Jan 01 2021

Shady Assassinated 2020!?

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Shade-Of-the-Candle runs into (or away from) danger!

Thank goodness SOMEBODY did. >.>

Anyway! Welcome to 2021, and let the un-suckening begin!

I’m moved, and for the time being at least I’m going back to full-time on my art and writing, which means that things should start picking up around here again! Thanks to all of you for being patient while I was digging out from the hole I’d fallen in.

My first order of business will be to clean up the commission queue! I still owe a few people commissions from October OR their Winter 2020 SUPPORT TIER OF CANGREJO DIABLO Patreon image, and January is going to be spent making sure all of those get done before I take on any new business.

For STofCD-level subscribers, Spring 2020 slots will open up as soon as I finish that, so probably February. :)

(And if you’d like to get in on some of that Patreon action, here: https://www.patreon.com/the_gneech )

My next priority will be to get Reclamation Project: Year Two edited and off to FurPlanet. Submissions are still coming in, so if you are in-progress or near completion, go ahead and finish off your story and send it. I don’t know how much I’ve got yet, but there’s probably room for at least one or two more good stories!

Following that we’ll see where we are, but I have two big projects I’d like to take on this year:

1) FINISH ROUGH HOUSING FINALLY, GEEZE, and

2) A SUPER-SECRET PROJECT WITH SHADE-OF-THE-CANDLE.

I realize that shouting in all caps about a super-secret project seems a little weird, but that’s just how I roll, babe.

So here’s looking forward to a year that doesn’t suck! We might even (gasp) be able to go to conventions again! C’mon, vaccine! :D

And thanks for coming along with me, friends. You rock!

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Nov 10 2020

Playing Shady Instead of Writing Her

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Shady, lookin' to gank some mooks.

It’s been a long time since I had a character just take over my brain the way Shade-Of-the-Candle has. Even Tiffany Tiger, who had a tendency to be doodled on any pizza box or napkin left lying within reach of me, didn’t just live in my head rent free 24/7 the way my piratey murdercat does. Certainly Tiffany never drove me to stay up until 4 a.m. trying to mod the hell out of Skyrim to create some semblance of her, just for starters.

But while I have written stories about Shady, and intend to do so again (with some big-name collaborators, if I can finally get to a stable place in my life again in order to take on a large project), that’s not really the experience I want. What I want, is to PLAY Shady. I want to vicariously experience her life in real time, reacting to her challenges the way she would, processing her triumphs and her heartbreaks as she does.

Shady’s lived a rich and full life in (modded) Skyrim, with a whole found family (she calls Inigo “Mr. Khajiit” and Ma’kara “Mrs. Khajiit,” even if legally she’s only married to one of them) and an impressive career as a renowned treasure hunter and a leader in the Empire’s war against the Thalmor.

Shady drove me to play the heck out of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, all the while doing my best to pretend that the stubbly blonde human male on the screen was actually my scrawny alley cat—because the story and gameplay of AC4 fit very well with both Shady’s motivations and her M.O.

Best of all, of course, is playing Shady in InkBlitz’s D&D campaign, and in many ways that’s what I think of as the “real” Shady. But Blitzy can’t spend his whole life running D&D just for me (and I wouldn’t want him to), which leads me to spend a lot of time staring at Shady’s character sheet and wanting to mess with it just to feel like I’m playing, somehow.

Gentle reader, I have spent SO much time staring at that character sheet. You can’t even know. -.- I’ve come up with different projected character builds, adjusted various stats up and down, even subjected poor Blitzy to multiple drafts of proposed house rules that would make her mechanically closer to my vision of how she operates.

This past weekend, as I was poking away at this build for the umpty-billionth time, I found myself wondering why I was spending my time doing that, instead of actually creating something. Why AREN’T I writing stories about Shady? Why aren’t I drawing her, instead of obsessing AGAIN over whether she should have INT 10 or 8 so that she can afford CHA 14 or 16?

The answer I finally came up with, is discovery. I want to “discover” Shady’s life, not create it. If I write the story, I know how it’s going to go by definition, because I’m the one who made it up. When I play Shady in a game, I don’t know what’s coming any more than Shady does, so when a dragon comes and blasts her boat to oblivion, I’m just as “oh shit oh shit” about it as she is. When Shady finds a wounded khajiit by the side of the road and ends up falling in love, I’m just as verklempt as Shady is.

But it’s not getting me anywhere. All that time I’ve spent noodling around with stat blocks could have been spent finishing a dozen WIPs, or writing new stories of my own that don’t require me to get “close enough” to what I want. So I’m going to try to do that. How I find the discovery element, I’m not sure. Use some kind of random generator as a story prompt? Grab the synopsis of some book I’ve never read and toss it at Shady? Dunno. But I do need to do SOMETHING more productive, I think.

Jun 10 2020

Pirate Mooncat, Plus Audience Building!

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Pirate Mooncat D&D Portrait
D&D Portrait Commission for Mooncat! Speaking of, commissions are open: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/36111580/

Following up on Monday’s post, I’ve been taking stock of where I am in my art and writing career, and it’s clear that I need to attend to some things. Not the least of which is re-building my audience! I have a small-but-tight core of people who have been following my work forever through thick and thin (❤️ Jungloids!) and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That doesn’t alter the fact that in terms of treating my work as a proper business, there are times when I need to look at it as a numbers game. Even with the crazy high ratio of followers-to-financial supporters that I have, the actual number of followers is tiny.

So, for an example, another artist I follow on Twitter posted a rough little sketch of a character they were noodling around with. It was a cute little drawing, nothing that exciting, but it still got something like 800 likes. I looked at that and blinked for several seconds—I get excited when a post of any kind, much less a doodle, gets over 20 likes. So I looked at their follower count, and discovered it was something like 12,000—compared to mine, which is currently hovering around 1,600.

Well, I mean, no friggin’ wonder.

Before people hop in with “Followers aren’t everything!” I want to make it clear that I don’t attach a personal meaning to have a low follower count on Twitter (or any other platform for that matter), I’m diagnosing a business problem here. :) Even if every one of those Twitter followers was converted to a $1 Patreon subscriber for instance (which isn’t going to happen, but bear with me), that still wouldn’t be enough for me to put food on the table.

I must grow my audience in order to succeed.

So my priority for a while is going to be doing that—but the truth is I have no idea how. O.o

I’m open to suggestions, and I’d love any help I can get. I’ve started posting art to Instagram to expand my horizons, and I am making it a priority to post at least twice a week there and other places, even if it’s just a little sketch-a-day piece. I also started up a fanart sketch request Ko-Fi, although I haven’t had any takers there yet.

So I’m curious! If you follow my work and don’t mind telling me, why do you? What attracted you and made you want to stick around? Do you have suggestions on how I can grow my audience? How do you do promotion? I’m eager to learn!

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May 20 2020

Everything I Wanted: A Spoileriffic Discussion of She-Ra

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Everything I wanted.
Yeah. So. Spoilers. The title warned you.

The show that asked, “What if Star Wars was incredibly gay?” and then answers, “IT WOULD BE AWESOME AS FUCK!”

There’s so much for me to say about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I don’t even know where to begin. I already knew, when I was defending Catra as A Cinnamon Roll Who Wants to Kill You that this was a show I was going to be very heavily invested in. Catra literally feels to me like Noelle Stevenson plucked her right out of my brain and put her on the screen—to the point that I wrote to Ms. Stevenson directly and leveraged all of my comics/animation contacts into trying to find a way to get onto the writing team… without success, alas.

Catra would look at Leona Lioness or Tanya Regellan and say “Oh, you too?” She is also directly the inspiration for Shade-Of-the-Candle, whose own transition from snarling murdercat to laughing bandit has parallels to the arc Catra actually follows. As Emmet Asher-Perrin so aptly put it, “Catra was an instant favorite on the show among its fans. But there was something about it that nagged at me, something more specifically related to her type, and what that type said about me, and what it meant that I kept returning to it.”

And I’m not gonna lie, I was scared for Catra. With every season ending with her in a worse place than the last one, and knowing in very personal detail exactly the self-destructive cycles she was going through, I was terrified she was going to go down with the ship. Redemptive Suicide is such a terrible trope, but such a common one in fantasy and SF, that I was at least 65% convinced that was going to be her fate.

(Mere words cannot express how happy I am to read that Shadow Weaver’s final fate was intentionally written as an “Up yours!” at that specific trope.)

I stopped watching the show halfway through season four, because Double Trouble pushed too many of my buttons—I didn’t have it in me to watch these characters I was so fond of just unravel and tear each other apart, and after the end of season three I couldn’t bring myself to watch Catra do any more horrible things without some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. So I suspended my Netflix account and waited. There was no way I wouldn’t watch season five when it came out—but I couldn’t finish until I could actually finish, if that makes any sense.

So… where do I stand, now that the show’s over? Like the title says, it gave me everything I wanted. Catra to have a true redemption. A true, explicit and undeniable romantic relationship between Catra and Adora. Adventure, excitement, and really wild things. Strong characters, deep and compelling villains, beautiful animation. The first ever canonically and unambiguously queer protagonist in mainstream western animation. On some level, I must face that I resent that I couldn’t be part of it. When I knew getting involved in the show wasn’t going to happen, I created The Reclamation Project to redirect that energy, so good has still came of it, but for me She-Ra will never not be “one that got away.” It’s a historic, once-in-a-lifetime event, a revolution that I was only able to watch and not participate in. And there’s nothing I can do about that except get over it.

On the other hand, the sheer joy that S5 has filled me with blots out those dark thoughts. Scorpia going from doormat to utter badass. Entrapta—who I’ve historically been very down on—not just coming to grips with the difference between “people” and “things,” but also giving Catra one of the most understatedly but purely kind moments in Problem Cat’s whole life.

Wrong Hordak. Just freakin’ Wrong Hordak. He’s another character who feels like he was ripped out of my brain.

Catra’s sheer desperation for Adora in the final two episodes—and that Catra’s (requited!) love for Adora literally saved the universe.

I could do this all day. I’ll stop. If you’ve seen the show you know all these things.

What does it mean to me? I don’t know. I know that Suburban Jungle has touched lives—but not on the scale or sheer power that this show has. Is there still something useful for me to do? If so, what? And how do I do it? What can I bring to the table in a world that already has this in it?

I’ll find something.

May 13 2020

The Moving Hand Hath Writ

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“The moving hand once having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line.”
―Omar Khayyám, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Been chewing more on my same thoughts from last night re: blogging and social contact and such. The annoying truth of the matter is, frankly, that’s it’s not 2005 any more and it never will be again.

I’ve never wanted to be a “Thing were better in the good ole days!” sort of person, and it’s not in my nature to dislike new things on the grounds that they’re new. What is in my nature, is to hate losing things that I loved, whether it’s TV shows that have gone off the air and fallen out of the public consciousness, Long John Silvers restaurants, happy bubblegum pop music, or a thriving LiveJournal community.

I don’t know what, if anything, is “the current hotness.” Our culture has become so balkanized that very little seems to make a lasting impact, and it often feels like by the time something pops up on my radar it’s already waning. But it’s not like I changed how I approach or consume media and culture. It’s more like… stuff just stopped showing up.

I am aware of the accelerating nature of my perception of time. When you’re twenty, a year seems like a long time because it’s 5% of your whole life experience. When you’re fifty, a year goes by while you’re thinking up a blog post, and you’re like “WTF just happened?” But I’m also aware of a certain amount of jadedness that I think is an inevitable result of having been such a ravenous consumer of culture for so long. I’ve read so many books, watched so many TV shows, playing so many video games, that I could probably identify every entry on TVTropes.org and cite two or three examples. Things that seem exciting and fresh to people with more limited experience, I see as a retooling of a thing I saw back thirty years ago, and why get invested in the new one when the one from thirty years ago is still perfectly good?

The answer, of course, is connection. Fandom is a team sport, and if I want to be geeking out with friends about stuff, whatever that stuff is, I have to go where the people are! Unlike my mom, who was flabbergasted that none of my nieces had a clue who Gilbert & Sullivan were, I don’t want the things I love that used to be popular, to become a prison preventing me from being connected to what people are living in the moment right now.

-The Gneech

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May 12 2020

The Silence is Deafening

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On a whim, I went to the Friends page of my old LiveJournal.

It had, literally, no entries.

I looked at the equivalent page on Dreamwidth: it had entries, all from one person.

I miss blogs, man.

Three Good Things for Today

  1. Did some graphic design work for a friend.
  2. Got my unemployment filing done for the week and deposited a royalty check.
  3. Re-empowered my Bujo and my “Three Things” posts!

Three Goals for Tomorrow

  1. Post some art to FA
  2. Work on a new design project
  3. Intro for this weekend’s D&D session

Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. <3 -TG

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