Tag Archives: inspiration

Dragon Comics 134

dragon comics 134_edited-2

The moral of the story is: do or do not. There is no try. 

Comic finished 7 hours early! Although I did start this one over a week ago. But considering that I spent 3 days being obsessed with my web traffic and sad about bigotry, I’m plenty pleased. It was super motivating that the Fox suggested he come over for a writing party. It’s a thing he does: a bunch of writers sit around and write. I haven’t been to one in a while. So I had to finish this comic so I could actually write at this writing party. Then the Fox cancelled on me. Fine! I’ll have my own writing party! With hookers and blackjack! Well, maybe not those things. But things that are just as fun but less likely to give you a disease or get you arrested or clean out your bank account.

When you start out in an artistic pursuit, you do it out of joy. And probably for a long time you do it for yourself and it’s completely joyful. And then sooner or later, if you want to do it at a higher level, you’ll show it to someone who is more vested in honesty and craft than loving you. That someone will offer criticism, and you will start to see the imperfections. But if you’re an artist, you keep honing your craft. Maybe you take classes. You keep getting better and better. If you take a lot of classes–perhaps if you become, technically, academically, a “master” of your art–you get the opposite of beginner mind. You approach everything critically. You accept nothing with joy. You’re 100 times better than you were when you started, maybe 1000 times. But you can only see the flaws.

That happened. I thought about this book I wanted to write for more than 6 months. Close to a year, I guess. And I got really worked up about it. And I put all these conditions on myself, and finally I allowed it to start. And I wrote a pretty pleasing prologue. And then I said, OK, where does this story start? And I started it with the main character getting off an airplane to start his new life and meeting some characters who would figure prominently in the first part of the story.

But then master mind kicked in. No, no, no. That’s prosaic. This meeting has nothing to do with the story; these characters are of minor importance. The story starts with something important to the story, with major symbols and recurrent themes and a focus on tone. Meaning I wrote an entire chapter I will now throw out. Not an auspicious beginning. But possibly better than writing for a year and then having someone better tell you, “No, no, no, that’s prosaic and doesn’t advance the narrative.” Actually, I know what I’m doing.

The point of this comic, though, is that none of that matters. What matters is that you sit down and do the thing. And then you do it again and again and again until the thing is done.

Advertisements

His Song Went on Forever

bowie_edited-1

I’m not that deep. I’ll never be that deep. But I can see into the depths. 

I don’t usually do stuff like this, not being one for idols, but David Bowie was such an phenomenal creative spirit that it’s hard to imagine the hearing, seeing human being who wouldn’t be inspired by his work. He was a true artist in every sense of the word, a man who wrote what still stands, in my mind, as one of the greatest commentaries ever created on love, aliens, and rock and roll (let alone one of the greatest albums of all time) when he was 24 year old, and then, rather of resting on his laurels, invented himself again and again, for every album, for every movie role.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars played in the background as I drew this comic, and while I’ve listened to this album start to finish literally hundreds of times in my life, I kept hearing new ideas, new notes. It kept offering new inspiration.

I can’t even talk about “Lazarus” right now.

If you notice that I have chosen the silhouette of Jareth, the Goblin King to represent the dozens of faces that Bowie wore in his career, it is because I am 9 years old, and because when we fall in love, we always remember the moment, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love The Hunger or The Man Who Fell to Earth, brutal and adult as both those films were.  

This is sort of what I feel about any really great artist finishing their work here: it’s sad they had to go when they did, but it’s wonderful that they got to stay as long as they could. The world is a better place for the existence of people like David Bowie and Robin Williams, and I’m a better artist for having walked in their light.

Be Grateful for What You Have

Happiness is a choice.

Happiness is a choice.

Somehow it can be easier to feel jealousy about what other people have and frustration over what you don’t have than to rejoice in what you do have. Yet, the more you feel gratitude for any benefits to your circumstances, the more you realize how much you have to be grateful for. Allow yourself to see the bright side and there always will be a bright side.

I’m guilty of obsessing over shortcomings and imperfections in life, when really, I have a lot. Like, for instance, I don’t have to sit in a kiddie pool in the summertime. I have many friends and loved ones, a safe place to live, and so much food that I am more in danger making myself sick by overeating than ever suffering from hunger. When you start thinking about what you do have, every advantage is something to give thanks for.

Dragon Comics 81

Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I'm wistening fow the voice of inspiwation.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I’m wistening cwosewy fow the sweet sweet voice of inspiwation.

 

When we were kids, my brother was considered something of a math prodigy. He skipped the 9th grade to attend the Illinois Math and Science Academy and taught at the University of Illinois before he even finished his BA. While he was in college, he told me, laughingly, Paul Erdős’s statement about mathematicians being machines that turn coffee into theorems.

My brother went on to earn advanced degrees from some of the most prestigious schools in the world. On a recent visit, I mentioned that quote to him and he laughed, this time a little bitterly. He said that most mathematicians do their best work before they’re 25, and that if you haven’t had any brilliant and original thoughts in the field before 30, you’re not likely to, ever. It’s like your brain has lost same particular aspect of plasticity that allows it to uncover new truths about numbers.

That’s never been so of writers. It’s the rare author who has both a mastery of craft as well as an interesting story to tell before 30. Maybe authors don’t hit their stride until 40. It’s not at all unusual to come across an extremely talented person who didn’t even start writing until they had retired in their 60s. So age is actually an asset in this field. And I keep telling myself that. It’s not only the facility with words and the understanding of how to structure sentences, chapters, paragraphs, and stories. It’s also the vast increase in life experience: fodder to create stories. And this increases exponentially. I don’t only gain the experience of my own life. I also get the experiences of all the people I talk to, and all the characters in books I read and videos I watch.

There’s absolutely no reason for a person to feel as if they haven’t achieved enough. In the creative arts, your masterwork can still be in the future.

 

Dragon Comics 79

And they'll do it, too.

And they’ll do it, too.

Today was the Girl’s 10th birthday, so here’s a special bonus design to celebrate: it’s her as a My Little Pony. Usually I don’t do fan art, of course, but she really liked it. She asked if we could get it framed 🙂

My Little Pony: Birthdays Are Magic

My Little Pony: Birthdays Are Magic

The Girl in the comic is supposed to be about 5 years old. The first thing the real life girl said to me this morning was, “I’m really a tween now.” So this picture is a more accurate spiritual representation of who she is now: an optimistic young person with a sense of style and passion, poised to take the world by storm.

As for the comic, it’s just a small gag, but I think it speaks to a lot of people I know, not just the Fox and the Rabbit. Sometimes you’re just waiting for inspiration. But really, inspiration is always in you.

Dragon Comics 78

In reality, the Girl's reaction to being swarmed with butterflies would not be quite so favorable, and would definitely involve a lot more shrieking

In reality, the Girl’s reaction to being swarmed with butterflies would not be quite so favorable, and would definitely involve a lot more shrieking.

This was originally meant to be a comic about The Man, but I wanted him to write his own dialog and he fell asleep instead. Ergo: the kids.

When we were little, my mother taught us that boredom was our own fault. If we were incapable of using our brains to entertain ourselves, then that represented a sort of intellectual laziness. I had a sister and a brother, and we played together, but I also spent a lot of time alone, with my own head, which was, and continues to be, a magical place. Sometimes I still went and whined to my mother about not having anything to do, but since her response was usually along the lines of, “If you’re bored, go clean your room,” I learned not to ask her for entertainment advice. We read a lot, did puzzles and art projects, went to the park or bike riding, and made up our own games, constantly. TV was pretty limited–we didn’t have cable for the most part, and even when we did, there wasn’t that much programming for kids anyway, and even if there had been, our mother wouldn’t have let us sit in front of it all day long–so we used our imaginations.

I do worry what effect on-demand video technology has on kids. I see too many of them who are utterly incapable of filling in their own minds without a screen. Even with the ubiquitous screens, they’re still bored all the time. I mean, I like the Internet as much as the next person, possibly more, but I can also think of a million fun things to do without it. It’s a great tool; it’s a great friend. But it’s not everything.

It’s funny how when you put people–kids and adults–outside, out of reach of wifi, their whole outlook can change.

Dragon Comics 77

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

Today was a rough one for me; I had to report for jury duty at 7:30 a.m. and that sort of thing always throws me off course in a thousand ways. But inspiration came nonetheless. You just have to force yourself to open to it. Although I believe in participatory democracy and the right to a trial by a jury of ones peers, the actual process of serving the legal system in this way is oppressive. Getting up early, going through a metal detector, being forced to sit in a room full of strangers waiting for your number to be called, getting questioned by strangers and forced to conform to their mode of speech and behavior, listening to a nonstop stream of dialog inside a windowless room for 7 hours a day, having this all supersede whatever it is that you’ve chosen to do with your life. Plus, the judge cracked a misogynistic joke and made fun of a potential juror’s accent.

Basically, I didn’t want to do it, and when I was excused it felt as if I myself had been released from a kind of prison. The trial was going to be a minimum of 3 weeks! Ain’t nobody got time for that. I was planning of forcing myself to open to the possibility of jury duty. But it was just too much, and instead I was born anew into the early spring sunlight and opened myself to joy and inspiration and found this comic.