I am going to be in the US for the next few weeks enjoying a much needed vacation so any orders made during that time won’t be attended to until I return.

Thanks for your patience.



Random frames from the upcoming page (Taken with Instagram)

From my webcomic Flying Tigers - Rob


Random frames from the upcoming page (Taken with Instagram)

From my webcomic Flying Tigers - Rob

Visual Evolution

I’m not a great artist - and I probably never will be - but I do believe some day I might be pretty decent.

An important thing for me is to always strive for improvement and as such I’d like to present the Visual Evolution of the Maelstrom Heart cast.

While their on page descriptions have remained the same since the beginning (more or less), my ability to display them has improved.

Version 1 - The Initial Design Phase

In a word this initial stage is embarrassing, my abilities here were very rough and unrefined with not a single grasp of anatomy.
The style was very much the same as my dreadful comic I was doing at the time.

Version 2 - First Promotional Design

The anatomy here was still pretty shocking.
This version of the character designs is the one I initially showed to friends and fellow artists as I was writing the early drafts of book one.
The biggest feedback I got here was that Reine and Wind looked like sisters due to the similar hairstyles and also that I was drawing the chests too high on the bodies.

Version 3 - First Edition Art

With the version I’ve used in the self-published first edition the artwork became crisper and tidier but still contained many of the problems of the previous version, especially when it came to anatomy.
Again the chests were too high and the girls’ waists too thin.

Version 4 - Promotional Artwork

This version was used in the artwork I promoted at Supanova in Brisbane in 2011.
A noticeable improvement on the anatomy front as I lowered the chests and added more height variance to the characters by changing my measurement ratio.
The tiny waist problem persisted however.

Version 5 - Current Redesign

The latest design overhaul may not have as many noticeable changes as previous versions but to those who no better there are several big improvements in anatomy here.
For starters, inspired by feedback on my current webcomic Flying Tigers, I have finally eliminated the tiny waist problem. While still not quite correct, the curve of the torso now finds a nice balance and looks healthier.
Another change is the varying of body types - Wind’s tiny frame with large breasts (best shown in the 2nd pic) vs Reine’s tall slender build vs Fyre’s healthy curvy body - and it’s not just with the girls, the bulkier torsos of Westley and Thunda have been balanced out by adding more length.

And this probably won’t be the last time I tweak the designs as I continue to strive towards artistic improvement. For the most part though now the basic style is in place so it is my hope that from this point any changes I make are to improve and refine what I have.


Another Book One extract - the first time Reine “Lights up”

   The arena was under attack by horrible, dark, smoky forms of man-shaped creatures which glided amongst the audience. Each time one of these Shadows attacked a person, mouths open in some twisted mix of kiss and snarl, the victim was drained of their energy. The older and stronger fans remained on their feet, swaying in a listless, lifeless way, but the smaller younger fans, the teenagers who were increasingly filling Maelstrom Heart’s fanbase, fell to the floor in crumpled heaps, like marionettes with the strings cut.

   Onstage, Escape Impulse were under an equally vicious attack from the Shadowmen and just like the audience before them they appeared completely unaware of what was going on. They struggled in vain to continue playing even as the Shadowmen knocked them around, the dark forms seemed to be enjoying themselves, toying with the band far more than any of their other victims, taking their time to drain the energy from them.

   If the dark figures had voices they would surely have been laughing maniacally.

   But it was another voice that cut across the disjointed remains of the music.

   “Westley no!” Came the cry as he rushed onto the stage.

    He reached the fallen, immobile bass player who was closest and gave him a rough shake, “Come on wake up!”

   The musician didn’t stir.

   Westley’s blood boiled with anger, it was the third time he’d encountered these figures of darkness and he was determined to try and stop them. He looked across the stage where several of the Shadowmen circled the guitarist, taking it in turn to suck away his energy with their vicious kisses.

   Westley sprung up from where he’d knelt beside the bass player, charged at the dark forms and took his best shot with a sword-hand-strike at the head of one of the Shadowmen

   …and passed clean through the figure, spinning with the momentum of his strike. His rescue attempt had done nothing except alert the dark figures to a fresh new victim.

   They turned on him, and he fell back into a defensive position, dodging aside as the first Shadowman rushed at him. He spun, whipping his leg in a high arc to bring the heel down in a blow that would have floored any normal person.

   Again his attack flew through the smoky figure, even as a second shade attacked him, a vicious blow to his midsection that doubled him over.

   He coughed and spat out blood.

   Another dark fist flew at his head, he leaned out of the way and grabbed at the arm to throw his opponent but his fingers found only smoke.

   “Urgh!” He grunted as another strike hit his ribs, forcing the air out of his lungs and sending him stumbling.

   Westley coughed, winded and sore, he tried to regain solid footing but was forced to remain on his toes, dodging and weaving to avoid the attacking Shadowmen.

   And then he fell.

   Despite his inability to even touch them, the Shadowmen had no problems grabbing hold of him and forcing him to the ground.

   As their dark gaping mouths converged on him, Westley struggled with all his might, he was not going to let them have him easily. His mind drifted to the poor girl from the last show at Underground who was still in hospital according to the last update B had given him, it was a dreadful thought, a dreadful fate to contemplate. He’d had one too many close encounters with death and nothingness in recent days, he couldn’t help but wonder if this time his number was truly up.

   There was no angelic saviour coming this time.


   “Your hand on the edge of my shoulder.”

   “Soft lips brush the side of my face.”

   “And I know I can’t wait a moment longer.”

   “I want to be inside your warm embrace.”

   “And oh I know if I had one wish”

   “I would shout it to the stars”

   “Make the whole universe”

   “Know that you are all I want”

   Reine stood in the center of the stage with a microphone in hand, singing with all of her heart, her eyes fixed upon the spot where Westley lay beneath the dark huddle of Shadowmen. Even as she sang the darks figures seemed to loosen their grip on her best friend, Westley struggled and crawled out from under the mass of swirling darkness. As she saw him and her eyes met his, a wave of relief passed through her as he smiled up at her.

   Then something happened that she would forever consider most amazing experience in her life.

   She shined.


   From the very center of herself.

   A pure bright glow that seemed to emanate from her heart to light up the stage.

   The Shadowmen writhed and twisted as the light hit them, recoiling as if burned by acid, repulsed from the pure goodness of her light.

   Still singing her sweet ballad, Reine moved to stand beside Westley who pulled himself to his feet, wobbling a little but standing strong beside her, bathed in her glow.



   It was the only thought in Westley’s head as he watched her light up the arena. Her singing was doing what he’d failed to do – it was forcing the Shadowmen to flee – and as the warm glow swept across the stage and the audience the people who had been attacked by the dark figures began to stir and revive.

   And as unbelievable as it was, it felt perfectly natural to him at that moment, as if this had always been Reine’s power and finally the world could see her as Westley always had.

   Beautiful and sweet and good, like an angel in the world. No matter whatever happened nor how bad he felt Reine could always make things better, her mere presence had the power to light up his life.

   She was dazzling.

   She was perfect.

   She was Reine.

At it’s very core Maelstrom Heart is a story about love - love between friends, love of a family, love for that person you would spend a lifetime with - and the power that love has to overcome the darker moments of life.
Rob O’Brien

Book one in the Maelstrom Heart Saga - To The Stars - is once again available for sale, and at the new lower price of $15 a copy plus postage.

Purchase at the sidebar via paypal.

Some Maelstrom Heart prints I was selling at Supanova.

A little work in progress art.

A little work in progress art.

I’m going to be at Supanova in Brisbane, November 4th-6th, look for me on Artists Alley. I’ll be selling To The Stars for a special convention price of $15 as well as art-prints from Maelstrom Heart, Ride the Wind and Flying Tigers.
Reine vs something Dark…

Reine vs something Dark…