I meditate every morning after breakfast. It’s what I do before I sit down in my studio space to work, to clear my mind.
Today, I had a realization during meditation.
See, I started this year with a major, singular goal – all of my other goals were made with this one priority in mind.
That priority was to be able to not need a “day job” by the end of the year, and make all of my earnings through Fantasyville Productions.
My realization during the meditation was this:
“Fantasyville Productions is paying my bills. I have a sizeable savings cushion thanks to my hard work last year. I’m living on my own for the time being. And I’m on track to not needing to work at the comic shop – they only have me there for 4 or 5 hours a week now as the Facebook page manager.
“And for a while, I was actually scared because of losing my hours. But this was what I set out to do this year!”
I was scared because I was succeeding.
Neil Gaiman was right – everyone talks about the fear of failure, but no one talks about the fear of success.
The fear of success is very real. And it’s something I was not prepared for.
The fear of success, as I’m experiencing it right now, is realizing, “Holy banana pants! My plans are actually working! What do I do now? I didn’t think this would actually work!”
There’s also the very real fear that this success will be short-lived. To me, this fear is the most real, especially given the work I do: comic convention season only runs for so long, you know. And by the time Christmas rolls around, there’s no freelance work, and there’s no comicons (aside from quarterly trade shows, which I admit, I haven’t tried yet).
So I think that will be my next step – to face the fear of success and say, “How can I make this last?”
How do I make this success extend all year long, and not keep it seasonal?
I’ll be at the drawing board, of course – not just to draw, but to cook up some new plans.
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 past Sunday, June 17, was not just Father’s Day, but also Kennywood Comicon. Yep, a comicon was held in an amusement park.
It was pretty cool, not gonna lie.
The way the show was set up this year, though, had the artists situated in a picnic pavilion tucked behind the elephant ear booth. It was great to get shade and the occasional breeze. However, we were just tucked away enough that cosplayers by the lagoon had to direct traffic back to us.
Which, holy banana pants, kudos to those cosplayers. It was sunny, humid, and over 90 degrees, and the cosplayers were in full Star Wars and Spiderman/Deadpool get-up. How they did NOT die is a testament to how well con staff treats folks.
I also need to give a big shout-out to my comics buddy and patron on Patreon, Dave. He helped cover for food and helped me carry my con gear back to my car at the end of the day. Thank you so much, Dave!
(I’ll go ahead and take this time to let you know that Dave now has a Patreon page of his own. If you like data graphs showing the methods of dying in the Star Trek original show, or illuminated manuscripts of the Holy Hand Grenade speech from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, get thee to his Patreon page!)
On the upside, sales from Kennywood Comicon DID help make up for the loss I took from Put-N-Play the weekend before. The downside is, not by a whole lot.
That’s partially why I have commission pre-orders open. For folks who are attending my next show on June 24, Feminist Zine Fest Pittsburgh, I’ll draw a black-and-white, full-body commission of a character of your choice for $25. You just need to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get started. If you’re on my email list, you already know all about this, because I just sent an email out yesterday announcing this pre-order sale.
There’s also a couple of appearances I’m set to do on June 23, the day before the zine fest!
If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman’s book, American Gods, like I am, then you know why this piece is called “I Am The Land.” If you haven’t read the book (or read the comic, or seen the TV show) yet, you should fix that. Like, ASAP.
American Gods is one of those books that shook me when I first read it. Every time I re-read it, I discover something new about it. It’s dream-like and jarring yet also grounded (in the sense that the god characters act like people and not like high-concept “I am above petty emotions” personalities. Zack Snyder should learn a thing or two from this book).
One of the recurring characters in American Gods is a man with a buffalo head. He doesn’t outright murder anyone in the book. However, when I got the idea for this piece of art, I finished a section of the comic book adaptation of the novel – specifically, the section about Vikings landing in Canada and killing a Native American, and then the Natives killing every Viking in retaliation. Yes, the account is fiction, but there’s an element of truth to it, to the idea that America is a land stained in blood.
That’s why I made this piece.
This was drawn with my trusty mechanical pencil and Pentel Brush Sign Pen, with colors by my Copic markers. The background color was done with a Kuretake Zig Clean Color FB brush pen. It’s dying out a little though, so I’ll need to replace it soon.
Soon this will be a print measuring 11×17 inches. When it’s in the shop, I’ll announce it on the email newsletter first. It’s going to be a limited print run, though, so because of that, it’ll be a little more than just $10.