Dec 30 2010

New Year Reflections 2010-2011

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Some rambling here. If you’d like to skip to the good stuff, there’s art at the end! πŸ˜‰

For all who stayed…

It’s been a year and a bit now since I wrapped up The Suburban Jungle, and time to check my progress compared with what my plans were for the year.

The first thing that comes to mind is that writing didn’t really go as planned. I did do a short story that I was quite pleased with, and a lot of trying to hash out various novel ideas, but I never could really come up with something that got me fired up and excited, I suspect at least in part because I had so much difficulty making the “concept” behind the book match what was actually coming out when I wrote. That, and my recurring difficulty with plot, which I’ve written about elsewhere. At the end of the day, for just about each project I tried to pick up, I ended up deciding it needed a little more time to bake and that I’d come back to it.

The next thing that comes to mind is how much I missed doing comics. Back in August Arclight Adventures grabbed hold of my brain and shook me around until I caved in and started working on it — only to hit a wall in November called “familial crisis” (le sigh). Fortunately the familial stuff has ebbed again for the moment, and once the seasonal frantic convention prep is out of the way, I can get back on it. Right now I expect Arclight Adventures to run for about eight issues over the course of two to five years depending on how well it goes and audience reaction.

That said, I do miss Suburban Jungle, and I know there’s going to be more of it someday. Just the other night, Tiffany demanded that I draw her, so the characters are still there bumping around in my head, even if they don’t have any major plots brewing at the moment. But it needs some time away, so that I can let the old series become set as its own thing and then start a new story fresh, instead of succumbing to the temptation of just doing “more of the same in a different format.” There are some core elements of Suburban Jungle which honestly were completely played out by the end and would only be baggage now. By having time away from it, and doing different stuff instead, I hope to be able to come back fresh to the new series and give it its own life.

Then, there’s the issue of conventions. Now, I love conventions, but there are problems I’m going to have to come to grips with moving forward. MammaLlamaDevil, who has been my superlative business partner for the past (mumble) years, is gettin’ out of the convention biz as part of a major life-restructuring. While I wish her nothing but huge success, that does put me back where I was in 2001-2002, having to create merchandise, wrangle vendors, and work the table more or less on my own. She’ll be there for Further Confusion, thank goodness, but for AnthroCon I’m going to have a half-table solo. Sirfox and I have requested to get the same table, which should help, but I will still have to face my worst nightmare: i.e., trying to handle money, interact with people, and keep drawing all at the same time. It may sound fatuous, but I know from experience it’s going to be tough going! Fortunately, Mrs. Gneech will be at Confuzzled, which will be a big help there. I have enough trouble with US dollars — I can’t help it, math is hard! — I don’t want to know what trying to deal in pounds will be like.

Speaking of Confuzzled, I did promise at the top of the post that there would be art at the bottom of it! So here you go: convention mascot Brok the Badger gets tough with a goon! (Click through for larger view.)
Brok: Tough Guy! by The Gneech

To be honest I suspected my GOH days at conventions were probably over, so to not only be invited again, but to be invited overseas, still blows my mind. πŸ™‚ It has also been a major source of inspiration for me to keep going on the artwork. I don’t do it for the money, obviously — I do it for the fans. πŸ™‚ And to know that it still means something to people is huge.

So what are my plans for 2011? Right now they consist of finishing off the unfinished business of 2010 (i.e., Attack of the War-Cats and No Predation Allowed), getting Arclight Adventures off the ground, and to continue trying to make the writing work. That ought to keep me busy for at least a week or two. πŸ˜‰

-The Gneech

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Dec 29 2010

On Heroes

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A random thought has just popped into my head about “heroes” — and specifically, on how rare they are these days in pop culture.

Somebody was tweeting a bunch of nonsense about Cameron being a great director, which in turn led me to the thought, “James Cameron: Master of manipulating clichΓ©. If Republic Films was still making serials, he’d be IN!”

That in turn led me to memories of various serials I’ve watched, and related things such as radio adventure shows like “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy” … and the stalwart, strong-jawed hero you just don’t see any more. Even Superman(!) is a deadbeat dad, if you go by the latest movie! The postmodern era really delivered the strong-jawed hero a punch to the vitals that he hasn’t ever recovered from. These days we’ve got the schlub who redeems himself, the brutal badass, or the well-meaning guy who screws it all up.

Thinking about characters who have had a lasting impact, I think Captain Kirk may have been the last great strong-jawed hero, and even he was twisted into something else courtesy of J.J. Abrams (who got Star Trek wrong, wrong SO VERY WRONG). Fortunately, the Abrams version of Trek will wither and die after one more movie and eventually be forgotten, but that doesn’t alter the fact that contemporary storytellers just don’t seem to know what to do with Good Guys.

“Is he strong? Then he must be an arrogant bully! Is he competent? Then he must be distant and cold! Does he have a moral center? Then he must be didactic and intolerant! Is he kind? Then he must be either naive or dull! Is he successful? Then he must have ruthlessly victimized others to get there!”

Feh.

I don’t like what it says about our culture that we think this way. I don’t want every hero to be Dudley Do-Right, but the strong-jawed hero is a worthy archetype and something we should want to emulate, not tear down. If the ’60s and ’70s were a culture “growing up” and coming to grips with the fact that you can’t always trust your heroes to be infallible, then fine, that’s something that needed to be learned. But it doesn’t also follow that everybody is a crapsack all the time. Let’s retain a little perspective here. There are people who are just plain “good guys” (of either gender, please forgive the inclusive use of “guy” here), and it’s certainly not out of line to imagine that people like that sometimes go on exciting adventures.

And being a good guy also doesn’t inherently make somebody boring. Wit, artistry, originality, these can all coexist perfectly well within a strong, compassionate framework. Here’s hoping that maybe people can start to remember that again.

-The Gneech

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Dec 27 2010

ROWR Revisited — Still Got It!

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ROWR Revisited -- Still Got It! For anyone who’s not on the Suburban Jungle community feed, here’s a riff on Tiffany’s first big gig, all the way back in 1999. Done purely to get the artistic juices flowing again! If there’s sufficient interest, I’ll offer this one as a print. Enjoy!

-The Gneech

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Dec 24 2010

Have an Introverted Christmas

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(to the tune of ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’)

Have an introverted Christmas
with a small group of your friends
And then sigh with deep relief
when it finally ends

Have an introverted Christmas
but don’t make too much fuss
We won’t force you to put on smiles
there’s no-one here but us

Ho, ho, the mistletoe
Hung where you can see
and know how far to stay away
hangin’ out by the tree

Have an introverted Christmas
the phone is off the hook
Tell the folks I said hello
and then went back to my book.

-The Gneech

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Dec 10 2010

You’re a Hoser, Mister Grinch

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You’re a hoser, Mister Grinch
you’re a total spazoid dork
you’re just completely bogus
and your parentage is borked, Mister Grinch
You’re a salmonella salad made with…
under-cooked pork!

You’re overly sensitive, Mister Grinch
constructive criticism makes you mad
You take it all so personal
it’s really rather sad, Mister Grinch
You just keep looking at me like…
I’m being some kind of cad!

You’re the anti-Christ, Mister Grinch
you’re the harbinger of End Times
and they’re digging a new hell now
just to cover all your crimes, Mister Grinch
You’re a shambling blob of tentacles and eyes…
oozing in acidic slime!

-The Gneech

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Dec 07 2010

You’re a Butthead, Mister Grinch

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You’re a butthead, Mister Grinch
You really are a dink
You have no social graces
And your breath quite frankly stinks, Mister Grinch
You have got to be the…
mother of all finks

You’re obnoxious, Mister Grinch
You’re an unappealing pratt
and the worst thing I can say is
that you still think you’re all that, Mister Grinch
If there was any justice, a streamroller would come along and…
whallop you flat

You’re diabolic, Mister Grinch
you’ve made a Faustian pact
and I would point out all its loopholes
if I didn’t have such tact, Mister Grinch
I wouldn’t have you on my friends list even if…
all my social media got hacked

-The Gneech

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