Mar 02 2015

What I Want to Do When I Grow Up

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A while back I posted to my LiveJournal, “I left my day job with the plan of doing all these things I didn’t have the time to do before… so why am I still spending so much time not doing them?” As I’ve been exploring the issue further, I have come to the conclusion that drawing comics all day, writing short stories etc., while it’s fun and I love it, is not really what I want to do with forever.

It is, essentially, a selfish pursuit. The best metaphor I can think of, is that it’s as if I was being paid (not very much) to play Solitaire all day… enjoyable, but when it’s done, what will it have achieved? With the original Suburban Jungle Starring Tiffany Tiger, I felt like I had something to say to the world, at least. Currently I have no real message, just a series of entertaining vignettes that give me an excuse to draw pretty pictures.

I came to the conclusion yesterday, that it’s time to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. The only problem is, at the moment at least, I have no idea what that is. All of the jobs I’ve had, even if they were Srs Bzness Jobs, were not really grown up. They were what I cruised into and what was available. I’ve never really seriously studied anything but art and literature, so I’m pretty short on real-world skills. I became a graphic designer because it was kinda-sorta like doing art for a living. I became a web designer because it was like being a graphic designer except with prestige (at the time).

Right now the only ideas I’ve got are pretty nebulous and kinda random. I’ve worked the floor at a bookstore and enjoyed it, but that doesn’t pay a living wage in the long term. I have a pipe dream of owning a coffeehouse on the beach somewhere, but having worked as a barista I’m pretty sure that’s something that should stay a fantasy.

One of the “Would you enjoy a task like this?” questions I came across on a Holland Code test was “mapping the ocean floor,” and I was surprised at how interesting that actually sounded. I enjoyed “earth science” in school and always got into things like National Geographic, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, or The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, and I think I might enjoy being a marine biologist or something along those lines. (That in particular would give me an added bonus of having a reason to live on a California beach somewhere. đŸ˜‰ )

As I say, the ideas are still only half-baked, and I need to really work on honing in on them. To that end, since I am currently free of having a day job other than the comics, I’m going to find a career counseling program and start going through it. Right now the top contenders are The Oxford Program, which Laurie used with limited success, and the Rockport Institute/”The Pathfinder”, which my counselor recommended. Either one would be a fairly hefty investment, cash- and time-wise, but if it leads to a real career that earns me a good living, it’ll be more than worth it.

For the record: I will continue writing and creating comics. I can’t imagine that ever going away. But I am starting to think that’s something I should be doing as recreation, rather than as an obligation, because that seems to be sucking the joy and vitality out of it.

Wish me luck! If anyone has career (or other) suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

-The Gneech

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Feb 22 2015

The Artwork in Suburban Jungle Gets a Major Upgrade

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Admittedly, the rain effects are not as nice.

Aww yeah. Quality!

-The Gneech

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Dec 05 2014

Productivitude

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I have a confession to make:

It takes me forever to do anything.

Writing, drawing, even simple stuff like taking a shower and get dressed, I move slowly (when I move at all) and am frequently annoyed to discover that instead of being 8:30 a.m. like I thought, it’s actually midnight two days later.

This is frustrating. But worse, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, it’s unproductive and is severely hampering my ability to make a living at it.

Compare/contrast someone like, say, Graveyard Greg. Whether or not his creations are to your taste, there’s no denying that he is a content-generating machine. He cranks out stories, scripts for comics, you name it, at a phenomenal pace. And when he’s finished with something, he just moves on to the next thing. This means, among other things, that he can take on more projects and/or new projects quickly and easily, always expanding his product base, in a way that I can’t.

It’s like I once said of Neil Gaiman: I create work of the same quality, but he sneezes out a short story over lunch, while I take two months to produce the same volume of work.

At this stage, some may be thinking, “Don’t beat yourself up about it Gneech, you just create what you can and your loyal readers will be there!” or something similar. And while that’s true, and I’m extremely grateful for it, it doesn’t make my tortoise-like pace any less of a problem. Because, you see, I have to earn a living.

Forget for a moment that my vocation is writing and comics. Pretend instead that I’m a clockmaker. Say I live in Zurich, where clockmakers outnumber non-clockmakers, and while I’m a perfectly good clockmaker, there are plenty of others out there who are also as good. More importantly, the others work fast enough to make two or three clocks for every one I can force myself to produce. It’s pretty easy to see that those other clockmakers are going to have a much easier time putting food on the table than I will. It’s not a matter of quality or dedication or what-have-you… it’s pure mathematics.

This is my biggest problem, as a creator. It takes me so long to create my “core content” that I’m already permanently behind schedule. I can’t add new reward levels to my Patreon campaign in order to attract more supporters. I can’t push for a ton of commissions. I can’t sit around coming up with (and then producing) new merchandise. I am maxxed out as it is, and rapidly being left behind.

I don’t know what to do about it. The first obvious answer is to change my “core content” to something I can produce faster, but if it was that easy I’d just go back to a day job and be done with it. I create Suburban Jungle because on some level I’m compelled to do so. The second answer is “Work faster!” but again, if it was that easy I’d have done it already. I have managed to increase my speed a bit over the course of Issue Two, but only a bit, and I don’t think I can go much faster than this without completely sacrificing any semblance of quality.

So… still looking for a solution. In the meantime, I need to stop blogging and get to work. I’m behind schedule. Like always.

-The Gneech

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Nov 03 2014

Issue Two Is in the Can! So To Speak

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Today the last page of the second issue of Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing went up on the website! The files are sent off to the publisher, including a piece of bonus art that isn’t on the website (but will go up on the Patreon page soon). Naturally, I’m quite pleased about this. :)

I’d be very interested to hear any comments or feedback folks might have. I’ve been experimenting with some different art techniques as well as deliberately coming up with things that would be challenging to draw in order to break out of my old habits of “medium shots of people with crossed arms standing around talking all the time.” The art will probably be shifting slightly again between issues, as it’s still not quite where I want it to be, but it’s getting closer. As always, the real tension is between “getting the page right” and “getting the page done in less than a week.”

As I did between issues one and two, I’m going to pause the web page updates between issues two and three, so I can work on rebuilding the buffer, as well as getting some real work done on “The Other Comic,” for which I have scripts and some layouts done but need a few days of uninterrupted work to get actual pages drawn before we’ll make the official announcement and launch date etc. I’m also going to be building an Etsy shop, getting ready for two(!) conventions in December and… oh yeah, selling my house and moving. O.o

Why do I never do things that are easy?

-The Gneech

Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing
FurPlanet (my publisher! <3 )
My Patreon page. Thanks for your support!

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Jul 07 2014

Good Night @AnthroCon, We Love You :)

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Heading to bed with another AnthroCon sinking slowly in the west. Normally I drive back on Sunday, but this time, partially at Sirfox’s request, we’re staying until Monday. That’s probably a good thing, actually, as I could really use a sleep-in before driving 5 hours to get us back to VA.

All in all, it’s been a good one. :) No super-high highs, but plenty of nice little moments. As I mentioned on Twitter, Uncle Kage introduced me to Lee Tocker (the voice actor of Snips and Steven Magnet on MLPFIM) by describing himself as a fan of mine, which I was quite flattered by. I also got to see some of my regular crew, such as Buck Turner, InvisibleWolf and Derrick, Teiran and Fuzzwolf, LionKingCMSL, Mooncat, and several others. I got to chat some with RebelSquirrel, which I enjoyed; met Xylo, the new director of the InterventionCon dealer room, who was one of my neighbors in the dealer room; and Path, the chair of Furry Fiesta, who has declared that I am stalking him by virtue of him being everywhere I was about to go anyway (including my own hotel room).

Sales were nice and solid, too. Not quite up to my peak perhaps, but definitely better than last year. I have nearly sold out of several older items and need to work on creating new product before InterventionCon, but having new books on the table was a great feeling. :) I am also getting better about working all of my table materials into a manageable set that can be carried to and from the venue in a single rolling suitcase, as opposed to the enormous stacks of boxes of yesteryear. Some of that was Kerry’s tendency towards sprawlingness, but a lot of it was just me being disorganized and muddle-headed.

Weight-wise, I was a little over my daily point allotment each day of the con, but not by very much, and I easily made it back up in activity points from walking all over the place. I did have to go to one of the leatherworking vendors and ask them to add a couple of new holes to my belt in order to tighten it more, which I’m hoping is an indicator of success on that front.

Tomorrow (er, later today?) when I get home, I’m going to start posting pages of Rough Housing to my FurAffinity account, on recommendation of the FurPlanet guys. I’ve also got to crank out pages for next week and get some commish work done, so I’m going to be a busy, busy Gneech when I get back! But a happy one. It’s very nice to finally be doing my proper work as my real job. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get my boss to increase my salary. đŸ˜‰

So g’nite AnthroCon, we love you. :) And good night to the rest of the world, and have an awesome tomorrow. :)

-The Gneech

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Jun 12 2014

Her Majesty’s Secret Spellcasters

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So the general opinion is that the “necro” in “necromancer” refers to death– traditionally necromancy is the ability to speak with dead spirits, for the purpose of lifting curses, busting ghosts, whatever. This has led to the image in popular fantasy of necromancers being gothy types who hang around in cemetaries raising zombies and the like. Which works as a trope, but… it could go another way.

Another meaning of the original root “necro” is “dark.” Not dark as in “evil,” dark as in “obscure or hard to see.” i.e., hidden, secret. Necromancy by that meaning is therefore not “the deathly arts,” but rather “the secret arts.” Which could be anything! The secret art of turning lead into gold? Sure. The secret art of getting that fifth dentist to recommend sugar-free gum? Anything!

This of course leads me to ruminate on the word “secret.” What are secrets, exactly? They are things you carry with you. Your secretary carries your correspondence (and your secrets). A secretion is something that has been deposited on you. The Secret Service is not “secret” in the sense that people don’t know they’re there– far from it– they report to the Secretary of the Treasury, and they “carry” the President safely.

(Historical note: The Secret Service was actually founded to combat forgery after the Civil War; it wasn’t until the assassination of Pres. McKinley that they were given the task of protecting the President.)

This leads me to a vision of a fantasy setting in which an important personage (Queen, Emperor, Prime Minister, whatever tickles your fancy) is protected and served by a small cadre of elite necromancers (in the sense that they study secret arts), sort of James Bond meets Harry Dresden if you like. I can see this working particularly well as a steam-fantasy setting a la Gail Carriger.

However, I don’t have the time to write this at the moment, so I’m setting the idea free by writing it up here and putting it into your head. I might come back to it later, we’ll see.

-The Gneech

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