Dilation Exercise 106

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises. Special thanks to Karl Fischer and Cameron Pierce for their assistence with this exercise.

At the 2093 Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, everyone thought the aliens would have the upper hand because they were by definition bizarre to us.

But to win first place, all Alister had to do was to stand before the judges and read the epitaph from Karl Fischer’s tomb while feeding a swarm of tiny, tiny blackbirds.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Fat Power” copyright © 1995 Alan M. Clark. Illustration for “Fat Power” by Sherry Briggs – Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Mid-Dec 1995.

Dilation Exercise 45

Below you’ll find the weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please say something about it in a comment. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

While surrounded by his followers at the convention, if I had merely pointed to him and called him out for the evil, alien creature I knew him to be, no one would have believed me and I would have been ostracized by a group I had come to know and love, but during my painting demonstration that day, I seized upon a plan he would not suspect or recognize until it was too late.

I used my skills to render him, as apparently only I could see him, and offered the painting to him as a gift in a gesture of friendship before many witnesses at the event, knowing that with time my depiction of his bald head, mutton chops, and beady, little eyes would inevitably seep into the consciousness of all who saw it and register a disquieting match with the visage he had been showing us all for so long.

Artwork: “Carlton Stars as THE EGG MAN” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark.
Unpublished painting created during a Controlled Accident demonstration at BizarroCon 2011.

—Alan M. Clark

Eugene, Oregon

Dilation Exercise 29

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please say something about it in a comment. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—What is This?

During the Oneiric Plague, the really big changes, like land and sea changing places and dogs taking on cat traits, happened during nighttime repose, but the really annoying small stuff came from short naps.

One afternoon when I just couldn’t keep my eyes open, my legs got all disproportionate, my left arm decided I was a heroin addict, and my face tried to float right off my head.

Artwork: “Astral Rejection” copyright © 2010 Alan M. Clark
From the collection of Rose OKeefe. Painted at BizarroCon as a demonstration of controlled accident painting and forced hallucination.

—Alan M. Clark

Eugene, Oregon

Boneyard Babies Catches Reality with Its Pants Down

Released on an unsuspecting world, this surreal tome catches reality unawares in its underwear! My new book, Boneyard Babies, published as a paperback by Lazy Fascist Press, an imprint of Eraserhead Press, is now available at AMAZON.COM.  It  will debut at BizarroCon, November 11-14, Edgfield Manor, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale, OR 97060.

Click here to find it on AMAZON.COM

The collection consists of ten collaborations and six solo efforts. They are all surreal and dreadful tales of the oddest sort with characters living and dead, biological and mechanical, superhuman and god-like. It is, I believe, a charming companion for lovers of the bizarre and another small statement for the preservation of the grotesque.

“Alan Clark has one wicked sense of humor.”

—Elizabeth Massie, Stoker winning author of Sineater.

“We all know Alan Clark is one hell of an artist — in fact, one of the best the imaginative field has ever produced.  Turns out he’s one hell of a writer, too.  If that’s not a one-two punch that will knock you out I don’t know what is.”

—Al Sarrantonio, author of Moonbane and editor of 999, Portents, and Stories (with Neil Gaiman)

“If you think Alan Clark’s art is darkly delightful, just wait until you read his twisted and fantastical tales.  I promise you it will make weird and wonderful pictures in your head!  And isn’t that what we all really want?

—Ann VanderMeer, Hugo-award winning Editor-in-Chief of Weird Tales magazine

“This is brain-melting stuff.”

—Jeremy Robert Johnson, author of Extinction Journals and Siren Promised

My Author’s Note in the front of the book:

There are two types of stories in this collection, ones that make sense and ones that do not. I’ll let the ones that do make sense speak for themselves. The ones that do not deserve a little explanation and with it a little history.

I am primarily a visual artist, but in the 1970s while living and going to school in San Francisco, I began to write as yet another means of creative expression. I smoked marihuana with my roommate and then we’d tried to write bizarre stories. It was fun collaborating and laughing about what we came up with. Our tendency was to try to write a solid story with a beginning, middle and end, an antagonist, a protagonist, conflict and resolution. But being high, it was difficult for me to focus on telling a character-driven story that didn’t wander off and get lost in the thick forest of my imagination. I think he had the same problem. Over time we became frustrated as the unfinished, hopeless stories piled up.

The solution was to stop making sense. Being a surrealist at heart, I believe in the power of the subconscious to offer up creative solutions. I proposed to my roommate a writing game that would prevent us from concentrating on creating reasonable story elements.

The process put us in a position of having to find a story through free-association. What we ended up with definitely did not make sense in a conventional way, but it felt like a story and seemed complete. When reading it, my imagination did it’s best to assign meaning to the text, creating a surreal cartoon of sorts for my mind’s eye.

Here are the rules of the game I call Bone-Grubber’s Gamble:

1) Two writers each create ten partial sentences of bizarre content and then trade them with one another.
2) A simple open-ended premise for a story is agreed upon (My roommate and I decided the first one of these we wrote would be about TWO BEST FRIENDS WHO HATE EACH OTHER).
3) A coin is flipped to see who will go first.
4) The winning writer chooses one of his counterpart’s sentences and begins the story. The sentence can be kept as is and completed or changed in any way or it could be just a spring board for ideas. Sentences don’t have to make sense, but they should still have good structure.

When the first writer is finished, the other writer takes a turn and they alternate turns until the story finds its own end. This usually occurs within the first two pages. As the writers take turns, they keep in mind that connective tissue in the form of repeated words and concepts helps tie sentences, paragraphs and ultimately the story together and give a sense that the story is whole even if it is truly nonsensical.

Below is an example of a set of partial sentences of bizarre content that I generated this year while looking through a book on torture devices. I sent them to Eric M. Witchey to use when we wrote the story titled “Conrad’s New Shoe Goo.”

1) where harmless humans, roasted and boiled to little cubes

2) every apology a death penalty

3) fervent prayers became an iron gag and a drunkard of gin

4) four claws and a high-end adultery appliance

5) a heresy of corn dogs and chocolate-dipped

6) hankered after the older and more popular atrocities

8)bespectacled himself by stretching out his naked erection

7) would have four testicles instead of the usual tub of lard

9) hadn’t screamed puppet warnings in over a decade

10) wake unto waist rings and pyramid points

This is not about the story. After all, some of them don’t make sense. It’s about how nimble the imagination is, that of the writers’ combined with yours.

The table of contents is broken into three sections. The first, titled Older, more Popular Atrocities, is made up of stories that are more traditional and are not arrived at by means of the Bone-Grubber’s Gamble. The second section, A Heresy of Corn-Dogs, is composed of stories that were arrived at by means of the Bone-Grubber’s Gamble, but developed with an eye toward making more traditional stories. The third section is pure Bone-Grubber’s Gamble. Several of these stories I wrote by myself. This required me to assemble at least twenty partial sentences and to pretend to be two writer.

Table of Contents:

Author’s Note
Introduction by Eric M. Witchey

Older, more Popular Atrocities
“Brittle Sticks and Old Rope”
“Ready or Not”
“Naked From the Grave” (w/ Mark Roland)
“Crewcuts” (w/ Troy Guinn)
“Just How Expensive a Free Lunch Can Be” (w/ Mark Edwards)

A Heresy of Corn-dogs
“Opacity and the Death Editor” (w/ Eric M. Witchey)
“Mama’s Maw and the Paws” (w/ Bruce Holland Rogers)
“Mousenight” (w/ Jill Bauman)

Bone-Grubber’s Gamble
“The Musty Cow’s Teat of Death” (w/ Jeremy Robert Johnson)
“Conrad’s New Shoe Goo” (w/ Eric M. Witchey)
“Her Name”
“Just a Wet Last Name”
“Applewide”
“His Grandmother’s Eyes”
“Where Pink is For Poodles, Appliance Genetics Applies” (w/ Kevin Ward)
“Frankly” (w/ Kevin Ward)

Here are links to information about BizarroCon and Eraserhead Press.

Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon