Webcomics and Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Sci-Fi by Mark Oakley!
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What is, Thieves & Kings?

“Thoroughly engrossing self-published black-and white fantasy saga. [. . .] This is a story for fans of Bone, Elfquest, Nausicaa, or Harry Potter to fall in love with; highly recommended for teen and adult fantasy readers everywhere.”

   -The Library Journal

Learn about Mark Oakley and his work!

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Read a 25 page
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Mark’s sci-fi Web Comic!

Stardrop! Featuring the space Princess Ashelle living on Earth.
Bi-weekly webcomic!

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or write to. . .

I Box Publishing
#1 - 614 Main St.
Wolfville, NS  B4P 1E8
Canada



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RETAILERS:
Stardrop Book 3 Order Links for Retailers


Articles of Note:

Stardrop Pencils


The New Fascism


Tribes and Reality


What's up with all the Anti-Russian sentiment?


How to Stay Sane in an Insane World - Top 3 diet changes (not what you think!)


MadMax and Tomorrowland - Reality Splitting Decisions...


Star Wars the Force Awakens - JJ Abrams is a Lightweight


The Mysterious meta-Jenny


I Will Not Hate Because You Want Me To


Response to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing


Art Software Review - OpenCanvas 6


Why Facebook is an unreliable tool for the Self Publisher


Three Questions from a Beginner Cartoonist


Comics in the New Media ~ How to Publish Comics on Tablets and eReaders Without Getting Ripped Off


Mark at the Movies:Superman, Man of Steel. Propaganda to dim the spirit and fan your fears.


Mark at the Movies: What do, Mirror Mirror, Hunger Games and Cabin in the Woods all have in common? More than you think!


Drawing Democracy


365 Days of Digital Cartooning - Drawing Comics on a Tablet PC


UPDATED!
Tablet button bar Button for Photoshop / PaintTool Sai / MangaStudio5


Photoshop CS4 vs CS5 Speed Comparison for Tablet PC


Photoshop Speed-Up Trick for Digital Art


Portable Drafting Board - Drawing Comics Outdoors

 

 
   Stardrop. . .

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STARDROP



Please become my Patron! It's super-easy; see Patreon to find out how. -Now, don't worry; everything will remain free to read here, (many of my readers do not have credit cards, after all). But I'm a full-time cartoonist and I need to pay the bills. There are hundreds of folks reading, so those who are able, please consider chipping in with as much or as little as you choose. Even a buck a month would be a blessing! Those of you who have already extended your support, oh my goodness, Thank-You! It literally means the world to me!

Also.., Jenny Mysterious is now LIVE and will have regular weekly updates! Yessss! Been a long time coming. Jump to her section below. Thanks everybody!

New Episode #280 - Next Episode, Thursday April 6th
webcomic Stardrop by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

                        

 


Digital Editions Now Available


"High Resolution For Tablets!"
$8.25 CAD
Download Stardrop Volume 1    Download Stardrop Volume 2

-No DRM -No Hassles -Super High Quality -Whole Books with all the extras!

Technical note: I'm using a new sales system for this which doesn't require all kinds of complicated filling out of forms and such. The back-end magic is worked by Gumroad, an awesome new on-line system designed just for digital content; easy payment, reliable delivery, no mucking around. -And holy smokes! They play fair, taking 5% + 25 cents per transaction. Are you paying attention Apple and Amazon? This is how it's done.


NEW! Stardrop eBook
Now Available!

(See the Studio News (below) for the scoop on this!)



Tip StarDrop's cartoonist!

Visit the Australian StarDrop Mirror.
(Thanks to Andrew and Katherine for their wonderful support over the years!)

 
 
   Jenny Mysterious. . .
Read the latest stuff before everybody else. Become a Patron!

Sept 16th, 2017
New Pages posted - 196 to 197
I've decided to publish the long-talked about Jenny Mysterious free on-line, with new pages every week, starting right now! BUT I am asking folks to become Patrons. Please support my comics with as little or as much as you choose with a monthly subscription, (even just a dollar would be fine!). It's really easy. See my Patreon page for details.

-Check out the cool perks!

Thanks everybody!


webcomic Jenny Mysterious by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com
    

Please Vote! (You can vote for both Jenny and Stardrop without conflict.) Thank-you!
    New: Reader's Art!


 
 
   Thieves & Kings. . .

Sample Chapter from, Thieves & Kings, Volume 3, "The Blue Book"

Thieves & Kings, page from the graphic novel series by Mark Oakley www.iboxpublishing.com

Thieves & Kings is not a webcomic. It's an all-ages fantasy/adventure graphic novel series which I've been working on since 1994. It is nearly done; I hope to wrap up the story in the 7th volume, (currently in production). The chapter featured here offers a good example of what it's like to read Thieves & Kings. --It's a peppy sequence, and it contains both regular comic pages, and some text pages. It doesn't show much of the title character, (Rubel) and none of the Shadow Lady, but Heath and Varkias carry the show quite nicely. I do hope you enjoy this sample of my work!

 
 
   The Walking Mage. . .

The Walking Mage webcomic #2 - Fired

The Walking Mage is a complete story. Originally it was done in black & white, (which you can check out here, if you like). I wanted to experiment with color and so began by using a computer to color the Walking Mage for its print release. After a few panels I decided that it would be a lot more fun to paint it by hand, and so switched to water-color around episode six.

The story itself is quite a good little yarn; funny and pointed in many places, as political satire ought to be. I was actually quite surprised to learn this! I found myself laughing out loud in several places. --I don't know why this story in particular was so hard for me to accept, but it was. I avoided reading it for several years after it first went to press. The ending is rather abrupt, but it was a serial strip, after all.

So anyway, after having let this web-comic languish in the digital attic, I've decided to pull it out and post it again for all the world in its full-color glory. This is the first time the Walking Mage has been available in full color on the web. I hope you enjoy the adventures of Quinton and Varkias. Cheers!

 
 
   News From the Studio. . .

Tribes and Reality
 


December 22nd, 2016

Tribes and Reality

"Question Everything."

We've all heard that before. Many of us accept this advice as confirmed wisdom. It sounds good.

And it is good...

But woe unto those who question the wrong things!

See.., there are two types of belief.

Tribal Beliefs, and Beliefs in Reality.

When the two line up, all is well with the world. But when they do not...

Tribal belief is powerful. People love it! It soothes. It makes people part of something larger than themselves. They belong!

The cost of not belonging is severe. Survival instincts know that the good bet is to be part of a team. -To have the crowd at your back, having this security, the knowledge that the people around you are all part of the same huge organism, that your weakness is outweighed by collective strength. To be part of something is survival. To be cast out, is death.

This understanding is baked into the animal psyche, deep beneath any new cognitive mechanisms. Beneath the workings of the New Brain. -It is hardwired right at the top of the spinal column, solidly grown like a tree beneath that other bit of gray matter, that remarkable, miraculous Neo Cortex, grown like a fruit at the crest of history's great accomplishment; those brain structures which only human beings have.

"Neo" means simply "New". New, because it is new. Evolution, or whatever mechanisms bring novel biological transformations into being, in planetary terms, only very recently provided this new arrangement of grey matter for the creatures of this world to experience. And what an arrangement! These new brain structures allow us cognitive abilities which make us extraordinarily different and powerful when compared to the rest of the creatures struggling through the biosphere. Humans are new on this planet. And we rule it!

However, we remain plugged into the old system. Evolution in this case is keeping one foot planted on solid ground while probing forward. Perhaps the New Brain is just a passing fad? Maybe it will fail. Maybe in terms of survival, it will ultimately prove unworthy. It must justify itself! -But if it fails, that's okay. The old brain is still there to be fallen back upon should everything go SNAFU.

Those old brain structures are tested and true. Dependable. They work. They've kept countless species around for eons, successfully reproducing and living. We can always abandon the ability to think creatively and abstractly, to measure and question and go back to the old system. -Of tooth and claw, of killing and hiding from killers. Of the perpetual hunt. -Sure, there will be no galaxy-class starships to be had, but damn it, that old stuff works!

And we feel the presence of that system every day. We experience it as an ever-present series of choices. The old brain takes input from the world around us, does so faster by orders of magnitude than the new brain, and it instantly provides courses of action to any given situation, sometimes very strongly; "Do the thing which brings you closer to killing rather than being killed, mating rather than not mating, comfort over discomfort. Do that thing! Do it now!"

The New Brain, the Human alternative, provides us with something else, that something which other creatures do not have, (or have in very prototypical terms; Elephants and dogs and cats and primates and a few others display compassion and reason in vestiges), the ability to put a pin in the Old Brain's advice and instead, pause before acting. -To subject the incoming stimulus to an extra and more complex level of processing, allowing us to decide to do something other than bite and claw and fuck. Because maybe survival and biological success includes something more. A higher dimension of reality is granted access to us.

"Question Everything"

This is the summons from the New Brain. "Maybe there is something more. Look. Decide."

And it must win against the Old Way.

Tribalism is what we call "herding" when we are not looking at Humans. When we are counting sheep. It is called "pack mentality" when we look at groups of hunting animals.

And herds and packs survive! There is strength in the Tribe.

But the human tribe is more than a pack of dogs or a herd of sheep, we know this; a human tribe uses the old systems common in the animal kingdom, yes, but it also tries to include the new cognitive range inherent in the human animal. The concept of belief. And so the human tribe takes that advanced ability to understand reality, that fabulous new power, but mis-uses it. Tribal brains are working at a million year evolutionary disadvantage. Like a monkey using a laptop computer to crack open a walnut, the Tribal brain does the best it can with it.., but really the old brain is simply ill-equipped to use it properly. Tribalism understands first and foremost that all the members have to act as one in order to survive, and thus the members of the tribe must all carry the same beliefs. And while this can be enormously infuriating when priority is so casually given to group uniformity over factual accuracy, the tribal mind really is trying its level best to act in good faith.

The problem is that from the perspective of the modern human, the tribal mind is getting the priority levels all mixed up. It places far less importance on the factual accuracy of its beliefs than it does on it simply being collectively beleived by all members. The social binding power it understands as critical comes from differentiating between Member of the Tribe and.., Other. -And those same million years of bloody survival have proven the case. And we feel it, boy! Deep down inside? Being cast out of the group strikes a host of 'bad feels' into the gut and heart! That program is hardwired!

So...

What about facts? What about actually being right? Surely there is value in being actually not completely wrong about something? Surely, there must!

And this is the source of friction we all experience when we question tribal beliefs.

Try it sometime:

Question climate change, human-made or no? (The Environment we live in.)

Question food, carbs or fats? (The Fuel which sustains life.)

Question medicine, vaccinations or no? (The way we deal with life-destroying disease.)

Question sexuality and reproduction. Is gay okay? (The way we keep life going.)

There is a reason these are able to create such storms of outrage. The Old Brain doesn't want to mess around with something tried and true. These are the pillars of survival! It wants solid answers, no mucking about. Mistakes can mean the end of a species!

Just considering that list, I bet some of you are feeling heat in the chest, pupils dilating in readiness to defend or attack.

Using the powers of the neo cortex, we have come to advanced understandings of these subjects. We have adopted new norms of understanding, and once settled upon, for right or wrong, our old brains seize upon them and make them iron clad. It happens faster than we might think, but once set, the mind rebels against any change, and it does so using the only system it has at its disposal. Pain and Pleasure.

Once a piece of belief has been settled upon as the Right Way, it hurts, -actually- hurts (you can measure it on brain scan equipment) to make choices which run in opposition. -To even entertain opposing ideas as possibilities. The Old Brain cries out, "NO! Have some Pain!"

And when you relent and say, "Sorry. No. Sorry. Here is a way of thinking which allows me to keep doing the thing we previously believe in," we are rewarded, again measurably, with pleasure.

New Thinking is painful. That's simply how it is.

The outcry in society over challenged notions, the protest rallies, the lynch mobs, these are expressions of this process unfolding across whole cultures. -Groups will attack the dissenting voice, spurred on by the Old Brain. Savagery is a programmed response, stemming from the survival instinct. And it is rewarded. It feels good to kill that which challenges the tribal belief. The hunger to kill the Other feels good.

We've all seen this process.

In an outraged crowd or movement, certain individuals particularly attuned to seeking this form of pleasure, become very good at the kill. The kill becomes more important than the reason for the kill. As with any form of pleasure-seeking, some people focus on certain types of pleasure more than others, seek to attain it with more skill and determination.

It is this unspoken driving force from which fascism arises, from which movements originally built from genuine concerns are redirected, re-purposed to the fulfillment of the new goal. The bloodlust to destroy becomes a primary motivational force, with the ideology itself being merely incidental. The Nazis turned on each other at the end. Who isn't Sieg Heiling with enough snap in their posture? There's the next meal.

I remember once while reading about gay rights, about the history of that grand experiment, from somewhere deep in the middle of all the arguments and activism, one member paused to voice up from a sea of anger and frustration, from the mine field of legal questions and political stances, he said.., "Do you remember, years ago, when being part of the gay community was, you know.., a lot more fun..? I remember it being a lot more fun."

That's just one example.

Now the thing I'm currently interested in questioning has been the Western stance on Russia.

What could be more tribal than War?

It is the fifth pillar! -Along with Food and Sex.

Survival isn't just eating and sleeping, it is also about not getting killed by predators, by predating first. It is about recognizing and strategizing against the Other.

It's important in the Jungle. And so doing it well is paramount in the Old Brain. So it creates a hunger for it. And, once again, it is rewarded in the only ways it knows how.

It feels good to create an other. And to kill it.

The problem is that with the expanded powers afforded to the Human animal, when we decide to create an other and to kill it as a group, the resulting scene isn't just played out in nature as it is between lions and hyenas battling on the veldt. When Humans go to war, the world literally threatens to shake apart.

Where winning meant survival in the animal kingdom, in the Human world, those same impulses can produce the opposite effects, limiting our growth as a species; anti-survival. The very systems bourn from the need to continue viability in life instead drive us to suppress the creative expression of whole nations, of entire peoples. To even risk extinction in nuclear fire.

Sure, there are winners and losers in the old system, spoils of war, and all that. Raping armies seeding their "successful" genes across new lands, while plundering resources and riches. That's the old way. And sure, it works. But it seems to me that the Human species is probably doing itself a disservice by sticking to the old ways.

The Neo Cortex, in providing all of this power to re-shape the world, also provides the solution to these problems.

Maybe we ought to trust more in the process of questioning. Maybe the pain of being wrong is one we ought to embrace rather than deny. A little pain in the brain from facing difficult questions inevitably leads to bright awakenings. New truths revealed. New possibilities. -Even if it is just to confirm existing beliefs, (it happens). -It leads to cognitive strength, as beliefs slowly fall into line with objective reality. And that is the goal. To get our beliefs to line up with objective reality. To believe in truth over lies.

The person who knows reality as it truly is can navigate successfully through it, doesn't have to run into brick walls and then pretend it was somebody else's fault. There is a reason we watch in awe the grace of those YouTube parkour runners as they dance across seas of rooftops, making even Spiderman's CGI acrobatics seem a little unimaginative by comparison. Those same human-attainable super powers can be achieved in all areas of life, but only if we learn to respect the objective reality of walls and rooftops and obstacles rather than pretend they are something different, or not there at all, -or there when they are not.


 

-Mark Oakley
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,
Dec 22nd, 2016

            News Archive

 

 
 


 

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