Mar 31 2014

Commissions and Workload

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If my records are correct, I still owe two people commissions from January; I can only apologize, offer an explanation, and let you know my current plans.

In November of 2012, my mother had a stroke while in the hospital for treatment of pneumonia. In the time since then, my sister, my wife, and I have been spending increasing amounts of our time tending to my mother’s health and affairs, first taking care of her at my sister’s home, then transitioning her to an assisted living situation and selling her house. And while my mother’s personality was altered by the stroke and her mobility was noticeably limited, she was until recently doing relatively well.

All of that changed in December, when my mother took a nasty fall and went into the hospital again. Although she initially seemed recovered from that and was fine at Christmas (except for a nasty bruise on her face), she had some bleeding on the brain that we were not aware of at the time. In late January, she fell again, and it was a fall she did not recover from. During the month of February, she was in a rehab center, where she eventually simply stopped eating and would not willingly take care of herself– and the staff of the rehab place would not push her. Laurie, my sister, and I did what we could to mitigate the situation, but Mom’s doctors were frustratingly unhelpful despite my sister’s best efforts and Laurie and I were up to our elbows in settling Mom’s house in order to make sure her assisted living stay would be paid for.

By the time we got Mom back to her home at the assisted living facility, she had lost too much weight, and her body began to shut down. For a few days it seemed like she might perk up, but it was like once she was back in her own room and knew her affairs were settled, her body just let go. She passed away in the early hours of last Tuesday, and her funeral was this past Friday.

I didn’t post about this much while it was going on, for various reasons. First, it seemed to happen so fast, and while we were in the middle of it all there was no way to know what was going to happen. Second, for the past several years, it seems my online persona has been a never-ending series of these situations, starting with my father and going on from there, and I simply didn’t want to subject my readers to any more. (And there’s no denying, my life has been a bumpy ride since 2007 or so. But after a while, even tragedy becomes “normal” if it never relents.) Finally, well, what free time I did have, I wanted to devote to doing productive things. My writing and art have to some extent a shield I’ve used to keep myself focused and running. (“Can’t spend the day screaming at Kaiser Permanente, I’ve got NaNoWriMo to do!”)

But this is why my January commissions in particular got stalled. Since January, my full-time job has pretty much been taking care of my mom or her affairs, and everything else has fallen increasingly by the wayside. I am amazed (and glad) that I’ve managed to actually launch Suburban Jungle and not miss any updates during all this– faltering right out of the starter gate would have been painful for everyone.

Of course, now my mom’s estate has to be settled, but compared to the day-to-day workload of caring for her, that seems a relatively easy task. So now I can turn my attention back to what is supposed to be my day job: writing and comics. So here is my plan:

The first half of April will be spent rebuilding the Suburban Jungle buffer by finishing off the first issue so it can be in print by AnthroCon. During the third week of April or when the first issue is done (whichever comes first) I will turn my exclusive attention to finishing off my outstanding commissions and getting rewards out to my Patreon subscribers. Laurie and I will also be at AwesomeCon in Washington D.C. April 19-20, but purely as attendees, I won’t have a table.

Where things go from there depends on how this plan works out. ;) But as I’ve said before and I will surely say again, I am very grateful for everyone’s patience and wish to assure you that you will get your commissions as soon as I can make it happen. I haven’t forgotten!

-The Gneech

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Mar 13 2014

Find Me at Fur the ‘More!

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As gathered by my better half in The Suburban Jungle Livejournal Community, here’s my schedule at Fur the ‘More, but in a little more detail.

Items in bold indicate that I am a panelist. The rest I simply plan (or hope) to attend.

Friday, March 14, 2014

12 PM Opening Ceremonies: Main Events
1 PM Furry Writing for Landlubbers: Panels 2
2:30 PM Guest of Honor Q&A: Main Events

4:30 PM Furry Feud: Main Events
7:30 PM Dealer’s Reception: Cinnamon Tree Restaurant
8:30 PM Penciling 101: Panels 3

10 PM Selections from Poe: Panels 1

Saturday, March 15, 2014

12 AM Cards Against Humanity: Tabletop Gaming
12 PM Fursuit Parade: Main Events
1 PM Creating a Cast of Characters: Panels 2
2 PM Dance Competition Setup: Main Events
3 PM Fur the ‘More’s Fursuit Dance Competition: Main Events
6:30 PM Guest of Honor Dinner: Cinnamon Tree Restaurant

10 PM Fursuit Friendly Dance: Main Events

Sunday, March 16, 2014

10 AM Furry Writing for Captain Ninja Masters: Panels 2
12 PM Making Mary Sue Walk the Plank
1 PM Working as an Artist (Without Going Insane): Panels 2
2 PM Writing Good Villains: Panels 2
4 PM Art Show Auction: Main Events
5 PM Charity Auction: Main Events
6:30 PM Closing Ceremonies: Main Events
7 PM Feedback Session

At the table I will have “Rough House: Issue Zero” preview comics for $1 each, plus all of the usual books, prints, and on-the-spot sketches. I recommend, if you want art, you grab me early, because with my schedule as it is, I expect to fill up fast.

See you tomorrow! ^.^

-The Gneech

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Mar 10 2014

Monday Report: Cons, Patreons, and … Something Else-ons

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Last week was pretty darn huge, actually, but I didn’t have time to post about it except in the most cursory way, so let’s write up a full report, shall we?

Rough Housing

The obvious biggie is that Suburban Jungle (Rough Housing) is up and running! We’ve also got a shiny new forum thanks to everyone at Crosstime Café. The story runs on Mondays and Wednesdays, with a quarterly print release (the first full issue should be at AnthroCon)– and thanks to my Patreon supporters, there will be extra content in the form of an “Ask the Cast” page on the last Friday of every month.

“What Patreon?” You Ask? Funny You Should Mention It!

With a little prodding from Graveyard Greg, Maggie Hogarth, and others, I created a Patreon page, and so far it’s been a huge success, for which I’m very grateful! Someone even took a “Commission on Demand” slot, which I didn’t actually expect anyone would. :) Good thing I put a limit on those!

The Patreon program has already reached two of its goals, the Ask the Cast page and funding a new compy to replace this dying PC. The next one is the biggie– funding another comic project that a pal of mine would like to collaborate on but that I just can’t afford to do unless it’s a paying gig. He’s trying to raise the funds on his end, but I told him that if I got funded, I’d do the comic without charging him.

So we’ll see if it happens! Please consider adding your support if you’d like to see more comics from your ever-lovin’ blue-eyed cartoonist. :)

And, Of Course, FurTheMore!

Come Friday, I will be in Baltimore as one of the Guests of Honor for FurTheMore– SO jazzed! I’ll have “Issue Zero” preview comics c/o the good folks at FurPlanet, I’ll be running panels, it’s gonna be awesome. :)

So, yeah… big week! I’m very pleased.

Oh, and did I mention I drew Rarity? ‘cos I totally drew Rarity. Such a lovely pony! <3

Anyhow, that’s it for now! I need to get back to work. Those pages won’t ink and color themselves! …darn it.

-The Gneech

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Feb 06 2014

#GneCoDraMo Status Report

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Well somehow we’re well into February already, not sure how that happened, so that means that January must be finished and, in theory, Gneech Comics Drawing Month (GneCoDraMo) with it.

The comic has been created; the characters are starting to gel, and I like where things are going. Sometime today or tomorrow I will probably finish pencilling Issue #1. However, if I am to get it to print in time for FurTheMore, I need to ink, color, and shade 11 pages between now and February 14. It’s not impossible– but at this stage it is very unlikely.

For the last few weeks, that had me incredibly stressed. Somewhere along the way I sorta forgot what my real goals were and started fixating on the due date, working long hours, neglecting other things that also needed attention, and generally making myself crazy to meet an arbitrary standard I had created.

Yesterday, I realized I was being an idiot, and decided to take a breath and reassess where things stood. Here’s what I figured out:

  • As an experiment in learning what my limits are, #GneCoDraMo has been a complete success. My long-term production goal, of 8 pages/month with breathing room to do other things around them, appears to be quite feasible. Any more than that, over the long term, is not. I now know what my “mental bandwidth budget” for creating comics really is.
  • As a crash course in writing, pacing, and developing a comic, #GneCoDraMo has again been a complete success. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what a single page can reasonably hold, as well as for the ebb and flow of what a comic’s pacing should be like. You can’t have every page crammed full of stuff, it would become exhausting to the reader– but you have to have at least a certain amount of things happening or it feels like you’re not going anywhere. A single comic page probably carries about as much story progression as two individual comic strips, and if possible (for this project, anyway) should have at least two jokes.
  • As an exercise in progressing my art technique and learning to use Manga Studio: complete success. I love, love, loooooooooooove Manga Studio. Where was it in 1998???

So, yeah– on all of the actual goals of #GneCoDraMo, it was an unqualified success. The bonus item (i.e., having a new comic in time for FurTheMore) is still to be determined, and I would still like to get there, but I’m not going to kill myself and burn myself out on the new comic before it’s even launched to get there. I have a fallback in place already– essentially the first 8 pages as an “Issue 0″ promotional comic– and even if the full issue doesn’t get to print in time, the Issue 0 will be at FurTheMore and the comic will be launched in March.

Life’s good. :)

-The Gneech

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Jan 17 2014

Quick Note to NeverNever Fans

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Heyas, just a heads-up that I am taking down the NeverNever website for a while, because the website technology is seriously out-of-date and I won’t have a chance to update it until sometime in the spring.

I’ll bring the site back up when I have a chance to work on it! Meanwhile the books are still available if you gotta have your pooka fix! ;)

Thanks!

-The Gneech

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Jan 14 2014

#GneCoDraMo Status Report

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InkyGirl inspects my work. 'Needs more kittehs.'

“Gneech Comics Drawing Month,” a.k.a. GneCoDraMo, continues apace… specifically, at a frustratingly slow pace. ¬.¬ I have 11 pages scripted and given rough layouts, five pages completely inked, and as of last night at midnight, two pages colored. And that’s with many, many late nights devoted to it.

Guh. No wonder neither Arclight nor Coventry took off. If it’s taking me this long when I’m devoting 50+ hours/week to it, what could I have possibly done on a couple of hours at night during the week? O.o

It’s not all bad news, however. For starters, I’m very pleased with the quality of the work. Suburban Jungle, or at least this new incarnation of it, finally looks like what I always wanted it to. It’s still not perfect, of course, and likely never will be. But with the full size canvas, but more importantly the tools in Manga Studio and the joy of digital inking– plus 15 years of practice– have finally put my art about where I wanted it to be when I started.

So the trick now, is to retain the quality, but ramp up the speed. Of course, the work is kinda front-loaded, as I have to do dev sketches, create palettes, and do architectural studies for all the characters and locations as they appear the first time. As I build up a library of poses and standard “shots” to pull from, it will go faster. Things will also speed up as I get a better handle on the comic format– I keep pulling out various volumes of Love Hina to figure out how Akamatsu-sempai handled all those talky, talky scenes without becoming an endless series of talking heads.

I think I’m getting there. :) And speaking of, I better get to work!

-The Gneech

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