Dec 15 2016

Every Lion (and Otter) Has His Day

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Three Lions and an Otter

One of the purposes of identifying the three lions and an otter was they made handy touchstones for the tasks I need to get through with my writing and illustration. My plan was (and still pretty much is) that each of them would get a certain day (or days) during the week for their thing, to help me keep focused and on task.

Of the four of them, Content Guy requires the most time, because he’s the one who actually does the writing and drawing. On the other hand, Business Guy’s stuff doesn’t take as long, but it’s such a struggle for him that it feels like it takes forever. Fandom Guy loves what he does and is always having fun, but he has to focus his efforts on the days when people are most likely to be listening.

Muse never does anything directly. So she has no day… or it might be said she has every day.

Thus, assuming a five-day work week (which may or may not be a valid assumption), the week breaks down like so:

  • Monday: Fandom Guy! I haven’t looked into it recently, but for a long time the stats of websites made it very clear that Monday was the day people were most likely to check out links and want to be distracted from their day. So if Fandom Guy wants attention, this is the day to go for it. That’s why Suburban Jungle goes up on Mondays, and so when Fandom Guy has something to say, that’s the day you can expect to hear from him.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Content Guy. Assuming nothing else gets in the way, these are the days our hard-working lion spends down in the pixel mines. Of course, this can also include work for Fandom Guy in the case of things like streaming sessions or posting commissions and the like. But these days are mostly for just getting the work done.
  • Friday: Business Guy. Last but not least, our frazzled number cruncher does his thing on Fridays, whether it’s paying the bills, keeping URLs up to date, booking convention hotels/travel, hunting down markets/editors to submit to, or updating merchandise availability. Why does he get Friday? So that at the end of a long day doing things for which he has little talent and less patience, he can kick back and have the weekend. πŸ˜‰ He earns it!

Now given that the average page of Suburban Jungle takes me two days to draw, this means that Content Guy only has one day dedicated to business writing gigs, commissions, book writing and whatever else. But the sneaky trick here is that Fandom Guy and Business Guy rarely need a whole day each week, so Content Guy gets whatever they don’t use. Also, well, weekends are a thing. As the old saying goes, “Find a job you like and you’ll never work another day of your life.” I write and draw because that’s what I enjoy doing (and because I kinda can’t not do them), so as long as I have some time to spend with Mrs. Gneech and the kitties, “working” on the weekend is the opposite of a problem.

And on that note, I’ve got commissions to work on! Catcha later.

-The Gneech

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Dec 12 2016

Social Medium at Large

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Fandom Guy loves you! And fish. He also loves fish.
So one thing that was made quite clear at the most recent Midwest Furfest is that I’ve really gotta get back in touch with the fandom. Suburban Jungle used to mean room parties and charity auction cameos going for hundreds of dollars, but this past weekend it seemed to be “That comic everybody used to know and remembers fondly.”

Dude. What am I, the Animaniacs? XD Nostalgia is not my brand!

Seriously tho, I think a lot of the problem is that as time has gone on, I’ve just gotten out of touch. I met plenty of people at the convention who’d never heard of me or my work, but upon seeing the art were instantly interested in checking it out. So clearly what I’ve got to do is get it front of more eyeballs!

To that end, I’m working on a retool of my online presence generally, looking for new venues to spread the word and so on. Besides the usual DeviantArt and FurAffinity accounts, I’m going to start posting more of my work on my Tumblr account (which has until now been little more than reblogs), I created a Pinterest board for my art, and I have (finally) started dipping my toes into groups on Telegram.

Sometime by the end of the year I expect to also start streaming fairly regularly on Monday and/or Tuesday nights as I work on the next comic page. Right now I’m still researching that, looking for artists with successful streams and watching what they do. (If you have faves, let me know! I want to see ALL THE STREAMS.)

As a general thing, I also just sorta need to get back out into the world. Over the past years I had kinda retreated into a cocoon as I dealt with the slings and arrows being fired at me by outrageous fortune, and I’m finally sticking my head back out. (What did I find? 2016. For cryin’ out loud, world, I hide away for just a few years, and you turn into a dumpster fire? I want you to go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done while the rest of us clean up this mess.)

…Er, sorry, what was I saying? Right, getting back in touch with the world. I’ve got a few volunteers who are helping me with that, and I’ll gratefully take any assistance I can get, but nothing replaces me getting out there and taking care of it myself. I need to do a lot more connecting with the world than just posting to LiveJournal and Twitter, and that’s going to be a big priority for me over the next several weeks.

If anyone has ideas on what I should do, I’d love to hear them! πŸ˜€

-The Gneech

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Oct 25 2016

Suburban Jungle Update and Patreon Changing

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Three Lions and an Otter

First item of news: Issue Five launches on November 14th. I’m still kinda trying to figure out what I’m doing with it, but I’ve also reached the point where if I don’t set a deadline, it’ll languish, and I need to force my mental waveform to collapse (so to speak). I’m also going to be working on NaNoWriMo at the same time, and posting chunks of the NaNo project to my Patreon page for supporters.

Which leads to the topic of Patreon. I think I need to just come out and say it: I am terrible at running a Patreon. I have never been good at the “business hustle” part of being a professional artist, it’s just an alien world to me– and honestly, mental bandwidth I’ve been burning on trying to figure it out has been not just wasted, but siphoned away from the actual process of making the art. In short, I can run the business or make the product, but I can’t do both, and I need to stop trying.

How does that effect my Patreon? Well, my first inclination was to simply delete it entirely. But the strange thing about it is that many of my supporters have said they don’t really care about the “rewards” levels anyway, they just want to support my work. It’s kinda like the old Paypal tip jar, just a little more formalized.

So I’ve decided to leave the Patreon up, but I’m going to remove the reward tiers and make it a simple binary, “yes, you’re a subscriber, or no you aren’t” system. All subscribers will have access to all the Patreon content, which will include immediate comic page postings, draft chapters of books in progress, and so forth. I am also looking at changing it to a “per posting” model, and would be curious to hear any opinions folks have on the topic.

In any case, I’m going to make this change now, between monthly cycles, to give people plenty of time to adjust and/or bail if they wish.

Thanks for your patience! I hope to have some cool stuff for you soon.

-The Gneech

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Feb 24 2016

In Which Something Must Be Done

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So last Friday, Business Guy put together a running tally of income vs. expenses for last year, in preparation for tax time. The results were, in a word, bleak.

My gross income for 2015 (not counting a brief spurt of Starbucks salary) was somewhere around $5,000. The good news is that this is up from 2014… the bad news is that it’s only up by $300. This was feasible when Mrs. Gneech was making enough money for the both of us, but with the disintegration of her job as well, this has left us in an uncomfortable spot.

We are not in any immediate danger of being out on the street, thanks to savings and other resources held aside for such things, but financially speaking we are currently at 5,000 feet in a plane with no engine. My artistic pursuits, at least as I practice them, are not making me a living. If I want to avoid returning to the days of hand-to-mouth, I need to make a serious change.

One possibility is returning to a “day job,” and I am currently investigating options. My previous career shunted me down a blind alley into dead-end technology and left me burned out in the process… so even if I wanted to get back into that particular grind (which I don’t especially) there isn’t any work to be found there anyway. In fact most of my professional experience (word processing, graphic design/desktop publishing, web page design) is in stuff that was cutting edge from 1995-2005 and is woefully out of date now.

At this stage, I have little idea what is actually useful in the world, and no real idea how to effectively look for work in 2016. Once upon a time I would sign up with a handful of temp agencies and that would be my doorway into the professional arena, but even temp agencies don’t seem to exist in any appreciable way any more. To that end, I have signed up for The Oxford Program and am currently going through it in an attempt to reboot my career, but it’s not a short-term fix.

I have also been brainstorming on creating a “brand,” with the intention of using my creative talents to build a franchise, such as name designers or the Life Is Good guys. I’ve done some stuff along those lines with Snerks’N’Quirks but it’s very much a sideline right now. The hard part of this kind of thing for me is that while it does use my creative skills, it doesn’t hold my interest. Coming up with buttons just for the money is not that different from putting together webpages just for the money (or doing anything else just for the money). I have to find some way to make it vital or it will be just a different sort of grind.

I keep thinking of people like Steve Jobs, who set out with a mission and sorta got rich on the side, and that’s what I want out of life myself. But for the moment at least, I don’t know what that mission is, besides drawing Suburban Jungle and writing the occasional book… which is sorely lacking in that “get rich on the side” element.

But I have to do something different from what I’m doing right now, before the plane crashes.

-The Gneech

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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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