Yule

All posts tagged Yule

Kickstarter: The Final Three Days

Published September 28, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

The Kickstarter campaign for Kris & Krampus Kringle has come a looong way since I last posted! It seemed like we were at 70/80-something percent funded for a good while, and then this past Friday it really hit the fan. Over the course of the day the campaign got five new new backers in addition to two adjusted increased pledges, and shot past 100% funded! When I last checked this morning it was at $2,910 or 116% funded because the goal was only for $2,500! I’ve had so many fears and self-conscious doubts along the way that I’m still kind of in shock with how well it’s been doing, and there’s still three days left to go until time’s up!

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With all of the additional funding I am hoping to order a slightly larger first run of books from Bookbaby. That way I’ll have enough for all of the backers who have reserved their copies first, and some left to bring to the local indie bookstores and libraries here in Portland on consignment or donation. I want to see if the same library on Belmont where we hold our monthly Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators Meetup group would be willing to take one off my hands.

Some pictures I posted on Instagram featuring the custom Krampus button sets that my husband Martyn is making as rewards for the backers. In case you didn’t know, he runs his own button company out of our house called Power Pop Pins, and his buttons kind of rule!

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Close up so you can better see the designs on the smaller vintage Krampus buttons. I’ve always found Victorian Krampus Christmas cards, or Krampuskarten, to be simultaneously beautiful and hilarious!

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On Saturday Martyn and I spoke with four different independent comic and book shops that had an interest in stocking my book during the holidays (and a few that might even let me read my story to some kids!) One is a children’s book store on Alberta Street called Green Bean Books, and the other three were all on Mississippi Avenue–Bridge City Comics, Another Read Through, and Reading Frenzy. I also hope to speak with Floating World Comics sometime soon and possibly some people at Powell’s Books. The Fernie Brae on Hawthorne is my favorite place of all of these, and they’ve always been there to cheer me on as I worked on my book. It’s going to be the biggest honor of all to see my book on the shelf in their little bookshop this Christmas right next to their various signed Brian Froud books!

Another photo I had posted of all of the buttons pinned to my stocking. I really didn’t want to have to look at any of the Christmas stuff in the garage at this time of the year, but I figured that I should share because it was kind of a clever gift-giving idea that Martyn thought of last Christmas when he made me some special “I don’t like Star Wars” buttons as presents.

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Beyond my daily annoying posts about Kickstarter on the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page and my working double shifts at both jobs multiple days in a row to save up some extra cash for an upcoming big purchase, I haven’t had a lot of time for much else. I did get a very brief start on the illustration for my own Krampuskarten that I’m making as part of the backers rewards packages. They’re going to be based off of this vintage Christmas card of St. Nicholas and Krampus on a motorcycle:

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Only my version is going to be of my own characters when they were reckless teenagers. This was the pencil sketch:

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Here’s it with some of the inking done, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished with that step yet:

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If you’ve been following me on Facebook I apologize that I don’t really have any new visual material to share with you. Thankfully this weekend I might get a few seconds of free time so I can finally bust this one out and post it again when it’s all finished! Overnight Prints did such an amazing job with my last professional artist postcards that I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

In case you haven’t seen them, these are my professional artist postcards. Overnight Prints printed them with a beautiful soft matte finish that really lends itself to my style.

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So anyway, that’s it for now. I CANNOT WAIT for this campaign to finally be over and done with, it has been more hard work and headache than I ever could have imagined, but I’m forever grateful that it’s already funded so I can stop stressing about it so much. I’ll post on here again after it ends!

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Kickstarter Insights: Trolls, Witches, Anxiety, & Triumphs

Published September 12, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

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It’s been ten days since the launch of Kris & Krampus Kringle on Kickstarter, and here are some things that I have learned:

1. Reddit is pretty disappointing as a forum for sharing creative endeavors.

I suppose that I already knew this from every other time I’ve tried sharing art or creative posts on there in the past, but this latest attempt did a pretty good job at reminding me. Perhaps as an artist who loves monsters and horror just as much as I love children’s books and fairytales, I’m still dealing with some of the usual difficulties that I always face in trying to find the right niche for my work. Make a children’s book featuring a misunderstood monster protagonist, and narrow-minded horror purists will hate you, many traditionalists in the children’s book universe will think you’re just another sicko weirdo, and then there’s all of the people from neither camp who just happen to get upset by any new or unique ideas.

When speaking about Reddit specifically, this must be the equivalent to leading three billy goats to a bridge as a sacrifice. I generally find trolls to be ridiculous, comical, and a little sad by nature…and although I have never come across one skilled enough to really get to me on a personal level, I do think it’s a shame that so many of them exist. Trolls are merely a product of their environment, and their increased numbers are often proof of a depressed land ravaged by fear, hate, and apathy. Perhaps because it is in their nature to hide from the light of day in conscious isolation beneath the shelter of the internet forum, then it is only natural that their population expand to fill the growing void left behind in the place of community and enlightenment.

So… You say you like the krampus mythology and then take a fat shit on it by not actually using the alpine mythologies? And then you want to advertise your book on a completely unrelated subreddit? Is it possible to down vote someone so hard they actually physically suffer for it?

More diluitutation of folklore through pop culture. Thanks, Disney.

(I had to include this picture from Faerieworlds–it seemed oddly appropriate!)

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All I’m saying it is, it would be nice if I knew of some more supportive online forums for creatives to share their art and encourage each others’ hard work and innovation. If you know of any, feel free to direct me in the comments!

I will mention that the most supportive online groups of strangers that I have come across so far (besides other fantasy illustrators) are forums on Reddit and elsewhere that are associated with the Pagan, and most especially Wiccan, faiths. I suppose this doesn’t surprise me too much either; I have always found this community to be a very accepting bunch and this is part of the reason why I have always been drawn to it. For the past several years we have celebrated both Yule and Christmas in my house, so I chose to make a secular holiday book that focuses on family and acceptance as opposed to specific beliefs and religion.

2. Kickstarter is terrifying, and a brand new major source of anxiety!

After about a year and a half of perfecting my book, I of course wanted to set up the best Kickstarter campaign that I could possibly come up with. Besides backing a project once, I had never used Kickstarter before and was completely ignorant to how crowdfunding works. I spent about a week researching how to make a campaign, and then three days and three very late nights actually writing the campaign and trying to get it just right. I dreaded making the video most of all. I absolutely HATE being on camera above all else, but I did understand the importance of having a video so I knew I would just have to suck it up and give it my best try. Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m just lucky my husband Martyn who shot the video also knows how to edit. SO AWKWARD!!!

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In the beginning, I very foolishly believed that launching the of the Kickstarter campaign would be the perfect thing to calm me down and take my mind off of the whole house-hunting and first-home-buying process. Well, I was half right. Although I have temporarily stopped wearing out the Redfin app on my phone, I now find myself constantly checking on the Kickstarter app, the Official Kris & Krampus Kringle Facebook page, and the temporary Instagram business page that took over my old account, @krisandkrampus 

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Perhaps the most terrifying tool that I have discovered so far is called Kicktraq, a site with some kind of mystical math-wizard that uses daily averages to predict the projected success of your campaign. I almost didn’t want to look, but curiosity killed the cat. Here’s the chart for Kris and Krampus Kringle, which appears to be updated every couple hours. Below is a screencap from right now:

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Both of those seem pretty unrealistically optimistic to me, but whatever, I’ll take it.

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Then there’s that whole challenge in finding a balance in knowing when put yourself out there and spread the word in order to be seen and adequately promote yourself, and when to remain silent for fear of annoying everyone in your social circle. I’m shy and not very good at that. I would much rather simply ignore the timer on Kickstarter and just let nature run its course, but luckily the fear of inadvertently self-sabotaging my only chance at getting this book published and letting all of my backers down has kept me far, far out of my comfort zone. I’m constantly thinking about what else I can try to get the word out, and every time I get another backer, I get such a rush of excitement and hope…which eventually starts to fade as another day ticks by and my relentless feelings of self-doubt return. This must be what an addiction to gambling feels like. I know that I seriously need to relax, but despite the outcome when it all ends at in 18 days at midnight on September 30th, I really can’t wait until all of this is over!

3. I am surrounded by friends and family who truly love and support me.

All anxieties aside, my experience with Kickstarter has also reminded me that I still have A LOT of friends and family that truly love and support me in all that I do. I recognize the names of all of my current backers with the exception of two strangers (who still might be people I know, but you don’t have to use your real name on Kickstarter.) I also have received massive encouragement and support from all my friends on Facebook; vouching for me by sharing my posts, ‘liking’ the Kris & Krampus FB page (140 people and counting) and not to mention all of the really kind and thoughtful comments! It’s because of them that I got this email only one week after the launch.

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I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude whenever I really think about it, and this is the only thing that truly calms me down and keeps me going. That’s all I’ve got really got for you right now, just a slice of life, a neurotic ramble, and a little glimpse inside my head. Perhaps it will give you better insight at what it’s like to run a Kickstarter campaign for your ultimate creative accomplishment and labor of love. I think it’s entirely stressful and terrifying, not at all for the faint of heart, and demanding of every ounce of strength and courage that you can muster…but probably all worth it in the end!

 

 

…Right?

I’m Back/Recap 2: Bertha

Published June 23, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

It’s been a month since I’ve been posting weekly or on the regular, so here’s recap part two! Some of you might recall how I fell down a lucky rabbit hole on Wikipedia a few weeks back and discovered Perchta. Please actually click on the wiki link that I just provided for the complete article, because it’s entirely fascinating and obviously much more articulate than anything I could possibly ever describe in this post! She’s also quite a looker:

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From what I have gathered, Perchta (or Bertha in English) is another Yuletide character from Alpine folklore who is kind of like the female counterpart to our good friend Krampus. Her name means “the bright one” and she is a pagan goddess/wintertime witch who is sometimes said to be a ruler of beasts and the leader of the Wild Hunt. She appears during the Twelve Days of Christmas in two very distinct guises. Sometimes she is very beautiful and fair; clothed in white robes as she visits the dwellings of good children and rewards their yearly efforts with gifts of silver coins left behind in their shoes.

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At other times, when children have not been good, and especially if they have committed the particularly loathsome crimes of not spinning their entire allotment of wool, or eating something on the night of her feast day other than the traditional meal of fish and gruel, then Perchta would appear as a haggard, hideous monster and slit their bellies open in the middle of the night!

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She would then proceed to disembowel her prey and replace their organs with pebbles and straw, presumably then stitching them all back together nice and neat since she is also a goddess who oversees sewing, weaving, and spinning. She can really make Krampus look like a nice guy…and that is saying something!

Speaking of which: I guess Krampus has a girlfriend! Don’t they make an adorable couple?

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I’m in love.

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Seriously though–from all that I have read so far, Perchta and Krampus do kind of go hand in hand during Krampuslauf parades and similar events involving all manner of Christmastime merriment and debauchery. Festival goers might dress as “beautiful Perchten” (the plural form of Perchta) for good luck:

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Some were perhaps not quite so beautiful.

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Alternately, others would don animal skins and scary masks as flat out “ugly Perchten” to scare away the local ghosts and devils from the town. A lot of the ugly Perchten masks even resemble Krampus, but often with lighter fur and multiple intertwining horns.

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I always love the group photos.

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Perchten on parade!

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Some of the masks even highlight her dual nature and serve as a two-in-one!

Frau Perchta

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Another interesting aspect of Perchta is that the older stories describe her as having an odd, extra-large foot, or goose/swan feet.

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In some of the older portrayals of Krampus he also has mismatched feet; one human foot and one cloven hoof.

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I always assumed this was a demon thing. Since I was that weird kid who spent all of my free time in the library reading everything I could find on mythology, the paranormal, and the occult, I actually do know a thing or two about demons, or at least how they were oftentimes depicted in medieval artwork. The medieval Christian explanation went something like: Man was created in God’s image, so although demons are known for their powers of deception and their shapeshifting abilities, they can never truly take on the sacred form of a human being. Like, they can ALMOST do it, but they’ll always be at least one thing that’s a little off about them–like a cloven hoof or a tail or something.

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As a fellow person with unusually large feet, I can only imagine how this would make shoe shopping an absolute nightmare. I feel you, dude.

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This explanation also accounts for changelings and fairies and all kinds of other weird fantastical humanoid critters that were ever said to roam the Earth before Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe. A clever way to transform the pagan gods into something that you wouldn’t want hanging around your village, and probably further enforcing the need to go to church!

However, just like Krampus, the origins of Perchta predate Christianity. The only two explanations that I could find about the odd foot thing is that it’s an indication of Perchta’s shapeshifting abilities, since she is a goddess after all, and my favorite explanation…she needs a big ol’ goose foot to work the treadle on her spinning wheel! And that, my friend, is evolution if I ever heard it!

So with all of this amazing inspiration, I quickly decided that I need to draw my own Perchta character. I’ve already been considering writing a sequel to Kris & Krampus Kringle someday down the road. Other ideas for possible characters in the second book include some other cool characters from Nordic Christmas folklore, The Yule Cat, The Yule Lads, and their mother, the wicked giantess Grýla. With all of these characters essentially originating from the same universe, it makes me want to write crossovers and backstories on them even more. I also think that I will write the sequel to take place four years later, so that Krampus would be as old as Kris was in the first book (nine years old) and Kris would be about thirteen. This would set things up perfectly for an awkward first romance!

Based on the idea that my Perchta character would be the same age as Krampus in the second book, I started sketching what I imagined she would look like as a young girl. For pronunciation’s sake I decided that I should call her by the English spelling of her name, Bertha. I mostly based her design off of the beautiful Perchten form, but I decided that I still wanted to incorporate a few of her more monstrous features as well. This is the first sketch that I drew.

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You see, this way she’s still very beautiful but she also looks like she can be a bit of a brat if provoked. I kept the long blonde hair and let the golden halo/stylized rays of light in some of those beautiful Perchten masks morph into a more naturalistic braid crown. I also added some small curled double horns. Her nose is also a little bit beastly, but still more delicate than how I draw Krampus’s nose. I was happy enough with the initial sketch to then refine it into a finished character design.

Bertha Design

I made sure to include her lacy bonnet this time, as well as the goose feet and her love of the textile arts! I also gave her an ugly Perchten mask that I imagine her wearing most of the time…like maybe she’s really shy so she doesn’t usually let people see her real face. It ended up looking a little like a creepy tiki mask, but I swear that I based the design on the wooden masks in the old drawings posted above. I think that someday I would also love to make a puppet of her just like I plan to do with Kris, Krampus, and Mama Kringle.

So that’s about it for this post. Over the past few days I’ve been working on an illustration of Bertha knitting under a wild rose bush tunnel in the woods. It’s going to be another pretty little portfolio piece when it’s done, and I might also be turning it into a promotional postcard to send to agents and publishers along with my info and dummy book. I will be sure to include some work in progress pictures of that piece in my next blog entry!