Chamber door…

The Crow
Fan art by John Chalos featuring Eric Draven, a character from The Crow by James O’Barr.

“…suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven, 1845)

Breaking into any industry in a meaningful way is tough but breaking into a creative industry starts being tough long before you get your foot in the door. I’ve been preparing to break into the comic book industry for many years and it’s been an odyssey.

It can take decades to develop the necessary skills, and progress them to the professional level, for even a single craft or trade in your chosen field of the arts. Early on, I made the decision to learn more than one skill set so my journey to knock on that front door has been especially long. When the door finally opens, I may seem like an overnight success story but I’ll have been honing my craft in the wilderness for decades.

I have developed the skill. But, I’m still not yet ready to walk through that front door. First, I have to produce something. I have to finance the time away from my day job that it will take to produce something. That’s the struggle now.

My goal has never been to work for Marvel, DC or any of the large corporations. My goal has never been to freelance for an independent writer, illustrating his or her stories for a page rate. I’d like to write and draw my own creator-owned comics for one of the large independent comic book publishing companies (Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, etc.). Barring that, I’d either like to publish my stories at a small press company or self-publish.

I’ll definitely need to work with other creators to accomplish many of my ultimate goals but the whole attraction of this career path, for me, has been the idea of someday getting to create my very own artwork for my very own stories. Doing so meant developing prowess in multiple skill sets thus decades of preparation but I believe it’s all been worth it. I’ve journeyed through the wilderness. I’m ready to produce.

I can write and draw my own graphic novels. I can write and draw my own comic books. I can write and draw my own cartoons, comic strips and web comics. I can draw large pieces of fine art. I’m a writer. I’m a pencil artist. I’m an inker. I’m a painter and a colorist. I’m a letterer. I can produce traditional art and digital art. I can create raster art graphics and vector art logos. I can format books for print. I can do all of this at the professional level. I just have to prove it.

I have to prove it one project at a time.

If I get lucky, one of my first projects will be a big success and finance the others. If I’m not especially lucky, I will toil away on nights and weekends trying to complete another project then another and another in spite of my day job and the struggles of this world.

Either way, someday, I’ll come knocking on that front door. Once I get my foot in that door, the next adventure begins.

John Chalos


Nine chambers…

The central logo from the final iteration of a web page built and maintained by John Chalos in the 1990s.

I’ve chosen Nine Chambers Magazine as the title of this publication because the site will consolidate my professional profiles and represent my work to potential clients without ignoring my contribution to the evolution of social content and commentary on the net.

“And where does the newborn go from here? The net is vast and infinite.” ~ Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost In The Shell, 1995)

The pseudonym, 9chambers, stems from an intensive study of the martial arts over the course of two decades and an avid interest spanning much of my subsequent lifetime. I began by studying a few of the classic styles then moved on to deconstructing entire curriculum-based systems. I’ve derived abundant inspiration from the eclectic nature of modern paradigms although, inspired in my youth by the writings of Bruce Lee, I began mixing my own brew long before mixed martial arts was all the rage. Ultimately, I put my knowledge to the test in designing a fairly unique and individual style of my own for personal use and training. In the beginning, I called this discipline The School of Nine Chambers.

What’s in a name?

In terms of my online presence, the pseudonym has come to symbolize my overall discipline and zeal when it comes to conducting research and putting forth detailed arguments on a number of topics ranging from politics and economics to religion and philosophy. I have a number of interests that I’ve delved into with at least as much gusto as my martial arts training.

On a personal level, the pseudonym (often shortened to Nine or the number 9 or nine-faceted symbols) represents something more intimate. I’ve organized my pursuit of excellence into nine areas of discipline. The number nine represents my pursuit of excellence in those and other areas.

The pursuit of excellence is what I bring to the table. I work hard at what I do. I put everything I’ve got into my work and I never give up. This focus and the unique mindset I’ve developed through my work and my adventures — journeys out into the world, journeys online and journeys inward — is what I have to offer the world.

I’m ready to contribute to the best of my ability.

“We have been subordinate to our limitations until now. The time has come to cast aside these bonds and to elevate our consciousness to a higher plane. It is time to become a part of all things.” ~ The Puppet Master (Ghost In The Shell, 1995)

John Chalos

Appendix A:

Here are some examples of the use of the number nine and the phrase “nine chambers” (without citation but gathered from online encyclopedias) that have absolutely nothing to do with my use of it.

  • 9 Chambers is a collaboration between two respected hard rock veterans – producer/singer/guitarist Greg Hampton (who has worked with the likes of Alice Cooper, Bootsy Collins, Lita Ford, and recently unearthed Tommy Bolin recordings), and former Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell.
  • “In his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus writes that Adam had forewarned his descendants that sinful humanity would be destroyed by a deluge. In order to preserve their science and philosophy, the children of Seth therefore raised two pillars, one of brick and the other of stone, on which were inscribed the keys to their knowledge. The patriarch Enoch….also constructed an underground temple [at Moriah] consisting of nine vaults, one beneath the other, placing in the deepest vault a triangular tablet of gold bearing upon it the absolute and ineffable name of Deity. According to some accounts, Enoch made two golden deltas. The larger he placed upon the white cubical altar in the lowest vault and the smaller he gave into the keeping of his son, Methuselah, who did the actual construction work of the brick chambers according to the pattern revealed to his father by the Most High. In the form and arrangements of these vaults Enoch epitomized the nine spheres of the ancient Mysteries and the nine sacred strata of the earth through which the initiate must pass to reach the flaming dwelling in its central core.” ~ Manly P. Hall (Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, 1928)
  • “The Nordic Mysteries were given in nine chambers or caverns, the candidate advancing through them in sequential order. These chambers of initiation represented the nine spheres into which the Drottars divided the Universe… There is undoubtably a relationship between the nine worlds of the Scandinavians and the nine spheres, or planes, through which the initiates of the Eleusian Mysteries passed in their ritual of regeneration.” ~ Manley P. Hall (The Secret Teachings of All Times, 1962)
  • Again, a square of 22 by 22 is frequently used, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet being placed in each square in order up and down, and then read across or diagonally. The well known Playfair Cypher is based upon this principle, is based upon this principle, as also is the so-called Mark Degree Cypher (the Kabbalah of Nine Chambers)…
  • Nine, as the highest single-digit number (in base ten), symbolizes completeness in the Bahá’í Faith. In addition, the word Bahá’ in the Abjad notation has a value of 9, and a 9-pointed star is used to symbolize the religion.
  • The number 9 is revered in Hinduism and considered a complete, perfected and divine number because it represents the end of a cycle in the decimal system, which originated from the Indian subcontinent as early as 3000 BC.
  • Important Buddhist rituals usually involve nine monks.
  • The first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av are collectively known as “The Nine Days” (Tisha HaYamim), and are a period of semi-mourning leading up to Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of Av on which both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.
  • Nine is a significant number in Norse Mythology. Odin hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runes.
  • The Fourth Way Enneagram is one system of knowledge which shows the correspondence between the 9 integers and the circle.
  • In the Christian angelic hierarchy there are 9 choirs of angels.
  • Anton LaVey applied the number to Satan.
  • Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
  • In many south Asian countries, the number nine is said to be a Kannan (Mannish-Woman) number which means it represents men who are womanly or act womanly, it is also synonymous for Pons.
  • The number nine is a most remarkable number in many respects. It is held in great reverence by all who study the occult sciences; and in mathematical science it possesses properties and powers which are found in no other number. It is the last of the digits, and thus marks the end; and is significant of the conclusion of a matter. It is akin to the number six, six being the sum of its factors (3×3=9, and 3+3=6), and is thus significant of the end of man, and the summation of all man’s works. Nine is, therefore, THE NUMBER OF FINALITY OR JUDGMENT, for judgment is committed unto Jesus as “the Son of man” (John 5:27; Acts 17:31). It marks the completeness, the end and issue of all things as to man—the judgment of man and all his works.

Appendix B:

I did, however, draw inspiration from the nine disciplines of Japanese Ninjutsu/Ninpo and later found inspiration in a classic Chinese novel, The Story of the Stone a.k.a. The Dream of the Red Chamber.

The gig economy…

20170722_120520The gig economy is new and vulnerable to exploitation. Replacing an even greater portion of organized labor with freelancers and temps could leave our domestic labor market with fewer prospects and protections. The solutions to the problems the gig economy presents remain to be seen.

Yet, it’s extremely hard to argue against its benefits for the free spirited individual. Working from home and setting your own schedule seem like attractive aspects to the trend. Basing your income on gigs rather than hourly pay could facilitate a more flexible lifestyle in our country.

“No job, freelance. Best thing in the world for a kid your age. MEAT! I’ll send you a nice box of Christmas meat, but I never said you have a job.” ~ J. Jonah Jameson (Spider-Man, 2002)

Freelancing isn’t new. As an artist, I’ve eschewed freelancing for many years. Working for wages “competitive” with those of foreign freelancers operating out of Communist China and underdeveloped regions of India doesn’t seem all that lucrative. Less than lucrative, it’s impossible when you have to pay your bills right here in the USA. On top of that, work for hire only earns you a one-time commission. As an artist, I’d much rather put my skills toward developing my own intellectual property, be it art for sale as prints at conventions or independently published material.

However, my life is relatively inexpensive and uncomplicated right now and I’m willing to give freelancing another shot if it means I can leave my day job. I enjoy my day job very much but I’ll turn to freelancing if I can manage to double my income while working half the hours or some such nonsense.

Let’s give it a go.

My ultimate goal is to produce and publish my own intellectual property. I’m working on one such project as we speak. I’m doing so by financing time away from my day job where I work as an independent contractor. I may take off as much time as I can afford and still come back; that’s the benefit of my current job. If freelancing can offer me similar or better pay with the same benefit (or even supplement my current income without removing that benefit) then I’m interested, of course.

John Chalos

In A World…

20180227_204608It’s been a while since my overt online presence was significant outside of social media. I think that’s true for most of us. I’ve decided to create a few homepages and blogs to reinstate my independence and establish my value outside that paradigm.

The content we generate together as an online community drives traffic past a few ads and makes a few dollars for social media companies — which is fine. I’m just a little tired of being at their mercy in terms of exposure, format, archival and presentation.

I’m not leaving social media. Far from it.  I enjoy being connected to family and friends on social media platforms. The platforms are valuable tools for organizing civil rights movements, labor movements, political movements, etc. I’m not going anywhere.

I’ve been active online since the days of typing to friends across irc in the vax lab at college to topical chats on AOL to posting on a variety of message boards and forums to Live Journal to MySpace to Facebook. I was hosting web pages on Angelfire, Tripod and Geocities and using html to post my own online journals before they were called blogs.

“I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate…” ~ Roy Batty (Blade Runner, 1982)

I just want more control over my content. I’d also like to make a little money from it if I can find a way. I’m an artist. I’m a writer. I have a number of marketable skills. I create so much free content without even thinking about it. I’ve got to start taking advantage of the vast number of opportunities for artistic expression and meaningful publication online. This blog represents a step in that direction. I’m making a push. More is coming soon. This is just the trailer. “In a world…”

Look for my blogs. Look for my web comics. Look for me on freelancing “gig” platforms. I’ll be selling prints of my own artwork. I’ll be publishing books and graphic novels both in print and online. I’m not just a commodity but a producer. My skills carry value and my work is valuable. I should be making a great living online.

Thanks for reading my manifesto.

John Chalos