My “Plump the Post” Zine Submission

an illustration of a plump transgender/nonbinary person holding a flower. Below them is a banner saying "liberation" and above them flies the genderqueer flag.

I can’t remember the exact year that Plump the Post happened. But I think it was no later than 2018.

Plump the Post was a zine collecting art made by and for fat representation. For my entry, I wanted to highlight chubby genderqueer people because they’re valid, too.

(Also Hollywood has a tendency that even IF they highlight trans characters, they’re, 99.9% of the time, skinny.)

The model who served as inspiration for this piece was a friend of a friend, a chubby trans dude whom I am not naming to protect his privacy.

Is the zine available for sale? Well, it’s here.

Will there be another issue? Hard to say.

But I’m glad I participated in it.

Writing for Comics 101 – Making Pages You Can Actually Read

In today’s lesson of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about making pages you can ACTUALLY read.

How do we do that? By not packing the pages with an obscene amount of dialogue.

Or at least, if you HAVE to keep so much dialogue, how to pace it out so it’s not a word brick.

This technique is something discussed in more detail in Making Comics by Scott McCloud, so what I’ll do for today’s post is share my mistakes so you can learn from them.

Let’s take a look at this page from Seeing Him, written by Kia Crawford and drawn by me:

seeing him transgender webcomic page 25

To be honest, there’s a way to get the information across that we need, without using a fuck-ton of dialogue.

We could:

  • split this between two pages,
  • condense the banter,
  • condense the backstory drop,
  • change the page layout,
  • change the balloon layout,
  • or any combination of these.

At least past me had the sense to split the dialogue into separate balloons. That way the page felt, at the time, a little less like a word brick.

This is me spit-balling some ideas right now on how to fix this page of Seeing Him: we could change the camera focus in the second and third panels, to cut away to framed photos on the walls. Those photos could showcase the history of the venue. With that edit, we can split the dialogue up some more, re-frame where the speech balloons sit, and make the page feel like less of a collection of talking heads.

Compare this page to The Legend of Jamie Roberts, page 65, written and drawn by me.

the legend of jamie roberts genderqueer lgbtq pirate adventure webcomic page 65

Here, I let the space breathe and tell the story for me, without so many words.

Whether you can draw or not, comics are a visual medium. Let the environment and scenery describe for you what words could not.

If you have questions, or need feedback, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

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

You. Are. Awesome.

Writing for Comics 101 – Why One-Liners Are Not Enough

In today’s installment of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about why one-liners are not enough.

If you missed it, I wrote in last week’s installment about how to write good characters. Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret about how to write dialogue for characters:

YOU CANNOT FORCE A ONE-LINER.

Admittedly, this is more of a problem I see in people who want to get into superhero or shonen comics. Both genres are guilty of having characters talking (almost incessantly) on the pages during action scenes. This incessant talking is meant to lead into quote-worthy one-liners.

Don’t get me wrong. I love one-liners. Otherwise I would not love the movie Mystery Men as much as I do.

But here’s the secret about one-liners: They are rooted in the characters.

To have good one-liners, you need to have good characters. To have good characters, you need to know your characters REALLY well. As in, you should know the things I talked about last week. If you don’t, go back to the Word document.

But a story cannot be made of one-liners alone. You need to have connective moments. Even Mystery Men knew that.

So what you need to learn is how to write actual, believable dialogue between characters.

To make that actual, believable dialogue, you need to understand your characters backgrounds, wants, and fears.

And here’s the most important secret about making comics that few people talk about:

Sometimes, the best thing you can say on the comic page…is nothing.

Trust me: silence can say more in a story than any amount of dialogue ever could. Read Cairo and Asterios Polyp if you don’t believe me.

If you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

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

You. Are. Awesome.

Throwback Thursday – Phoenix

x-men phoenix marker and ink sketch from 2013

Today’s Throwback Thursday is going to reveal how much of an absolute hipster I am. Because here’s why I drew Phoenix from X-Men:

I’ve never read the comics that featured Phoenix. I only ever saw X-Men 3 for context for who Phoenix is. (And looking back on it, X-Men 3 wasn’t that good).

I drew Phoenix because of the aesthetic.

I wanted to play around with shadows and light on a superhero figure, and this sketch was the result. This was drawn back in 2013, so I’ve improved since then.

But yep – I’m a freakin’ hipster. Only hipsters would draw a character because they looked cool, not because of anything actually pertaining to the character.

So please forgive 2013 me.

Still, I wanted to share this so a) you could learn from my mistake, and b) because I’m actually pretty pleased with how this sketch came out.

If I ever do a redraw of this, I would change the character to someone whom I actually know and like.

The Freelance Lifestyle – How I Maximize My Energy and Focus

In today’s installment of the Freelance Lifestyle, I share my secrets on how I maximize my energy and focus.

These are things I’ve been refining for the last seven or so years. And some things are still a work in progress. But these are the things that I’ve found the most helpful to keep up my focus on the tasks in front of me with the most energy possible.

I set routines for the boring stuff

I have a morning ritual, and a night ritual for getting ready for bed. I’ve also set my breakfast to be consistent, with the exception of when I travel.

I set routines, because here’s the trick: routines mean less decision-making. Once routines become a habit, they become one less thing to think about.

Especially as a freelance creative, decision-making is important. Every creative act is a decision. But our human brains are only wired to make so many decisions in one day before it gets tired.

So I make habits out of the more mundane stuff, to make less decisions, to keep up my energy.

I use the Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique is something talked about in a lot of productivity circles, including by the likes of Thomas Frank. It’s a simple technique where you do work for a set amount of time, then take a break, then you repeat the process. The most common time blocking is 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break time.

With this technique you can set your work and break time to however long you want.

You can use timers to make this work. Personally, I like the Forest app. It’s an app that plants a digital tree for a set amount of time for you to focus. As long as you don’t touch the phone, that tree will keep growing. Once the timer runs out, you can set a break time before you sit down to plant another tree and focus again.

I like the Forest app because it keeps me focused, AND it keeps me off my phone. (My phone is super distracting otherwise).

I have a “commute” for the beginning and end of the day.

I hadn’t thought too much about this until I watched this video from The Financial Diet. In this video Chelsea shares tips on how to work from home effectively, which I highly recommend you watch if you want a supplement to this post.

In this video she brought up the idea of a “commute,” even when you work from home. And I realized, “Oh dang, I already do this for the beginning of the day.”

The idea of the “commute” is that you have something to help your brain transition from personal time to work mode. And at the end of the day you do that in reverse.

For me, transitioning INTO work mode looks like this: after my morning routine, I sit at my desk and draw script in my sketchbook for later chapters of The Legend of Jamie Roberts. I do this for ten to twenty minutes. After that, I take the time to write for ten minutes. And once both are done, I can fully get into work-brain mode.

To transition OUT of work mode, I wrap up my timed work on the Forest app/Pomodoro time block. Then I set down my tools, unplug things from my laptop, and take a shower while my favorite music plays from the Bluetooth speaker.

These are small things, but they help my mind slow down enough to shift gears.

I hope these help! If you’re still stumped, leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you out.

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

You. Are. Awesome.