The Alternate Bear, or: Getting There By Whatever Means Necessary

I couldn’t find this image yesterday.  It’s an incidental illustration from the back cover of Greer Gilman’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear, as later converted into a t-shirt design for Small Beer Press (publishers of good books, which should be bought).


The line that inspired it I still think is one of the funniest things (and I keep revisiting it in other contexts). The appearance from the wings of “two men in a rug” just… it has different nuances than “five raccoons in a trenchcoat”.

Both are useful metaphors for art (and, indeed, life). But while the latter implies tricks and larceny, Muppets and the weaponisation of imposter syndrome, the former is about ‘rude mechanicals’ getting a job done by any means necessary: the show carries on, even if it isn’t at all the way we planned it, even if it’s low-tech and powered purely by goodwill and a collective, wilful self-delusion. The players roll up their sleeves and dig out discarded props, the audience watches for moments of transcendence amidst the chaos and, if they can, for the moments it can be managed, they all have a good time doing it.


Pursued by a (small) bear!

I’ve mentioned before how nice it is when someone takes away a drawing and brings it back as something shiny. Well, yesterday, when I was expecting an electrician to carry a sheet of melamine back through the open front door, Sue of Tiny Owl Workshop walked in, bearing treasure!


Back in 2014, I illustrated a cover for Greer Gilman‘s wonderful Ben Jonson novella Exit, Pursued by a Bear for Small Beer Press:


(Gilman’s 2009 Cloud & Ashes was my very first book cover.)

And Sue made the bear!


Look at his little face! His nose! His paws!


I love it so much. I keep stroking the bridge of its nose.



See more Tiny Owl work at:

April Calendar: Bears



The April calendar is here, in printable coloured, greenish and to-colour-yourself formats (see the end of the post). It is brought to you, as ever, with the invaluable support of my wonderful patrons over on


This began as a series of ideas about transformation. “Snow White and Rose Red” was briefly the leading fairy tale in my mind, which is how the bears got in. But roses mean “Beauty and the Beast”, and then the hinted tales began wandering further afield.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the process. I’m playing around with these negative silhouettes at the moment.


Then scanned, arranged and coloured on the computer, and bears, everywhere.


The downloadable files, for you to print at home and use for the April calendar, are below. And if you’d like to support the calendar, and see more behind the scenes, please do consider supporting them through Patreon.

April Calendar-ColourApril Calendar-Colour-GreenApril Calendar-Lines