Free Lunch Studios

Tom Gordon

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1975-1989 Art | Tails of Baghdad Art

Anarcapitalist Noir - computer graphic from drawing

A Real Neat illustration solicited by Jonathan Hoenig (of "Greed is Good" and Maxim infamy) for one of his hedge fund promotional items. Please note the glaring absence of obligatory 'cyberpunk' trappings such as neon Mandarin signs, Evil Corporate Logos, or geisha blimps pummeling the serfs below with multicultural sales pitches. The Future isn't going to look like Singapore or Times Square, folks.

Assembler Cloud - computer graphic

Every so often, I feel the compulsion to try out new Photoshop techniques and strain the limits of my computer's image-processing hardware. This arty, experimental piece (inspired partially by Ed Regis readings, Varley's wonderful "Phantom of Kansas," and one-sided e-mail rejection/depression) was the result.

Wish You Were Here! - computer graphic

Inspired by quasi-nostalgic hubbub surrounding the 3rd Edition releases, I created a (tongue in cheek) "postcard" for Layer #341 of The Abyss... a region that could *always* use a few more Jaded Bobo Tourists to messily devour- er, help boost the local economy- anyway.

Skate or Die - computer graphic from drawing

In an era where the awe-inspiring likes of Tony Hawk and Co. have been replaced by the widespread fungal growth that is rollerblading, methinks this is just one of those pieces that came to me about ten years too late. And NO, I personally couldn't skateboard to save my life... but my brothers were once true dyed-in-the-wool poseur-scorning, Thrasher-reading sk8punks (heck, at one point we'd actually built a halfpipe in our back yard!)

Lunar Corridor - acrylic

This is a "One Small Step" related painting I exhibited at the I-CON 17 SF Convention in 1998. Of course, as of Page 15, Eve McCracken STILL hasn't met Cornelius Taine yet. But I'll get there eventually...

The Spirit of Ex-mas - computer graphic from drawing

This year's Free Lunch holiday greeting card offering. Yes, I figure telescopic "plug and play" Christmas trees should be hitting overstocked ghost-malls sometime before the Naughties close out... in a torrent of Molotov cocktails and rooftop voting. ("Unfunded liabilities," anyone?)

Goddess of Technology - computer graphic from drawing

My own particular spin on Arcimboldo's Renaissance-era artistic goofiness... with collections of household appliances, electronic doodads and industrial machinery updating old-school agrarian fare to comprise The AntiGaia (tm). Sacrifices of antiquated Game Boys, Ron Popeil products and Atari 2600s will be looked upon most favorably.

Ambush - computer graphic from drawing

SF territory for me again, this time on the anarchic outskirts of a newly-founded colony, or perhaps inside a particularly xenophobic alien city built into a mountainrange. Here, two humans are waylaid by a highwaything. I rather doubt such a neo-Western situation would occur on a colonized world though... it's more probable that the human would be too busy fumbling with his pressure suit to notice.

Dry Ice - computer graphic from drawing

My rather idealized, optimistic vision of what I think the NEAR future will be like; chronologically situated sometime between today and the not-so-far-flung "leisure society" (as created by telepresence, nanotechnology, decentralized government, antigrav and geneering.) It's also my rebuttal to the purveyors of cyberpunk gloom and doom... Sorry droogs, but ONLY when the human race starts moving to the stars in earnest, will we actually see Terra start to resemble your drearily repetitive backwater techno-slum.

Mechanophobia - acrylic

Of all the acrylic paintings I've done, this one is perhaps my own personal favorite, silly Luddite trappings aside. Thing is, I can't remember for the life of me whether I originally intended the neurotic "monkeywrencher" type to be a man or a woman... but perhaps it's just as well; nothing's more distracting than irrelevant "gender" issues.

Fountainhead - colored pencil

The opening passages of Rand's novel, with Roark's contemplation of "what should be built here" evoked this particular mental image for me. This was actually submitted to Signet Books for their 50th Anniversary reprint. (Though they opted instead for some Art Deco redux; so much for new blood.)

Door in Time - colored pencil

Moving through portals between worlds has always intrigued me. I'm not precisely sure what parallel universe lies beyond the makeshift "gate" in this instance, but it probably shared divergence points with the North American Confederacy (from Smith's "Probability Broach") and Tonetown (from Activision's "Tass Times in Tonetown.") Sit, Ennio, sit!

Uninvited - colored pencil

Another personal favorite. Scheming humans hungry for knowledge infringe on the property rights of reptilian behemoths. Can you say "impending doom?" Bioengineered Trudeau (from "Longbow's Big Adventure") makes a rather inexplicable appearance in this Frazetta theme-park, but at least she skipped the usual dungeon-exploring ladies wear: skimpy chain-mail lingerie is quite the hazard.

Anybody's War - colored pencil

Here I wanted to capture the violence and chaos so often demonstrated in history on the battlefield. In this case, an indeterminate era where the collected armies of good and evil duke it out for one last time. I suppose the woman could be interpreted as a martyred "spirit" a la Eponine (from Les Mis) but in actuality she's there to balance the compositional flux elsewhere.

Bronx Zoo Poster - colored pencil

The Bronx Zoo had an advertising campaign geared towards Manhattan subway commuters some time back; and this here was my own contribution to that effort. (In actuality, I don't think the NY subway riders would have really taken notice unless the animals were hawking light-up yo-yos or some other dubious merchandise.)

Stand - colored pencil

A young, aspiring sorcerer attempts to defeat a most difficult opponent. I think I can find more than a few connections between this piece and a children's book I worked on, "Tails of Baghdad" (which I hope to upload soon) The villain in THAT story (see below) obviously acquired the emerald-fitted staff from our hero here... not very reassuring!

Runaway - colored pencil, acrylic, marker

One of the more successful of my mixed-media efforts; generally I stay away from alternating between pencil and paint because the latter alters the surface of the paper, making it impossible to manipulate except with more of the same. But this one worked. I think it was just plain dumb luck on my part.

Darkside - colored pencil

Although I'm not particularly fond of the supernatural or the occult (cruel scams for the gullible, in my opinion) nevertheless the subject is a gold mine, visually. Indeed, in my zealous pursuit for reference material, I was fortunate to have finished this illustration before I became a crazed disciple of Aliester Crowley... my loss.

Bipartisanship - colored pencil, paint

My Op-Ed reflections on the absurdity of the North American Directorate's two-party system. The Statue was symbolic for the citizenry/serfs (pick one) as a whole, not the Libertarian Party (who unfortunately do a better job shooting themselves in the foot than their political opponents.)

Big Top - colored pencil

Another subway poster concept of mine, this time for the Big Apple Circus. I was at least partially inspired by P. Earwig's information-crammed liner art for circus-metal outfit "Mr. Bungle." You have to wonder what cataclysmic domino-effect of destruction would occur if one could press the fast-forward button on this one.

Lansdowne Calendar I - pen & ink, marker, colored pencil

This was the October piece in a promotional series of art for a strip of clubs in Boston, obviously serving up the creative bonanza offered by the holiday known as Halloween.

Lansdowne Calendar II - pen & ink, marker, colored pencil

For November. I tried to think of something that would relate to both Thanksgiving AND Boston nightclubs frequented by idle students, but it gave me a headache. Eventually I settled on giant turkeys laying waste to Kenmore Square. Well, it worked.... go fig.

Lansdowne Calendar III - pen & ink, marker, colored pencil

December, however, was fairly easy. When I was illustrator for my high school newspaper some Christmas story called for a punk, Mohawked and body-pierced Santa Claus. So I basically recreated the original, albeit MUCH more professionally rendered this time around, and on a fat Harley to boot.

Lansdowne Calendar IV - pen & ink, marker, colored pencil

Most of the big schools in Boston are swarming with people in September, so I decided to visually address the expectations and anxieties of the new student with this more contemplative drawing. But I don't know, "the world" don't look so tough to me.

Pink Elephants - computer graphic from drawing

My first official drawing of 1997! Which dealt with, appropriately enough, the usual post-New Year's Eve situation for most of us: coming down from a crazed, hallucinatory night of wild sex and/or dangerous recreational pharmaceuticals. Well, that's what I've HEARD of course... naturally yours truly wouldn't engage in such... decadance. Uh-huh.

Eggbeater - computer graphic from drawing

A little kid puts his new toy (a suit of powered armor; obviously Heinlein, Haldeman or anime war surplus) through the Mother of All Robotic Tests: picking up an egg without breaking it. Visitors to LambdaMOO might notice a similarity between this fellow and "Kerplunk."

Tentacles of Death - computer graphic from drawing

Kaz and Ubo, my "buddy team" characters, face off against a malevolent priestess and her hungry, multi-limbed, oversized and only slightly domesticated "pet" utilizing decidedly anachronistic means. Yep, it's always a good idea to have a couple of conveniently destructive RPG's on hand for just such contingencies.

Resistance - computer graphic from drawing

Hover-converted "nanny state" Chinooks, rebellious-but-doomed guerrillas and a clearly tyrannical dystopian future setting combine for one of my most (deliberately) bleak illustrations ever. I WAS attempting something along film-noir lines here, though in retrospect the bright colors probably took away from that whole vibe. Ah well...

Santa's Workshop - computer graphic from drawing

The first of several Christmas cards for FLS, this one from 1997 features Old Saint Nick's multinational operations in the Arctic, along with his over-worked and insufferably jolly elven employees.

The Golden Globe - computer graphic from drawing

This was inspired by a John Varley SF novel of the same name, about a resourceful actor who hopscotches his way across the (completely inhabited) solar system of the future, in search of the perfect gig. Here, Sparky Valentine and his genengineered Bichon Frise are catching a breather, high above Uranus and the massive Oberon II orbital colony.

Party of the Millennium - computer graphic from drawing

The third FLS Christmas/Y2K holiday card, wherein several dozen Gordonian characters from 1976 to the present, extemporaneously gather in a downsized pseudo-Times Square to usher in the Naughties (or is it the Oughts?) with the usual raucous accompaniment of gratuitous fondling, chemical stimulants, merchandising, Molotov cocktails, and outrageous IT consultation fees.

Free Market - computer graphic from drawing

An FLS promotional piece -- sporting an astronaut, the buxom patriotic femme from "America" and a typically indifferent feline in a crassly commercial context -- which was most appropriately utilized for various crassly commercial CafePress e-merchandise.

Poppolini and Ciccone - computer graphic from drawing

A portrait of the foul-mouthed, morally bankrupt and perennially inebriated sailor/gladiator from Fighting Spirit (an Internet sports fantasy site) along with his diminutive-but-savvy Sicilian manager. Segar's spinning his grave, I'm sure.

The Bridesmaid - computer graphic from drawing

Another "commissioned" Fighting Spirit portrait, this time featuring the hopelessly demented, cross-dressing ex-Wall Street whizkid Zachary Henken, AKA "The Bridesmaid." His megalomaniacal catchphrase is "I DO," though I don't think he pinched THAT one from Gail Wynand...

Thunder & Lightning - computer graphic from drawing

The absolute last Fighting Spirit illustration, this one portrays the scummy, Adidas-sporting Poppolini/Nigel Knoppers tag-team of the same name, and their similarly sensitivity-challenged dwarven boss.

Wrench Lazy - computer graphic from drawing

Just a small Photoshopped "pin-up" sketch of a well-upholstered gal, which yours truly dashed off in an ER room last month to curtail his profound anxiety, boredom and nausea. There is nothing more depressing than a badly-managed hospital.

Automatic - computer graphic from drawing

From a series of commissioned drawings. (Please don't ask to see the rest, this one is the most inoffensive and politically correct of the bunch; if I posted the others I'd undoubtedly get flamed into oblivion by blue-nosed nimrods. Or else Mindspring would shut me down.)

From the Abyss - colored pencil

A grim but somewhat hopeful illustration of an abandoned and overgrown technological civilization being rediscovered. I've always thought, with some amusement, that this work occupies the same artistic "universe" as "Mechanophobia" except that the androgynous technophobe gets his/her way this time around. Might not be too far off the mark, these days.

First Contact - colored pencil

I got to indulge my fetish for technology with this work, that portrays a commercial freighter's landmark encounter with an alien sarcophagus or spaceship. For that unfortunate soul that suffers claustrophobia, apparently space travel will continue to be their ultimate nightmare.

A Little Assistance - computer graphic from drawing

Mr. Kringle enlists the help of a space merchant in this illustration, which served as cover art for Free Lunch Studios' second batch of personalized holiday cards.

Robot with Woman - computer graphic from drawing

A line drawing I created for the Drawing of the "Week" occasion, featuring a friendly-looking behemoth-'bot carrying away a femme to safety (or maybe just to WORK... hey, you know that overused idea of "an anarchic, crime-infested future" and how Asimov's cybernetic servants are always nauseatingly anxious to please their owners...)

Community - computer graphic

This served as a promotional graphic for my brother's punk band, but in fact I had Ira Levin's anti-Utopian novel "This Perfect Day" on the brain when I dashed it off in Photoshop. Fortunately I don't think the goateed Marxists around NYC noticed the broadside.

Space Envelope - pen & ink

This fun illustration was part of a self-promotional package I created for myself (business cards, stationery, etc) a while back to give a more personal touch to my correspondence with friends, family and professional contacts. Truth be told, I got more feedback about the envelope itself than about what I actually included IN it!

Deus Ex Machina - computer graphic

One of two sexy "cheesecake" FLS graphics sent to a friend of mine in Los Angeles, with a "diesel" (to paraphrase my brother) grunge gal. Incidentially, this is about as close as I'm going to get to the corroded, ugly "industrial" esthetic so in vogue these days.

America - computer graphic

Another, more patriotic "cheesecake" drawing for FLS, this one co-opted James Warhola's racy cover art for a Robert Heinlein novel. Too bad the Master was off the mark when it came to body paint as "clothing" in the future; I could have had a lot of fun.

Kazuhiro Maru - computer graphic from drawing

A crazed experiment in rendering lightsources in Photoshop, this time using the bulked-out protagonist from "One Small Step" as a subject.

Darth Maul - computer graphic from drawing

An Episode I "fan" pic, dashed off after a near-fatal exposure to Ralph McQuarrie art. Given his obvious proficency with double-edged weapons and those cranial protuberances, please tell me this new dude isn't REALLY just a semi-civilized, Bantha-less, 'unwrapped' Sandperson!

Meteor Dog - computer graphic

An "updated" incarnation of a canine character I created when I was about 6. He was a space pilot that fought off the totalitarian legions of genetically-altered and cybernetically-fitted Bert clones (from "Sesame Street") called "Brinstocks." Oh yeah, hi Scott. :)

FSIT Brawl - computer graphic

Still more ridiculous images of the genetic misfires, misanthropes and potential civil servants that presently comprise Fighting Spirit. Beats having more Japanime elves, I guess..

Vision and Reality - computer graphic from drawing

Inspired by my own fictional ruminating. One of many conceptualizations I had for the near-future world of "Duet," this concerned Zeb Cochrane's construction of the first elevated habitation (later referred to as "el" in Starcross.)

Abduction - pen & ink

A silly birthday card I made for one of my friends at work, playing off her eccentricity and obsession with bovines; a trait similarly exhibited by those big-headed extra-terrestrials we always hear about on mediocre SF/conspiracy TV shows. Trust no one, blah blah blah.

Experiment - computer graphic from drawing

Another drawing complemented by my own fiction and my very first effort at color-tweaking a scanned-in sketch. Here Zeb is fooling around with the gravity-nullifying C-Fluid in his basement lab prior to his commercial ascendency described in "Duet."

Creative Differences - computer graphic from drawing

A poor, helpless doodle (of an otherworldly "jam session") jointly brought about by overwhelming boredom and a co-worker's musical desktop bric-a-brac, later cruelly and unethically utilized for a colorization experiment. Of course if I actually put up my MIDI compositions you'd probably echo the same sentiment too...

Gog - computer graphic

A sketch of a grumpy-looking green-skinned alien. One of my first experiments with a top-secret (well, not really) Photoshop rendering technique I continue to use to this very day.

Luna - computer graphic from drawing

My own interpretation of a Lunar city founded by a multinational corporation (presumably Artemis or Disney-Lockheed) complete with pressure suit-wearing Loonie droog and a rolligon in the distance. I'm sure the Americans (or their Balkanized manifestation in the future) are somewhere kicking themselves.

Aman Ra - computer graphic from drawing

The ancient Arabian mage and arch-nemesis of "The Tails of Baghdad" is featured here in all his corrupt, powermongering glory. This was a proving ground for another Photoshop technique I was trying to utilize to create secondary light-sources.

Vampire - computer graphic from drawing

A suitably ominous graphic that was used in an 3D animation (along with an electronic re-creation of a Gothic cathedral) created by one of my Amiga-using friends at work. I suppose immortality DOES tend to bring out the sardonic in you, after the first century or so.

Scenes from "Sphere" - computer graphic

Still images from an interactive game that I created with Macromind Director, about the conflict between a scientist/ industrialist and a Norse god faced with obsolescence. If I can ever figure out how to convert it to that damned Shockwave format it'll make an appearance at FLS (knock on wood.)

Scenes from "Planethopper" - computer graphic

Some more still images for another Macromind Director game I created. This one is a sort of SF whodunit that allows the player to explore a far-future Earth and several other planets and interact with other humans and aliens in his/her search for clues. Likewise, a similar candidate for Shockwave status.

Cochrane with Globe - computer graphic

Originally intended as an illustration for my near-future SF story "Duet", this portrait of the protagonist was a brief predecessor to the Free Lunch Studios 'banner' picture before I ultimately decided it'd be much MORE appropriate to begin a new Internet venture with a different piece of artwork created specifically for that purpose.

Exploding JumboTron - computer graphic from drawing

In actuality, this ultra-quick illustration comprised 50% of a birthday card given to one of my friends at work, with the prerequisite giant "Happy Birthday" text suddenly, inexplicably flying out of the monitor's innards. I think actually dashed this one off within the span of two hours.

Desperation Girl - computer graphic from drawing

Okay, okay. So with all those (in)famous Gordonian "big" features she doesn't seem all THAT "desperate"... merely a recurring, annoying penchant of mine: deriving art titles from whatever music I happen to be listening to at the time (in this instance, Jesus Jones' excellent "Liquidizer")

All work © 2001 Tom Gordon. Vitriolic, offended complaints about my innate sexist, anti-religious, anti-Communist and Satanic nature can be filed at my above E-mail address, where they will be promptly archived and treasured someplace relatively secure on my Macintosh (probably in the Trash... but accidents do happen!)
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