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The Black Rose Gallery

Now, if you were with us last week when we took a tantalising trip through a prescient preternatural portal that lay deep within the bowels of this malefic mansion of mystery known as Precinct1313, then you may recount that I, my colleague Pete and our psychic carrion crow of woe – Eldritch are currently being held within a small padded room in a Sanitarium, watched over by the beguiling yet utterly bewildering Dr Rose Black. Luckily I managed to smuggle in (don’t ask me where I hid it!) my trusty laptop, so in preparation for our upcoming odyssey through the ‘Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala’  a visual novel we shall be presenting right here in the Precinct, we thought we’d share a few more images of the story’s main antagonist – Black Rose.

The Cassandra Vala idea, world and characters are something that I have been living and ruminating for the past decade. The tale has gone through many, many revisions, I have experimented with different styles of writing for the narrative – comic-book, visual novel, even a choose your own adventure setting akin to the classic Fighting Fantasy books of yore.

The finished product (it’s never really finished though…) actually combines all of the above narrative divergence (yep, the choose your own adventure portions will also be present!) the one constant of all the different takes on storyline and characters though was the antagonist Black Rose. I’ve been on/off drawing this character for longer than the actual novel itself, I love the character and enjoy drawing her at every opportunity (consequently the titular star of the novel – Cassandra Vala herself, I have much fewer pieces of!) 

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Just ahead of the upcoming novels debut I thought it would be fun to share some of said images of Rose with you, fellow agents. Some of these pieces I drew over a decade ago, others… just last week! and it’s interesting how little visually the character hasn’t changed… “Shhhhh, I must go now, it sounds like Dr Black is back,  making her rounds, we’ll sneak another post out real soon… enjoy ”

br sketch 2This was one of the first sketches I did of the character from way back when. There were a myriad influences for Rose’s look, but absolutely the two biggest were James O’Barr’s undead vigilante – ‘The Crow’ and the creepy character Sadako from the original Japanese movie ‘Ring’.

br sketch 1.jpgAnother earlier piece, I’ve always enjoyed sitting in a coffee shop reading comics and sketching pics of Rose and her extended family… I have produced some of my best pieces at the local Caffe Nero.

br sk 3As the years passed, technology and easier usage art software became a lot more affordable, which subsequently opened up a whole new world of computer aided inking and colouring, helping my lowly sketches emerge into a explosion of almost artistic professionalism!!

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br sk 7The above piece is one of my most recent and portrays Rose and her sisters, aka – The Trinity of Thorns. At this point I had finally come to grips with the art software to the point that only the barest minimum of physical sketching is needed.

Black Rose pop art 2 - Edited.jpgAnd last, but most certainly not least, this is my most recent piece, through which I set out to pay homage to my favourite Warhol painting – his classic Marilyn Monroe pop art pic. (it also turned out to be my personal fave drawing of the rambunctious Rose!)

Thanks for stopping by fellow fans of fantastic fiction…

 

All images are copyright: Precinct1313. I am more than happy for people to share my art as long as credit is given – to Bruce @ Precinct1313.

5 Years In The Precinct – An Anniversary Special…

Hey there fellow agents of Precinct1313 and a warm welcome to our fifth anniversary celebrations! That’s right the majestic mansion of mystery is celebrating five years of random musings on the world of DC Comics and general geekery!

It’s fantastic that you’ve all been able to join us down here in the Precinct’s celebrated comic crypts, for today we not only share the third annual episode of our ongoing scintillating saga – ‘In Pursuit Of Precinct1313’  but this titular tale has been woven so that it also serves as a prescient prologue to our (loooooooong in gestation) visual novel – ‘The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala’  That’s right fellow fans of fantastic fiction , our ten year in the writing (ten… TEN!) odyssey begins right here, and from this humble introduction, it will then spill it’s masterfully malefic mystery on a monthly basis, right here, in Precinct1313!

To our followers, readers, and fellow bloggers may I just say many, many thanks for the continuing support of the Precinct over the past half decade with your comments and likes, it’s really, really appreciated, it is YOU that makes this entire blogging endeavour worthwhile… and so, on with the show…

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Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to the latest chilling chapter of  ‘In Pursuit Of Precinct1313‘  if this is your first encounter with the thrilling tale of how we first discovered this Malefic Mansion of Mystery – then why not regale yourselves with the previous chapters right here – “Three Years In The Precinct”

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In Pursuit Of Precinct1313 – Chapter III: The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala

Darkness engulfed me as I entered the inky black void residing within the mysterious vault door, the nihility was all encompassing – no light, no sound, just vacuum. I wheeled on the spot, looking to return back through the perplexing vault egress, my heart was racing and cold beads of sweat formed on my brow, this interstice was, just, wrong… the doorway had disappeared, eaten up by the stygian dark. I was beginning to panic now, a disquieting anxiety pervaded through my fragile mind… where the hell was Pete? I moved cautiously forward, hands outstretched in front of me, scrabbling for something tangible.

My head started to spin, and nausea began to surge through me, taking to one knee I attempted to halt the gagging queasiness, whilst striving to calm my rising anxiety and slow my thunderous heartbeat. To no avail, I felt light-headed and could feel the cold embrace of the oncoming stupor… I cascaded head first into an unconscious abyss…

“Are you okay?” – a voice greeted me through the murk that had encroached upon my mind. “Can you stand?” the disembodied voice continued. Bright light began to penetrate my latent mind, the nausea had subsided, shaking my head vigorously I glanced up to see a woman standing over me, immaculately dressed, porcelain white skin and fiery red hair were my take from this unexpected, though hopefully serendipitous encounter. “I’m not sure” I replied Where the hell am I?”

The woman took me by the arm and lifted me from my knees, surprisingly strong, her hand curled, rather painfully, in a vice like grip around my forearm  “The more pressing question is where did you come from? I mean, you’re the second person we’ve found semi-conscious in this part of the building this morning, you’re not a patient here and you certainly should not have been able to get past security and into this wing without them noticing”

“I’m sorry but… who are you, what is this place?” I could feel the wave of anxious nausea returning as I eventually stood eye to eye with my apparent liberator. She was, quite literally, a vision to behold, flawless skin, her hair an almost impossibly vermilion red, viridescent green eyes that felt as though they were boring into my inner being, my anima seemingly laid bare for her to scrutinise.

“Oh, do forgive me, my name is Black, Doctor Rose Black, I’m the chief psychologist of this esteemed institute, hmm, you still look rather unsteady, follow me, let’s get you checked over”  she took my arm, this time more gently, leading me slowly down the stark white corridor “It’s not far, how are you feeling now?”

“Confused, but not quite as queasy thankfully, you mentioned that you found someone else here earlier, it wasn’t another male, dark hair, name of Peter by any chance was it?” I glanced across at the Doctor, still hopelessly beguiled by her transcendent beauty.

“Yes, that’s right, Peter… perplexingly, he had a crow with him, it was dutifully perched on his shoulder, like some kind of pet, it really was a rather surreal sight”

Eldritch” I replied “the crow’s name is Eldritch, though to be honest, we’re more likely his pets than vice versa”  the statement felt ridiculous even as I said it, though, it was probably more than likely true. “You mentioned something about patients, an institute?”

“Yes, you have, somehow, found yourself inside Raven’s Reach Sanitarium, an institute dedicated to helping what some have deemed lost causes, mostly deeply disturbed and psychologically unbalanced individuals”  Doctor Black turned her head towards me and smiled “here they find some semblance of peace and tranquillity, as we hopefully work our way towards rehabilitation and, perhaps, reintegration”

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“We’ve arrived, if you’ll just make your way through that door on your right and wait a few moments, I’ll send one of our medical interns along to check you over” the Doctor beamed yet another impossibly radiant smile towards me before promptly guiding me through a robust steel door… then swiftly slamming it shut as I entered. I whirled on the spot, peering through the oval shaped hatch embedded within the steel barrier  “what the hell? wh-what do you think you’re doing?” I stuttered, nausea once again began to bubble up and I pressed my hands against the cold metallic door frame, to steady against the rise of the unsolicited vertigo.

“You honestly didn’t think I’d just believe you when you said you had no idea where you are, or how you got here did you? I mean come on now” Dr Black’s former radiance disappeared in an instant, replaced by a humourless, grave expression  “but not to worry, I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of things fairly soon, in the meantime, I have done you the courtesy of allowing you to share this room with your companions”

I turned to see Pete sitting on a small bed lodged in the corner of what now appeared to be a padded room, his face bore an expression of morose acceptance… ” got you too huh?” he said, “was kinda hoping you’d not get caught as well and maybe, I dunno, break me out of here?”  Pete’s shoulders slumped as he realised that, unfortunately, we were now both in the same predicament. Just to the left of Pete, perched on the bed’s headboard was Eldritch, his onyx eyes fixed upon me, a mocking look for my own ineptitude at extricating them from this peculiar predicament.

“Hello?”  a voice punctuated through the disquieting malaise  “are you new here?” the disembodied voice appeared to be emanating from the room to the left of our padded cell. “Uuh hey… anyway you can possibly tell us what in the hell is going on?” I furrowed my ear into the soft padding of the cell’s wall “who are you, why has that Doctor detained us in here… in fact where in the hell is here?” my voice rose and fractured in frantic agitation at the situation at hand.  “Here?” the female voice replied softly  “well currently, at least for me, here, is Raven’s Reach Sanitarium, though what ‘here’ will be as the day goes on, well, who can tell… oh, and my name’s Cassandra by the by, and as far as the Doctor is concerned…” the voice paused, as if unsure how to continue “well, uh, at this time I’m not sure who or what she is, it changes you see”

“Changes?” I queried at the disincarnate voice “what does that even mean, look, uh, Cassandra, I could really use some answers right now, I feel like I’m losing my mind” I turned to look wearily back at Pete, who sullenly shrugged and retorted – “sorry Bruce but you expected to get a straight answer from an incorporeal voice in the adjacent padded cell of a sanitarium! I mean, really!?”  I stared at Pete, succumbing to what little rationale still persisted in my mind “You’re right, I know, I just… ” huffing the air from my lungs, shoulders slumped in aquiescence, I walked to the corner of the stark white room, dropped to my knees and burrowed my face into my palms.

“Maybe you’ve always been here Bruce” Cassandra responded cryptically “and maybe, just maybe, I have too, at least, this version of me”  I peered at Pete through my fingers, who quietly mouthed  “uh huh… sanitarium”  Eldritch cocked his head towards me and nodded in conjunction with Pete. Burying my face back into the comforting darkness of my hands I wondered whether what Cassandra was saying bore some semblance of truth, I mean, here I was in a padded room, in a sanitarium no less, after walking through a mysterious portal contained within the crypts of a preternatural mansion known as Precinct1313, where I have apparently resided for the past five years, alongside my closest friend and… get this, a psychic crow, I mused that last thought over again, a psychic crow… yep, there’s a damn fine chance that I am actually, bat-shit crazy!

“She’s here” Cassandra uttered I have to go, please don’t mention that we spoke, she doesn’t like it when patients converse with one another, maybe we can talk again later, if I’m still me of course…”  I gazed anew at Pete, who just shook his head “Sanitarium dude, Sanitarium… “

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Hey there fellow agents, and if you’ve managed to stay the course of this strange tale then, thanks… ’tis much appreciated. This prologue will evolve into the monthly fable we have entitled – The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala – below I have included a small art gallery of my early concept designs for the lead characters from the visual novel, enjoy, and whilst you’re here, why not make your way down to the Precinct’s hallowed Halls Of Quaffing to help celebrate our fifth year in existence… I would join you, but I appear to be confined within a small padded room somewhere, else! Ah well, means more booze for the rest of you huh? silver linings and all that.

The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala – Character Concept Art –

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All text and imagery are copyright – Precinct1313.

Precinct1313 Presents: The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala

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Did you know that that the malefic mansion of mystery known as  Precinct1313 originally was created to showcase my visual novel – “The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala” a web-comic meets novel, with the added twist of classic 80’s style ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books of my youth.

Well that didn’t ultimately come to fruition here within the darkened halls of this mystic mansion. This otherworldly abode became the home for my love of DC Comics, a virtual oasis for the serious DC fan where we can discuss our adoration for the World’s greatest comic book publisher, and also worship at the shrines that are Wonder Woman and Batman, for they are the two core pillars that sustain this mythological edifice.

Cassandra Vala and her extended cast of both friend, and foe still exist of course, I have continued to create and fashion their world since their inception in the back of my mind over three years ago. The project is ongoing, the initial writing phase is almost finished, the only thing that has been holding me back from heralding Cass and her oblique world are the actual illustrations themselves. I do have a modicum of artistic talent, but, unlike my literary skills I am a ridiculously slow artist, plus I prefer to write rather than draw, but had already decided to make the story completely my own both literary and visually… so it’s been a more laboured process than I had originally desired.

Recently though, I have made a concerted effort to finish the various sketches and pieces of artwork that have held me back from sharing this unique tale, and thus Cassandra’s trials and tribulations shall be receiving my full attention, and hopefully yours too, fellow Precinct denizen. In fact you’ve already met one of the antagonists from the saga, in the form of the Precinct’s carrion crow of woe – Eldritch, who I originally envisioned as a way to connect the Precinct to Cassandra’s reality, plus if you read our “Three Years In The Precinct” anniversary special and were wondering where the malevolent and mysterious portal at the end of the tale transported myself and (very occasional) fellow Precinct contributor Pete to… well Cassandra may very well be able to answer that particular paradox…

Excerpt Taken From – “The Chronicles Of Cassandra Vala”

“Things are different, and yet, so very much the same. I don’t recognise this place… even though I’ve been here before. I know I’m not making much sense, but neither does my life. My name is Cassandra Vala, and you are definitely not going to believe what I’m about to tell you!”

 

Cassandra Vala, all images, and text are copyright: Precinct1313.