Fear The Walking Dead Crossover

fear-the-walking-dead-morgan-1099726-640x320POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

Being a big fan of both “The Walking Dead” and “Fear The Walking Dead” TV series, I was really impressed with the seamless crossover of Morgan, a character who went off to be by himself at the end of season 8, and finally traveled out west, eventually crossing paths with Nick and Alisia Clark, two of the main characters from Fear The Walking Dead at the end of the first episode. Also along for the ride are the characters Strand and Luciana (thought admittedly it had been awhile since I’d watched “Fear”, and didn’t really recognize the latter two at first) and two new characters that are tagging along with Morgan; Al, a female journalist with an awesome armored truck, and John Dorie, a cowboy type, who hasn’t spoken to another single person in over a year. (and so appears to have become a bit mad on first meeting)

I felt that the show’s opening was well executed, because it follows on straight after the strange fate of Negan (who was almost condemned to death, but later saved by Rick “my mercy prevails over my wrath” Grimes, main protagonist of the main zombie TV show). At the beginning of “Fear”, Morgan initially seems to resign himself to being a hermit in the trash camp once occupied by the Scavengers, but one by one, Rick, Carol and “Jesus” visit Morgan in the hopes of convincing him to come back to their camp. The beginning sequence is virtually an extension of The Walking Dead, tacked onto Fear The Walking Dead. Each character tries to convince him to come back to their camp, deciding that it would be better for him to not be alone.

walking-deadFor those unfamiliar with the show up to this point, while battling zombie hordes is both commonplace (as you might imagine) and gory, there has been a steady increase of enemies of the “living” variety. i.e regular humans. There is a marauding group known as the saviors causing havoc throughout the wastelands, and Rick and his group have clashed with them on quite a few occasions right up to the very end of season 8 of The Walking Dead.

Morgan has been continually struggling with the idea of killing humans ever since meeting a “cheese-maker” (a man named Eastman) who taught him the martial art Aikido. This martial art comes with its own philosophies and as Eastman teaches Morgan about the beliefs found within Aikido, Morgan, who before had killed whoever had posed a threat to him in the past, starts to believe that “all life is precious”. After Eastman is bitten, and passes on, Morgan walks away with a new perspective on life.

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Morgan meets Eastman, who teaches him Aikido and stick fighting

This belief that “all life is precious” does not make things easy for someone living in post apocalyptic America. Morgan has time after time found himself in situations that put a strain on his beliefs, but if memory serves me, he has always managed to disarm or knock out opponents with his trusty wooden staff. In other words, he finds that generally speaking he can protect himself with a staff, but when others rely on him for life or death situations, then that’s a whole other level of difficulty.

Morgan soon realizes that his beliefs have consequences. He spares the life of an attacker, who, it is later revealed, is the “alpha wolf” of a destructive gang known as The Wolves. These Wolves later go on to cause havoc and death over at Rick’s group camp; Alexandria. Realizing that sparing the “alpha wolf” in the woods led to the attack, Morgan starts to think that maybe his “all life is precious” stance is really not worth holding, or at the very least, not compatible. Morgan goes on to kill his first human after his vow to not take another life when he saves Carol’s life after she is attacked by one of the saviors. Breaking his vow sends Morgan down the long journey of conflicting thoughts and feelings and it’s not long before Morgan is killing left and right, all the while suffering, more or less, in silence.

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An early meeting with The Saviors

Morgan is probably one of the more interesting characters because he has very obvious problems going on. Most of the characters do not seem too affected (at least from a moralistic standpoint) by the prospect of killing for the sake of survival, and are able to justify it because groups like the Wolves and the Saviors are the obvious aggressors. Morgan represents the afflicted man and woman who struggles morally to take a life, even if one is provoked and is, by all accounts, “justified” to do so. He suffers PTSD. He needs to find himself after the loss of his son,  (which happened in an earlier season, but wasn’t shown.)

Carol-Walking-Dead-Season-3.jpgCarol is another character that eventually struggles with the constant loss of life and the taking of life, but when she is needed the most, she is there to pretty much save the day. In fact, I think Carol is probably the strongest character of the whole show in terms of where she began and how far she has come. (Carol started out as a timid, abused housewife, but became a strong warrior woman who almost single-handedly took down a cannibal community at “The Terminal”, saving her old group, and then came full circle, actually threatening a wife beater in the community of Alexandria). Carol is a true survivalist, to the point where some aren’t happy with her tough decisions.

Back to The Walking Dead / Fear the Walking Dead crossover…

I was rather impressed with how seamless the process was in having one character transition over into a “sister” show. It never occurred to me that The Walking Dead’s season finale would be aired on the same night that season 4 of Fear The Walking Dead premiered, but of course that’s what you’d ideally want to happen, to help with the transition of a character from one show to the other.

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Could Madison Clark eventually make an appearance in The Walking Dead?

I don’t really read the comics that the TV show is based on, nor do I read any spoilers or theory websites, so I may be completely out of the loop, but I am guessing that Morgan’s crossover from The Walking Dead to Fear The Walking Dead is a hint at the two shows eventually merging ( assuming of course that such a merger has more financial benefits from having one perfect show, rather than, let’s say, two great shows).

Another explanation might be, and it’s possibly a more realistic explanation, is that it’s a great marketing idea to convince Walking Dead fans to give “Fear” a try, and vice versa, if they watch one show, but not the other. Perhaps we might even see Madison Clark guest star alongside Rick and co in season 9 of The Walking Dead, though that’s a little harder to envision since “Fear” takes place on the West Coast, and The Walking Dead takes place around Georgia.

Thanks for reading

J

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Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God Is Within You

tolstoyI’m going to be honest with you dear reader. You may not appreciate or agree with my views in life, I’ve never hidden the fact that my views differ from that of (at least what I perceive to be) popular opinion. I would like to think that that’s the one thing that you might like about me as a person, as an artist, even as a friend. You might not like my opinion but at least I’m honest to who I think I am.

Occasionally popular opinion overlaps with my own and I get to rest and not defend myself. For the most part I carry a torch of one, or a few, and I continue on with my belief even under pressure. I consider myself a Christian, though more realistically a failed one. In the words of one our late local lyricist and poet Henry McCullough “I’m a failed Christian and I don’t go to church, I smoke and I drink and I lie and I curse”….(he played with Paul McCartney’s Wings if I remember right). In other words I’m not going to judge you because I am in no position to. And if or when I do, I need to ask forgiveness from you!

My first introduction to Tolstoy was the book The Kingdom of God is Within You. It’s a non fiction book, the culmination of thirty years of Tolstoy’s thinking, and lays out a new organization for society based on a literal Christian interpretation. If I were to sum it up it’s about Christ’s sermon on the mount and how we’re supposed to turn the other cheek.

jimanddaveI bought it at the same time I was flying out to Turkey to spend a few weeks on holiday with my brothers.

So the first few chapters were read under palm trees instead of our usual Northern Irish semi dull days. The book was first published in Germany in 1894 after being banned in his home country of Russia and is the culmination of thirty years of Tolstoy’s thinking, and lays out a new organization for society based on a literal Christian interpretation. Why am I always drawn to banned things? I swear, it is not intentional. In the case of Tolstoy, I imagine his work was banned because it was in direct conflict with, say, the idea of the draft. It is basically a pacifist’s manual.

I’ll roll it back a bit, and let you into my life. I grew up in a family where church attendance was not that important, but occasionally my father desired that we would still attend. I was never interested in church. In Ireland, when some kind of mass salvation thing swept across my sister’s school, (thought it was not a religious school) and she got saved, it was a little shocking. If I’m honest about it I wasn’t too happy. I felt that my sister was stolen away from me. Soon I started to wonder If I too should be saved. For a long time I mocked the Christian music she listened too because it sounded too…well, weak. As time rolled on I thought “I’ll do the prayer”…you know that prayer that you’re supposed to do to get saved. I did that and forgot about it. About two weeks later I started to read the bible more and more. It felt like a compulsion. I am not sure if I had self hypnotised myself but I became really eager to learn more about the bible. Instead of being peaceful though, I turned really inspired by the apocalyptic. I started to straighten out though but I became interested in bands like the very obscure Nashville based Wedding Party ‘s Anthems Album (in my early 20’s they even invited me to their studio to see their set up because I made friends with most of the band members and often wrote detailed descriptions of how I felt about their songs) and Saviour Machine, a great gothic Christian band whose lead singer Eric Clayton was really great to talk to. I was a big fan and here was Eric talking to me!

At that point in my life I’d rather meet these people rather than the biggest pop star today. For me, These people were “celebrities” and they inspired my thinking, and also my belief that the best and most talented works of art and literature are probably the ones you’ll never hear of. What I mean is that most of the musica and art that has inspired me will probably never ever reach the mainstream. From that perspective I’ve never felt that I should necessarily seek to be “the best” because in my mind these people were the best yet would never make it into the mainstream. I started to understand that sometimes the best musicians and artists are the ones you’ll never hear about. Maybe I should do a story on that at some point.

constance_origGetting back to Tolstoy, you’re more likely to hear of Tolstoy with his books War and Peace or Anna Karenina, both of which, to this day, I’ve never read. In the book The Kingdom of God is within you, Tolstoy speaks of the Doctrine of Non-Resistance to Evil by Force, A principle of nonviolent resistance when confronted by violence. Trust me, I know it seems like an insane concept, and most would never be able to follow it.

In recent times I think, at least by American standards, I may be more conservative leaning, but even with that I do not feel fully “understood”. I’m still at that stage of understanding that maybe it fits with God’s will that killing your enemies is acceptable, yet Christ doesn’t seem to say this, nor even allude to it. I suppose I would say that officially it is not the right thing to do spiritually, but physically it might be a necessity. I can’t say. What I can say is that Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within you certainly makes you ponder these things.

In that sense I think Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is within you is as relevant for the 1800’s as it is today, but it requires a lot of work if one wants to live it out in the real world. Then again, I can’t think of a single scripture where Christ says the walk will be easy! Well worth a read.

Thanks for reading

DECORATIVE DESIGN IN ANCIENT TIMES

causeway-artist-comicsI come from a part of Northern Ireland famous for everything from the oldest licenced whiskey distillery in the world,

to the world famous Giant’s Causeway (Image on the left). Ireland is rich with ancient celtic lore, and as a kid i discovered a little bit of this for myself.

The idea of art has been around for thousands of years, from cave paintings chronicling important historical events for tribal communities to decorative designs. For today I want to talk about decorative designs. Generally a decorative design is a motif, an image printed or painted over and over to make a pattern. Some of these designs held meaning, and some were even dedicated to the almighty, or various gods. We see this with the intricate details of celtic designs. Other designs, presumably, were designed solely because the creative person doing the decorating felt that the designs looked good.

I want to tell you a real life story that happened in my own life. It will probably sound hard to believe considering it is not something that usually happens in day to day life. Situated in the North Coast of Ireland, my late uncle was a farmer and he had a crop of barley that needed cut. It was during the Summer and I was about maybe 10 years old, during the early 90’s.

combineThe combine harvester was contracted in, and they were cutting the barley around midnight, which isn’t unusual for farm contractors since the majority of contract work is in the summer and they are kept in demand. So some contractors will work late into the night. To cut a long story short the front wheel of the combine harvester fell into a hole, a deep hole in the field.

It took a long time to get the harvester hauled out with the help of tractors and chains, but when it was pulled out, there was a deep dark cavern.

My uncle called my parents over and so I got to go along to see what had happened. As it turned out, the combine harvester had fallen into an ancient Neolithic cave, which was once a home of some kind to people many thousands of years previous. It’s not unusual to find the odd flint arrow head around the fields near where we live. I even found a flint knife once. However what we found in the cave was so much more than all that.

We weren’t able to see much by torch light and so we put off exploring the cave until the next day. With my uncle, and my dad we explored the cave together. We found a bottom floor to the cave, but no one would be able to fit down the hole that led to it except me. At the time, as a 10 year old, I was a lot skinnier than I am now, and so I ventured into the cave’s bottom. It was a square hole and maybe about a 6 foot crawl downwards until I reached the bottom. On the bottom was a flat floor with four walls. One of the walls to my left had a square cut out of the wall, which led into another room. To enter the smaller room to the left, you’d have to crawl through the “window” area, or what looked like a “window” frame, not with glass obviously, but where you could see into another smaller room that looked like a little storage area. My parents wondered if maybe the lower room was for a safety area for kids since adults, at least adults in our day and age, weren’t able to fit down into the lower room.

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We don’t have the flint items from the cave, but they were similar to this one. My father has found these same type outside our family home, especially when plowing the fields.

So what did we find in the cave? There were a few flint items and a few deer bones found, which I found interesting considering that the deer native to Ireland had become extinct long ago. We also found a clay pot and this brings us to my original point of the story. The history of art and decoration.

The clay pot we found was decorated around the rim with a very careful series of thumb prints. In later years I wondered if perhaps the thumbprints were embedded into the clay because the potter was using his thumb to manipulate the thickness of the clay around the rim of the cup, but with the rest of the pot having a smooth surface, the thumb prints around the rim were made more noticeable. In the mind of a ten year old and everyone else concerned at the scene, we felt that sure enough it was a pattern. This was also the opinion of the Archaeologists that came out to examine the findings, which they then took to the museum.

I admit, I was a bit sad that they took all the items away, and from time to time it

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Newgrange is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland. It was built during the Neolithic period around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids

still annoys me. I’ve visited quite a few museums over the years and they always seem to have a surplus of these ancient relics. Why they need to collect everything that people happen to find doesn’t make much sense to me.

Over the years, from time to time, I’ve thought about that man or woman who put their thumb prints all around that pot. What were they thinking? Had the pattern any significant meaning? Was it more for decorative purposes?

We know that the spiral, for example, seems to be the one pattern in life that is seen everywhere, and if you’ve ever heard or read the Manga graphic novel Uzimaki you’ll see the funny side! Spirals are everywhere in nature. You can find spirals in everything from snail shells and spider webs, to hurricanes and tornados, even the Milky Way. Spirals were also important in much of ancient art, from the natives in Sedona to Celtic spirals in Newgrange, Ireland.

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Spooky Cats Tarot Kickstarter Project

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halloween-artistWe’re excited to announce that our campaign is now over 80% funded on Kickstarter. Click here to see the campaign. So many great people, so many destinations for the decks; USA, Israel, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia and for the first time ever, South Korea. As a lover of maps and geography, seeing the locations is really exciting.

So this evening I’m getting a few more of the cards drawn between giving out candy to the Trick or Treaters 🙂

Working on the cards has been really great for my sanity lol…I’m serious! Being diagnosed with diabetes about a month ago, has been a little hard, I must admit, and of course I see the irony in drawing a bunch of candy throughout the cards!

halloween-tarot-catsDrawing is very therapeutic and allows you to forget about things for awhile. You’re able to immerse yourself in this little world that you create. In a way I feel I “exist” in this little Halloween Spooky Cats world while I draw it, and when Halloween ends tomorrow…well, It won’t be ending for me. I can deal with that. My Halloween will last, most likely, well into the Christmas season, as I bring these little characters to life.

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