Tag Archives: writers

Dragon Comics 139

dragon comics 139_edited-1

First you go viral. Then the virus kills you.

If you’re asking someone to submit content to your website, and the very first thing that person says in their response is, “Before you go any further, is this a paying gig?” and it’s not a paying gig, then what you should say is, “Sorry, no.” What you should not do is send a poorly worded boilerplate description of your website that doesn’t answer the original question in a straightforward manner, and then, when the person whose favor you are asking reiterates that they need to understand whether or not you intend to compensate them for their work, get all bent out of shape and snarky about it. You’ve wasted their time by not just answering the question.

I’m lucky because I have The Man looking after me, and before that I had a very solid and well-paying corporate writing gig, but I know too many freelance writers getting shafted by a system that runs on their talent but devalues their skill.

Drawing a comic is better than getting riled up about it. So actually, I did profit from the exchange.


bonnie jo_edited-2

My mom would definitely categorize “blow job” as a dirty word.

I asked Bonnie Jo if it was OK for me to share this anecdote, which I can do because she was my master’s thesis advisor 12 years ago and she still answers my text messages. I offered to change her identity, and she said, “Don’t you dare.” She also insisted that I name her mother, Susanna Campbell, and suggested that I give the donkey’s name, which was “either Jack or Don Quixote,” but it didn’t really fit in the panel.

Bonnie Jo was also the person who told me about the sitcom moment of the day, which is her idea that in every day something extraordinarily funny happens, and you just have to look for it to keep your spirits up. Pretty often, the sitcom moment of the day informs my comics. This situation with the author’s mother standing always strikes me as an ultimate example of a sitcom moment. If you’ve never read Bonnie Jo Campbell, I highly recommend her work, which is often about the salt of the earth people of the American midwest, but also about other things, and always fresh and unusual and provocative. In addition to the above link to my interview with her (long story), you can also read my reviews of all 5 of her books, or purchase them from Amazon.

The text for this comic practically wrote itself, except for the last panel, which took an extra day. The images of Bonnie Jo were easy; she’s all over the internet and I think I captured her likeness. I’ve met her mom once or twice, plus I knew how to find a reference picture of her. No idea what her uncle looks like, though. I Googled “redneck reading” to find a source image. Please let that be OK.  The donkey might be overly complex; whenever possible, I like to use my own photographs, and I always found that image funny, but it’s so close up that it required a lot more details than the others. The final panel also took me a while; originally it was going to be someone crying, but this is better.

My mom loves me, but she doesn’t understand my work. That’s OK. I’m a niche experience. Not everyone can get into me.

Pretty in Punk Redux Mandala

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.34.07 PM

Yes, my scanner is fixed; no, I’m not into rescanning stuff right now. 

Last night found me working feverishly until 2 a.m. to finish a project that’s been rolling around my head for years. There’s a possibility that it will actually be needed soon. Anyway, it came out wonderfully, almost exactly what I’d envisioned in my head, which is the best metric of success when you can’t depend on outside approval for validation.

Yesterday I went to a meet-up for the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America who live in Tucson. I am not a member of the SFWA–I think the criteria for membership is something like 3 professional sales or 6 semi-professional sales, and I only have 2 semi-professional sales–but I received an invitation and damnit, I went. The writers were very cool and inclusive; half of them I already knew, included one with whom I had been conversing on Facebook for over 3 years but had never met face to face (although I did once hear her speak at the Tucson Festival of Books). Even though everyone there had achieve a greater level of professional success than I had, they weren’t really any different from me. None of them thought they had really achieved a great level of professional success. All of them spoke wistfully of writers who had done better. Two of them mentioned that their most successful stories were those that happened to be anthologized in books where their bylines shared space with household names like Stephen King and RL Stine.

It felt good to be part of a writing community again.

This mandala is badly reproduced, but I’m already 14 hours late posting this blog, and I have come to loathe scanning things. It’s worse than photocopying (because it takes longer). It’s ideologically similar to another mandala I drew, so I gave it the same name. This one doesn’t exactly look “like a Hot Topic exploding over an Orange Julius stand at the mall.” It looks like the explosion stayed in the Hot Topic.

Dragon Comics 90

In other words, you paint your own world.

In other words, you paint your own world.

If you haven’t read it already, stop reading at the end of this sentence, go read this Toni Morrison article about what artists do in times of dread, and then come back. Obviously, I can’t say anything as well as Toni Morrison. (But if you’re a rebel who doesn’t follow directions, I can summarize: When the worst things are happening, this is when it is most important for artists to express themselves.)

It’s easy, especially for creatives, to become overwhelmed with sorry, and even with anger, but feelings don’t make a difference. Actions do. We may feel impotent, immobile in the face of forces that seem much larger than our individual strength, but every small voice counts against injustice. If something upsets you, something that feels fundamentally wrong, don’t despair. Say something. Write something. Paint something. Don’t let the enormity of the task overwhelm you. You are not alone. Someone is listening. Someone needs to hear what you have to say.

This comic is for the real kitty and bunny, who sometimes get angry or depressed about the meanness that runs through humanity and frustrated by the feeling that fixing the problem is out of their control. It’s true that all the Problems of the World cannot be solved by one person, but many of the problems of the world can be solved be individuals and small groups. Sometimes just saying the right thing at the right time to the right person is enough to effect a change, to raise up one more spark of the divinity of kindness to light the world.

That’s why I have to keep reminding myself never to harden my heart, and to always answer hatred with love (and also why I can never read the comment forums). I have to be ready with the right answer when the moment presents itself, whether that’s drawing a ridiculous comic in support of a doctrine of love, or speaking up when I hear an ugly microaggression being casually spewed. I mean, I’m not perfect (sometimes I do read the comment forums) but I always feel better with an open heart. I always feel better when I choose to see the light instead of set my mind to the darkness.