Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Peculiar Picture #48

April 29, 2016



This picture was originally an illustration for an Oregon nursery association’s spring catalog. The art director’s idea was to show the map of Oregon being pushed into outer space by a giant beanstalk. I thought this a questionable concept, but the client is always right, especially if you expect payment for your work.


I seldom sold the original artwork, so when this piece was returned I scraped away the map of Oregon and tried to think of something to replace it. At the time, Bill Clinton was going through his impeachment woes so I entertained myself by adding him to the picture. I was pleased with the likeness, especially since this was painted with fast-drying acrylic which doesn’t lend itself to blending. I never tried to sell this one.


One of the problems with including famous people in your illustrations is the impact it has on re-marketing and future sales. Today, Bill looks a lot older, and I doubt illustrations of him are marketable. But if he keeps putting his foot in his mouth while campaigning for Hillary I might add her to the picture, ax in hand, chopping the beanstalk and setting her husband adrift in space.   




Have a terrific Weekend!




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Oh I wish I had that kind of artistic talent. I assume it also takes quite a bit of work, study and practice. I'd be interested in a post on that process, from knowing you had the talent to developing that talent.
By: cranky on April 29, 2016
Yep, he's been a loose canon at times. Neat picture though.
By: Rick Watson on April 29, 2016
Nice work
By: Sage on April 29, 2016
OK-you blended the paints brilliantly..to me anyway and you captured how he looks from back then. If you draw Hilary don't place her in a little T shirt and shorts like Sandra Bullock, my eyes can't take that
By: Birgit on April 29, 2016
My caption: "Hey, Ah can see Venus from here. They ain't no chicks there. What a gyp!"
By: Al Penwasser on April 29, 2016
hilarious image- I like the idea of Hilary cutting ol' Bill adrift, but would like it better is she were anchored to him at the same time.
By: Kathe W. on April 29, 2016
Well done! If you add her, you will have to show us.
By: messymimi on April 29, 2016
kinda looks like ball and chain. :)
By: TexWisGirl on April 29, 2016
What a nice recycle. Maybe Bill would be interested?
By: Arkansas Patti on April 29, 2016
This has potential in this year's election. But you have to send it to the enemy side before the election season comes to an end.
By: Tabor on April 29, 2016
It is a remarkable likeness of him from back in the day.
By: Bruce Taylor on April 29, 2016
That is one of the more impressive "likenesses" of Clinton I've seen. Thanks for sharing it with your readers.
By: Tom Cochrun on April 29, 2016
You are a talented man, Stephen. And I think the addition of Hillary taking care of Bill would be awesome. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on April 29, 2016
Great likeness of Clinton. I can almost hear him speak.
By: red Kline on April 29, 2016
That is an incredible likeness of my man Bill, from back in the day. If you add Hillary, make sure you get the pantsuit and cankles right.
By: Val on April 29, 2016
Now seeing him with his foot in his mouth might be marketable. Just say'n :) Btw... the skin tones are out of this world!
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 29, 2016
Ax in hand setting him adrift! Too funny! Authors often give cover designers nit-picky directions that even if followed do NOT help sell their book. Have a great weekend, Stephen!
By: Lexa Cain on April 29, 2016
I agree - you did a fantastic job capturing his looks!
By: Pixel Peeper on April 30, 2016
It's not just the artistic quality of the picture, but also your inventiveness. Great post. Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on April 30, 2016
I think this picture is so accurate, it would sell today. He does look older, but he's aged fairly well - though he's clearly not altogether healthy these days. There's no shortage of campaign fodder for your art, but I see your conflict. The climate and characters are ever-changing.
By: Robyn Engel on May 1, 2016
Your final idea is inspired! And the likeness is absolutely exceptional. Your talent never fails to surprise (and impress) me.
By: Mitchell is Moving on May 2, 2016

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