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Free Comic Book Day…Promo Poster

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I have just spent the better part of half of the day making this flyer. I’m actually kind of proud of it!

I made this flyer for the Apache Junction Public Library, as I will be speaking and doing demonstrations of my comics-making process that day. May 3, Phoenix, AZ. You should be there (I would love it if you make it).

Now who all can you spot in the picture?

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Johnson & Sir’s New Book Cover

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I finished the book cover for Johnson & Sir today!

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With any luck, the first book of Johnson & Sir will be out in time for Phoenix Comicon in June!

The book will have the first 24 or so pages of the webcomic, as well as sketches and other behind-the-scenes bonus material, like the initial concept art and never-before-published pages.

I’ll announce when it’s ready to go, so keep checking back in.

P.S. I’m also thinking of redesigning this website. So brace thyself for any changes that may occur.

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Comic Shop Smorgasbord

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Today my sis, my brother-in-law, and I went out for lunch, and on the way back home, I saw a comic shop and we HAD to stop by.

The place is in Phoenix, AZ, and is called Dr. Fantasy’s Comic Books ‘N’ More.

VISIT THIS MAJESTIC MEDIA HAVEN AT ONCE (if you’re in the area).

After much consideration and browsing through ALL THE AMAZING COMICS, I finally decided to get these…

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That is a Bone plushy of Smiley Bone (my favorite Bone and oh my goodness is it soft!), Bucko by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen (I follow Erika Moen on Twitter and LOVE her stuff, so I had to buy), Loki, Agent of Asgard issue 1, and the collected Guardians of the Galaxy (I had to read this series before seeing the movie this summer).

I also saw a lot of promotional posters for Free Comic Book Day, which reminds me that I need to finish my promo poster ASAP. I’m making the poster for the Free Comic Book Day Event at the Apache Junction Public Library, where I’ll be speaking, showing off my work process, and selling some new prints and bookmarks.

Thank you for tolerating my promotional paragraph. As a reward, here’s a GORGEOUS Ganondorf figure among the figures in Dr. Fantasy’s Comic Books N More:

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I tried to get a close-up, but the camera got blurry.

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My Life as a Genderqueer Person

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If you’ve ever met me in person, you know that I have a woman’s body, but I’m not 100% feminine. I wear cargo pants more often than I wear dresses. I don’t hardly ever wear makeup unless someone makes me, because it feels slimy and gross to me. But I’m not against wearing mini-skirts with leggings, or Renaissance fair dresses with corsets.

I’m not 100% woman, but not 100% man, either.

That statement might weird you out a bit. You’re probably used to the idea that girls are girls and boys are boys no matter what, and that all girls love pink and all boys love trucks.

I’m going to blow your mind a bit and say that gender (being boy or girl) is not fixed, and it’s not either/or. You can be a physical man who feels like you’re a woman, a boy who likes both trucks and glitter, or a girl who loves bugs and martial arts, or anything.

Gender is a spectrum, and you can fall anywhere on the line. To further explain, here’s a video by Hank Green talking about Sexuality and Gender and a comic that explains it pretty nicely.

Now back to me because I want to talk about my experiences as a genderqueer person.

I grew up in the country, in southeast Ohio to be specific, by the Ohio River. There was a creek that flowed in front of our house, and our house sat between two hills. We had one neighbor, but the rest of the town was half of a mile away from us and had less than 300 people. Everyone knew everyone.

I knew I was different since I was wee little: I would play in the dirt and collect bugs, or cover my whole body in mud or paint, or go adventuring in the woods in my backyard pretending to be an explorer. The thing I did most often was crawl through a tunnel, because there was a tunnel that connected a stream next to our house to the creek in front of it. I would crawl through that and just play pirates or mermaids on the beach of the creek. Sometimes I roped my little sister into it, and when mom found us, she would forcibly bathe us and make us stay inside the house for the rest of the day. And staying inside was TORTURE.

My mom for the most part was tolerant (except for crawling through the tunnel. She hated that). She herself grew up as a tomboy, playing volleyball and softball and playing with two of her older brothers. She actually has six older brothers, but most of them were too old for her shenanigans when she was growing up. My point is, she was not adverse to doing more boyish things.

But she also grew up in the 60′s, and believe it or not, gender roles and what was expected of you to fit in them were pretty rigid in that time period. Everyone expected my mom to be a housewife, or at the most, a secretary.

These gender roles affected my dad, too. He grew up with an older sister in a household that fit the ideal of the 60′s mentality: mom and dad, sister and brother, nice house with a garden and a pet, etc. And on the surface, it was all…expected.

He probably didn’t expect to raise three girls, two of which were tomboys, with a tomboy wife.

I wasn’t completely boyish though. I remember watching The Little Mermaid on repeat from the ages of four to six, and I grew up watching the other Disney princesses. One time for Halloween, I went dressed as a mermaid. Of course, I was made fun of for it by a bunch of boys, which deterred me from doing a girly costume ever again (twelve year-olds are vicious no matter what people tell you).

Despite being teased, I still liked my girly stuff as much as I liked my boyish stuff. I still remember playing with Buzz Lightyear as much as I played with my Ariel doll.

One experience, however, stands out to me as the defining moment of my genderqueer-ness. When I knew that I had a LOT more boy in me than people expected, and when I felt more like a boy sometimes than I felt like a girl.

I started watching Dragonball Z.

The girl part of me went, “You know this is a stupid show right?” And yet the boy side of me was like, “I don’t care! I want to see Goku smash Frieza’s face in!”

When I tried to tell my friends (who were girls) about the show, I got the profound feeling that they thought I was dumb. Two of the three thought it was worthy of making fun of (and they did. A LOT) and the third was so into bubblegum pink that she didn’t know what to make of it. She certainly didn’t know what to make of me, who loved the show more intensely than even the boys in the class.

I still loved that show though. It made me want to learn martial arts to defend the people I cared about, to vanquish the enemies I saw in the Disney movies, to be the princess who could save herself.

Actually, I didn’t want to be a princess. I was the weird girl that wanted to be a knight in shining armor.

Growing up, I sometimes wondered if I was meant to be a boy rather than a girl. But I could never abandon the more feminine parts of me. Those were the parts that made me cry in public, that made me love princesses and Disney and cats, that wanted to make cookies so I could eat them all for myself.

Most people in my country town did not know what to make of me. I still remember being in first grade and saying, “I want to be a fireman when I grow up,” and people told me, “Girls don’t do that.” So I went, “Fine, I’ll be a spy.” And they said, “No, girls can’t do that.”

But if I said I wanted to do something more domestic, like being a writer or a painter, they said, “Oh, you can do that. But boys still do it better.”

This despite the fact that both of my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be. They never discouraged my dreams of being a spy or wanting to learn how to kick people’s faces in.

Over time, my parents divorced, and my sisters and I moved to a larger town closer to central Ohio.

For the first two years of high school, I dressed like a boy: baggy T-shirts and jeans, my wild mane of a hair tied back into a pony tail. I kept my love for martial arts and boy stuff a secret, because I had learned to hide it after being teased for it throughout middle school.

I eventually made friends with the token lesbians of the high school, which OF COURSE prompted everyone to think I was a lesbian too.

At the time, I didn’t know if I was or not. But I never dated a girl and had no urge to, despite the fact that lesbians had crushes on me (and still do). I thought that girls were pretty, sure, but they didn’t strike my romantic fancy like boys did.

Over time, I changed my clothes to be more girly: I started wearing tighter T-shirts to show off my narrow waist, and even…skirts (skirts! The last refuge of vandals and scoundrels!). I hid my boyish side deep, deep down, never showing it to anyone.

It wasn’t until college that I started to embrace both my femininity AND my masculinity. I started having friends who understood that I wouldn’t fit the stereotype of what a woman should be. Not only that I wouldn’t fit the stereotype, but that I SHOULDN’T. And several of my friends were that way, too. There were boys who knitted and girls who adored shonen manga, and many people I came to knew started to explore and embrace the people they would become.

College was where I encountered trans people for the first time, which was entirely new to me. But I partially understood where they came from, because of my own experiences of not being certain of my own gender. Yes, I had pronoun slips a few times with them, but I was learning. I like to think I’m better about that now, even though everyday I learn something new about gender and how people embrace it or are hindered by it.

I have to add a caveat: I understood my trans friends’ emotions, but I could never fully understand everything about their experiences. I will never know what it’s like to have a man’s body but hate yourself for it, to long to be a woman in body AND spirit. I will never know what it’s like to want to be a man more than anything despite that your body still menstrates. I will never know the societal sting of going out in public presenting as the opposite gender and being harassed for it constantly. I will never know what it’s like to date someone as a trans person, because that has ALL KINDS of implications and complications.

Being genderqueer is an entirely different experience than being a trans person.

With that said, over the years I accepted both my masculine and feminine sides. There would be days I wore skirts, and days I wore camo pants and tank tops. I sometimes have half a mind to wear men’s deodorant or fragrances, and not just because men’s products are more effective and comfortable than women’s.

In fact, when I started working my summer job, drawing caricatures at an amusement park, there would be people who would think I was a man and address me as “Sir.”

And I didn’t mind.

I still don’t.

I’m fine with being called “he” OR “she” (or even “zhe,” if you want to get into the invented-but-not-quite-accepted pronouns. There’s a list, which you can find on this Wikipedia page).

I grew up being called “she,” so I’m used to that. I’m still getting used to being called “he” more often, but I don’t mind if you call me a “he.”

If there’s anything I hope you get out of this story, I hope that you understand that what I am as a person is not alien. Just because I fall in the middle of the gender spectrum doesn’t mean I’m less of a person, or a better person than you. It’s not that at all.

My identity may not fit what you expect, and I’m fine with that. And if my story has made you reconsider how you view your own gender or the gender of others, that’s cool.

We need to consider that a person’s gender is not black and white. People are complex and awesome, just as they should be.

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What’s Jamie Roberts Up To?

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The Legend of Jamie Roberts is now fully scripted! I’m at the point now where I can draw concept art, like the art above. That tiny person towards the bottom is Jamie, and she is standing in the abandoned underground city of Kinyaht.

There will also be a LOT of editing over the next month. I’ll be obsessively using How To Revise A Novel as a reference during the process. If you’re editing your own work, USE THAT LINK. It will save you a lot of stress.

More updates soon!

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Validation’s Book Cover…In Progress

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Please excuse how late this update is today, but I’ve been drawing up a storm.

Most recently, I’ve been drawing up some ideas for Validation‘s book cover:

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…And I threw in a little Rubber Duck: The Reckoning (I still want that to be a real movie).

These are just some initial ideas for the book cover, front AND back. Christian and I haven’t reached a decision yet.

I kept them loose and stick-figure-like because I just want the idea across. I’ll save the tight rendering for the final choice.

What do you think? Which do you prefer?

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Vacation is Over, and Now…

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Believe it or not, despite the daily blog updates, I was actually on a little vacation this past week.

My mom flew in to visit here in Arizona, so I was spending some quality time with my family, including some time at the San Diego Zoo:

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I saw my first panda! They’re smaller than I thought they would be.

There’s also been a lot of movie-watching. I recommend The Great Gatsby but NOT The Wolf of Wall Street. The former is what the latter wishes to be.

I also recommend The World’ End. It’s fascinating and hilarious, and the ending really got to me. It’s a movie that sticks to you, in a good way.

Today’s my last day of vacation. Tomorrow, I’m back to the drawing board!

And now that I’m not on RedBubble anymore, I can focus on making new art and comics for Storenvy, ValidationJohnson & Sir, and the Free Comic Book Day event at the library (date, time and location are on the sidebar of this blog).

I’ll do my best to update this blog everyday (hey, I’ve been doing pretty good so far). There will be sketches and works in progress for the projects this week, and I also want to do a series of posts about the making of my comics. Writing, layouts, sketching, inking, colors…

So keep checking back!

And for an inspirational photo of the day, behold a shade nook under a tree:

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Why I Left RedBubble

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This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I had an account at RedBubble, a print-on-demand place for artists to share their work and make a mint with their art printed on stickers, phone cases, T-shirts, postcards, etc.

I had an account with them a few years ago, left, and then last year or so came back to them. I wanted to try and get more involved in the community, see what other artists had to offer, and try to actually sell something.

RedBubble is not the first print-on-demand art site that I’ve tried. Years ago I had an account on Zazzle.com, which was by all accounts a failure. The upload system they had was clunky, their storefront systems even more so, and I didn’t even know they had forums (much less how to get to them) until after I left.

Of the two, RedBubble was far superior, though there are still some things lacking that made me leave today.

First, while their storefronts (or profiles, however you want to view it) are nice, they’re not customizable. At least you can sort your works into collections like T-shirts or Fanart, which helps. It just isn’t what I’m looking for.

Second, the people looking at my work on RedBubble were…other people on RedBubble. The website is large, but it’s pretty insular. Everyone knows everyone and if you DO make sales, it’s likely the buyer is another Bubbler. That was the case with my friend Melanie.

Third, though it was relatively easy to share your work on things like Facebook and Twitter, it’s not that much of an improvement. Again, RedBubble is pretty insular, and people outside of the site don’t know what it is.

Fourth, I wasn’t selling ANYTHING. For over a year.

I admit I didn’t market it very well. Even most of my readers will be like, “Woah, you were on RedBubble?”

Honestly, though, I’ve had WAY more success on Storenvy. At least there, I average one sale a month and I would love to boost my sales even more. I can customize the store AND decide what I sell. Win-win!

So, thanks RedBubble, but you were not for me.

Unfortunately this means you won’t be able to get the T-Rex Sissy Fight as a T-shirt…FOR NOW.

(I’ll look elsewhere and if I find a good printer, pre-orders will be coming. Watch out here on the blog, because that’s where I’ll be posting the news!)

If you want to visit my Storenvy store, you can click here or click on the “Shop” link along the top of the page.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found this helpful!

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The Story Behind Johnson & Sir

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I love making Johnson & Sir.

And not just for the T-Rex Sissy Fights.

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Or the Noodle Trees.

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Or Sir’s Sirness.

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I REALLY want this to be a thing on Tumblr.

I love Johnson & Sir largely because of something that most readers don’t know about until today: the story behind why it exists.

Originally, Johnson & Sir started with my little sister and me hanging out and playing Jak II.

There are bad guys in that game called Krimzon Guards (which are pretty much elf police because everyone in that game was an elf or a talking beast). The fun part is, when you’re making Jak stand idle in the street or you’re just being bored, you can overhear the Krimzon Guards talking to each other and being bored.

My sister and I started to have fun with it and we spit-balled our own made-up dialogue between two Krimzon Guards, whom we called Johnson and Sir. And it was Johnson’s job to make Sir’s life as miserable and odd as possible. At that time, any time I drew them, it was a running gag that you would never see Johnson’s face (kind of like Wilson’s hidden face in the show Home Improvement).

Also Johnson cross-dressed. A LOT. And hit on Sir any chance he could.

For a few years, it stayed as an inside joke between my sister and me until I went to college. It was there that I shared the idea with my roommate, and then we went nuts with it and developed Johnson and Sir even more. There were insinuations of scandalous affairs, dry humor, the works.

Over time, my roommate moved out, college happened, and for a while I forgot about Johnson and Sir.

UNTIL ONE DAY…

It was in March of 2013. My older sister was in town for a few months until she could move to Arizona (long story). And by that time, I was dating Marc the Boyfriend for a bit. All three of us decided to go out to lunch together and just hang out.

While there, not only did I make Marc the Boyfriend giggle at the banter between my sister and me, but we both ended up talking about Johnson and Sir with him.

It happened a little like this:

Me: I’ve been thinking about getting into webcomics, but I don’t know what to make.

Sister: Dude, you should make a comic about Johnson and Sir. That shit cracked me up.

Marc: What’s that?

So afterward I sketched a few character designs, got a few ideas for strips from my sisters, and then Johnson & Sir was born.

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Some new characters were added over time, too.

Although Johnson & Sir has gone through a lot of changes in art, the humor is always there, and I hope it stays that way.

If you would like to read it (and you should, because it’s ridiculous and fun), you can start reading it here.

And then you will be part of a wonderful, fantastic inside joke.

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Abandoned Projects: Drawn Silly

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Oh boy this is an OLD one.

Today’s project feature is my (very) old journal webcomic, Drawn Silly.

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Way back in 2010 (oh god that was four years ago as of today)…

As I was hanging out with the college Cartooning Club and talking about webcomics and the possibilities within them, I started to wonder how I could get into this webcomic thing.

At the time, journal webcomics were either emerging or had been around for a short time, and I went, “Oh I could do that!” So I did.

I liked this project so much at one point that I made prints of one of my favorite pages:

Click the image to get to the page where you can get a print of your own. (YAY subversive advertising)

The problem? I never updated it consistently.

It also got to a point where I wasn’t excited to work on it, and I felt like I had nothing new to share. That, and college got more intense and there was some personal drama going on with one of my ex’s.

So I stopped the project the semester after I started it.

HOWEVER…

Within the last few months, I’ve been considering getting back into journal comics, but making the art WAY simpler (i.e. no markers or colors, so I can more easily update daily).

Though I won’t lie, I’ve been considering starting it again, largely because my older sister is encouraging me to do it if only so she can co-star in it. For a while the project was called Adventures with a Bipolar Sister.

Over time, her diagnosis changed from being Manic Depressive to having Borderline Personality, so that title fell by the wayside.

If I DO move forward with the idea, we both decided it should be called Adventures in Adulthood, because adulthood is FRACKING WEIRD and I want to have as much fun with it as possible.

I still really want to make it. Would you read it?

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