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About Deviant Core Member James FlaxmanMale/Australia Groups :iconmindfultriphammer: MindfulTriphammer
 
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Scumbolini's Funnybee

Scumbolini’s Funnybee is one of many characters who were originally created for the Animal Kingdom corporation, which ran a string of theme parks filled with anthropomorphised animals. At first these were merely suited performers, but as the novelty wore off, the CEO of Animal Kingdom, Mortence Hurley Cumbervore, enlisted help from the famous geneweaver Napoletto Scumbolini. Scumbolini’s vatgrown creations combined almost human bodies with oversized cartoon animal heads and their training was augmented with addictive stimulants that made them seem energetic and cheerful but also fostered a total dependence on the theme park operators. Different doses could be used to reward or punish them or give them extra work incentives at peak times such as holidays. When any of these creatures were deemed to have outlived their usefulness their lives were ended mercifully (in the case of loyal servants) with a lethal overdose or cruelly (in the case of malcontents) by cutting off their drug supply, leading to equally fatal withdrawals. Animal Kingdom’s visitors were completely unaware of this and simply enjoyed the experience of interacting with real-world “toons” that had formerly only existed on screens.

Animal Kingdom’s fortunes changed when the cyberneticist Helsen Grahl took virtual reality to remarkable new heights. Grahl’s skullplug technology allowed users to jack in to powerful computers which stimulated different parts of their brains to create experiences that seemed more real than life itself. Skullpluggers could explore new worlds, perform superhuman feats and take on exotic forms from the comfort of their homes. The diversions offered by Animal Kingdom and other traditional theme parks – which needed much more infrastructure and had much higher running costs – suddenly seemed overpriced and unappealing by comparison. Most went broke almost overnight, but with remarkable foresight, Cumbervore had bought shares in Grahl’s fledgling company. He retired, leaving Animal Kingdom to his old partner Scumbolini, who left the stalls and rides to rot and converted the larger buildings to factories where his vatgrown creations worked as drug-dependent slaves. As the world outside his empire grew more immersed in unreality his ambitions turned to conquest. He developed new weapons, more dangerous creatures, and to maintain secrecy, made all vital correspondence with low-tech knotted cords, reminiscent of the Inca quipu, which relayed a manufactured language only he and his servants could understand. Who knows what horrors might arise from this former place of fun? Will the general populace stir from skullplugged apathy in time to recognise the threat? Does the future belong to humanity – that ever more indolent and easily distracted race – or the fanatical, industrious, inhuman thralls of Scumbolini?

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Those Who Came Before

Some say the Punyun people are heirs to the oldest continuous culture in the realm of Lemmedia; but whether this is true or not, this culture faced a serious threat when Vynagh colonists arrived. The next few decades were predictable: Punyun hunter-gatherers, who had no experience of foreign invasion or effective means to counter it, were killed or driven from their land by well-armed and well-organised groups of Vynagh industrialists. Later generations of Vynagh took more time to understand the natives, learning their language, translating their stories, and committing these to print so their names could be better remembered and their voices could be better heard. Governments elected by a Vynagh majority subsidised Punyun housing, medicine and education and gave back large tracts of land. Grants were awarded to researchers who used Vynagh sciences to reveal the depth and complexity of Punyun prehistory; the oft-repeated claim the Punyun were the very first Lemmedians were based on palaeontological finds that suggested they arrived some sixty thousand years ago.

This claim was seriously challenged when a group of palaeontologists working under Yomble Hoft uncovered fossilised remains of a previously unknown – but obviously older – race on the edge of the Borrel Sea. By this stage the very notion of “race” had largely fallen out of favour, but the striking physical differences between the vanished Borrel Sea people and the contemporary Punyun could not be easily dismissed. Hoft privately admitted they seemed like polar opposites; while the Punyun were, to Vynagh eyes, notably tall and gracile beings, the Borrel Sea people would have seemed short and heavily built. Their skulls were very different too; while Punyun skulls were tall and narrow (or dolichocephalic, to use a somewhat controversial term) Borrel Sea skulls were short and broad (or brachycephalic, in the old nomenclature). The latter also displayed comparatively small maxilla and nasal bones, which might have made their chins and foreheads seem disproportionately large at first glance. Reconstructions also suggested their eyes might have been more protuberant. Hoft’s discomfiting but methodical work was regrettably disrupted when one of his associates leaked his story to the media. Most journalists refused to touch it, but cheaper tabloids seized on it, and ran sensationalist articles that paid scant attention to science and pushed dubious agendas. Some took the Borrel Sea remains as proof of prehistoric genocide and called for reappraisals of Vynagh guilt, Punyun innocence, and current government concessions. Equally simplistic claims came from the other end of the field; Hoft was predictably branded a racist and his reputation suffered. The furore only ended when the Punyun locals who had initially helped Hoft’s team declared the dig a sacred site and asked for their ancestors’ remains to be reburied and left undisturbed. Hoft’s commitment to hard science worked against him at this point. To him it was clear that the Borrel Sea people were not direct Punyun ancestors and the pretence that they were would only hinder further research. Unfortunately this research was deemed too harmful and divisive to warrant any more attention. Hoft was stripped of his degree; his notes went unpublished, his work was dismissed, and his name became a byword for prejudice masquerading as science – though his actual work had been anything but. In the meantime his old team reburied the Borrel Sea remains with great respect and deference to the local Punyun populace, and the sympathetic government – who above all just wanted peace – forbade further scientific digs in or near this sacred site.

It seemed the problem had been solved, but precisely one year later, an enormous ghostly head appeared above the burial ground. It looked very like the reconstructions Hoft had derived from the Borrel Sea skulls; disregarding its great size, the head seemed uncommonly short and broad. The nose and upper jaw were recessed, the forehead and chin prominent, and the eyes bulged alarmingly. Due to a lack of evidence, Hoft had made no guesses where other details were concerned, but the apparition’s pale skin and lank brown hair looked natural. The gutter press unleashed another storm of claims and counter-claims, while those few true scientists who dared to seek an explanation for the apparition found none. The resourceful Punyun locals, however, said it supported their world view. The face was that of Hiblob Heb, who now walks among the stars, but occasionally visits Lemmedia to warn people of their errant ways; and he had appeared at the Borrel Sea site to stop more graves from being disturbed. The self-described quality media made these revelations public with unusual solemnity; most people accepted them and the controversy soon died down. For a while the face of Hiblob Heb was promoted as a tourist attraction but most people found its gaze disturbing. Public interest in it faded and even the locals drifted away.

Only Yomble Hoft was drawn to the ghostly apparition; although he could not explain it, he thought it supported his research far more than Punyun mythology. He was anxious to learn more, but first he had to extricate science from petty ideology. Science, he felt, belonged to all, and even if its findings were uncomfortable to some, exploring them was surely better than maintaining blissful ignorance. He did not seek to impose guilt or wring apologies from anyone. He just wanted to increase understanding of what it truly meant to be human, and if that quest for understanding revealed disturbing human traits, it was through understanding these that humans might in time transcend them. Yomble had never been much of a speaker, but the spectral visage other people found intimidating was an unexpected help. As he practised his polemics under its unblinking gaze his voice grew more powerful and his manner grew more confident. When he finally presented his case to a largely hostile audience he was granted, albeit grudgingly, the right to resume his old work and publish his discoveries without interference from politicians or the press. This tale has many parallels in realms outside Lemmedia, but they rarely end so well!

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Lake Stagnation

When the residents of Glustershire were inexplicably transported to the barren Chenchar Plains, the strangeness of their new surroundings strengthened rather than weakened their faith; but the lack of chocolate, eggs and rabbits made Easter less enjoyable. They found local substitutes in the form of ground-dwelling spiders that crawled from burrows every spring with silken egg sacs on their backs. The elders of New Glustershire collected egg sacs, roasted them, painted them bright colours and gave them to their children to eat, but due to their aversion to spiders, they pretended these egg sacs were actually eggs that had been delivered by sentient rabbits. As the children grew up they learned the truth, but those who raised families went on telling the same tales.

This imperfect state of affairs was even worse for the poor spiders, who had to watch their offspring being ritually consumed each year. As the human population increased and the spider population fell, eight spiders went to Yezni Sound and called on Nehumi for help. Nehumi owed the spiders a favour, for Ashinshi, Mother of All Spiders, had caught the seven-headed rat who had sucked all the blood from Nehumi’s last pig.

Nehumi could step between dimensions as easily as you or I might walk from one room to the next. We will never know how long she spent in realms beyond the Chenchar Plains; but to the spiders it seemed eight days passed before she returned with twelve breeding pairs of genetically modified egg-laying rabbits. As most humans found her true form disturbing, she adopted the guise of a travelling merchant and presented the egg-laying rabbits to the headman of New Glustershire, Sir Hormel Wollis Porpington. Sir Hormel was delighted at this expression of goodwill and faith, and when spring arrived the spiders were spared, though large numbers of rabbit eggs were consumed. The eggs, in fact, were so delicious the ritual spread to other towns. More rabbits were bred to keep up with demand and new farming practices began. Rabbits were confined to cages and pumped full of hormones to increase their fertility. Warehouses filled with long rows of these cages replaced fields of older and less profitable crops, which were imported if required. As only female rabbits laid eggs, only one male rabbit in every hundred was allowed to live; the other ninety-nine were gassed and dumped into the River Vohm. The people of New Glustershire enjoyed a trade monopoly and told their tales of eggs and rabbits with more conviction every spring. The obvious existence of both lessened any qualms the elders had, though due to the infrequency of resurrections in their town, other aspects of their faith were downplayed and in time forgotten.

Yet it would seem that humans are – depending on one’s point of view – innately poetic or innately credulous; as old stories are abandoned new ones emerge to take their place. As the River Vohm meanders south across the Chenchar Plains it slows, and its last currents dissipate in the aptly named Lake Stagnation. Here monstrous organic shapes which are not rabbits, trees or corpses, but bear attributes of all three, have risen dripping from the mire; and the people of New Squellington, who know nothing of New Glustershire, have developed their own tales about these frightful apparitions. Their low moans are interpreted as songs sung for departed spirits who sleep between lives on this earth. Kem Shemple sings to spirits who were kind and undemanding, and they dream they live in a beautiful city whose people are well clothed, housed and fed. Joppery Grullins sings to spirits who were cruel and greedy, and they dream they wander through neglected fields of dying plants and animals. Nobo Chudluwery sings to spirits who were unwilling or unable to do any harm or good, and they dream they sit at the mouth of a cave, watching others live their lives outside, but unable to participate. None of these stories acknowledge the spiders whose desperate survival plea transformed one belief system and laid foundations for another!

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The Gumberghast

The Gumberghast is one of the strangest creatures known to haunt the land of Skub Mundra. It is a vast gelatinous being that can rear up to colossal heights or squeeze itself through narrow spaces, and although it moves slowly it can extrude long whip-like tentacles that seize its prey with lightning speed. Its victims are absorbed and dissolved along with any weapons they might try to stop it with. Bullets, blades, incendiaries, chemicals and germs have no effect on the amorphous fiend and explosives are worse than useless; whenever it is blown to bits every piece, however small, can grow into a new gumberghast.

Gumberghasts are most commonly seen on the Fonyun-Gorish border where they pose a threat to trade. Fonyun’s skylarvae deposits are a fine source of biofuel while Gorish is similarly blessed with valuable xubba ore. Both of these resources are needed to build approximations of the motor vehicles the ancients are said to have used (though some claim the only known impression of one of these vehicles, which has served as the model for all built since, is actually a wheeled shoe). While Fonyun-Gorish Wheelers can easily outrun gumberghasts on the open Krinjkor Plains, many wheelers and their crews have been lost among the ruins of Bom Horra. Trade has only remained viable with the help of Vuppet Drones. Gumberghasts are drawn to the drones’ flashing lights and repetitive sounds, giving sentient beings time to escape, though these drones have been controversially blamed for the deaths of less intelligent creatures.

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It’s been some time since my last post and I owe the world some news. The last few months have been more productive than my DA account suggests. I spent much of this time drawing and have another 25 pictures waiting to be photoshopped. They’re mostly surreal works which will end up in my Dreamscapes and Kerembesi Dir collections. I’ve also spent some time reorganising my DA account. It now better reflects some subtle but important differences. Most of my lighter surreal work went into my In Extremis collection, which I started during my last year in Melbourne. It was partly inspired by local artists who took themselves too seriously but was first and foremost meant to be fun. I’ve since done a lot of work that could be called surreal and/or fun, but a lot has changed since 2013, and I feel the resulting divergence of work belongs in separate categories. There’ll always be some crossover, but In Extremis is still mostly fun, Kerembesi Dir has a slightly darker carnivalesque aesthetic and tone, Culture Wars contains more direct – and often scathing – reactions to popular culture, Lost and Forsaken concentrates on tragi-comic storytelling, and Dreamscapes focuses on mood, space and atmosphere. I can’t say this system’s perfect and I’m sure it could be improved, but I’m content with it for now. I’ve also removed a lot of allusions to past friendships and relationships as they’ve been a sensitive issue at home. My partner deserves this, and more, as she’s been an extremely supportive, patient and forgiving influence. I’m more than content with our offline achievements, which include renovating and landscaping, and now that spring’s here we can finally have a real shot at making things grow.

I’m collecting books again, though most have come from local op shops. I need more classics and nonfiction, but I’ve enjoyed some trashy paperbacks (James Herbert’s The Rats is an angry, punchy splatterfest, Scott Smith’s The Ruins is a slower, more methodical one) and got some good brain food from Andrew Keen's The Internet is Not the Answer, which despite its title, is not an anti-Internet rant, but a reasonable critique of tech industry and online culture. I found an unexpected gem in Hector Berlioz’ Evenings in the Orchestra, which gave me a lot of extra insight into the life and times of an underrated French composer (Berlioz shocked audiences who were used to Beethoven and Mozart with more jarring and discordant music that contained more disturbing themes – if you’re new to this stuff, try reading the synopsis for his Symphonie Fantastique, or at least listen to March to the Scaffold, my own favourite track from it). It also dispels a lot of assumptions, eg. classical music is for snobs, its fans and practitioners lead charmed lives. Berlioz was never particularly rich or famous in his time and relied primarily on conducting and reviewing other composers’ work for a living. His Evenings in the Orchestra is a collection of short stories and anecdotes musicians in an orchestra – who are tired of playing Big Hits night after night – tell each other to pass the time. Composers, songwriters, musicians, singers, patrons and the general public all get a thorough grilling, though it’s more darkly humorous than truly malicious, and often feels quite contemporary – you could write similar stories about the vain celebrities, fawning fans and unsung heroes of today’s music industry. It’s less The History of Western Music than Red Letter Media – an irreverent but witty journey through a field of human endeavour that, despite his frequent disappointments, the writer clearly knows and loves.

I haven’t made sci fi or horror my main focus for a while, but it still attracts a lot of interest and I’m tempted to return to it. If all goes well some pictures from my Scorched Earth collection will be used in an RPG, though I’m not going to hold my breath as some of the Occult Creatures are also languishing in development hell. It’s still encouraging to know I’ve gotten enough right in the past to strive for more, or better, in the future. My biggest problem these days is finding a good balance between offline, online, romantic and creative affairs, but this is a challenge, not a complaint! I hope this has been a worthwhile read and hope to have more work for you soon.

All the best until then,

JF

  • Listening to: Doom Metal
  • Reading: The Ground is Burning
  • Watching: Changing Skies
  • Playing: Retro Games
  • Eating: Very well
  • Drinking: Coffee

It’s been some time since my last post and I owe the world some news. The last few months have been more productive than my DA account suggests. I spent much of this time drawing and have another 25 pictures waiting to be photoshopped. They’re mostly surreal works which will end up in my Dreamscapes and Kerembesi Dir collections. I’ve also spent some time reorganising my DA account. It now better reflects some subtle but important differences. Most of my lighter surreal work went into my In Extremis collection, which I started during my last year in Melbourne. It was partly inspired by local artists who took themselves too seriously but was first and foremost meant to be fun. I’ve since done a lot of work that could be called surreal and/or fun, but a lot has changed since 2013, and I feel the resulting divergence of work belongs in separate categories. There’ll always be some crossover, but In Extremis is still mostly fun, Kerembesi Dir has a slightly darker carnivalesque aesthetic and tone, Culture Wars contains more direct – and often scathing – reactions to popular culture, Lost and Forsaken concentrates on tragi-comic storytelling, and Dreamscapes focuses on mood, space and atmosphere. I can’t say this system’s perfect and I’m sure it could be improved, but I’m content with it for now. I’ve also removed a lot of allusions to past friendships and relationships as they’ve been a sensitive issue at home. My partner deserves this, and more, as she’s been an extremely supportive, patient and forgiving influence. I’m more than content with our offline achievements, which include renovating and landscaping, and now that spring’s here we can finally have a real shot at making things grow.

I’m collecting books again, though most have come from local op shops. I need more classics and nonfiction, but I’ve enjoyed some trashy paperbacks (James Herbert’s The Rats is an angry, punchy splatterfest, Scott Smith’s The Ruins is a slower, more methodical one) and got some good brain food from Andrew Keen's The Internet is Not the Answer, which despite its title, is not an anti-Internet rant, but a reasonable critique of tech industry and online culture. I found an unexpected gem in Hector Berlioz’ Evenings in the Orchestra, which gave me a lot of extra insight into the life and times of an underrated French composer (Berlioz shocked audiences who were used to Beethoven and Mozart with more jarring and discordant music that contained more disturbing themes – if you’re new to this stuff, try reading the synopsis for his Symphonie Fantastique, or at least listen to March to the Scaffold, my own favourite track from it). It also dispels a lot of assumptions, eg. classical music is for snobs, its fans and practitioners lead charmed lives. Berlioz was never particularly rich or famous in his time and relied primarily on conducting and reviewing other composers’ work for a living. His Evenings in the Orchestra is a collection of short stories and anecdotes musicians in an orchestra – who are tired of playing Big Hits night after night – tell each other to pass the time. Composers, songwriters, musicians, singers, patrons and the general public all get a thorough grilling, though it’s more darkly humorous than truly malicious, and often feels quite contemporary – you could write similar stories about the vain celebrities, fawning fans and unsung heroes of today’s music industry. It’s less The History of Western Music than Red Letter Media – an irreverent but witty journey through a field of human endeavour that, despite his frequent disappointments, the writer clearly knows and loves.

I haven’t made sci fi or horror my main focus for a while, but it still attracts a lot of interest and I’m tempted to return to it. If all goes well some pictures from my Scorched Earth collection will be used in an RPG, though I’m not going to hold my breath as some of the Occult Creatures are also languishing in development hell. It’s still encouraging to know I’ve gotten enough right in the past to strive for more, or better, in the future. My biggest problem these days is finding a good balance between offline, online, romantic and creative affairs, but this is a challenge, not a complaint! I hope this has been a worthwhile read and hope to have more work for you soon.

All the best until then,

JF

  • Listening to: Doom Metal
  • Reading: The Ground is Burning
  • Watching: Changing Skies
  • Playing: Retro Games
  • Eating: Very well
  • Drinking: Coffee

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jflaxman's Profile Picture
jflaxman
James Flaxman
Australia
Current Residence: Sydney, Australia
deviantWEAR sizing preference: L
Print preference: Varies
Favourite genre of music: Metal, classical, dark ambient
Favourite photographer: Archival
Favourite style of art: Surreal, imaginative, visionary
Operating System: Crappy old PC
MP3 player of choice: Loud
Shell of choice: Armed and mechanised
Wallpaper of choice: Skin
Skin of choice: Metal
Favourite cartoon character: Too many to name
Personal Quote: "So much work, so little time."
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:iconrexlare:
Rexlare Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday to one of the most skilled (and questionably demented) artists I have ever come across.
Reply
:iconkingwillhamii:
KingWillhamII Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017
Happy Birthday! :D
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:iconthefawnflying:
TheFawnFlying Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
Happy Birthday! This is for you :iconcakeplz:
Reply
:iconpost-mesmeric:
Post-Mesmeric Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday, dude. Keep up the amazing work. Your art is always so potent and atmospheric. :)
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:iconjamesgunner123:
jamesgunner123 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017
..a very happy birthday to you...=3
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:icondead-opera-star:
Dead-Opera-Star Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017   General Artist
Happy birthday :cake:
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:iconeternaluniverse1:
EternalUniverse1 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017
Wooooo Happy B-Day!!!
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:iconfiorinosulaco:
fiorinosulaco Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017
Happy Birthday!

And Happy New Year!Blower fella (Party) SAAAAANNNNSSS DAAAAANNCEEE! Dancing Pumkin head 2 
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:iconlindartz:
LindArtz Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
 Wishing you a lovely day! :party: Cake for your BDay by KmyGraphic Celebration by Mirz123
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:iconchris-the-sword:
chris-the-sword Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2017  Student Traditional Artist
happy birthday!

be well!
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