New Comic on the Nib

I was one of the cartoonists that contributed to It Was the Worst of Times , 8 Cartoonists Say Goodbye to 2017.  This year has been a wild ride. let me tell ya. I've never experienced such highs, but I can't remember the last time (if ever) I've been so stressed out for so long. That's not even considering the state of the world. I've grown so much the last three years or so, it's kind of astounding and I'm proud of it. But yeah, it causes a lot of anxiety. I'm also STILL transitioning from grad school, trying to figure out how to be a self sufficient adult. I'm making progress but it's slow, which is frustrating. But hopefully it's leading to something good.

Let's hope 2018 is good and a bit more stable (SPOILER ALERT: there is no way in hell it will be).

My Boyfriend's Birthday Gift.

I gave my boyfriend the sketchbook I've been using for the last three months as a gift for his birthday. He LOVED it (which makes sense. Part of the reason he fell in love with me is because of my art. Also it's a GOOD fucking present). I'm a bit screwed because I don't know if I can top this. I got him this cool set of Munny Ornaments for Christmas and he barely even noticed them because of this gift. I think if I don't make him stuff I'm kind of screwed. 

Anyway, highlights are below:

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Guest appearance by John Wok and Stephanie Zuppo of Conosaurus .

Guest appearance by John Wok and Stephanie Zuppo of Conosaurus .

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ANIME

ANIME

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I still have this dog 11 years later and she still sleeps while I draw in my studio.

I still have this dog 11 years later and she still sleeps while I draw in my studio.

I'm planning of doing a comic in this style.

I'm planning of doing a comic in this style.

This is what my boyfriend called me. From one chaos bomb to another.

This is what my boyfriend called me. From one chaos bomb to another.

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Doing something like this for a fine art show in March. More details coming soon.

Doing something like this for a fine art show in March. More details coming soon.

Back cover. Has that high school notebook aesthetic.

Back cover. Has that high school notebook aesthetic.

XOXO

Me and Conventions

So If you know me in person, you probably know that I hate doing conventions. If you look at my calendar, you will see I do quite a few of them a year. Not nearly as much as professionals, but I never intend to be a professional cartoonist. But this year I did 6 conventions, which for a pert timer who hates them is a sizable amount. 

I hate conventions because I have to sit at a table, often alone, and pitch my work to hundreds of people in a day or two, most of whom don't buy my stuff. In case you haven't read my work, I'm kind of a fragile person (though there is a lot of strength in me. My boyfriend refers to me as a glass cannon) and that is a lot of rejection to put up with for hours on end. Conventions are also expensive most of the time- you've got to pay for housing, food, and travel. Often I can find a place to stay for free, but the rest is usually coming out of pocket. At this point, my most expensive item (minus anthologies) is $10 and I'm making about a $4.50 profit on it. So unless the convention is local, I'm usually losing money on them. (That's why I'm only applying to two non local conventions this year, NYC Feminist Zinefest and CXC in Columbus- I've got places to crash in both cities). 

Drawn on a train while coming home from MICE, which was actually a very successful show for me.

Drawn on a train while coming home from MICE, which was actually a very successful show for me.

 

But all this aside, it doesn't stop me from applying to and going to them. I don't get into a lot of them, but I'm starting to get into more of them. As much as I hate conventions, they are getting easier. My work is getting better and I'm more comfortable interacting with potential customers so I sell more. Seeing the same cartoonists over and over, so I'm making connections which makes me feel more at home. Independent comics is made up of a small community, and conventions is where I can meet people and strengthen my bonds with them over time. These are people that I may potentially work with or just become friends with, but these bonds and support are important. I also have made some very shallow connections with publishers, which could also lead to something in the future.

Anyway, the long of the short of it is conventions are very difficult for me  but they help establish my place in the comics scene so they are worth doing. I will continue to do them. A lot of worth while things are difficult to do, but you can't shy away from that shit, you gotta tackle it head on. Sometimes you gotta kick your own ass into doing things to get where you want to be. Conventions are like that for me. So I'll keep doing them, and hopefully if I'm tabling at one near you, you'll come up and say hi.

Creating is An Enjoyable Experience For Me.

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I just listened to Big Magic on Audiobook. I've been hungry for books and podcasts and media in general about creative productivity. I am a fan of multiple Maximum Fun podcasts, and Gilbert has a show on there called Magic Lessons. The podcast will talk to someone having a creative crisis, give them advice and something to work on, talk to an expert (usually a well known artist in the same vein as the person in crisis), then check back with the person to see if they've made progress. The book is an advice book about how to live a creative life. I was honestly shocked that I liked the podcasts and the book. Gilbert is best known for being the author of Eat, Pray, Love which I always written off as new age-y bullshit. And to be fair, Big Magic and Magic Lessons have a ton of that crap in there too (She believes inspiration comes from the universe and almost has sentient properties). But I enjoyed Big Magic because it addressed the following points that I completely agree with:

Just because you create art you don't get to be an asshole.

Collaboration is important and creating doesn't have to be a solitary activity.

Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can.

Artistic Suffering is bullshit.

The last point is something I feel very strongly about. I remember first coming across this idea in grad school in two ways. The first was re-reading Marbles by Ellen Forney and the second was dumb pretentious dudes in my class. Marbles is a great book about Forney's experience with bipolar disorder. When she's first diagnosed, she feels like it elevates her status as a real artist, along with greats like Virginia Wolf and Vincent Van Gough and many other artists that have dealt with mental illness. She called it, "the crazy artists club". I remember when I first read her book in high school I thought taking pride in suffering was straight up stupid. In the book, she actually grows a bit to realize that her thinking along these lines is flawed, especially after she notices the high number of suicides among the artists she lists and admires. In grad school she was a visiting artist and gave a talk and she was fantastic. But she sold "crazy artist club" buttons and I was like, "Oh yeah. This thing that only dumb art school babies believe in. You are a grown ass lady, what are you doing?" Then there was the conversation between some boys in my class about how their suffering is somehow elevated because they can turn it into great comics (these were the dumb art school babies I was referring to). And many of them didn't actually enjoy making comics. I was BLOWN AWAY by this. Comics are so much work and are so underappreciated compared to other artistic mediums. If you don't enjoy it, why the fuck would you make them?

My work is often about my pain. But I enjoy making it. It's cathartic. It's often fun. I don't love the whole process all of the time (production on books sucks ass), but I love making comics and art more than almost anything else. There are periods of doubt, sure. For example, I am planning on making a book of Everything's Fine strips, a combo of the best of Vol 1 and 2 along with new material. I have 1 more page to draw and 4 more pages to edit, and then I'm finally done with making these comics. And I'm getting sick of making these comics, so that's a really good thing. But I have loved making these for the last 2 years and am excited to create this book (though I'm also INSANELY nervous, I have no idea how to do a Kickstarter). So in the end, it was an enjoyable experience. The majority of comics I make are. Making comics is one of the few activities that gets me out of my own head, it makes me feel present. It usually can make my bad mood go away.

One of the new Everything Fine strips that will go in the book.

One of the new Everything Fine strips that will go in the book.

 

The idea that you have to suffer to make art is ridiculous. Your work isn't more worthy because it was a burden to make. You are not a more valid artist because you suffer for your art. No piece of art is worth suffering over, I don't care how good it is. 

 

 

Moral of the Story: Apply to EVERYTHING.

At the end of August I received three rejections on some comics I had pitched. They were nicely worded rejections, but these coming right after me having figured out that I could never complete the web comic I had spent 8 months writing a script for, it was a devastating couple of weeks. 

You can see how insecure I was in the interview I did. It was not a good scene.

But I had applied for a bunch of other things during that time period, and kept applying to things. So by the beginning of September, I had found out I had won a MICE mini-grant, I had been nominated for a Broken Pencil Zine Award, and was invited to read as part of the Our Comics Ourselves exhibition. In October I got to read at DC Zinefest's Hallowzine event . In early November I got to table at DC Art Book Fair and qualified for a free table based on merit.  Conventions are still hard for me, but the cool thing is, the more conventions I go to the more people I get to know, and the more I solidify my place in the comics community and the easier they get. 

Anyway, long story short, if you are interested  in stuff, apply to it. Keep trying to do things. Apply to everything. Get your stuff out there. There’s no guarantee that you will get what you want, but the only way for them to possibly ever happen is to actually try to get them. If you do nothing that is a GUARANTEE nothing will happen.