I used to enjoy reading several books a week, but for about a decade have been unable to read regularly. I wrote previously about how my endocrine disorder made reading and retaining information a problem. Now that this issue is under control, I am happily devouring books again, enjoying them while on my elliptical trainer, or as audiobooks while working. I enjoy more books now in a week than I was able to read in a year!

I have a stack of Mary Renault novels, first editions I’ve treasured for a long time. I am just finishing off her Alexander saga again, this time as audiobooks. They’re some of the best historical novels ever written, and I am at the end of Funeral Games, which tears my heart out. This essay at The Guardian sums up their appeal.

“There’s plenty I could say about what makes these books so good. I’ve already written quite a bit about Renault’s ability to blend known fact and imaginative speculation, and to recreate a convincing reality – but also a reality rich in mythological possibility and divine influence. I could also talk about her taut, clear prose. About her ability to write at a consistently high emotional pitch, in a register largely free of humour and irony, and yet to never seem ridiculous. About her unflinching depictions of battle with its gore and horror, its adrenaline and cruel joy.”

It may amuse you to know that I took in almost nothing but Diana Gabaldon Outlander series audiobooks while working on the Stan Lee autobiographical graphic novel. Each Outlander audiobook takes anywhere from 30-40 hours to get through, so a solid work week can be devoted to one novel.

Her Lord John novels are much shorter, and I am going to be unpopular for stating that in some ways I like them better than the Outlander tales that focus on Claire and Jaime. Lord John is such an interesting, clever character, I can’t get enough of him. Of course, I can’t wait to see whom they cast in the role on the Starz TV series. I enjoyed the audiobooks so much I think I may have to give them another go.

I haven’t said so in public before, but I was up for the art job on an Outlander graphic novel some years ago. At the last minute, I was booted. I was told they didn’t want to work with an artist who had an agent, or who did not do their own coloring (I could not do digital coloring at the time.) That may have been an excuse, maybe they really just liked the other artist better, but the final art on the GN that was published was far from the approach I would have taken to the work. It wasn’t at all how I envisioned the characters. For the record, Gabaldon never saw my concept art, so the final decision was not based on how I would approach the work. I suppose I should just dig out some of my sketches and post them. The situation did sting a bit, but shortly after I found out I’d be working with Neil Gaiman instead, which was quite the consolation prize.

I have a very busy schedule ahead of me this year, with some assignments I wasn’t sure were coming through having gotten approval. My head is spinning with all my responsibilities!

I also have a tour schedule. Now that my health has improved, I can handle travel again, and am very happy to get out and see fans. Naturally, I am also very happy that my work is being well-received at shows. I was thrilled with how many copies of A DISTANT SOIL moved at Indiana Comic Con! I could not believe it!

My next shows are Derby City Comic Con, Tampa Bay Comic Con, and Terrificon. I have more to announce soon. UPDATE: My agent informs me I’ll be at Long Beach Comic Con as well! YAY!

Allan Harvey is back at work on restoration tasks on A DISTANT SOIL, and I may go ahead and Kickstart the final GN editions. While Volumes I and II did well, it simply takes up too much time to earn out the costs, as well as eating up the funds I need to finance the end of the series. Kickstarter may be the best way to go.

Since I am doing more digital painting, travel is also not as costly to my schedule as I can bring a tablet with me and keep right on making art no matter where I am! I invested in a better quality laptop, too. I was able to do 3.5 days worth of work at my last show while being on the road for 5 days, losing only one day to a computer problem: I stupidly forgot to install the driver to my tablet before I left home. The official company website was down, so I couldn’t download it. A kind suggestion from Twitter directed me to the manufacturer’s Asian website, where the driver software could be found.

A friendly reminder that I have a graphic novel coming out with Neil Gaiman. Here is the cover art. Please order now.