Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Guest Blogger: Katie Boeck (Isabella) from Wuthering Heights Music

I actually first heard about Wuthering Heights through an ad on Craigslist. As a student at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television I stay fairly busy with school but I happened to be looking for outside work and when I came across Mark Ryan's ad the project description intrigued me.

I sent in my headshot and resume and Mark sent me a couple of songs to listen to. I absoulutely fell in love with them from the minute I heard them. The character of Isabella especially interested me and the music Mark had written for her part was just beautiful. Mark and I spoke and he wanted to make sure that I understood the magnitude of sheer emotion that comes with playing these characters. He really stressed the dramatic intention he wanted to come through in the characters' voices. I came in to do some preliminary recording and ended up recording the songs "Women" and "Dark Passion" right then and there.
We still needed a Nelly and I knew of some very talented women from my department at UCLA and recommended Jessica Kennan Wynn, who was a shoe in. We filmed the music video and working with Jenn Korbee and Jessica was just great. Mark has been working on the project for so long and he believes in the story of these characters so much that he has a very clear vision of what he wants which makes it an enjoyable experience to be a part of.

I look forward to what lies ahead for Wuthering Heights and know that between the solid story line Emily Bronte wrote so long ago and the beautiful music Mark has written to illustrate the emotion of these characters, it is a project that I think musical theater audiences are really ready for.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Pilgrim - Episode 3 is Live

The 3rd installment of my new graphic novel with Mike Grell, The Pilgrim, is now available on ComicMix.
Hope you're enjoying it!

Mike Grell & The Cat of Doom Part IV

This is the final installment of "Mike Grell & The Cat of Doom". I will close with another adventure involving the weathered Bergen, plus what you must know about Mike Grell...

It was the same battered Bergen that I humped into the Cascade Mountains with Mike and artist and enthusiastic survivalist: Dameon Willich (plus girlfriends) to be introduced to frost-bite and Whiskey Jacks that flew in and ate our food right out of our hands as we snow camped above the snow line.

On other occasions we've ridden Mike and Lauri's beautiful and gentle Friesian steeds into the mountains and sheltered from the roving Sasquatch and Black Bears in the small log cabin with antique primer-style, water pump and friendly mice.

Mike is the same with the aspiring artistes and fans alike that flock to his convention tables and it's a genuine and natural drive to help, gift and encourage new talent. It is an obviously genuine trait of the man and well received by his legion of fans for which he has boundless time and patience. I've seen it's effects and it's a joy to watch.

There are may precious and unique experiences associated with the “Grell Gifts” I have received and the lessons learned from his generosity and kindness. I have attempted to pass on this tradition to my other friends and colleagues along the way.

Needless to say, Mike Grell's Cat Story is now something of a politically incorrect story these days, but it's still bloody funny….If you don't know it, you'll have to come to a convention and ask one of us!

So! Mike Grell is truly a living legend and an all-around Renaissance man! And I am humbled and grateful to count the man as my friend.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


What is not so well known about Mike is his utter generosity and selfless gifting of “stuff” of a personal, professional and practical nature. It's almost like a spiritual path for him! Play it forward, I guess!

If, on one of my many, many visits to his home in Seattle, I showed the slightest interest in an object or piece of kit, he would insist I take it home with me! Over the years this has included a Howard Hill “Big Five” longbow and a small, fisherman's waterproof aluminum container (I added to my E&E kit). The Howard Hill bow I used to loose an arrow into the Hollywood Hills on my wedding day for good luck. Yeah! Thanks for that one Mike! I'd have had better off attempting to catch the arrow in my teeth for all the luck it brought that evening…But that's another story.

I also remember being impressed with a single-piece, drop-point, Dawson knife and innocently expressed it was the perfect size and shape for a practical survival knife. That was it! He insisted the knife went home with me and I have prided myself on the memories and stories attached to the gifts Mike has generously “forced” on me over the years and how they now have their own fond memories and enduring places in my life.

The Dawson knife was strapped to my webbing for a good few years and still lives in my ancient Berghaus “Crusader” Bergen, to this day. The most notable memory attached to that particular Grell gift was being told to remove the Dawson from my chest-webbing by a tired and emotional CSM on an exercise somewhere near Rheindahlen in Germany, as it could be considered and offensive weapon by the Military Police!

As I was actually carrying a Sterling Sub-Machinegun and a Browning Hi-Power strapped to various body-parts, it seemed rather redundant at the time. But as we only had 9mm blanks for our weapons on exercise, and I didn't want to frighten the natives, I complied with the order! (I actually liked the Sterling SMG and was sad to see it replaced by the early and poorly executed: SA80. Known affectionately as “The Spring Loaded Club,” the Sterling SMG could be folded and stuffed into ones webbing for convenience, while trying to sleep in the back of a half-ton Land Rover.) The Dawson though, still comes with me on my odd, solitary sojourns to The Mojave Desert and Deep-Creek Hot Springs.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Pilgrim & Greenwood Tarot

The Pilgrim received its debut on ComicMix a couple weeks ago and I’m happy to say more pages were posted in Early December. More pages are to follow and Mike Grell and I are very pleased with the work done by Jason Millet (Colorist) John Workman (Letterer) Glenn Hauman (Production) and of course Mike Gold (Editor).

The Pilgrim is attracting a steady and enthusiastic readership and it’s very exciting to see the story finally come to fruition. There’s been lot’s of questions about the origin of the story and my personal experiences regarding the research for the script. I’ll blog about this material at a later date, but once again, thanks to everyone for the kind words and support with the project.

In the meantime, John Matthews and I have been reworking The Greenwood Tarot with a new artist. Originally GWT was called The Wildwood Tarot but that title was considered too racy by the publisher. So! John and I are taking a new look at the system, the totem animals and the symbolic linkages and roots shared with the Native American Indian Medicine Wheel. It’s great working with John and we’re having fun making the ancient connections and esoteric Wildwood Tarot.

Two New Wuthering Heights Tracks

This week Robb Vallier and I went back into the studio to finish up work on two more tracks for Wuthering Heights. Once again Robb has done an amazing job with the arrangements and production on: “I Am The Man” and “Kiss The Moon.” Both tracks are unique and yet hold true to the starkly emotional themes and symbolism running through Emily Bronte’s powerful novel. The site has received thousands of visitors from around the globe and I’m very grateful for the kind words and requests to know when the tracks will be available for download.

Well! We’re working on it and I’ll make an announcement regarding the downloadable EP in the very near future.

Work commenced on the new tracks in June, when we laid down the basic framework and vocals with Jennifer Korbee for “I Am The Man.” I sang the vocals on “Kiss The Moon.” Once again, Jennifer brought an emotional and soulful rendition of the vocals and Robb and I wanted to take our time and encase Jenn’s performance in a unique and powerful musical structure. Both tracks have turned out better than we ever hoped and the resulting “feel” of the songs (mainly due to Robb’s amazing arrangements) will hopefully be as well received as the first four tracks.

During these latest sessions, we were very lucky to find a space in the very busy recording schedule of a very special guest, world-class cello phenomenon: Tina Guo. At 23, Tina is a stunningly talented musician and her playing on both tracks really gives an emotional depth and resonance to the songs and raises the hairs on the back of the neck! Needless to say I’m very excited and inspired by the resulting texture of harmonics and rhythms entwined within this marriage of classical and contemporary instrumental elements that have become the hallmark of our dramatic musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

What really blew us all away was crossing Jenn’s powerful vocals with Tina’s unique cello riffs and Brad Fernquist’s rocking guitar solos! Brad Fernquist (Goo Goo Dolls) had recorded a pretty edgy solo a couple of weeks ago for us and mixing the two together was a real blast. You’ll have to wait to hear the results…But it’s pretty damn awesome, even if I say so myself!

Thanks again to everyone for all the support!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mike Grell & The Cat Of Doom...Part II

I actually have the original panel from the James Bond Graphic Novel: “Permission To Die” where Bond finds himself rescued by the Special Air Service in an embassy style raid. This panel includes the famous quote: “A small gun you can hide is better than a big one that gets taken away from you.” I had helped Mike get some of the details of the “Operation Nimrod” raid for “Permission To Die” published by Eclipse Comics.

This quote refers to a conversation I had (shortly after the event) with PC Trevor Lock, the Diplomatic Protection Group Officer taken hostage during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. PC Lock had hidden his Model #10 SW revolver down his pants for the entire experience, the hostage-takers believing British Bobbies were not armed. At the end of the crisis, as the SAS began the raid, PC Lock managed to recover his weapon but got into a physical struggle with one of the terrorists at the rear of the embassy. That conflict was ended by one of the SAS team and the rest is history! So be careful where you say to Mike because he will listen, improve it and use it!