Anti-Virus, Weeks 6-8ish – Puking into the Dilithium Chamber

Scott and Picard have a drink

In reviewing my previous two blogs, I came to the conclusion that they stink.

No, it’s not because of the quality of the writing. Although, that wasn’t very good, either. But dang, it’s just a blog, not a TMZ article. Give me a break.

Truthfully, they were just too negative. (Not to mention they were me complaining about unimportant personal problems while there are a lot of people struggling out there with real problems right now. Pretty serious loss of perspective there, champ.) In each blog, my negativity hinged on my age-old enemy: time. I’m reminded of a Jean-Luc Picard quote from Star Trek: Generations, which I’m sure is technically not a very good movie, but it’s a sentimental gem because it was my favorite TV show brought to the big screen. When that happens at ten years old, it’s a monumental deal. My brother took me to see it. It was a lot of fun. Give me a break! The score is good, too. Anyway, Picard says,

“Someone once told me that time is a predator that stalks us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment, …because they’ll never come again. …What we leave behind is not as important as how we lived.”

Big surprise—insightful words from the Captain. The guy could be actively puking his guts out into the dilithium chamber after the O’Briens’ wedding reception and still be capable of saying something eloquent and wise.

Go on….

Anti-Virus, Week 5 Plus Video Game Talk

Futurama - Garbage Ball

You know what? Forget even doing the one news dump a day. I’m just not checking the news at all. I’m better off living in ignorance than being disappointed in people. Or, maybe I’ll just get all my news from NPR from now on, as it seems as boring and unsensationalized as possible. Is that true? I don’t know; I haven’t checked.

Another challenging week at home has come and gone. I felt far less unease than last week, and although I thought I was doing well, I apparently am not. I fear I am becoming a less and less efficient employee as I continue to work from home—no focus, slower output. I’m short-tempered again, irritable, and prone to angry outbursts. Yesterday, I got irritated at people honking their horns at each other to say hello at the intersection outside. Amanda said, “See? You need social interaction. You literally just got pissed at people saying hello to one another.” I didn’t even notice that this was going on, and now I am ashamed of my behavior.

Go on….

Anti-Virus, Weeks 3-4

The Twilight Zone - Time Enough at Last

Week 3 can be summed up as, more or less, a duplicate of Week 2. In spite of what was happening in the world around me, I felt good about the use of my time and stayed positive and productive. I was Burgess Meredith in “Time Enough at Last” right before his glasses break.

Week 4? Oof. Not so much. I have been unfocused and distracted all week, and a general sense of unease looms.  Amanda and our little one are back, and that has been great and makes things feel more normal at home again. But, I can’t deny that it is taking me some time to adjust to being a husband and father again, even after just one week of being away from them. I apparently fell completely out of parenting shape while they were gone—my patience is still not quite at the level it should be, and I’m not proud of that. I need to do better. Easter was pretty good, but the day before, I hit a low point when I sat her in front of a cartoon just so I could have some time to veg out and do something for myself. This is something I rarely do—well, other than when one or more people in the house are sick with influenza or a stomach bug. For the most part, I’m not a “you do this thing here so I can do my own thing over here” kind of parent. Sure, there are plenty of times when I’ll tag out to Amanda when I get too stressed, but Amanda was in the middle of a project in this instance, so I sat the kiddo in front of the television and took time for myself. I felt incredibly guilty because I’m trying to spend as much time with her as I can while she’s little, since I can’t get that back, but it can be tough to do that day-in and day-out, especially with outlets for entertainment away from home (i.e. playgrounds, grandparents, cousins, and so on) currently at a minimum. We are exhausted.

Speaking of Amanda being in the middle of a project, we’ve also started some DIY home improvement work around the house while we wait out the virus. Amanda is the handy person between the two of us, without question. (She just built a small swing set for the kiddo, and I honestly couldn’t figure out how to remove the swing’s chains from their s-hooks the other day.) But, I chip in from time to time. Trying to balance that with my day job and with watching our daughter has been…well, again, tough. Working from home is nice a lot of the time, but not when my job, spouse, and daughter all need me at the same time. Those instances are pretty uncommon, but not impossible.

Simpsons - Le Grille
Me, trying to build ANYTHING.

Lastly, the economical effects of COVID-19 are hitting more and more people close to us, with jobs being eliminated and the sense of dread surrounding possible layoffs and furloughs on the rise. I already worry and feel guilty all the time—this doesn’t make it any easier.

However, in the meantime, all I can do is stay positive and keep myself distracted. I don’t look at a lot of news—I try to check no more than once a day. There’s not a lot I can do to stop rising death tolls and unemployment claims. I’m better off spending my time trying to be productive. I didn’t get much writing done in the past week, and my drawing has slowed, as well, but I am still knocking out two or three a week to stay in practice, which is a lightning pace for me when compared to my output in recent years. Like I mentioned in my previous entry, when my little girl is around, there is just not a lot of time. It’s not a bad thing—it just means being a responsible parent and changing priorities.

I have more things to talk about, but they are long discussions (including one about video games and how they fit into this isolated lifestyle), so I may just leave this entry as-is. It’s kind of a downer, but it fits the previous week. I’d rather be honest with you than try to convince you that everything is fine. On the other hand, it’s also been therapeutic to get this out. 

The good news? It’s Easter evening as I write this. A perfect opportunity for rebirth and to face the next week with renewed enthusiasm and resolve. Also, we made cookies this weekend, and if nothing else can raise my spirits, they can.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week! Hang in there.

Anti-Virus, Week 2

Dr. Ian Malcolm - Life finds a way.

Well, I guess I’ve adapted to this way of life…as much as one might be able. While COVID-19 is never fully out of my mind, I must admit that there have been a few times over the past week where I kind of forgot about it. Not in the sense that I don’t care, that it’s not concerning or scary or otherwise cumbersome to the psyche. I take in one news dump a day from the outside world, but besides that, I have been keeping busy and focusing positive energy on a variety of outlets. Oh, and housework because, I mean, if I’m gonna spend 23 and a half hours a day here, I don’t want it to be a dump.

Amanda and our youngin’ are out of town temporarily. (No worries—I wouldn’t consider it discretionary travel. They’re out on family business.) As such, I’ve been using my time wisely to get some work done (both for my day job and otherwise), reestablish good habits, and take the opportunity to relax, believe it or not!

Go on….

Hard Reset

From Amazing Spider-Man #50. Image credit: Marvel Comics

I almost posted a very different blog about my 2020 plans and expectations, but I had something of a revelation today concerning my approach to creativity:

It’s not working.

It made the original blog mostly irrelevant, but there are a couple of key points that will sneak their way into this one, too.

My wife noticed that I have been upset a lot, lately. Stressed. Short-tempered. I can barely hold it together for five minutes with our daughter before I lose patience. She said that I seem miserable and wanted to know what I needed to make things better.

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….

10 Years Later, My Creations Haven’t Come to Life and Killed Me, Yet

Screenshot from Comix Zone on Sega Genesis

I started listening to a new podcast called ComicLab, in which comics professionals Brad Guigar and Dave Kellett (and sometimes a guest) sit down and talk about making comics and making a living from comics. It’s something of a spiritual successor to an old podcast I used to listen to called Webcomics Weekly, which also starred Guigar and Kellett, along with Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub. Unfortunately, Webcomics Weekly petered out some years back. However, it was one of the driving forces behind me resuming work on Mike and the Ninja at the beginning of 2008, after a hiatus of more than a year. Not only did I get a lot of useful and funny information from the podcast, it also inspired me to just sit down and work. I wanted to make comics, but that can’t happen without a lot of work, and it took me a long time to realize and fully appreciate the amount (and sometimes complexity) of work involved. Webcomics Weekly came at almost the perfect time, the first episode landing maybe two or three months before I decided to put serious effort into Mike and the Ninja, once and for all. Listening and re-listening to those episodes kept me going during those first fragile months of tackling a long-term project, and gave me the motivation to press onward.

Go on….