Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sequel Outline: First Draft Complete

Obscured to prevent spoilers

Over a year in the making—and in its sixth revision—the outline for the sequel to Badin and the Secret of the Saami is complete. 

The software to create this flowchart is called Scrapple. It is from the same developer that created Scrivener

That program was used to write the script for the first graphic novel—and will be used for the sequel.

Naturally, I obscured the details. Each different color signifies a change of scene for the script. 

All of this will change. However, it is merely a general roadmap for the plot.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Sequel Update: Outlining at Glacier-Like Speed

Very rough concept in the margin of a printed outline I was editing
Vaarvaa, the placeholder name for the sequel to Badin and The Secret of the Saami, is still in progress. With my full-time job and union steward activities, it is very hard to focus and get this thing done. Yet I persist.

I did complete the Directors Notes for the Badin and the Secret of the Saami Special Edition. However, this sequel is so important—and my time is so limited—that I had to put it on hold.

For the sequel, I went through countless writing sessions, trying to develop a premise. After conquering that hell of hurdle, I am now on a death-defying climb of literary mountains: Script outline.

The outline is in its sixth revision (the premise was a grueling nine revisions). My intention is to write a story that dwarfs the first graphic novel. When the outline is satisfactory to me, I will submit it to my advisers—Saami scholars of Saami culture and history. 

Although the story takes place during the end of the Neolithic era—and definitive scholarship about Saami people is not so abundant from 10,000 years ago—my adoption of this ancient culture for the world of my characters requires the utmost respect and sensitivity. The last thing I want to do is insult the ancient ancestors of and the progenitors of the Saami people.

Upon implementing any recommended changes, I intend on writing the full script. From there, will begin the artwork phase. 

However, as you see above, I jumped the gun. Albeit, I did this as a single event—an innocent indulgence! Who they are, I will not share. However, one is indeed Vaarvaa. 

You can learn a little about her in the single self-titled Vaarvaa Mini-Saga or in the Mini-Saga Compilation (Available in print or ebook). She also makes an appearance and is mentioned a few times in the graphic novel Badin and the Secret of the Saami.

I hope you are as excited as me about this special project. I think about it every day and want it to become the best story I ever tell.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Badin: Humble Member of the Royal Court

Portrait of Badin by Maria Fröhlich

It is always pleasing to see dignified portrayals of the historical Badin, such as this series of beautiful illustrations of Black Swedes by the talented Maria Fröhlich at Världskulturmuseerna in Stockholm.

However, the use of the word Hövtjänare is problematic.

Literally translated as "High servant" or "Cheif servant" we can concede that it is certainly a better descriptor than "slave"—which is typically attached to Badin.

However, the English translation at Sweden's World Culture Museums website, Världskulturmuseerna reads "Servant of the Royal Court."

The more appropriate, less insulting phrase in English should read "Member of the Royal Court."

Servants were not adored and treated like Badin was by Queen Lovisa Ulrika. They did not have close relationships with the queen's children throughout life. They did not grow up to own property and collect massive libraries.

For her, Badin was a confidant. A friend. A scholar. A son. 

Swedes need to accept that Black inferiority and white supremacy are not independent of each other. Each one thrives because the other is tolerated. It is past time that Black Swedes such as Badin receive the respect due to them.

As historians and artists have no problem embellishing some of the most vile and undeserving characters in Swedish nobility, Badin is no less deserving of more respectful titles.

Moreover, the exclusion of the historical-fiction graphic novel, Badin and the Secret of the Saami—as well as the Stockholm Museum of Ethnography's own commissioned piece about an imaginary meeting between Badin and Anders Sparrman—in the sources section of the exhibit is troubling.

Although not directly related to Badin, any mention of "savage" must be thoroughly reconsidered in the presentation about Black Swedes in the 1900's. Certainly, there is a valid historical context that can support the term. 

However, the same goes for the n-word. In a society where blatant discrimination against Black Swedes is so prevalent, using the word "savage" in the title is totally inappropriate and irrelevant.

Badin was not a slave, servant, savage, sex object or clown. He was Sweden's forgotten Black Prince. In the very least, he was a humble member of the Royal Court.

Monday, September 20, 2021

We're expanding the Black Rhino stock portfolio to include stock audio! 

We have many high-quality music tracks ready for use right now, and we are adding new ones regularly. You can check them out on Dreamstime, 123RF and Pond5 (links below).

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

It has been a long time since I last reported my progress. Since starting a new career on the railroad, I have learned alot, grown alot and hardly had time to draw or write. However, whenever I get a little time, I push some new art or writing into the universe. The latest achievement is the completion of the Director's Notes for the Badin and The Secret of the Saami Special Edition. This is over 60 pages of analysis and insight for each page in the graphic novel. Next is to compile and edit the Twitter diaries for the characters. Hopefully that will not take another three years to complete!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Black Rhino Illustration Lives!

Elves Working: Art Explosion
Since my last post over a year and half ago, much has changed in my personal life. My son is managing Black Rhino Illustration and Photo Grafix as I make my way in the world as a union worker for the second largest public transportation company in the United States. I live in a new town and have made new friends. However, my love for art, stories and my favorite project, Badin and the Secret of the Saami, continues.

I have barely created any new artwork to sell in the past 19 months. Whatever spare time for creative work I have is extremely limited. Yet I persist. Two special projects have continued: Badin and the Secret of the Saami Special Edition and the Sequel Project.

As of this writing, I have completed a very important milestone for the Special Edition of Badin and the Secret of the Saami: Director's Notes for each page of the sequential art portion of the book. This is over 20,000 additional words that serve as a behind-the-scenes look at why and how I composed the artwork. Next, I need to compile all of the Character Diaries that I published as part of the cross-media promotion for the graphic novel a year prior to its release. Those diaries, along with other surprises will go in the Special Edition.

The Sequel Project is still in an embryonic stage. I am vacillating between various concepts ranging from a novelization to a series of young reader titles. Each concept is being written in a haphazard fashion as I try to work out a foundation for outlines. I even experiment with random entries that seem good, but require more development. While training for various promotions at work, I have had no time to schedule writing. That will change now that I achieved the goal of Motorman (train operator or train driver).

If I am so inclined—and have time to spare—I will share my progress on this blog. However, I do keep up with posting regular social media updates on Twitter and Facebook. You may purchase the first edition of the graphic novel today at the Badin and the Secret of the Saami website:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Goodbye 2017: A New Beginning.

Large Brown Bear and Little Rabbit (by me)
This was the year of Badin. Moreover, it was the year of my graphic novel, Badin and the Secret of the Saami. I sold out at Chicago's largest comic book convention. I presented the book and was an honored guest at the Museum of Ethnography in Sweden and University of Tromsø in Norway. The accomplishment of completing an historical fiction graphic novel was a glorious feat. Very few human beings can make such a claim! However, not all has been wonderful. In fact, it has been somewhat disastrous.

The perception of success and wealth for achieving this goal was the most frustrating aspect. So many people followed my progress as I posted updates and journal entries. They all assumed I was making profits and was well-off (second-hand suits and shirts can be deceiving). Quite the opposite was true. Finding work (in and outside of my industry) was especially difficult because of this false perception. Self-publishing my book—and reaping the consequences of the financial sacrifices required over the past 4 years—have been the final nail in a coffin of 18 years of self-employment.

Would I do it again? No. Would I do it if I had to start all over? Not the way I did it. I believed a little too much in my skill as a salesman, writer and artist. I put too much hope in the concept of getting a literary agent—and put very little effort into a plan of action should I be unsuccessful in obtaining said agent. Without mentioning details, a "perfect storm" of personal, financial and business misfortune brought my family and I into a pathetic financial state of affairs. The good thing about all of this is that I went out as a champion and changed a 200-year old racist narrative about a Black noble of 18th century Sweden. For the entire four years I focused on this book, I never gave up and did my best. Moreover, I do believe if I borrowed all the money needed to print the book in bulk and tour the country's comic book conventions, I could have sold out. However the debt required is a burden I am unwilling to carry. Regardless of intentions and effort, hard work does not always financial ensure success. Also, just because you do something good for humanity, that doesn't guarantee recognition while you live. This is the hard reality of following your passion.

So in January 2018, I retire from leading Photo Grafix and Black Rhino Illustration to start a new career and lift my family out of poverty! My full-time labor as an illustrator, retoucher and instructor will come to an end as I put my customer service skills into a new industry. For someone my age (I am over 40), it is not easy to change careers. I'm lucky that I have good health. I'm also lucky that my new job has a strong labor union, medical benefits and many paths toward more responsibility. I like to count my blessings.

My son and wife will continue serving current customers and manage the stock art portfolio and other on-demand courses and books that I developed over the past 18 years. That includes marketing. I'm passing this all to them and leaving them to decide the direction (and ask me what they want to know). Meanwhile, I will focus on training for my new career. This will also include ongoing continuing education and an attempt to re-enroll in college and obtain the credits required to [finally] earn my undergraduate degree.

My love for art and teaching remains strong, however. There is still the unfulfilled Badin and the Secret of the Saami Book Tour (the fundraiser is still live), a Swedish version of the book (completed, but not repaginated), a Special Edition AND a sequel. There is also my love for creating stock art (I have a portfolio of over 7,000 illustrations represented by agencies around the world). I also enjoy teaching occasional webinars and workshops about photo restoration. So after I finish training for my new position, pass through the probationary period and build up seniority to have a schedule, I will tend to these special projects on a very limited basis.

To those of you who believed in me and my efforts, I thank you! It has been a wonderful journey. I hope and pray that I brought some happiness and enlightenment into your lives.