Velma Howell 1935-2019

(It seems like the punchline to an old Henny Youngman joke, but I actually was asked to deliver the eulogy at my mother-in-law’s funeral over the weekend.)

Leading the way into any endeavor involves what we referred to as “spiritual growth” in the mission field and “good training” in the Army, both of which are innocuous terms for an experience that will terrify or put you through an emotional wringer. Being the first to marry into the Howell family brought on plenty of spiritual growth for me. The first time Velma laid eyes on me was at the gate in Dulles Airport twelve hours before I was to marry her oldest daughter Lori and I think the prospect of relinquishing her eldest to some wild man from Alaska was causing some concern.

She was quite vocal about the situation and would cycle through admonishing, questioning and teasing me, which was beginning to wear thin when it all came to a head a week later here in Huntsville. We were out buying paper goods and plastic ware for the reception and as we were driving around town Velma decided to share her philosophy on family relations. She said ” I like to think that I have gathered my family into a shiny bubble away from the world and its influences, where we are all happy all the time and nothing bad ever happens.”

As I sat in the back seat all I could think was “This chick is nuts”

It was an understandable reaction, given all the wisdom and insight I’d gained in my twenty-four years on earth as the oldest son in the family that put the “fun” into dysfunctional. Most of my family experiences involving shiny things also included pop-tops or lines on a mirror so I had no way of knowing that what Mom was really saying was

  • She loved her family and wanted the best for them.
  • She loved the Lord and wholeheartedly embraced every aspect of the Gospel

That was the pattern for her entire life. She was born and raised in southern California first San Bernardino then Colton where her family first met the missionaries when she was quite young – a trend that continued until she was almost twenty-one when she snagged one particular missionary by the name of Elder Howell as he was headed home. As a young lady she worked awhile as switchboard operator but once she was married her life’s work was being an excellent mother for her five children and supporting or serving alongside her husband in his callings as stake president, mission president and counselor in a temple presidency.

Outside of her family the Gospel was her whole life and she led a life of worship and devotion that is an example to us all. Look up the term “stalwart saint” in the bible dictionary and you’ll probably find her picture. Sometimes that degree of devotion can cause a person to become overly serious with that stern Bruce R. McConkie eagle-eyed look but Mom was able to keep a pleasant demeanor – and laugh.

She loved to laugh and could be quite a tease – but there were other things she loved as well.

She loved:

  • ice cream,
  • quilting
  • flowers
  • ice cream
  • birds
  • kaleidoscopes
  • Ice cream.

More than anything else she loved her husband Parley and was at this side whenever she could  be there…. in fact the words Parley and Velma Howell should be just one word “PARLEYANDVELMAHOWELL”.

I will miss her laugh and I will miss her.  Regardless of our faith we all have that inner Cro-Magnon straining to howl at the separation of death. But because of that faith we know that Mom is blessedly free from pain and much happier now that she was in the shiny place she always sought in life.

So…Run free Mom. We love you,

 

 

1970: …very early on!

1970sWarriors

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started my training as a “commercial artist”. Few schools offered any sort of specialized training, but I was lucky enough to snag  a spot in Richard Bird’s ground-breaking design program when it first started up at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) in the mid-1970s. Despite my good fortune I remained essentially clueless – while Richard was refining a traditional illustration and graphic design program I was aiming for more adventuresome forms of expression featured in comics and the covers of books and record albums.

…and when I say clueless I mean clueless. I’d struggle with an overwhelming sense of despair as I looked through my collection of cover illustrations knowing that I’d never be able to render such tiny yet perfect images like the ones rendered by Frank Frazetta…never realizing that those gems were the phot0graphically reduced copies of larger  and more manageable works.

While my first tentative efforts were heavily influenced by Frazetta and his contemporaries I made no conscious effort to emulate that work to the exclusion of other styles. I just thought it looked cool and I wanted to see more of the same, even if I had to make the stuff myself.  Sometimes there was some actual risk involved. The vivid colors you see in this drawing were made by Flo-masters inks…which I don’t think are legal to use anymore. The intensity of the colors stemmed from the use of several exotic solvents in the ink’s preparation.

…just to give you a hint of what I was working with: the pens had interchangeable nibs, and when I’d put a used nib back into it’s slot in the carrying case the ink would spot-weld that used nib in place. 

Fireball XL5 (CGI version)

 

While shuffling through YouTube the other day I  found this CGI adaptation of Fireball XL5.  HarborsidePress LLC has produced a first and second half of the Granatoid Tanks story along similar treatment of the Planet 46 episode. All four offerings are a qualified success; it’s incredibly cool that someone would rework Fireball but there are several aspects of the production that have been done better.

While I kind of like the jet-bikes it’s a given that I am going to prefer my own reboot designs , and Venus’ clothing feels more like off-duty dress than a uniform. There are serious problems with both the structure and animation of the faces but in Harborside’s defense no one has come up with a decent treatment of a human face working through speech.

 

Life is Eternal / Like A River

 

My Beautiful Saxon Princess lost her mother early yesterday morning. Lori was particularly close to her mom and while I want to say that Velma has gone on to happier place there is still that inner Cro-Magnon that wants to howl at the separation of death. I think I am also coming to grips with losing my own mom two years ago – I wasn’t able to attend the funeral so there was no closure. I do remember how hard it was to emotionally process the loss of both Mom and Dad so I am doing my best to provide emotional support.

These two songs helped me a lot and I am hoping they will do the same for my BSP…or for anyone else coping with loss for that matter

Dog King John: Page 7

2019-02-02 Bony Express Glider (DRAFT)

This latest  installment in Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup depicts a Bony Express Glider.

For those of you just tuning into our program: Dog King John is  story I am writing for my grandchildren, but when I finish the story I am planning on publishing a book version either through Amazon or Kickstarter. The story actually has two types of pages, with the story being told on the right-hand pages and background material presented on left-hand pages. Right now I’m only sharing the right-hand pages – a move that is both a  marketing measure for the eventual book as well as a way to keep things special for the grandkids.

Spacing out the pages also gives me a chance to correct/tweak details as ideas come to me throughout the process – which makes each book I make for the kids an artists proof.

One change will be a subtitle: printed below  Dog King John and The Stolen Syrup will  be a line that states “a story for the precocious fifth-grader in us all.”

CCC: Creative Curmudgeon Commentary 1

Saturday Morning Rerun for 09 FEB 2019. Up to this point I’ve been re-running life-stories but I’m switching to professional commentary for awhile. This post figures in long-term plans for a book on the business aspects and technical aspects of a creative career and if nothing else a rerun/relook this gives me a chance to refine things a bit.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

This has nothing to do with the Great Depression (Civilian Conservation Corps)

It has nothing do with U.S. Army’s FM 100-5 (Command, Control & Communications)

 The Cyrillic acronym for “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (CCCP) is right-out as well

 “CCC”?  Creative Curmudgeon Commentary!

Also known as all the stuff I wish I’d known before I took on this line or work.  College gave me little-to-no preparation for the practical side of creative work nor had I any mentors when I launched “Pendrake Studio” in May of 1953. As is the case for gaining parenting skills,   professional development usually meant taking the test first and then getting the lesson.

 At times it was like I was playing tennis with a hand grenade for the ball – with the pin half-pulled. No one should have to work that hard or end up that crispy for a career so at…

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Bladeship Model

bladeship

I designed the bladeship to be Starfleet’s primary Special Operations support vessel – a concept that kicked off a short but brisk discussion that recently spread across WordPress and Facebook.  Essentially an SR-71, an AC-130 and a submarine rolled into one ship, the bladeship was central to an (unfortunately) unpublished special operations supplement I wrote for FASA’s Star Trek role-playing game back in the day. The fact that at the time I was also serving as the battalion S2 (intelligence) for the 1st battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (ABN) UTARNG was most definitely a factor in the whole project

The aforementioned discussion got me thinking about all the work that went into the project and how it could be of enough interest to support a couple of posts. Unfortunately, I started the original bladeship project thirty-four years and seven houses ago, and as I learned in the army “three moves equal one fire” …so I’ve essentially been burned out twice since 1985.

I still have  some “stuff” left, including this Styrene and Bondo ® model built in scale to the original AMT USS Enterprise model. As I think about this I’m pretty sure I’ve already written a post or two  about the bladeship but A) it’s been awhile and B) the pertinent files have proved to be elusive.

What I Looked Like Once Upon a Time

I wish I had a better copy of this photo. It was taken at Ricks College in the autumn of 1973 during the most successful semester of my collegiate career, but like most of my undergraduate semesters I was flat broke and couldn’t afford any of the photo print packages. This image was scanned out of a yearbook published back when color printing was a luxury rather than the rule.

This is the first time in forty-six years I’ve looked at this closely, and as I look it over two questions come to mind:

  1. Who wrote “Wow!” along the left-hand margin?
  2.  At what time  in those intervening forty-six years did I learn how to correctly fold down my collar?

 

Ricks19730015