The Mystery of the Chessboard Circus

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The wraparound cover for Vol. 2: The Mystery of the Chessboard Circus.

24 JULY 2019 — I have just published the second book in my first book series: You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 2: The Mystery of the Chessboard Circus. The first in this series was a kind of prologue of visions, 72 pages. This second volume is a 152-page hybrid of comic book and picture book — a comic book in which every panel is a full two-page spread. Here is the product description from Amazon:

“The Haunted Garden is always changing. With Vol. 2 the series morphs into a deluxe hybrid of comic book and picture book as classic game actor Rex and his friends explore the mystery of the Chessboard Circus. More than twice as long as Vol. 1, it showcases the author’s unique blend of styles inspired by his love of myths, fairy tales, comics, books, games, theatre, cinema, music, and more. And as with the first volume, clues to the future already await discovery in this, our second journey into the dream world known as the Haunted Garden.”

It’s available in both paperback and ebook form. During a free promotion of the ebook, it reached #2 in Two-Hour Comic & Graphic Novel Short Reads, #6 in Science Fiction Graphic Novels, and #5 in Fantasy Graphic Novels.

These are books I create from beginning to end, from writing through drawing every single line from scratch to putting the final pages together and publishing. I use absolutely no premade elements other than the Courier font Rex speaks in and that’s used for the meta texts such as the About the Author spread.

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Notre-Dame, Medium, The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water

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The main image for my Medium feature “My Creative Brushes with Notre-Dame de Paris”. It’s about drawings I had created before the fire, actually during my public drawing in Reykjavík in March 2019.

18th APRIL 2019 — I have started moving most of my online writing to Medium.com and I may eventually switch completely over there.

Having said that, I’m finding it difficult to let go of this little blog and I appreciate the connections I’ve made here — sincere thanks to everyone who’s reading this.

You can find my writings on Medium under my full name. Recently:

Plus, yesterday I also launched a full day-by-day serialisation of my first book as a Medium series. This innovative Medium form is designed for viewing on smartphones. You tilt your phone to look from side to side. You can also subscribe to this. Here’s the link.

Haunted Garden ebook debut

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Front cover of the ebook.

10th APRIL 2019 — The ebook edition of my first book, You Never Know What You’ll See in the Haunted Garden, Vol. 1, is now available on Amazon.

Everyone who buys the print paperback edition can also get the ebook version for free. The next volume in the series will be coming out early this summer. Amazon description for Vol. 1:

“The first in a series of eerie, beautiful coffee table books suitable for all ages. Rex the former game actor introduces us to the Haunted Garden through 30 full-spread wordless illustrations. These are books for leafing through, gazing at, and perhaps dreaming with, well suited for keeping on a living room table or a nightstand. This ebook is an exact reproduction of the paperback edition, allowing every detail of the full pictures to be seen.”

Amazon’s automatically generated preview ends just before the illustrated pages begin, but I have requested this to be changed to show more of the book. The change has been made and that update will soon be live on Amazon.

The new preview will show 20% of the content. Until then, an equally revealing preview can also be found on my site simosakariaaltonen.com.

Music: Phase 2

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Another version of the picture I used for this entry.

OCTOBER 28th 2018 — In Paris I started a personal catalogue of rhythmic patterns to help me with my music-making. I just now strung them all together one after the other, and so far there are 6,762 bars (measures) of patterns and variations. I add to it daily.

This has been all about laying a solid foundation and has involved hours and hours of painstaking, methodical work.

I have every pattern: 1) on paper, in a notebook I bought in Paris, 2) on my iPad Pro, which is my main creative multipurpose tool, in four separate apps (if anyone is interested: Notion, DrumPerfect Pro, Patterning, and Cubasis 2), and 3) in cloud storage. So it would take quite the calamity for me to lose them.

But yes, I decided the foundation is now solid enough and now I can start really building with this resource to draw on. I have been doing that all along in tandem with this, but I mean even more actively.

Now comes melody, instrumentation, and all the really fun stuff.

Of photos & memories

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La Villette park in Paris, late 2017 or early 2018. This is not really one of the photos I write about, but those would be more personal.

OCTOBER 24th 2018 — Nearly everyone must know the feeling. Coming across and looking through photos that trigger waves of memories, remembering what it was all like. People we miss… memories of happy times… good moments.

In lonelier times this feeling can be overwhelming. There may be tears. And we may remember with infinite regret things we didn’t do as well as we should have. Perhaps causing that happiness to flee. If we had done things differently, we might still be happy and those times may never have fled.

Did I say there may be tears? Of course there are. All the above being true, of course there are.

A dream of beauty

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Café Paris, Reykjavík, summer of 2018.

OCTOBER 16th 2018 — I had a lovely dream. Sometimes our subconscious mind, or some other providence, gifts us with moments of beauty in dream no matter how waking life is. The only downside is, of course, waking up.

In the dream I mentioned to someone a wedding of persons who were strangers to her. To my surprise, she got tears in her eyes, even though she did not know the people who got married. The topic of weddings in general could move her so deeply, or maybe there were more specific personal associations for her.

I felt such affection for this sensitive and beautiful soul. She smiled and laughed as the tears kept coming.

As we continued speaking, it came as the most natural thing in the world to lie down on the couch — we were in a living room I have not (at least yet) been to in the waking world — and seek out the other’s hand with our own as we kept talking, both unexpectedly so happy in the special moment that had suddenly happened that it felt like nothing could ever change it.

Talking, sharing, holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, both warmed by the rich warmth of the other and of that moment, it was like swimming in happiness and the beautiful promise of life.

Chopin, Paris, Bradbury, happiness

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Paris, October 2017, and his music in the air.

OCTOBER 16th 2018 — I visited Chopin’s tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris a bit over a year ago.

And the greatest thing was that there was his music in the air just then, just like in an episode of THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER that had a scene actually filmed there: “On the Orient, North”. Someone was playing it from their phone. I almost couldn’t believe it.

Also wonderful was how the apartment I rented happened to be located literally just down the street from this cemetery (and I mean, Paris is huge), which I always knew I would want to visit. But I didn’t even realize this when arranging for the flat. It was the only one open to me, really.

It was on rue du Chemin-Vert (“Street of the Green Path”). And in Paris I experienced some of the happiest moments of my life. I treasure some of those memories.