Hello everyone, and welcome back those of you who have visited before, and thank you to those visiting for the first time. Welcome to Eternity is Robert Deshaies II's bi-weekly newsletter. Let us get right into it!
Whew, it has been a hectic two weeks. Despite being locked down at home, I've managed to stay sane, admire the art bombarding my email, read some books, and have some mighty news to announce.
So, you may be asking, "well, this Robby guy sure is talking about all these projects, but when are we getting some dates? I want to read them!" I can assure you; you will be able to read them. And soon at that!
First off, I would like to announce Rogue Comix's next release, "Rogue Comix Presents Three // Shorts." This will be a digital-first compilation of three short stories in which I've had the incredible opportunity to work with three amazing artists. "Three // Shorts" will be a black-and-white, 32 page expose for fans of my work. The comic will also contain a little sample of what's to come in the future. For those who have visited previous blogs, you'll know the names:
Here's the track order:
The Cave Beneath Seaside Manor w/ Max-Demi-San
Breathe w/ Vanessa Fantinati
"8.26" w/ Johnnie Evans
I won't be previewing any pages since I've been teasing them in the past, but I can let you know the price tag for the digital download will be a whopping $0.99, and it will release on January 6th, 2021.
I'm still anxiously waiting for my author copies of The Streets Ran Red, my third novel, and once those are approved, they will be sent to print. My publisher and I's original planned date was supposed to be December of this year, but due to COVID, we had to push back our timeline. Expect to see it on shelves in January 2021!
Next up, I would like to remind you all about the infamous cult hit, Adam & Eternity. Our final issue, Issue Four, will be hitting shelves on January 6th, 2021, if all still goes according to plan. Dom and Jake are chipping away as we speak, and as I mentioned previously, the work is truly jaw-dropping. Seriously, I can't believe we've been able to pull off our first comic series! It's everything I wanted in my first soiree into the world of comics, and to see you, the fans, reacting so well has truly made my heart warm in this cold winter.
If you'd like to pre-order Issue Four of Adam & Eternity, here's the link
Alright, and now, the BIG NEWS!
2021 is looking to be a massive year for me. I have most of my projects slated, which is nice, but I know there's still plenty more to come from my mind. Of the partnerships already in motion and the comics to come, here's a list of the confirmed projects I'm looking to pitch and get off the ground.
Project Love-Letter // "To Maggie" // A 68-Page Magazine One-Shot // Featuring JJ Dzialowsky on art and Max-Demi-San on letters.
Project 4 // Title Classified // A 4-Issue Superhero Commentary // Featuring David Strahan on art and Max-Demi-San on letters.
Project Heartbreak // Title Classified // A 96-Page OGN Cerebral Murder Mystery // Featuring Vanessa Fantinati on art and Max-Demi-San letters.
Project Dante // Title Classified // A 3-Issue Samurai Tale in the tradition of Dante's epic poems // Featuring Dominic Pinto on art and Max-Demi-San on letters.
Project Moon // Title Classified // A 5-Issue Magickal Tale spanning Human History // Featuring Brody Cole and Max-Demi-San on letters.
Project Carter // Title Classified // A 120-page OGN // A Humanoids Inc. Pitch
And that wraps the comic slate for 2021. On the prose side, I have officially started my next two novels. One is a western horror tale, and the other is a romantic supernatural thriller. During my time in Paris for the next eight months, I'll be working hard typing up the next big stories.
Alright, short storytime! This one is a bit gnarly and grim, but I guess the winter does that to me. this one is titled "Never Stop for a Smoke."
It had been three weeks since I quit. But the valiant fight against the depression, the body aches, the vomiting at four A.M, and the misplaced rage wasn’t enough. It still wasn’t enough for the hunger that burrowed into my gut, seeding poison between my veins. My hands twitched against the steering wheel as I drove down the road. The silent brush of wind against the windshield kept my muscles tense. Gust after gust piled on until I decided to slow down. Slowing across the tumultuous asphalt, I tried to think of the empty space between my ears. I imagined pressure filling up the extra space until the thought breached my mind. A thought faster than light crawled from the deep unwanted, yet it still found its welcome.
I brought the car to a halt and sat with my hands pressed against the wheel.
The car’s engine hummed low. The side of the two-lane highway was dimly lit. The only light in sight was a mile down the road. I looked to my right, and inside the glove compartment, I saw the pack. I don’t remember how the glove came open. I don’t even remember pulling it loose or reaching across. There was no tension in my body anymore, but there was a release. This feeling to let go.
I blinked, and the pack was in my hands. I felt the cylinders inside. I gently shook the shrink-wrapped plastic to judge the contents wiggling. Tightly bound and freshly packed. Pulling the wrap with ease, the little amber tab jutted out. I draw, and the top slowly lifted open. Rusty tips glistened in my eye, and I placed it under my nose to inhale.
I carefully rolled it between my fingertips to feel every etch. The light ahead flickered as its amber glow grabbed my attention. I fell into the light like a moth, and a dead silence blanketed around me. The car’s emissions created a haze from behind, and I couldn’t hear the engine “on” anymore. I had miles of empty road both north and south, plus a pack to smoke.
I took a light to the tip, as the opposite sat on my lower lip. The spark caught, and a light shone. I inhaled when the knock came through. Coughing harshly, I turned to see a woman banging on the door. She looked terrified. Her dilated pupils shrunk with fear. Glancing upwards, I saw a thick clot of blood hung between her forehead and frenzied hair. Another bang across my window brought me from my trance, and I let her in.
The word, “help!” rang in my ear from door to door, and back to the woods, when She grabbed ahold. Across my body, she tore through, into the passenger seat. The trail of blood from outside to the passenger painted a clear picture of the injury’s extent. Bits of ragged skin, lacerated tissue, and thick blood splashed across my black jeans. In the passenger, she curled herself up, and not a word need be said. I knew how she felt.
I closed the door when the gunshot rang off. Bits of glass dug into the side of my face. I felt the sting, like a thousand wasps, and saw the shot’s origin from the corner of my splintered eye. In the woods, there stood a man. His rifle's silhouette stared sharply as I met its gaze. A brief light formed at the end of the barrel when the <kting!> rung in the door. Cold, sticky hands grabbed my arm, and her gaze met mine,
“Go…,” she said.
Simultaneously, I turned the ignition, as my foot slammed against the pedal. The pack of cigarettes dropped between the seats. Its aroma disintegrating. The scent away from my mind already, only to feel the burn along the side of my face. My tires screeched, and continued echoes of bullet casings riveting into sheer metal ringed my ears. I turned for a moment to see her eyes roll. I knew I was beginning to lose her.
“Hold on,” I said.
It felt like the most comforting sentence to say. But words fell short at the time. The amount of gore visible… Her legs were shredded -- meat and muscle clung to sinew as the bone wobbled inside its frame. Her right leg was severely broken, and bite marks clawed their way up to her hip. I immediately thought of going to the hospital, but a rushing whoosh and sharp crack stole my attention. A moment pinned to the rearview cost us our escape.
It felt like time and space stopped.
The immovable object was met, as the dimly lit light post proved indestructible. The car’s engine chugged violently to a smoking halt. The torn frame wedged between the cylinder banks. My vision focused, strained, then unfocused again as my forehead dripped with black liquid. I turned my head to feel the effects of whiplash. My neck shooting horrendous pain to my tailbone -- I looked beside me.
She was a ragdoll.
And I as I strained to focus once again, my fear grew into its monster. A burly hand wrenched my throat. Air returned to my lungs momentarily, until the last gasp thundered in my ears. Everything began to go black—vision cut. Breath went. My hearing focused on the turn signals clicking on and off across the dash. I drifted into nothing as the grip tightened further. My thoughts began to fall when I saw the scar cut across the bezzled face of the man. He grinned as I fell helplessly into…
A light growl buzzed me awake.
The rustling of rusty metal whispering past another woke me fully. My head felt rushed with blood. I couldn’t see, and my hearing had barely come back. I looked down to see the pile of water and blood mixing below. The heat from the fire drew my attention forward. I… I couldn’t understand what I saw.
Across the ceiling, shackled knives, cleavers, and butcher’s craft whistled with the wind, but my eyes focused on something else entirely.
Now, I’d seen animals quartered. My father taught me to hunt when I was young. I never took much liking to it. Especially after he quartered Mr. Cottontail to the large oak tree. His crystal white fur painted red from a singular cut down its belly. See, in the movies, they try to make it as realistic as possible, but this…
This was done by a man’s hand.
A man, small-framed with tattoos carved, reminded me of the rabbit my father had slain all those years ago. His body shackled, drained, and dry. Skin peeled, muscle torn, eyes hollow, but dripping with viscous ink. I-I turned away to notice he’d been in the dark corner this entire time. Watching me.
He rose from his aged leather chair to see my eyes staring at his work. His boots thudded against the wooden floor. His wolf-like dog growled until his mammoth hand waved a finger. From the casted shadow of the fireplace, I saw his greased features fully. The amber glow couldn’t hide the scars.
He wore a butcher’s gown. His face was painted with years of inner turmoil. His hands were calloused but strong. But as he stood over me, my mind couldn’t decide to be terrified or in awe of the giant. Then he spoke.
“Why’d you let her in?”
Puzzled, I tried to respond with the first thoughts to come forth, but my throat cracked from the dryness; half words fell.
“S-e n—d-d h-lp.”
He glared down, and an invisible weight cascaded across my form. I noticed how deep and wide the scar drew across his face. Had self-torment that caused this? Or had this man seen a violence that now burrowed between his very being? I couldn’t help but figure the latter. And he proved it so when the titan slowly turned around. His shoulder coiled, then released a thrashing as his hand cut across my face. My skull vibrated with agony as I spiraled down into the floor. The chair I’d been tied to crumpled under the force as it collided with the stronger ground.
My head dazed further, and a window opened into his soul. There was an evil inside him, and I was but another victim to its gaze.
“What do you want?” I pleaded.
“Her. But you took her from me.” He said. His octave didn’t rise nor fall. It was cold and calculated. A breath wasn’t wasted.
I thought to reason with him, but he wasn’t a reasoning man. He turned away once again, but this time, his movement brought him to the hanging rows of iron and steel from above.
I noticed one of my leg’s bindings had come loose from the fall. With his attention drifted away, I gently shimmied loose. He paused for a moment to look out the old cabin’s window, as his pup came to his side. The hound’s burgundy eyes stared into my soul as he continued to select his tool. I froze, silent in my half-movements, but tried to fight against it.
The man took a deep breath, and it was felt through the floorboards. He reached up to feel the rusted metal and chose his tool carefully. I continued to shimmy further at a brisk pace, but fear began to course through me as my heart pumped and pumped into an uncertain rhythm. Now would be the damn time for a cigarette, I thought.
Then, I felt the release. With my leg now loose, the rest of my bindings cleared, but there wasn’t any time.
It was like he knew I’d try and escape, but he stood there, menacingly unmoved. I rose to my feet but barely stood straight against the mountain of meat before me. Was this how he liked it? His victims helpless before him as his stature proved more terrifying than his threats of butchering their souls.
I stupidly raised my hands to plead. A moment of calm came over me.
“You don’t have to do this.”
Wordless, his grin grew. Pale yellow and rotten black teeth glistened under the firelight. He moved to the door and opened it. A howling gust of wind entered, and the winter’s cold froze me in place. With the cleaver held tight in his giant hands, he motioned me to go out. The dog watched and hummed low beside him. This was my chance but was it worth it. Then I thought, was this a game? The rage against authority, the rage I’d spent half my life feeding, surged at the most inopportune time—a defiant moment crucifying the option before me.
“No,” I said.
He stood calmly, then closed the door.
I broke at that moment. Pity surged, and words fell, “there’s no one out there for me. If you’re going to kill me, do it here. I… I’ve been a coward my entire life... But when I saw her at the door, I thought I could be a hero for once in this wretched life.”
Thrown by the words coming forth, I finished, “but I guess that’s all it’ll ever be. A small action against a tidal wave of life’s wrong decisions…”
He dropped the cleaver. Its sharp edge easily chips into the old wood. A slight ringing took precedent over the ambient air, and I finished.
“…all to smoke a cigarette, I swore to quit.”
The atmosphere changed then, and it wasn’t from my wretched plea. The man turned away for a moment to reach for the table alongside his torn leather chair. Atop the platform, a sole picture produced itself under the firelight. He wrapped it in his hands to face me once more.
For the first time, I saw his eyes before the scar. They were sad. As sad as any I’d ever seen. And that sadness turned to pain. The pain that had continued to pulse through me subsided for just a moment. It came crashing down then when I felt my last heartbeat.
My muscles relaxed to total atrophy as I fell to the floor once again. My stance crumpled like paper in a fisted ball. It had been three weeks since I last smoked, and now my heart had decided to give out from the stress. There would be no heroic escape, no fight against a man with nothing to lose, only this silent pain that I’d carried for too long. My visions relaxed, my breath shuttered, and his shadow approached. His rhythmic step gently hummed me to rest, and the life inside escaped for one final time. His hand rested atop my eyes, and I fell asleep into the night.
If I hadn’t stopped, I’d probably made it to a hospital. But I had to stop for a smoke on that dark road - An addiction.
The Reads of 2020:
Okay, as most of you can tell from my social media's ridiculous amount of posts, I'm an avid reader. I truly enjoy reading everything, and I have always been more comfortable with a book than any television set or game. Normally, I reserve this spot for books I read during the previous two weeks or the multitude of books I have compiled to read, but I'll do my "My Favorite Reads of 2020" this time.
Here are my notable reads in no particular order:
Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore
Rachel Rising by Terry Moore
Motor Girl by Terry Moore
Blue in Green by Ram V & Anand Rk
Bog Bodies by Declan Shalvey & Gavin Fullerton
Coffin Bound by Dan Watters, Dani, & Brad Simpson
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Habibi by Craig Thompson
Reckless by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, & Jacob Phillips
Killadelphia by Rodney Barnes, Jason Shawn Alexander, & Luis NCT
Black Road by Brian Wood & Garry Brown
Sword Daughter by Brian Wood & Mack Chater
Three Fingers by Rich Koslowski
The Twilight Man by Koren Shadmi
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet
Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, & Jacob Phillips
That Texas Blood by Chris Condon & Jacob Phillips
Annihilator by Grant Morrison & Frazer Irving
The Dreaming by Si Spurrier & Bilquis Evely
Lucifer by Dan Watters, Max and Sebastian Fiumara, & Fernando Blanco
Hellblazer by Si Spurrier, Aaron Campbell, Matias Bergara
Adventureman by Matt Fraction & The Dodsons
Royal City by Jeff Lemire
Roughneck/Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire
The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott by Zoe Thorogood
House of Penance by Peter J. Tomasi & Ian Bertram
Air by G. Willow Wilson & M.R. Perker
100% by Paul Pope
Loud! by Maria Llovet
Parker by Darwyn Cooke & Richard Stark
Black Science by Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera
Black Stars Above by Lonnie Nadler & Jenna Cha
Frankenstein Alive, Alive! by Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, & Kelley Jones
Alienated by Si Spurrier & Chris Wildgoose
Starve by Brian Wood & Daniel Zezelj
Notable Superhero Titles:
Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky
Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing & Joe Bennett
Detective Comics by Peter J. Tomasi
Thor by Donny Cates, Nic Klein, & Aaron Kuder
Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy by Jeff Lemire & Tonci Zonjic
Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin & Jamal Campbell
Green Lantern: Season Two by Grant Morrison & Liam Sharp
The Dawn of X by Hickman
As you can tell, I find it hard to pick a favorite series, title, or story. These are all notable and practically unforgettable in my book. These stories made me feel that extra bit special, and that's why they're here.
And thus wraps my last newsletter of 2020! Next year is looking exciting with a new horizon, building relationships, and a flourishing mindscape of creativity. Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, drink coffee, eat well, read some books, and enjoy your family time.
See you on the flip side!