Tag Archives: creativity

Interview with Type 40 – Pop Culture artisans!

If you’ve ever attended a Supernova, Armageddon or ComicCon event in Australia, chances are you’ve seen one of the amazing Captain America shields or Thor hammers built by Allan Carey of Type 40 in Melbourne. Allan is also known as ‘The TARDIS Guy’, so he has his fingers in many geek pies.

Right now, Allan and Type 40 are running a Kickstarter campaign for a series of beautifully designed and made Call of Cthulu leather document wallets. Naturally, I wanted to ask him all about it.

Interview with Allan Carey

1. You’re well known for your Captain America shields and Thor hammers – what led you to Cthulhu-embossed leather document wallets?

I’ve spent years making shields and hammers for fans, enthusiasts and collectors and have even made a shield for Stan Lee and a hammer for Chris Hemsworth. I love making them and my love of comics and superheroes was the reason I made them in the first place. In fact, most of what I make is because I want one and that’s exactly what led me to making the leather document wallets for Call of Cthulhu, the role-playing game.

I have been playing the game for over 30 years now and still run a game for friends weekly. So when I had the occasion to meet Michael O’Brien from Chaosium, the company that owns the game, it was an exciting opportunity for me to approach him and ask if I could produce some high end items for their game.

Some people show appreciation for the things they love by buying merchandise, collecting memorabilia or even writing about them. I make things. It brings me a lot of joy and I get to keep the first one I make.

2. What’s been the most challenging part of creating the wallets?

A big part of developing a new product, especially bespoke, handmade items, is that if you are going to make more than one, you have to have a reliable and repeatable process. So getting that right is by far the hardest part. Making sure that each one carries the same level of craftsmanship and the quality doesn’t dip at all, no matter if you make 1, 10 or 100.

The other part was choosing which symbol to emboss in the leather. In the end we chose classic and highly recognisable symbols from the game Call of Cthulhu: the Elder Sign which protects against evil and the Great Old Ones. We also commissioned an original piece of artwork by Seth Laster as an extra special add-on. We like to go the extra mile.

3. What’s been the most rewarding or fun part?

It would have to be working on a game and with a company that I have been both a fan of and a loyal devotee to for over 30 years. The games they produce and write have been formative in how I view role-playing games and who I write and run my own games since my first taste. I can’t believe how lucky I am.

Alongside that, I would say that seeing the official logos of Chaosium embossed on the leather prototypes was very exciting. Something I made with the logo of something I’ve loved blew my mind a little.

4. What has been the reaction to the wallets during the Kickstarter campaign?

Good, very good. Because it is a Kickstarter, most people won’t see the product until it is in their hands and that can be difficult. My portfolio is filled with items that do look good on display but are designed to be held and touched. It is the same with the wallet: it is meant to be touched and used. However, that hasn’t stopped people backing the Kickstarter. People are excited and have even been asking when we will do something similar for Runequest.

5. For those who love the idea of the wallets, but Cthulhu not so much, do you have plans for other pop-culture related leather goods in the future?

Well we are always open to new ideas, but the work books are so full at the moment that it is all we can do to keep up. The process of creating a new piece is so intensive it has to have an audience waiting for it. That said, we do already have the patterns, the cutting knives and leather for these wallets. So, all we really have to do is create the artwork and make the embossing irons. So if anyone has any ideas…

6. What’s your favourite thing about your work at Type 40?

Definitely the feeling I get when I hand over a piece I have made for someone. The look on their face, the joy in receiving their new shiny shield.

I know this feeling, because even after all these years, I still get that feeling each time I finish one in the workshop. I’m basically turning adults back into children for just a moment. It’s amazing.

7. What would your theme song be? (personally or for the business)

Big Spender – Shirley Bassey

(Here’s a video from YouTube – get inspired! Links after the clip!)

 

Add a little Spark! to your life

Art by Janet AndertonEvery writer needs a bit of encouragement – wherever they are in their career. We all like to know what techniques other writers use to get started, to keep going, to get motivated and to write even when we’re not.

I contribute from time to time to an excellent little newsletter called Spark! Distributed by Improbable Press, it’s designed to encourage and motivated writers – especially those new to the craft, but there are words of energetic enthusiasm there for everyone.

Recently I approached many editors of my acquaintance to say what they loved and what they loathed about submissions they received. (A serious number of submissions fail to meet basic guidelines, which was less of a surprise than it should have been.)

Various newsletters have discussed how to write about place, fighting fear, using play to get creative, and writing in languages or dialects not your own.

Spark! comes out every two or so weeks, and is kept short and punchy. You can check out the newsletters to date here, or if you’re keen you can subscribe right away!Spark newsletter logo

Xmas Gifts for Writers: The Journal of Infinite Possibility

img_6469It’s only November, I know, but Christmas is coming anyway, with all the inevitability of sunrise, vampires in fiction, and a writer’s need for either coffee or wine (or both).

Speaking of writer’s needs, here’s a really neat gift idea for the writer in your life. Whether they’ve got thirty books under their sparkly belt or they’re still experimenting with style, form and pen name, you can’t go wrong with an inspirational journal.

And oh look, here’s one that Clan Destine Press prepared earlier!

The Journal of Infinite Possibility is a gorgeous little journal indeed. For a start, it’s full of pages waiting to be filled!

Mind you, the creators of this journal are writers and artists themselves and well know the terrifying tyranny of the blank page. That’s why the pages here aren’t exactly blank.

img_6463Instead, every page of The Journal of Infinite Possibility contains a picture, a quote, a prompt. Places to doodle when the words aren’t wording, images to colour in when doodles aren’t even doodling.

Actually, there’s plenty of space here for artists as well as writers, or for those scarily talented people who do both! They’ll certainly be inspired by the gorgeous covers and corner illustrations by Sarah Pain, Ashlea Bechaz, Vicky Pratt, Loraine Cooper and Ran Valerhon! (Two of that august list have created covers for my books with Clan Destine!)

img_6470A few of the pages are shown in part here so you can see how gorgeous this whole package is. The only real danger is that the writer who gets this won’t want to ink up the pretty pages. But ink it up, folks! Make it messy and crazy and bursting to full with your own  ideas sparked by these words and pictures and blank spaces just begging to be decorated with words, lines, lists, scrawls, sketches and the seeds of something bigger.

What the hell. Don’t get it for some other writer. Get it for yourself.

It’s what I’ve done.

Never say never (almost)

13186868_sA long time ago now, I spotted a post on Twitter from a bookseller who had overheard a male customer saying “I would never read a book by a woman”. It struck us as an odd thing to say. Why cut yourself off from half the books in the world, regardless of quailty or subject, because of the (apparent) gender of the writer?

Another contributor to the discussion added the amusing story of a man who said who never read fantasy by women but only by men – men like Robin Hobbs.

Oh, how we laughed and laughed.

The discussion moved on, however, to declarations of the books we ourselves might never read, and some fairly blanket terms came up, culminating in: “I’d never read a book by a footballer!”

I thought about this. I’m not very interested in sport, and might have declared I’d never read a book about football – but I had enjoyed Angela Pippos’s Goddess Advantage – One Year in the Life of a Football Worshipper. It was funny, clever, insightful and, yes, about football, but much more about family and community and one person’s life. But it also made me quite like football, through her eyes.

Would I refuse ever to read a book by a footballer, I wondered? I couldn’t imagine what they might have to say that would interest me, but that was just about being selective about what I read in my limited reading time.

I had decided a while back that I wouldn’t read books by certain authors because I found aspects of their very vocal opinions (one a rampant homophobe, another a convicted violent criminal) so repugnant that I was reluctant to contribute to even the price of a cup of coffee for them from my purchase. But there are maybe three writers on that list.

But that’s not a blanket ban on a type of person or on any particular subject. There’s always the chance that a good writer, or a good story, can come from anywhere.

So… as an experiment, I tried to find a book written by a footballer that I might like to read. My call for assistance ended in a friend lending me a copy of Jason McCartney’s After Bali (co-written by Ben Collins, who is credited in the fly-leaf, though not with his specific role in the creation of the book).

That was maybe two years ago. I’ve been putting off reading it in favour of books I was much more committed to reading, in my relatively limited reading hours.

This weekend, I finally opened it and gave it a whirl.

The book is written interview-style, with Jason McCartney’s story of being caught up in the bomb blasts in Bali in October 2002, his injuries and recovery, interspersed with quotes from family, friends, medical staff and others.

I tried and tried and tried to like it.

Half way through, I gave up. I just don’t have the time to keep reading books I’m not enjoying.

I feel bad about it. McCartney endured much, suffered much, achieved much, and it’s a rude of me to want the account of his experiences to be more articulate or more insightful or more… something. But the truth is, I found the writing awkward, repetetive and ultimately a bit dull. I wish him and his well, I do, and I feel awful that I was not sufficiently ‘engaged’. But I wasn’t.

What do I conclude from this experiment?

It isn’t that I will never read a book by a footballer. It isn’t that I will never read a book about personal suffering and endurance, or one about football, or any of those things.

I conclude mainly that not every writer or every subject or every writing style is my cup of tea, and that’s okay. I may choose not to continue a book, or not to read particular authors because I don’t particularly enjoy their work (or their personal politics) or because there are just so many other books that engage me much more at the time.

Never say never, or at least almost never, is what I conclude. I don’t want to close myself off from books and ideas that may be unexpected and brilliant, or at least educational.

But I’ll continue to be discerning in my choices, because I only have so much time, and there is ever so much in the world to read!

[Image by ponsuwan at 123RF.com)