Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Webcomic Update!

The above is a teaser panel from my NEW WEBCOMIC, Zylphia Gibb, just updated over at smackjeeves!  If you wanna go read it, click here.  Contains some NSFW material.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

MOOC Comique: Putting It All Together

I’ve been taking a MOOC at Coursera called Creativity, Innovation, and Change.  Our final project is a synthesis of all the major concepts taught in the course (Creative Diversity, CENTER, IFF, etc.).  The 2 page comic above is my own synthesis of the concepts.  Make sure to click on the images to make them nice and big (and legible)!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Get Inspired!

I recently came back from San Diego Comic Con full of pure, unbridled inspiration.  I hadn't gone to the con for years (largely because of the expense of tickets/hotel accommodations/transport), but this year I was speaking on a short film panel and the ticket was free.  I was lucky enough to find a friend I could stay with for a short time who also became my fellow carpooler, and suddenly all my expense concerns were gone and I had no excuses left not to go out and have fun.  I'm glad I went - it was a blast - and the afterglow of inspiration has left me with the ruddy pallor of either the recently sunburned, or the expectant mother. 

It seems to me that there are two kinds of inspiration.  The first kind is the idea generator - either when something that previously exists makes the little synapses in your brain twist with sudden insight, or the semi-magical inexplicable origin of a new idea with no obvious causes.  The second kind is pure encouragement.  You might have had an idea for a song or a story or a painting kicking around in the back of your mind for a while, but it seems like you and fate are apt to let it languish there until suddenly you realize that it's not just O.K. to be creative, in fact it's the best thing out there, and you better get your butt in gear and start making the intangible into the material.

A lot of creative people will occasionally struggle with the first kind of inspiration, but the second kind of inspiration is faced with a wicked, insidious disease - negation.  Negation is insidious because it's composed of a net of self-esteem issues, procrastination, and every kind of doubt the human species can create.  We all get negation no matter how far we've progressed creatively or how much work we put into it, and the virility of the virus is so bad that it can often leave people scared to create for the rest of their lives.  Which is a load of crap.

People are best when they're making things.  When we create, we don't just make the world beautiful and more exciting, we are sharing unique perspectives and inspiring others.  We're building daydreams and shaping the future - and as cheesy as that sounds, these things are critically important.  We're reassuring people that our private problems are a part of the human experience, and that even if we can't fix them, we don't have to be alone with them.  Despite the potency of negation, inspiration can become just as strong, and sometimes stronger, in the face of our doubts and fears.

It's this second kind of inspiration that I came home with, and that's a treasure.  In an effort to share that with you, gentle reader, I've collected a few things around the interwebs that feed me that precious, golden, second form of inspiration.

I hope you get inspired!

Pixar Story Rules.  We often tell stories no matter what our medium is (although sometimes we don't).  They come in two flavors:  illustrated and vanilla.

Neil Gaiman's "Make Good Art" speech.  Funny, poignant, and wonderfully encouraging!  Posted below.

Letters of Note.  A letter from F. Scott Fitzgerald to an aspiring young writer.

Brick by Brick and Be Friends with Failure, both by Stephen at Doodle Alley.  Great insights about creativity and inspiration in comic format.

PBS Remixed videos by PBS Digital Studios.  Yes, there's that vocal distortion you've been hearing a lot these days.  I find these videos fun, catchy, and full of that encouraging gentle sweetness that these PBS giants (Bob Ross, Julia Child, Fred Rogers, etc.) provided during their lifetimes.  I chose the Bob Ross one to post below, but I hope you get to try them all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Awfully Fawn'd of You

The above photos chart the path of my fawn mask that I made for the Labyrinth of Jareth masquerade I recently attended.  I initially imagined a flatter, more 1960s children's book style of palette for the mask, but certain masks like metallics (or so I've found).

The base is papier mache, with the horns and details made from Crayola's Model Magic.  There's light armature wire in the horns, a tight band of elastic to secure it, and some felt hot glued to the inside for comfort.  The ears are made from cereal boxes, and the paint is acrylic.

I've been told it looks like a jackalope, but in this instance I'd call it a jackaLopes. :p

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Balls and Pussies - A Linguistic Travesty

For at least a few decades now, and possibly longer, the phrase “grow a pair” has been defined as “man up”, “be strong”, and “screw your courage to the sticking place”. What you're supposed to grow a pair of, obviously, are testicles. When I was younger it seemed that this phrase was passed exclusively from male to male, and I would merely bide my time with a bemused expression on my face. It was a private joke between me, and the guys who were clearly trying to psych themselves up to do something beyond their comfort zone.

But recently I saw a tweet that stated “Balls. Don't be afraid to have a pair. #girlsmakingstrides”, and I realized that I had bided my time for long enough. I needed to clearly state somewhere the obvious problems with the whole balls-strength equivalency, because not only has this phrase been passed from woman to woman, it's something you can apparently hashtag to indicate feminist progression, and that's just stupid.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm a huge supporter of balls. Balls retract in the cold, dangle in the heat, and, in a fascinating personal detour of observation, encompass both the superficial characteristics of skin in both the young and elderly, phasing from wrinkled to smooth and back again in some hypnotic immortal time loop. Poetry and gushing fandom aside, balls, and testicles, are structurally unsound. Two dangling, soft fleshy sacks bouncing about in pants (with various degrees of restraint to that bounce, depending on what you wear to secure those testes); balls are weak.

Pussies, on the other hand, are fairly structurally sound. They do not generally dangle, preferring to stay secured within, and boy are they secure. Pussies have strong muscles inside of them, capable of delivering orgasms, cramps, and babies before lunch (but thankfully not at once). They have insane powers – one might say superpowers – for like Stretch Armstrong of yore they can grow mighty and big before snapping back into place, relatively unscathed. Generally speaking, you don't want to try that out with balls.

Balls can get injured in a multitude of ways. In MMA, there's a brief stoppage and a guy gets a full five minutes to recover when a direct hit to the testicles happens – and for good reason. Balls hurt a lot when they get hit, and a severe enough hit can do permanent damage. Heck, guys hurt their balls just by falling, but it takes a lot of ingenuity and bad luck for a woman to sustain pussy damage after a fall. There are the inevitable “get hit in the balls” jokes, which don't work nearly as well when a girl takes a shot to her pussy (unless the joke is about how hilarious it would be if it actually hurt a girl to get hit there). From personal experience, I'd say getting a hit to the pussy feels a lot like getting hit anywhere else where the bone is pretty close to the skin, with perhaps some sustained feeling around the clitoris that doesn't really feel bad per se, more like intense rough stimulation just happened there when you weren't ready for it. Pussies are survivors, and they take casual hits like champs – no five minute recovery necessary, but we'll take it to calm the little lady down, thank you.

However, to be a “pussy” is to be weak – as defined by current colloquialisms. How does that even make sense? Biologically, both pussies and balls are related to virility and reproduction, yet balls pulled away to the finish at the last second? Stuff and nonsense. This is merely sexist linguistics at play.

Every chance I get, I switch the terms. “What a pussy” becomes “what a balls”, and calling someone a “pussy” is a phrase of pure admiration at the sheer strength that individual possesses. Sometimes I slip up, and usually my friends – primarily the male ones – catch me on it and steer me on the right track. I have great friends. I'm hoping that my small efforts will catch on, and maybe in a century or so adults will have to explain to students reading books with phrases telling somebody to “grow a pair” that the author meant, well, to be strong. And that will seem ridiculous and incredulous to that room full of students, who know the obvious: balls are great, but pussies are stronger.

Want to make strides? Ladies, don't grow a pair, own that pussy. Be that pussy. That is one strong fucking pussy over there.

The rest is up to you.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kinetic Art for Kids

This week I developed an easy, quick exercise to talk about kinetic art with the middle school kids I teach.  Kinetic art - to briefly explain - is the visual or artistic depiction of motion.  Using this exercise developed at Cool Stuff Art Gallery as inspiration, I had the kids listen to three different songs.  Each song had a different rhythm, instrumentation, and overall feel.  During each song, the child would draw a scribble on a piece of blank paper using a pencil, attempting to capture the motion of the song.  Afterwards, they picked the sketch that they wanted to focus on, and colored in different fields (using either pencil or watercolor pencil) that their quick drawings had created.

Some unanticipated side effects?  Quite a few of the kids ended up preferring the sketches they'd made while listening to songs that they didn't like (and which were a bit more experimental or challenging to listen to).  Almost universally, the sketches were wildly different from each other, and the students had no difficulty whatsoever with seeing a correlation between rhythm and line.

Neat stuff!  I made the above image in class along with them, and really like how it turned out.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Dragon and a Griffin

The kids I instruct have been really responding to fantasy art lately, so we've been drawing dragons and griffins!  Here are two models I composed to teach from, emphasizing wings (which kids often love to draw, but get baffled over how to construct).  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Things I've Been Called Since I Turned Thirty

Nine months ago I turned thirty.  Here's a list, in no particular order, of things I've been called since then.

Smokey Joe
the most normal person I've ever met
just like my grandma
a brilliant writer
not a real teacher
too slow
fucked up
my friend
my favorite daughter
my only valentine
too loud
my evangelist
the best person ever

Some of those are dead on accurate, while I'd certainly debate others.  Some of the phrases and names actually come from unexpected sources, for example it was my father, and not my boyfriend, who called me "my only valentine" (he's in his seventies, currently going through chemotherapy, and I found that kind of sweet and sad).  What I like about making a list like this is that I can observe how the spectrum of perception, particularly how people view me, varies at times so widely that there are flat out contradictions in the list along with some pretty twisted curve balls.  Everyone has their own unique truth.  I might be somebody's sweetheart, but for some other guy I'll forever be "that asshole".  Who we "really" are, and what kind of person we struggle to be, may be another thing entirely.  Kind of neat to think about.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Trailer!

So let me state outright that I've probably seen about a dozen or so book trailers - and perhaps only three of those all the way from beginning to end.  A few years ago I didn't know that book trailers existed, and many of them were exactly what I expected: cheesy, fluffy things that lull you to sleep with their self-importance.

For Christmas I received a very special gift, a book trailer created by the fabulous Ghost Milk, and let me state that this is a rare treat indeed.

Putting any biases aside - the fact that it's a trailer for my own book, the fact that a close friend created it - and I will tell you the truth.  This trailer is freaking cool.  Of all the book trailers that I've slogged through, this one is un-sloggable.  It's trashy, pulpy, and evokes my horror anthology perfectly.  It's exactly what I wanted, and I couldn't be happier for getting this present under the tree.

A fifteen second version of this is coming soon to some local Coffee Beans in the Los Angeles area, so keep your eyes peeled for updates!

And if you haven't checked out my book yet, click here.  Enjoy!