general

BLOOM

Posted in general on April 8th, 2017 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on BLOOM

This winter seemed as if it might last forever, compared to my first here in the Twin Cities. The shimmering lakes along my commute have finally surrendered their ice, and the snow has trickled away, leaving behind its funeral of brown and crunchy things aching for the signs of life. I have been steeping myself in flowers waiting for spring to unfurl — short hikes along the creeks and rivers, afternoons and evenings in the park, faces warmed by the sun. Perhaps the winter only feels so long because I never missed such things before.

In recent weeks a friendship has begun to form between myself and another local creator, Lance Ward. His body of work resonated with me immediately — I believe we shared a connection in part due to the similar soul-baring nature of our works, as well as the duality of being both comic artists and painters. His introspective, and sometimes-effacing, self-portraiture and deep symbolic paintings speak in a different dialect of the languages I use myself. I am also fond of his daughter, Ruth — a budding artist in her own right. We recorded a few podcasts together, and I am excited about ways we might collaborate in the future. Artist to artist, it is nice to have someone who understands your struggles. In particular someone also so inclined to self-vivisection.

While remaining friends, several weeks after leaving me for his own personal issues, the lover mentioned in the previous post found he was not satisfied with his life as-is and returned — stating he made a mistake. We have both been through, and are still going through, a lot — and we have been growing together, helping to foster each other’s improvements. I will not pretend that things have been flawless, but neither of us are the type to rush to anger or hold a grudge. He is able to make me feel protected and safe, while allowing me the freedom and space I need to grow. He is more interested in myself as a person, while being respectful of my work. We can discuss anything without fear of judgement. He can take it as well as he dishes out. He is comfortable with my neediness for the physical affection I have been deprived of for most of my life. He is kind and patient and fatherly when I require that, but stands as an equal, or follows my lead as the winds change. He is not a perfect man, but he is a good man, and our relationship has been good for me.

Last month, we babysat for his one-year-old grandson for about three days. While I found caring for a baby surprisingly natural, and I would happily do so again — the experience did confirm for me that I assuredly made the correct decision having myself sterilized all those years ago. I have been told more than once that I would make an excellent mother, but I need my silence time so desperately to work, and I do not believe I possess the spirit of sacrifice necessary to care for an infant. I am content to help other parents with their children, and be a mentor or teacher when possible. ‘Tis the convention and travelling circus lifestyle for me, and long hours inking into the night.

I am finally conquering the anxiety and insecurities that have plagued me as long as I can remember. One of the most critical elements has been to stop blaming myself for every problem under the moon and stars — the realization that, whether someone wishes to acknowledge it or not — most people are just as fucked up as I am in their unique ways. We are all struggling with our own battles. What separates us, and determines our success, is the ability to evaluate our own patterns of behaviour honestly — and objectively — and be strong enough to make the changes necessary to achieve what we want. In the end, we are all responsible to ourselves for our own happiness.

Another important element has been exorcising negativity out of my life. I do not mean in the practice of being unavailable for friends in need of a helping hand, but the kind of chronic cynicism, pessimism, self-hatred, self-loathing, and stagnation that tends to drag down everyone in its vicinity. This is purely self-preservation. I have discovered that I am simply too sensitive and easily influenced by the moods of those around me. Anxiety and insecurity in others draws out my own. Lack of motivation in others saps my enthusiasm. People who believe poorly of themselves make me feel poorly. I am grieved for those wrestling with these issues, but I can only control my own happiness. I have surrounded myself with people that embody the same adventurous spirit and lust for life that I enjoy. I have many positive relationships with independent, energetic, vibrant, and non-judgemental women — something lacking in my life as an adult. My people are those that live boldly, fear no rejection, fear no pain, and see failure as a learning opportunity to do better next time.

I made a video this week exploring my identity — the monster I feel I created to survive, emotionally and intellectually — and my process of breaking free, making peace, growing, and learning how these facets of my personality can coexist while being true to myself. My “show face” is a performance; part of me, but no longer a mask that I use to avoid hiding any truth or vulnerability. My first video attempts the same themes, but focused on communication.



Life is good. I have been pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone — trying foods I have historically disliked, pursuing previously-unkindled interests such as poker and sports — even going to some games! — exploring novel outlets for my creativity. Searching out enriching experiences to live life to the fullest and broaden my horizons. Being thankful for each day that I am given, and never taking anyone or anything I care about for granted. Bloom.

Queen of the Assholes

Posted in general on December 28th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Queen of the Assholes

It has been quite awhile, has it? I have been doing much better since making room to breathe and clearing myself of undue outside influences. Time alone, and with friends that give me the space I need, has enabled me to reset my baseline and stop feeding into the cycle of anxiety and overthinking. Freedom from being smothered, from having my head fluffed and fellated, from having everything done for me, from violating my personal space and trust. Perhaps on the surface these things appear to be helping me but, in fact, they create an environment of dependence where I am sheltered from any consequences for my actions and stifled from personal developments. These things do make me dependent on you. That is not healthy for anyone. I am partially at fault for perpetuating this codependency. There are no evil-doers or archvillians in my story, only flawed people doing what they think is right. A line was crossed in the most intimate and damaging of ways that cast everything in a foul light. I did my best to honour a promise, but could not. Old wounds were reopened, that I thought were healed, but were not. I am not stupid. If I were a person with no conscience or shame I would have carried on as if nothing happened. I would not deliberately close off my main support. I would not burn a bridge that might be important to my career. My mistake was trying to make amends with, and to resurrect the past. That is on me. Not establishing and enforcing better boundaries. That is on me. Boy howdy, have I learned much in the last year. But I am taking care of myself first, and if that makes me an asshole, or makes my life more difficult, then so be it. I can finally move forward.

I have finally learned to forgive so I can stop carrying this pain.

Forgive myself, and forgive others. Flawed people.

Recently I was thinking, and I realized that all of the friends most active in my life now are new bonds formed since moving here to Saint Paul. Unburdened by baggage or ghostly incarnations of me, they are also the healthiest, most positive, reciprocal, and egalitarian relationships I have ever had. They treat me like a regular person; not a special snowflake, or a fire-breathing demon. And I believe I have been a net benefit to their lives as well. I no longer feel lonely, and have had a tremendous lifting of my spirit — along with a sense of contentment and peace like I have never known. The phrase, “The ones that broke you can’t be the ones to fix you,” remains with me as I re-examine my ill-fated desire to right the past. I did not know how to forgive or to let things go. That is on me. And with this fulfillment I have found, yes, my drive to work myself to the bone has softened. My artwork is no longer the be-and-end-all of my existence. You know what I find more rewarding than drawing comics? Holding my friend’s kid’s hand and walking him to the restrooms at the movie theatre, or buying him a snack. Watching him jump around while he excitedly babbles at me about Minecraft. Yes — I have lofty goals — but I am not going to sacrifice real life for them. I am not satisfied with my output over the past year. But I also rebuilt my entire life, and work an exhausting full-time day job with a commute so I do not starve. I will get there when I get there.

But you rest assured, I will fucking get there.

I am happy to advance my careers when and how is right for me. I am happy for my real friends. I am happy with my day job. I am happy with my home. I have a small potbelly and stretch marks, but I am happy in my own skin. I am only concerned with the opinions of the people I love. I am happy.

I found myself mutually swept away in another brief, but intense relationship, of which the romantic portion ended quite amicably. While incredibly painful, it was also a transformative experience, helping me to heal and work through many deep-rooted issues and come out better for it. It is the closest thing I have ever experienced to what one might call a soulmate connection. Mutual bluntness combined with no defensiveness or pretensions, along with innate ability to see through each other and communicate well, created a foundation to learn what we each needed and wanted. He made me feel accepted, safe, and loved like I have never known as an adult. He made me unafraid to love and to trust men again. He made me unafraid to be myself. I will not profess to speak for him, but I believe he experienced growth and a new perspective as well. I am grateful for every second with him and hope we remain friends always. We will walk the path that is best for each of us, in friendship.

There is no room left in my heart for anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, regret, or shame — from myself, or from anyone else. If you have a problem because I am attractive or unattractive, that is on you. If you have a problem with my makeup or how I choose to manipulate my own image, that is on you. If you have a problem because I enjoy dancing and singing, that is on you. Believe the worst about me — one-sided stories and lies, if that is what you need to do. Throw stones and curse me from up on your crosses and high horses, if that is what you need to do. I have only ever spoken the truth as I perceived it. I am genuinely remorseful for those that have been hurt along my journey, but I refuse to apologize for caring about someone, for being imperfect like everyone, for speaking my mind, or for challenging someone to improve. I am beginning this new year in a healthier place mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been. Any noise you make attempting to drag me down will fall upon deaf ears. Go pound your fists upon the sand. I will be here, same as always, chugging along at my speed, refusing to give up.

Life is more than awards, comic books, conventions, or the Internet. One day Sol will become a red giant, and reduce everything humanity has ever known to ashes. If you choose to waste your precious, fleeting time on this planet gossiping about what Jin Wicked has done wrong now, that is on you.

I will be here, same as always, refusing to give up.

Clarity

Posted in general, love on October 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Clarity

“I knew you were trouble as soon as I laid eyes on you.”

The road to Hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Both my sins and the trespasses upon me are many — the intention to make amends, the intention to change, the intention to love, the intention to help, and the intention to heal. Some have met with success. Others have done more harm than good. I can recognize my own hubris and presumptuousness.

“I’m easy to please. Just do what I say, and don’t do what I say not to do.”

Until recently, my head has been full of voices — not the false phantom voices of insanity, but a more insidious refrain anchored in reality. The silver tongues of friends and lovers, flattering in one ear, while accusing in the other. Advice twisted by rose- or shit-coloured glasses; always, always couched in concern for my personal needs and well-being. Opinions biased by experience, desire, and wishful thinking. I am asshole. I am brilliant. I am crazy. This is who I am. This is how I should feel. This is how I am broken. This is why I do the things that I do. This is how so many have abused and mistreated me. These voices became more influential and persuasive until I was dependent on them, and I lost the ability to think for myself or to make independent decisions.

You know my rules. I’m starting to think you like drama.”

“I got this. I got this. I got this. I got this. I told you, I got this.”

I am not your master. I am not a puppet. I am not a toy. I am not a pet. I am not your everything. I am not your afterthought. I do not want your pedestal. I do not want your self-serving protection. You are not my therapist. You are not my caretaker. You are not my keeper. You do not have the right to assign yourself any of these roles. I do not exist to bolster your self-worth, either as a trophy, or to make you a martyr. I am not a merit badge for your sash.

“You want to give me everything, but you can’t do what I tell you to.”

“I knew when you came to me that your marriage was over.”

I am a person — truth. I am a monster, sometimes. Beautiful, perhaps, in my flawed way, and fierce. I do my best to be a decent person, but life has made me what I am. Like a mirror, to be close to me is to be willing to confront the dark truths that you do not like about yourself. The function of the artist is to observe and reflect. No promise was ever made that art must be pretty. I do not wish to be coddled and told that I am not a monster. I need those who can see the firestorm behind my eyes and confront it, unafraid. Those secure and strong enough to temper — and be tempered by — my heat. Those who can view me objectively as an equal, without fawning or subservience. Those who do not attempt to control me, or to presume what is in my best interest, regardless of intention. Did I not listen? Or have I listened too much?

“I promised myself that I would always love you unconditionally.”

So many sides of the same multi-faceted die; to help me, to hurt me, to serve me, to insulate me, to rescue me. Whichever way it is cast, I am infantalized and stripped of my autonomy. I am ashamed and humbled for allowing myself to be manipulated in this way. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. Never again will someone else tell me who I am, how to feel, or what to think.

“You are becoming the person I always knew you were.

I am the person you all refused to see.

Daddy Dearest

Posted in general on May 19th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Daddy Dearest

Late-night AM radio paranormal talk show host George Noory famously quips, “There are no such things as coincidences.” While I do not necessarily believe that, and I understand the phenomenon of confirmation bias, my life appears to be afflicted by a theatrical sense of timing. My personal journey of the past two years — leaving the extended adolescence I occupied for over a decade, weighed down by anxiety and depression — climaxed this past weekend with my appearance at MSP Comicon. One year ago, I tabled there with a meagre pile of my mini-comics; a shrinking violet, timidly hawking my wares. This year, I commanded a full table in the centre of the convention floor, surrounded by a stable of friends; lip syncing and dancing shamelessly for two days straight, and doing virtually anything to bring a smile to those passing by. Triumphant, it was the most actualized, confident, and self-assured I have ever felt.

On Monday night, I received news that my father had shot and killed himself. In one final act of cruelty, another person was witness to his suicide.

My father was a profoundly angry, and, at his core, unhappy man. He worked taxing, physical labour in a trade he did not enjoy, and found himself trapped there when plans to take over the family business fell through. Violence and misbehaviour eventually lead him to never consume alcohol. The sheetrock in our garage was littered with holes in the walls made by his leathery fist. The oldest child, my most vivid childhood memories involve being chased through our hallway, his voice bellowing threats at my heels, or being strapped with a leather belt. I rarely understood what I had done to deserve that. My father was a large man. There were plenty of happy times, of course, but I learned to fear him and his temper quickly. I recall many incidents of him cursing at my mother and refusing a meal because she unknowingly cooked something for dinner he had had for lunch. I watched her react and, unconsciously myself, became trained to do or say whatever it takes to avoid that anger. As a child, I fought tirelessly to earn his approval and recognition. It seldom came; more often I was punished for failing to meet his standards or be what he wanted. Therein lies the seat of my identity issues and insatiable desire to please.

As I grew older, I became an angry, disturbed, and poorly-adjusted teenager. The overt violence ended, only to be replaced by undercurrents of threat. My activities and socialization were severely restricted for most of my high school years, stunting my emotional development and ability to connect with others. Both of my parents were obsessively controlling, consistently eavesdropping, violating my trust, and invading my privacy. I had a violent psychotic episode at age 14, which resulted in the screws being tightened further. They falsely accused me of drinking, using drugs, and prostitution. My makeup, clothing, weight, and interests were mocked and criticized. My attitude was somehow always the ruination of our family outings and vacations. Day after day, I was reminded of all the things wrong with me. I should state that — for whatever reasons — my two younger siblings did not receive this treatment.

Outwardly, we appeared to be the ideal nuclear family.

Friends charitably helped me escape this toxic environment those many years ago, before I descended into self-harm, or worse. I remained in Minneapolis for one year, then in Buffalo, NY, very briefly, before returning to Texas. When I came back, my parents charged me a small amount of rent, and were then mostly-able to treat me as an independent person and less judgmentally.

However — my father became more emotionally distant and unavailable over the years. Communication was always on his terms, despite my requests not to be alienated by his politics. He continued to express little to no capability for compromise. He continued to lecture and talk to me like a small child, and he expressed little interest in my life and none in my work. He was incapable of apologizing or owning any responsibility for damage to our relationship. He put only the most minimal of effort into maintaining the relationship. I realize now that I have been intoxicatingly attracted to men displaying these same unhealthy traits in my romantic partnerships. (Never Matt, though!) Affection withheld as punishment and returned as reward, being deliberately ignored, being dehumanized by name-calling like asshole and crazy, having my feelings marginalized or invalidated, and threats of abandonment are all things I have endured. I will no longer suffer others’ perceived failures and insecurities.

I set aside all my grievances when my mother’s breast cancer metastasized to her bone marrow. Initially, I cleaned my parents’ house once per week for token payment. As her illness progressed, I became her daytime caregiver. It was during this period where I felt the most connection to my father. United by the common objective of caring for my mother, we functioned together as a team, and he would occasionally confide in or seek advice from me. It was I who researched hospice care, and who ultimately helped him accept it when that time came. It was I who spoke with the hospice representatives, when he could not face them alone. Unfortunately, after her death, things returned to the status quo. He was never the same, and neglected to seek help.

My mother did apologize to me, unsolicited, before she died.

One day in the kitchen, while planning my mother’s funeral, my father looked at me and said, “My children were all disappointments — you know? I wanted doctors and lawyers. But I guess I didn’t give you the genetics for that.” And, immediately realizing what he said, he attempted to take it back. But I knew. Our relationship mostly consisted of me visiting, staring at the television for a few hours, then returning home. Dinner conversation typically involved his life or whatever he had heard that week from Rush Limbaugh. When he became abusive about including an unwanted and inappropriate third-party in one of my birthday celebrations, I decided to sever. His violently slamming down the phone on me was the last time we spoke. The silence lasted for many years, though I did attempt to reconnect before leaving Texas last September, which he declined. My feelings about his death are understandably mixed.

Over the past two years, I have worked tirelessly to address my flaws, make amends with those I have hurt, heal my old wounds, and purge my heart and mind of ugliness. Am I perfect? Absolutely not!!! But I have made a conscious decision and effort to learn empathy, to build my undeveloped social skills, to connect with and love others, and to forgive my past mistakes. I had to learn not to expect abuse, neglect, and pain as necessary companions of love. And I now have the largest, most robust support network of friends and adoptive family that care about me and want me to succeed, that I have ever had.

And I treasure every new person that becomes part of my life.

I have lost over 60lbs, relaunched my art and comics career, relocated across the country, and restarted my life. I am standing alone, on my own two feet, for the first time. I have a steady paycheque doing work I enjoy with people I am happy to see every day, and who are in turn happy to see me. I have an unsteady paycheque doing creative work that brings me personal fulfillment, and delight every time I make someone laugh or think. I work hard. I have a nice apartment, new car, new phone, and a future to look forward to.

The chains that have bound me are falling away.

Matt has been very supportive through this process, as I feel we have slowly begun to rebuild our friendship. I am appreciative that he has been available through this and other recent traumas. I will close with some advice he gave me weeks ago: “You have to let go of the self-loathing — it will kill you.”

Introductions

Posted in general on March 20th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Introductions

Hello. My name is Jennifer, though if you have been following my projects for many years, or you recently met me at a public event, you probably know me as Jin Wicked. As you may expect of someone with two names, I am a person fraught with contradictions. Fiercely independent and stubborn, with a great need for personal space and solitude, I also possess a hungry, sensitive, and docile heart. I am equal parts extrovert and introvert, shifting from wallflower to centre of attention as the mood suits me. Cynical, yet hopelessly optimistic at times; a pragmatic dreamer, hard-nosed romantic, detached observer, and intimate storyteller. As I have grown older, I have turned into a gentle atheist that seeks comfort at low points in religious services. I do my best to remain well-informed, but tend to shy away from the angst and conflict of politics.

The things that I enjoy most are good conversation, simple but well-prepared food, physical affection, comfortable silence, thunderstorms, treasure-hunting in thrift stores, petty vices, being outsmarted, and being made to laugh.

After a long period of withdrawal from the public eye, I restarted my art/comic career and life at the beginning of 2015. Work resumed on my primary series, A Dollar Late and A Day Short and Crap I Drew on My Lunch Break. Afterward, I began working regularly with a digital tablet. I returned to exhibiting at art shows and comic conventions. I broke free of depression, lost a large amount of weight, and became satisfied with my self-image again. I left my marriage and relationship of twelve years, and then relocated across the country from Houston to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. It has been quite a ride, in retrospect.

Over my journey of this past year, I met and fell madly in love with one of the most amazing, funny, complex, difficult, and talented men I have ever known. We wounded each other profoundly and parted ways, but through the loss, I have gained a new perspective of what I need to work on within myself.

I frankly discuss the recent events of my life in the video below.

Through my weekly series of YouTube videos, I respond to reader’s questions about myself, my work, and other subjects submitted for discussion. I share the many faces and voices I wear as an artist, performer, and writer. Join me every Wednesday for your cheerful reminder to “Stop fuckin’ around!”

My friends Mark, Root, and I host the irreverent COMIC BROS Podcast. It is available on every major syndication service, and also on YouTube. Subscribe to my channel for all of my projects, art progress videos, and more.

My Instagram account features shameless selfies, food pornography, artwork and work-in-progress, and occasionally, softly singing to you while I paint.

A photo posted by Jin Wicked (@jin_wicked) on

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Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoy my work!