Thursday, August 17, 2017

13 STORIES: THE DOG THAT HATED ITS TAIL

I've skipped posting a few of these last stories, as I was trying to keep the majority of the traffic going to the official Facebook page, but I may switch over for the remaining 5 stories to a new blog dedicated to them exclusively.

I've got another bigger story planned for after this series, where I may issue one new chapter per month so that the complete novel will be finished at the end of the year, but we'll see.

For now here is the 8th story in my macabre series.

And i think I've hit on a unifying style for the accompanying illustrations.  I really like the idea of cross stitch, it has a very folk art feel to it, so my digital version of cross stitch for this months illustration will be the template for all the others.  That of course means I'll be going back to redo the first 7 illustrations in this style.




THE DOG THAT HATED ITS TAIL 
by
Darren Webb

Hubert loved to lick faces. It was his favorite way to greet people, though they didn't always meet him with the same level of enthusiasm. He was a dog of average size, with an unimpressive beige coat, but with the most above average loyalty. No matter how well or how poorly he was treated at the homes he lived in, Hubert was always unabashedly true.

People would forget to feed him, accidentally leave him outdoors during a ferocious rain storm or even be callously and needlessly abusive, but Hubert never lost his loyalty to them. It was the purest of hearts that beat in Hubert. But, that wasn't the only unique aspect to this dog.

As if diametrically opposed to his loyal heart, was his hated tail. Now, to any humans observing his behavior, it simply seemed as though Hubert was playing at chasing his tail, spinning wildly in tight circles until he caught hold of it and then gave his tail the thrashing it deserved, often to the point where he would draw blood. This wasn't some neurotic manifestation of deeply held insecurities, erupting into self mutilation, no Hubert had good reason to hate his tail as he did.

His scraggly, oversized, crimson colored, ever wagging tail was his bitterest enemy. Its odd coloring made it almost seem as though the tail had been an afterthought, tacked on well after Hubert had been born. It was because of his tail that Hubert had gone through so many different homes in his short life. It was the source of all his misery.

In the home where he'd been born, his tail had knocked over an oil based hurricane lantern and burnt the family home to the ground. In his second-chance home, his tail had knocked a toddler that Hubert was trying to keep from attempting to navigate the stairs on its own, tumbling straight down to the bottom floor, and in the home just before the one he found himself in now, his tail knocked over a glass of champagne during a marriage proposal, which resulted in a shockingly vicious physical response from the young woman who was being proposed to.

Now, it wasn't simply a matter of Hubert being clumsy, or being an uncoordinated canine, unable or unaware of how to control his tail. No, the answer wasn't that simple. Hubert knew this, but with his being a dog, there was no way to communicate his predicament to his frustrated humans, that his tail did in fact, have a mind of its' own. And a most vicious one at that. None of the "accidents" that Hubert supposedly caused were his fault at all.

Hubert lost his previous homes because his tail had purposefully knocked over the oil lamp, purposefully knocked the toddler down the stairs and purposefully ruined the engagement with spilt champagne, all to make Hubert miserable and keep him isolated.
Hubert's only recourse was to gnash and gnaw at his tail every chance he got.

The new home that Hubert had come to was a dogs' delight. Huge fenced in back yard with lush green grass for endless playing. Kind, attentive adults and three adorable cherubic little girls, of whom Hubert was fiercely protective and those three cherubic girls adored him in return.

His new family thought it funny how Hubert seemed to constantly be turning on his tail, almost as if he were trying to catch it unawares, as if the tail were trying to do something without Hubert being aware of it. And in truth, that's what was happening, but the sweet family that had taken Hubert in, simply thought their new dog was being silly.

Of the three cherubic little girls, Annabelle loved Hubert the most. She was 5 years old and possibly the most observant person in her family. She could tell that when Hubert would act out against his own tail that he really was in distress. Annabelle would strut right over to Hubert, as he spun in tight circles to catch his tail and just throw herself around his neck and hug him tightly. Instantly his manic tail chasing would stop and the two would sit in a calm embrace, Annabelle giggling while she played with the scraggy hair on his head as Hubert licked her face in deep gratitude.
Hubert felt that he had found his forever home, here with the understanding, gentle Annabelle and her family, but it was not to be.

Hubert had been so happy in the short time that he'd been in his new home, running around that lush yard with the three little girls, eating the delicious boiled chicken, rice and sweet potatoes he was served for each meal and sleeping at the foot of the bed of his beloved Annabelle, that he let his guard down when it came to his maniacal tail.

One afternoon, Hubert and Annabelle were chasing one another around the back yard, while her sisters and parents sat off in the shade, drinking lemonade and eating fresh berries. Annabelle was spinning and turning wildly, trying to catch Hubert off guard. The sweet dog leapt around, rolling in the grass, then springing up like a cannon shot to the sound of Annabelle's musical laughter, when she suddenly took hold of his tail. Hubert's tail had been waiting for a moment like this to destroy his happiness. His tail suddenly and violently wrapped itself around Annabelle's neck and threw her to the ground.

Horrified, Hubert reacted as he always did when his tail acted up, and instinctively began chasing his tail in a tight circle, poor Annabelle still trapped in it's ever tightening grip. The family looked up to see the terrifying sight of their little Annabelle seemingly being thrown around the yard by her dog as though she were helpless prey.

Annabelle's sisters began to cry as her parents rushed over to free their daughter from what they thought was the vicious attack by her beloved pet. Hubert managed to get hold of
his tail and bite down hard. His tail released Annabelle just as her parents reached them. Father struck out at Hubert, while Mother cradled her little girl. Hubert put up no struggle whatsoever as Father dragged him to the far corner of the yard and chained him up to the wrought iron fence,far from his family. Hubert sat with his head drooped, almost touching the ground, but his eyes sadly looked up to watch his dear Annabelle be taken into the house and away from
him.


The doctor arrived and Annabelle was deemed clearly shaken from her ordeal but with no real physical harm at all. The only thing that Annabelle wanted was to have her Hubert in her room, but her parents and the doctor agreed that that would be unwise, despite her unrelenting pleas to the contrary. Hubert could see into her window from where he sat chained in the backyard, and hear her cry out for him, and he joined in, mournfully howling back to answer her cries.

As night came and the family slept, Hubert thought and thought. He thought about Annabelle and how she loved him, the many homes that he'd lost and his vicious, monstrous tail and all the misery it had caused him and the little girl it had almost killed. Hubert had lived with this tormenting for long enough.

He turned suddenly and ferociously gripped his demonic tail between his snarling teeth and began to tear at it as hard as he could. The pain meant nothing as his teeth bore down and began to tear the fur and skin from his tail. He kept biting and tearing, blood streaked down his whiskered chin until finally Hubert tore his tail free from his body. Panting heavily, tears filling his weary eyes, Hubert stared down at his now severed tail, as it lie in a small pool of blood and dirt, motionless. How could this clump of hair, bone and muscle given him so much trouble? But, now it was done. He would be free of his tormenting tail for the rest of his days. Hubert dug a deep hole at the farthest he could reach from where he was chained and then dropped his bloodied tail in and buried it. With that, he lay down to wait for morning.

The next day came and mother and father kept their three cherubic daughters inside, while they fretted all the day long over what to do about Hubert. He'd been such a true and loyal protector for their daughters, but now they were unsure.

Annabelle refused to leave her room unless she could see Hubert, but since her parents would not allow it, she sat at her bedroom window and stared down mournfully at her Hubert all the day long.

That longest of days turned again to night and Hubert fell asleep out in the cold, alone. A gentle rustling suddenly woke Hubert from his sleep. It was well into the early morning hours and Annabelle had crept out of her room and was wriggling out of the dog door in the kitchen to make her way out into the yard to see Hubert.

The bloody stub where his tail had been wagged furiously
with joy as he raced out toward Annabelle and stretched the chain that tied him to the wrought iron fence to it's limits when she finally reached him. Annabelle wrapped her arms around Hubert's neck and hugged him close to her, as he licked her face furiously, as though she were made of ice cream.


She giggled and he panted from joy. Annabelle knew Hubert had been protecting her all along, that it had been his tail that attacked her and not him. Hubert proudly showed his tail free backside to Annabelle, as an assurance that he'd put her safety above all else.

Tears filled Annabelle's eyes, as she understood what he'd done for her, but suddenly her expression was shrouded with dread, as a dark form emerged from the shadows behind Hubert. Hubert could sense something was wrong and turned to face the shadow.

Slowing emerging up from the very spot in the ground where Hubert had buried his severed tail, crawled a creature, not quite a dog, not quite a demon, covered in crimson red matted hair, with no eyes but an enormous mouth filled with charcoal black teeth. Hubert knew instinctively, that this was the creature that had inhabited his tail, that had caused his life to be filled with misery, here now fully formed, fully independent of him and ready to once more snatch away Hubert's happiness, Hubert's Annabelle.

Annabelle ran toward the house and the creature lunged for her. Hubert managed to catch her by her nightgown and pull her safely to him before she could get out of his range, for Hubert still chained to the wrought iron fence knew that he must keep Annabelle close by if he hoped to keep her safe from this creature.

The eyeless demon attacked Hubert, biting his front leg deeply, drawing blood. Hubert backed away, licking his wound, but noticed that the creature suddenly limping, also bearing a wound on the same leg that it had just inflicted on Hubert. Seeing its distress Hubert counter attacked, biting and clawing at the creatures eyeless face.

He strikes a fierce blow, tearing off one of the creatures ears, but at the same time Hubert cries out in pain as his ear is simultaneously torn from his head. Annabelle moves to comfort Hubert, but he now realizes the connection between himself and this creature born out of his own tail. What happens to one happens to the other. If Hubert is to kill this creature and save Annabelle, he too will die. But for a dog whose fierce loyalty and pure heart knew only that, his choice was clear.

When the creature again lunged toward Annabelle, Hubert snared the beast in the chain that held him to the fence. The eyeless beast could only smell Annabelle and Hubert, but couldn't see the chain that Hubert now pulled tighter and tighter, choking the life out of both the demon and himself. Annabelle knew what was happening and grabbed hold of the chain, trying to stop Hubert from completing his task, but as Hubert ended the demonic creatures life, he looked deep into the loving eyes of his dearest Annabelle, knowing that though his life was over, he'd truly saved both of them.

In the morning when Annabelle's parents and sisters found
her in the yard cradling the lifeless body of her dearest Hubert, the only thing that remained of the creature they'd battled together was Hubert's severed tail resting on the ground. No one ever believed Annabelle's story about Hubert's devotion, his possessed tail or the demonic creature that they'd battled, but Annabelle knew it was all true.


Throughout her long, generous and well lived life, Annabelle rescued many more dogs, all of them she would name, Hubert.





           

Thursday, July 13, 2017

DM3 END CREDITS: SPY VS. SPY or BROTHER VS. BROTHER

Since the movie is only in week 3 of release, I don't want to post all the alternate sequences and things just yet.  I figure, let people see how the film turned out and then I'll have endless posts to make that show how things evolved over production, which is always interesting to see, even for me.

This post is for the end credit sequence of the film.  It was another assignment that was wide open for ideas and brainstorming.  The launch was to do a Mad Magazine, Spy vs. Spy type battle between Gru and Dru.

I loved Mad Magazine as a kid so this was a blast.  What's great too about Spy vs. Spy, if you're not familiar with the strip, is that it's totally visual, no dialogue, which is a fun challenge in itself.  So often sequences are all about the talking and exposition, so this was just pure visual madness.

To my surprise when I saw the finished film, this end credit sequence was all rendered in stunning
2-D hand drawn animation!

They ended up using a bunch of the ideas I came up with or variations on them as well as going with a simple monochromatic color styling I'd suggested in my boards as well.

Very happy with the whole experience, but the best compliment may have been when Kyle, one of my directors emailed me to ask me to create some additional beats for this sequence, because he heard Pierre, the other director and the editor laughing out loud as they cut these first bits together in editorial.

That's the best reaction you can get!

Enjoy!