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.
The Marietta Comic and Creator Convention sprang up (at least partially) as a result of River City Comic Con getting canceled this year – the organizer of River City fell ill. This is, in fact, the first year that the Marietta Comic and Creator Convention even exists!
The show will be at the Lafayette Hotel on August 12. The show will run from 10 am to 5 pm. And I’ll be there showcasing my work! (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page for more info.)
There’s some new things to keep an eye out for:
There’s a new Mr. Dino & Friends print! (It’s also available on Storenvy)
Sketch cards are marked down to $1 – I’m trying to clear these babies out!
The Box of Clearance Original Art debuted at the Pop Culture Buy Sell Trade Show in Vienna, WV, and will make another appearance at this Marietta Show. Everything in the box is marked to $5.
There will be crafts on the table – wrist cuffs, a tablet case, and paper bead bracelets are included. The tablet case is $10, the other crafts are $7.
I will draw caricatures (if you ask) – they’re $5 for each person and take less than 5 minutes to do. (Due to space, I cannot offer group caricatures.)
Usually this is where I offer free sketch cards to those who attend the show, but I’m not going to this time. The reason I have sketch cards marked down to $1 is because there were folks who didn’t show up to claim their card at previous shows. These cards need new homes.
However, for the next few days, Charlie & Clow is out of stock.
Why? Well, I made a consignment deal with New Dimension Comics and they cleared out my current stock of Charlie & Clow. I placed the rush-order in to get more copies, so hopefully they’ll arrive before Marietta Comic and Creator Con happens.
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 website layout has been in use for…I don’t know…3 years? Probably longer. It’s nice on desktop or laptop, but on mobile it can be kind of a pain in the ass to maneuver with.
That’s one reason I want to do a website redesign.
Another reason is: man, I’m kind of out of things to blog about.
Blogging was a hobby. There’s a lot of people (mostly those wanting to make a quick buck) who are like, “you can make money blogging!”
That might have been true in the early 2000s, but the internet commerce model has shifted – away from advertising and towards patronage, sponsors, and well-designed merchandise.
To that end, I have been putting more effort towards my email newsletters and Patreon posts, and less on doing blog posts for this site.
Another reason for the redesign – this website needs to put more emphasis on my art and comics, not just my words.
When I apply for conventions, galleries, etc, and they ask for an online portfolio, I use THIS website. The art needs to be front and center.
So, with all of that said, I don’t want to delete my blog posts. There’s still posts I’m proud of, plus there’s resources, interviews, etc buried in the blog archives. Deleting the blog would delete those resources, and that would break my little librarian heart.
So I need a website that puts my art and comics at the forefront, while still having an archive for blog posts – but still has the ability to track my appearances and the stores that sell my work.
It may take a while before a design is settled on, so bear with me while the dust is up in the air.
If you don’t know what Patreon is, that’s ok: Patreon is an online subscription service that lets you support your favorite artists, often for as little as $1 a month.
To clarify: I have a Patreon page for the comics I write and illustrate under the Fantasyville Productions label. These comics include, but are not limited to:
The Case of the Wendigo
and the upcoming The Legend of Jamie Roberts.
There’s a separate Patreon page for Validation and its related stories (including Mr. Dino & Friends, Roxie Comics, and Tiny Unicorn). That’s because the Validation comics are a collaborative effort with Christian Beranek and myself.
Funding for my Fantasyville Productions comics does not go to Validation, and Validation funding does not go to Fantasyville Productions comics.
I ran the Patreon pledge drive for my page (not Validation’s) because the comic shop I currently work at has cut my hours severely. Like, now I only work there 5 hours a week.
So I ran the Patreon pledge drive to see if a) I could get new patrons to b) help cover the lost income due to my hours getting cut.
The goal was to jump from $180 a month to $250 a month. My goal for the end of the year is to make $500 a month on Patreon alone, so to get to $250 by the half-year point would have gotten me closer to this goal.
By the end of the week, we went from $170 a month to $201 a month.
It didn’t make my goal, but it’s still not bad at all, especially for only having a pledge drive that lasted a week.
What surprised me more was the current patrons I had who increased their pledges – often by an extra $3 a month! That’s amazing!
We also got a new patron on board, which is marvelous, and so immensely helpful.
And so, with the combination of the new patron plus the increased pledges from current ones, we reached one of the Patreon goals listed on the page: at $200/month, I’m now going to draw a patron-exclusive The Case of the Wendigo desktop wallpaper!
Honestly, it’s just amazing that folks who love my comics were willing and able to chip in and help during this tough time. This will help make production of The Legend of Jamie Roberts go just that little bit smoother.
If you would like to pledge support, and help bring The Legend of Jamie Roberts to life, please check out my Patreon page. You can adjust or cancel your pledge at any time.
Even if you pledge $1 a month, you get to see behind-the-scenes development of the comics I do.
If you’re broke, that’s totally ok, because Patreon is optional. If you would rather make a one-time donation, there’s a Paypal donate button on the side of this website, or you can purchase a convention goody from my online store.