***”Pail Blue Hand” is just a tiny swatch from an illustration in our third book, “Bludgeon the Clown.” I love it. It’s so artsy-fartsy, like a 1970’s still life painting of flowers and fruit and stuff…only different. You can find all four of our illustrated books at etsy.com (search EEWbooks). -Marsha
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 writing workshop and the prompt was: ‘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 swear it NEVER did…did it? I was frustrated. I drew a blank while everyone else was scribbling away…and the music in my head became louder, incessant…persistent…..maddening!
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!
***This full color illustration was originally published as the cover for Analog Magazine’s Jan/Feb 2012 issue. It is featured now in our 4th book, “A Short Burst”. The story is based on true events that go on from 10am to 12pm every Saturday morning at the Montclair, NJ Library. All are welcome to write…to tick…and eventually explode. Buy our books at www.sallemander.com. -Marsha
Sammy the Clown thought he could fly so he threw himself off the roof and flapped his arms for eighty-nine floors ‘fore he realized his tragic goof.
***Okay, this one’s political. Yeah, it’s a keen example of the ‘rough sketch to final art process’ thing, but I posted it to show how thoroughly fucked America is as coronavirus spreads. Even if Uncle Sammy here is only an inch or two off the ground, that fall is gonna hurt. People here, by the millions, regardless of their politics or intelligence, are running out of money and food…and they WILL break quarantine. The U.S. government is NOT helping!!! This is a page from our 1st book, ‘Marsha Mellow’s Blue-ish Freaks’. You can find all our books at; www.sallemander.com -Marsha
This is an image from our 3rd book, “Bludgeon the Clown,” There’s no silly story blurb or rhymed ditty to go with it. Not every idea has, or needs, words. It’s just a swell example of how John’s sketch and design process looks. Most images take several scribbly thumbnails to come to a viable rough. This one took one…THIS one. John got lucky. Whatever you do, please don’t – in this tragic time of plague – please don’t mistake it as a political statement. It is not intended to show what sometimes happens to a government when they bail out the rich, ruling class and abandon the common and poor in a time of crisis…..it’s just a funny clown illustration. Find and buy all of our extraordinary books at www.sallemander.com. -Marsha
The Issue was listing badly in a failing orbit around Jupiter. She was dead in the water and her distress signal cut out abruptly on our approach. She was a heavy freighter loaded with uranium ore, bound for the refineries on Mars and long overdue…something didn’t feel right.
We circled The Issue slowly about ten miles out – but with our engines hot in case it was a trap. There were raiders in this sector who often used derelicts to stage their attacks. There was no response to my hail, no wi-fi, no beams…no strobes. Sensors showed cold engines and no (human) life signs. I found a weird glitch in the data, something unrecognizable….but not enough to put the crew off their prize. The salvage on The Issue would make every man on board filthy rich. I was the only one still arguing for caution but none of the men wanted the opinion of someone like me. I was property and was not entitled to a share anyway.
When the Captain (despite my misgivings) gave the order to board, we moved in and docked with reckless abandon. A combat team stood at the ready as I popped the air lock. They made me go first. They always made the android go first. I was the most expendable…expensive but not valuable.
And…as I swung the hatch open, a sudden violent flood of spidery greenish critters swarmed through the airlock by the hundreds. I guess I didn’t taste good because they left me alone and flowed past me, devouring the crew as they went. I waited. It took them 19 minutes to scour the ship from bow to stern and I listened to each and every man screaming his last – the men who treated me like shit for two solid years – the men who sneered at my warnings.
I waited…to see what this NEW crew had to offer. It couldn’t be any worse than the last one…..this could be interesting!
***Above, we’ve posted the rough sketch sequence for an illustration originally commissioned by Analog Magazine for their May 2006 issue. Now it is a feature in our new book, “A Short Burst” along with it’s new flash-fiction short story (also posted here). It is one of our favorite robot stories. Find “A Short Burst” and all our books at www.sallemander.com. -Marsha
Nothing actually happened for a solid fifteen minutes after Eddie drank the formula. He turned to us (once again) with a forlorn look and asked, “Any change yet? How do I look?”
We knew he was crazy. He was one of those people: perpetually dissatisfied, determined to prove that he was ‘special’. He wanted fame, popularity, success (despite being an already brilliant scientist) and he was driven…you know, crazy…AND he had full use of the company’s laboratory. He had access to all the good stuff too; plasma reactor, laser diffractional transmogrifier, crazy glue – not to mention ebola, thermite and flu vaccine…and I think our awkward, mild mannered (crazy) Eddie used all of it on this new batch.
By the sixteenth minute, everything changed and Eddie’s fondest wish was realized. He began mutating wildly, spreading outward in every direction, emitting the strangest squeaking moan. He shook, twisted and bloated. He grew tendrils, sprouted claws and screeched Latin gibberish from three of his seven worm-haired monkey faces as horns emerged from his leathery spine. He puffed a sweet yellow smoke, shed tufts of pink fur and dribbled buckets of gooey puss. He was a frightful sight…but he was just sooooo excited we didn’t have the heart to terminate him.
When he finally slowed and stabilized, he turned all of his seventeen eyes-on-a-stalk to us and in a clever series of musical farts, he asked, “Okay!…How do I look now?”
***The featured rough blue sketch is the original rough for an illustration that was supposed to be a 2 page spread for a story in Asimov’s Sci-Fi Magazine, just as those corporate cheapskates were choosing to eliminate all interior art (to save money). I managed to convince them to let me do it as a cover, which was my first cover for the company. The story above and the final art is featured in my new book, “A Short Burst”. Find it and buy it by going to etsy.com and searching EEWbooks. -Marsha
Bludgeon the Clown was shit-faced-stoned, surly, loose and frisky, barely able to handle his car on crack cocaine and whiskey. Bludgeon was stopped by the cops that night and battered under arrest, for jerking too much as the tazers hit and sobbing in fierce protest.
***Here is the original rough sketch for Bludgeon, published as a 2 page spread on page 28 & 29 of our first book, “Blue-ish Freaks.” As John the illustrator always says, “It’s not art if it doesn’t piss somebody off!”…and this one definitely does. Find this and the rest of our books at www.sallemander.com (follow the links). -Marsha
At first we thought all the babies blew up. We found them that way in the morning. They’d suddenly grown to enormous size! We had no idea…no warning.
Well, people freaked out. They lost their minds, (and some of us got really drunk), but didn’t take TOO long to understand, that THEY didn’t grow…..WE SHRUNK!!!
Santa Claws ALWAYS loved children. He loved when they sat on his lap, and always invited his favorite to lunch with a snip and a snickety snap! He loved them with soup, loved them with rice and sautéed with wine was fun. He loved them roasted in gravy and yams or with mustard and cheese on a bun.
***Happy Christmas!!! I hope your silly capitalist buying frenzy went swell. When you’ve gotten your blood sugar back down and finished all your frivolous boxing and returns – and have some extra cash again – pop by our Etsy shop (go to etsy.com and search EEWbooks) for some gifts you’ll never WANT to return. -Marsha