Ok, here’s the deal: I’ll be taking the Storenvy shop down very soon. As in, closing its doors.
Why? Because I want to build my own online store for my website, instead of having it under the Storenvy name.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved working with Storenvy! They were certainly more agreeable than most online stores (ahemEtsyandRedBubbleahem).
However, I’ve kind of outgrown Storenvy – they’re starting to ask for subscriptions out of me in order to do things like email abandoned carts, offer discounts, and have my own domain. Just looking at the math, it would be easier and cheaper for me to host my own dang store.
(To be honest, there would probably be more eyeballs on my store if I hosted it myself.)
With all of this in mind, I want to give the Storenvy store one last hurrah:
From today until SEPT 30, buy anything from the store, and get a free piece of original art from my bin included in your package!
This is a $10 to $30 value – free with your purchase.
Fantasyville Productions, LLC is my business that I filed into existence back in February.
It will now be my label for the books I make and publish. In the near future I intend for Fantasyville Productions to be the publisher of fantasy-themed stories made by other creators, as well as me.
There’s also a podcast in the works, and when it’s ready to go, Fantasyville Productions will be its home.
I have realized that freelancing and having day jobs just isn’t for me. They have helped me get a financial cushion for sure! But I’m at the stage in my life where I’m ready to jump full-time into making Fantasyville Productions (meaning my comics and art) actually pay my bills and get me sandwiches.
It took me a while to realize this, but here’s the thing…
Kia (my little sister and co-creator of Seeing Him) and I are not only back to speaking with each other, but she made me realize a truth I was denying myself:
The truth is I don’t really want to freelance.
Don’t get me wrong: I want to collaborate with folks to make comics. I want to make art in collaboration with folks that resonates with an audience, and get paid for my skill.
The life of a freelancer, though, is based a LOT on multiple gigs – and not just finding multiple illustration gigs.
Freelancing is a lot of skill juggling. For example:
“Ok, Monday and Tuesday I’m cleaning these folks’ homes, Wednesday I’m drawing caricatures at this business party, Thursday and Friday I’m working behind the desk at this store, and Saturday I’m playing ukulele solos at this bar.”
I’ve never really been good at this freelancing thing. It stresses me the f@$k out.
What I AM good at, though, is making stories.
I make my own, I collaborate with folks on theirs, and I find folks to help me with mine.
I’m also very good at going to conventions and selling these stories.
And on Monday, I was talking with Kia about out respective careers, and I was asking for an outside opinion: I needed to know if I should just go full-time on my own pursuits or keep my current “day job.”
I said, “Well, back in April, I managed to make enough money through KickStarter, convention sales, and Patreon to pay off $1000 on my credit card – “
“HOLY SH*T Just do THAT,” said Kia.
Because holy banana pants, she helped me realize that at the rate I’m at now – and the rate I’ve been at for the last year – I’m making more doing my comics than I am working at a “day job.”
(It doesn’t really help much that the only “day jobs” available to me around here are part-time, minimum wage jobs.)
The truth, though, was that I was second-guessing my own ability to make Fantasyville Productions, LLC a feasible full-time endeavor.
I have realized that, especially in the last year, I’m second-guessing myself WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.
I think, too, at a deep level I fear failure. “Yeah we all do,” you might say, but for me it’s different…
I grew up in a family where my mom and dad ran and owned their own business. However, if dad was employed elsewhere, the business would slump. If the business was ok, dad was unemployed. As mom often said, if both dad and the business did well, things would have been a lot better.
When my parents got divorced, mom then got the business. But through a combination of encroaching competitors (coughWalMartcough), the death of one of our suppliers, and just plain old sexism against a single mom running a business and raising 3 kids on her own, the business closed before I was 13 years old.
I saw that failure early, and it left an impression on me that instilled in me the Voice of Professional Doubt.
The Voice of Professional Doubt is the voice in my head that says things like:
“This business will never get off the ground. Keep your day job.”
“You need this day job. Your fantasy business won’t pay all of the bills.”
“You will never have a good day job and a thriving side business if you live here.”
I have realized that by listening to this voice, I was suffocating Fantasyville Productions. I was denying this creation the chance to grow into something that could not only pay for itself, but pay me.
I’m not saying, “Quit your day job and do your own thing!”
Everyone’s situation is different. If you have a side gig, it may not be ready to support you full-time yet.
But Fantasyville Productions is ready to support me. So I need to be ready to support it.
I took a mini-vacation (or “staycation,” since I didn’t travel) from Sunday to Wednesday. During that time, I meditated on these fears, realized what I was doing to sabotage myself, and made vows to myself to make this thing work.
Today, I’ve been working on comics I’m making for clients, plus I finished a new Mr. Dino print, AND I emailed a handful of zine distributors asking if they would like to carry any of my work.
I also heard back from Genghis Con – I’ll be exhibiting there again this year!
I hope to keep this momentum going! I want Fantasyville Productions to succeed! I want more and more people to have my comics in their hands and my art in their hearts.
This website layout has been in use for…I don’t know…3 years? Probably longer. It’s nice on desktop or laptop, but on mobile it can be kind of a pain in the ass to maneuver with.
That’s one reason I want to do a website redesign.
Another reason is: man, I’m kind of out of things to blog about.
Blogging was a hobby. There’s a lot of people (mostly those wanting to make a quick buck) who are like, “you can make money blogging!”
That might have been true in the early 2000s, but the internet commerce model has shifted – away from advertising and towards patronage, sponsors, and well-designed merchandise.
To that end, I have been putting more effort towards my email newsletters and Patreon posts, and less on doing blog posts for this site.
Another reason for the redesign – this website needs to put more emphasis on my art and comics, not just my words.
When I apply for conventions, galleries, etc, and they ask for an online portfolio, I use THIS website. The art needs to be front and center.
So, with all of that said, I don’t want to delete my blog posts. There’s still posts I’m proud of, plus there’s resources, interviews, etc buried in the blog archives. Deleting the blog would delete those resources, and that would break my little librarian heart.
So I need a website that puts my art and comics at the forefront, while still having an archive for blog posts – but still has the ability to track my appearances and the stores that sell my work.
It may take a while before a design is settled on, so bear with me while the dust is up in the air.
If you don’t know what Patreon is, that’s ok: Patreon is an online subscription service that lets you support your favorite artists, often for as little as $1 a month.
To clarify: I have a Patreon page for the comics I write and illustrate under the Fantasyville Productions label. These comics include, but are not limited to:
The Case of the Wendigo
and the upcoming The Legend of Jamie Roberts.
There’s a separate Patreon page for Validation and its related stories (including Mr. Dino & Friends, Roxie Comics, and Tiny Unicorn). That’s because the Validation comics are a collaborative effort with Christian Beranek and myself.
Funding for my Fantasyville Productions comics does not go to Validation, and Validation funding does not go to Fantasyville Productions comics.
I ran the Patreon pledge drive for my page (not Validation’s) because the comic shop I currently work at has cut my hours severely. Like, now I only work there 5 hours a week.
So I ran the Patreon pledge drive to see if a) I could get new patrons to b) help cover the lost income due to my hours getting cut.
The goal was to jump from $180 a month to $250 a month. My goal for the end of the year is to make $500 a month on Patreon alone, so to get to $250 by the half-year point would have gotten me closer to this goal.
By the end of the week, we went from $170 a month to $201 a month.
It didn’t make my goal, but it’s still not bad at all, especially for only having a pledge drive that lasted a week.
What surprised me more was the current patrons I had who increased their pledges – often by an extra $3 a month! That’s amazing!
We also got a new patron on board, which is marvelous, and so immensely helpful.
And so, with the combination of the new patron plus the increased pledges from current ones, we reached one of the Patreon goals listed on the page: at $200/month, I’m now going to draw a patron-exclusive The Case of the Wendigo desktop wallpaper!
Honestly, it’s just amazing that folks who love my comics were willing and able to chip in and help during this tough time. This will help make production of The Legend of Jamie Roberts go just that little bit smoother.
If you would like to pledge support, and help bring The Legend of Jamie Roberts to life, please check out my Patreon page. You can adjust or cancel your pledge at any time.
Even if you pledge $1 a month, you get to see behind-the-scenes development of the comics I do.
If you’re broke, that’s totally ok, because Patreon is optional. If you would rather make a one-time donation, there’s a Paypal donate button on the side of this website, or you can purchase a convention goody from my online store.
I need to air out a thing or two for the sake of transparency.
A while back – specifically, around Awesome Con time – I sent an email out to my newsletter subscribers asking for donations. These donations were to help cover parking fees in Washington, DC, which I forgot to account for in my budget.
Holy dang, I’m surprised it took this long to publicly say where that funding went.
Because in chatting with my table buddy at the event, Carlos, we both decided it would be easier to take metro bus and train into the city, instead of trying to drive in DC traffic and find parking.
So the money raised for the parking fees went into metro tickets into and out of the city during that weekend. Any that was left over helped to cover food for Carlos and me.
Even though the money raised didn’t go towards parking, like I said it would, it still went towards making the weekend run more smoothly. For that, I want to say thank you to my peeps who helped with that.
“Wait,” you might be saying, “Does that mean any money I give through KickStarter is equally not-going-to-things-I-want?”
KickStarter funds go towards fulfilling KickStarter rewards. That’s that.
This blog post was just to clarify what happened with the impromptu fundraiser I did a few months ago for Awesome Con.
That said, fundraising is partially why I’m doing commission pre-orders for Feminist Zine Fest Pittsburgh weekend. (This was mentioned in the previous blog post)
Because here’s the situation:
I’ll be in Pittsburgh June 23rd and 24th for different events connected to the zine fest. While Friday does happen to be my payday from one of my gigs, I don’t expect it to be big enough to cover my bills, let alone bills plus food and gas for the weekend.
So I thought, “Hey, I’ll open up for commissions for a few days and see if anybody would like some character art. And any cash raised can go towards covering food and gas for zine fest weekend.”
And that’s why I’m open for commissions for a few days. I’m offering to draw a full-body, black-and-white character of your choice for $25.
You can get a commission even if you’re not attending any events during zine fest weekend. However, attending any events (from the Big Idea Bookstore appearance to the zine fest itself) means you can pick up a physical copy of your commission from me.