After a long business talk with my La (my everything partner), I’ve realized there are some things about the art business I’m not enjoying and I need to make some improvements on the form, so that I can in turn make improvements on the art itself.
There are a lot of changes going on in the convention scene right now, for instance the vast over saturation of shows the lower the overall quality of each and every show out there. Someone a while back compared the rapid growth in the convention scene to the Speculative Real Estate bubble that burst in Aught-Eight, and it’s not an untrue or unfair comparison. There are a lot of people coming out the wood work to put their stamp on the the idea, some with good intentions, others just maintain a sleezy nightclub/used car lot mentality over it. It doesn’t matter in the end and this bubble will burst, it’s just a matter of when.
And what exactly does the working artist do with this info? Right now I feel like all we can do is brace ourselves, prepare for the inevitable, and start building skills that will help us more easily adapt when the time comes. Other than that the only real option is to jump ship and find another vessel. Easier said than done, however.
Though the younger, naive, passion filled artist in me wants desperately to survive solely on my art, after my shows were over for the season this time last year, I gave in and got a part time job, something to take the financial burden off of solely La’s shoulders. We’d been given gracious amounts of help and support from family and friends, but it was a rough year last year. I’m still working part time, and I’m lucky enough that my manager is very easy about my convention schedules. Not everyone can be so lucky. I like the place right now and I’ve been there for almost a year at this point. It pays a bill, or pays for a table at a show but leaves me (most of the time) with plenty of time to work on my own business. I like where I’m at so far with it all, but there is much to be done to make some improvements.
I’m writing a larger piece for later on the Artist Alley life and what I’ve learned about my work from the past year and a half of doing it, I’ll have that one up sometime soon after this.
I started Hive Mind when I quit my job last year. I started drawing the characters that would later inhabit Hive Mind, rather. I hated the place I had been working. When I left I started drawing this little ‘worker-bee’, miserable looking, in a miserable working environment. It was my catharsis. So much of my depression about the stepping stone job I wasted 3 years at came out in that one drawing. And then I drew some more. La and my mom saw these drawings and loved them, they asked about what I was doing with them, and encouraged me to take them a step further. I had a loose idea, really the beginning and the end points. Around this time I also wanted to start updating the site more often, so marrying these bees to the comic strip format seemed the best way at the time to explore my ideas with these bees.
I’m on the second season/chapter of Hive Mind now, but 4 issues in I’m realizing I don’t like what Hive Mind is becoming. I like the stories and the characters, but the isn’t there. The form isn’t there. The adventures of these bees don’t feel containable in three small boxes every week. I have a story written and beats plotted for this entire second chapter, but I’m not happy with the art. Technically they’re some of my best drawings to date, but I hand drew those original bees, and redrawing them digitally and giving them such vivid colors, I’m realizing it’s maybe not the feeling I wanted for this concept. I originally thought of this idea as a coming of age story book for adults. Or, even just one of those ‘Little Golden Books’ for people who are depressed and hate their jobs. That was my original idea, but I wasn’t sure it would catch on.
Now let me take a step backward and say that I brought up the conventions first because I wanted to build that up for a point I’m about to make on the changes I’m going to be making for Hive Mind and XaqInd in general. In regards to the end of the last paragraph: “but I wasn’t sure it would catch on”. That is what I spent a lot of time hung up on in the last year. I have a lot of artist friends who tell each other, and themselves “It’s not about the money”, but for me I want to build the work I do into a small business that I can take care of my family with someday. It IS about money. That being said, in the comics, and in the convention scene itself, I’ve been focusing on selling and not about just liking what I’m doing, and making genuine things from my heart. The major reason I left the glamorous world of in house graphic design was that I was tired of creating sole-less analogue click bait, and yet, I’ve been teetering on the edge of that cliff STILL, but by holding my own creativity hostage against me. So back to Hive Mind.
I don’t care if it ‘catches on’. I can’t, if I want to enjoy making it long term, I have to love it and love making it, and right now, I don’t love it. I like it, but I’m not ‘in like’ with it. So I’m taking the rest of December back off of Hive Mind, and I will hit reset on it at the start of the new year by taking it back to where it came from and the original ideas we had. Hive Mind will be traditionally drawn and scanned, not confined to three boxes in a white frame. I’m just going to draw my bee friends, and with every drawing, the corresponding post will be the prose of that story. I suppose I’m attempting to make the digital comic version of that story book idea. Of course I hope you like it, I really do want to make something you enjoy, but I’m not going to try to sell myself on the idea of selling you something. I just want to make nice drawings that make people smile, and just see where that takes me.
HIVE MIND will RE-Return January 4th, 2016. I’ll be starting the story over, including those first 4 strips and we will go from there.
“You can take my guns when you pry from my cold, dead dad-gummed hands, liberal faggots!” I’m sure I’ve heard someone say that. probably everyday since I’ve existed, probably twice a day since moving to Texas. Oi. I have to get my thoughts on this out, so the web space I pay for seems like a good forum.
*This is more of a thought journal, so here we go.
First, I will say that I have been around firearms all my life, my parents were both in the military before I was born and when I was old enough, they taught me how to shoot and about gun safety. We had a shotgun and pistol in our household. I had toy guns. I was instilled with the difference between the two and never thought of the guns in our home as anything more than, I suppose, a tool for the ‘Worst Case Scenario’. Later on I got in to trap shooting for a short stint as well and really enjoyed it. I do like guns. That being said…
No. ‘God-Damned’ Obama ain’t gonna come in to your home and take yer guns away. Here’s why: He’s busy. He personally would not take the time to go to every gun owner’s home and take your guns away in some sort of wheelbarrow or something. It would be logistically impractical. Stop saying it. Also, he’s on the final lap, the home stretch, the final year of his run as President. Remember the last month of senior year? You didn’t do anything or care about any last homework or whatever, cause in a month you’re gone, who cares? That’s what I assume the last year of an 8 year term is probably like. He’s not going to spend his last year in office going door to door collecting your unnecessary amount of weapons.
Next, stop saying “the cold, dead hands thing” and other shit like “I’ll shoot anyone who even fuckin’ tries to take away my guns and my rights” That’s really part of the problem. What you’re doing in that moment is threatening violence on a hypothetical person. If this were a real person, that’s a pretty decent sized crime most often called: Criminal Threats. And if you’re the person supposing that President Obama himself would come to your house to take your guns, and you still stand by this statement, that is a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms.
Part of the problem in this process is the backwoods hypocrisy of the standard “Murican” personality. Often sporting feel-good pseudo-patriotic articles of clothing that say shit like Support the Troops, yet when those troops get home a substantial amount are unable to receive the help they need to survive. A yellow ribbon magnet sure does look nice, it would look nicer if you ever parked your supportive message at a soup kitchen or helped support real, local efforts rather than paying people to make magnets. But that’s a whole different rant I’ll go on some other time. My point in this segment is that The troops would more than likely be the ones assisting local law enforcement reclaim these guns, hypothetically. And by your very logic, you’re threatening death against law enforcement, and the troops you so visually support on your shirt/hat/bumper. In fact, your attitude, is downright Treason.
Here are some of my proposed steps to solutions you’re sure to hate:
(Choose any or all of these, these are meant to be interchangeable to find the best solution.)
- Ban Conceal Carry. If it’s so important that you have your gun on you at all times, and you want to flex nuts and act like Wyatt Earp, then you shouldn’t get to hide your gun. You wanna pack heat everywhere you go, it seems unnecessary (because you’re not actually helping anything) but the rest of us should at least have a visual on which assholes to steer clear of if shit goes down.
- No more guns than trained users per household. If you live alone and you know how to use the weapon, you get one. If it’s merely for ‘Self Defense’ one would suffice. If you and your spouse are both trained, you each get one. You want a third gun? NOOP! Sorry, you each get one. You may trade in your current weapon for a different version, but you don’t get to have both. You can’t fire them at the same time anyways.
- No more semi-auto. Your gun is single action. Again, if it’s truly for self defense, and you’re properly trained, you don’t need more than that. Also, you don’t need an AR-15 to hunt deer either. If you’re using semi-autos to hunt wildlife, I hope you get gored by antlers. Antlers right up your god-damned taint, you fuckin’ psycho. Be a man and use a fuckin’ bow.
- Higher taxes on ammo. This one I’ve heard from other folks too, I like the idea. You’ll think more about the shots you take if the bullets cost more. And you know what we could do with the tax revenue accrued from ammo sales, funnel it into programs that help soldiers with medical issues and/or keep them off the streets. Then you wouldn’t have to be a hypocrite about your yellow ribbons.
- Ammo roulette. 1 in 1000 bullets is an actual bullet. Everything else is blanks. All completely randomized. (This would also work well with the tax idea) Take the same idea behind collectible card games like Magic or Pokemon, The rare cards are randomized in packs that cost x amount per package, with no guarantee that you’ll get one. People who play these games drop mad ducketts on these randomized cards, so much that it’s the mainstay of keeping a lot of collector shops open still. It’s basically gambling for children, but that sales model could work with ammo too. Plus, one in 1000 bullets might give lead time when shots are fired in public. There is a lot more minutia in this idea than I can grasp. I know very little about making ammo, but blanks exist already so this idea seems feasible.
- Make ammo harder to buy. For fuck’s sake, you have to give your ID to the clerk at Walgreen’s just to buy Sudafed. (Some places may actually already do this, I don’t know, I don’t buy ammo)
- This one may be the most extreme. Don’t mess with the gun laws at all. BUT. INSTEAD. The entire country has to forfeit their trigger fingers. There’s no amendment guaranteeing you a right to trigger fingers. It’ll be a lot harder to shoot guns around like Yomsimpitee Sam (that’s what I called him as a kid, Yosimpitee) if ya ain’t got no trigger fingers. You’ll have to train yourself to use your other fingers to fire, which at that point you may be better off using your toes to pull the trigger. And good luck getting enough practice when you’re buying mostly blanks at literally $20 a pop.
So there are a few ideas I’ve put together on the gun issue. I hope these options are entertained at some point, and I’m free most week-days after 5:00pm if you’d like to call and discuss these ideas further, Mr. President.
One final though on guns before I cut outta here.
Wearing your high powered rifles to go to Starbucks just “Prove a point” doesn’t prove anything. You just look like ignorant rubes. No, wait. You don’t look like ignorant rubes, you are ignorant rubes. I suppose you are proving a point then. Sorry ’bout that.