A long while ago I wrote a post about my inspirations. Some of those still hold true (looking at you, Paprika). Some, however, have moved to the shelf so I can focus on some new inspirations.
Here’s what been getting my creative juices flowing recently:
KINGDOM HEARTS 3
I loved this series as a teenager. Then I hated it. Now I’m back to enjoying it.
This series is NOT flawless. But it’s like a cup of tea with a bar of chocolate: the best self-indulgence you can get without thinking too hard about it.
Really, the series is at its best when you’re not thinking about the plot. Though, as SuperButterBuns put it, the plot isn’t that confusing: it’s just a lot to remember.
(I also do the Crash Bandicoot logic of boss fights, in that the bosses in the previous games didn’t “die.” They were just defeated once and then came back for Kingdom Hearts 3.)
So what about Kingdom Hearts 3 has been getting me inspired? Well, I’d be lying if I said anything other than “The Organization.”
Or seeing Woody from Toy Story tell one of the Organization members to piss off. That scene gave me SO MUCH LIFE.
Also, Kingdom Hearts fans will get this reference: Yeetas Vanitas.
There’s tons of silly, charming character moments in Kingdom Hearts 3 in particular. Is the voice acting as good as the Union Cross: Back Cover movie? Nope. But the character banter is on point, more so in this game than in any other Kingdom Hearts installment.
And, well, the Organization and the mystery behind each member just intrigues the hell out of me. Not to mention that the characters themselves make good warm-up sketching material. Every character looks and acts differently. And I appreciate that.
Ok, I’ll move on to the next piece of inspiration before I gush anymore:
FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
From Kingdom Hearts’ absolutely bonkers plot to a story with a damn-near flawless plot. Yes, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s story is so expertly woven that it’s really McFreaking Hard for me to find a fault with it anyplace.
Every character has a purpose. Every motivation makes sense. And the action of this series is driven by the motives of the characters, not some invisible hand dragging them by the nose under plot contrivance.
Also, much like Kingdom Hearts, the character designs for FullMetal are just superb.
Really, though, it’s the writing and how the story moves forward that’s been inspiring me the most. It makes me want to write.
I doubt I will ever write anything like Brotherhood. But it gives me something to aspire to, and a benchmark to look at whenever I lose focus.
Above anything else, the humor (and one other thing) of this series has been inspiring me the most lately.
The other day I was marathoning this show in the background while I was doing studio work. And yet the show still makes me laugh, even when I’m not watching it directly.
There’s a soft spot in my heart for any character who fulfills the Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass trope well, and Vash the Stampede is the best embodiment of this trope.
Also, the very first episode of this show is the best introductory episode of any anime I have seen thus far. Period. Don’t believe me? Watch it for yourself. You’re welcome.
Did you know Studio Ghibli (yes, THAT Studio Ghibli) did the animation of some episodes of Trigun? When I learned that, it blew my damn mind.
This is also another series with some damn good writing to it. But for a different reason: FullMetal’s focus was on the characters and motivation. Trigun’s focus in the writing is on the world-building, and Vash’s connection to it.
Once you see the conclusion of Trigun, you will realize there’s no other story like it. And that’s what inspires me.
That’s all for now. I’m gonna’ get back to drawing.
Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. Another fun fact that blew my mind: the English voice actor for Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts also did the voice of Detective Konakawa in Paprika. Now I can’t look at Xemnas half the time without thinking about Konakawa’s dream antics.
I’ve had a Tumblr blog for I don’t know how long exactly. But how I’ve used it has always been a mixed bag.
Lately I’ve discovered the secret (or what I think is the secret) to Tumblr and using it successfully. But before I get to that, I want to make a quick statement of what doesn’t really work on that site…
At least, in my experience.
KickStarter announcements – maybe just don’t share a link to your KickStarter campaign in a post on Tumblr. In my experience, those posts only get a lot of traction AFTER the campaign has ended. And that defeats the purpose of the whole process.
Original Art – this has always been a mixed bag. I don’t really know (personally) any artist who has made posting original illustrations on Tumblr popular. Comics? Maybe. Anthro art? Depends on the crowd. But original characters and comic concepts? Practically dead in the water upon arrival.
Social Justice posts – I know Tumblr has garnered a reputation for “filthy SJWs to make echo chambers” on the site, but actually no – that’s Twitter. The most common issue I see on Tumblr whenever someone tries to make a social justice-related post is someone retorting with a fact-check…or something that they THINK is a fact-check. To be honest, I have a side blog on Tumblr specifically for reblogging social justice-related posts, and those don’t get a whole ton of attention.
Here’s what DOES get attention in my experience:
Tumblr. Is a Site. For Fans.
Archive Of Our Own Fanfiction links? EVERYWHERE. Fanart of video games characters? CONTENT FOR DAYS. Posts dedicated to headcanons (or stuff that a fan made up that may or may not have a basis in the actual content, but they think would work in the official canon)? THERE ARE ENTIRE BLOGS FOR THIS SH*T. And these blogs can even be categorized as ones that are safe for work, or not safe for work.
I came to this realization fairly recently – and also because, of all the posts of my artwork that have gotten popular on my Tumblr blog, the most popular art posts are fanart.
There’s nothing wrong with a site dedicated to fandom. I think it’s great. Sites like Archive of Our Own are a testament to that.
But if you’re an original content creator looking to promote your work? Tumblr is not for you. Tumblr is a site for fans.
(If you’re making a fancomic, though, it’s something to consider).
To that end, I’ve been restructuring my Tumblr blog so that it IS based more in me geeking out about the content I like. So if you want to geek out with me, go check out the re-named blog.
I’ll be blunt – I have generalized anxiety disorder.
It’s not that people make me go, “Oh no I said the wrong thing they’re gonna’ hate me etc.” That’s social anxiety. I don’t have that. I do not fear making a dang fool of myself in front of other people.
No. My anxiety stems more from future-based thinking. Specifically, I’m REALLY good at worst-case scenarios. And my trigger for cooking up worst-case scenarios is getting a bit of unexpected (especially bad) news.
I currently rent my house from my mom while she and her boyfriend do the RV-lifestyle thing. And,
Mom said (at the time of the video) that she was looking to sell the house I’m currently renting within the next year.
She has since changed her timeline and decided the house won’t be listed for 2 to 3 years at the soonest. But when I first got the news, when she told me the 1-year plan, my anxiety kicked into High Time Worst-Case Scenario Cooking Mode.
That, coupled with dealing with my emotions around the death of my grandfather at the beginning of the year – and those feelings resurfacing because we sold/auctioned off the estate – meant that I was in Emotional Shutdown.
So there was a period where I took 4 days off of EVERYTHING in order to take care of myself. No studio work. No side hustles. No freelance. Nothing.
And in that four day period, and in the days after, I had a realization.
The thing is, I’ve made drawing and making art my full-time thing. Drawing and making art is what pays my rent, my groceries, and basically everything else. I do not regret making my art be able to do this, and I’m proud of the fact that my art can do this.
There are a lot of self-care guides out there that recommend that people “make art” as part of taking care of themselves and having time to relax.
Let me be clear: I do make art for self-care, as well as for work. It’s just that the art I make for self-care is VERY different from the art I make for work.
I love comics. Otherwise I wouldn’t have made it my job.
But when I’m in Emotional Shutdown Mode, I do not draw comics. That’s work. Instead, I crochet. I bake. I paint. I do anything but make comics.
Most importantly, I discovered – when I take care of myself, I WRITE.
I’ve been writing so god-diddly-dang much these past two weeks, but not on email newsletters or comic scripts or blog posts.
I write stories.
(Granted, the one story I’ve been writing for self-care purposes is fan-fiction, but it still counts as writing. The act of writing, whether fan-fiction or not, is an act of practicing the skill.)
Do all of these stories I write for self-care become comics I make? God no. Especially the fan-fiction. That shit is for ME.
But for some reason, writing is the catharsis that makes me less angsty. It is the thing that stops the Emotional Shutdown train of thought. And it is the first thing I turn to whenever I feel the Worst-Case-Scenario-Cooking Mode begin.
If you’re an artist, I hope this helps you get some ideas of what you can do for your own self-care. Yes, making art is great. Making art for a living is even better. But you don’t have to be making art all the time in order to be valid.
It’s ok to take time for yourself. And it’s ok if taking care of yourself looks like something besides making art. You have permission to not make art in order to take care of yourself.
Yes, I finally got a copy of Kingdom Hearts 3 and started playing it recently. (Don’t spoil anything! I’m still only one world into the game).
Kingdom Hearts is a game series I have a lot of fondness for in my heart, despite all of its issues. It was the series that convinced my teenage self that video games could be an art form because it prompted SO MANY FEELINGS (instead of just rage and frustration at the mechanics of whatever game I was playing).
This was the series that helped me get through high school. Not just because of its cool game-play or its silly character moments, but also because of the fandom.
Yes, I was one of those fans who giggled at the idea of rearranging Xemnas’ name into “Mansex.” Who loved all the crack comics comparing Saix to a puppy and having Demyx and Roxas use a laser pointer to torture him. I even devoured so many hours of a video series called “The Stupid Files” where a fan with a LOT of time on their hands spliced comedic audio samples over Kingdom Hearts cutscene footage. It was like a precursor to all the abridged anime series’ out now.
Kingdom Hearts as a game series has a LOT of issues. I am not a fan of the fact that the spin-off titles, or “interquels,” change the core mechanics of the gameplay. I did not like the card system of Chain of Memories, but I ESPECIALLY hated the Tetris-inventory mechanics of 358/2 Days. I could not finish either of those games because of those gameplay mechanics.
As a fan of the series, I feel like a lot of those in-between games could have just been made into movies and be JUST as effective. Most fans of Kingdom Hearts I know only ever watch the cutscenes of the side games and play just the anchor games (the anchors being games 1, 2, and now 3).
That’s the thing that being a fan of Kingdom Hearts has taught me: that you don’t have to consume EVERY FACET of a property to be a big dork for the thing.
I will never play the interquel games. At most, I will watch the cutscenes. Heck, you can watch videos on YouTube summarizing the lore of Kingdom Hearts so far and – ta-da – you’re now caught up to the series without having to touch any of the crap side games.
(358/2 Days, why did you have to SUCK?)
That said, I’ve been playing Kingdom Hearts 3 so far – on Proud mode! I haven’t touched a new video game in 13 years and I can play Kingdom Hearts 3 on Proud Mode without dying. That…actually might be more a statement on the game’s difficulty than on my expertise. But that aside…
Playing Kingdom Hearts 3 reminded me why I love this game series in the first place. It’s fun to play (at least the anchor games are). The characters are stilted but they’re still fun. The dialogue is cheesy but it works. And GOOD GOLLY JEEZ, the fact that you can play as a character interacting in Disney worlds is great. I’m looking forward to the Toy Story world the most because those were some of my favorite movies as a kid.
It’s a game series made for people who are young at heart, who need a little light to combat all the cynicism and self-awareness that the video game industry is saturated in. And thank goodness for that.
That’s all I’m going to write for now. I could talk for days about this series.
If I have noticed anything regarding social media platforms in 2018 – from Facebook constantly being pursued because they sell private data, to Tumblr’s crackdown on NSFW content – I have noticed that social media platforms aren’t exactly held accountable. They’re also always changing.
I want to have a space online dedicated for my art, sharing the art and stories of my life, and hearing from you, the reader. And the best place to do that is… this blog.
So, in the spirit of sharing in spaces that are NOT social media platforms, I’m going to start updating this blog once a week in January.
I want to start with once a week updates for two reasons: to not overwhelm myself, and because there’s a lot going on outside of the blog. There’s Validation, The Legend of Jamie Roberts, the projects detailed in the other goals for 2019, and now I have a new job outside of the internet. So, once a week updates it is… for the time being.
Still, I want to share art, news, and stories, and I want to hear your stories, as well.
2: Launch the Lazy Diana Podcast
Lazy Diana is a zine I make. As I like to pitch it at conventions, it’s Magic and Paganism for lazy people. Because not all of us in the field can afford going to the top of a specific hill three days before the first quarter moon and stand under a yew tree. RAVEN.
Lazy Diana: The Podcast will be very much about magic and paganism for lazy people. The plan is to have episodes last ten minutes or less, updating twice a week, with each season being about 16 episodes long. There will be a two-week break between seasons, to give me time to write and record new episodes, edit them, and all that jazz.
For 2019, I want to actually make this podcast a reality! The plan is to have a website for it where people can download new episodes or listen to them on the site itself. I may pursue other platforms (like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, etc), but… I’m not entirely sure how those work. More research will be needed there.
3: Launch the LGBT History Podcast/Radio Show
This has been a goal of mine since 2017, when I started Beyond the Rainbow. Beyond the Rainbow is an LGBT advocacy group in my neck of the woods. Because up until Ohio Valley Pride became a thing, there was no LGBT advocacy group in my neck of the woods.
I do still want to make the LGBT History podcast, for two reasons: a) it’s cool to read about LGBT figures in history, and b) the local radio station expressed an interest in airing it on their station. Their FM station. That broadcasts in the Wheeling, WV area. The mostly densely populated area in my neck of the woods.
This project (and Lazy Diana) had been on hold because I needed a half-decent microphone to record at home. Now, thanks to a Christmas present from my little sister, I have one!
The goal with this series is to update it once a week: this is to keep myself from being overloaded, and also because the radio station has only one time slot for this show to air. Episodes would be half an hour long, probably a little shorter to allow for advertising spots. Again, because that’s the length of time the radio station would allow.
4: Launch Indie Comics Hub
Have you noticed that there’s not a ton of indie comics coverage in the comics news hemisphere? It’s mostly Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and the like. The most indie it gets is Image comics and the occasional coverage of a webcomic that’s managed to garner more than 3000 regular readers.
Well, I plan to launch a website dedicated to indie comics.
Not Image comics. No.
I mean webcomics, small press, independent publishers, and the stuff you can only get at zine fests and comicons directly from the creators themselves.
The website will start with comic reviews and interviews. If you’re a regular reader, you may remember two blog post series’ I had running on this site before: Review Day Tuesdays, and Featured Artist Fridays. In fact, I did a Feature recently on a webcomic artist. Indie Comics Hub will be a website dedicated to just that.
(Plus maybe the occasional Top Ten list, and anything else particular to indie comics).
I hope to not only launch this site, but also grow it enough to bring on at least one other contributor. I hope to monetize it enough to actually pay this contributor, as well. But the first achievement to unlock is to make the dang site.
It will NOT be an online store. When I did my research, I discovered that there are roughly 6 billion online stores advertising themselves as “the hub to buy indie comics.” Indie Comics Hub will NOT be one of them.
5: Grow Patreon to $500 a month
This was a goal I had for 2018, but I neglected it. To be honest, I feel like I’ve neglected my Patreon page somewhat. I update it as consistently as I can, but I feel like I can do MORE with it.
So 2019 is the year I polish up the Patreon page and really drive for patron support. If you’re a patron on Patreon, you know I’ve already made a blog post asking for your feedback for what you would like to see more of in 2019. (And if you haven’t given feedback yet, PLEASE DO!)
If you’re not a patron on Patreon yet, why not? If you’re broke, that’s ok, there’s no pressure to pledge. But if you have the funding to pledge and you haven’t yet, I’d like to know why not. Is it Patreon as a system? Or are there rewards that are missing that you haven’t seen me offer yet?
Be honest and let me know. I want to improve my Patreon in 2019 and I cannot do that without your feedback.
6: Workout at the Gym at least once a week
(Insert joke about getting gym memberships and never using them here.)
Here’s where I disagree: I took weight training classes in high school. I was actually a weight lifter, believe it or not. My personal record is having bench-pressed 180 pounds. There was one time I did 210, but 180 was what I could bench consistently without straining myself.
Both of those weights are more than my own personal body weight. And I miss being able to lift and press things that were heavier than myself.
There’s a satisfaction I get in weight lifting that I don’t get in many other forms of exercise. That satisfaction is being able to see the progression and improvement of how much weight I can move. Being able to track that is a big part of why I like weight lifting so much.
The problem is: I can’t afford a gym membership at the moment. So the only way I can go to the gym is when my mom brings me along as a guest to Planet Fitness… whenever she decides to go. Or remembers to invite me.
However, my buddy and former Dungeons and Dragons player, Dana, was on the lookout for somebody who could tag along with her to the gym. She wants to get in shape, but doesn’t know how the equipment works. (Wee lamb didn’t even know what a bench press was).
And I was like, “TAKE ME WITH YOU, GRASSHOPPER.”
So the plan right now is, starting in 2019, I’ll be Dana’s plus-one at the gym. I show her how the equipment works and train her a bit, and I get to exercise. Win-win!
7: Start and Grow an Indoor Garden
Yes, I have a yard, but a) it’s tiny, and b) the enormous pine trees cast most of the place in shade for 90% of the day. The only space with consistent sunshine is the front of the house, and… we don’t have a front yard. We have a front sidewalk.
However, there’s a big freaking window in my living room that lets in a metric ton of sunlight every dang day. So the plan is to build a shelving unit and start growing some plants there.
I like green things, and I like having plants in a space. It’s aesthetically pleasing, cleans the air, and makes a space feel more alive.
Also, to be honest, I want to see if I inherited my late grandfather’s green thumb. He grew vegetables all year long thanks to his massive outdoor garden and the greenhouse porch he had built. He was most proud of his tomato plants – he was even buried with the tallest one that he had ever grown.
I want to see if I can start something like that.
The idea is to start with herbs and succulents – those are often the hardest to kill on accident. Especially basil. Basil is a surprisingly sturdy plant in my experience. I had a basil plant in Phoenix and it was exposed to constant sunlight. That sucker (his name was Nigel) never died. In fact, putting him in the shade was when he seemed sickly.
The other cool thing about growing plants indoors: FOOD. I want to be able to literally eat the fruits of this labor.
So those are my goals for 2019. There’s smaller ones, too, like drawing one sketchbook page a day, and writing one page a day. Those are connected to the larger goals for the year.
There may be a secret Part 3 of this post series. It would highlight my bullet journal and how I’m going to track all of these goals. But I have to get a bullet journal set up for 2019 first.
What are your goals for 2019? Let me know! I’d love to hear about them. Also, we can be accountability buddies – I want you to achieve your goals, too!