costume for a few days at the Con.
  2. Have an element that encourages crowd interaction. I will have the Triptych booklet for people to read and listen to with a pair of headphones. Aside from the opportunity to share such a cool, collaborative project, this interactive element will attract the curious passer-by.
  3. Sell a variety of items. Not everyone collects prints, but there are definitely people who love items with functionality, like buttons or bookmarks. Also, it gives me a variety of price points benefiting both small-spenders and serious collectors.

We’ll see how well that approach works because I have no idea what will happen.

Lets have a look at some of the items I will have at my booth, shall we. For size comparison purposes, I have the help of my trusted model, Pablo*:

Like I mentioned last week, I will have copies of the Triptych booklet. In addition, you will find a button pack featuring your favorite Gentlebugs.

I will have some traditional-media work as well, including several miniature portraits at about 5″ x 4″ and my original acrylic painting for The Fisherman’s Bride, that has been uniquely framed within convex glass.

Last, but certainly not least, we have bookmarks and a postcard pack containing 3 of my illustrations.

The conclusion to my Comic Conquest will be posted next Tuesday, so keep an eye out for what will likely be an article of epic proportion. And you can expect a whole lot of cosplay photos.

*Pablo is a 12-inch figure available at Sideshow Collectibles

Comic Conquering Part 1

Nothing can completely prepare you for a first time exhibiting at Comic Con San Diego, but I like to think one can try! There’s only about a week left and preparations are nearly complete. One item in my arsenal for the convention is a sampler of Triptych stories:

Also doubles as a makeshift cosplay.

The booklet has 3 of our completed triptychs, including Descendants of Twilight, The Fisherman’s Bride, and Servant of Anubis. In the back of the booklet is a QR code and link that allows you to access and download the music that accompanies those stories.

Guaranteed bird certified.

The process of forming the booklet involved deciding which stories to feature and then designing a format that suited them as a printed booklet. We picked a combination of our favorite stories along with stories that represented a variety of “moods”. The presentation is similar to the blog with the illustration presented first and then the story following.

Continue reading Comic Conquering Part 1