Welcome to the newsletter, and thank you for being interested enough to subscribe. This is an attempt (if it's not too conceited) to try and have a more meaningful interaction with friends and family that isn't brokered by third parties or made in the interest of ego-stroking. So feel free to write back or add me to your own mailing list. I'd love to hear what you all are up to!

The header and footer were hastily tossed together, and I want to note that the drawings are from a book about space travel called "First Men To The Moon" written by Werner Von Braun and illustrated by Fred Freeman. Here's some tumblrs where you can see some of Freeman's other work. Absolutely gorgeous stuff.

While we're on the subject of space, this is a great little infinite canvas visualization of the distances in the solar system called "If the Moon Were Only One Pixel"  http://joshworth.com/dev/pixelspace/pixelspace_solarsystem.html If you're like me, you'll get bored with the activity about the time you get to Mars (which is what I would probably say in a real spaceship too.) Bottom line, space is big.

And here's a thing I wrote:

This space suit is sorry.

He'd like to offer excuses.

He'd like to draw your attention to the fact that the spaceship is filled with mirrors.

The mirrors are so perfectly fitted that the interior presents a false sense of itself. It gleams and enamors and enlarges. That's why it happened.

And, when the space suit was so sick with the constant sight of itself that the vomit spread across the inside of its helmet

it closed its eyes and swayed to the stomach turning lurch of the mirror lined capsule

And groaned under the weight of the acceleration

And listened to the lies that all spaceships whisper.

 

This spacesuit is sorry.

It lost it's footing and tumbled, dust particles rising into thinning air that will never settle in the same place again.

And meanwhile (back at the ranch), that abscess, that black hole, that devourer of space and folder of time

along with the devoured itself

all ran together like wet paint in the embryonically soft interior of the spacesuit.

It grew like mushrooms and began working holes the way soft brown moths work on closet coats.

 

Either way, sorry is not enough. Not as far as space suits go.

So it's begun cataloging the impossibly complex wiring under the consoles in the mirror lined capsule

and working a pocket knife into the locks on the briefcase that is chained to its wrist and is marked "heirlooms".

 

This space suit is sorry.

World War I

It's the 100 year anniversary of World War I, and I've always found that imagery compelling. (You can click the images to get a better look at them.)

I've been trying to get back in the practice of keeping a sketchbook and I've found that I'm enjoying spending a lot of time on a single drawing, building up layers then smudging them all down, and using the eraser in tandem with the pencil. For a while there, I tried to be quick and loose, probably a by-product of focusing on comics for a long time, putting energy and gesture in front of rendering. I'm enjoying this new stuff, it's more delicate and time consuming. Almost meditative. 

The Atlantic website is running  a huge visual retrospective on the subject of WWI that serves as great drawing reference. Dan Carlin has a painstakingly detailed multi part part series on WWI running now (it's currently up to 10 hours of listening and believe it or not, it's awesome.) Also, the History Extra podcast from the BBC has an illuminating (and brief) feature on Gavrilo Princip, the almost forgotten 19 year old assassin who shot Archduke Ferdinand, pushing over the very first domino that starts the largest war that humanity had ever seen. The aftermath of which sets the stage for the Second World War, etc... Thank God I had very little ambition at 19!

And now music!

Hopefully I'll figure out how to embed a youtube link in this newsletter, but for now it's just simple text. Trust me, you can click it and it won't steal your identity.

This is Seans Watkins of Nickel Creek fame playing a song called "Never Sit Down" at McCabe's music here in LA. Such a lovely song, nice and light with a bit of sadness in the lyrics. And a great bit of flatpicking! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyarojZM4CE

Incidentally, the guy sitting next to him is Tom Brosseau, who wrote one of my all-time favorite songs "How to Grow a Woman From the Ground". Here's a link to his version (not the more popular version by Chris Thile, also of Nickel Creek fame): http://youtu.be/5vcWe--L7AM

And finally here's Peter Mulvey (of Redbird) doing a brilliant song called "Sad, Sad, Sad and far away from home" http://youtu.be/Vlux0ZsOa0Y This is an album version, but you can fnd Redbird doing it acoustic and it's well worth the 99 cents.

And that's the first missive! Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you have any thoughts. All the best to you all,

--Neal

www.nealvonflue.com