The #mysterious #fever & gloom-inspired #origins of ISLAND OF THE MOTHS #graphicnovel #comic @NSkorpen

Here are the first four screen shots from the Afterward to the new ebook edition of ISLAND OF THE MOTHS (art by the pen-wielding bon vivant Neal Skorpen). These are excerpts from our email correspondence in 2006. As you can see, I suggested we stop a current project (which I was writing as he drew, a bit like trapeze artists). And not just stop that project and go home crying, as usual, but start a new one. This one would take a different artistic approach on the same grimace-faced Urge and grumpy, brooding Irritation (“that the girls love”) that motivated me (I think Neal too in his individual, cryptic, thousand-mile-stare way). And I would complete writing the text before asking him to draw… But first, he had to agree with the proposal! Would he?  Tremble, tremble….





Ha! I read that I had the flu when writing that email…. so it all started with a fever dream. At this moment, October 2015, I’m getting over the flu again, so there is something going on here.

The Plume references are the project we halted to begin… ISLAND OF THE MOTHS (which I request you say in a certain ominous and intriguing  tone of voice).  What I called in the 2006 email “the Zonny project” is happily now finally available for you as a quite inexpensive ebook, DANGEROUS BICYCLE MYSTERY QUEST, available in popular eBook formats around the world, and will be available as a paperback in a few months.

How did that curious twinkle-eyed fellow and martial arts board-chopper Mr. Skorpen reply, back in that primitive year, 2006? Between “hiiiii-YAAA” cracks of his steely metacarpus against birch and pine blocks, which I assume supplemented his living, did he agree or decline? Well I can’t tell you, for it’s in the book; but okay, yes I can at least tell you that Neal replied with style ideas and specific graphic novel examples. You can read his actual historically-inscribed words through the dust of time, and see ACTUAL ARTISTIC EXAMPLES (don’t call them scribbles please) of his initial probing, experimental drawings, along with the rest of our first correspondence, in the ISLAND OF THE MOTHS ebook Afterward.

Photo on 9-18-15 at 1.21 PM

This is how the cover looks on the iPad. Curmudgeonly face optional!

The stunning and surprising ISLAND OF THE MOTHS ebook is available here in radiant pixels on Kindle …. as well asNook.

It’s also available on your local non-USA websites, as well as other ebook distributors such as KoboScribd, Tolino, and Page Foundry. At this time the price is quite cheap! 

The large paper version is available here (glorious large paper-from-willing-trees format with rich black–and whites at no extra cost, but without the new Afterward). 


This is an example of Neal Skorpen’s exploratory artwork before starting ISLAND OF THE MOTHS. I love the fat cumbersome suite, the enormous helmet with lantern… must weight about eighty pounds. I don’t see a breathing tube but….

Neal Skorpen’s colorful website of comics ferment is . Check out his new project, AETHERNAUT.

Published in: on October 8, 2015 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Question & Answer: The #Bicycle Adventure #Novel, DANGEROUS BICYCLE MYSTERY QUEST … #Energy, #Demographics and the Urban – Rural Divide

Question: How did you come to write this novel?

Answer: I wrote it as a serial for a small bicycle magazine starting August 2001. Given its venue, it had to feature bicycles. Much followed from that need. Much later I rewrote it to its current novel form.

Question: What were some of the influences on your novel?

Answer: The disaster genre is an old one and there are many examples. Defoe’s novel A Journal of the Plague Year came out in 1722! Of course there’s the Flood story in the Old Testament… Anyway, I read Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague shows the rise of brutality and loss of knowledge and social class in a depopulated Bay Area. I noticed in Day of the Triffids, the world suffers two calamities: not just widespread blindness, but also mobile carnivorous semi-intelligent plants. I noticed in J.G. Ballard’s disaster novels (The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World, The Burning World, The Crystal World) his plots send his characters toward, not away from, the source of peril.

I saw a lot of disaster the movies of the 20th century, such as the movie No Blade of Grass that shows England starving and violent after an agricultural virus kills off wheat and rice. Some of these types of stories use it to satirize or explore contemporary society.

Question: What do you mean about disaster stories exploring society?

Answer: This is also an old idea, for example that there is a drought because of a sin in the community. I think the most well known examples are some of Romero’s zombie movies that satirize consumerism or bigotry. But also a disaster can be like a receding tide that removes the protections and comforts of civilization so it’s an opportunity to see what’s left behind. A common theme is that we people are worse than the monsters or whatever it is…

Question: Do you think our society could exist without gasoline?

Answer: Sure. It would take some time to adjust. We already have more automobile engine choices now than we did when I first wrote this novel. I don’t think most people have any idea that hydrocarbons are chemically amazing. It interests me how an energy source shapes society, and how it forms our assumptions.

My story posits that the shock happens suddenly. That is the part that is hard to withstand. When I was a little kid, my brother would hold the heavy gallon of milk out to me. He would ask if I had it. With my little hand on the handle, I would say yes. Instead of slowly letting go as I expected, he would quickly remove his hand and the suddenly weight would make me drop the milk. That way he proved I couldn’t hold it. However, if he had removed his hand slowly, I would have held it.

Question: Do you think our society could exist without automobiles of any kind? or many fewer cars?

Answer: That is a more radical question and more difficult. I think a lot would have to change, particularly outside of cities. It’s an interesting thought-experiment. I think it might upset people to even ask the question, for example, in a novel…

Question: Is your story a bicycle and environmentalist wish fulfillment story?

Answer: No. What sane person wishes for a disaster that seems to destroy the nation, modern life, and cause widespread starvation and violence? If my novel were wish fulfillment, wouldn’t it show a society that solved their problems? There is such a book, Ecotopia by Callenbach.

In Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest, the sympathetic characters disagree on what should be done. They fight and steal; some abandon the cause. The main character refuses to grow anything. Even in the last chapter she feels doubts about the enterprise. Portland is desperate to avoid starvation so transforms itself. Take a careful look at the ending. Is that a wish fulfilled?

The book does start with a premise that bikes are important to the story, that’s true. But the point of the adventure is to explore ideas energy, demographics and the urban – rural divide in the USA. Dismissing the story as wish fulfillment seems a way to avoid its questions. Mostly I hope the ideas in the story make the adventure more interesting to readers!

Dangerous Bicycle Mystery Quest is available for Kindle, Nook, iBook, and other eBook formats around the world. It will be arriving as a paperback in January 2015.

DBMQ_Yard Sign

Published in: on October 7, 2015 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,