My 2018: What Worked and What Didn’t

Big Show is Baby New Year?!

All right, so, I didn’t know what to expect from 2018. It was my first full year as a parent, and with parenthood came lots of changes, lots of challenges, and a lot of stress. It wasn’t a bad year, but it was a struggle to stay rested and focused on anything for more than 15 minutes at a time. It was a year in which it was especially important to remember that creativity, goals, and life, in general, are all marathons, not sprints. One of my coworkers suggested that a child’s first birthday party should be less of a birthday party for them, and more of a party celebrating the survival of everybody involved. As a dad who did not adjust well to becoming a parent, I must say that it’s hard to disagree with that sentiment. Then again, I don’t know that any new parent just falls into the role with perfect grace and poise, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about having a hard time figuring it all out.

Anyway, you can probably tell what we’re going to be talking about a lot in this entry. How did the baby affect me creatively, personally, and so on? As I’ve been looking back, thinking about what to say, I find that I am judging myself harshly, so I am challenging myself to make sure this is a constructive entry and not just a means of bashing myself, which I am wont to do. Give me a break, self! It was a tough year!

Go on….

Transitioning from a Night Owl to a Morning Person to Get More Work Done, Better

Garfield Comic from April 13, 1998

Wowie zowie. It’s been a busy couple of weeks! Following two fun, but hectic weekends, overflowing weekdays, a baby too fascinated by exploration to sleep, and a travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday (including two Thanksgiving dinners and my cousin’s fabulous wedding), it’s no wonder I didn’t update the blog last week, or that I’m running late this week. The explosion of activities that comes with the autumn season, combined with colder weather and shorter days (plus the possibility that my first year as a dad is finally catching up to me) means I am more exhausted than I have ever been in my entire life. I always have high hopes for productive evenings once wife and baby are asleep, but I rarely make it another hour before I’m in bed, myself. Not only that, I am so bleary-eyed and unfocused by the end of the day that the hour before bed has been devoted to devouring old G.I. Joe comics and Nintendo Switch rather than getting any work done. I just can’t think.

Go on….

Cape Mini Con Recap – OR – Did I Deliver as a Vendor?

Cape Mini Con 2018 table setup

Last week, I covered some of the things I really like about being an artist at comic cons, as well as some of my bad habits and hangups that I would like to improve, both for the sake of seeing better returns, and so convention attendees have a better experience interacting with me. My first big test came in the form of Cape Mini Con this past Saturday. While it wasn’t a record-breaking day for sales or anything like that, I did better at the Mini Con than I have at four out of the last five shows at which I’ve had a table. (I also found out later I sold a book to a Secret Service agent, which I thought was pretty cool.) I can’t say for sure whether or not my efforts to improve are responsible, but hey, at least they didn’t hurt. Let’s review my habits and hangups from last week and whether or not I was able to overcome them.

Go on….

Comic Con Highs, Habits, and Hangups

Godzilla at convention

The second-ever Cape Mini Con is at Southeast River Campus in Cape Girardeau this Saturday, November 3, and this guy will have a table at the convention! I have been tabling at comic cons for ten years now. Generally, my only convention appearances are at Cape Comic Con and the Mini Con in Cape Girardeau, but I have occasionally extended my reach to other local conventions over the last few years, such as Burg Comics Con (Harrisburg, Il), Eclipse/Saluki Con (Carbondale, Il), and SEMO Con (Poplar Bluff, Mo). While you might assume that means I have a lot of experience and know what I’m doing, you’re dead wrong! Conventions are fun, but even after ten years, they are some of the biggest challenges I face as a comic artist. They force me to do three things that make me quite uncomfortable: appear in public, interact socially, and exhibit confidence in my work. That’s rough!

Go on….

No Time? No Problem!

For the next five minutes, Apu is going to party like it's on sale for $19.99

This is the post every blogger has made at least once. It’s the inevitable “I don’t have time to blog about my original topic, so I’m going to blog about not having time to blog” post. Unfortunately, both blogging (well, my original post, anyway) and comics took a backseat to some of the more important things in life this week—family time, personal health and responsibility, some weedeating I kept running out of time to finish, and so on.

When I get busy and don’t have time to work on passion projects, I have often felt like a failure. I used to build this nonsensical bubble, encompassing a certain amount of time, that I couldn’t see past. For instance, let’s say it’s the weekend. I decide I’m going to do a bunch of creative work and be super-productive. I build my bubble around that goal, not taking into account my chores, or family time, grocery-shopping, errand-running, or that get-together that’s been on the calendar for weeks that I knew was coming. When all is said and done, the weekend is over, and no creative work got done in my all-important bubble. I was crushed. I would obsess over how I maybe could have done things differently to squeeze in more time. And, since I often couldn’t see past the bubble, I sometimes even worried that I was running out of time in my life to get things done. All because I didn’t get the work done I wanted to do in a period of time that couldn’t realistically accommodate it, anyway.

Go on….

How to Make Comics The Big Skink Way!

How to Draw!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks telling you about these crazy comics that I make. But, I haven’t told you how I do it. How does a comic develop from that fuzzy idea I had at 2 a.m., stumbling around in the dark, looking for the bathroom, to a finished product on somebody’s bookshelf or in their Facebook feed? Read on. Despite the impostor syndrome creeping its way into the corners of my subconscious as I write this, I would like to believe I have done enough work to be able to tell you a thing or two about my creative process and why it works for me.

The most important thing to remember is that this is a guide, not a set of rules. Everybody works in their own way, and only certain methods and tools work for certain people. No matter your passion, develop a system that plays to your strengths.

Go on….

Why Yes, I AM a Comic Artist!

Any good story begins in the 1980s.

What’s my biggest failure as a comic artist? It’s not that I haven’t drawn the best drawing or drafted the finest, Eisner-award winning tale. Nothing like that. My biggest failure as a comic artist is that I don’t tell people that I’m a comic artist. I’m the worst at it. I’ll lug some art supplies into work to get some drawing done over my lunch break, and an officemate will inevitably walk past, see what I’m doing, and exclaim, “I didn’t know you were an artist!” Likewise, an old friend or coworker will bring their kids to Cape Comic Con, stop by my table with a look of wonder, and say, “What?! This is all your work?! Gosh, I didn’t know about any of this!”

It’s true. They didn’t know. Could there possibly be more telling evidence that I’m bad at marketing myself? Any time I have to explain to someone that I make comics, I scrunch into a small ball and explain myself as quickly and concisely as possible, like I’m confessing to eating the last brownie. My hesitancy is partly out of embarrassment (as though I’m worried some jocks are going to spill out of the nearest locker room and pound me for making comics, even though I’m 34), and partly because I’m afraid that admitting to all of the hours of work I’ve put into comics is going to come off as bragging, and that I need to just keep my mouth shut and stop bothering people.

It’s a completely irrational and dumb fear, right? Making comics is my pastime, my hobby—everybody has hobbies. Why would talking about that be bragging? It’s not like I won Olympic gold or ate the hottest wings at B-Dubs or anything. Talk about a guy taking himself a little too seriously. It’s no wonder I don’t sell very many books.

So, it’s time to conquer this fear, this roadblock. Yes, I am a comic artist. I’m going to tell you how I became a comic artist and the comics I’ve created. (I’ll give you the abridged version—I know you have stuff to do.) Even if you’re reading this and you’re not interested in comics, my hope is that if you struggle with some of the same mental hang-ups as me, you’ll be inspired to find the courage to talk about what you like to do, as well. Don’t be afraid. Own your passion.

Go on….