In my last post, I mentioned how I’m posting less here and devoting most of my energy to all the comic work I’m doing. Yesterday, writer Kevin Church (whom you may remember I’ve worked with before on Lydia) wrote a longer and better explanation about his lack of blog content, citing most of the same reasons. He also dropped this in at the end:
There’s other things that I’m working on. As a teaser, I’ll say Max Riffner and I have been dancing around a thing ever since Lydia wrapped up, each of us waiting for the other to make the first move that codifies it and brings the hammer of the fiction gods down upon us. It’s different, bigger, and more ambitious than anything either of us have done before, but already there’s a spark that we’re hovering over, cupping our hands around and fanning from time to time.
We’ve been talking about this new project quite a bit. It’s everything he says: different, bigger and more ambitious. When we get to a point where we can start talking about it more, we will. For now, I’ll say I’m busy cranking out comics and very excited about the future.
I ran into an old friend recently who asked “where have you been?! You don’t update your website anymore! And don’t get me started on Facebook!”
I’ve been busy creating comics; that’s it. If you want to see where most of my energy is going, look no further than Drunk Elephant Comics. This is what I’ve always wanted to do, and instead of talking about it here ad nauseum, I thought I’d start creating something.
Part of it is age also. Over the last 4 years (when I was regularly posting here), I’ve become more private (hence the lack of Facebook activity, also). I’m still very active on Twitter, however. I’ve been thinking about doing more of that sort of posting here — sharing links and quick one-offs.
Anyway – to the people that still look for my posts here, I’m still around and I’m okay. Promise. As long as Drunk Elephant Comics is still going, then so am I.
Over the last year, I started a webcomic which was updated two times a week, just to be sure I could handle that schedule. I soon boosted production up to three times a week, and then shortly after, teamed up with a writer to work on another webcomic that updates three times a week. I am essentially doing comic work full time at night now, having to produce 6 strips a week.
It’s a draining endeavor. Obviously the first thing to go was blogging, and you can see ever since I started working more 3 years ago at my previous employer that posting here has dropped off considerably. More worrisome for me is finding a place for this blog: what should I be posting here? It’s a question I ask myself daily. I think I’d like to use this place for production notes, and what I’m finding out about myself from doing this much cartooning. Hence this post.
The most striking thing so far that I’ve learned is a lesson that my professional friends warned me about: cartooning is lonely. I mean, serious loneliness. I come home from my 8-5 day job, maybe eat dinner, more likely I don’t, grab a soda and the dog and go to work. This is around 5:30 – 6 PM. I usually get done with all my drawing and uploading around 9 – 11 PM and typically go to bed at midnight. So some nights, I have an hour to myself. Odds are good I haven’t spoken to anyone in a long time. I sometimes go to a nearby bar that serves food late to grab a bite, have a beer, and maybe talk to the bartender for a bit of conversation.
This schedule is freeing in some aspects. For example, I don’t watch much television, and my Tivo collects the shows I want to watch, so I can enjoy it in one chunk. However, this sedentary lifestyle will eventually catch up with me, even though I’m doing something positive. Finding time to exercise is tough. In fact, finding time to do much of anything is tough. Exercise is a priority for me though, because the better I feel, the less likely it is to fall into bad habits that come with working too much (vices such as alcohol and tobacco are ‘get-stress-relief-quick’ habits that I know I can fall back on, for example).
With being online all the time though, television via the web is a hard temptation to pass up, because you weirdly feel like you are multi-tasking. A certain friend recently got me hooked on Arrested Development which I’ve been plowing through on Hulu. This is a mistake; I end up stretching my cartooning time out several hours in some cases on the weekends while watching that show. Similarly, instant messaging needs to be planned for certain production periods. If I’m drawing, I’ll keep putting down the Wacom to chat (it’s easier when I’m lettering and doesn’t interrupt my workflow as much).
Another thing I’ve noticed is all of my friends seem to be having the best time ever and they are talking all about it via social networking. Talks of last night concert sting a bit in this context, because you wonder where you were and oh that’s right you were chained to your desk drawing in a dark room. I try to cut myself off from times where I may be tempted to sit and see what people are up to, basically scheduling time to check Facebook, for example, so it doesn’t get too overwhelmingly negative in my head.
Adding to the “negativity to watch out” for is the dreaded feeling that I have somehow had hooks replaced for my hands and I have lost the ability to draw. This is a strange occurrence, because I know I can draw, I did it all last week. Very well, even. But this week? Forget it — I now have the drafting abilities of a 10 year old. The best advice I’ve received from peers is to just get out of your head and push through, you’ll get over the feeling typically within a week, and no one will notice your fictional “slide into awful” anyway. This is strange to me, because I’ve heard this from 5 or 6 other cartoonists who don’t necessarily communicate often. They all experience this sense of impotence occasionally and for about the same length of time also.
Throughout this transition over the last 6 weeks though has been a sense of contentment, that this is, in fact, what I should be doing with my time. Cartooning and storytelling have been such a big part of my life since I was a young child that the work I am doing now fills me with a great deal of joy and a feeling that there are just bigger things on the horizon for me. Last week I posted this quote on Twitter because when it does feel crappy, I read this and it gets me right:
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery—isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
â€” Charles Bukowski (Factotum)
With how topsy-turvy my life has been over the past 3 years of layoffs, divorce, and other such life obstacles, that little quote has given me more solace than I care to admit. That in the end, I have a shot of something more real than I can imagine.
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