How Did the Be Excellent Festival of Games Go?

my artist alley table at the be excellent festival of games in sylvania, OH 2024

So the Be Excellent Festival of Games happened on Saturday. How did it go?

Well…it was quiet for the first half of the day. It didn’t pick up until the second half. In talking with the other vendors, it made me wonder what the staff’s strategy was to get the word out about this event. This wasn’t the first show I visited that lacked attendees but charged $80 per vendor table.

For context, Genghis Con in Cleveland opened for applications and happens in December this year. They’re charging $70 for a full table and regularly turn out 4 to 5 times the attendance that Be Excellent Does.

Now, I know this is Be Excellent’s second year as a convention. And this is “post-pandemic.” But it does make me wonder about the longevity of some shows, especially local ones.

So there’s the issue of smaller attendance numbers. But there’s also my body.

The day after Be Excellent, I lost my voice for half of the day and was too worn out to do much of anything. This is very different from before. I used to be able to do three or four conventions in a month and, while rough, I still was ok.

Now? I’m pooped after one event that had no customers until 3 hours into the show.

I think it’s time I start to phase out of doing conventions.

Whether that means taking up a “day job,” or putting more eggs in online sales, commissions, gallery shows, etc – I need to stop doing conventions. It’s funny because pre-pandemic, I had serious thoughts of retiring from cons. Now, I think it’s time to start acting on that plan.

I’m going to be sad about this for a bit. Because conventions were a big part of how I made an income pre-pandemic. But the world has changed, so I need to do the same.

I’m still going to the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Fest and the Free RPG Day event. And if I get into Genghis Con, I will honor that. But I need to respect my body more.

Speaking of Ann Arbor, you can find me this upcoming weekend – June 15 and 16 – at the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival! I still have Caticorn prints and lots of stickers and books available, so be sure to stop by my table.

I still had fun at the Be Excellent Festival! It helped that my roommate and buddy Alex was with me. And also I saw a lot of friends and hung out with some very cool neighboring vendors. Would I do it again next year? Probably not. I need to be kinder to my energy.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

You. Are. Awesome.

I’m Discontinuing Art Books (For Now) – Here’s Why

a zine opens to two illustrations. On the left is a dragon in a vest, holding a magic staff. On the right is a dragon man, wielding a dagger and shield. Fingers from a white hand hold the spread open.

I’m discontinuing the print runs for my art books, including Witches, Gods & Spirits, and Dragons. Here’s why.

First, the cost of printing has gone up. Since 2021, the cost of printing books has increased across all the printers I work with. This is especially true for the printer who runs Witches, Gods & Spirits, and Dragons. (Stars of Fantasyville and CATS got printed with a different company.)

Second, when I looked at my sales stats across the decade, the numbers shocked me. I ran my numbers to account for which books earned the most from crowdfunding AND convention sales.   Dragons and Gods & Spirits barely made it in the top 10 overall earners list and the top 10 earned per year list. Neither title made it to the top 5 in either. Witches only made one list (top earners overall). 

And that’s if I took out Johnson & Sir from the stats. If I left that title in, the outlook for those art books looked worse.

Third, and this is the big one for me – I’m feeling called not to make any more art books. My energy wants to make more comics, and any art that’s not comics wants to be stickers and prints. Not art books.

I also want to work on and grow The Legend of Jamie Roberts. It’s hard to do that when time and energy are being put into art books that cost more and more to print but sell less and less. So I’m taking art books out of the equation, so more time and sweat can go where it wants to go – making comics.

So what does this mean?

Well, there are some shops I sell on consignment with who are carrying the last of my art books. Last week I dropped off the final copies of Witches and Gods & Spirits at Handmade Toledo. Quimby’s in Chicago and Indie Northern KY are also options if those are closer to you.

This also means no Junicorn or Inktober art books for the foreseeable future. My energy is not called to participate in those challenges anymore. So I’m going to honor that. I would rather pursue things out of joy and curiosity, not obligation. And Inktober doesn’t inspire me the way it used to.

The good news is – if you want art, prints and stickers are still happening! In fact, I’m hoping to do a flash sale soon to get two new sticker designs in print. If you saw this livestream replay, you may know which designs I’m talking about. Hint: Godzilla be thicc.

Here’s the difference – prints and stickers are happening when I want to make them. Not out of a viral art challenge or out of a sense of obligation. I’m making the art I want to make, that I feel called to make, that I think would bring joy to others. I want that to be my driving force moving forward.

Having said that, there are two exceptions (ish) to the final-run art books: Stars of Fantasyville, and CATS. Stars have a ton of extra copies left – like, over 60. I’m not doing another print run because the first print run is still in stock. But I won’t do a second print run of it either. 

CATS, on the other hand, will get reprinted as soon as possible. It was only released less than a year ago! It hasn’t had the chance to expand its reach yet. Also, it brings joy to me and many others.

As for the other books? It’s time their runs come to an end.

Don’t get me wrong – the art books did bring me joy at the time. But for reasons including the cost of printing, slumped sales, and discontinued interest, I’m letting the concept go.

Thank you, art books! You brought joy to me and a lot of others. I think it’s time to let you rest so new stuff can be made.

Stay tuned for more of that new stuff – including that flash sale I mentioned.

Thank you for your understanding and your support.

You. Are. Awesome.

Available for Pre-Order for 3 DAYS ONLY – Dragon Baby Pride Keychains

dragon baby pride keychain crowdfundr ad for three days only

They’re here – and they need your support!

For folks who liked my blue baby dragon keychains, you’re gonna LOVE these new Pride Baby keychains! They’re the same size as the blues, roughly 2 inches square (not counting the keyring). Plus they’re printed on one side in sturdy, clear acrylic. They also come with a protective film on the front to save the babies from scratches.

Why make a Dragon Baby keychain with LGBTQ+ pride colors? Well, to let folks know that they’re not alone. That they can be brave AND adorable at the same time. And if people take issue with that? Well, a baby dragon is still a dragon. Never meddle in their affairs (for humans are crunchy and good with ketchup).

Anyway, these babies are now up on Crowdfundr for 3 DAYS ONLY!

Why Crowdfundr?

While Crowdfundr is new (to me, and I’m sure to you, too), they’re actually sponsoring this year’s Small Press Expo – a show I’m going to!

I also spoke with a representative from Crowdfundr. These folks have worked with other comics artists, so they know what creators like me (and patrons like you) are looking for in a campaign.

Also…the platform is smooth as heck to work in. AND you can mix and match your own reward bundles!

Do you want just a keychain? You can do that. Or maybe a sticker, keychain, AND a painting? You can do that, too! Want 15 keychains and a page from Dragons: A Sketchbook? Make it happen! I’m already in love with Crowdfundr because of this mix-and-match reward system alone.

I hope you give this new platform a try – and I hope you support these Dragon Baby Pride Keychains!

If you’re broke, check out the campaign and click the share buttons. There are a TON of options, yo.

That’s all for now. Thank you for your support!

You. Are. Awesome.

I’m Showcasing My Work At Aistear Brewing

Starting today, and running until October 22, I’m showcasing my work at Aistear Brewing in Bowling Green, Ohio! Ah, my old stomping grounds.

I reached out to the owner and asked if he was interested in showing off my prints. He agreed – and he also offered me a spot in Aistear Con in October. These prints and mini-prints will be on display in their gaming area until the start of Aistear Con on October 22.

Not in the area? Some of these prints (but not all) are also available in my Ko-Fi shop. Some of the prints on the wall are exclusive to Aistear, though (sorry).

That’s all for now! Thank you for your support! Without it, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

You. Are. Awesome.

Life Without Facebook (So Far)

It has been exactly 2 months since I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted the business page for my art. And I’m going to talk a bit about my life without Facebook (so far).

For one thing, I am WAY less stressed about politics.

Facebook makes it very easy to see political opinions alongside cat videos. There is no separation of fun from calls to anger (or action). Why Facebook is so upsetting with political posts is because it’s the easiest way to discover that your close friends or family don’t hold the same opinions that you do – and they aren’t willing to change their mind about it. And the trap that Facebook sets up is the idea that you can talk with the other person in an effort to change their mind.

Speaking as someone who worked at a doctor’s office that quickly became a drug addiction clinic, I can tell you THIS surprising truth I learned:

The Venn diagram of people who are addicted to drugs, and people who hold racist/white supremacist beliefs, is only one centimeter off from a complete circle.

And unfortunately, on Facebook, I saw a lot of people who defended their beliefs with the same fervor as people who were addicted to drugs. The person thought they were in complete control over their addiction/feelings. The truth is, they aren’t. The drugs/feelings are controlling them. And voices of disagreement against them trigger a defensive response. Because the person addicted to their beliefs doesn’t want to admit that their emotions are controlling them. They don’t want to admit that they have a problem, because they think they don’t have one.

The sad truth is: you need to treat people who are stuck in certain beliefs the same way that you treat drug addicts. And that is: they have to admit that there is a problem first.

Until the addict admits that there is a problem, they will just continue going downhill.

To me, Facebook as a platform, and the people who use that platform, are going that route.

I’m glad I left when I did. Since I’m not on Facebook (or Twitter!) anymore, I’ve developed a more…realistic view of things. To me, that means that my understanding of things come from real life, not some apocalyptic think-piece someone posted at 3 am on Facebook. Gods I do NOT miss those.

I also don’t miss my posts being ignored by the algorithm.

Being on Instagram means that I’m still subject to the whims of a Facebook-esque algorithm, but in general, more people on Instagram are following me for the art I post. I may also get an account on TikTok, but I’ve seen news pieces talking about how the platform may get banned because it’s Chinese. So who the f*ck knows.

Thankfully, since I left Facebook, I’m not constantly being asked to spend ad money to promote a post to the audience that I ALREADY have.

However, I can’t run Instagram ads. Running ads on Instagram requires a Facebook account. Which I don’t have anymore.

So, with that said, I’ll have to get more creative with my promotions and outreach. I have yet to decide whether or not to return to Twitter. Gods I hope I don’t have to.

I still have an email newsletter though! And right now, that’s the best “social media” platform to stay in touch. If you’re not on it yet, you can sign up for free. I don’t give your email to anybody because that’s shady as heck. (Ok, soft plug done).

Also, in the meantime, I’ll be posting more often on the blog here. I’m playing with the idea of writing a new blog post every day. Just personal posts – no attempts at the traditional blog posts like my Writing for Comics or Freelance Lifestyle posts. I’m retiring those. I’ve written all I want to write for those topics anyway.

So yeah!

In short – I’m glad I left Facebook. I’m happier and more balanced. It’s also making me more creative in how I do outreach for my business.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.