Feb 09 2016

Three Lions and an Otter (With Props/Apologies to Maggie Hogarth)

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Three Lions and an Otter

I have never been a good businessman. Coming up with products and marketing ideas is like an alien environment to me, and frankly looking at numbers just fills my brain with a high pitched whine not unlike the Emergency Broadcast System. If you remember the moment in Forbidden Planet when Robbie the Robot is ordered to kill someone and it short-circuits his brain, that’s pretty much how my brain responds to anything that smacks of accounting.

I was blessed for some years to have an amazing business partner who dealt with all that stuff for me; however, it falls on me now and if I’m going to succeed and not end up in the code mines again, I have to make it work.

To that end, I’ve been studying other creators who’ve made it work, including Brad Guigar, John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire, and most notably (for this post) Maggie Hogarth, whose Three Jaguars provides a working real-life template of just this process.

To that end, I have decided to cultivate Three Lions (and an Otter), who are my own Artist, Marketer, and Business Manager analogues. Except in my case they are Content Guy (Lion), Business Guy (also a Lion), Muse (a Lioness Spirit), and Fandom Guy (the Otter).

Content Guy is the writer/artist. He’s the one who writes the stories, draws the pages, does the commissions, and grinds out those fourteen hour days of just making content when the creative fires are burning. Considering that Content Guy writes humor, comics, and pulpy adventure stories, he’s remarkably serious about his work. Business Guy and Fandom Guy largely exist to bring his work to the rest of the world, and he in turn is something of the group’s priest/medium to Muse.

Business Guy is the one in charge of handling money, making travel arrangements, signing contracts, tracking ALL THE THINGS, and so on. This poor dude is strung out on espresso drinks and is currently in WAY over his head, but he’s the only one available to do the job and so he’ll have to rise to the occasion. He needs training, he needs resources, but most importantly he needs patience and love. He and Fandom Guy hang out a lot.

Fandom Guy is a silly happy bouncy otter who loves tuna sandwiches and meeting with fans and making crazy pop references! He also loves manga, furry comics, and geeky STUFF and is therefore in charge of thinking up things that geeks will want to buy, as well as promotion in general. His duties also include making sure that everything Content Guy makes gets an AWESOME PASS to punch it up and make it better, from making the jokes funnier to making the art slicker to making sure that covers have Buster somewhere in a corner whenever possible.

Muse is a spirit of some kind, unable to interact with the physical world and probably, to be honest, barely able to comprehend it. She is shrouded, mysterious, elusive, and beautiful. She’s also capricious and does what she wants, the rest of us be damned. On the other hand, she informs everything we do from start to finish and to a large extent we are all simply manifestations of her, which is probably what leads to her treating the rest of us this way. She works most directly through Content Guy, who occasionally chafes at being her slave, but also worships her like a goddess. Business Guy obeys her without question to best of his ability, and Fandom Guy thinks she’s totally awesome but wishes she would consider making his job easier by getting Content Guy to do some more mainstream stuff from time to time.

So What’s the Point?

Largely, the point of all this is to give me a mental framework to keep myself organized. My general schedule has sorta been that Mondays are Fandom Guy days, while Tuesday through Thursday are Content Guy days, and Fridays are Business Guy days, but that’s never been explicit so much as it just worked out that way. But now I can make that not only “official,” but also plan for it. “I need to add some merch… Fandom Guy, do that on Monday. Oh, taxes are coming due soon? That’s Business Guy’s job, I’ll do it Friday.”

By personifying them this way, I have also been able to analyze my own strengths and weaknesses and I know what to work on. Poor Business Guy, he needs some serious love! On the other hand, Content Guy is kind of a workaholic (and not the happiest of lions, it seems), so I need to keep that in mind, while Fandom Guy is fun and exuberant but also kind of an airhead who will probably need reining in from time to time, etc.

Plus, what the heck, it’s just fun and helps me know myself a little better. It also makes the creative process a little less lonely: yes, it’s often a very solitary process, but within myself I contain a whole team. πŸ˜‰ So c’mon, gang, we’ve got work to do!

-The Gneech

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Feb 08 2016

Fandom February Feels

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So, can I just say here, I love my fans? <3 Not prompted by anything specific, I'm just remembering all the awesome things fans have done for me over the years. They've come to see me at conventions; they've supported me by buying books, prints, art, buttons, shirts, even weird little things like magnetic dress-up dolls; they've made me Guest of Honor at conventions; they've given me random presents ranging from music CDs to computer hardware to hand-knitted blankets; and best of all, they read and comment on my work. Many of them have become my good friends; many more of them have simply read, smiled, and gone on with their day. I don't want to let this go unappreciated! Yes, Fandom February is about getting the word out and growing the audience, but it's also about making sure that you crazy peeps know that you mean a lot to me, and I'm grateful, for all the things you have done, and all the things you keep on doing. You rock. πŸ™‚ -The Gneech

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Jan 08 2016

Patreon Fluffery

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Patreon_Banner_Revised_highres

One of my goals with the new year has been to beef up my Patreon campaign a bit, as it was originally assembled in a fairly slapdash “This is good for a start and we’ll see how it goes!” way. To that end, I started poking around Patreon to find campaigns that were working well, ones that weren’t, and others in “my space” generally to look for best practices.

I was surprised (but pleased) to see that my campaign was actually pretty healthy compared to most– there are a depressing number of “no supporters, no pledges” campaigns out there. That said, there’s still plenty of room for improvement! Four-digit campaigns, while rare, are certainly out there, and many of them are comparable to mine in output and bennies, which gives me hope that I can get there myself!

So over the course of this week I have been working on updating, tweaking, and “fluffing” my Patreon campaign, including adding a new banner that showcases my art and trying to diversify both the goals and bennies, while being careful not to over-promise on things I couldn’t deliver.

I’m quite pleased with the results! But I’m also curious and eager for feedback and suggestions. Whattya think? I’d love to hear from you.

-The Gneech

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Dec 14 2015

The Unexpected Bashfulness of Charity Cheeger

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The cover for issue four of Rough Housing went up today, and I’m quite pleased with it, but I also noticed something about it on reflection.

For a comic ostensibly set on the beach as an excuse for me to draw beefcake/cheesecake, there has been precious little cake in it. With the possible exception of Langley in her “Hello Kitty” underwear, this is probably the most fanservicey image from the comic so far.

I also noticed for the first time just how bashful Charity is. I mean yeah, in the original issue 1 cover (which looks so sparse now compared to the final version with Langley, Roxie, and Parker in it) she’s wearing a shirt over her swimsuit, but that was intended as something of a tease. In the issue four cover, she is explicitly hiding behind Langley so as to not be seen in her bikini.

Honestly… I was not expecting this of Charity. I mean, she was never intended to be an exhibitionist, but my original conception of her was that she was very much a chip off the ol’ block of her mother Comfort, who was anything but shy! Charity was supposed to be bouncy, exuberant, and fun-loving… but as the story evolved she has ended up serious-minded, high-strung, suffering from a deep-seated need to live up to… something, and even a bit prudish.

This is the kind of thing I mean when I say that strong characters often go off in their own directions. Being in the role of “boss who has to whip the hotel into shape” almost requires Charity to be a more serious-minded character, because if she was just another party girl she’d get lost in the mix. Certainly I can’t see Comfort coming in and kicking Langley out of the manager’s bedroom; but Comfort also wouldn’t take on a managerial role, on the grounds of “What fun is that?”

As for my unexpected recent reluctance to draw fanservice… I have no idea what that’s about. I used to love to draw beefcake and cheesecake both, and I was always rather proud of drawing what I considered to be “empowering fanservice,” which showed happy and confident subjects who were in the picture because they wanted to show off. Now I’m just not comfortable with it, and I can’t figure out why. Maybe it’s that with the proliferation of porn to the near-exclusion of other things, the idea of fanservicey art just sorta seems like a quaint relic of time gone by? Who’s gonna care about characters posing in swimsuits when there’s “YCH orgy” pictures all over the place? Or maybe it’s my own attitudes towards sex and sexuality being out of synch with the world around me that’s making me want to just avoid the topic all together?

I dunno. Obviously I have my own issues to deal with, just as much as Charity has hers.

-The Gneech

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Dec 02 2015

MFF! I Will Be In You!

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…That didn’t sound right. Β¬.Β¬

Anyway! I’ll be at Midwest Furfest starting tomorrow! My plan is to get into the Artist Alley whenever I can, where I’ll be doing badges and sketches and have a smattering of books and buttons (mainly what I can carry with me to and from every day, up to what they’ll allow).

Come see me! Get some art! We’ll chat, we’ll schmooze, I’ll have my people call your people. It’s all good.

-The Gneech 😎

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Oct 02 2015

What’s Going On Here?

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(Modified from a post on my Patreon page.)

As you’ve probably noticed, there hasn’t been much art activity here for a bit, so I think you’re due for an update.

There reason there hasn’t been much to see here in the way of comics and such is that I’ve spent the past few months writing a novel instead. Getting Rough Housing up and running has been a much more arduous process than I thought it would be, and while it has had some success, it doesn’t seem to be making the kind of impact I’d hoped it would. So, while I’m not ready to just can the project, I am looking for other things I can do that will get more bang for the buck, so to speak, and writing is one of those. The fact that I wrote a 70,000 word first draft in a month and a half probably gives you an idea of how much more facile I am with writing than with comics, even though I love them both.

In the meantime, there has been another wrinkle, which is that the company where Mrs. Gneech worked for the past 20 years is rapidly shutting down, taking her job with it. We have some savings to live on, but they will rapidly get burned up, so starting some time next week I will be returning to the life of a barista in order to bring in reliable income, at least until Mrs. Gneech finds herself something new. That will probably put the kibosh on putting out comics reliably any time soon in any case, as it takes me so long to draw them.

What does that mean for my Patreon? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. One thing I will definitely start doing is posting story previews, character sketches, sample chapters and other such things there. That said, I know it may not be what you signed on for, so while I’d hate to see anyone go, I won’t take it personally if folks reduce or discontinue their patronage.

But for those who are staying (Thank you! ^.^) I’m very open to suggestions as to what you’d like to see! I’m going to retool the whole Goals and Pledge Rewards structure, and I was thinking of shifting from the “per month” model to a “per creation” model as well, but I’d love to hear what you have to say on the topic.

So let me know! And seriously, thank you everyone for the support you’ve provided over the years and into the future. It means a lot to me!

-John “The Gneech” Robey

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