Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Once upon a time, I defined myself as an artist. I was young, and full of crazy ideals.

Later, after thrashing around with the real world, I found myself thinking, “I used to be an artist.”

Recently, Marty Halpern suggested I inquire about using Ron Walotsky's cover painting for the original Tor edition of Cortez on Jupiter for the ebook. It's a wonderful painting -- if I had the money to throw around, I wouldn't mind owning it. Some of my hand-lettering would look nice over it . . .

But – it would be the perfect cover if I was marketing it to folks who felt nostalgic about the good old days when the novel first came out. Are there many folks like that out there? Did I want to limit my sales to a subgroup of aging literary science fiction fandom?

Also, how would that detailed image look shrunk down to thumbnail size, the way people browsing for ebooks would encounter it?

And, I was – and still am, at the moment – in this room that is filling up with sketches I've been doing for the Cortez on Jupiter ebook cover. Nothing definite yet. Experiments.

See? Present me with a situation, and I turn into an artist. I can't help it. It's an addiction.

I never got along with whole fine art business. Those kind of artists, and the whole gallery thing, make me uncomfortable. Who buys fine art anyway? I don't know anybody who buys paintings on a regular basis.

My sensibility is somewhere between a cartoonist and a bullfighter. Yeah, there's this surrealistic thing going there, left over from the hunter/gather instincts to make ritual images to attract the animals for us to kill and eat so the tribe will survive.

It sure does translate into strange business when you do it in the Twenty-First Century, and plug it into the brave new media . . .

So, I may never make my living as an artist, but leave me to my business, and I'll end up making some kind of art. I can't help it. It makes my life complicated, interesting.

It may eventually kill me, but it's not boring.

On the upside: being an artist, I don't have to hire one. Not being a “real professional,” I can easily afford me.

And I do like my own work.

So, as I go about my humble day job, in my brain there's all these images, and strategies for constructing them on paper and computer, flashing like a psychedelic light show . . . letters that look like flying liquid . . . the Great Red Spot as an abstract expressionist/graffiti/gonzo icon . . . cool colors burning through hot . . .

I gotta do something that Pablo Cortez will be proud of. I gotta.

It's an addiction.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I confess my love of bullfighting in my latest Chicanonautica over at La Bloga.

This was bit of a problem when it came to coming up with extras to offer here at Mondo Ernesto -- seeing that a lot of you out there are sensitive artistic and literary types who get disturbed by videos of actual bullfights. Luckily, over the decades, animators have recognized tauromaquia's cinegenic qualities. So here's three wonderful bullfighting cartoons:

First, we give some time to the "anti" viewpoint from everyone's favorite two-fisted vegetarian:

Next an example of high weirdness from the twisted mind of Tex Avery:

And finally, a masterpiece of the ridiculous and the sublime (often simultaneously) by the immortal Chuck Jones:

Friday, June 17, 2011


Household archaeology unearthed a box of art from our overloaded, walk-in closet. There was also an old sketchbook in it, with an interesting first page:

I don't know what day it is. Me & Em are in love, in Mexico City – that futuristic metropolis built on ancient foundations that exhales magic realism in its smog: A fire-eater entertains motorists at a busy intersection . . . live, if seemingly zombified rattlesnakes are part of a street-show for “natural healing”. . . across the street from our hotel a show of fantastic artists appears overnight . . . a painted vampire seals a a broken window . . . and then, across the street from Las Galaxias (a strip joint) is the incredible Hotel Ixtaban, a facade without a building, decorated with nude goddess statues, no signs of life, but at night the sputtering neon sign somehow goes on . . .

Later, I would go on to write Cortez on Jupiter, High Aztech, and Smoking Mirror Blues. I also married Em. People ask why I'm smiling.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


"The Frankenstein Penis," the most infamous of my short stories, the subject of unauthorized translations, reprints, and two student films is going to be reprinted. And it's a real deal this time: I signed a contract, and they're going to give me some real American money.

So look out for the anthology The Love that Never Dies: Undead Erotica edited by M. Christian. Watch this blog for the details . . .

Friday, June 10, 2011


Over at La Bloga, I pay tribute to Leonora Carrington in my latest Chicanonautica. Here at Mondo Ernesto, I'm offering up extras about some associated artists:

Leonora had an important relationship with one of my favorite surrealists, Max Ernst:

And how can talk about female artist connected with Mexico, with mentioning Frida Kahlo?

Once we've mentioned Frida, we've got to bring up Diego Rivera:

And last, but by no means least, Leonora's good friend, Remedios Varo:

Friday, June 3, 2011


Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you've got any guts.

Frank Zappa

I hadn't been in a library since I started working for Borders back in 2000. Full-timing it there was like being held hostage. It's amazing that I did all the writing and drawing, and that I published all that stuff during that time. Libraries have changed in the New Millennium – computers and Wi-Fi for the public, lots of DVDs, CDs, audiobooks.

As a page, my time is divided between wrangling books in the back room, checking them in, packing them for shipping to other libraries, pushing around carts of books to shelve, and picking them up from reading tables. We find out what people want, then use computers, lasers, and the laying on of hands to connect customers with the object of their desire.

So much better than trying to work the "make titles" that Borders wanted us to push into every conversation with a customer, so we could meet the quota Corporate had decreed.

I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it's better than college.

Ray Bradbury

I did my own version of Ray Bradbury's self-education through the library. During the Great Recession back in the Nineteen-Seventies, it just made more sense to me than running up humungous Student Loan debt getting a degree that would qualify me to be an administrator or a bureaucrat, when I wanted to be a writer/artist/adventurer.

And I became a writer/artist/adventurer.

Yeah, I'm not rich, but not many people do become rich doing the crazy stuff I do. And there are a lot of rich people our there who aren't as happy as I am. I need to work part-time at a library, but now I have more time to do what I love to do.

And work on making this madness pay.

The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

Kurt Vonnegut

The library isn't just a great place to work, it's a great place to be. As I do the work, I'm walking around, eyebrow deep in serendipity. I can't help but be inspired.

All kinds of cultural artifacts pass in front of my eyes and through my hands. My brain gets titillated through the work day. And I discover new things I wouldn't have otherwise run across.

Then there's the people; they're working on something, be it getting a job or trying to overthrow the government, the homeless with laptops, girls with scarifications or headscarfs, men in kilts and sarongs, those people who need constant entertainment, and folks who are looking for something.

The library is a great place to look for things, even in the age of the Internet. You see, kids, believe it or not, there is a helluvalota stuff in this universe that isn't just a Google search away. I know, I've spent most of my life looking for more information on things that the usual, handy sources don't know diddlely about. I kept asking teachers about things that they knew nothing about, and eventually I realized that if I wanted to satisfy my curiosity, I was on my own.

I've found that the library is a good place to search, especially after you can't find something online. You may find that there isn't much in the library either, but that means you'll have to go off on a quest, keeping your eyes wide open in the wild, real world. It may take you years, decades -- hell, you may never find what you're looking for, but your life will be interesting.

And that's the way I plan to keep on enjoying myself.