Saturday, February 15, 2014

Praising the Guest Artists!

I really hope everyone enjoyed diving into the multiverse again. Not only are these fun stories for me to write, but it's an amazing feeling to know some of the best people out there are willing to lend their time to make this concept work. Creating guest content is such a struggle - not just in the effort, but because artists are so nervous about trying to get the look/tone right. Some artists draw different styles of comics. Some draw different styles of characters. Some are just learning the ways of art. It's a huge undertaking, and everyone took an unreasonable challenge and made something spectacular. This is why you need to go tell them how much you appreciate them!  (Read the post below for more of my thoughts on that.)

The rundown:

Tourism Ads/Spaceverse - Erik Amill
-Erik draws the monsterliciously fun comic Biff the Vampire. You can sent him positive vibes over at his Twitter or Tumblr account. If you were at ConnectiCon last year, he was the poor soul I sucked into being my table servant! (Well, one of them. Hi, James!)

Mirror Universe/Evil Max - Rachel Edwards
- Since this project asked for a lot of work, I only went to one of my amazing crop of reader artists. I chose Rachel because I felt bad that her wonderful Halloween contest work didn't earn a prize, and because I've watcher her grow as an artist over the years. That's so special! You can follow her and send some cheer at her DeviantArt page.

Super Weird Crazy/Beyond Belief - Matthew Dawson
- Matthew is one who is well known for saving my bacon over and over. I wouldn't have survived without him. He's one of the most talented artists I know, and mind dreams up exceedingly clever things! Thanks to his excellent work in the first universe jumping story, I was inspired to re-use the artist so I could pull out further and show the hidden quirks. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr!

The Kindest Tiffany of All/Impolite Conquering - Becca Hillburn
- If you're coming to Furry Weekend Atlanta this weekend, she'll be with me, so thank her in person!  Becca is one of the hardest-working and most benevolent artists out there. Not only is she working on family-friendly watercolor comics  - which is cartooning on HARD MODE - but she runs an art/resource blog with tips and essays for developing artists. She does so many things to make other artists lives easier. She is on Twitter, and her Tumblr is a must follow!

Becca gets a second paragraph, because she turn her guest comics into a learning experience and shared photos of the special process she used! It's really spectacular. See the making of "The Kindest Tiffany of All" and "Impolite Conquering" by clicking those links. Be amazed, and be sure to let her know how impressive she is.

The Weirdest Universe Yet/Attack of the Clones - Carl Sjostrand
- If you've been paying attention, Carl and I have jokingly crossed over with comics before. (You have yet to see what I have planned for all the random Gingerfoxes, by the way.) It's some weird similar-but-not-actually-them thing going on with our character appropriation, and because if that I *had* to make one Precocious universe one that is eerily similar to (but not actually) Carl's comic, Ginger's Bread.  Ginger is recently back from hiatus, so now's a great time to catch up and get on board. If you want to help Carl out, he does have a Patreon campaign going. Also follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

Have Cola, Will Travel - Veronica Vera
- I know how busy Veronica is with her comic, Bittersweet Candy Bowl, so I tried to give her the simple one-shot transition page. BUT, I was so sick and incoherent when I sent her the script, she went and made something much more elaborate. Sucks to be her, but I WIN! (I mean, WE ALL WIN!) You can find her on Twitter and Tumblr and lots of other places if you click around the links on her site!

Polite Conquering - Mandy Seley
- Her reward for being such a clever and skillful artist is that we keep crashing her comic's website!  Fixes are underway, so go read Curtailed and enjoy every page of it! I am forever appreciative of Mandy for her friendship and her positive influence - I've been changing I draw tails because her art has inspired me! Like everyone else, you definitely should give her a follow and shout out on Twitter and Tumblr.

Cartooning is hard work, and cartooning with someone else's character is a big challenge. Everyone brought their A game and impressed me so much. When I was at my worst, they helped me put out my best! Bless them, every one!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sending artists positive vibes

I'll put the full thank you post up at the end of this story, but I want to write a bit on why I'm encouraging you to show your thanks by writing to the artists.  Find their art site portfolios! Bookmark their comics! Follow them on social media! It does matter, because, as internet-based artists, a lot of us work in a vacuum. (This means social media is especially vital for reaching people. Give following a try, even if you don't like reading about me playing Animal Crossing.)

When we see words from others, it makes an impact. Art is low-paying and high in work. (It can easily take a decade or more of practice just to bring some simple doodles to your screen.) It's very stressful, and one of the best ways to keep motivation is to feel the positivity coming from readers.  We're all at different stages of development, with different motivations and often one-person operations - so someone going out of their way to send an encouraging note can help keep a veteran going or inspire a novice to keep grinding when times are hard.

Whether it's this crew, or some other artist you admire - Go send them a quick note saying you like them! Sure, it can make everyone nervous (artists rarely know how to handle compliments, even if they need them) but it's so important.  For every kind person who hesitates, someone with less self-awareness doesn't have that issue - and that makes feedback perception somewhat skewed. Balance that out by being respectful! (Also, assume that creative people know what they are doing!. Yes, it's odd that I have to mention that, but I do.)

Financial support - buying book/merch, supporting a Patreon, sending a donation, etc - is, of course, very vital. Comics may be shown to you for free, but if the finances aren't there, those free comics will stop appearing. Financial support also can't always happen, so typing out a few nice sentences can still be helpful.

In my case, kindness is everything. My medical bills total more than my yearly income, and because of my condition I can lose entire weeks of work time. Having these guest artists all go above and beyond is so amazing and inspiring. These people stepped in to support me when I was hurt, and watching readers love what was created makes my fight worthwhile.  Positivity keeps me pushing. Writing to complain I'm not making as many bonus comics as before brings me down fast. (No one's done that. I just made up an example.)

Another interesting note is that, like most forms of entertainment, the top 1% gets 90% of the feedback. (I'm barely a blip on the comics scene, so almost all of my feedback is from the comments.)  If you want to praise a big name, definitely do so - but do understand if it takes a long time for a reply, or if the reply is short. This can also apply to less-known cartoonists, because effort doesn't scale with readership. We're all hardworking, but lesser-known artist might be able to give you longer replies and advice due to low volume of emails to reply to.  Showing kindess isn't bothering an artist. Well, unless you tell the artist they are better than another artist. A lot of cartoonists are friends, so that doesn't make us happy. Stick to only nice things. Long notes are nice. Small notes are nice. Heck, don't underestimate the value of an email that merely says something along the lines of, "There's no need to reply to me. I just wanted to quickly tell you how much I appreciate what you do. Thank you."

Make it a habit to be more vocal in encouraging creators you like - especially lesser known ones who don't always get that attention. It's intimidating sure, but it can do wonders for everyone involved.  Go and share the good vibes - but don't write to me! I'm not fishing for emails (this time), and I'm too sick/busy to give you good replies right now anyway.  (It's not that I don't love those emails, but I want you to go spread happiness to lots of creators!)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New deleted scene! 2/2/14

As the latest story, The Bad Apple, comes to an end, I though you'd like an extra tidbit to tie up one loose end, and potentially tear open new holes. Vote here to see the bonus comic!

I had my fun writing this arc, as I ended up weaving two story ideas (bad apple + alert colors) into one, which made both notably crazier.  And, now that I'm running low on new rules to share I still have a great deal of alert colors I can taunt you all with!

The Copper Road story from January is now in the archive too! I decided to keep them all together as one big story update. You lose some of the alt text, but it keeps everything nice and clean!  Since my obligation to post five Copper Roads a month, earned through your generous pledging in book two's preorder, expired with the new year, we are now back to "when the mood strikes me" for Copper Roads and deleted scene updates.  I hope to put up book three's preorder around the end of this month (depends on my health, as 2014 has been excessively brutal to me so far) so you'll get your shot to earn regular updates again soon!

This week I shared my 2014 convention schedule with you, so I hope you all can find a way to come visit me. I have some hopes of going through the site and doing some maintenance, but, again, that all depends on health and free time. I have more updates coming soon for the FAQ page - which you should check out if you haven't yet, as it's very useful - and I should update, tweak and clarify small things across other internal pages.  The cast page is one thing I cannot make a priority, alas, because it's a massive amount of work. I have a lot of medical bills to pay off, so I must focus on my paid work first. (Maybe I'll do a promotion in the future that will use audience participation to make the cast page something proper.) Sorry, everyone. I hope to be more functional soon, but even then I have a long backlog of bonus, just-for-fun and not-essential-but-I-should work to tackle.