Jonquil on the Outskirts of the October Country

I don't typically like to take such long breaks from my blog but I had the somewhat unexpected and spontaneous pleasure of joining Carisa Bianca Mellado for a show in Brighton, UK (I play guitar for her solo project). I've been plagued with computer problems since my return from the UK so it's been much more of a challenge to keep my blog updated. Now, I've got this backlog of work I'd really love to share but while I cross the final technological hurdles I'm choosing to revisit a piece from early 2014 entitled Jonquil on the Outskirts of the October Country.



This was a sort of unofficial portrait of my dear friend Stephi Duckula, one of the first people I met upon moving to Los Angeles and the gateway through who I met so many friends. The Echo Park Ornithology Club over which she presides was instrumental in my meeting my wife. I could go on and on about how much Stephi means to me but it's a bit inappropriate since this isn't exactly a portrait of Stephi.

Rather aspects of Stephi's physical image were highly influential on my imagining of the character of Jonquil, a ranger scout android in service to the Galactic Academy Flight School for Girls. This all ties heavily into a novel/graphic novel that I'm writing and, since I don't want to give too much away, I'm going to be erring in favor of disclosing too little as opposed to too much. 

Being an android in service to the Galactic Academy, Jonquil needed some indicators of the occult secret societies behind the scenes of the academy. The one-eyed golden Christmas trees and merit badges and patches featuring rabbits popping out of top hats, Easter eggs, and synthesizers are simply allusions to these secret societies as well as Jonquil's talents. The synthesizer is actually a reference to my friend, Stephi, since she's a synth enthusiast and even repairs them for a living.

The robotic owl was also somewhat of a hint at Stephi since her other true passion is ornithology. But the mechanical owl also delves a bit into the mythology of the rangers in an alternate future I've imagined which may or may not factor into the novel I'm writing. In this mythology, rangers are androids that safely patrol the outskirts of cities. Pets have been outlawed and there are roving packs of vicious dogs, cats and other animals that were domesticated but have reverted to feral behavior.

If Jonquil were one of these rangers, she would more than likely be using the mechanical owl as a sort of surveillance device. The ranger concept was originally developed for the story behind the second album I was working on for my glam rock group Peppermint Pumpkin but I have since decided that the second album won't adhere so strongly to a story as originally planned. 

Though I'm pleased with how this painting turned out, I must admit that I feel the colors of Jonquil's uniform aren't quite right. In my head things looked much more frosted or pastel - not quite Easter colors but something closer to those lines than the strong forest green, yellow, and somewhat rustic gold. I also don't think that Jonquil would wear a red neckerchief in retrospect but thankfully this painting was more of a demo for the proper Jonquil appearance.

Her skin tone is pretty much exactly as I imagined it as is her orange hair. I wonder if this color combination is somehow influenced by a Masters of the Universe toy I had as a child. I loved Masters of the Universe enough to be blinded to the cost-cutting factory-style production of the toys.

So, when the Masters of the Universe toy line re-painted the figure of the lead protagonist He-Man in a sky blue with orange hair and told children that this was Fakor, an evil android created in He-Man's image, I scrounged together $5.00 and bought it. It was a fucking bizarre idea. But could this be why I always imagine androids to have a light blue skin tone? 

The October Country referenced in the title is a territory central to the novel I'm writing. A couple of years ago, my friend Justin Foulkes recommended that I read Ray Bradbury's short story collection The October Country. I was somewhat surprised when the stories didn't quite match the seasonal tone I had expected.

But there was so much magic in that title and I instantly assigned it to the golden late afternoons at Griffith Park as the heat of the summer stretched onward despite a strange tint to the sunshine that betrayed the oncoming autumn. I feel power in the fall, in memories of reconnecting with crushes upon returning to school in September, on the awkward faces of jack-o'-lanterns and the taste of name brand nougat or cheap pumpkin-shaped bubblegum. As

I felt the excitement of the imminent return of my favorite season, I looked out upon the scorched foliage of Griffith Park and saw in it my October Country - a sprawling countryside alternating between golden late afternoons, passionate twilights, and eerie darkness - a district in perpetual autumn in all of its romance, celebration, and horror. I felt that the true human spirit, at least as I understood it, was most tangible in the October Country.

Perhaps this is somehow represented in the kites flying in the golden void behind Jonquil. This painting only offers a minimal representation of the October Country as I imagined it but I can still feel its energy in the details of the leaves or in that jaundiced sky.