John Howe

Once Upon A Time

Or a Fraser Valley* Fairy Tale…

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who wanted to draw a cow. As he was a farmer’s son, cows were in no short supply, so he had plenty to work from. Unfortunately for him, his ambitions outweighed his skills like the proverbial bullock outweighed the bullfrog, and draw as he might, he could not get it how he wished.
So he asked his mother “Mother can you draw me a cow, I cannot manage it all by myself.” His mother, who was of course a farmer’s wife, had ample knowledge of cows, above all as she milked them daily. Alas, her drafting skills were not a match for her milking skills, the cow resembled nothing remotely bovine, and the little boy burst into tears.
“As far as cows go, said his father, it’s time to round them up and get them in the barn. Off you go now.” So the little boy shrugged into his coat, pulled on his boots and went off across the fields, distractedly slashing at nettles with a hazel switch.
“I won’t alwys be herding cows in these ordinary meadows and tame woods” he thought. “I’ll travel beyond them to darker, deeper woods, full of trolls and spiders and danger. And beyond those woods will be rivers, treacherous or slow, with fabuolous fish lurking in the murky bottoms, and water maidens, undines and vouivres guarding old frogotten gold. Above their shores full of mist and reeds will be battlements and castles with bright banners flying, and knights in shining helms and rich tabards going to and fro, seeking grails and giants to fight, and Kings fishing amongst the rushes. Then over mountains, crowned by nests of erne, or perhaps under them in passages delved by dwarves, to wide plains, golden halls, shining sunset cities and farther horizons. Beyond all that, oceans with distant shores, and over the waves, lands of gilded domes and princesses – perhaps I’ll marry one and live forever in some land far away -” Right about then, he tripped over a tree root and fell headlong into a patch of nettles, which brought him back to his senses in rather a hurry. He finished rounding up the cows and made his way back home.
His father gave him a wink as he swung to and latched the gate, trailing his switch after the last wayward calf. That evening, his mother said “Perhapys we could try to draw that cow tonight”, but the boy wasn’t interested in drawing cows any more.

He was thinking of dragons…


Convention fare is always a mixed menu, but generally if someone invites you to a convention, it is because they appreciate your work and are animated by a desire to put a face on the pictures. As conventions are usually staffed by generous enthusiasts, any venue, even the smallest and most modest, is always good fun. (I mean, when I say I met Admiral Ozzle in Bratislava, not only is it the truth, but it looks great in any autobiography.) There is, though,  the odd exception…
Recently, I was contacted bya major European convention. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing where it took me a couple of e-mails to convince my correspondant that I was indeed me, I received an invitation which began “As you live close by, you’ll be driving, so we will pay for your gas”… Ummm, hold on here, I thought, it’s 800 miles return, and who said I had a car? All the hotels around are booked by now, the letter continued, but hopefully we’ll find you something. Oh great, it’s always nice to look forward to hotel hunting after half a day behind the wheel. And lastly, the convention organiser offered to take only 10% of my earnings. My earnings? What earnings? Ten percent of nothing is still not a great deal… but what was I supposed to be earning? I can’t sell photos of myself like the stars do, and I certainly don’t market my own books.
Funny thing; I suddenly remembered that I’ll bet you ten to one I’m busy that weekend…


Now that my marvelous web master has seen fit to bestow knowledge and some very handy scripts upon my digitally-challenged person, I can actually work on the site from home. Thus, there are a lot of new pictures in the portfolio. New to the site, that is, as many of them are old images dragged out of drawers and closets and scanned. The ultimate goal is to provide and exhaustive (and exhausting) archive of original and printed material. In the meantime, much is missing, but will appear in good time. The structure of some of the categories and sub-categories is rather chaotic as a result (somewhat like my own head) but will also sort itself out in good time. (Now if only I could count on my head doing the same…)


New picture from Oscar:


* For non-British-Columbians, the Fraser Valley is just east of Vancouver