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the Artisan Rogue

– Travels, Trials, and other Tumultuous Tales

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Jul '15

Migrating over to Blogger.

Using the url www.theartisanrogue.com will now forward you to this blogger url: http://theartisanrogue.blogspot.com/

After some deliberation, I decided to move this WordPress blog’s content over to the new Blogger site I created, since all of my other blogs are located on Blogger.

A few new updates have already been posted in my new blog, and I’ve already started letting people know I am moving this site over.

The content on this one will be available for about another 30 days, but you will see content begin to disappear as it is migrated/copied over to blogger.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you all continue to do so over on blogger. 🙂 – Mario, the Artisan Rogue.

Mar '15

Just a lazy Sunday evening (minus an hour because of Daylight Savings time)

Weekends as of late have been a mix of spending time reflecting on plans for the rest of this year show wise. Organization is one of those things that has never been my strong suit, but is the one main thing that I needed to make a mental change on.

As many of you know, I work during the day primarily as a Production Artist and fill the rest of my time with all kinds of other efforts that I keep up. That leads to the inevitable moments of having to recharge because of burn out. Sometimes I have some unusual stuff happen, and I’m always glad I have a camera on me so I can record those odd little random things in life.

It seems like I always stumble across some oddball things out there. The glove I can explain, the hula hoop? I'm at a loss, but I keep thinking it was a hula hoop lesson gone very horribly awry.

It makes for stimulus for funny incidents or story developments in my head. (I actually was extremely tired the morning I saw that glove in a parking garage and waved at it… like it was a person. Things didn’t get weird until I took the picture and complimented the lost glove by uttering “Well played, lost glove, well played.”)

Two of the latest illustrations I finished up. Look for these to be listed online for sale soon. "the Crow" will have a limited run of repros. "Wolverine" will not.

When I do get overwhelmed with either work or life in general gets to be a bit too much, I try to look for things that let me deflate and get re-inspired. So like most guys in their forties, eating in awesome basement level restaurants that look like a speakeasy and wandering around indoor flea markets looking for reference and things like that.

I'll have a review on Trip Advisor later this month about the restaurant, and a review on Rogue Hobbyist on this beautiful old book from 1927.

But recently, I found a powerful recharge for me. Hosts Chuck Duran and Stacey Aswad put on an incredible show that’s been going for some years now about the Voice Over industry, and for me it’s something I didn’t know I craved to know more about.

Doing Voice Over work is one of those things where, you can feel isolated, yet it’s the most incredible high I can think of that comes from within me, even when compared to just creating something on paper with pencil. I’m just a beginner with a lot of questions in this field, but I am glad I live in a day where there is something as informative and entertaining as VO Buzz.

Where was this all my life?

There are well over one hundred episodes that have an incredible array of actors that tell some of the best stories that go beyond the whole voice acting market. Episodes 81 and 82 with Charlie Adler are some of the best ones in my opinion (I would kill to work with that guy), but great episodes with June Foray, Jess Harnell… so many to enjoy and learn from. If you’ve always wanted to know more about the industry, check out their website, and FB page. I can tell you that I’ve learned things from their show that I do here in my home studio, that I can’t wait to get out on the microphone.

So I’ll keep this Sunday late night update short, as I’ve got warm weather with a cool breeze setting in this evening, and I honestly don’t feel like doing anything else but just watch some more episodes and not think about art, since tomorrow is now coming one hour sooner than it was yesterday.

Thanks Daylight Savings Time…

Until next time, this is Mario, the Artisan Rogue. Support your local artists, love your fellow beings, and have a great week!

Jan '15

Artwork, updates, and social meanderings.

Tools of the trade for a working artist are like any other tools. You can make sacrifices in quality or capability to get work done, or you can luck out as I did and find a great essential upgrade in the form of a gigantic format Mustek scanner for being able to scan in my comic pages in one pass. I’m not going to lie, this thing easily scans 11×17 pages so fast and so well, it’s not funny. I had been struggling in the past to try and use my other smaller scanner and wasted more time cleaning up and re-aligning two or three scans to form up one page of a comic.

Pencil for a sense of scale on the top of it. It's big, it's heavy, and it's black. But it streamlines my work load in so many ways.

I lucked out and found this beauty for about $70 because it had a damaged outer box. Eventually, as I start covering more art supplies and computer components on my Rogue Hobbyist blog, I’ll do a full review of this scanner. The first scan I made with it was actually strip seven below from my Max Mogulby series (which will be available in the upcoming graphic novel I am doing that will have a LOT, a LOT of stuff to it… more on that later).

Humidity is the silent enemy of all outdoor art fairs.

In other good news, a wonderful company out of Florida, Data Analyzers, have the distinction of performing no small miracle on saving the data that had gone down the tube a while back. I didn’t have the cloud back up of Carbonite going yet, and when that Seagate drive I was backing everything up to went… oh god. Maybe some of you can relate, but I lost at that time, artwork, digital creations, whole storylines, scripts, photos, video footage… you name it. A LOT of client work had been stored on it (which I can admit to now as it’s all been recovered) so to say I was having a slow meltdown laced with a bout of insane nerves all year long, is putting it mildly. So lessons learned here on a professional level…

  1. If you don’t have cloud back up… get it. Soon. Now. Yesterday.
  2. Even if you do have cloud back up, have a second hard drive for your back up locally, whether it’s internal or external.
  3. Always remember that digital is not forever, companies go out of business, new formats come out, and being organized with your files is paramount to being prepared.

What else has been going on? Well, if traffic is any indication, my blogs have started becoming far more read as of late. I run this WordPress one for my main site, and as some of you long time readers might remember, I covered a lot of other things aside from my just my art profession on here. After talking to many people at shows, I understood that many would prefer to have another place to read about some of the sideline things I do, but that they did enjoy the stuff I wrote about. During this time, I was lucky enough to get involved with blogging for Tenacious Toys, and after learning quite a bit from the owner of that site Benny Kline, I’ve worked out how to streamline my efforts and make my updates more organized and hopefully more entertaining to read.

Speaking of my other blogs, I have some new updates on there for those of you interested, check out Rogue Hobbyist, for me reminiscing about GamesDay 2003 and my earliest encounter with Warhammer Online. I’ve also added a few more visual flourishes like a new banner graphic, and my GamersGate account info.

If you’re into Lego, I have a nice little overview of some Indiana Jones minifigures over on Tenacious Toys that I posted a bit earlier in the week, and I’ve got my first review of a Lego Heroica game coming up this Monday as well.

Trying to kick out freelance as fast as possible to get caught up before the end of the month. This was a commission for Supergirl.

Though I work at Hallmark full time during the week, I have to find time to get my blog updates and artwork accomplished. At the first of this year, I started coming in to work at 6:30am instead of 9am, and took shorter lunch times so that I could get off work as early as possible to avoid rush hour as well as manage to get home at a respectable time. I also started to write blog entries, poetry, and storylines for 20 minutes out of each of half hour lunch breaks.

One of the test shots I did prior to capturing the final for a 365 photo project that I joined with some friends.

Taking new efforts to experiment with ideas and imagery has been an enjoyable recent thing. I consistently research how color, motion, form, and interaction of light work in the real world. Some of it through filming things, some through sketching, but the vast majority is through photography.

I think one of the things I spend about three to four hours a week doing is just organizing and labeling photographs that I download off my phone. I always wondered if that could ever be part of the drama in films that talk about the creative process with artists. You know, when they show artists being these moody or wild types that are maybe a bit unhinged or so soaked up in the creation of a work of art? What about the times when it’s 1:30 am and that same artist is just sitting at a computer relabeling jpegs? Or while you’re waiting for a video to render, or a work to dry, we don’t all go drink wine, or stare wistfully at the night skyline. I in fact just stay seated and play a game on my phone. That or nod off for a quick one minute moment of sleep.

If it weren't for casual gaming, I'd never be able to make it through some days.

But, the good news is all of the work that had been done for the next comic issue I was going to put out, as well as the work I had done for my compendium graphic novel was saved by Data Analyzers, so both of those will be debuting this year.

Well, since I need to get back to drawing and writing now, I hope this year has been going well for all of you, and I’ll have more to post up before the end of the month. I will leave you with this…

Today I found an old printout from GeoCities, and it showed my old neighborhood in Area 51, I started my website when I turned 16, and it’s now on version 15.0 (I’ve revamped the design only that many times…) so that makes my website, which was then purchased by Yahoo, till this new year, at 24 years years old. That is literally one of the most surreal things I can contemplate.

My website is going to be 25 years old next year. I keep thinking I should do something to commemorate that fact… but I’m not sure what.

Till then, support your local artists, respect your environment, and always offer a helping hand. – Mario, the Artisan Rogue

Jan '15

Tenacious Toys and Rogue Hobbyist reviews!

Just a quick heads up on my first review for the new year over at Tenacious Toys.


The review covers the far superior Disney Store version, but superior doesn't mean perfect.

As well as a full review of the Raven action figure over at my Rogue Hobbyist blog.


A review of the incredible Raven figure from the Gothitropolis line by the Four Horsemen.

I’ve got a lot more coming over the next few weeks, so wish me luck as I jump headfirst into what should hopefully be a load of blogging and reviews of things. Till next time!

– Mario

Dec '14

Last day of the year, late night on a long break.

Last minute thoughts in this year of two thousand and fourteen.

I had a few images I wanted to share of some of the stuff I had done right prior to having an almost two week break from work, and during it. Hallmark has this over week and a half time frame that no one goes to work, so it’s a heck of a mental reset for people including myself, that work there. Top that off with all of our offices being moved shortly after we come back to work, and I’m sure as a creature of habitual routines, it will be uncomfortable and welcome at the same time.

I got to customize a stocking at work. To get candy in.

When I got to work one day, all of the people in my work group were requested to take some of the handed out craft materials and dress up a stocking so that our managers could stuff them with assorted candies. It was a fun break from the norm, and was the first time I’d ever used glitter glue. It’s not something that I use everyday. 😀

The finished stocking. The Nelson Atkins Museum had a beautiful Christmas tree on display.

That’s the customized and now filled stocking up above. Later that week, I went to go see the Native American Plains Indian exhibit at the Nelson. The center entryway had a magnificently large Christmas tree with a manger scene.

I’ve always been one that holds off on being overly excited about Christmas. I’m not a fan of the commercialism of it by any stretch of the imagination. But I do like how, for at least a little while many places seem cheery and more joyous to be at during this season. I think it’s the decorations that get me now as I get older.

To this day, I am still very guilty of drawing things in my notes margins. (Right) A recording booth I was totally unaware of at Hallmark.

Before we broke for the holiday break, I auditioned for another voice role at Hallmark. This time I got to do it in a studio that I didn’t know was there. Hallmark is a massive, and winding place. I know for the first few months when I came back as contractual, I literally videoed with my phone, where I had walked in at and how to get to my cubicle. It’s so odd because I rarely get lost in the outdoors, but stick me in a building, and I’m hopeless.

The recording booth was huge. I actually preferred this one because if I had wanted to cut loose and get into character, I had the space to do so.

So some of the other things that have happened,… hmmm, well I went to go see the final Hobbit movie. I enjoyed it, a lot. It was like watching a massive table top miniature game come to life at times, and there were some deviations from the Hobbit book that at first I really questioned, but in the end, I think it was my favorite of the three. I was sad that this would be the last of Peter Jackson’s vision of his take on Tolkien’s world. Well, save the obligatory extended directors cut that is sure to be out by March or August.

When I had watched the LotR movies he made, I enjoyed watching the appendices because of all of the behind the scenes stuff. It had been some years since I last watched them, and was happy to see that his new extended editions for the Hobbit movies continued with more appendices.

I think this eternally makes me a geek for all the ages, I don't know anyone else that has shadowbox framed thier old video card that met it's end during an especially monumental day, the last day of Warhammer Online. The video card on the left above is the latest one I am using in my rig.

One good thing that happens around Christmas is all of the insane restocking sales that occur everywhere. I picked up some shadowboxes from Micheals, and used the first one already. Yes, that is indeed an Nvidia graphics card, the one that had been in my gaming rig for all of the time that I had played WAR: Age of Reckoning when the game was still live and on EA servers. I gamed until I had cramps in my wrist that hurt like hell. I literally had my video card burn out the morning after almost 36 hours of power gaming with the rest of my online guild.

So, I took one of the last time cards I had for the game, a screenshot of my Disciple of Khaine named Gillradon in his best armor and items, and my burned out cpu graphic card and framed them. That is how much of a geek I am. And I have absolutely no shame about that. In fact, check out my hobby blog if you’d like, I just updated that tonight as well.

Well, I’m going to be happy that for the first time in over a decade, I don’t have to baby sit a room full of drunk people.

See you all next year, when I’ll talk about and show more artwork that I’ve been working on.

-Mario, the Artisan Rogue

Dec '14

What the holidays meant to me, in the middle of summer.

A quick story that happened to me in the summer of 2012.

I had gotten off of work at the bar, I remember it was about 4 am or so. There is a grocery store that stays open 24 hours near my neighborhood, so I stopped by there to get my shopping for the week done so I’d not have to mess with it later on Sunday.

I was always known for wearing a lot of gear and body armor when I worked my night shift. Believe it or not, though the majority of it was because of personal safety, a good portion of it (taking a cue from Batman) was for psychological effect. People, when inebriated, are far less prone to want to mess with you if you look more prepared, or like someone that should be taken seriously/not trifled with. It was not out of ego, it was out of the very real position of safety and self preservation when I often had to walk to my vehicle after work when people we’d thrown out were on the streets at times.

Now, understand, that the people at the grocery store never looked at my any differently as they knew I worked late night security, but I never really was spoken to much by any of the other late night patrons when there were any. So suffice to say that I was surprised when I was approached by a fellow seemingly about my age, whom I had noticed but assumed he would not say anything to me.

He came up slowly saying, “Hey sir, evening sir… ” I looked up directly at him, and still had that adrenaline feeling in me (from an altercation that had happened perhaps two hours earlier at the bar), so I must have looked a bit riled.

“Yo, man, I’m not the enemy, bro.” he said.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

He seemed to be on edge, a little nervous.

“Sir, if you could help me out… I… have you got a bit of change you could spare?” he asked. He looked directly at me, and it didn’t seem like there was any sort of deviance in his eyes.

Now, I’d just gotten off of work. I had a small extra payout of $10 in my pocket, and about $21 extra that I had to use on groceries. Mind you, at this point, I was working on a limited budget. Art sales were slow, working late nights at that point had really begun to take it’s toll on me as a person… no patience, no sympathy… (now that I look back at that time, I really didn’t like myself that much). BUT, there was something in this guy’s voice, something that harkened me back to some really low points in my life, when I was going through a rough patch, and how some people in my life had taken the chances to help me out.

“Um,… look man. I know things are tough, but I tell you what. Let me go get what groceries I need and I’ll give you what I have left.” I said to him.

“Alright man, thank you.” he replied.

“You alright?” I asked him, as he was still acting a bit odd, skittish really.

“Yeah. I’m just trying to stay out of the camera angle for the parking lot. They keep calling the cops on me. I was just trying to catch a nap over on the soil bags.” he explained.

There was no whining, nothing more than a matter of fact sort of tone that lined his reply.

As I was inside, I kept thinking about the fact that I had other food at home, that I could make it until Friday with just one or two other things. I must have wandered for about 15 minutes in there, just thinking.

I felt torn, as believe me, there are professional pan handlers all over KC, especially downtown. I got to know a few. There are also truly people that are down on their luck.

I went and got him an 8 bottle pack of water, two sandwiches from the deli area, and a large bag of chips. After I got through checkout, I had right around eleven dollars left.

I walked out, still questioning if I was making a big mistake. I mean chances were, this guy might get pissed at me and maybe just take the cash to use on stupid shit. Sometimes when you see the underbelly of the ugliness of people on weekends, you begin to stigmatize everyone with hateful notions.

As I walked out, I caught him in the corner of my eye, over by the soil bags gathering some stuff into a sling bag. He saw me, and walked over as I started to say “Hey man,… what’s your name?”

He told me his name, but what happened next made me forget it.

“Look, here you go, I got you some food and some bottled water,” I started to say, “and here’s the change. It’s only elev…”

And he grasped my hand that had the bag in it with a grip that was iron strong, covering it with his second hand. My mind reeled, and I tried to step back, as confused mental warnings fired off, but then looking up, the surprise in my mind gave way to stunned silence as my eyes met his. Tears were in his eyes.

“Thank you. Thank you man.” he said quietly.

I just looked at him. I think we stood there for a few minutes, but I could tell you every facial feature on him to a T. The should length dreads, his yellow shirt with a soccer ball on it. The contrast of his dark skin and scarred knuckles against my gloved hand that held the bag.

“I just wanted to have something to eat.”

I said it was no big deal. I remember he said something else, but I cannot recall what that was either now.

As I walked back towards my truck, I said something like hang in there, or some insane shit that should never be said to a homeless hungry man. I mean, what can you hang on to? And then it hit me that maybe he hung on to hope.


Hope that another could help him out. Hope that maybe tomorrow would be a bit better than the last.

I have never, and will never forget that man. A part of me hopes to run across him someday, but I probably never will. I don’t know his story, but he is eternally part of mine.

This holiday, remember and think of those that quietly suffer. That on cold nights need warmth. On long days need a bit of relief. And everyday, need nourishment.

Merry Christmas to you all. Be the best you can, do the best you can. This world is full of bad things and even worse people so many of it’s days.

But we can honestly make a difference.

Mario, the Artisan Rogue.

Dec '14

150th Anniversary of Gettysburg: Walking with Ghosts of Blue and Gray (Repost)

[This is a re-post of an earlier entry from last year, as when originally posted it had a whole bunch of extra non Gettysburg blogging involved with it’s entry. I don’t plan on doing this for many of my past entries, as that would be redundant, but over the year and a half since I first posted this story originally, I’ve become a more active and better blogger that realizes you can’t cram stories of reenactment in with going to an art gallery. 🙂 ] – Mario, 12:06 AM Thursday

150th Anniversary of Gettysburg:

Now I get to tell you about a crazy long experience that I am so glad I attended, but going to and during it all, I was sure my sanity was going to crumble. So in other words, it was one of the BEST TIMES EVER. Read on good friends…

the Drive there…

I both love and loathe my GPS. In one fell swoop it is a tech marvel that so proudly announces distances, arrival times, and other information at the touch of a finger tip in either a jaunty female British accent, or the voice of Daria. It makes even the longest trips seem like something well within reach, easily conquerable, and woefully apparent to anyone with a brain that a 19 hour drive is nothing to joke about. But I was walking with a fresh bit of adrenaline and chance on my side! To quote Jon Stewart, and I paraphrase some here, “Live life right by getting in trouble.” Boy would those words haunt me…

I’ve driven my truck pretty far before, down to Louisiana, out across Kansas, up to Chicago, through Texas, and into Oklahoma, and all back, with only the occasional technical mishap, like a dead battery, or a flat tire. I normally will try and study my route that I drive to see if there are more scenic routes, or places that would be good safe stops depending on time of day, or where I am eventually heading. Because of my current schedule and really the almost last minute decision to just go in lieu of thinking about it back and forth for weeks prior, I feel that I had left somewhat unprepared.

I could go into the tire troubles, the road pain of being a solo driver on what turned into a 22 hour drive (2 hours extra for fueling and stopping and stretching) in which over the years, rest stops have become FAR more luxurious than they were even back in 2001 when I drove with some people to go to Gamesday in Chicago. But the drive itself was actually not that bad as a whole and for really the first 90% of it. But towards the END, as the sun rose in the mountains around Gettysburg, my legs were cramping up, and my lower back was beginning to revolt in pain, I finally came upon the first sign on the road that signaled that I had indeed arrived.

As a general rule of thumb, no matter the type of reenactment event, bike tour, campground vacation, or convention building location, the initial arrival (or as I like to call it, the first landing approach) always plays out like a crap scene of an F-14 Tomcat trying to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier on a stormy night, yours truly the pilot/driver, all bleary eyed, yet full of adrenaline, just like in some Micheal Bay movie. There is usually a lot of cussing, missed turns, close calls, and nervous wild turns of the head as if you’ve either just missed your sign to turn, or you’ve just seen Bigfoot out of the corner of your eye. The radio who had been my faithful companion on this lonely trek now is the most annoying thing to squawk noise since the beginning of time, and rolling down the windows and sticking your head out to look for any signs of direction like a demented Labrador enjoying the wind, sounds like complete and total brilliant reasoning until you take a june bug to the eye.

Registration…like the DMV, but outside…

Now upon finally finding the registration tent, I joined a few more reenactors who were slowly coming in, many of them with the same caffeine deprived now winding down look that I had plastered on my face. Thankfully, people that can bond just as easily in mirth and hobby, can find common ground in waiting for administrative staff to finally show up and get us approved or registered so that we can somehow locate the people we need to find by placing random drop out calls with one bar of signal, or by shouting out “Marco” and hoping someone you know yells back “Polo”.

I made fast acquaintances with a fellow from Brooklyn named Chris, who had just come in from a late night drive preceded by doing the memorial service for James Gandolfini. Yeah! No joke! But as we talked, it turned out we had some mutual ground in doing comics and graphic novel work, as he is a writer. So after some nice conversation, and a thankfully short wait in line to register, we exchanged info, found the reenactor’s parking lot located like a mile at least from the Union camp, and bid each other a good time at the event. Off to a good start, and my mood was quickly rising.

Holy $#%@… that’s a LOT of reenactors…

After hitching a ride up to the Federal camp with Chris and probably 7 others in full gear in the back of a “temporary transport replacement” (look up 1992 small body Mazda truck) with little to no rear suspension left, I finally came upon the area in the woods where all of the Union troops were camped.

Now, my phone at this point is riding the AT&T signal that it’s not accustomed to (being that I am with T-Mobile, and the rest of Pennsylvania clearly is NOT), and mocks me with faux bars of signal, and no one is answering my call efforts. Mind you, that 22 hour drive is taking it’s toll, but my adrenaline at seeing SO MANY at an event is literally making my head swim with the moment. And then it dawns on me that I am in the woods with at LEAST five to six thousand federal troops all dressed fairly similar.

I had no clue how in the world I was going to find my unit in the least. At least all I brought with me was on me, as I opted to do a campaigner’s take on roughing it, which meant what I brought strapped onto me or in my double knapsack, was all I had to make it through the next few days out there as far as personal items.

-[For many months prior I had taken to wearing a sling backpack that carried all my art and tech gear that I use daily in it, and would walk 9 to 10 flights of stairs about every other day, and walk everywhere I could with it. I carry a 32 oz. bottle of water with me that I was constantly filling and drinking down at least one of daily in preparation for the hydration needs of this event. I did not want to fall victim to heat exhaustion like I did at Shiloh and Ft. Larned. Both efforts paid off brilliantly as even with wool blanket, ground cloth, clothing, and assorted personal items and all of the rest of my gear, it felt like I was literally carrying half the weight of my daily bag, and I found myself more than well hydrated. ]-

As luck would have it, as I walked into the area, many of the units were already mobilizing, either for parade dress or for the first battle event. I did not know the schedule, but it’s not hard to discern that by seeing columns of troops marching about all heading in a similar direction. But as I filmed the column walking by as my initial footage, I never noticed my group, the 2nd Colorado marching right past me until I’d put my camera up. Thankfully, the column had stopped and I looked up at that moment to see Eric, Jim and a few others that I did not recognize.

After some quick hellos and info gained, I found that not all was well, and out of respect for my dear friends that were involved in an argument that would set the stage for the mood for the rest of the days there, I will leave out names and incidents. It is not my story to tell, but I can say this. It brought to bear a new meaning at this reenactment for me about the concept of brother versus brother in a way that in my adrenaline fueled and excited mood, I was not completely ready to accept, nor believe had happened. In the end, it made the event that much more poignant and powerful of a moment in my life, as I am sure it did for the ones that were more involved directly than I.

In the mountains, no one can hear you complain…so why bother?

Let me put this out there. I love camping. I love roughing it. I mean, the no camper, no tent, build a fire pit, bring what I need on me to make it kind of camping. I like to pretend I am Bear Grylis Lite (I mean, sans the extra bad ass martial arts prowness, and years upon years of becoming one with the environments to survive at all costs, I make tea with my urine on the run, kind of insane testicular fortitude). I like looking up at trees while I sleep, hearing the crackle of a campfire as it dies down, the random cold bursts of night time rain that allow me to wake up in a wallow of mud the next morning, and the sounds of birds in the morning. No mattress is as comfortable to me as the earth (although Pennsylvania seems to birth rocks like they are going out of style, no matter WHERE you chose to lay down), and it was just a matter of finding the softest rock and going all neanderthal early man and passing out.

And imagine not bathing for days, sweating profusely in it, with leather accoutrements on TOP of that, and then unless you go TOTALLY period with the undergarments you have little leg protection against the itchy stiff feeling of dirty wool on you. All the while ticks, crickets, spiders, twigs, leaves, and rocks work their way into your pants and sleeves while you sleep. In other words. It’s awesome.

There are things that one has to keep organized and ready. Rain is not great for your gun, rust will find you. Your gun powder must stay dry, or you run the risk of having a misfire or worse when all you are shoving down the barrel is black mud essentially from damp paper cartridges. And we do have instances of mingling with the public at most events, which means that smelling or looking like unfortunate roadkill is not really an option if we choose to bring more people into this hobby.

Most days comprised of one or two battles, cooking, drilling, talking, or spending time at the Sutler’s Row, cleaning rifles, and meeting new people at every turn. There were quiet times, nap times, stressful times, but all memorable times.

There were some injuries, I had a slight issue with my shoulder almost dislocating when I had put too much powder down the barrel during the aftermath of Pickett’s charge, and a total of what I know to have been three charges were in my barrel when it finally went off.

A fellow even fell off of his horse while trying to ride up onto a ridge, and I was pretty sure he was was just absolutely hosed when his horse looked like it fell back on him from my vantage point. This was when we reenacted the moment when the defense of Little Round Top happened with a (in our case for safety’s sake, a non-bayonet) bayonet charge by the 20th Maine (whom we had the honor of portraying) through the trees.

-[Later when I was talking to one of the Sutlers I know well from James Country in Liberty Missouri, I found out that there were near 134 heat related injuries over the course of that weekend. With one being flown out by helicopter from what she knew.]-

Each day I was there, I got up about 4am, prior to the sunrise for a morning constitution, to stretch, check the dryness of my clothing on a nearby rope, and drink in the sunrise over the mountain ridge across the grassy slopes below. No city skyline, no modern civilization does, what viewing a sunrise does for me. It’s reaffirming of living life, of renewal, of perpetual motion in life, of so many things that are easy to forget when we view life through screens on desktops and portable devices.

I met people from Australia, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, a few Welsh, and of course all over the U.S. from Brooklyn to San Antonio, from Seattle to Tucson. Of particular note was the Australian who sat next to me on one of the transportation trams who was there for a week already, and was staying for the second reenactment the following weekend. I wish I’d had more time to talk to many of them, hell, FILM their stories and reasons for why and how they got there to Gettysburg.

To see the masses of sheer manpower, the huge numbers of cavalry, and everyone marching and moving in unison; to see just a fraction of this, to FEEL just a notion of what those days for all of those Americans on both sides must have felt like and looked like. It’s something to watch a reenactment, but to DO one? There are few better natural highs than that for me. (The short film below showcases a bit of this.)

Trouble found me…

Now, I have happily found that if you lose something at a reenactment, MOST people will go out of their way to return said items to you, pass word along that something has been found, or later after the event, take to posting it online everywhere to return these waylaid items to their former owners. It’s in fact one of the things that most draws me to be a part of like minded hobbies like reenactment. It’s usually one of the last bastions of non bastardness left for me to enjoy.

So much to my displeasure, I awoke the second day after a mid day rainstorm to find that my canteen was gone. Not, I rolled over in the mud and pushed it into the earth gone, not I left it in the woods gone. No.

See, at these events, that item is literally life and death for people. Hydration is key, and I am a thirsty and large fellow who has been known to break a sweat while peeling an orange. So what choice did I have but to go and try and get to the Sutler’s Row (the market place area) and procure a new one? It was an unplanned expenditure, but a necessary if annoying one. But I know that heat stroke is FAR more annoying, so in lieu of taking my chances, (which my superior officers and really anyone with a brain, would never have let me do), and doing a march without a canteen, I got a new and bigger one.

For the most part, the morale and spirit of most of the unit I was there with seemed alright, but there was a tension, and it was palpable. Not because anyone was trying to make anything worse, but coupled with the schedule, the needs, and all going on, it seemed at times that the tear in the fabric of the flag of unity in a reenactment group that I very VERY strongly feel constitutes a group of adopted brothers for me, would never be mended. Decade old proverbial seams wear out just as unexpectedly as the ones in our uniforms, but I’ve found that it takes many to repair those frayed ends.

But I often voiced my opinion that I (and so many others) had not driven in excess of 1000 miles ONE WAY, to not live in the moment of 150 years of history happening around me. Even in the face of someone taking my canteen, I tried to keep a stiff upper lip.

Later that evening, as the Formal Ball and another rain storm of scattered density went head to head, I wentn with two of my comrades to visit some other friends over in a campsite just a short walk away. I made it a habit to carry my credit card and driver’s license in the space between the screen protector and the belt clip carriage on my Otterbox for my phone, so I felt that they were pretty secure and safe there.

As the night went on, it was one of those fantastic in the moment kinds of conversations where people that normally do not see each other, nor under most normal circumstances would probably ever get to speak to one another, much less meet in the first place. We spoke of the current and past presidents, the economy, the great issue with incomes, does a college degree REALLY mean anything anymore, life experiences, time spent in the hobby, drinking stories, the whole basket. I imagine that there were many such candle lit sort of conversations like that, including one I heard later that night between some Irish fellows a few camps over that had a bit too much to drink and sometime later actually had a ripe old time settling it with fisticuffs.

So, where trouble found me just prior to that point was as the evening chat came to an end, I and the others that came to visit went our own ways, but on the way out, I decided to pull my phone out to light the pathway, since it was crossing by a heavily foot trafficked area that was just nothing but slick mud, rocks and roots. It was where a large watering set up was located at, so I just wanted to make sure we’d not slip and fall in the mud (I didn’t want to get the mud that was caked on me any dirtier mind you…), so I unlocked my phone case, thinking nothing of the side effect of my actions, and went on walking. I was so tired by the time I got back, I curled up on my favorite rock and scrubgrass pile, hugged my rifle, tucked my ammo in my knapsack, rolled up into a gum blanket burrito and went to sleep, just as the rain began to fall once more.

…but so did my faith in humanity and more.

The next day brought a whole new level of panic that not even the most MGM studios kind of sunrise could quell. I had discovered around 11 pm after waking up from what I hope was an acorn and not an oversized big of dry squirrel dung hitting me in the face, that I now had lost my debit card and license. Two MAJOR strikes on being able to get home. As a rule, I don’t carry cash. So after also realizing that somehow I had lost a day in the process of being out in the woods and not being able to charge my phone, I re-awoke, walked out to the line of artillery that was near the outskirts of camp and did something I rarely do, and that was… talk to God out loud. Yes. The big guy in the sky, the beardy fellow or long tressed omnipotent lass that sits up there and listens to so many.

See, by this point, I was feeling pretty beat down, and frankly stupid. I actually saw no end to the internal strife that was happening in our group, try as many of us did to help fix it, it was not working. I felt that maybe,… this had been the worst decision to drive all this way and literally get stranded from home and work over a thousand miles away. Perhaps it had not been the best financial decision, the best timing, or whatever. So I figured, hey, maybe enough time has passed that he who dwells up in the sky might have an opening to hear me out.

I asked for a sign, a shooting star, a breeze, SOMETHING that would tell me that this was going to be alright. That the rift in my unit would heal. That today would get better, and that I would have a safe trip home, because I had seriously underestimated my level of fatigue.

After going all “emo” for about 5 minutes solid, I started feeling a bit moronic, yet oddly better, not because I was talking out by the artillery battery to what seemed like myself, but because I was forgetting all of the GOOD things that had indeed happened and that I was grateful for. So as I got up to come back to my camp, I stepped about four feet, and tripped on something in the grass and mud, dang near slamming my mouth into the wheel on the nearby cannon.

There, laying in the mud, not but about 6 feet behind me, was my original canteen. How, do you ask, do I know it was my canteen? Well, based on a historical one that had been fixed with what looked like red thread on the white cloth strap, I had started to sew in a notch of red thread for each time I would go to an event or muster in my reenactment career.

The cork was missing off of the chain holder, it was filthy and soaked, but it was mine. I felt warmth on my face as the sun broke through the skyline, and I watched the early rays revive the green foliage all along the slopes before me. I kind of laughed a bit at my previously hopeless outlook, and walked back to camp to get the fire going for the rest that had not yet woken up.

I didn’t get a shooting star, but I did get my old dirty canteen, and that was enough of a sign for me.

A few hours later, as we were getting final plans figured out, a lone fellow comes down the busy pathway, and older gentleman with what sounded like a faint Rhode Island accent. I could hear him, but I did not discern what was being said until he came up to our campsite and called out, “Is there a… Feliciano Mario Mora anywhere here?”

Gravity had nothing on me, a weight lifted off my shoulders, I don’t even remember clearing the short distance to the man as he handed me my debit card and I.D. in literally the same condition I had lost them in. Somehow, in that muddy bog of an area by the watering hole, the two cards had fallen into a plastic bag that had been thrown by the wayside, and as some members of this unit from Rhode Island had been cleaning up the trash there, one of them had looked in the bag and found my cards.

One of them was sure he’d seen me out and about, he’d recognized my beard, but my unit was not portraying the 2nd Colorado, we played the part of other units, so the really astronomical chances of first recognizing me from my I.D., then them wanting to take the time to hunt me down, and all of that in an area comprised of several thousand guys, probably a good couple of hundred of them with beards like mine, and you can see how I was taken aback at it all that they even found me.

Resolutions, farewells, and the long drive home.

I think it’s fair to say without going into too much detail that the hardest steps to take in situations unknown, are the first ones. There had been a feeling that maybe, as a group, we were at the end of all things, that maybe these farewells would be harder to cope with, and more final than anyone had anticipated. Then… beneath a tree, two brothers came once more together. The held in tears and regrets that flowed were certainly not their own. Someday, when I am a braver man, and I can formulate what I will write down privately now in another place, into something that I feel more comfortable about letting others read, I will tell a deeper tale of these days. But for now, I beg pardon in respect for two men, whom I immensely care for and respect more than either are probably aware that I do.

As the last moments there were spent packing items, rubbing sore feet, and the prospect of getting on the road again, it is always with a bit of sadness, and a sense of gratitude. And for that, I am glad those were again the travel companions we would all take with us.

I chose to drive through Gettysburg, for a bit of food, and to see the sights from my car. Mental notes and photos were taken of places I want to come back to see maybe in the years to come, perhaps the 155th Anniversary or so.

In closing…

Heck of a long update huh? Well, hopefully I did not bore any of you in the process, for me, it was partially a huge load off of my mind to get this caught up, and in truth, this ended up about only 2/3rds the length it originally was. There were some things I thought about adding back in, but I think I’ve talked about just about everything I can get out at this point.

A slew of shows and new things await to be discovered and talked about in the coming months. I look forward to it. I look forward to… getting in trouble.

Till next time, adopt don’t shop, take time for those sunrises, and those in your life that are most important. – Mario, the Artisan Rogue.

Dec '14

Here comes 2015…

Such a bizarre and both long and quick year is what I can say about 2015.

I’ve found myself looking back at this time last year and there are changes in me as a person that I do like and some some that I have to work on to fix.

Coming to work here at Hallmark was one thing that changed all kinds of dynamics for me from time management challenges to just wondering quite honestly, how I would keep up with the creative pulse I had started off very strong with at the beginning of the year, only to have it come to almost a complete stop after the month of August. Of course that said, I’ve had to look once again at my work, and thanks to some very honest and needed feedback from other artists recently, I had to step back and take a good look at what I was doing. I had to let my mind go, and break free of the rut and going through the motions sort of art I had started to get into.

It had caused me to stop and hold up on some prospective chances and freelance illustrations because I did not feel I could get out the visuals as I wanted them to come out.

My writing efforts were affected by my lack of time and concentration as well, and I have drafts and drafts of entries for two other blogs, Tenacious Toys and The Rogue Hobbyist, that I hope to have published by the end of the month.

I thankfully have found time though as I said to attempt to remedy my situation by meeting with as many art directors and creative leads as I could in the past few months, as well as setting my my first really critical review of my writing with a highly recommended editor this coming Friday.

And here’s to hoping that some future endeavors with voice acting efforts pan out very well. The whole voice acting thing is one of the most challenging yet fun avenues I’ve ever gone down. Here’s to hoping I can stay the course with that as well too.

I’ve found that inspiration will come at the weirdest moments. The other night, I was driving back from a show in St. Louis and worked out a new storyline and ideas for art in my head. The four hour drive in the gloomy night time drizzle absolutely set the stage for a new tale that will be accompanying an upcoming issue of my comic Pagan Zoetrope. The two below are the main characters.

Abel and Oswald

Say hello to teddy bear brothers Abel and Oswald.

The story behind them, I can’t share yet, and there is a whole lot more that will make itself known this January as I start to prepare my work for both Spectrum and Planet Comicon. Regretfully, I will not be part of NakaKon again, because a certain place here in KC was not able to give Planet Comicon the ability to move it’s dates to compensate both shows having separate weekends.

I’ll make this a short update for now, as I just wanted to share that new work officially on here that I placed above, and to say that as it currently stands I should be at the following shows this year, selling new art, doing portfolio reviews, and taking pictures of you all for my site:

Planet Comicon
Spectrum Fantastic Art Live
KC FanCons and Lawrence’s FreeState
and more to come.

Until next time, I’m Mario, the Artisan Rogue.

Be kind to your fellow beings, four footed and otherwise, and support your local artists!

Interested in toys?: Tenacious Toys

Interested in History, Retro Stuff, and Tech, or Food or whatever the hell else I blog about? Then check out this growing blog of mine: the Rogue Hobbyist

Nov '14

Halloween all around…

"La Muerta", voiced by Kate del Castillo and "Xibalba" voice by Ron Pearlman. The character designs on these two are just stunning.

Halloween. I’ve often thought of this day as being one of the more polarizing holidays out there. When I was a child, elements of it came into play because of the Day of the Dead aspect, especially when my grandparents were still alive. The pageantry not so much, as my mom’s side of the family was more rural, and more low key in how they observed memories of those that had gone beyond us, into another life.

The del Toro produced “Book of Life” movie was an amazingly beautiful movie, with a bit of a simple story, that nonetheless was a very sincere and fun nod to the Day of the Dead aspect of Hispanic culture.

A quick working of La Muerta I did in my sketchbook.

As I’ve gotten older, (and perhaps because of the fact that aspects like cosplay and costumed reenactments are fairly common place for me to be around), I don’t really have desire to dress up or do things like that. Not that I downplay it or anything, but maybe it’s just something that’s worn out for me at the moment. But there are things that I do every Halloween, and one is watch the first Ghostbusters movie.

It's really hard to wrap my head around thirty years having passed since Ghostbusters came out in theatres.

So, although I’m not the biggest donut fan, I do indeed love a pop culture reference shaped into a fantastic pastry.

Hallmark had a little fun with Halloween. I've actually never been working in a corporate environment where I was able to witness something like this.

This was also the first time I’d seen/been a part of any kind of large company Halloween celebration.

The costume contest had a wide range of characters show up from American Horror Story's clown, to Snow White's evil queen, to a foppish gentleman, to Janice Joplin, the Mac OS, and Hello Kitty.

My personal favorite was the AT-ST walker from Star Wars, but I could not get a great photo of him from where I was.

I kept it low key, but did join in on the spirit of Halloween to an extent as I wore my Tony Stark Arc Reactor shirt. There are also great props/collectibles to be found in Halloween store clearances.

And any excuse to show my fanboy side of Iron Man worship, and I’m there. I figured my Arc Reactor shirt was just a nice touch of dressup, but not overboard.

The really cool sci-fi gun you see pictured I picked up for $5, and I’ll have a review of it and a similar one also found on my Rogue Hobbyist Blog by the end of this week.

Until next time, be kind to your fellow beings, do a good turn daily, and support your local artists. – Mario, the Artisan Rogue

Oct '14

Tenacious Toys Blog Entry: Lego Series 12

Got a quick update over on the Tenacious Toys Blog where I cover the first four minifigs I picked up from the October released Series 12 (yeah, that’s right, we’re not counting the Simpsons one evidently).

Even got a a little Twitter appreciation from Lego News just earlier!

Next update coming up will be about this upcoming weekend’s FreeState Comic Show!

Till then, have a great week! – Mario, the Artisan Rogue