Seeing Him: Now on Kickstarter!

A few months ago, my sister, Kia, approached me and was like, “I have a new story I’m writing and I want you to draw it because it would look awesome!”

Ok, maybe she didn’t phrase it like that. But it was close.

So we worked together to build up this story a bit, and now, we’re raising money to get it off the ground!

seeing him webcomic logo work in progress
Click to enlarge.

What’s the story about?

“Seeing Him” is the story of Katy, a young lady who runs her own skating rink, but wants a little company in her life. So she meets a trans man named Adam at a Japanese noodle restaurant, and so begins a romantic comedy of unique and silly proportions.

Of course there are plenty of friends to help them along, like Greg, Adam’s friend and a tough guy who loves baking cupcakes.

greg from seeing him the trans man webcomic
Click to enlarge.

I love drawing Greg!

There are other friends, too, including Katy’s friends, Rachel and Julianne, who work at the skating rink.

character sketches from seeing him the trans man webcomic
Click to enlarge.

So what’s going on with this story right now?

Well, Kia and I are now raising funds on KickStarter to get this up and running as a webcomic online. The money raised will help pay us for making the project, as well as get you awesome perks, like stickers, bookmarks, and even posters and other cool prizes!

To give you an idea of how the comic will look when it’s funded and made, here’s a preview of page 9:

seeing him trans man webcomic comic page preview
Click to enlarge.

The both of us would love your support, whether you donate, spread the word about it on Facebook and Twitter, or share the project with your friends/family/readers/sentient pet dinosaurs.

The KickStarter will be up until around December 14th, and with your awesomeness, hopefully it can be funded!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Outside of My Comfort Zone…In Sketches

Earlier this week, I updated my blog with the following warm-up sketch:

warm up sketch of nautilus and riley, original characters

I then looked at it and went, “Man, I need to practice more variety in body shapes and types!”

That prompted me to sketch THIS:

warm up sketch of galileya, original character

Her name is Galileya. She’s an agent of a super secret organization that destroys planets and does other intergalactic missions. I want to write a story about her and her coworker, Agent Sinclair:

Agents Sinclair and Galileya
Agents Sinclair and Galileya

The problem is I have no story for them that has anything resembling a plot. So they’re still a work in progress.

Back to this week.

After I drew Galileya, I was like, “But man, I need to practice drawing things that aren’t people! What can I draw?”

Well, one morning my cat was on my bed, grooming herself. So I got out my sketch pad and my ink brush, and got to work:

warm up sketches of cat grooming

That was tricky to do, since she kept moving on me.

I should probably just wait until she holds still, like this:

gray cat bree bree

BUT EVEN THAT IS FLEETING BECAUSE CATS DO WHATEVER THEY WANT.

So I went, “Dude, I gotta practice drawing things that hold still! But I’ve drawn most of the objects around me twenty times. What’s new on Pinterest that I can use as a reference?”

I found this image:

If you took this picture, please let me know so I can give you credit!

And I went, “PERFECT! I need to practice landscapes so I don’t have crap that looks like this”:

JamieRobertsEnvirons1

So I took the reference image above and drew this (with some artistic license in rendering certain things):

landscape practice sketch from reference

 

I still want to practice landscapes and environments, though. Because

a) It would make my current comics projects even better, and

b) the projects I have in mind for the future are sci-fi/fantasy works that require a LOT of visual development and technical know-how, which I don’t have a lot of yet.

So what do you draw for practice? Let me know in the comments below! And if we keep the conversation going, I think we can find new things for us to practice drawing so we don’t get too comfortable.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Tuesday.

P.S. I actually drew MORE than this stuff this week, but those other sketches are exclusive to Patreon subscribers only. If you’re interested in supporting what I do, go to Patreon! There are tipping plans for as little as $1 a month.

Also, I am aware that the Patreon page is under Christian Beranek’s name. It’s our joint effort under the umbrella of Validation. Any money raised there is split evenly between the both of us so we can both keep producing the comic.

If you want to go the more direct route or support my other work, there’s also a tip jar over at Johnson & Sir‘s page.

Ok, that’s it for now! For real this time!

Why I Make Diverse Comics

validation promo image

There’s been some… “intense discussions” online about “including” women, people of color, and other minorities in fiction.

These discussions include articles all over the internet, Twitter hashtags, and a good chunk of GamerGate.

The discussions I have witnessed seem to boil down to “We need more diverse books” vs “writing about minorities is hard and uninteresting, so let’s stick with something comfortable.”

Here’s what I have to say about it.

Saying that writing stories with minorities in them – much less as lead characters – is “hard,” shows a tremendous lack of imagination and empathy. Even, I daresay, an unwillingness to try and empathize with them.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “But I’m not a black woman/asian person/lesbian/gay man/blind person/ etc. and I don’t want to write something and risk offending them by saying something wrong.”

And that’s a fair enough concern. Everyone’s experience is different. My view on life as a poor white genderqueer person sexually attracted to dudes is very different from, say, a black lesbian woman, or a wealthy white heterosexual man, or…you get the idea.

Should that deter us from trying to understand the point of view we want to write, that is outside of our realm of experience? No.

If anything, it should encourage us.

Part of the fun and challenge of writing any character (that is not a white man) is that you can talk to people of that demographic, and learn about them. And you take what you learned and make stories with that knowledge.

Even if you don’t do the research, you’re still a step ahead of those who won’t even write these types of characters. Just the act of writing characters outside of your experience is rebellious and rewarding.

validation mr dino print

Here’s the thing: I love the comics I make. The main characters I draw include a young trans girl, a genderqueer elf policeman, and most recently, a young, black, goth punk woman.

charlie and clow main character
Her name is Charlie and I love her.

Am I any of those? No.

Do I make stories starring these characters? Yep.

I write and illustrate these stories because I want to understand my characters. Making these stories helps me explore their world, what they experience, and how they feel about their experiences, because I don’t get that easily outside of fiction.

I do my best to research as much as I can. If I get something wrong, that’s ok – I learn something new everyday. And if I get to learn about people outside of my experience, that’s awesome!

In making these stories to seek understanding, it helps me become more empathetic to others out in the real world. It helps me understand the lives of others. It makes me want to listen and learn more about them.

Writing these fictions helps me to become more human.

That’s why I love making diverse comics, and why I believe we need more diverse media.

For those of you who want to stick to writing about white dudes, that’s ok. Just be warned that

1. There are already plenty of stories about white heterosexual men, because

2. mass media tries to make characters generic enough that the audience can empathize with them immediately and have traits that are desirable. So they make their main characters white men. They figure white men are simple enough and common enough to create that the audience can insert themselves into that character. However,

3. White men become the default main character because they fit mass media formulas so well. And therefore

4. It makes women and PoC main characters hard to empathize with because they are not the default main character and don’t fit the formulas very well.

Hank Green did a really good job of discussing this in regard to Batman. You can watch that video here.

And if you still have reservations about writing or even reading stories with minority characters, please check out this awesome speech by Gene Luen Yang. He made some truly excellent points. (If the video won’t work, here’s a transcript.)

Don’t be afraid to make diverse characters and stories!

If you have any reading suggestions for books starring minority characters, leave them in comments below!

Have any questions? Still have reservations? Voice them in comments, too!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on Friday.

Art of the Week

Thanks to Youmacon, I have been artistically inspired!

There are a few pieces that are still works in progress, but here is one for Mystery Skulls.

mystery skulls work in progress sketch

And I got to paint some of this:

painting work in progress

I’ve also been getting back into making warm-up sketches, where I sketch something before my day starts to warm up my creative juices.

warm up sketch of cranky hipster

warm up sketch yay flight
Yay flight!

And I just finished this:

shadow demon charcoal warm up sketch

More sketches will happen soon!

Thanks for stopping in, and I’ll see you on Tuesday.

Youmacon Fast Approacheth

So in my hurry to get ready for Youmacon and also keep afloat on commissions I’ve been asked to do, I…lost track a little with Johnson & Sir. I missed an update last week. But rest assured! It’s back to a normal update schedule now! You can read the new page here.

Here’s a preview to further entice you:

johnson and sir page 61 promotional panel for webcomic

I’ve also been working really hard on my new webcomic Charlie & Clow…

And it launches tomorrow! Read it at its own website. It even comes with a surprise!

charlie and clow header image bar
This is not the surprise I’m talking about. This is just to show off a taste of what’s to come.

And in other product-launching news, Validation is now on Patreon!

patreon screencap

In case you haven’t heard, Patreon is a voluntary subscription service where you can donate as little as $1 a month to your favorite creators. In exchange you get gratitude and really cool perks! Christian and I would really appreciate any support you can give over at Patreon (and if you’re broke, spread the word on social media! That helps, too).

In even more product-launching news, I added a new listing at my store: Avengers Assemble! In bookmark form, of course:

avengers assemble in bookmark form, available for sale
Click for fuller view.

If you’re interested in ordering a set, click here.

The rest of this week, I will be MIA, as I’ll be with my family and then immediately going off to Youmacon. I won’t be a special guest there, but I’ll be attending (probably in costume). I hope you can find me!

As such, I won’t be updating on Friday like I usually do, because I’ll be either on the road or at the con. So you’ll see another update on this blog next Tuesday!

In the meantime, I’ve got comics for you to read: Validation on Mondays and Thursdays, Johnson & Sir Tuesdays, and now Charlie & Clow Wednesdays! So there you go.