About the Creators

Defending Sovereign, Church, and Country from the Forces of Darkness

Perhaps, writing and illustration are the two most commonly seen creative arts, with writing coming out ahead simply because there are many more books without illustrations than with. In many ways then, webcomics and graphic novels have the best of both worlds. When done well, they not only combine excellent storytelling with beautiful artwork, but even some of the poorer examples are better for having both text and pictures than one or the other.

Some creators are lucky enough to be both gifted writers and artists, but even if the rest only excel at one or the other, there has been and continues to be a long tradition of writers and artists actively collaborating with each other. Part of this is undoubtedly due to to the fact that, perhaps uniquely, there is almost no competition between them. Even if a writer and an illustrator are creating different versions of the same story, neither is likely to "outdo" the other in terms of sales. Another reason is that writers and artists tend to inspire one another. A third reason is that their work can compliment one another in a way that enhances a project beyond the mere sum of its parts.

It is this last that seems to inspire the genesis of most webcomics and graphic novels; that, and the fact that there seems to be far less hostility to the self-publication of comics and graphics than stories and novels. Why this is so is perplexing, but it seems to be a fact of life. In any event, what follows are brief biographies of the creators of the Sir Differel Van Helsing stories and comics. Kevin L. O'Brien is the writer while Lon Ryden is the artist, but whereas the ideas for the stories and most of the text originates with Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Ryden's visual conceptions are vital to the success of these stories. Indeed, one can say that he brings them to life in a manner that mere words cannot accomplish.

Kevin L. O'Brien

He could be the epitome of the man leading a life of quiet desperation. His life started promising enough. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1959, after a brief period struggling to learn basic arithmetic, he started getting straight A's in math and science through high school. Then things started going down-hill. He entered the Purdue-Indiana University regional campus in the Pre-Veterinary program, but was unable to make the grades to get into Veterinary School. He switch to Biochemistry and graduated with barely passing grades (1983), but still managed to get into graduate school at Northern Illinois University. However, he was unable to qualify for the Ph.D. program and had to settle for a Master's Degree (1988). He spent the next two decades trying to make a career as a scientist, but despite co-authoring six papers, he was unable to secure a permanent position. He switched careers to Graphic/Web Design, graduating with an Associates Degree from Platt College (2007), but that has been somewhat lackluster so far as well.

Throughout this time, he wrote fiction, mostly stories, mostly science fiction and fantasy, steadily improving his craft, but except for a few minor successes he has been unable to get any of it published, though he has come close a few times. A very short membership with The Horror Writer's Association left him rather disillusioned with "professional" writing, and he is now convinced that he will probably never publish anything professionally. Yet he continues to write, being as he has no choice, only now he self-publishes on story websites, such as two dedicated to Medb hErenn and Team Girl, which he also designed and coded out himself. As well, he is considering publishing through Amazon.com's Kindle Singles program and a print-on-demand service.

In addition to writing, he works on personal graphic design projects. While not himself an illustrator, he is a pretty fair draftsman, and he can take the work of others and incorporate it into his projects. His personal work can be viewed at his Deviant Art site, while his professional work may be seen at his portfolio website, KLOB Designs.

Lon Ryden

He was born a sickly, asthma and allergy ridden child in a suburb of St. Paul Minnesota in the year 1971. Most of his early memories are of hospitals, allergy tests, adrenaline shots, pneumonia, and bronchitis, but this miserable life bestowed all sorts of unlikely "advantages" on him. He learned to read at quite an early age and developed art skills very quickly. This, since he really had no capacity for running, or playing, or doing anything "fun" without quickly running out of air.

His earliest artistic influence was his sister, Becky. He was sixteen years younger than she was, and as such was a target of stories and pictures no doubt intended to scar him for life. Becky's influences, as he remembers them, were Jaws, Alien, and Deathrace 2000. So he remembers sitting close to her at the kitchen table after she had gone to see these films and her telling him (he believes he was about four years old) horrific tales of chests bursting, and pedestrians being splattered on the highway, and sharks eating everyone in the water. And Becky was a very spirited illustrator. She would tell him these things and accompany her stories with graphic depictions of alien monsters, hopped-up race cars with machine guns and knives mounted to every available surface, and gory-mouthed sharks swimming in bloody waters, trailing arms and legs behind them. He's pretty sure he was supposed to be scared, but all he can remember thinking was: "That is so cool."

So he entered kindergarten with about 10,000 pages of practice on death-cars, monsters, and sharks under his belt. Also: depictions of every conceivable character and vehicle from the movie Star Wars. Remember: he spent most of his life until then in a hospital bed. He has a toddler at that age now, and can realistically look back and say, "I really was WAY more artistically developed than kids that age normally are." And he could read like nobody's business; he tested at the ninth grade level in Kindergarten. This eventually did lead to his being advanced two grades forward during the course of elementary school.

But, despite being a pretty sharp kid, he was doomed. The allergy specialists he was seeing at that time had had to give up all rational treatments, and they put him on cortisone full time, and even then he was getting carted away to the hospital three to four times a week in the middle of the night for adrenaline shots. It was seriously thought he would not live for very long under those conditions. So his mother packed the family up and moved them to the desert at the suggestion of said specialists, and they wound up living in Prescott Arizona for seven years. During that time he outgrew so many problems he became almost a normal person. But of course, art-driven people are never completely normal.

It was not until high school that he became fixated on drawing females. He worked a scantily clad woman into almost every project he was assigned in his senior year. He feels slightly betrayed by the fact that he never had an art teacher who suggested that a living could be made just by mastering the one skill that he was working so hard at: drawing a pretty face. But, by that time, most teachers had given up on him; he had gone from being the darling of academic achievement (he was in the top 1% of the country when he entered junior high) to mediocrity, and there was no reason to believe he would ever return to the previous heights (he didn't). He couldn't be talked into caring. Though he loved to learn new things, he hated school with a passion. And he still does. "I had to meet with my daughter's Pre-K teacher not so long ago, and I was amazed at how much hostility I felt towards the situation. I hope I managed to act civil enough not to throw shadows on my daughter."

He acquired no degree or mastery of any kind in college. "Am I a quitter?" he candidly asks, and his reply is, "Perhaps." Teachers would ask him why he was taking their class or what he hoped to accomplish, and he would say he was "interested" or "trying to enrich" himself. He did meet one teacher who seemed to understand him, even though it was evident that the other students thought he was a barrier between them and getting a passing grade. Every time he made a comment, eyes would roll, sighs would be heaved, and much slouching would occur. But that teacher did recommend him to the National Honors Society. And he's quite sure the governing body laughed at her for suggesting it.

As a side note, his wife, and her mother and father, are all teachers.

He currently makes his living mostly from selling sketches and prints of pin-up girls and being commissioned to draw them. Of course, this is not as consistent a work as it could be, so it is supplemented by making prints for other artists and local photographers, and doing freelance graphic design work, such as T-shirts, logos, advertising, and business cards. He does have an interest in writing and illustrating stories, and has written and illustrated graphic novels and children's storybooks. He has several projects on the drawing table, including illustrating "The Tales of Gnosis College" on the Erotic Mad Science Blog of Dr. Faustus and the Medb hErenn Dreamlands webcomic. His work can be viewed at his gallery website.

As a writer, he wrote the series Twilight America as a set of supplemental resources for a tactical tabletop battle game of the same name (the company which designed it is now defunct, but he still has a certificate stating he owns 500 shares of their stock), several erotic poems that, while first written for his wife, appeared in Clean Sheets, and two pieces of radio theater, titled "Bluebeard and the Stepford Project" and "Bloodnight". He also has his own pet projects, which he writes and illustrates: "The Perils of Penelope Pornstarr" and "They Want Our Women!" Both of which can be previewed on his Deviant Art page.

"It is MUCH harder to be respected as a writer than a visual artist. It takes a lot more effort for people to appreciate words than pictures. And, even though visual artists everywhere will hate me for saying it, the reverse is true: five good words are worth a million pictures. That's why the book is almost always better than the movie."

We Hold the Line, and This Line Shall Not Be Crossed!