DJ Roshay, Solar Team & monkeygong


What's with all this DJ Roshay stuff?

Awhile back, I did the album art for Solar Team by DJ Roshay. It coincided with my foray into making serious science fiction art and branding myself accordingly. The art and album were such a potent combination, and turned out so well, that we knew we had to make merch for it.

Expect all that stuff to be way more front and center soon, when we announce the official release of the vinyl for Solar Team, available soon here at monkeygong in the shop. In the meantime, click shop above to find the rest of the merch already available!

Regarding On-Demand Merch


The problems of TRUST & QUALITY.

It's a content-stuffed world. There are plenty of places you can spend your money on shirts, phone cases, art & housewares, and many are from on-demand fulfillment companies like Shopify, Threadless, or Redbubble.

The common problems with the barrage of content and products, are the questions of trust and quality-- namely, how can you be sure of either?

When I converted my shop to on-demand fulfillment via Shopify, I carelessly scoffed at the idea that people would automatically trust my shop and merchandise a lot less. But that lack of trust has been crystal clear for some time, and I'd like to lay those concerns to rest.

I chose Shopify over Redbubble and Threadless, choosing to pay a stiff monthly fee whether I sell or not, because the quality difference and fulfillment guarantees are so far above the other two. (The longest I've ever waited for delivery is 3 weeks.)

As you can see in the pictures below, the image quality is very sharp and professional looking. The alignment has always been perfect to my design specs, and any flawed merch has been replaced quickly. Read more below for specifics!

Click here to return to the shop.

1) Everything of mine I actually own.

After my first phone case and shirt, I was hooked. To be completely honest, the quality surprised me. You can see that I pick up something new with some regularity.

2)Direct-to-Garment Shirts

The quality of Shopify's shirts really blows my mind-- especially becasue it is the most likely place people get leery about buying on-demand. But just look at that great shirt!

Direct-to-Garment printing has historically been lousy- I tried several vendors before Shopify, only to end up with a bunch crappy shirts. But you can see this tank top has really crisp art and bright colors. And the real kicker, is that I've had this tank top for 3 years, washed it (hopefully) dozens of times, and it still looks great. [Someone even tried to buy it from me 2 months ago at Wondercon, where I had it out as an example.]

To be totally clear... THIS:

Becomes this!

3-5)iPhone Cases

These speak for themselves on a visual level, but I'll add that they are super tough! I dropped both of these cases a bunch, and you can't even tell by looking at them (or my old iPhone).

6-8)Coffee Mugs

Once Shopify added black mugs, I became hellbent on filling my cabinets with 'em.

The black backdrop makes the art pop, and lends a little extra mood to my sci-fi tone. You can see that the images, though baked in, are still very crisp. Also, the mugs are huge-- perfect for your morning blast-off!

My only caveat with the mugs is, despite Shopify claiming the contrary, these mugs are not totally dishwasher safe. because the art is laid in with a heat transfer process, the heat of the dishwasher seems to fade the art over time. But the mug in question is already three years old, and looks this way from quite a lot of use and washing. The new mugs seem to be even sharper, and I wouldn't be surprised if they've solved the dishwasher issue. My new mug hasn't shown any wear yet!

9)Art Prints

This shot was taken in DJ Roshay's studio. I was happily greeted by it when we recorded a podcast there recently. I'm really impressed by the color quality, since digital printing can over-saturate easily. This also means the black and white prints are super crisp as well!

Click here to return to the shop!

Coming soon to the monkeygong shop!

Solar Team by DJ Roshay on Vinyl.

And this is NOT print-on-demand. These will come directly from me or DJ Roshay himself. Stay tuned!

LIVE! Podcast Tag-Team in SF, Friday, June 2nd @ 7:30pm w Storycraft & Bitch Talk

Bay Area podcast listeners and friends! The Storycraft Podcast is Teaming up with the Bitch Talk Podcast for an evening of double podcast fun, live on stage at the Lost Church (65 Capp Street) in the mission. Please come out and join us if you're local or nearby that weekend.

$15 early bird tickets are available now at, but they are limited so act fast:

Special guests will be announced the week of the show:)

Hope to see you there!


Monkeygong is live on Patreon!

Here is an excerpt from my creator's statement on Patreon.

"I am dead-set on being my own boss in order to produce an interesting body of work. All of which will be focused largely on science fiction, social commentary, fostering a sense of wonder, communicating positive ideas, (while still making the occasional political statement), and naturally, creating a ton of amazing, beautiful images in pen & ink and color.

Patreon offers me a unique chance to encapsulate what I'm doing with and combine it with kickstarter style rewards and greater social outreach. It also offers a chance to crystalize my overarching goals that aren't always clear with one podcast or one glimpse at some art."

Head over to Patreon to check out the unique rewards and read more into the plans for monkeygong and the Storycraft podcast.

The Storycraft Podcast with guest Mick Gray

Mick Gray drops knowledge and perspective from a long career inking the likes of JH WIlliams III, Ryan Sook, Pat Gleason, Barry Kitson, Kevin Nowlan, and, wait for it... Jack Kirby. Known for his current work on Superman, an epic run on Batman & Robin (Robin, Son of Batman,) and before that, the incredible Promethea, Mick is without a doubt one of the master inkers in comics. He knows how to deliver a eye poppingly bold and expressive work, and he's kind enough to share insights on how he got there in this really great talk.

Check out his new music show the Deep Cut Podcast on Youtube, and pick up the new issue of Superman at your local comic book shop!

Subscribe to this show on iTunes.

Welcoming the fail


Failure is what truly shapes us, not success.

When things aren't working and we are forced to change course or think on the fly, miracles can happen.

Everything you are reading is the result of a thousand failures on the road to a thousand more.

The beauty is that failure is no more a destination than success.

Most failures don't break you.

All successes build you up.

Welcome the fail.

Django Unchained: A review


& An open letter to Quentin Tarantino

Chapter 1: The (mostly) SPOILER FREE review

Django Unchained is a fusion of style and tone that shows an even greater understanding of storytelling and genre than Tarantino's previous outing, Inglorious Basterds.

"That's a bold statement!" Yes it is, and a true one at that.

Every beat and scene turn, every performance and every cameo nod, handled with the appropriate subtlety or explosiveness Tarantino is known for, but each with the perfect proportion needed to make the scene deliver on all levels. In Django, the hand of a master is present in some very memorable ways.

It harkens back most, to his 1997 outing Jackie Brown. Often described as resembling the work of a "more mature" filmmaker, it was my favorite of his movies for a long time. It is both exactly a Tarantino film, and not one. As an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch, so in tune with the heart of the story it is believed by Leonard himself to more true than the original book. It is a smooth, dangerous, unabashedly romantic affair, and I'm not talking about the director' love of an era. The palpable chemistry, the unattainable, youthful lust between Pam Grier and Robert Forster, as Jackie Brown & Max Cherry, is one of my favorite cinematic relationships. Granted, for that flick, everything is playing in Tarantino's favor with all the 70s delights, and crime genre tomes. But there are miracles all over in that movie. One of the most audacious characteristics of Jackie Brown, is that it is a heist film that isn't about the heist, and a romance, that isn't about the having of it. Spoiler alert, Jackie Brown and Max Cherry never "get together" in the film. To shift the focus off of those two plots is both bold and brilliant. Tarantino focused instead, on the emotional experience of the characters, and zeroed in on the "escape" of Jackie herself, from the clutches of the sinister Ordell Robbie. A villain so deliciously played by Samuel L. Jackson, it is perhaps still my favorite performance of his. (Although he owns in the underrated masterpiece Black Snake Moan.)

I contest that Jackie Brown is not the work of a "more mature" director, but rather a mature love story. And, understanding the true heart of the story, Tarantino was able to inhabit his lead characters' experience, and made the film feel as they do.

The reason I bring all that up, and why I think Django evokes Jackie Brown, is that they have a several those traits in common.

The bounty hunting in Django Unchained is as secondary as the heist in Jackie Brown. Both center on a relationship you can' t help but root for, (in this case two relationships), caught beneath the heel of an impossible adversary. Both movies have stakes so high, and such gripping emotional tension, that you thank Quentin for the laughs when they arrive. In each the laughs are abundant, but they're not comedies, (an earmark of Tarantino style.) Both exude danger and sex appeal. Django and Jackie Brown feel the smoothest out of all his films, where the tone of the humor, emotion, action and tension, all feel inline with the experience, with no stand-out moments of self-conscious homage or tongue-in-cheek nod. Yet they each have their share of homage. Finally, both films aren't shy about being romantic. They revel in it, allowing us to really invest in the ride.

Like Inglorious Basterds, the dialogue in Django is of an eloquent intelligence that lifts the experience to inspiring levels, wherein you can't help but be distracted once or twice by just how damn good the writing is. All his films share glimmers of this, crafting many now classic scenes. The difference in Django Unchained is that Tarantino doesn't have film and popular music for his characters to refer to in dialogue. So the script feels more organic to the period than Basterds. But don't be alarmed. There are a number of lines lifted from genre favorites, and one overt film reference that would be noticeably missed, had it been left out, and it is delivered with just the proper dash of tongue-in-cheek.

In one particular scene, (SPOLIER) Christophe Waltz, who also surpasses himself, recounts to Django the classic Germanic/Norse legend of heroism, Siegfried. It is a marvelous retelling. (END SPOILER) It can be said that Tarantino is a writer's writer, that he is known for his dialogue, and it was said by Tarntino himself that Waltz is the perfect actor for him. Much in the way that some actors are more perfect for Mamet or Shakespeare than others, Waltz thrives in the skin of the mysterious, bad-ass do-gooder, Dr. Schultz. The man simply is the epitome of quiet mastermind. With the charm of a sorcerer, he entrances with the smallest word or gesture. In this performance he is equal parts aristocrat and assassin. Somehow his graceful air ensures us along the way that everything is going to be just fine, even though a stacked-deck of circumstances would beg to differ.

Leonardo Dicaprio is perfect here. Poison honey drips from his lips when he speaks, occasionally flashing his foul brown teeth in a sly smile, or baring them in the downturn of his grimace when he's displeased. I love to watch Dicaprio work. He's truly immersed in the skin of Monsieur Calvin Candie, delighting in his own malevolence. His performance reminds me a bit, of Gary Oldman's turn as Drexel Spivey in True Romance. Not surprising, considering their characters' similarities.

Jamie Foxx cuts the ideal image of our "Siegfried", quietly simmering with purpose and danger. "The kid's a natural," Shultz quips in a darkly funny moment. They are natural together, too, with a very enjoyable chemistry. A dynamic duo as fun to watch as Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction. I enjoy Foxx most when stripped raw of his own "cool". Like his turn as Max in Collateral, or as Ray Charles, he has a vulnerability as Django, but this time, he walks with a physical power that makes you almost sorry for his enemies. Almost.

Sam Jackson finally returns from the land of Marvel superheroes to deliver a scene stealing turn as a duplicitous curmudgeon who surprised me with nearly every line he muttered and seethed.He's at his best when he has a whole new skin to inhabit, and Quentin crafted a role ideally suited for him. (I have to give Jackson more credit though, he really stood out upon my recent re-watching of the Long Kiss Good Night. Especially in the scenes where he has to sing what he's doing, because he has a terrible short-term memory, crooning hilarious little blues riffs to remind himself of things.)

Kerry Washington is radiant as the damsel in distress. Although that archetype is tiresome and hollow in movies about violent men, Tarantino gave her a lot to work with as the gifted, intelligent Hildie. She breathes calm into the frame and, as Shultz says "is worthy of all the passion (she) inspires." It should be noted that for a damsel in distress to be believable, we must love with her as much as the hero. This can't be achieved by simply choosing a pretty face. Kerry Washington brings not only luminous beauty, but also a level of vulnerability that matches the heart of the story, and that of Django.

As required, you cannot help but root for the reunion of these lovers.

This is perfectly underscored by his use of genre music, as keen and rousing as ever. The score feels more organic as well, despite Tarantino's usual "cherry-pickin'" from other films. Aided by the gorgeous original piece "Ancora Qui", that QT finally managed to get from the great Ennio Morricone, and the infectious original theme "Django!" by Luis Bacalov and Rocky Roberts.

Django Unchained is at once a barreling revenge ride and a genre bending epic, with a crystalline understanding of the cruelty of trading human property. Although much like a Spaghetti Western in feel, Tarantino manages to portray American Slavery with the perfect amount of humanity and humility. I say this in direct response to Spike Lee's quote, that he won't see Django because "American Slavery was not a Spaghetti Western." I defy Spike Lee to see this film and not like it. It has similar flare to the hand Lee himself showed in directing Malcolm X, and is literally different, only in that it is a story told from the other side of the table, as it were. With the same opinion on race showed in Lee's film. And it is as romantic as some of Lee's early efforts.

Mr. Lee, with all due respect, perhaps look past the cover of the book. No offense meant, but isn't that one of the messages you preach?

Django Unchained has shades of Tarantino's best, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, and True Romance. It IS the work of a more mature filmmaker, but because it is so well-balanced, so loving, and so bloody entertaining.

Even though Basterds ends with Aldo Raine's quip "I do believe this is my masterpiece," for the price of MY admission, Tarantino didn't stop there. He surpasses himself yet again with Django Unchained.

Chapter 2: the Letter

Dear Mr Tarantino,

May I call you Quentin?

Quentin, I would like to address your recent statement that you may retire after your tenth film.

To quote Van Morrison, (in the most co-dependent fanboy fashion I can muster), "baby, please don't go!"

I understand that an artist needs to follow what they feel is right. I've made lots of bold statements and "unpopular" decisions to honor my creativity. I get that it's good to go out on top, and not deliver a diminishing product. Hitchcock's last couple movies weren't his best. Perhaps his last several. It is clear you've been on a kill crazy rampage of filmmaking and publicity for a number of years, and you've been delivering the goods all along. But I also know that you are a born storyteller, and you have the movie bug worse than anybody ever. But you are far from your twilight years, and from the way you understand and use story, I believe there is more in you, young Skywalker.

This is absolutely, 100%, not for me to say, but I just don't believe you can retire. I say that with the utmost admiration and respect. Please don't stop doing what you do. You clearly delight in telling stories through the medium of cinema.

If you left, after a short while, you'd miss it and be back in your head, with a whole new world of characters forming. It's only natural, because it is part of you. It's obvious to me because I make stories, and could never put it down.

Of course this is entirely just my opinion, and sentimental wishful thinking.

But even this week, you have shown your knack for seeing stories within stories, upon announcement of Killer Crows. I'd be willing to bet there's a lot more where that came from.

I know I'm not alone in saying I'd like to see what another 20 years of Tarantino is like.

You gotta take a break, understandable. You wanna look around. Who wouldn't? It's a big, creative world out there. Maybe you want to write some books. Or perhaps some comics, (I know a decent artist, Ahem.) Life takes us places, and we should let it.

But retire from movies? I WON'T buy that for a dollar.

Wasn’t it Capra who said “film is a disease, once you get it, it never lets you go”?

Again, this is only editorial. An appeal, in the court of cinema. You've brought us a lot. I, for one, am more enriched for it. It would be tough to see you go. So please don't.

Then all will be "right in the jungle."

Best regards,

Kraig Rasmussen

Summon the Life You Want

Summoning is a powerful, mystical device that is common fodder for midnight movies and schlock fests. It is often reserved for raising the dead, laying a curse, or engineering a demonic possession.

However, the mechanics behind summoning are actually very simple: Lens every ounce of your focus and power toward one thing. This is the very same mental tool used by Martial Artists to strike with bone crushing force, and to transmute pain into power, becoming a human laser and capacitor all in one.

You might ask "Wait, does that mean summoning is real?"

Yep. I believe it is. Even though it may not be exactly what we know and love from tales of ghouls & goblins, it actually works the same way.

In real life, it goes by many other names: creative visualization, manifestation, clear intention, single-mindedness, passion, obsession- they are all forms of summoning.

Finding your market as an artist doesn't have to mean selling out, or changing to accommodate the market. I believe your market can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you first define what that is. Fortunately, this necessary decision actually becomes easier, and far less monumental, when you make it based on what you love in your work and what you are trying to express with it. How do you know what it is you are saying through the macrocosm of your art? A good place to start is to look for the repeating themes, then dissect them to find the "why" within them.

This may sound idealistic to you. However, not only is it the mindset people use to hone skills, finish projects, change habits and better themselves, or how the rich get & stay rich, but it is the elementary answer to questions like: "How do I become the best Sci-Fi artist in the business?" Pour it all in. Draw nothing but subjects from your genre, tailor everything to it. [Caveat: Please learn your art fundamentals first, of course, then specialize.]

Once you focus every bit of your energy toward your goal, your goal will come toward you.

Again, to squash the idealistic tone of this into a practical box, this focus of your energy entails tangible things, such as; drawing every day (or as much as possible), studying your craft, gaining exposure,/marketing yourself, posting goal related art, and seeking out your community. That last one just might be the most important. You don't necessarily find work from within your community, but rather it will tend to find you. By this, I mean that once you embrace your community you put yourself in the path of your dreams, opening the door to serendipity and providence. It is the same as the saying: "if you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people", and reflected in the Taoist saying "If you sit in one place long enough, the entire world will pass by your feet".

What is your "one place"?

Think of the phrasing, "My Market", and reclaim the idea of marketing as something that is 100% you. Not Nike, not Coke or Pepsi. You.