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.
Saturday, May 26 was the second annual YWCA Mini-Con in Wheeling WV. And there were a couple of things I forgot from last year:
a) just like last year, this fell on the same day as a marathon happening in downtown. So my usual route to get to the YWCA was closed off. Oops.
b) there was AC, but the room we were set up to sell our wares in was large and didn’t circulate the air.
c) I had wall space!
I took full advantage of that wall space to hang up my clearance prints. I sold way more comics than prints, BUT I did sell two clearance prints. THAT helped.
In fact, a lot of my clearance stuff got sold out at this show. Thank you, peeps who bought those! You helped clear the way for new art and comics in the future.
If you’re interested in any clearance or limited edition things, here’s a link to my Storenvy shop. There’s TWO “Jamie and the Dragon” miniprints left! And FOUR “Faerie Queen” left!
Back to the show, it was great to be there once more. Seeing all my repeat fans, getting to know peeps better, chatting with the pagans in attendance (Wheeling has a surprisingly large pagan contingent in the city). It was all fun!
By the end of the day, it was the most profitable one-day show I had done thus far. In fact, I made more than I made at last year’s show! I think the clearance items helped. So did having two new books and some new zines.
10/10. Would do again.
(Also there was pizza given to vendors. My “Smile! Pizza Loves You” shirt I wore that day was prophetic!)
And now, I’m going to rest before I restock and prep for the next show. I am, as the French would say, le pooped.
My next show is not until June 8 through 10, at Put-N-Play at Put-N-Bay. I have never been to this con. I’m only going because my buddy and Dance Around the Maypole collaborator Chloe talked me into it. Wish me luck!
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. River City Comic Con got cancelled. The organizer has fallen into ill health. Be sure to wish him well on the River City Facebook Page!
Genghis Con happened last Sunday, November 26th in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland.
This was actually my first time in Cleveland, and I had no idea that the city was so FREAKING HUGE.
Genghis Con happened in a building that was once a former warehouse – as such, the elevator the exhibitors used was a cargo elevator.
At least attendees could take the stairs if they were able. I didn’t see a people elevator when I was there.
Anyway! I originally requested only a half table, and I was set to be seated next to my buddy Carlos Rivera, who runs Youngstown Indie Creator Expo (he was going to promote Yo-ICE at Genghis Con). However, he had to cancel at the last minute because of bronchitis. Carlos, if you’re reading this, for the love of Pete, take it easy and take care of yourself.
So yeah, I ended up having a full table.
I have this layout down to a SCIENCE.
I would like to tweak the table layout again, though: there are so many small things that it takes a long-ass time to set up, AND a long-ass time to break down everything.
That’s partially why I have a sale going on Storenvy. More on that in a minute.
In terms of sales (and trades – I’m always up for trading books with peeps), the show went well! It wasn’t as successful as the YWCA Mini-Con, but it was more of a success than RathaCon. Still, people got to discover my work and sign up for the email newsletter. Plus I got some cool stuff.
To top it all off, I came across my old caricature buddy, Clarence, from my days drawing caricatures at Cedar Point back in 2012. He invited me over to another caricature buddy’s house for Burger Fest – an annual-ish tradition where caricature buddies get together and eat burgers.
To which I was like “HECK YEAH.”
There’s something to be said about saying “Yes,” to the right things. Don’t say yes to everything (otherwise you’d have some weird experiences, if Yes Man is any indication). It also helps to know what your focus, or as Neil Gaiman put it once, “your mountain,” is. Anything that pulls you away from your mountain does not deserve a Yes.
To me, being in one place with people I hadn’t seen in years just after a good indie comic convention was a good reason to say Yes.
Thank you for reading.
You. Are. Awesome.
P.S. Yes, I’m running a sale on Storenvy – from now until December 18th, you can check out the new Clearance section, where things like mini-prints, mini-comics, and posters are anywhere between 20-50% off. Once these are gone, they’re GONE. So be sure to get them before December 18th.