Jul 31 2011

#92 “The Doctor is in”

From Dr. Clyde Grouser, Jr.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The doctor is in…

Even though my lupine knowledge realistically approaches only a level of green-horned apprenticeship at best, I have always prided myself on being a “wolf expert” of sorts. This probably comes as no surprise, seeing as how the wonderful world of lupine wonder is one that I spent a good deal of time wandering through. Yes, I have explored a variety of dark dens and mountain canyons of wolf wisdom and have collected trophies of lobos knowledge and keepsakes as I went, snatching up these beauteous jewels of knowledge and wisdom like so many piles of wolf droppings serendipitously found on the forest floor. As time passed and I delved deeper into lupine lore and wolfly scholarship, my pride somehow surpassed my knowledge, and I became puffed up and arrogant without reason. I say this with a fair amount of embarrassment, but this is a vice that I have struggled with fairly recently. Yet this is also why I am so pleased to offer you the amazing artwork and commentary which is on display today. For the illustration that makes up today’s post and the commentary that accompanies are provided courtesy of a man who has truly put me in my place. He is the leader of the pack, the alpha-male, and I must submit to his dominance. The man behind the artwork calls himself Dr. Clyde Grouser Jr., and I can truly say that the force of the lupine is strong with this one. Examine his picture above and his commentary below and see if you do not agree.

Greetings,

Canadian wolves are of a special breed. They are much stronger, faster, handsomer, and-dare I say!-awesomer than american wolves.

There are a few key differences between American and Canadian wolves. Canadian wolves, for instance, have powerful razor sharp claws made from adamantium due to a series of experiments in the 1920s. Also, Canadian wolves are much like hydras. If you cut off a Canadian wolf’s head, three more grow in its place (in this way, Canadian wolves are also better than hydras). Canadian wolves are also capable of breathing fire, and some accounts state that some can also fly (I have yet to personally witness this myself.) Most Canadian wolves grow to be ten feet tall at the shoulder.

Some people ask how it is we live day to day in the shadow of such fearsome beasts. The answer is actually rather surprising in its simplicity. Most Canadian wolves do not have opposable thumbs, and thus we have decided to serve them as slaves. In return, most Canadian wolves maintain strict vegetarian diets.

Yours Truly,
Dr. Clyde Grouser Jr.


Jul 30 2011

#91 “Which will you feed?”

From Steven in Ohio

If you’re like me, your first reaction when you saw this picture was one of shock and horror. Truly this beast brutal. Surely he is deranged and psychopathic. Certainly he is cruel and bloodthirsty. Just look what he has done to those poor men: he has devoured their bodies entirely, leaving nothing but gruesome reminders of his awful strength and savagery in the form of their severed heads. And to add insult to injury, there the evil wolf sits, smiling that victorious and toothy grin in triumph over his prey.

But wait… How is it exactly that we know these things? Yes, we do see a wolf that has apparently eaten two humans, but how do we know it is the wolf who is evil? Could it not be that the men were deserving of death and that their punishment was doled out rightfully?

Since we are only capturing one moment in time by examining this illustration, we may never know the answers to these questions, but this conundrum reminds me of an applicable story. You see, we may not know whether or not this wolf is good or evil, but for our own sakes we must try to analyze the “wolves” that live within each of us. We must explore our own sides of righteousness and wickedness. Ultimately, the end of the moral spectrum that this wolf resides upon is irrelevant, but the end that you are on….. well, that could make all the difference.

Examine this story:

The One You Feed”

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.

I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me,  for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

 


Jul 29 2011

#90 “A simple request and a simple reply”

From a stranger in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Over the past several months, a lot of unexpected items have found their way to my post office box. These items include everything from collages made of magazine clippings to detailed personal letters to magazine advertisements from other countries for my project that I had never seen before to misguided letters from the IRS.

Variety is the spice of life, and the unexpected can often be vey exciting, but most of the time the mail that I receive is more along the lines of what is on display today. This envelope came from a nameless stranger in a far away state. The envelope was simple and undecorated. There was no note, no personal letter, no correspondance of any kind. The picture, itself, is simple and represents what amounts to a quick sketch on a piece of random stationary that was probably just lying around the office/workspace. The entire venture for this stranger probably only took a matter of seconds, mere minutes at the most.

Does this disappoint me? Am I saddened that there is not more to this submission? I answer with a resounding NO! Every wolf is special in my eyes- from the most elaborate to the most simplistic. And as you can see from the title of today’s post, sometimes you simply get what you ask for.

So thank you, stranger in Minnesota. You have fulfilled your duty and granted my request. No more. No less. And for that I am grateful.


Jul 28 2011

#89 “Game Night!”

From Suzanne in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I had so much fun creating the catchphrase quiz for yesterday’s post that I have decided to follow it with another trivia-oriented post for today. However, my penchant for creating fun little quizzes is not the sole reason for this particular type of entry. You see, this illustration was included in a large packet of pictures, along with a note from Suzanne that said that she had become so enamored with the WBS project that she regulary encouraged guests at her house to participate. Furthermore, she indicated that this usually takes place at a “game night” which she regularly hosts.

So in honor of Suzanne’s triumphant wolf picture and her spectacularly fun game nights, here is a trivia quiz I designed specifically for Suzanne and her friends. But, of course, you may participate as well. Good luck to everyone! Also, the answers to the questions are located below, but no cheating!

8 categories. 40 total questions.

 

Music:
1. The cover of the 1967 album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” is famous for featuring a picture of a large yellow banana. Who is the equally famous artist that designed this legendary album cover?

2. This famous drummer in a 1960s/1970s hard rock group accidentally ran over his own bodyguard and chauffer with his Bentley while trying to escape from hostile patrons at a Hertfordshire, England pub. It was rumored that this accident occured partly because the musician became a star at such a young age that he had never learned how to operate a vehicle.

3. This fictitious alter ego invented by Garth Brooks released an album in 1999 featuring the Top 5 pop hit “Lost in You.”

4. Often noted as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, this 1973 progressive rock album is said to sync mysteriously with scenes from the 1939 film version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

5. This 1980s guitar god played the fantastic guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Beat it.”

 

Art:
1. Name one of the two most famous painters associated with cubism in the early 20th century.

2. Not long ago, a $4 million museum opened in Massachusetts to honor the paintings of a certain American artist who lived from 1894 to 1978, a person whose works are famous even to people who have never stepped foot in a museum. Who is this artist?

3. Sketches from which 15th century artist anticipated such modern inventions as the airplane and the tank?

4. Who painted the famous piece “The Persistence of Memory”?

5. Which Dutch painter cut of part of his ear after a quarrel?

 

Pop Culture:
1. Who famously said, “Let’s not forget this was all started by a mouse”?

2. This man was the owner of McDonalds from 1961 until his death in 1984.

3. Which of the following never appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series “The Office”?
(a) Ray Romano  (b) Amy Adams  (c) Will Arnett  (d) Ken Jeong
(e) Tim Meadows (f) Norm Macdonald

4. Supporters of Conan O’Brien during his turbulent year in 2010 pledged their love for the star by sporting t-shirts with his cartoonish image and a slogan that declared ”I’m with ________.”

5. After being silent for more than 100 years, Mr. Peanut has recently been given a voice. Which Oscar nominee performs this iconic character’s voiceovers?
(a) James Earl Jones  (b) Jonny Depp (c) Michael Douglass
(d) Robert Downey Jr. (e) Tim Allen  (f) David Duchovny

 

History:
1. In this historic year, Alaska became the 50th star on the flag.

2. This man was first republican candidate to become president of the U.S.

3. The assassination of this archduke of Austria in Sarajevo in June of 1914 is largely viewed as the catalyst for World War I.

4. The first American state to abolish slavery in 1777 was ______________________.

5. The Battle of Hastings in the year 1066 which resulted in William the Conqueror being crowned King of England was fought on this day.

  

Literature:
1. This middle-class born poet was the author of The Canterbury Tales and the first commoner to be buried at Westminster Abbey.

2. Stephen King sets most of his novels in this state.

3. This is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased associate from “A Christmas Carol.”

4. The title of this famous novel by John Steinbeck was taken from a line of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.

5. This acclaimed poet was known for his lack of punctuation and unusual syntax in poems such as “buffalo bill’s,” “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and “my father moved through dooms of love”

 

Sports:
1. When Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls for the first time in 1994, he signed a minor-league contract with what major league baseball team?

2. Which of these things found in the Olympics moves the fastest: Ice hockey puck, bobsled, luge, or speed skier?

3. If an NBA player wins the Maurice Poldolof Trophy, what title has he achieved?

4. What sport used the term “home run” long before baseball?

5. What NFL team hired the league’s first professional cheerleading squad in 1972?

 

Geography:
1. This is the only country whose name begins with an “A” but does not end with one.

2. The “most crowded” state (the one with the most people living per square mile) is _______________.

3. Which city is the capital of Australia?
(a) Perth (b) Canberra (c) Sydney (d) Melbourne

4. This lake is the largest fresh water lake in the world.

5. In which ocean are the Canary Islands located?

 

Potpourri
1. In the Catholic religion, what is the title of the church official ranking just below the pope?

2. This woman, noted for her beauty, was the daughter of Leda and Zeus and was abducted by Paris.

3. Which two had the starring roles in the film, Thelma and Louise ?

4. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream makers once tried to produce and market an ice cream product with what vegetable flavoring?

5. A gold ring that is 50% solid gold and 50% other metals will be rated how many carats?

 

Answers:

Music: (1) Andy Warhol (2) Keith Moon (3) Chris Gaines (4) Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (5) Eddie Van Halen

Art: (1) Picasso or Braque (2) Norman Rockwell (3) Leonardo DaVinci (4) Salvador Dali (5) Vincent Van Gogh

Pop Culture: (1) Walt Disney (2) Ray Kroc (3) Norm Macdonald (4) Coco (5) Robert Downey Jr.

History: (1) 1959 (2) Abraham Lincoln (3) Franz Ferdinand (4) Vermont (5) December 25th, Christmas Day

Literature: (1) Geoffrey Chaucer (2) Maine (3) Jacob Marley (4) “The Grapes of Wrath” (5) e e cummings

Sports: (1) Chicago White Sox (2) Speed skier: 140 mph (3) Most Valuable Player (4) Cricket (5) The Dallas Cowboys

Geography: (1) Afghanistan (2) New Jersey (3) Canberra (4) Lake Superior (5) Atlantic

Potpourri: (1) Cardinal (2) Helen of Troy (3) Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (4) Ketchup/Tomato (5)the term carats indicates the proportion of solid gold out of 24 parts


Jul 27 2011

#88 “Catchphrase!”

 

From Laura in Little Rock, Arkansas

“Stay cool, Bro…”  What a fantastic phrase. There is so much positivity contained within it. So much energy as well as an overt admonition to simply relax and take it easy. Also, there’s an implied sense of brotherhood. Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you: this phrase has it all: encouragement, love, support, and of course, a slight sense of nastalgia for the very recent past. This is one of those phrases that never really “went away,” but also, it seems that we probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that someone was “bringing it back.”

After pondering this wonderful wolf illustration and its eloquent catchphrase for a short while, my mind began to wander to some of the more popular phrases from pop culture that I remember from my youth. Then, another idea came upon me, and simply put, I have decided to bestow upon you a pop culture catchphrase game. Grab a friend or participate all by yourself; the choice is yours.

Here are the rules:
1. Examine the list of catchphrases below and then try to identify the character and the movie/television show that are most associated with the quote. Write down your answers separately; don’t shout them out. Also, make sure that you don’t sneak a peek at the answer key located below the phrases.
2. One point is awarded for the characer. Another point is awarded for the movie/show. Therefore, each quote is worth 2 points.
3. After all 25 phrases have been examined, the game is over. Check the answer key below and tally your scores.
4. The player with the most points is the winner and must treat the other players to ice cream immediately.

Catchphrases:
1. “Bam!”
2. “De plane! De plane!”
3. “Dynomite!”
4. “Hey! Hey! Hey!”
5. “I love it when a plan comes together.”
6. “Live long and prosper”
7. “Don’t have a cow, man.”
8. “No soup for you!”
9. “The tribe has spoken”
10. “The truth is out there.”
11. “You’re fired!”
12. “You eeeeeeediot!”
13. “Who loves you, baby?”
14. “Oh my God! They killed Kenny!”
15. “How you doin’?”
16. “Homey don’t play that!”
17. “Here’s Johnny!”
18. “Baby, you’re the greatest!”
19. “Space: The final frontier…”
20. “That’s hot…”
21. “Yabba dabba do!”
22. “Watchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
23. “You got it, dude!”
24. “Did I do that?”
25. “Good Grief!”

 

Answer Key:
1. Emeril Legasse, “Emeril Live”
2. Tattoo, “Fantasy Island”
3. J.J., “Good Times”
4. Fat Albert, “Fat Albert”
5. Hannibal, “The A-Team”
6. Spock, “Star Trek”
7. Bart Simpson, “The Simpsons”
8. The Soup Nazi, “Seinfeld”
9. Jeff Probst, “Survivor”
10. Fox Mulder, “The X-Files”
11. Donald Trump, “The Apprentice”
12. Ren, “Ren and Stimpy”
13. Kojac, “Kojac”
14. Kyle/Stan, “Southpark”
15. Joey, “Friends”
16. Homey the Clown, “In living Color”
17. Ed McMahon, “The Tonight Show”
18. Ralph Kramden, “The Honeymooners”
19. Capt. Kirk, “Star Trek”
20. Paris Hilton, “The Simple Life”
21. Fred Flintstone, “The Flintstones”
22. Arnold/Gary Coleman, “Diff’rent Strokes”
23. Michelle, “Full House”
24. Steve Urkel, “Family Matters”
25. Charlie Brown, “Peanuts”


Jul 26 2011

#87 “Freki”

From Heather

In some ways I have always felt that one of the prerequisites for living in this world is the belief in another world of pure fantasy. For no matter how exciting or how dreary this tangible world may be that we all reside in together, it seems that most of us are pulled to create in our minds an alternate sphere of existence in which everything that we wish was possible actually is possible. I’ve never been much of a role player myself (the closest I ever came was with the Lone Wolf book series as a child), but I have always been intrigued by the concept of such things. WarHammer, Dungeons and Dragons, WOW… They are all fascinating and wondrous in their own unique ways, and I think they can teach us a little something about human nature and the need for freedom, escape, creative outlets and imagination.

As a child I had a cousin (his name is David), who was very active in these fantasy circles. I have vague and distant memory of sitting with him at a family gathering and watching in wonder as he showed me all of the books and devices that accompanied the game that was his latest obsession. Specifically, I was enamored with some multi-sided dice that my brain had never before imagined.  I can’t for the life of me remember now what this specific game or series was, but I do remember that David offered to draw a character for me, an avatar, if you will. I was speechless, breathless with anticipation; David has always been a talented artist. The question was… What would I choose? An elf? A dwarf? A barbarian warrior? A wizened wizard? In the end I can’t even remember what form I decided upon, and I have no idea where that illustration is today, but I still remember the wonder associated with that idea of creating a character and residing in a whole new universe that is outside of our own. It’s quite an amazing feeling.

This brings us to the fantastic artwork that is on display today by Heather Sheppard. After seeing the Project Spotlight onCreaturemag.com, Heather emailed this picture and some accompanying information about this interesting wolven creature named Freki. As it turns out, Heather just happens to be an avid player of a roleplaying game called Changeling: The Lost (which just happens to be published by White Wolf, Inc.), and Freki is a Beast Kith character of hers.

The background that Heather offered for this amazing creature was very interesting and instantly drew me into this wonderful world of pure fantasy, but what I feel is even more amazing is the skill with which Heather was able to create this painting. There is a sense of drama that is present in this picture which shines through triumphantly, creating a work of art that is exciting and moving. You can almost hear Freki’s howl as she stands defiantly in the soft glow of the moonlight.

Incidentally, Heather has a number of other fantastic pieces which you can access at her website. Check out more of her work at dinobotillustration.com and prepare to be amazed.


Jul 25 2011

#86 “Space Wolf”

From Peter in Honolulu, Hawaii

The vastness of space and time has always been a little unsettling to me. I have a very vivid memory of sitting on the side of my bed as a child as tears streamed down my face. My mother, hearing or perhaps just sensing my concern, came and asked me what was wrong. I responded by saying that I was thinking of Heaven and that I was scared. The thought of living forever, of eternity, was something so unimaginable that I became overwhelmed with the thought of it. It was illogical and seemingly impossible.

But you needn’t breach the realm of religion or spirituality to encounter concepts that are beyond human comprehension. Think about space. Just think about it. Think about how large this universe is and how tiny it is compared to what may exist beyond it. This thought is so sobering that my wife often playfully refuses to look at pictures of the solar system. Simply put, she says that she is scared by the size of the planets and the universe and her size in relation to them. It might sound silly, but there is something to this notion, for we often fear what we don’t understand.

On a related note, I have recently begun to read The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. At the conclusion of the first book, the man in black discusses this notion with the gunslinger. Here are the words of the man in black:

The greatest mystery the universe offers is not life but size. Size encompasses life, and the Tower encompasses size. The child, who is most at home with wonder, says: Daddy, what is above the sky? And the father says: The darkness of space. The child: What is beyond space? The father: The galaxy. The child: Beyond the galaxy? The father: Another galaxy. The child: Beyond the other galaxies? The father: No one knows.

You see? Size defeats us. For the fish, the lake in which he lives is the universe. What does the fish think when he is jerked up by the mouth through the silver limits of existence and into a new universe where the air drowns him and the light is blue madness? Where huge bipeds with no gills stuff it into a suffocating box abd cover it with wet weeds to die?

Or one might take the tip of the pencil and magnify it. One reaches the point where a stunning realization strikes home: The pencil tip is not solid; it is composed of atoms which whirl and revolve like a trillion demon planets. What seems solid to us is actually only a loose net held together by gravity. Viewed at their actual size, the distances between these atoms might become league, gulfs, aeons. The atoms themselves are composed of nuclei and revolving protons and electrons. One may step down further to subatomic particles. And then to what? Tachyons? Nothing? Of course not. Everything in the universe denies nothing; to suggest an ending is the one absurdity.

If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading DEAD END? No. You might find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck through the shell (or find a door), what great and torrential light might shine through your opening at the end of space? Might you look through and discover our entire universe is but part of one atom on a blade of grass? Might you be forced to think that by burning a twig you incinerate an eternity of eternities? That existence rises not to one infinite but to an infinity of them?

…and I will leave you with that. But not before offering a sincere thank you to Peter from Hawaii. You’ve touched infinity with this illustration, Peter. Now, there’s no going back.


Jul 24 2011

#85 “Inspiration”

From Adam in Alexandria, Virginia

Several days ago, I posted a picture that was drawn in MSPaint and was comprised solely of scribbled lines. In that post, I briefly discussed the wonder involved in an artist’s ability to take “trash” and turn it into “treasure.” I also included a link in that post to a website that featured 40 fantastic works of art that were created solely from “everyday” discarded items.

Today’s post is like that one in some ways but is also totally different. As you can see from the picture above, this illustration does not appear to be comprised of pieces of trash or discarded items, but it does possess a look of construction that suggests to the eye that there is a “whole” here which is made up of a variety of “parts” or “pieces.” In a brief email exchange with Adam, I told him that it appeared to me that the illustration featured a wolf made out of pipe fittings. His reply struck me as truly interesting; he stated that he had not been inspired by pipe fittings but rather from an interesting and unusual conglomeration of wildly different stimuli. Here is the list of inspirations that Adam referenced for this piece: A leaking condensation line on a central HVAC, corrosion and decay in his townhouse, the “Pump House” level of the old Jurassic Park video game for the Sega Genesis, various robots and specifically Autobots, and finally, the White Zombie album “Astro Creep.”

I was a little confused by the White Zombie reference at first, but when I watched the video for “More Human than Human,” I began to understand. All in all, after reading the entire list and weighing what Adam had said, I was very impressed with this list of broad inspirations for a single illustration. It made me realize that ALL art is a connecting of dots, a polygamist marriage of various partners, a collection of guiding lights and  muses and models and stimuli.

We are all touched and influenced by so many different factors everyday. We are all different and unique and special, and we all interpret things differently. How else could you have a collection of illustrations with wolves being the only focus and end up with so many different styles and pieces?


Jul 23 2011

#84 “The Miracle”

From Emmi in Finland

We often refer to childbirth as “the miracle of life.” In truth, I believe that this a good moniker for this breathtaking and amazing act. When you really stop to think about it, the very notion that two individual beings can come together and create a new life that is wholly separate and independent from either of them is truly beyond words. I would not trade my place as a male, but I sometimes jealously wonder what it must feel like to experience the creative and selfless power that resides in giving life to another through birth.

Something that I don’t think we often think about, though, is the fact that most other animal species procreate in the same manner that we do. I am not necessarily trying to lower humans to the level of a base animal, but I do think that if we value the process of our procreation and view it in a similar light to that of animals, we may learn to have a deeper love and respect for the creatures that we share our planet with. True, a human child is not the same as a young wolf pup, and I know that there is no bond that truly compares to that of a human mother and child… but to consider the wolf mother… to know that she as well has held her young ones in her belly… to realize that she as well would die for her young… would kill for them… would do anything to protect them… surely this counts for something.


Jul 22 2011

#83 “Huh?”

From Jeremy in Atlanta, Georgia

Just one question for you to ponder today.

Who is more strange: the man who collects pictures of wolves drawn by strangers -or- the man who draws a tiny wolf in the corner of a Post-It Note, wads it into a ball, places it an envelope with a short, scribbled through copy of an Allen Ginsberg poem on the back and mails it to the first man?


Jul 21 2011

#82 “The Night is Young”

As a child of the 1980s, a strong sense of nostalgia pulls me towards almost anything that represents that decade. Fashion, music, television, celebrities, it doesn’t matter. If it’s from the 80s, it holds a special place in my heart. I believe that is why I love this particular illustration so much. There is simply something about this picture that takes me back to those Saturday mornings spent watching A.C. Slater call Zach Morris a “preppy” which would then transform into afternoons practicing hopelessly on my neon yellow skateboard and then morph further into nights of listening to REM on my Walkman.

The skateboard, shades and t-shirt slogan are the elements that speak most clearly to me, and while they may not necessarily be designed to intentionally suggest an 80s vibe, I feel that the spirit of these items undeniably reference that decade of pure excess in an understated (if not overt) manner.

Also, though, when I look at this wonderful illustration, I am reminded of a very modern video that I ran across just recently. The name of this viral vid is called “Carving the Mountains,” and it features a group of very talented young ladies called the Longboard Girls Crew. I know very little about this group of hardcore skater chicks except for the fact that they have completely mesmerized me with their breathtaking performance in the beautiful Madrid Mountains.

As you can see, the connection between the illustration and the video is somewhat obvious. The wolf appears to be riding a longboard, just like the “foxy” girls in the video; and based on the fact that the wolf is wearing high heals, we can only assume that she is female. Besides this, the fashion sense of the wolf and the ladies seems somewhat congruent, and clearly no one can argue that both are just about as “boss” and “radical” as they come.

The night may be young, but alas, I am not as young as I used to be. I guess my vicarious life begins now. Skate on, wolf. Skate on, ladies. Skate for me while you still can. Skate for me so I can remember…


Jul 20 2011

#81 “The Politically Correct Version…”

 

From Kat

There is certainly no shortage of Red Riding Hood themed pieces in my vast collection of wolf artwork, but this illustration is different from all the rest. There is a certain quality to this particular piece that sets it apart. After much thought and thorough examination, I have come to the conclusion that this mysterious feature is the mature rendering of both the girl and the wolf. There is a quality of adulthood that seems present in the eyes and the demeanor of each of these creatures. No, my friends, this isn’t the Little Red Riding Hood of your youth. This is a new version, an updated interpretation of a time-honored tale that blows the original out of the water.

In fact, this illustration reminds me of a retelling of the classic story that was published in a 1994 book called Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner, published by MacMillan Publishing Co., NY. Read for yourself and see if this upgraded illustration and this modernized telling of the tale don’t seem to match up perfectly.

There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house–not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.

On the way to Grandma’s house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. She replied, “Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.”

The wolf said, “You know, my dear, it isn’t safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone.”

Red Riding Hood said, “I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way.”

Red Riding Hood walked on along the main path. But because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma’s house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma’s nightclothes and crawled into bed.

Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and said, “Grandma, I have brought you some fat-free, sodium-free snacks to salute you in your role of a wise and nurturing matriarch.”

From the bed, the wolf said softly, “Come closer, child, so that I might see you.”

Red Riding Hood said, “Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have!”

“They have seen much, and forgiven much, my dear.”

“Grandma, what a big nose you have–only relatively, of course, and certainly attractive in its own way.”

It has smelled much, and forgiven much, my dear.”

“Grandma, what big teeth you have!”

The wolf said, “I am happy with who I am and what I am,” and leaped out of the bed. He grabbed Red Riding Hood in his claws, intent on devouring her. Red Riding Hood screamed, not out of alarm at the wolf’s apparent tendency toward cross-dressing, but because of his willful invasion of her personal space.

Her screams were heard by a passing woodchopper-person (or log-fuel technician, as he preferred to be called). When he burst into the cottage, he saw the melee and tried to intervene. But as he raised his ax, Red Riding Hood and the wolf both stopped.

“And just what do you think you’re doing?” asked Red Riding Hood.

The woodchopper-person blinked and tried to answer, but no words came to him.

“Bursting in here like a Neanderthal, trusting your weapon to do your thinking for you!” she exclaimed. “Sexist! Speciesist! How dare you assume that womyn and wolves can’t solve their own problems without a man’s help!”

When she heard Red Riding Hood’s impassioned speech, Grandma jumped out of the wolf’s mouth, seized the woodchopper-person’s ax, and cut his head off. After this ordeal, Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the wolf felt a certain commonality of purpose. They decided to set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation, and they lived together in the woods happily ever after.


Jul 19 2011

#80 “Poof!”

 

From Alex

Finally, a little straightforward wolf humor for a change! You don’t often find it that wolves are the centerpieces in comic strips, but Alex proves that this task can be accomplished with this untitled piece of comic genius.

Unfortunately, after showing this illustration to a number of people, I found that it was often met with a response of “I don’t get it…” So, for the sake of clarity, I will attempt to analyze/explain this comic on my own. I hope that my interpretation is true to Alex’ intentions.

As you can see, in the second frame of the strip, there appears to be some sort of gigantic explosion. Most people would assume that after such a momentous event, any creature nearby would have a very strong reaction of fear, surprise, etc. This goofy wolf, however, responds only by releasing a small “explosion” of his own. The juxtaposition of the huge mushroom cloud and the miniature fart is supposed to create a contrast that is somewhat humorous. Big explosion + little toot = ha ha! Understanding the where, when, why and how of the comic are not necessary in order to take in the humor; the reaction of the wolf is the aspect of the comic that is designed to be funny.

Thanks for the laugh, Alex. And don’t worry… I get it.


Jul 18 2011

#79 “The Mutant”

From Johanna in Sweden

I received this illustration from Johanna several days ago, and ever since that time, my mind has been reeling with the possibilities of what to say about this very unique picture. In her email, Johanna informed me that this mutant wolf and small anthropomorphic kitten are characters from a roleplaying game called Mutant: Undergångens Arvtagare. So, I know that these creatures exist in a world that is outside of our reality, and as a result, I’m not necessarily surprised to see a 4-armed wolf with regenerative powers playing catch with a kitten wearing a dress and a cardigan. I accept these elements of this picture without question.

However, beyond these obviously strange and intriguing elements, there is still something about this picture that sends chills down my spine. This scene is very artfully rendered and displays a great deal of skill, but… there is something unsettling here. Something unnerving that causes my heartbeat to quicken ever so slightly and the small hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention. In the end I can’t quite put my finger on this mysterious element that has evoked such an intense reaction from me, but I believe it is related to the physical environment in which these creatures are portrayed. Here we have these two being playing together, but the landscape that I can see appears somewhat dark and almost barren. On the one side of the illustration is a lone hill, darkened with overhanging clouds. And to the left there appears to be a city, but the feeling it gives me is a cold and impersonal one, almost as if it exists in some post-apocalyptic world. And where are the characters in relation to these other elements of setting? I’m not sure… but they appear to be in some gray, ashen field. And yet there are smiles upon their faces.

Perhaps this is where the strange feeling inside me arises from: in a world that appears so dark and foreign, so scary and mysterious, so filled with creatures beyond my understanding, there is still a sense of joy and even innocence. Perhaps the juxtaposition of these elements is simply too much for my brain to comprehend.

Thank you Johanna for this wonderful illustration. It is both beautiful as well as intriguing and it certainly set my mind to work.

To see more Johanna’s skilled artwork, visit her deviantart page here.


Jul 17 2011

#78 “Scribble Wolf”

From Craig

There are certain individuals who walk among us who can look at an everyday object that most of us would find mundane or unnoticeable, and in their mind’s eye, that ordinary object is transformed into something unique and extraordinary. I’ve always been amazed at how some people just seem to have this unique gift of “interpretation.”

When I gaze upon this impressive wolf by Craig, I am assured that he must be one of these talented artists who simply has that “creative eye.” Can you imagine what this illustration must have looked like in its early stages? I would love to see a time lapsed video of Craig constructing this wolf. How amazing it would have been to see the scribbles, the scant lines, the incomprehensible mess slowly transform into the beautiful bust of a proud wolf. Break this illustration down, and you would have nothing but a disarrayed jumble of chaotic markings, an explosion of cluttered marks, lying in shambles… but put them all together in the proper order, and look at what may be accomplished. Simply breathtaking.

In honor of this piece, I went searching on the web for other works of art that were made from discarded or everyday items. Check out this site, and be amazed.

Bravo, Craig. Fantastic work.


Jul 16 2011

#77 “Mission: Wolf”

From Jamie in Broomfield, CO

(Can you see the wolf? He’s on the left side…)

The email that I received in conjunction with this illustration from Jamie is more captivating and impressive than any commentary I could offer, so I hope she will forgive me if I forego any personal and original assessments and merely share with you some of the wonderful story that Jamie shared with me.

In her email Jamie related that she had become enamored with wolves when she saw her first real specimen in the 7th grade. Jamie was so wonderstruck by her experience that it stayed with her for a number of years. As a senior in high school, she spent more than 120 hours volunteering her time at Sinapu and Mission: Wolf. Jamie helped with a variety of activities while working at Mission: Wolf and also spent much time capturing images of the wolves in black and white photography. And thus this picture was born. Years after her experience at Mission: Wolf, Jamie used one of her photographs as inspiration for this masterpiece that she originally completed as an assignment for an art class.

In a statement of infinite grace in her email, Jamie thanked WBS for reminding her of her passion for the “majestic animal.” I feel I can only repay this wonderful compliment by encouraging you to read about the amazing sanctuary that served as an inspiration for this wonderful woman and her talent-filled artwork.

Thank you, Jamie. You are truly an inspiration.

Access Mission: Wolf here.


Jul 15 2011

#76 “Pack Mentality”

From Joel

What fine specimens greet our eyes today. As you can clearly see, these wolves by Joel are simultaneously beautiful and and artfully rendered, but they also accurately represent one of the most well-known features of the wolf lifestyle: the tendency to live and travel in packs. Now, there is a lot of information available as to why wolves live and travel in groups, and if you are curious, you can access information here. But when you think about it, many reasons for existence of the wolfpack can easily be guessed. For one, it makes hunting prey easier. It also allows for greater personal security, helps to ensure the availability of mates, and provides a “social” outlet for the animals.

When you translate the concept of the pack into the realm of human existance, things can get a little tricky. There are a variety of sides to this issue and many ways to examine it. Some might argue that the global society formed by increased technological communication is in turn increasing the human pack mentality. Others argue that this same phenomenon is actually decreasing true human interaction and is only serving to isolate people. On another note, when you look at most modern communities, many people don’t have anything that resembles a close personal relationship with their neighbors. This is probably due to the fact that as our society progresses and the ease of acquiring the necessities and amenities of life increases, our reliance on those that live in a close proximity to us decreases. But, eventhough we not know the person who is living next door to us, it can also be argued that there are more social outlets than ever before in terms of activities that range from recreational softball teams to the wild world of LARPing.

So what can we do? What conclusions about the “human pack” can be reached when the viewpoints that are so fundamentally different? I’m not really sure, but here’s a start: I think that we can all agree that we need each other. Not necessarily for survival, but still… we need each other. Ne need the warm smiles, the firm handshakes, the loving embraces, the gentle holding of hands that only another human can offer. And if we truly believe this, why not make the choice to today? Add life to the pack. Be kind to one another. Show love in every way possible in your daily life. Let your life be a blessing to others. If we all pull together, there’s no telling what we may accomplish.

Thanks for the artwork, Joel. Your contribution is a reminder of the selflessness and beauty that I hope to practice in my own life.


Jul 14 2011

#75 “The Wolf Flag Unfurled”

From Matt

The day that private citizens and world leaders alike have feared for eons is finally upon us. Today is the day that wolves demand their independence. This revelation comes not with a formal declaration, but with the unfurling or the great flag of the newly formed Wolf Nation. Behold the banner of the State of the Wolf. Notice its alternating dark and light yellow hues. These two shades of the same color represent two separate aspects of the animal. The first, brighter shade represents the exuberance and joy that is associated with this beautiful creature, but the second, darker shade is representative of progress, change and transformation. Additionally, you’ll notice that the flag here is divided into eight distinct sections. Needless to say, each division represents a separate aspect of Wolfdom. These are Pride, Strength, Solidarity, Wisdom, Courage, Oneness with Nature, Compassion, and Responsibility.

Although the wolf in the center of the banner may not seem to be of a particular species, do not be deceived into thinking that this is some mistake on the part of the designer. In fact, just the opposite is true. This wolf was drawn in such a way as to represent wolves of all species and draw them into a single, unified rendering of all wolves throughout the world. For you see, this creature possesses the snout of the Dire Wolf, the haunches of the Arabian Wolf, the eyes of the Tundra Wolf, the forepaws of the Golden Jackal, the ears of the Maned Wolf, the fur of the Grey Wolf, the teeth of the Alaskan Tundra Wolf, and the tail of the Alexander Archipelago Wolf.

The flag is being raised. The winds of changes begin to blow.

While some of us may be taken in and shown mercy by the newly formed Council of the Wolf, others of us shall surely fall in the countless battles that will rage for years to come as the Race of the United Wolf fights for equal rights in a world in which human ignorance and infrastructure have stripped the creature of its lifeblood. Make no mistake- although I am indeed a human and do not desire the destruction of my own species, I cannot deny the likelihood that we all shall stand on a bloodsoaked patch of soil, staring up at the noisily flapping lupine pennant as hundreds, thousands, nay, millions of howls ignite our ears in a furious victory call.

The dawn of the day that will spell the end of human dominance race is at hand. Decide for yourself what action you will take: Stand and fight, tuck tail and run, or join the wolf and accept a place of submission by his side…

The choice is yours. Quickly, though…. here they come!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!


Jul 13 2011

#74 “Acquainted with the Night”

From Jen

I am convinced that Mother Nature can offer no image that is more soul-stirring than that of the lonesome lobo, perched triumphantly upon a monolithic promontory while the silver moon anoints its fur with a shimmering glaze of light. There is so much emotion tied to this one image, so much longing and regret, so much desire and sadness, all of it intersecting at this one point. It’s enough to capture the deepest reaches of the human soul that have yet to be explored by introspection and dredge them up to the light of day that resides inside the conscious mind. Laying eyes upon this creature is like tangentially connecting to a universe in which we are merely strangers and yet we know that in some far away time and place, in some distant history that was never recorded, this was our home.

As much as we long to belong to this wild and wondrous scene, we must be content to exist in a world in which we have taken our own selves as prisoners. We may admire the wolf at a distance, but we are not of the same breed; yes, we are all made of the stuff of stars, but in some different formula. Only the wolf knows his own world, and disappointing as it might be, this must be accepted. We may touch this wild and strange world of wonder every so often, but we are not wolves, ourselves. We are not the fearless, wandering conquerers of the moonlight skies.

We are not “Acquainted with the Night” as they are….

“Acquainted with the Night”
By Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.


Jul 12 2011

“73 “A Midsummer Night’s Wolf”

From Emily in Chattanooga.

It’s often a wondrous experience to sit back and examine the path that the stream of one’s life has taken and to speculate what further twists and turns lie just beyond the next bend. Who can predict the track that a stream takes on its journey to the sea? Each of us must sail the river of his own existence; the eddies that pull us back and the rapids that tumultuously present life’s problems are unique and individual. Even so, at times our separate waters may overlap and become one; and thus we may become a part of waterways vast and deep and then a short while later branch off into tributaries both narrow and shallow and drift back into our own individual existences once again.

Just recently my path crossed serendipitously with a young woman in my own community known as Emily who just happens to be the illustrator of today’s post. In an accompanying letter, Emily described how she found an orange Easter egg that I had hidden in downtown Chattanooga and opened it to discover a miniature WBS flier inside. She said that she had made immediate plans to draw a wolf and send it in, but for whatever reason her intentions never came to fruition until she happened to be walking along on one of Chattanooga’s many bridges and came upon one of my fliers. It was then that she knew that fate was calling her to produce this masterpiece of “A Midsummer Night’s Wolf” and contribute it to the Wolves by Strangers project.

How stranger and funny life can be sometimes. In a community in which some people have not ever heard of this project, this young lady just happened to come into contact with my pleas in two different ways and at two different times, months apart. And then, when she did comply with the request, she did so in a way that could not be better suited to my personal interests. How could she have known that I am an ardent fan of classic literature and have studied the work of Shakespeare quite extensively? And on top of this, how could she have known of my love for unusual modern poetry when she included the poem below?

I’m not sure. I guess life is just funny sometimes.

“There are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves”
by James Kavanaugh

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.