Rune Bear—Logos

Phil Kiner has always been my go-to guy for visual marketing, so when I started Rune Bear, I had constant reassurance that the logo would end up looking awesome. And, indeed, I ended up with this:

But that wasn’t the first rune bear that Phil designed. Phil also experimented with configurations based on actual runes, specifically Elder Futhark (c. 150–800 AD).

A futhark is a type of alphabet that starts with some variation of F, U, Þ, A, R, and K, and Elder Futhark is the earliest known form. The alphabet was used by Germanic tribes during the ‘Barbarian Invasions’ (the Germans have a better word for it—Völkerwanderung while English academics have a more boring description—the ‘Migration Period’) which may or may not have led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Today, Elder Futhark is often found on old weapons, amulets, tools, and, yes, this is real life, runestones scattered across the European landscape.

Phil sent me three designs based on the futhark.

The first:

While I loved the diamond nose and frumpy grin, the ears, while stylish, gave the bear an undesirable ant-like quality.

The second:

The test market (me) liked the sideburns but thought the bear looked too grumpy.

The third:

#perfection

For a while I had settled on this design for the magazine.

But there was still this itchy inkling (writer’s rash?) in the back of my mind. I wanted something that would allow other artists to create their own variations. And something more blue, more realistic. My attempt looked like this:

No, wait, that’s something else.

My first design was this:

In his mouth I wanted the futhark word “alu” (ᚨᛚᚢ). The alu’s meaning is a contested issue, but some of its definitions hint at a strange, disturbed state created by sorcery or induced by ale (we’ve all been there). It is usually inscribed on artifacts of magical or mystical import. Other potential meanings include “taboo,” “strange,” “distraught,” and the “world between the living and the dead.” (I also considered ᛒᛖᚨᚱ, which is the word “bear” spelled out in futhark letters.)

In the end, Phil drew this:

… and the rest is rune history.

Writ in Water Issue #2

Today, I swung by HBU’s Author Celebration to pick up Issue #2 of Writ in Water.

(I’m the dude in the earflaps)

Writ in Water is the student literary magazine that I launched last year and subsequently passed on to Seth Grant (the lad to the left) when I graduated.

And Seth has done a remarkable job. Issue #2 is beautiful; the cover and interior as remarkable as the prose and poetry inside.

And speaking of remarkable prose, one of my pieces ‘somehow’ made it into the final print.

According to an editorial note, this year’s theme was “Community,” which comes from two Latin words that denote a group coming together in “oneness.”

Seth adds: “The pieces published here do not paint a picture of a perfect world because the world we live in is not perfect. It is not sanitized nor masked with false optimism. Life – yes, even the Christian life – is a struggle.”

Per tradition, Seth will graduate this spring and pass on the editor-in-chief position to the next aspiring bad ass.

Rune Bear Bios

Stuart doesn’t like the bios I’ve written for Rune Bear.

Desmond White

Although currently facing execution by gas frogs (he’ll be dropped into a stank pit in April), Desmond White used to be the fearless leader of the Resistance until he took a bearbolt to the back and was captured. (A bearbolter is a fully-automated turret that launches American black bears.) This is his only known photo because he’s too ugly for full lighting.

Brandon Patterson

Having hacked more corporations than you can count on a calculator, Brandon Patterson has retired from a life of cybercrime to pursue his true passion: building websites for the Resistance against Gressian rule. Brandybuck lives in Dallas, New Texas, just outside the Omega System, with two servitor-skulls and a shapeshifting croissant named Cindy. He enjoys long walks on computer-generated beaches.

Stuart Warren

Stuart is an artificial construct compiled from discarded Rembrandt paintings and a dump of data-files removed from the Galactic Library because they were considered useless to intelligent life—literary criticism, mostly, and an eccentric medium called the “comic book.” Stuart currently serves the Glessian Majesty as a royal flusher, although he hopes to upgrade to a showerhead or sonic toothbrush.

Alyssa Warren

Alyssa Warren was Queen of the Solar Centaurs until she fell in love (some say it was an arranged marriage) with a dashing artificial toilet. Now, Her Neighness lives in a tiny apartment filled with books and a baby and an actual baby that she produced through sheer force of will (the toilet helped a little). When she’s not conquering minor planets with her braying legionnaires, Alyssa can be found at the farmer’s market sampling local honeys or knitting bad ass dog sweaters.

Here’s what Stu wrote for himself:

Stuart writes fiction and magic realism and lives in a tiny apartment filled with books and a wife and baby. Occasionally he reads a book and writes about it on Sequart.org, but mostly he shouts from his blog stuartjwarren.com about life and the books that he authors.

I’ll only accept it if he adds:

He also writes really boring bios.

Naming Rune Bear

My hench-editors (it’s my wifeStuart, and his wife) and I kept rejecting names for a literary genres-remix website we were envisioning (and one poor guy had been building pro bono). For the longest time we had our fat hearts set on Idiosync (short for ‘idiosyncrasy’) but the title was too lazy and it sounded like ‘Idiot Sink.’ Then we wanted Idiot Sink, but that impulse didn’t last. AstroLack was too spacey. Los Orcus was too fantasy. We wanted less swords-and-sorcery and more swords-and-sandworms. No to Wyrdfic (is ‘weird’ gender-biased or something?), Grot Gear, Desmorious (I was down), Wristcanon (people would think we spelled ‘cannon’ wrong), Battle Droid (‘droid’ is trademarked by LucasFilm Ltd.).

For a while we settled on Rune Beard. We wondered if Nordic facial hair would evoke a space pirate captain firing plasma bolts at sword-wielding mechs on distant asteroids (it was the Warhammer 40,000 side of us that connected runes with sci-fi in the first place), but instead our test audience pictured a neckbeard playing WoW, and incidentally, they weren’t wrong. Dumping Rune Beard was emotional for me, because Alyssa, Stuart, and I had devised an awesome icon to accompany our logo—a bewhiskered Odinesque whose face was comprised of two Anglo-Saxon runes that corresponded with our initials (the scarred-eye is the jera, or j-rune, and my first name is Jared; the crooked nose is the sigel, or s-rune, i.e. Stuart). Being boys, we didn’t consider adding a rune for Alyssa.

Here’s Alyssa’s mock-up:

However, while I was pining over Rune Beard in my notebook, I noticed that without the “D” there was another great name for our mag—Rune Bear. The domain wasn’t taken, and there weren’t any rune bears out there except for the Runeclaw Bear in Magic the Gathering. The others were hesitant but the name grew on them. I went ahead and drew a rough sketch of what I was envisioning for the mascot. (Although these details weren’t in the sketch, I knew the bear had to be blue and have a rune in its mouth).

I finally turned to an old friend of mine, Phil Kiner, to create the mascot we have today:

Nonfiction—”The Elemental Darkness”

My philosophy is a lone night, with the wife far-flung on the couch watching videos about tape worms. I’ve gone to bed early, and the rain is caught by the tree canopy, except for a black fall from the roof that taps the cement. In the dark it could be the crackle of fire. My philosophy is my beating heart compared to her’s. I can only imagine she still lives, eyes fixed on the doctor’s spool, trapped by elemental darkness.

Filler

We needed filler content for a literary magazine we’re creating, i.e. stuff of no consequence that will be deleted once we publish. So I wrote this.

“The Robot” by Botswana Brokeball

There is a girl who is a robot. She wakes up in the wastelands but doesn’t remember who she is (actually she’s a secret human). All the humans are dead but she doesn’t know until she meets communists called the Rainbow Riders. Their symbol is the rainbow. In my story all robots are rainbow stripe colors. The girl-robot-secret-human is named Eve, the first human. She’s actually the first human cryogenically frozen by Adam to be awakened when the technology has developed to de-freeze cryogenically frozen women. Eve decides to rename herself Even Stevens. After a lot of walking in the dust-broke wastes, her CPU glitches, and her hard drive crashes, and her URL is hacked. She was a robot the whole time! The story ends with a vulture digging a nest into her brain and finding pink gummy brains to its delight and surprise. She was a human the whole time too! In the end I show up in the book to congratulate the reader on finding the secret, then I tip my fedora and walk off the page. I was the monster at the end of the book!

Author Bio

I am from Remdonesia which is a small independent nation-state in the offshore drilling waters of California, America. Don’t be alarmed if I send you intimate details about my body via Facebook. I am only testing the ability of humans to communicate over long distances via Facebook. Shout out to nail clippers. Y’all the real heroes.