All posts by john

Talking to a Cock

I guess I was a little drunk, I was definitely over stimulated.  The boardwalk carnival was an intoxicating menagerie of sound and light, of beautiful bodies still in their skimpy beach wear, smelling of sweat and suntan lotion, of sweet & salty junk food deep fried in sugar and cheese.  I wandered like a leaf on the pungent breeze, my bare feet barely touching the sticky wood.

The hawkers, luring people into sideshow attractions were on fire tonight.  Business was booming at the Snake Boy house, patrons screamed in anguished pleasure.  The ‘Winged Pigs’, ‘Dragon Lady’ and ‘6 Jesters Conjoined’ had long, eager lines waiting.  But the one which caught my eye was the only booth whose crier didn’t look like an ancient, cigar chomping, sticky pocketed circus clown with mirrored shoes.  SHE was a sultry, middle aged woman with curves and lumps and hair and eyes that melted my…bones, which is probably why I didn’t read the sign on the booth properly – or even care.  I just handed her my money and walked in.

There on the podium, in the center of a dark room with red satin curtains, stood a raging red COCK……I mean, it was a red rooster with bright flaming plumage.  The other people in the room sat on benches around the bird, enthralled.  I stood for a long moment, puzzled and awkward…until the cock looked over at me and said, “Take a seat there, Sparky, I’m just getting started…” in a voice that sounded remarkably like Noam Chomsky’s.

You know…I may have misheard the writing prompt today…  What?…OH!!!, “Talking to a Cop”…yeah, I don’t talk to cops.

Our new book, “Bludgeon the Clown” is all done and off to the printer.  Our publisher, EEW Books uses a tiny, local printer in Bloomfield NJ, a mile from our old studios.  There are plenty of excellent printers up here in the frosty north, but none better than Tom DeStefano and his team at Budget Print (332 Broad Street).  It’s a family owned, very professional, highest quality, friendly business whose integrity is rare nowadays.   If they were located in Reykjavik or Kathmandu or Djibouti… we would still travel there for their services.  -John

First Contact


While Marsha is away (once again), I get to post something I like.  This illustration has some awkward bits in this context, but it made for a good cover and was (strictly) scene-specific to the story/ assignment;  The Earth delegation approaches, having landed their shuttle (by invitation) on the surface of a massive alien starship orbiting Jupiter.

“First Contact” is the cover illustration for the May, 2006 issue of Analog Magazine.  This is the first of 5 images (a cover and 4 interior illos.) for a 4 month serialized story by Edward M. Lerner called “A New Order of Things,” part of his ‘Interstellarnet’ series  It’s a great story and well worth reading.  I got to meet Lerner at the 2010 Nebula awards – nice guy.  I’ve read a few of his books over the years and highly recommend them.  -John

It’s Not The Size Of Your Clown

Jester Uprising-86Book Excerpt:

Its Not The Size Of Your Clown…

Peevish, North Dakota.  It seems that the smaller the clown, the angrier, more irritable they are.  This image was made during the last of three riots that day.  There was no media coverage and no arrests.  In fact, nobody in town even realized they had an infestation of teeny-tiny clowns…or what they were so upset about.

While clowns come in all shapes and sizes, the tiny ones are the trickiest.  They come smaller than you’d think possible and they get into everything.  They wrote an amusing folk tail or two about one no bigger than a thumb…but the teeniest ones are often mistaken for a viral outbreak (clever).  When I agreed to have a wild party with that kooky bunch, I didn’t realize I’d be hosting it in my belly for three solid days (not solid…ugh!!!).

***Another page that did not make the final cut of our new book, “Bludgeon the Clown.”  The illustration, by John Allemand, was originally commissioned for the June 2003 cover of Analog Magazine.  -Marsha

Designated Driver

Designated Driver-85 ***Marsha is away, arguing with the publisher again, probably in a belligerent blind rage.  It’s okay though, she does her best work when she’s  angry…or drunk (or both).  As you can imagine, I’m used to it by now.  But while we’ve been busy finishing our new book, she had no time to do a clever story for this illustration.  It’s an old one, the 3rd assignment I ever did for Analog Magazine (out of nearly 100); a 2 page spread for the May, 2003 issue…..I still like it.  -John

Alien Space Battle Thing

Alien Space Battle stuff-83

*****This is the 83rd post…and every 83rd post, Marsha takes a break and lets ME post one.  Hooray!  Marsha is away, arguing with the editor and publisher at EEW Books, trying to keep all her crappy mistakes IN the manuscript of our new book, “Bludgeon the Clown,” now that they’ve been edited out (and fixed).  It’s vanity and hubris to think her departure from proper English is her ‘artistic prerogative.’  She’ll argue and get concessions – and compliments – and come away satisfied…while the publishers will do whatever they want after she leaves, anyway.  It’s a messy, but necessary process….and it works.  Meanwhile, I’ve posted an illustration I did for the September ’06 issue of Analog Magazine, for a story by Edward M. Lerner.  It was a fun one to do…one of my favorites (though I’m no fan of war).  -John 



When Mike rented his new place he’d never even tried a hot tub before. It wasn’t the feature that attracted him to the building. It was the two extra bedrooms, that would allow his grown kids to visit on holidays and between college semesters, that he liked most. Six months went by before he even tried it out – but when he did….it was gooood! In fact it felt wonderful…so relaxing, it took all his cares away.

He came back to it again and again and started making time once a week to soak in its warm embracing waters, gently massaging jets and steamy, soothing solace. Soon he found himself hopping in every day – even twice a day. A quick soak before the morning commute or a nice long one after the stress of a long day’s work became almost a necessity. He felt an affinity for the thing bordering on affection. He lost himself in the comfort and imagined himself in the warm embrace of the womb.

“Mmmmmmm!” he said…..wait…did he just say that? Strange, his voice seemed unusually low today, must be the bathroom acoustics …yeah! He relaxed again and submitted, to the moist tongues of ecstasy lapping his exhausted body….. “OOOOOOH, SCRUMMMPTIOUS!” he said in a deep, slow baritone.

Mike’s eyes bugged out as he leapt from the tub, twisting and convulsing like a housewife covered in spiders. Aghast, he screamed, “What the…I didn’t say that!?!” “OOOOH….DON’T GO MY LITTLE LOLLIPOP…..COME BAAACK.” said the booming voice from the tub. “Huh?” was all he could manage, shaking and dripping on the tiles, “AAAAAAAW,” boomed his tub, “MY SAUSSSSAGE DUMMMPLING, MY SPICY LITTLE MEATBALLL…..COME BACK TO MEEEEEE…I COULD JUST EEEEEAT YOU UP!!!”

***The image above is “AGHAST” by Joe Del Priore (with cover by John Allemand) is a VERY funny book and well worth reading.  It is available on Amazon and you can find more by Joe at;  Joe is a good friend and mentor to us.   -Marsha


Tick, Tick, Tick…

The room was not large, just a conference room in the library where ten of us sat around a table writing.  It was a typical Saturday morning workshop and the prompt was part of the lyrics to the Star Wars theme.  The music rattled around my brain easily enough but for some reason I couldn’t recall it ever having lyrics.  I was frustrated.  I drew a blank while everyone else was scribbling away…and the music in my head became louder, incessant…persistent…..maddening!

tick-tick-02    It suddenly stopped when a new sound caught my attention.  It was coming from Keith at the other end of the table.  There was a tick, tick, ticking that quickly replaced my obsession – in perfect rhythm and beat – to those lyrics, whatever they were…tick, tick, ticka, ticka-ticka, tick, tick.  I was tapping my toe on the carpet now…ticka-ticka, tick, tick.  Louder and louder it got, tick, ticka, tick…Keith was writing intensely.  Tick, tick-ticka.  How could he not hear it?  Tick-tick, ticka-tick.   Was I the only one?  Ticka-tick-ticka, tick.  Was that smoke coming out of his ears?  Tick-tick.  Coooool!  Ticka-tick-ticka.  The ticking got faster as bright beams of light began to emerge from his skull.  Tick-ticka-ticka-ticka-tick.  It filled the room…blinding me…..ticka-ticka-ticka…BANG!!!!!

     Like a mouse in a microwave, the walls, floor and ceiling were suddenly pasted with Keith juice and bits of sticky flesh and bone.

Still, nobody seemed to notice.  Everyone just kept on writing even as a slippery chunk of bowel slid down Carl’s face and a bloody ear clung to the end of Joe’s pencil.  Keith’s head and chest were gone and his fluids were squirting Susan’s cheek…but he kept on writing as well.  Susan paused to open an umbrella and brush gore off her laptop, unmoved.

Everything was quiet for a few minutes as pens scribbled on wet paper and blood dribbled and pooled in my under shorts….then the ticking started again…but this time it sounded like it was coming from Nancy…..tick, tick, tick…coooool!

***The illustration was originally published as the cover for Analog Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2012 issue, for a story by Robert J Sawyer.  -Marsha

First Post…ever.


Spindle the Clown was really old, so he went to Miami for rest          but drank more vodka than he could hold and collapsed with a pain in his chest.

He died that night in his hotel suit but not before fouling his shorts and hurling his lunch from his chest to his feet in retching, heaving, snorts.

Nobody knew he was there, by chance, having very few friends, to be sure, and his room was paid for the month in advance with “DO NOT DISTURB!”on the door.

So his body sat in the heat to bloat and his organs turned to soup and flies laid eggs in his nose and throat and beetles infested his poop.

Rats and roaches came up through the shower, the odors were pungent and fresh and feasted on Spindle for 93 hours, stripping his bones of flesh.

When housekeeping finally entered the room, hardly a crumb remained. Spindle the Clown was completely gone, except for his creepy brain.


Hello, I’m Marsha and this is our blog.  I do all the writing and John does all the art (but I’m in charge).  We’re working on several (Graphic Novel) book projects – the first, “Marsha Mellow’s Blue-ish Freaks” will be out soon.

     We met Spindle the Clown a few years ago while researching death rituals among the Clown species.  We spent a week  documenting his demise – only to witness him defy death in the end.  Sadly, his brain grew up to be a corporate banker…..tragic.  John insisted that we use this image for our first post for some strange symbolism that only idiotic artists understand.  Whatever!