February 09, 2016 by Jeffrey Beebe

Ah. Only two years and nine months(ish) since my last post. I've been really busy. How, you ask? Well, I've been drawing. I've had a few relationships fall apart, a few people appear and disappear. A few new job opportunities. I also had to watch all of the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. And the Rockford Files. But tut. It does not matter. This site gets very little traffic.
Exploring the Red Soil Boys (and, consequently, the Uncles/Horned Rovers) has been a odd transition for me. Somewhat uncomfortable.

Most of my drawings (going back, oh, twenty years or so) have been very autobiographical . . . and, I think, obviously so, and to a painful degree to myself and those around me who I've thrown into the work. I think I managed to put a very thin and shabby disguise on the autobiographical nature of things since the dam broke open in 2010 with my discovery of Refractoria. You might argue otherwise. Around fall of 2014, I felt a unfeigned need to get away from the Queen of the Vast Nonsense so I timidly attempted the transition from barely-fictionalized autobiography to, well, just fiction with a whiff of autobiography. (I apologize for using the word "autobiography" so many times in one paragraph. Not a huge variety of synonyms for that word.) 
The Red Soil Boys were born casually when I was working on the Flags of Refractoria drawing in late 2010. I needed to place yet another gonfalon on that drawing and, at the time, the Birther/Tea Party movement was getting heavy coverage from the media . . . Obama (aka Obummer) had been in office for just shy of two years at that point and there was a virulent backlash against him surfacing. I started thinking about their racist prolixity, and I started blending in all of the casual racism I grew up with in Indiana--the bad jokes at which white kids never blinked, the keep-an-eye-on-that-black-lady-over-there instructions I got from retail managers, the long (long!) list of racist slang my dad taught me as a kid with the caveat to never use these words in public. (I guess the use of racist slang was for pleasurable use in private . . .? I never really understood the old man. Incidentally, he does show up in Refractoria as Chas the Pleasureless Father. Keep an eye out for him.)
I rarely understand the content of an assembly of drawings until I'm about halfway through it. I have to figure out the content as I go along--one drawing generally gives birth to the next one (or two or three) by the language* that gets dropped into it. I started with cross-section drawing of The Fastness of the Red Soil Boys--the massive castle with the crypts and dungeons underneath. This was the 'Boys place of meeting, safety, and refuge from the hardships of "out there" bestowed upon them my "those people" they are forced to encounter. The Fastness drawing spawned dozens proper names (many inspired by Jack Vance's Dying Earth books) and, in order to discover those individuals I decided to do a series of post-battle and big-game hunting portraits inspired by early photography. That drawing, in turn, pointed me to the District Vermilion map--a drawing of the imaginary homeland of the RSBs (shaped like my home state of Indiana), a place of perfection before "those people" ruined it for the 'Boys. ("Make Refractoria Great Again!") The District Vermilion made me explore their "real life" homeland and seat of power, the Plateau of Burning Snow, a high perch upon which they sit isolated from the dirt and imperfection of the world. I knew from an old 2012 drawing that the 'Boys didn't care much for the Uncles and their Horned Rovers clans so I started the Tyrrany [sic] of Manifest Fairnesses drawing. And that drawing lead to the one I'm working on how--a battlefield map of the Coarselands, home of the Uncles/Rovers. It will detail not just the geography of the regions of the locations of the battles and slaughters of the Tyranny as well. 
Yes, I know a lot of this doesn't make sense. This leads to that, this guy does whatever to this man-monster, this imaginary land within an imaginary land, etc. But this explanation is best I can do. How do you think I feel, goddamn it?

*A note on the language in the drawings: I don't control most of it. Let's say 95% of it. I take credit for the titles of drawings, and some of the names of geographical features or characters. But I try to keep my eyes and ears open to language around me--I gather scraps and phrases from podcasts, postings, emails, books, graphic novels, things I overhear on the street or train, etc. I do my best to read poetry 30-45 minutes a day. Most of it bounces off my dull skull, but a few phrases always stick. I underline those, transcribe them and--with unbearable hubris--I will even rewrite some of those phrases to mold them more into the particular tone of a drawing. This reading habit has opened me up to the richness of poetry, and how so much of the understanding of verse is inherently experiential. So many poems incomprehensible until you experience the secret (small or huge) that lies at the center of the poem in question.
May 07, 2013 by Jeffrey Beebe
I was down in Englewood, Florida from April 22-May 5 at the Hermitage Artist Retreat. This is the result (amongst other bits of ephemera that were a result of my acting out with too much time and a need to keep my hands busy): The Black Rainbow, the Ace of Despairs, the Ten of Despairs, the Ace of Mediocrities and the Seven of Mediocrities. 

March 30, 2013 by Jeffrey Beebe
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