From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the universe..
I just got most of another deadline out of the way. Soo my schedule is a mess now, sleeping at noon and waking up late into the evening.
This week I’m mostly getting my Walrus book together. Here’s the 1st page of it– I drew the neighborhood I live in.
And here’s a photo of the place
Also last night I finished a pin up for Ed Piskor’s Hip hop family tree book. KRS ONEEEEeee
The lower part of that picture I drew him at Denny’s.
“We be hanging out late night at Denny’s
Having conversations about every and any”
And here’s my layouts for Prophet #33 that came out recently: (that’s Simon Roy’s eye) There’s a couple pages in there that Giannis reworked to make more readable.
and he added some Greek writing to the robot lady who splits in two–which is more exciting than the made up languages I usually draw on stuff.
I noticed that I’ve got 2 really similar scenes in both the next Prophet (#34) and Warheads #4 (which will be out next week)
Here’s the Simon Roy drawn, Joseph Bergin III colored Prophet page. With New father John Prophet naked and catching a knife in his teeth.
and the same kind of one armed naked guy catching a knife in his teeth scene in Warheads:
I didn’t realize that I’d done it twice until I got the Warheads issues back. I always think it’s funny to have two books with clones going at once. Think of it as a theme month for books I’m on.
Yup, the starts have aligned and now It’s naked-one-armed-dude-catching-knives-in-their-teeth-month.
Also this week I was rereading Yoshihisa Tagami’s 1986 manga Grey–you can read it online here.
There’s this scene in the first issue where 2 soldiers are waiting for bad dude Grey Death to walk out of the desert.
It reminded me of a similar thing Pope did in his 2000 THB:M3 Mars mightiest Mek
I have no idea if Pope’s even read grey. But I always like seeing how different artists handle the same kinds of scenes:
also this week I got some more cool Warheads drawing by artists whose work I dig.
My pal Emily Carroll did this one: I really like that contrast between Sexica as a pretty lady and Nura as a bad dude-lady.
and this nice one by Dustin Weaver:
—Sexica’s jacket in that one almost reminds me more of something Stokoe would draw in old Wonton book.
annd speaking of Jammess Stokoe . he just did this cover for gentleman Robin Bougie’s Cinema Sewer.
I like the snake looking like it realized that he will be immortalized in that pose–as a Cinema Sewer snake dick “nooooo!!”.
I’ve been reading some cool stuff this week. I’m about half way through Heinlein’s Stranger in a strange land. I always like Heinlein’s books and it’s cool to see him play with alien ways of thinking of things.
I was thinking it would’ve been cool to read about the story of the astronauts first finding the man from Mars on Mars.but then Heinlein would have less of his fun showing how his characters deal with the bureaucracy and other Earth nonsense. He seems to like that stuff,
The cover threw me off, With Valentine Michael Smith looking like a soap opera dude.
Reading it I saw him Somethinnnng more like –
I’m sure I’ve pointed it out before but my all time favorite Heinlein cover is on Friday.
Also,I read some Lando comics. I got a package of his books that I’m slowly making my way through. Him and Stathis Tsemberlidis at decadence comics are putting out some impressive work.
The book on the left is part of a series all written in an unreadable alien language.
Here’s a scene I like, showing the birth of this alien creature that they launch into a soldiers head:
also, also Stokoe got a friend to pick up this Keita Amemiya book from deepest darkest Asia.
It’s got that nice mix of Japanese and European comics that I like so much.
also it has some games in it. a connect the dots and a cut up image to reassemble.
annnnd really good monsters:
and this nice trick with word balloons:
and here’s a Giant Gorg drawing by YAS
and here’s a topless M(L)isa Hayase
Thank you and good night.
I’ve managed to get my Deadlines under control this week and take back the night. MW #4 is sent off and Prophet is on schedule (My Walrus sketchbook is taking longer than I planned hmmm)
Here’s the MW #4 cover if you didn’t see it:
This issue is Snerk sized!– that means I added more pages but but it still costs $2.99.
Here’s a 2 page spread from it that I drew around Xmas. Floating islands.
This is at the end of the book so I wanted to make sure everything fit. I ended up doing a lot of planning on big butcher paper. Here’s me trying to figure out how to draw the insides of that skull island castle:
The idea for it was like if Skelletor’s Snake Mountain Lair in He-Man was taken over by a gentleman who loved to garden.
Here’s another butcher page roughed out in sharpie:
and the final–That rock with arms is a garden golem. & all the birds on the island are tied to ropes.
I feel like I’m just getting a good direction going after 4 issues–but I guess that’s also just how I work.
In Prophet stuff, I just got this amazing cover by Fil Barlow for issue #37 (#33 will be out soon): I love that line of light in the sky. (and the hidden skull)
I’m so thrilled to be able to connect my work with artist whose work I’m so excited about.
I’ve been going through a frustration with comics recently, and I never mean the medium just the scene can get to me. Trying to aim high and make ART in the middle of all this action figure bullshit can be rough.”snoot snoot” Here’s a Milo Manara comic called Untitled that I think illustrates it well, where he shows Fellini’s Casanova being interrupted by adult diaper commercials:
Twitter is probably bad for me, I’m always trying to remind myself that it’s cool that people like what they like and rather than paying attention to whatever Xmen bullshit is going on I can aim my focus towards the parts of comics that excite me. Part of it is just that by working with Image or anything verging on a wider audience I’m in an end of the pool that I never identified with. But I’m here now and I’m lucky to be here so I might as well take what I like from it and try not to take what I don’t. cool? cool.
I found this Cornel West video really grounding, it helped me feel sane. I really like how he talks about not trying for wholeness and the part 11 minutes in where he says “when you have a romantic project, you’re so obsessed with time as a loss and time as a taker”– but how he sees “time as a gift and time as a giver” and gratitude that you’re able to do as much as you do. –Smart dude. Hearing that, helps me deal with things.
One thing I was thinking about recently is about how people seem to perceive the speed artists draw comics vs my own ideas of how they work. I saw someone commenting on a Nate “non player”Simpson thread awhile back saying something like “he’s so good I’d be willing to wait 2 months for each issue” –maybe it’s just my own putting people in boxes but I feel like there’s a couple basic types of cartoonists (obviously with many exceptions):
Like Nate or Rafael Grampa– are the kind of artists who you can expect maybeeee a book a year from. at best.
And then there’s the 3 books a year guys, I think I’m a 3 issues a year guy who fights to be a 6 issues a year guy. and I end up around like 4 or 5. Other guys like me would be my pal Farel,or maybe Frank Quitely.
and then slightly faster guys like Simon Roy or Stokoe. Who can do maybe more like 6 to 8 books a year.
and then the fast guys- Giannis, Moritat, Ross Campbell or Erik Larsen. who are the unicorns who can maintain a monthly. .
I think my point here is that none of this is about quality, but just knowing the speed that someone works best at. and it seems strange how many books run 12 issues a year when so few artists can match that. I think it’d be nice to see more books run in seasons and switch up artists less (of maybe figure out some scam like we’re pulling on Prophet)
Annnyywayy I’ve been slowly reading Nausicca.
I read some Nausicca in the 80′s when it was first translated by Viz and I liked it but at the time it never clicked with me as well as the other manga I was reading. But reading it now I’m getting so much out of it–it’s teaching me stuff.
One thing I like is how his storytelling feels so unique to him, I’d want to say it’s like storyboards but it’s better than just that. A lot of comics feel like tv shows or movies when you read them but this feels like it’s own thing. It’s a comic.
It’s interesting to me what he chooses to show, like at the start of book 1 where Nausicca first casually lands. He skips showing her actually land:
and then later in that scene when she’s in a hurry to take off, he shows it with a lot more panels: “1, 2, 3″
It’s a cool stylistic choice, you’d think with her being in a hurry he’d want to show it in less panels.Like this—-
Another cool thing is this scene where Princess Kushana cuts Nausicaa’s sword in two. I like how he drew it so you never get a clear look at Kushana’s sword. and how the sound effect cuts across Nausicaa’s face. “Kiiin”
Also, a trick he does in the writing that I like, is how he uses the dialog to emphasize how impressive or important something is. “something special about her” or “the finest swordsman”
it seems to help underline a character’s impact. There’s scenes where Nausicaa will do something cool that might not hit you so hard but then just how he shows the other characters flip out makes it seem so much more “she’s amazing!”
It’s like an argument for — showing and telling.
I wanted to put up some of the cool MW drawings by other artists I’ve seen.
Emma Rios drawing Nura:
Emily Carroll drawing Nik and Sexica–
Lin Visel Sex&Nik:
annnnd Brahm Revel drawing Nura
and here’s a Brandon Williams Dirty pair drawing he sent me for my B day:
and here’s an Asterix map:
My pal Robin just put up some more of my pages for sale on his site.
Here’s a King city and Thickness page.
You can see on the Thickness page how I was trying to figure out how to draw Kei taking her pants down.
And here’s how that page looked finished:
Aight, I’ve gotta do the final 2 pages of MW #4 this week. sooo closeee
I’ve gone off to my inlaws secluded island cabin to finish up the final pages of Multiple Warheads #4, while I watch my dear sweet Marian play video games (zelda/Yoshi’s island) and stumble out every so often to eat something christmasy.–Santa tastes like fruitcake.
I’ve been listening to lots of Rhymefest and these Quiet please radio shows from the 40′s that you can hear here: http://www.quietplease.org/
The nice people at Image asked me to make their helladay card this year. Here’s the front of it:
And the inside:
It’s been a nice year for me. Let’s check the caring meter:
It’s cool Funshine bear, don’t look so stressed.
ok, somewhere between A Salt with a deadly Pepa and the American Robotech Defenders. The caring manual lists that as–”Stone cold lampin.”
Oh also, me and Joseph Bergin III (serious dude who colors Prophet –also draws writes & tattoos) were talking about making some PROPHET FAQ’s in the style of these Death FAQ he did. (so please ask some questions here or twitter or wherever and we’ll have Troll or some power crazy Earth Empire brain mother answer them)
Here’s another care bear picture I like– I can only assume that the star Tenderheart is holding over Grumpy bear is like mistletoe for making someone sing. The Grumpy bear I know used to give a fuck, during Xmas could give a fuck less.
PictureBox books is putting out my112 page Walrus book full of my sketches and unpublished stuff.
Stuff like this: of a day in the life of me and my dear sweeet Marian (Marian drew the Chicken)
Here’s some of the rough cover ideas I had for it.
and I did a cover for the Warheads tour I’m going on next month.
Wed, Oct 24 – Beach Ball Comics (Anaheim)
Thur, Oct 25 – Austin Books & Comics (Austin)
Fri, Oct 26 – Star Clipper (St Louis)
Sat, Oct 27 – Chapel Hill Comics (Chapel Hill)
It should be fun, and I’ll draw pictures for whoever shows up.
Also, also Marian did a new image for the title page of the first Warheads
Originally in place of that I planned to use this:
I was getting the book ready to be sent off and I was just shaking my head at this being the first page people see of the character. like “come on dude, that’s weak”
I like the drawing still and I’m not back tracking on my love of drawing naked ladies , I just don’t want to introduce the character as “ASS!” I’m trying to be a better Brandon and all– I’ll put in the Walrus book.
and here’s the Warheads #4 cover
annnd the Pencils
and I got to do a cover for the 3rd issue of my pal Stokoe’s Godzilla comic:
I’m pretty sure that dude on the left is part of the same organization as The Warlord.
my first draft of the Godzilla cover was pretty fucking awful:
Toho just emailed me a photo of a stop sign when they saw that.
The new Prophet (#29) just came out with Fil Barlow on the cover & my homie Farel dalrymple on art Letters by Ed Brisson with Joseph Bergin III colors.
So me and Farel devised this issue awhile back and not until he turned in the final pages did Joseph Bergin pull some impressive shit and come up with an idea to show everything inside the psychic mind dampening field in black and white.
Here’s the transition page as Prophet falls out of color.
I can’t stress enough what a joy it is to work with all the dudes on Prophet.
Also in #29 Andy Ristaino (of lead designer on adventure time and Babysitter & other comics fame ) did an amazing back up this issue.
Here’s one of my pages for #30 that is being lettered as I type this. Fight scenes aren’t really my thing but I had fun with this one. and the bottom panel is by Giannis.
And another page of all Giannis from #30 (he colored the flashbacks this issue too)
So the main story in Prophet #30 has 2 artists (me and Giannis) and 3 colorists. (Me, Giannis & Joseph) Like I’ve been saying the plan was always to show each artists different style as how different characters view the universe.
Here’s a page from the impressive BARTAN back up for that issue by Dimi Mac and K.C. Silver. I love that they did ADVENTURE #269 for a one shot.
More of their stuff here:
and I just got an update from Cecile Brun, with Olivier Pichard on colors who are French artists doing a Prophet back up called Waveless Here’s some character designs:
and photos of them working on it:
and more on their work here:
Whatelse? I’ve been reading some great comics.
Ronald Wimberly’s Prince of cats really blew me away, I might have to type about it more later. Ron made a comic I’ll be pulling inspiration from for yearrrsss. Amazing shit.
Joe Decie sent me this letter:
Joe’s site: http://www.joedecie.com/
and yeah the Lando comic Joe sent me, is awesome. Lando is part of a UK comics collective called decadence (along with Stathis Tsemberlidis ) who are just killing it with their sci fi work.
Really impressive Otomo, Moebius looking work.
you can get it here :
Yo yo yo,
Soooo I’m going to be at a local Vancouver con this sunday along with a bunch of my pals:
It should be fun, show up in you’re around.
Here’s my schedule this week, that I write on giant butcher paper to loom over me and judge me. (that’s Marian’s self portrait on the right–Bad dude!)
I’m always talking about how making the work fun is really important to me , recently I’ve been having to rethink things. I’ve been giving myself more tasks that aren’t necessarily about the work.
I want to get over any guilt of ever not working or working too slow, so this week I added ”watch all the (70′s Tom baker Doctor Who) Key of time Episodes!! Woooo” to things I had to get done. I don’t want to make getting the work done that pays my rent anymore important than the other fun stuff I do. Obviously no one ever dies wishing they saw more tv shows but It’s more important to me to just have fun and work because I want to work not because I’ll feel like a jerk if I don’t. there’s no good and bad there’s just setting up an environment that allows for whateverr mannn.
Here’s what I’ve been working on tonight:
It’s a whale restaurant on a whale that serves food made out of the whale it’s on.
I did a choose your own adventure joke with a choice that doesn’t really affect anything more than how much Sexica likes her breakfast.
This page will be in Multiple warheads #5 or #1 of book 2 whatever whatever– It’s interesting to me what a time capsule making comics is. People finding King city now and reading pages that I drew on my lunch break when I just like “fuck I wish I could draw comics all day” –so that’s cool.
Here’s some MW covers– #2 I scanned a page out of a Chinese calendar that I pulled out of a dumpster and then added a bunch of my own drawings to it.
And here’s #3′s cover. I kind of had to rush this one so I might tweak it a bit before it actually goes to print. I scanned the #3 out of a 1990′s issue of Raygun magazine.
Sooooooo Prophet stuff.
The #28 I did with Giannis Milonogiannis drawing and Joseph Bergin III coloring and Ed Brisson Letters comes out on Wednesday. Here’s a preview: http://ghettomanga.blogspot.ca/2012/08/preview-prophet-28-by-brandon-graham.html
And here’s a 2 page spread from #29 following up on the Farel Darymple drawn Prophet with a tail:
It’s a bunch of Prophet’s in space baby armor trying to transport a Brain ball Mother through a space war that’s too big to go around.
And then issue #30 goes back to the Giannis story. Here’s some layouts I did this week showing a new lady lizard assassin that’ll be an ongoing character. Here she sneaks up on a floating palace in her crab house.
She has these color crystals that she can see poison walls in a plant maze. we’re trying to do more stuff with color in Prophet. Seems like a waste to have a color book and not have color as a part of the story.
I showed the layouts to my pal Emily Carrol and she sent me back this rad assassin drawing.
Emily’s site: http://www.emcarroll.com/#3
Also in the Prophet issue that’s out on Wednesday, I got Fil Barlow to put together a thing about the process his old Zoonerse issues were colored in. It’s kind of a sequential article.
And here’s some King city stories.
My pal Chris Eng did one called A girl and her cat.
You can read it here:
And here’s a King city short that my Mom (Vicki Barbosa) wrote.
“Interesting” said the Shadowcat 8/3/12 His fur was black, black that swallowed the starlight, swallowed the moonlight. If there were ever a cat- shaped black hole, he was it. It came in handy for slinking about the dark side of the moon, or between the Pleiades, or in alleys and pool halls in New York. He had no name, or rather, he had so many names it was hard to know his name at any given time. His name depended on his location, at times on the season of the year or the phase of the moon. So in the valleys of Spain he was Gato, the one and only Cat; in the mimsy mountains of the Orion constellation he was Selquo the Magnificent; on the far side of the moon he was Glyboo; and in the tenements of New York he answered to Yodo. For the purposes of this tale we will call him what Janis called him: Meroo. He was a Shadowcat, working under the auspices of the Catmaster General as a recruiter. His job was to shadow potential cat masters, observe them in various situations, and bring them in for training if they agreed. It was he who brought in the catmaster Joe, famous for his rescue work in Seattle, and it's said he recruited Klovharu from Vancouver, a tough nut to crack. The catmasters were people with natural talent, who were brought to the farm outside L.A. and trained to be masters by the best. They learned all the martial arts, but mostly cat techniques, how to use the cats as weapons. What they did with their training later, that was up to them. Some of them saved their city, their continent, or their world. Some of them just prevented burglaries; some lived their lives ready for anything. It was kind of zen, according to Janis. The first time Meroo saw Janis in L.A., she was sliding through a crowd like quicksilver, a skinny tousle-headed 14 year old in tattered jeans, looking for a mark. It was clear that she had worked the streets for years, being bait for older kids, grifting, picking pockets. She had a good scam going now: Meroo crawled to a rooftop and peered over, watching her work. She brushed against an older man, lifted his wallet, then leaned down and pretended to pick it up. “I think you dropped this, mister,” she said, holding it out innocently. The man's mustache jerked in surprise; and his hand flew to his hip. “Looks like I did. Thank you, my dear.” He opened the wallet, pulled out a bill and handed it to the girl. “This is for you.” “Interesting,” said Meroo. He followed along on the rooftops above, observing as she pulled variations on the same stunt four more times. It worked pretty well, and avoided the complication of having to hide from the law. He followed her into an apartment, to a secret meeting with an orange-haired character who held out a handful of bills, and observed the girl shake her head with a sneer, flick the bills aside and walk away. “Interesting,” Meroo said. When she crawled in through a window and curled up in a corner of an abandoned room to sleep, Meroo was there before her. She turned over, brushed against him, and jumped out again in a hurry. Meroo sat up, stretched and yawned. "Relax," he said. "I come in peace." She crouched on the floor, staring. "What?" "I said --" "You're a cat!" "Seriously?" Meroo brushed his whiskers. "My mother will be astonished." "Cats can't talk!" "Is that so?" "Yeah, it's so! Everyone knows that!" "I suppose everyone also knows that spiders are not space travelers marooned on earth, that Cthulhu is not asleep in Massachusetts Bay, and that the world will not end as soon as the nine billion names of God are compiled?" "I don't know about that, but cats can't talk." "Okay." Meroo began grooming himself. "What do you want?" Janis asked. "To offer you a job opportunity. You have some useful skills, it'd be a shame to waste them. In the morning I'd like to take you to meet some people." "Where? What people?" "The Catmaster training farm. Not too far away. Better get some sleep." The next day they went out to the farm, not far from L.A. When Meroo introduced the girl to the Catmaster General, Mudd just stared at her. "No," he said. "What do you mean, no?" Meroo was annoyed. "She's just a kid, wet behind the ears. Bring her back in 3 or 4 years." "Have I ever been wrong about a prospect?" said Meroo. "In 3 or 4 years, she'll be spoiled -- a dedicated lowlife thief, a drug runner, something unsavory. Train her now, she'll be a spectacular catmaster. Guaranteed." Mudd frowned. "There are no cats available at the moment." "Oh really," said Meroo. "Like there isn't a cat born every second." "You know what I mean," said Mudd. "Weaponscats are not your run of the mill random cats." "Little do you know," said Meroo to the leader of the world's most powerful, most secret organization. "Be that as it may, I'll take her on." "You!" "You think I can't do it? I'm unqualified in some way?" "I need you in recruiting. You're a shadowcat." "What's the point of recruiting if you turn my recruits away? Hello?" Mudd cast an exasperated glance at the girl, who was staring open-mouthed at their discussion. "Fine. Bunk her in Three. Good luck, kid. You're going to train with the most egoistical, smart-mouthed, brilliant cat in the known universe. Hope you survive." "T -- thank you," stammered the girl. "But what do catmasters do?" "You'll figure it out." Meroo wanted the kid to succeed very badly, almost as much as he wanted his next mouse, and that was saying a lot. Especially considering how delicious a mouse was, a fur-covered, trembling, savory morsel smelling of . .. never mind. Someone who is not a cat might read this. Anyway, Meroo thought that the Catmasters were a great force in the world – for good, for evil, for comic relief, but certainly a force, and he wanted to see the kid become part of it, because if she didn't make it as a catmaster, she was on a downhill spiral to nowhere. He toyed with the idea of turning her to the dark side, but abandoned the idea – considering that he knew how quickly the compilation of the nine billion names of God was going, he didn't want to run any more risks than he already had. So Janis started her training, along with six other newbies all older than her. In addition to the standard martial arts and nefarious thievery, she learned cat skills: how to throw a cat with deadly force; how to fling the cat and a syringe after it, transforming it into anything from a dervish of terror, to a saw blade, to a net flung over an opponent. The cat could become a periscope, a pillow, a rifle, duplicate a key, mix a mean martini, whip out a passable drawing of a suspect. . . you name it, there was little the cat could not do or become, in the hands of a capable catmaster. And when that cat was the Shadowcat, Meroo himself, he figured they were an unbeatable team. They were only 6 months into the training and Meroo was feeling pretty good about it, when Mudd came to find him where he and Janis were napping under a palm tree. “Got a job for you.” Meroo sat up, pricking his ears. “For us?” “Fine, for both of you. Remember Cthulhu?” “Difficult dude to forget,”said Meroo. “Well, seems he had a fling with one of the mermaids from the Danube, him being a Water Being, and they produced an offspring. Some years ago. That offspring is now a teenager, known in some circles as Tsunami Cyril.” “We're all ears.” Meroo glanced at Janis, who was now sitting up paying attention. “Cyril is more or less a normal being, but has a habit of pulling hissy fits, being a teenager and afflicted with hormones. When he does this, cities tend to founder. He's in a temper now, heading in a straight line for Seattle.” “And where is Joe?” asked Meroo. “Isn't that his favorite hangout?” “One of them, but he's down in the Antarctic right now, on a secret mission with his new girl friend. Incommunicado. The catmaster assigned to Seattle right now is Klovharu. But he's in hiding, not sure why, and isn't answering messages. So I'd appreciate it if you two could sidle up there and see if you can roust him, give him a heads up in case he's missed the news, and maybe be backup for him.” “Backup,” said Meroo. “Why can't we handle it?” piped up Janis. “You're not ready,” said Mudd. “No way. You just go up and find Klovharu, and back him up if he needs any help. Got that?” Janis stuck out her lower lip, but Meroo gave her a glance. “Got it. We'll go tomorrow.” The next morning they hopped a freight train heading for Seattle, and after a night sleeping among crates of cat food and bags of mail, found themselves in at the Union station around noon. They walked out of the station into a cloudy day, Janis looking around nervously. Meroo noticed that all the humans around him were glancing nervously up at the sky, which was a gray purplish color unusual for Seattle. “Let's go,” he said. “We'll plug into the cat grapevine, easiest way to find Klovharu.” “How do we do that?” asked Janis. “Just ask a cat.” But it was not so easy to find a cat. They walked for 20 minutes, up King Street, across to Yesler as far as Fifteenth. Meroo had never gone so far without finding at least one cat to check in with. Finally Janis said, “There! I saw one run behind that recycle bin.” Meroo went over and saw a scrawny tortoiseshell huddled behind the bin. “Hey, what's going on?” he asked. “They've all left town,” muttered the cat. “Or hiding out. Something's up. Something bad's coming.” “Why didn't you leave?” “I'm small, nothing messes with me, and I can hide in Underground Seattle if I need to, But you should head for cover.” “We're looking for Klovharu and Happiness.” “Ooh, the sick catmaster? He's over on Main, near Chinatown. But he hasn't been out for days.” “Can you show us?” “Follow me.” The tortoiseshell led the way, and they followed for several blocks. He stopped at a green door to a basement apartment, whispered, “Seriously, get out of town,” and scuttled away. Meroo scratched at the door, whispered the cat code, and the door opened a crack. Happiness was there, Klovharu's space cat, looking harassed. “Shadowcat, is that you? Come in, quick.” He and Janis slid inside. At Hap's startled expression, Meroo shrugged, “My new catmaster. Where's Klovharu?” Hap pointed a paw at a pile of quilts on the couch. A few strands of greasy blond hair stuck out, otherwise there was no sign of a human. “How sick is he?” “It's some kind of Martian lung parasite, it lasts about a week. He has to drink a lot of orangeade with caviar in it to get rid of it, and he's not doing too well.” Meroo went closer. “Klovharu?” The catmaster stuck a nose out. “Zat you? What ya' want?” “There's a horrendous monster aimed at the city, we kind of need an experienced catmaster on board here.” Klovharu squinted out at them. Janis whispered, “Is he always that color? Like moldy cheese?” “Not usually,” said Meroo. “Klovharu, you know what day it is?” “Somewhere around September? Or possibly Thirteen? Not too sure, really.” Hap shook his head. “Not up to it, Shadowcat, really. He'll be better in a few days, but still wobbly. And I can feel something coming – can't you?” Meroo lifted his head, sniffing. He felt a hint of burning in the air, flavored with danger. “Yeah, I do.” “You've got a catmaster of your own, what's the problem?” “She's still in training. Not quite ready for the real thing.” Hap shrugged. “I'll come along if you want. Backup cat.” Meroo looked at Janis, whose eyes looked huge and terrified. “What do you think, catmaster?” She gritted her teeth. “We got a choice?” “We could catch the next freight back to L.A., and read about it in the papers.” “Right,” she said scornfully. “That's not happening.” “Then let's go,” said Meroo. “West, I think, toward the bay.” They went down toward the ferry docks, but soon met people running the opposite way. “Look out!” yelled a kid pushing a bike. “Earthquake!” They picked up the pace and soon came in sight of the bay, empty of ships. But over the Olympic peninsula came striding a horrific shape, like a whirlwind, like a giant octopus swathed in mist, an amorphous looming shape impossible to make out. “Takes after his father,” said Meroo. He glanced at Janis. “Get out your lethal syringes, numbers 12 and 17 . . .” “I remember,” she said, her voice strained. “Give me space.” The creature splashed into the bay, howling in rage and pain. “What's he saying?”she said. “Who cares!” yelled Hap. “Get ready!” Janis held up her hand. She yelled up at the monster, “What did you say?” Now they could make out words, distorted and high-pitched. “I h—h- hate you! I hate everybody! Get out of my way!” The creature stepped onto the street, dripping gallons of bay water, matted with seaweed, tall as the Space Needle, glaring down at them. No one else was in sight, except for a scattered crowd of cats that had gathered all up and down the street. “Kill it,” they howled, “put it out of its misery!” The creature lifted its fists, pounded on a building. “I hate you, leave me alone!” it shrieked. “I know how you feel,” said Janis calmly. She reached for Meroo, gave him an injection as she had been trained, and flung him straight and true. He felt himself flying, felt the exhilaration of working with a well-trained catmaster, and hit the creature's shoulder, biting. There was a moment of frenzy, wildness, water, air, mud and seaweed flying everywhere. Meroo found himself crouched on the sidewalk beyond the creature, and there where the creature had stood, a teenage boy knelt sobbing. Aside from green hair and fins, there was nothing unusual about him. “Hey,” said Janis. “We all have bad days.” Tsunami Cyril looked up at her, his face streaked with tears and seaweed. He wiped his nose. “Who are you? What did you do to me?” “Janis.” She sat down beside him. “Just gave you a calmer. You're kind of cute, you know?” “You think so?” He smiled at her. Meroo rolled his eyes. “We could get up some beach volleyball. What do you think?” “Okay. Maybe.” He glanced at himself. “But I have no clothes.” “Cat.” She motioned to Meroo, pulling out a syringe. “You can knit?” “Not much I can't do.” Under the potion's power, he knitted a pair of shorts in scant moments, and handed them to the kid. “That's pretty neat,” said Cyril. A couple of days later, Klovharu was back to himself, Hap relaxing happily on a window sill, and Cyril was entrenched in the mysteries of beach volleyball on Alki. If you see a green-haired kid there who's a whiz at spiking the ball, you know where he came from. They sat in the open freight door on the way back to the farm, Janis chewing a strand of hair and smiling to herself. She glanced at Meroo. “He's just a teen, you know. We all have days like that.” “Good call,” said Meroo. “I think I might like being a catmaster,” she said. “Hope so. Because you are,” said the Shadowcat.