• Shaun J. Nigro

Artwork by Keith Talbot


THE ART OF THE WRITERS BLOCK

From the beginning, Clarence and I have envisioned spinoffs of stories, merchandise, and other multimedia expressions to expand upon The Writers Block universe, and indeed this has culminated in a first batch of short stories to be featured in the upcoming TWB Anthology. Said anthology will be featuring stories by Clarence and I, as well as previous and future guests from the podcast: James Pyne (see Apocalypse 2), KC Johnston (see Pocket Trolls), and Kailey Paige Peckford (of Story Inkorporated).


One of our biggest aspirations, however, is to compile a full-fledged TWB comic book series, directly adapted from the podcast stories. At the end of the first Chapter of TWB, this ambitious endeavor culminated in two written drafts of stories (a Jimmy Eagle continuation by me, a John Jackson Barry continuation by Clarence). Unfortunately, that was put aside, but what remains and continues to grow to this day is a collection of TWB-inspired illustrations by the legendary Keith Talbot.


THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND

Keith has been with The Writers Block almost since the beginning. Well known in the VR/3D printing scene, and having previously been interviewed on the 8Sparks Media Pixel Painters production, it was only natural that I would ask him to do an episode sketch. This first sketch, for our second episode: “Goonies Never Say Die,” was an easy fit as anyone that knows Keith knows that he revels in Lovecraftian lore and excels in virtual reality sculpting and vibrant paintings of towering Cthulian monstrosities.

Artwork by Keith Talbot


This partnership would quickly become a natural part of the TWB process, which would entail Clarence and I recording our stories and me divulging minimal but significant details for Keith to illustrate (since he never hears the episodes before they premiere). Once the outlines are confirmed, color is added to the illustration and I use Photoshop to add relevant text. Eventually, the stories are separated from their original episodes and aired on Facebook in video format, featuring the episode illustration with an applied motion filter from the Pixaloop app.


Over time, loose ends have been tied up with Keith illustrating a thumbnail for the Pilot episode (which had previously been left blank) as well as a portrait sketch of Clarence and I in the studio, which would become the official podcast thumbnail.


KEITH’S LITTLE SECRETS

We are lucky to have Keith on our team, and even luckier that he is a fan of the podcast (we can only assume!). His dedication to helping us bring these stories into a visual medium has given rise to fun Easter eggs, like the numbers 6 and 9 (see episode 4: “Time Sphere”) being hidden in various episode illustrations. To this day, I’m sure that there are some Easter eggs I have not discovered.

Artwork by Keith Talbot


In his illustration for our DOUBLE FEATURE episode, I tasked Keith with hiding as many references to all previous episodes as he could. There too, I am positive I have not yet found everything hidden.


And though this is certainly no secret, Keith Talbot was also featured as our guest storyteller in the third continuation of Mavericks Insane Asylum (see episode 15: “Ghost in the Walls”).


OTHER 8SPARKS PROJECTS

But wait! Keith’s contributions don’t end with the TWB universe. In fact, his pen (digital or otherwise) has graced the pages of multiple 8Sparks projects.


In early 2020, Keith completed two illustrations featured in the Facebook premiere of the audiobook series: No Honor Among Thieves, written by Clarence Carter and narrated by Jean-Paul Wood, and available in print on Amazon! (shameless plug 1)


Around the same time, Keith also did the illustration for the fourth 8Sparks Stories audio drama production, "Sleepwalker".


And most recently, I have been fortunate to work with this legend on my children’s book “Koala Celebrates Songkran,” available for pre-order on Amazon now! (shameless plug 2)

Artwork by Keith Talbot


And so it goes without saying that Keith has been a force to be reckoned with here at 8Sparks Media and especially in The Writers Block universe. But don't just take our word for it, go check out his original work on his official Facebook page, Instagram, and his own website! (click those highlighted words already, they bring you to magical places!) We are elated to have Keith on our team and are ever excited to see what amazing artwork he comes up with next!


Thanks for checking out this week's blog post and our first artist profile! Be on the lookout for future posts and 8Sparks profiles. Next week we go into depth discussing the artwork of another amazing artist, contributor, and soon-to-be guest storyteller, Rebecca Rule Kilimnik, of the Homespun Haints podcast!


Check out this awesome outline of tomorrow's episode illustration by Keith Talbot!



The Writers Block podcast is:


Shaun J. Nigro

Clarence Carter

Keith Talbot


Mentioned in this article:


Kailey Paige Peckford

@ Story Inkorporated podcast!

Jean-Paul Wood

@ Previously Delicious channel!

Rebecca Rule Kilimnik

@ Homespun Haints podcast!

James Pyne on Amazon with

@Big Cranky: Fall into Darkness

KC Johnston

@Odd Portal Studios








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  • Shaun J. Nigro

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

*there are hidden words in this article to prepare the reader for tomorrow's episode with guests Zack & Aaron. How many can you find?

Artwork by Keith Talbot


THE TWB GAME


If you’re new to The Writers Block podcast and universe, you might be a little confused as to what the heck is going on here. Admittedly, it can get a bit squirrelly. Well in this week’s post, we’re going to attempt to clear things up a little!


Essentially, The Writers Block is a weekly podcast of conversation between Clarence Carter and I (Shaun J. Nigro), usually on the topic of writing and how we are navigating the art and process of getting our stories out there (being that we are both avid readers, writers, budding authors).

After the conversation, which sometimes includes guests, we scurry into the official TWB game.


RULES OF THE GAME


Most of the time, we flip a coin to see who goes first. Once that is out of the way, the winner of the toss starts a story. Though we sometimes come with concepts discussed in advance, the story always takes its own zany turns as we pass the narrative back and forth, attempting to build on what the other person says. A person’s turn with the story can include anything from a single sentence of thought to an entire longwinded passage of detail, which can sometimes backfire, especially when we’re being over-chipper.


If the person not telling the story finds a flaw in the storyteller’s narrative inconsistent with previous details, that person can be “buzzed” and the story can be taken back.


In earlier episodes (see “Pilot/Suitcase Bomb”), almost all the mistakes and pauses were left in. These days, we take the show a step further and cut out all but the best and most hilarious aspects of the story, add sound effects and music, and present it as a cross between an audiobook and audio drama.


RULES WITH GUESTS


The rules of TWB are only slightly altered when our guests are involved. Conversations with guests will always be a spotlight for them and their projects. And stories will always begin and, typically, end with the guests (with multiple guests, as is the case with tomorrow’s episode, “Chipmunks, Bloodhound, and Bear, Oh My!”, a coin will be flipped or dice will be rolled).


The Writers and guests will come prepared with 5 random words taken from the Random Word Generator website. Sometimes, as is the case with tomorrow’s episode, Zack & Aaron’s Pandora’s Blocks will be used instead of the Random Word Generator.


During the story, everyone can attempt to sneak their secret words into their narrative. After the story, a bonus conversation ensues where everybody attempts to guess what words the others had, plus additional plugs and whatever else our guests want to talk about.


And that’s The Writers Block in a nutshell! Sometimes it is a-corn-y adventure. Sometimes it is more serious storytelling. But always, it is a blast!


And if you don't like it, then you may be barking up the wrong tree. (sorry, I couldn't resist).

Artwork by Keith Talbot/Sketch from Ep25: "Chipmunks, Bloodhound, and Bear, Oh My!"


The Writers Block Podcast is:

Clarence Carter

Shaun J. Nigro

Keith Talbot

Available wherever podcasts are consumed!



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  • Shaun J. Nigro

Updated: Jul 30, 2020


Artwork by Keith Talbot


1: Spoons


If you’ve been following The Writers Block Podcast since season/chapter 2, you will have already been acquainted with Dale Doohow from Episode 18 of the same title. Dale may be our most zany character to date and his story was actually inspired by a dream I had about a mysterious truck left in someone’s driveway. In the story Clarence and I end up telling, Dale is an older man confronted with the strange challenge of resisting his own temptations, represented by an old truck a mysterious stranger leaves parked in his driveway one morning.

Artwork by Keith Talbot


But perhaps the most peculiar thing about Dale’s character is his obsession with spoons. Among other things in his trailer park home, a handful of spoons from Dale’s apparently impressive collection have gone missing.


The next time we see Dale in the TWB universe is in Episode 19: "Magic," at the Laissez-Faire hotel in France, where he is seen attending what would prove to be magician Timothy Bublé’s final performance.


We then find Dale in another unlikely place, aboard the loopy transcontinental train of the Chapter 2 Finale: “Tickets, Please!” Here he remains unnamed but it is very obviously Dale as he appears briefly complaining about a shortage of fancy spoons.


The last Dale reference (so far) appears in the first part of season 3’s “Apocalypse” tale (Ep22). In this story, set far off into the future, Brock DiAngelo is taken in by a female robot to a trailer park home with walls lined by various spoons, suggesting that Brock may have stumbled into Dale’s old home.


2: Lankey's Pub

Artwork by Keith Talbot


The infamous Lankey’s goes all the way back to our pilot episode in the story “Suitcase Bomb,” and would go onto become our first recurring trope. Though it has never been fully explained, Lankey’s Pub (located somewhere in Ohio) would go on to become a sort of nexus point for everything occurring in the TWB universe. In the first season, Lankey’s is either visited or referenced in all but part 2 of Jimmy Eagle (Ep7) and the Instructor General Gerber stories (Ep8-9).


In season 2, the focus was shifted briefly from Lankey’s to draw out the creepy atmosphere of Mavericks Insane Asylum (discussed on its own terms next), though the link to the old pub is carried on in spirit through nurse Maddison Lankey, who we can only assume is somehow related to the pub’s owners.


Lankey’s appears once more in Episode 18 as Dale’s apparent hometown bar where we first hear mention of a Mr. Lankey, who is presumably one of the pub’s owners.

Lankey’s appears only twice more in references by way of a flier on the train in “Tickets, Please!” And as Fred Benjamin’s drink of choice in the second story of the “DOUBLE FEATURE.”


Outside of the official TWB universe, Lankey’s beer has also been referenced in erotica writer, Wolfgang Domino’s "Second Skin."


3: Dr. Mavericks Insane Asylum


Artwork by Keith Talbot


It is no secret that Dr. Mavericks is the ultimate villain in the TWB universe, preceded in spirit only by the sinister Syrums United company, and perhaps by Bobby Wings though Bobby is rendered quite useless as anything besides a rambling old madman by the end of Episode 7: “Jimmy Eagle, Part 2." Mavericks and/or his asylum appear in the first three episodes of season 2 (13, 14,15) and then again in “Mr. Boils” as the first story of the DOUBLE FEATURE.


Mavericks will also be the lead antagonist in “The Man with the Light, and The Girl Who Put It Out,” a short story by me to be featured in the upcoming TWB anthology.


4: Jimmy Eagle

Artwork by Keith Talbot


Perhaps the most famous man, let alone pilot, in the TWB universe. Jimmy Eagle first appears in his two-part tale (episodes 6 and 7) as the hero who must confront his own hero (Bobby Wings, or Big Bad Blue) and learn the truth about moral axioms.


We find brief but significant references to Jimmy all throughout the TWB universe. In Episode 16: “Baby Jane Doe,” the then-unborn baby Jane Doe’s mother is depicted as browsing a clothing store where Jimmy Eagle pajamas are sold.

In Episode 19: “Magic,” two kids in a hallway outside magician Timothy Bublé’s room are depicted fighting over a Jimmy Eagle model plane.


Jimmy Eagle is also the first TWB character to make appearances outside of the official podcast format. His famous red biplane appears as a key chain in the mini-van Joe steals in Clarence Carter's “Ticketmen,” and he himself is brought up by Mavericks in my “The Man with the Light, and The Girl Who Put It Out,” both short stories to be featured in our upcoming anthology.


Jimmy and his hero-turned-nemesis Bobby Wings also appear as the lead characters in the first 8Sparks video games, “Little Jimmy” and “Little Jimmy 2: Reloaded” which themselves are also in existence in the TWB universe as suggested in the upcoming Episode 24: “Killer Carnies” when Shelley compares the incessantly jaunty music of the merry-go-round to the music of the Little Jimmy games.


Of course there are many other connections in the TWB universe and we will be listing more off in the next post, but for now see if you can find any for yourself and let us know if we missed any. As always, thanks for following, reading, and listening to the “Coolest Podcast of All Time!”


by Shaun J. Nigro


The Writers Block Podcast is:

Clarence Carter

Shaun J. Nigro

Keith Talbot


Available wherever podcasts are consumed!


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