Political Transformers Talk.

I forgot to post this ages ago, but here:

Since the election, I've become obsessed with Transformers. Mostly with James Roberts IDW series MTMTE . It's really well written and has a lot of gay characters (I know, it's shocking, but yeah, a bunch of gay robots)! No one ever believes that though because the source material and overall concept are so dumb. Anyway, here's a comic about two conversations I had about Starscream with my buddy Liza and new friend Chris, because all I talk about anymore is Transformers anymore.

Also, this is my contribution to the fandom, not fan art anyone cares about, just super self indulgent conversations about the fandom.

Writing Outside My Experience.

I want to talk a bit about writing outside my experience. I am, for all intensive purposes, a white cis straight lady (I mean, I'm Jewish and possible asexual, but you get the drift). As such, writing diverse characters is something that doesn't come natural to me. I have to work at it.

When I first started writing POC characters, they were so kind of arbitrarily. As much as I like my story Malai, the protagonist could really be any race. I sort of made her black for diversity's sake.

But as my writing progressed, I tried to make race a more real part of my POC character's lives . Whether it's my character Esther in my webcomic, who is a black girl going to a virtually all white school, or it's Kamon from my comic Safe, a Thai immigrant who is dealing with Trump's America. I want these characters to be more fleshed out than just me making them have a non white skin tone with the Photoshop paint bucket tool.

The way I have tried to write these characters more authentically is to ask people outside of my race about them. Having a very diverse group of friends has been helpful for that. My friend Salakjit really helped me with finding Kamon's voice. She isn't really like him, she came to NYC from Thailand as a kid and knows who Oasis is, and her english is very good. But she has told me about how she navigated the election as a both an East Asian woman and as an immigrant with an accent. She also was the one who told me that the song for the karaoke scene should be Oasis (Sandi loves karaoke)- a classic karaoke song that Kamon could conceivably have not heard in Thailand.

This isn't just about race either. I tend to write of queer women characters; mostly because it's an excuse to write more women characters period. That, and I do not know how to write for straight guys, and don't really care to learn (they get enough representation already). So I have a few queer people I ask to look at my work so the characters seem more real. Tillie, who I did the Planned Parenthood comic with, is my go to reader for that. Not only do I respect her as a cartoonist, but I've heard her talk about how straight people often suck at writing queer characters. So I run things by her so I, y'know, don't do that.

And this can be done for lighter topics too. Not only did I ask my friend Christine to sign off on Esther from my webcomic (the character is based off Christine in a lot of ways), but I also ask her for astrology help all the time. For example, in Wasted, Christine told me that the protagonist was a Gemini and helped me write her horoscope. Or with the comic I'm going to be doing for Square City's next collaborative project (I talk about that here), the story is about a bartender and a customer falling in love. That meant that there'd be a lot alcohol in it, and I don't drink. So I asked my hipster (-esque, he's not a full blown hipster) brother, who knows about drinking culture questions like, "What kind of alcohol would a sweet bisexual lawyer take a shot of as a shot of as 'liquid courage?" Did you know cool kids drink Manhattans? That's what he told me. Fucking gross, but fine!

I recommend having a lot of friends that are very different from you to learn about this stuff from. Not only because it makes your writing better, but because it also makes you a more empathetic person.

Me Being Smooth (Or At Least As I'm Going To Get).

I am forming a new crush I think, and I low-key want to die. He lives in DC, because God knows I can't form a crush on someone local. No, he has to live 3 hours away. Anyway, he follows me on social media, so I put the following comic on my various social media (Twitter and Tumblr- I will get an Instagram when I run out of business cards that only list the two) where he can see it, and wonder if it's about him, and I can show off my high school level romantic skills.

I just had an interesting exchange with AM Rogers on Twitter about how love stories permeate every aspect of our culture. Or rather, I just gave my usual spiel to her via Twitter. Essentially, I just wrote another love story, after writing Safe, and I'm irritated with myself for it. When asked why, I talked about how I have never experienced romantic love (I've felt it towards some people, but no one has ever reciprocated to the point of making an actual relationship out of it). Love stories, on the whole, make me feel lonely and alienated, because it's something I'd like to experience. Or at least I THINK I do. That's the thing, I don't know whether I really could handle a romantic relationship or whether popular culture that it will fix all my problems forever, and that's why I want one. I wrote a comic to this effect:

I'm always so pleasantly surprised when a story doesn't have a romantic arc, or even when the two protagonists don't get together. So writing all these love stories isn't what I want to do, because it's not what I want to read. So I need to work on that.

Both of these comics are from Everything's Fine: And On And On, which you can download here for pay as you want, or buy a physical copy of online here. It is, to date, the only comic I don't have on my website in it's entirety, so if you are interested in it, those are the two ways to get it (besides grabbing a copy from me at a convention. I need to update two conventions to my calendar, I will do that in the next week or two).

Work Update.

Hello!

I have started my job in DE, and it's been a life saver. I'm no longer doing nothing creatively, the structure of a job has made me much more productive. Tillie said that would happen and she was right, she knows me so well.

I won't be updating short work online for quite a long time, since I want to finish the webcomic first. I will take breaks to work on small stuff. My idea is to do a chapter of the webcomic, followed by something short, then the next chapter of the webcomic- of course, I keep doing shorter stuff that has deadlines, so it really hasn't worked out that way. And honestly, I'm also having a hard time staying motivated with this longer project. I'm used to having a shiny new project, then having the instant gratification of putting it online and getting feed back. I asked my friend and former roommate Chu for advice. She's been doing her webcomic Slightly Damned for over 10 years, and she said she breaks up various projects by days of the week. I don't work on comics every day so I can't really make that work, but apparently when Alison Bechdel spoke at the CCS she mentioned breaking it up by 2 week chunks. That might be more my speed, we'll see.

Another reason I'm not motivated to draw the long form story is because it contains some emotionally difficult scenes:

 

Anyway, here's some sketches from my next short form piece for the Square City Chronicle (whose submissions are still open, if you're interested in applying, I think the idea behind it is really cool). I'm making the protagonist, Ivy, look like a buff version of Symmetra from the video game Overwatch. I don't play because I find video games stressful, but the fan art and comics of this series are really great, so I'm interested in the mythology of it.

This is Symmetra.

This is Symmetra.

This is Ivy (buff Symmetra).

This is Ivy (buff Symmetra).

Later folks!

Events and Updates

So a few things have happened since I last updated. 

I received my 12 contributor copies of Sweaty Palms. My comic will never be posted online because it's very specific to the anthology (and honestly I'm not that happy with it), so if you ever want to see it you will need to pick up a physical copy at a convention or get it from their store (where both print copies and PDFs are available).

My comic Adventures of a Clintern that I did for the Nib in July was printed in a newsletter that was given out at the DNC. I finally got my copy, and seeing it in print taught me a lot. Specifically, I had never drawn in my non abstract style with color pencil before this piece. I was able to tell what worked with this method on the screen, but seeing it in print showed me that I should outline a lot more of the lighter shapes and colors. But still, it's very cool that I got to be in this.

Finally, I'll be tabling at Newark Zine Fest on April 16th (Easter) from 4pm-6pm. See my calendar for details.

That's it for now! My friend Emily R. Gillis of Wayward Studios will be selling the two volumes Everything's Fine (this link goes to the first volume the second is only available in print or on my gumroad) and There For Us at a bunch of shows. I'll do a post of which ones as soon as I get that info.

I moved and opened a store!

Hello! I am back in DE living with my mother. I got my old job back and just could not find one in Providence. Here in DE I will be working for local government, doing various tasks behind the scenes. I liked the job a lot last year, and I'm excited that I'll be working again. However, I really don't have a community here the way I did in Providence, so it's a mixed bag. Ideally Id be living in DC, but it's simply too expensive, so I'll just visit it a lot (it's about three hours away).

Also, I have now opened a store! Go check it out! You can buy almost anything you see on the site  there. I have to thank Stephanie Zuppo for all of their help, I was so worried about making it (I'm a technophobe) but it was pretty easy to do!

That's all for me for now. I just finished my comic for Comics for Choice, a charity comic anthology for abortion rights. I'll talk more about that when it's up for funding.