Another 365 days around the sun! Against all odds, we did it, baby.
As a way of trying to combat the continual superflattening of time I’m trying to get into the habit of logging life experiences more- social media killed my desire to really talk about this kind of thing, but the worldwide pandemic still has my brain thinking we’re in “2020: Chapter Three”. Everything is too fast and too slow at the same time.
This one is gonna be a long one so: buckle up! Let’s start with the art retrospective:
Overall I didn’t do as many illustrations as the previous year, but I did do more comics! Launching Ultraviolents in February was definitely a big highlight, even if wedging it into my schedule is a struggle at times. Most of my work is paywalled or anthology work, so I’d forgotten the joy in being able to draw something and have the wider public look at it immediately. Having no editors or anyone else to answer to is also a double edged sword that I’m enjoying running around with.
I did do a lot more experimentation with tools this year- fooling around more with 3D, using brushes in ways they probably weren’t meant to, seeing just how quickly I can put together a page (though it was out of necessity most times). In the coming year I’d like to do more studies again- I did some in 2022 that helped me level up and wasn’t able to continue that this year, which I did think hindered me in some areas. More on that at the bottom of this giant post.
I’ve been able to work texture into my work in way that’s consistent that I like! I’ve got a regular rotation of about five to six brushes I use. My two main inkers (a pressure sensitive one for Split Check, a more monoline one for Ultraviolents, a soft g-pen for beta, two textured ones for some effects, and a dithering brush- I only really use three per project). I also took the time to learn more about the ins and outs of Clip Studio Paint! Auto actions are my best friend.
Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to make myself like coloring. I like full color work, don’t get me wrong, but the process is entirely unenjoyable for me. I will admit- with Split Check in particular, I’ve been staying up extremely late to finish coloring pages because I didn’t want it to take up two entire days of my schedule. Not entirely healthy, to be fair, but I was more willing to deal with sleep deprivation than with two days of coloring comics.
With Ultraviolents, Split Check, Filthy Figments, Phobiaphilia, and all other misc projects combined I clocked in a total of 316 pages this year. Nice! Next year will probably be lower as Split Check is ending in Jan/Feb and I’m planning to take at least a month off from Slipshine to start work on Iris Jay and mine’s next story for them. I haven’t taken off for the entire decade combined that I’ve worked for them- wild, right? We should have a comic-ending-party to mark the occasion or something.
Now on to the retrospective, in general:
2023’s Further Confusion was one of my best yet- the YCH commissions and inkwash badges are something I’m definitely keeping in rotation. Merch-wise though I’ll probably stop bringing a large stock of masks since no one really uses them any more (even though they should be, with FC being known as the king of all con crud conventions, and y’know, the whole pandemic thing). Frustrating, as I really liked those designs. One of the reasons I was skipping cons this year (outside of general exhaustion) is so I can take stock of my current con offerings, so I’ll have to figure out what I want to do with these.
I also saw some of Body Worlds in San Jose post-FC. The museum it’s in is definitely more aimed at kids, but hey: it was something to do!
I had a piece in the Cronenberg zine ALL OUR MURDERED FUTURES- get it here. I want to participate in more small projects in 2024! Zines are fun. They’re also a great thing to have on hand for trades at cons, which I am extremely bad at (thank you to everyone who traded with me this year, apologies if I seemed baffled and amazed. I never know what’s an appropriate item to offer when people hand me something, lol.).
A big month! Lots of prep for Emerald City Comic Con, but also… Ultraviolents went out into the world and the Cartoonist Cooperative that I helped found (and built the whole website for, twice, in under two months) went public.
Technically UV started on Patreon in January, but a webcomic isn’t truly born until it’s out on the greater web, isn’t it? I had actually intended to take a little longer to debut it at ECCC, but that was before the co-op came into play. After seeing the reaction to our early posts and our giant mailing list, there was no way I could pass up having it in the catalogue and potentially getting so many eyes on it at once. Thankfully my cofounders were fine with including it! I do wish I’d been able to take longer with the website, but that’s neither here nor there. As long as it works, that’s what matters. (I’ll do a separate post at the end of January talking more about the development of UV in general.)
Speaking of the catalogue- wow! I had no idea that the co-op could’ve grown so quickly in under a year, or even in the first six months. It was amazing seeing what us founders and all the new members were able to pull together so quickly! Comics people are seriously the most passionate people on the planet. I learned a lot about php while I was developing the site after scrapping the first iteration (pure html/css, minimal js) as well. Can’t say I’m a fan, but it’s what works. Still amazed that the website works as well as it does- gotta pat myself on the back for this one, at least a little bit. 🙂
Oh also the Poorcraft Cookbook was one of the books on the American Library Association’s Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List for 2022! That was a big high point of the month. Man, February was packed.
ECCC happened! I had Heel Turn, Deja Vu, and Fuck Me Running all in print for the first time. They sold well, but… ECCC is four long-ass days, no one masks, Reedpop is more concerned about pop culture profits than comics and man, I’m getting older. I do love hanging out with friends, but I’m increasingly wondering if ECCC is worth it outside of that. Is it really worth risking my health? People were so excited to pivot to online events in 2020, can we go back to that? I’d love to not have to pay $400+ for a space with no wi-fi and potentially not even a physical table, because Reedpop doesn’t even guarantee those anymore.
I did get to watch Hackers with a friend for the first time a couple weeks later though and it changed her life forever.
And chapter 1 of 39 Steps Underground, my current ongoing comic for Filthy Figments, was a nominee for The 2023 Minicomics Awards in the Romance category! I didn’t win but getting to hear Yuko Ota say that it was her personal fave was amazing.
The crowdfunded copies of the Poorcraft Cookbook went out after a year and change! Still in love with how this book came out.
The Seattle Erotic Arts Fest was at the end of this month- my canvas piece didn’t sell, but a lot of store items did. I also got to do body painting for the first time and was terrified! But the model was chill despite me taking a while. Not sure if I want to do it again, but it was a fun experience.
I had work in the TCAF digital store this year, which did well despite it being a little complicated to ship later on (mostly because I’m bad at forms). One day I’ll go back in-person.
Through penny pinching, deal watching, and monetary windfalls earlier in the year (thanks, everyone who bought My Monster Girlfriend!) I managed to book a trip for about ten days to Japan during Golden Week. Funnily enough, both Kemoket and Comitia were happening and we didn’t even realize until about a week out from the trip.
This is really something that deserves a post of its own though, especially since there’s so many comics I found that I want to talk about!! Some really amazing stuff. Looking forward towards being able to go back ASAP.
The Vancouver Comic and Arts Fest was also this month. We had just enough time to isolate before driving up, which was stressful but hey: gotta make those cartoonist bux. VanCAF is a fave of mine since it’s consistently good (solid sales, great customers, well-run, surrounding area has awesome food). Our hotel was terrible this year though.
Yeah, I don’t even know, man. Somehow I got a photo of this but not my table.
There was also the Eisner debacle this year- racist jackoff fails upwards, more news at 11, right? This time we cartoonists managed to organize quickly and get our voices heard (partially thanks to the cooperative, teehee). It’s nice to feel empowered to some degree, even if I did still see that ugly ass book on the bottom shelf at Fantagraphics literally a week ago.
The Nib announced their closure at the end of the summer as well. They were some of my favorite people to work with- I’ll have to repost my work here at some point, but I think I’ve been subconsciously holding off because it still bums me out. Not all of the work that they put out was perfect (the Bolsnaro thing was… woof) but there’s a nib shaped hole in my heart regardless.
A lot of this month was taken up by cooperative work (a lot resulting from the talk around #comicsbrokeme ) and also general ~Pride stuff~ (in the US, June is our LGBTQ Pride month).
Completely unrelatedly: Shin-ichi Sakamoto’s Innocent omnibus went up for preorder. I really love that comic so it’s great to see it get an official english release.
Paradise Lust was also announced! Early, but announced nonetheless.
I spent a couple days retooling the Adult Artists Webring from the ground up. It’s cuter now! And has an RSS feed that I don’t have to update manually.
BWPCon was also this month! I liked BWPCon quite a bit, even if it’s just a one day event. I also appreciate an outdoor event, which seems to be a bizarre concept for some con organizers. I could drink water without worrying if some Batman Dad and his toddler were going to cough on me. Also Books With Pictures is a great store, check it out if you’re in the Portland area!
This month was a blur! I went to Vegas with friends for the Star Trek Las Vegas con and spent a lot of time crunching on my Shortbox Comics Fair story, Phobiaphilia before, during, and after. Vegas is extremely hot, and that hotel room was very, very cool (temperature only).
Despite my long-held love of Kaiji, I’m not into gambling whatsoever, so I spent time following my partner around and helping her get reference photos for her current comic. (Only afterwards did I find out there’s a Saw-themed escape room in Vegas… :[ )
The charity convention that I volunteer for, DVS, was also at the end of this month! I was helping behind the scenes and also ran a couple panels for it. This also coincided with CitrusCon, which I was digitally tabling at. So if it seemed like a disappeared off the face of the earth in August, it’s because I double booked myself like an amateur and was exhausted.
Last con of the year: Small Press Expo in Bethesda!! Three cons in less than as many weeks was a stupid idea. SPX also separated my partner and I into differing sections, but I only noticed this after the co-op had organized our stamp rally so it was too late to complain! It was fine, but I do wish I’d been able to get up from my table… At all. Sales were fantastic though, so I can’t complain too much (though I think I was the outlier this year- maybe due to not having tabled there before?).
After SPX I went up to Philadelphia via bus to do reference hunting for Our Velocity (after a quick DC museum jaunt, natch), my graphic novel incoming from Iron Circus Comics. My partner can drive, so she was invaluable for the more rural parts of Pennsylvania that those google maps vans don’t even touch! Despite living out here as a teen I never got my license- everything was walking, bumming a ride off friends, or badly driving a camper van illegally.
More development posts in the future- keep an eye on the Patreon blog.
Also: scrapple is still good, I don’t care what anyone says. I will make an exception for this meat.
Fuck yes October ruled.
Not only did the Shortbox Comics Fair attract a ton of attention out of the gate, but I was also invited to participate in a show at Gallery Erato! They licensed some of my pin art to use for their Seduction: Monstrous show and subsequent costume party, and I also had four pieces in their show! The orgy piece I was painting on stream with hand cam, and three metal prints (two of which are in my shop and I’ll send you a special pin to commemorate) (wink wink).
The Paradise Lust backerkit campaign launched in the middle of the month as well. I’m still amazed that so many people bought a copy of our freaky angel porn anthology. I also really loved setting up our launch stream with freaky little vtubers and magic curtains to show off art. Still need to archive that somewhere!
A small thing, but: I took on the role of benefits negotiator for the Cartoonist Cooperative and wrangled us some bennies! Looking forward to getting bigger and better ones this year too.
Also Halloween. Fuck yeah Halloween. Best holiday of the year.
Paradise Lust funds! I was sweating for a bit because I don’t like to assume things will be funded, so it taking a while was a little stressful. But that’s also how niche crowdfunds go! This is why I don’t make crowdfunds my whole thing, though. We editors did get brunch at Jules Mae’s in Georgetown to celebrate though- that place is fantastic. Yes yes oldest saloon okay whatever that breakfast burrito slaps. Hashbrowns inside! The correct way.
Also helped put together the cooperative’s e-Sims for Gaza initiative on the backend in response to the ongoing genocide in Palestine. I really had hoped, perhaps unrealistically, that we’d have been able to retire it by now. We’re almost at 500 donated though, which is incredible. I said it earlier in this journal but I’m still amazed at the things we cartoonists can do when we get together.
There was also my Black Friday Non-Sale, which went better than it really should have. People do love a little Fuck You during the corporate hell “holiday” that is that whole weekend.
Oh! And rest in piss, bozo.
The co-op finished up our first bundle! A solid chunk of change for members. We’ve got plans for some… themed… ones in the future. I have an itchio store, technically, for the sake of bundles, but it’s all new to me otherwise. These are a great way to get a bunch of comics in the hands of people who might’ve not taken a second glance otherwise though! I can see why indie devs do them so often.
I was also invited back for a second Gallery Erato show- Joyful Masculinity! I have two metal prints in that show this time. I never thought I’d be invited to more than one show, or one even in the first place, so this really solidifies my need to up my game in 2024.
Overall- good on the socialization part of things, but I was often exhausted from constantly going to places and prepping for cons. Bad on the mental health side of things for most of the year, but I don’t know anyone who isn’t saying that recently. Almost like we’re all still dealing with the trauma of a worldwide pandemic while being crushed until the heel of unrelenting capitalism or something.
I like keeping goals simple, so I won’t belabor this any longer.
- Do more studies! Especially on legs, hair, and suits.
- Find a way to enjoy coloring! Still not sure how- I like the results, just not the process. There’s gotta be a way….
- Do some small zines that are good for con trades! I always feel awkward if someone wants to trade and literally I have left is pins or my $40 books.
- Do less work! Obviously I need to earn money to live, but how can I maintain a better equilibrium between meeting my goals and living life? How little can I get away with? Removing cons (for the most part) from this year’s plans is step one.
- Get better at Japanese! I wasn’t able to take the JLPT in 2020 and kinda… fell off in studies outside of casual learning. Navigating and some conversation in Japan was fine, but I’d like to re-dedicate some weekly time towards learning and go for N4 or N3. (Mostly so I can… Read more comics…)
- Learn to ride a bike! I keep saying I’m going to do this and then putting it off. You can’t get a vespa or similar electric scooter in Washington without a driver’s license, which is something I’m extremely unlikely to be getting any time soon. So: bike time.
These all seem achievable to me- and if I meet them before the end of the year and end up adding new goals, then great. We’ll see!