How an Illustration is Made

Images from the Salem Trilogy of Books

Below you will see the steps from sketches to comps.

Graphite drawings are done on separate pieces of paper, scanned, and then painted. They are scanned again and composed like Colorforms on Photoshop until the final illustration is created. Take a look!

Click on image for larger slideshow.

That is how the illustration for Ratatoskr and Charlie Bumpus in front of the Essex Institute from A walk Through Salem was made.

Read about Ratatoskr who lives in front of the Essex Institute in A Walk Through Salem the fairy tale set in the whimsical magical side of Salem in which you are the main character. Available at Remember Salem, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Or you can buy it directly and give more of the profit to the author. Look for new AR version coming out this Summer.

~ Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.


Black Squirrels and the Miskatonic University

Not exactly Cthulu…

Black Squirrels and Universities

The first black squirrel I had seen was at Princeton University. Later that year we travelled to another university in NJ and there was another. So I have always associated black squirrels with university life.

Now the first Black Squirrel I had seen in Salem appeared the same year that Salem State became a university. But it was not introduced at the university but another institute of learning, the Essex Institute or as Lovecraft once called it the Miskatonic University.

In 1923 and 1929 H.P. Lovecraft came to Salem which inspired him to base the fictional town Arkham on it. One of the institutes he borrowed from was the Essex Institute which he renamed Miskatonic University first in Herbert West-Reanimator. It would be in 5 other stories and be described as a university on par with Harvard University. The Essex Institute was behind the lecture series at the Salem Lyceum where Alexander Graham Bell first introduced the phone at.

Here is a history of melanistic squirrels being released in universities. In the United States, the city of Kent, Ohio developed a significant black squirrel population after ten were legally imported from Canada in February 1961 by Larry Woodell, the head groundskeeper at Kent State University.

Another story relates to the founder of Kellogg Cereal company. Black squirrels are abundant in Battle Creek, Michigan, and, according to legend, were first introduced there by Will Keith Kellogg, founder of the Kellogg Company, in an effort to destroy the local population of red squirrels. The story continues that this same population of squirrels was further introduced to the campus of Michigan State University by John Harvey Kellogg for the same purpose.[16] This story was corrected by Wilbur C. “Joe” Johnson, the late chief wildlife biologist at M.S.U.’s Kellogg Biological Station near Battle Creek which includes W.K. Kellogg’s former 32-acre estate at Gull Lake. Johnson, who worked at K.B.S. for 48 years, credited Dr. John Harvey Kellogg for introducing the black squirrel to the Kellogg estate during the 1930s. Johnson said he himself trapped 20 black squirrels at Gull Lake during the early 1960s at the specific request of former MSU president John A. Hannah and released them on the East Lansing campus.

Then, Eastern black squirrels were introduced at Stanford University and can be found on adjoining property in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Now beyond universities, there seem to be some colleges as well that have them as mascots:

  • Haverford College where the black squirrel is the official mascot of varsity athletics[37]
  • Kent State University[10] which each year holds a Black Squirrel Festival (located in the Risman Plaza during the second week of September) to honor the university’s growing black squirrel population.[35] It features live music, vendors and an overall tribute to the black squirrels seen throughout the campus. Beyond the festival, other businesses and organizations in Kent are named for the black squirrel, including Black Squirrel Brewing Company, Black Squirrel Radio[38] and Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of the Kent State University Press.[39]
  • Albion College where the black squirrel has become a significant symbol on campus[40]
    Sarah Lawrence College where the campus coffee shop is named for the black squirrel.[41] The black squirrel is also used as an unofficial mascot, with the bookstore selling plush squirrels.
  • The College of Wooster where a student on the official website describes an “obsession over black squirrels” [42] and there is a bed and breakfast nearby campus which is named after the animal.[43]
  • Augustana College (Illinois) in the Quad Cities, where ten bronze squirrels are hidden atop buildings around campus[44] and a student film production group, Black Squirrel Productions, is named after the animal.[45]

The black squirrel seemed to be the dominant squirrel when forests were thicker and darker in North America, but as the woods grew thinner and more light came in grey became a better choice for survival. Many people have imported the black squirrel to areas, and at other times there is stories about them escaping zoos. So what is the story for Salem State University or the Miskatonic University; who brought them here?

Read about Ratatoskr who lives in front of the Essex Institute in A Walk Through Salem the fairy tale set in the whimsical magical side of Salem in which you are the main character. Available at Remember Salem, Wicked Good Books, Barnes & Noble, and Or you can buy it directly from and give more of the profit to the author. Look for new AR version coming out this Summer.

Remember, support local artists!

~Mr. Zac

Come back every Tuesday at 3PM for new stories about Salem and images from the Salem Trilogy.

Rafe’s Chasm


Now a lot of people come to Salem, MA, but they are really missing the boat if they do not venture any further north. A trip up Boston’s Gold Coast up Rt. 127 is a must see! A road filled with the Robber Baron’s mansions, castles, a windy road along the ocean, and many natural wonders.

On the midpoint on the road before it loops back on its self through Cape Ann is Rafe’s Chasm in Magnolia, a section of Gloucester MA. It is a huge red rock jutting out to sea with a chasm to right that fills up during high tide. It is my favorite place to sit on the ocean and do rock hopping. One section reminds me of some ancient boat ramp. This spot might hold some mysteries beyond is beauty alone.

During Hurricane Katrina the waves reached the top of this rock face that rises 3o feet from the water and beyond another 20 feet to crash halfway to the treeline. During most average storms, the water turns a beautiful green among the foamy wave crests. A definite to see.

Sometimes seals can be seen from here as well. Many times you will find a fisherman or two. On some occasions you will come across an old bonfire, something I need to do one day.

After your trip up Rt. 127, leaving Salem behind, take a stop at Rafe’s Chasm and see why tourists and locals have been coming here since the nineteenth century!

Chris Dowgin

Salem State University and the Tunnels in Salem

I just was able to walk the tunnel from the Horace Mann Laboratory School to the Art Room in the basement of the Sullivan Building.  Before I had taken pictures of the tunnels between the Sullivan Building to the Administration Building and the Gordon Center of the Arts. Plus when you venture to the old South Campus on Dr. Loring’s old estate, there is a tunnel leaving the grammar school through the side of the hill to the gym below.

Just one of the new of the thousands of tunnels in Salem. Almost got to film this one with a new Travel Channel show…

Look out for me talking about the tunnels in April on the Travel Channel! More info to be released closer to airing!


To find out more about the tunnels in Salem read Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City, now in its 3rd edition. New tunnel finds, more stories, and even more pictures! Read the book everyone digs! Catch up on the book that Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton used to write Wicked Charms, Carol Perry with her Witch City Mysteries, and the Librarians  TV Show! Stories from the book airing in April on the Travel Channel!

Quarries of the Pines


I took on a new habit while visiting the Pines; get out your Google Maps and start looking for quarries. Just make sure you do not see any buildings or dredging equipment and your golden to hike in and check them out. Or just look for any body of water, and it probably worth a hike.

This on was the last on the south side of Lacey Road heading east. It had this cool camp too.


Pasadena Terracotta Factory and Piney Graffiti

This is Not New York…

This is one of my favorite trips into the woods north of Whiting NJ into Pasadena. A gorgeous stretch of woods filled with solitary Pine roads with rivers and ponds. This factory burned down early in the last century, but it was the first place I climbed through any tunnels.



Vintage Salem Morning

Welcome to another Vintage Salem Posts. Every Wednesday we will post another image from our home town’s past. If you have any other images of the buildings or locations we offer each Wednesday, please share them below.


1891 Town House Square Salem MA

Stearns Building

The Stearn Building which housed H.P. Ives Bookstore once was flush with the corner of Short Street, which was long gone even in this photo. The building opposite the Stearn Building, on Short Lane, once held the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, after John Hancock took up Reverend Bentley’s offer to move it here after Boston was invaded during the Revolutionary War.  The offending part of the Stearn Building has been removed to make it now flush to the new corner of Washington Street and Essex Street. Most of the buildings behind it have long since been removed and the new ones are also flushed to the current location of Washington Street.

Also you can see the beginning of the tunnel that led to the underground train station in which goods were smuggled through from the Kinsman Building in the distance. Do you remember the fortune telling machine or the traffic cop in the box from here? Tell us below?

Send us your favorite vintage Salem photos to and we will post them and give you a shout out! Also if you have something to add about the photo from family histories, your readings, or your memories, please share them below in the comments section.

Owner of Salem House Press