Conventions and Travelling for 2015

selfie at youmacon with jayne hat
A selfie at Youmacon.

Last year I did a few convention appearances. I appeared at Phoenix Comicon, Free Comic Book Day at the Apache Junction Public Library, Intervention Con, and Youmacon (where I only attended and didn’t sell any work or appear at panels).

This year, since I have moved from Arizona to Ohio, I’m hoping to make more appearances at some Midwest conventions, particularly those in Columbus.

I’ve been approached by one convention, and there’s one I’m hoping to get to down in Savannah, Georgia, because a friend of mine (Chloe Rose, who’s attending school there) wants to go.

However, in between convention planning and making comics, I’ve been writing, particularly in Claire and Tracy’s story.

Well, a lot of the stories I’m writing recently (especially their’s in particular) take place in places I haven’t visited in a long while. Like Chicago. And Pittsburgh. And there are even some that may take place in New Mexico or Tennesee.

So I’m wondering…should I take some time away from conventions…so I can go on research trips?

Another friend of mine, Suzy, did a research trip in lieu of conventions, and that has inspired me to consider doing the same thing.

I have quite the travel bug, and I would love to do more of it so I can see new sights, meet new people, write about new things, and share more of my experiences.

Either way, whether I do more conventions or more research trips, I intend to write about them here on this blog.

Have any suggestions for places to go? Travel tips? just have something you gotta’ say? I would love to read about it in comments.

Thank you for reading and I will see you on Monday.

I Was a Librarian

librarian selfie with books art sketch
(Click to enlarge)


My first ever paid job in high school was being a librarian. Technically, I was a page, so my job was to re-stack books, DVDs, CDs, and other stuff people checked out and returned.

The cool thing was I was a page at a time when libraries just caught on to the idea that graphic novels were cool. So the graphic novel section was growing and getting all kinds of cool additions. This was how I was exposed to works like Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker (which I reviewed here), Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa, and (most importantly) Making Comics by Scott McCloud.

I, as a page, was also supposed to clean up small messes. I have found many strange things in my time as a page, from abandoned wallets to an ash tray that was ripped out of a truck. But that’s a story I’m going to get into…right now.

I was sorting in the large print section when I found this aforementioned ash tray. And I was really confused. So I took it to the sorting room and approached the other librarians, saying “I found this weird ashtray. What should I do with it?”

My manager in her corner office said “BURN IT!” But one of the other ladies said she would hold on to it until someone claimed it. After all, it was an ash tray that belonged in a car. Someone should get it, right?

Ten minutes later I’m back in the large print, moving onto Non Fiction next to it, when a greasy guy in a leather jacket approaches me, looking nervous, saying, “Uh…did you by chance see an ash tray around here? It’s for my truck.”

True Facts.

Anyway, I was a page for two years until I graduated high school and went to college.

For a semester I had a minor in Pop Culture (because Bowling Green State University, my alma mater, was one of the few schools that offered classes in Pop Culture studies).

While I was studying this oddball field, I worked at the Browne Popular Culture Library.

Yes, this was a thing.

It was a very cool thing, too. It carried all manner of comics and graphic novels, and they even had dime novels from as far back as 1910. There were movie scripts, posters, and a ton of Star Trek memorabilia (I heard the library has the largest private collection of Star Trek memorabilia carried by a library in the United States). There were also pulp magazines, though they were rarely, if ever, read… The pulp was so old they were kept in special boxes so the light would not damage them, and if they were ever handled, it was with gloves, so the oil on your fingers wouldn’t damage the pulp paper.

The library even carried copies of the original elvish dictionaries written by J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

So with all of this awesomeness within our walls, you would think we were slammed with people.

But there was a catch: The Browne Popular Culture Library is what librarians call a “closed-stack” library. That means everything was kept behind closed doors, and if you wanted to check out anything, you had to fill out a form and a librarian (like me) had to run back and fetch it.

We had our catalog online, which is how you can find books in the Pop Culture Library in the first place. But once you got the book, it wasn’t allowed to leave the floor.

So…no, there weren’t a lot of people clammoring for the books there.

My time there was short, but I enjoyed it. It was the job that got me into comics as a cultural force, rather than comics as throwaway entertainment.

Because the cool things was: I saw a ton of old AND new comics in that library. I saw the original pulp magazines and dime novels.

And yes, the popularity of mediums changes. Dime novels aren’t really a thing anymore, and digest comics like Archie, I’m sad to say, are starting to lag.

But though the popularity of storytelling modes might change, the constant thing is that there are stories, and they are there, waiting to be read.

It’s fascinating to see the arc of popular culture history, seeing what was popular and what faded in favor of the next fad, and why the next fad was so huge.

Comics are, I dare say, the new fad in storytelling, because their potential is being rediscovered. Back in the 1950s, comics in the U.S. took a giant leap backwards (that’s a VERY long story I’ll save for next time), and since then comics as a medium in the U.S. has been playing catch-up with the rest of the world.

Comics are reemerging as a fad, and I would say that’s a good thing. It’s an artistic medium that deserves to be created with, studied, and read.

How long will that fad last? I don’t know. Tell me what you think in comments.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Cosplay and Youmacon Galore

youmacon 2014 snap shot
Here’s a snap shot of the crowd at the convention. And this is just one half of the building!

So I just came back from Youmacon and it was a blast like always! I did not go as a special guest or even as an exhibitor. I just went as an attendee, and it was very refreshing to do so, especially since I didn’t have to deal with any special guest stress like I had to at Phoenix Comicon.

renaissance center youmacon 2014
This is the Renaissance Center, where half of the con took place. The other half was in the Cobo Center.

Anyway, I did learn a couple of things while I was there, especially from some local friends of mine that live in the Detroit area. One thing I learned is that Detroit parking is apparently free on the weekends (that would have been nice to know: it would have saved me a ton in parking fees). Still, The Renaissance Center did have a parking garage with a handy sky walk on the third floor, connecting to the convention hall. The less time I spent outside in the cold, the better.

I did manage to take a set of pictures while I was there, because the cosplayers this year were amazing! There was an especially good Korra, which I will show some pictures of now.

youmacon 2014 korra cosplayer ribbon dance Youmacon_2014_Korra_Cosplayer_2

It actually got me thinking of getting into cosplay myself, especially since I started wearing the Jayne hat and I got some positive reception for it (I even posed for photos).

jayne hat at youmacon 2014 selfie
Standing in line. Because why not.

Which is surprising considering that the actor who played Jayne – Adam Baldwin – is kind of a professional ass (thanks, GamerGate).

Still, I got a lot of positive reception wearing the Jayne hat, probably because people can separate Jayne the character from Adam Baldwin the actor. Like I do.

selfie in jayne hat at youmacon 2014
Another grumpy face selfie. This time for the line for the Friday Team Four Star panel.

However I did start thinking of maybe cosplaying as Jayne more often, or even just cosplaying in general. But it is a very expensive hobby.

princess tutu cosplay at youmacon 2014
Exhibit A: Princess Tutu cosplay done by my old college roommate, Katy.

On the upside the convention itself gave me some new artistic inspiration! Hopefully you’ll see some of that in the coming weeks.

I want to get into the habit of doing warm up sketches more often, and that may include fanart… We’ll have to see how that goes.

Here are some other pictures that I took at the convention itself.

youmacon 2014 jayne hat and cosplay
I don’t think she noticed.
gaggle of assassins from assassins creed 2014 youmacon
There was an entire gaggle of assassins.
My friend Alex (on the far left) is a trooper for coming to the con with an injured leg.
My friend Alex (on the far left) is a trooper for coming to the con with an injured leg.

Another pro tip for Youmacon: take the back walk. The con takes place in two different centers: the Renaissance Center and the Cobo Center. They’re starting the shift events into the Cobo Center more so than the other one, however you still have to walk back and forth. Try to avoid the main stretch and take the back way. It runs right alongside the river (and on the other side of the river is Canada). Take that route to get back to the Renaissance Center: you will come across a lot less aggressive homeless people that way.

youmacon 2014 detroit
Here’s a peek at the secret passage…and Canada.
Less populated, but still safe. The People Mover also runs a little ways by it.
Less populated, but still safe. The People Mover also runs a little ways by it.
youmacon 2014
That’s Canada across the water. Swim for free healthcare!

Also another pro tip: it’s good to stick to a budget. That way you have money for gas on the way home. I succeeded in this endeavor, but I know people who forget this kind of stuff.

Here are some more pictures from the event.

spiderman at youmacon 2014
Spiderman being smooth.
team four star panel at youmacon 2014
Team Four Star panel. Sorry it’s so blurry!

Youmacon was such a blast! I had a great time while I was there.

It’s good to have one convention out of the year where you can go as an attendee. Not as a guest or an exhibitor, but just for the fun of it, to hang out with friends.

Thank you for reading and I will see you on Friday.

Tis the Season for Prints and Posters

My Calendar of Deadlines and Doom...with Art! (Click to enlarge).
My Calendar of Deadlines and Doom…with Art! (Click to enlarge).

When I’m not making comics, I work at my day job, at a craft store.

Something I have noticed is that there are a LOT of people who buy seasonal crap. Halloween wreaths, Christmas decorations that leave waves of glitter at my register, and even the odd Thanksgiving table topper, are all sold to people who think buying these things will get them in the “spirit of the season” (whatever that means).

In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of seasonal things.

But I have started doing something that somehow gets me in a festive mood without feeling like I’ve sold my soul to kitschy trinkets.

I hang up posters.

Art (left to right) by J Peffer, the Grand Canyon, Chloe Rose, and an artist on Tumblr (Sorry I can't remember your name!). Click to enlarge.
Art (left to right) by J Peffer, the Grand Canyon, Chloe Rose, and an artist on Tumblr (Sorry I can’t remember your name!). Click to enlarge.

I hang up prints, postcards, and posters I’ve gathered from conventions and traveling.

A small selection of my postcards. Click to enlarge.
A small selection of my postcards. On the left is art done by Joseph Lawn from deviantart. Click to enlarge.

But I have so many of them I can’t hang them all.

So I only put up the ones that I feel fit the season.

Since it’s fall, I put up a bunch of prints of people in costumes, and prints and postcards with warm colors and dead trees and other related subjects depicted.

Greed and Lust were drawn by Chloe Rose. I can't remember the other artists for the other pieces. Sorry! (Click to enlarge).
Greed and Lust were drawn by Chloe Rose. I can’t remember the other artists for the other pieces. Sorry! (Click to enlarge).

It’s unusual, but it’s something I’m comfortable with.

More prints and postcards! (Click to enlarge).
More prints and postcards! (Click to enlarge).

Plus, I get to surround myself with things made by artists I know or have otherwise met at cons! That is WAY more personal to me than a tabletopper you can get at the craft store.

But that’s just me.

Have you been feeling festive this season? Or do you hate this kind of stuff? And why? Let me know in comments below!

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

How to Take a Day Off

I realized something recently.

I was finishing some comics on Sunday morning, and then I went to a shift at my day job as a Michael’s cashier.

And when I got home, I splurged for myself and knitted and crocheted ALL OF THE THINGS.

crocheted head with cute face
ALL THE THINGS includes this little potato face here. He needs a hat.

The reason?

I needed a little time off to do something for myself.

And then I realized that, as a freelancer, I don’t do that nearly as often as I think I do.

As freelancers, we all need a little time off.

Freelancing is a lot of running around to manage everything, from finances to invoicing to actually making the things you promised to make for that client who forgot to pay you last week and –

It’s chaotic.

Sometimes the chaos is fun, in a “How will I kick Chaos’ ass THIS time” kind of way.

However, it can be really easy to get caught up in the chaos and never take a day off.

On the other hand, it’s easy to take a lot of days off.

Freelancing gives us the ability to set our own schedules, which is both awesome and terrifying.

It’s awesome because if you need to take a day to help mom move a fridge, get a haircut at some random hour of the day, or drive into the city to get a thing, you can totally do that.

But it’s terrifying because it’s easy to fall into one of two extremes: too many days off, or not enough of them.

Too many days off means you’ll be cramming to meet your deadlines, and that can infringe on your ability to meet promises you made to the folks outside of your work. Did you promise your sister you would drive her over to a friend’s house? Well you can’t do it because you have a deadline to meet and you slacked off too much earlier this week.

Too few days off means you’ll start seeing numbers in your sleep, you’ll see everything you do as “work” or “in the way of work,” and your friends and family will be deeply concerned for your health and possibly have the hospital on speed-dial.

So how do you handle this conundrum?

It’s all about balance.

It’s all about knowing when you’ve worked too many days, when you’ve taken off too much time, and knowing how your body and mind acts in those scenarios.

Listen to your body.

Don’t overwork yourself to the point that you get sick. Don’t take off so much time that you start sleeping in for eleven hours and wake up even more tired than you anticipated.

Know the rhythms of your body. Know when it’s tired, when it’s active and driven to get work done.

Make a schedule and stick to it.

If you are the type to make schedules and stick to them (like I am), decide how many days off you need and incorporate it into your flow. I usually do two days off, but they don’t have to be consecutive. Even if it’s mega-crunch time, I make room for one day off, at least.

If you are the type to not make schedules, then figure out the number of days off you would need in a given week/month/quarter and incorporate it into your flow. Do you need two days off in a row? Ok. Or do you need three days off a week? This will depend on your lifestyle and your responsibilities, but always make sure you have time off and that it’s balanced with your work.

And relax.

It will get done.

I know sometimes I tend to overwork myself because I feel a sense of urgency. Like, “If I don’t get this done now, it will never get done!”

That’s bull-crap.

Things will get done. Your project will get finished, and then you will move on to the next one.

Nothing needs to be done “right now.” It just needs done.

How soon, or how late, is up to you.

I’m not telling you to shurk your deadlines.

I’m telling you that if you need to take a breather so you’re not overworked, take that breather.

Take care of yourself first. The rest will follow.

I hope this helped you in some way. Please take good care of yourselves.

So when was your last day off? Did you do anything/nothing/all of the things? Leave a comment!

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