a midnight candle

dreaming on the canvas, summoning an old old friend

air + water + power = smoke; there is no ground to be found here

whisper words, tell a story once more time

the dream of too much light

I dreamt I was in a city, full of artificial sunlight. All day long, and all night long too. I was getting more and more tired and just couldn’t get any sleep because of this fake daylight.

Eventually the scene shifted and I stopped being tired. I think that’s a first, though. I’ve never been tired in my dreams before. I hope it doesn’t become a regular thing.

some brief thoughts on “style”

Style is like love. It sneaks up on you when you’re not looking.

It’s the bits you’re naturally good at. It’s the cheats and abstractions of reality you’ve internalized, whether you figured them out yourself or stole them from another artist. It’s the things you just can’t get a handle on, no matter how hard you try, and the ways you’ve evolved to make this look intentional.

You can appropriate someone else’s style, but your style is what you get when you pick apart the styles of all your influences and stick them in a blender along with observation of reality, analysis, and practice.

 

I originally wrote this more than a decade ago, as a reply on DeviantArt’s forums to the zillionth thread started by some beginner artist worrying about “finding their style”. Today I found myself digging for it once more, to post it as a reply to a thread from a beginner who’s barely begun to scratch the surface of Illustrator who was asking if their “new style” had been done before. I figured I would post it here so I can find it again if my account on DA, or the whole site, vanishes before my website does.

If you are a beginning artist, I strongly encourage you to spend some time drawing things from life and/or photo reference instead of worrying about “your new style”.

ten years

I am going through the giant prints left over from the gallery showing of the Tarot deck, so I can hang some of them at Morsel, and I am realizing they are from 2008.

That’s ten years ago. And it feels like a while. Some of these pieces I’d want to spend a bit more time on now. Some of them are still just fine by my current standards. My anatomy’s gotten better with subtle stuff but these are still perfectly fine drawings; I think the biggest change in the work if I was to do them from scratch now would be that I’d go from rough to final colors a LOT faster – I was still laboriously pulling paths out with the pen tool back then. I think it was near the end of the whole thing that I discovered that the pencil tool has settings, whose defaults render it useless, played with those settings, and switched to it for pretty much everything shortly afterwards.

I wonder if I should make a regular practice of drawing some kind of bright, happy flat piece once a month. As a vacation from the giant task of a fully-painted comic. I could do it as porny commissions with my alter-ego, like I did this December, or I could do them as my cleaner identity and regularly print them out and do galleries. Finding subjects feels like the hard part; I could start going down some prompt lists? Or I could occasionally just ask my followers/patrons for an assortment of words, then shuffle them together to give me some directions to draw in. (If I wanted to be topical it might be fun to do a series of Chaos Deities, since that sure feels like the theme of the past couple years. Eris, Kali, Tiamat, Kek (yes probably with a frog pin), Azathoth, etc, maybe even paired with Law Deities from the same pantheons because that would be a lot of chaos to evoke in my personal life without some balance…)

 

(more: hmm, really I could just mine “a selection of deities” for multiple shows. wisdom would be fun, I could use more of that in my life.)

Fuck Christmas.

Here we are at the end of another year, at the beginning of another long frozen winter. Hopefully the last one I’ll spend this far north in a long time, if not the rest of my life.
I feel aged and empty and alone. My family is gone. My memory of them fades. Did we have any particular Christmas traditions? I don’t think so. Just the usual ones practiced by people who live in a theoretically Christian society but make no pretense of believing in that. There were gifts, and a tree, and tinsel, and lip service to traditions from frozen lands that none of us ever lived in. I understand more of the whys and wherefores of the winter traditions deep in my bones, now that I’ve lived far enough north for the changing seasons to steal more and more of the Sun away until there’s only a few precious hours of it in any day, and I will never like them.
And more and more I come to loathe these ceremonies grown up around the raw need to huddle together, share warmth, share light. and share scarce resources with those who were unlucky this year and don’t have enough to survive the winter. The relabeling of them as “Christmas”, honoring the birth of a prophet I don’t follow, who was probably born in the summer anyway. The way it’s become a frenzy of buying things, with a thousand cheap gifts made by a thousand woefully-underpaid elves in Chinese factories given to a thousand people who don’t need them. The way it’s become a celebration of Family when I have always had very little of that, in a culture that pushes everyone out into their own little box, the better to sell everyone the bare needs of existence in individually-packaged servings.
It is Christmas Eve and I am alone and I am tired and cold and really I want nothing so much as to go to sleep, wake up three months from now, and leave the North forever. “And barring that”, a small part of my brain says, “suicide sounds good.” To which I roll my eyes and reply that it always sounds good when I’m sad and tired and empty and cold, and I will only give such ideas serious consideration when I am comfortable and warm.
And so, once again, as I have for most years of my life, I say fuck Christmas. Fuck Santa Claus, fuck gifts under the tree, fuck this propaganda about spending time with your family whether it be the one of blood or the one you’ve made, for I have always been an antisocial beast who does not love much or easily.
Burn it all, that I may be warm for one wonderful day.

How would you like your coffee?

Erewhon is a genie who runs a coffee shop. Rumor has it there’s a few other things available on the secret menu; I recommend the cinnamon klava with honeycomb, myself…

 

You can get prints/shirts/phone cases/notebooks/etc of this here.

the dream of the extended count choculaverse

I dreamt that it had been announced that there was going to be a comic based on the monster cereals – Count Chocula/Frankenberry/etc. People had started posting weird takes on what they thought it would be; deliberately-ugly short nonsensical strips. Some of these were “going viral” online. The people actually doing the comic posted a plea to stop doing this and wait for the rich worldbuilding they were doing.

I managed to find a link to where the comic was being posted, but not promoted. It was a single panel strip, presented in the form of a VR scene of a fire hydrant with a sticker of the single panel on it. It was neither funny nor good.

Patreon revamping?

So. Nick and I are thinking about doing some changes to the Patreon campaign, and we’d love your input on it.

We’re thinking about adding a few payment tiers that tie in to the dual-sided nature of our current project:

  • two $1 tiers, one for people who think the VX10 chess club types are cool, one for people who think the hippie space dryad Mixolyne are cool – there might be some extra stuff released only to the appropriate tier at some point, but right now it’s just a fun way for you to get a little involved in the story
  • a $2 tier for people who prefer not to have an opinion on this – neutrality has its costs!
  • a similar trio of higher tiers – $5/$8? – where you can submit a character sheet that will go into a pool, which we will pull from whenever we need a minor/background character, either for one side or both. Roles like Redshirt #2, Background Diner #7, or Guard On Minor Planet With One Line. There’d be no guarantee of ever winning the pull though I think I’d want to weight it towards people who haven’t won it before.

They’d all stay as payment per-page, with the same ability to put in a monthly limit in case I suddenly start putting out lots more stuff.

Do these sound like fun ideas? Maybe like fun ideas at different prices? Everyone would still see the current mix of early pages, occasional WIPs, and whatever other little random thing I might feel like sharing about the process of my work; that’s never going to change.

We are also very open to suggestions. I’m not the only artist some of you are supporting – what are other artists doing that you wish I did? I’ve seen people doing regular times they’re open for chat, offering higher tiers with chances at commission slots, critique of patron’s artwork… anything else?

ALSO: we are thinking about doing some extra stories as short audio dramas. These would be written by Nick and put together by a few of our friends; I’d be involved in the plotting but would keep my main focus on drawing more pages of the comic. We see them as generally being short side stories rather than a place where Important Plot Events happen; they may add nuance and depth to things but the core story will always be in the form of the comic. Is this a thing y’all would be down with paying for alongside the comic pages?

(If those go over well I might fool around with turning them into little animatics. Maybe even recruit some folks to fully animate them, as baby steps towards the long-term dream of turning this into a crowd-funded cartoon series. Someday. Maybe. No promises.)

We’re also going to spend some time rewriting the basic “support my comics” pitch, show some more examples of the art, stuff like that. I haven’t really changed it since I first set it up back in 2014 and it’s just kinda time.

Anyway. Tier revamping, things you’ve liked other artists doing, maybe add short audio dramas into the mix. Whattya think?

(And as always, thanks a ton to those of you who’re supporting my weird-ass comics!)

hallowme

This morning, I wandered through the local instance of the pop-up Halloween store. It was a lot bigger than I expected, possibly due to using space that the former tenant (a third-party Apple retailer) was using for their repair offices. This may have been related to my decision to spend an hour doodling my fursona as a Sexy Witch tonight. With an angry green cat in her lap because that has basically been Nick’s fursona around the house lately. Mostly. Furries are weird, okay?

I also finished two pages of Parallax that had been in the works for a while, and posted them to Patreon today. Which is always a nice feeling: yay, I get paid a couple hundred bucks more at the end of the month! Onea these days I might even start paying most of my rent from comics again.

Tomorrow: haul stuff to the convention center, set up for Geek Girl Con, which is this weekend. And next weekend is gonna be PatreCon, thanks to them impulsively running a contest to choose a few creators to give a free ticket and hotel stay, and picking my half-assed, sassy entry as one of the winners. (“Maybe I’ll learn something that’ll let me triple my patronage; maybe I’ll hit it off with someone who’s better at promotion than I’ll ever be. Maybe I’ll just end up sharing a drink with some of my LA animation friends and get a gig that’ll pay well enough to let me extend my financial runway a couple more years.”) I still feel really weird about this and wonder if there were next to no entries (it only ran for a half a week, and they asked applicants to do Something Creative to say why they should be chosen to attend but didn’t mark uploading a video/image/etc as mandatory; I nearly abandoned the application when I got to that, but just rambled for a couple paragraphs of text instead), or if my crazy obsessive drawings actually stood out from the pack. Who knows. Either way I was able to persuade them to comp a conference ticket for Nick as well (what with him saying he’d like to try and take over some of the stuff that’s not drawing; we’re going to attend talks scheduled against each other and take notes), and paid for a couple of airplane rides with the Business Account. I’ve also contacted said Animation Friends about sharing lunch/a drink/etc.

Anyway. It’s getting to be about bedtime, I think.

the pink hoodie

Now and then, some artist finds a really hilariously impractical piece of clothing, and draws one of their characters wearing nothing but it. And sometimes the combination of clothing and drawing is strong enough to become A Thing that circulates around the Internet for a few days.

Every now and then I end up drawing one of my characters in one of them.

The item in question is a short pink hoodie, with a huge half-circle cut out of the front. Kind of a bolero hoodie. It could probably look pretty good if it was accessorizing the right outfit, really; I feel that matching the claw polish to the hoodie went a long way to making it look less terrible. As did being a tease who’s deliberately not using it as an excuse for full frontal nudity.