Productivity amidst upheaval.
It has been about two months since my last real blog post, though it feels more like two years now. After finishing the USPS video, I chopped off about two inches of my hair, with a little help from Steve to get all the back even. I have continued cutting both our hair since then, so add amateur barbering to the list of plague-acquired skills. I accidentally buzzed off a chunk of one of my eyebrows with the electric trimmer when I let my bangs get too long. It took me days to notice.
In May, my USPS video received over 18k views on Facebook, after it was shared by the American Postal Workers Union. Feelin’ the USPS love!
I finished up a fully-digital piece based on a mash-up of a scene from The Simpsons and Bill Sienkiewicz. Bill accidentally created the “butt challenge” when he posted a censored, nude photo of himself that was taken as a pose reference. I spent way more time on this than I should have, but I regret nothing.
Last year you may remember my big office clean-up after getting on ADHD medication. Later in 2019, I finally completed all my backlogged accounting and incomplete tax returns. This year has been a further process of diving down the rabbit hole, churning up loose threads and unfinished projects to resolve. There are a handful of comics and illustrations. The painting below was abandoned in 2016, and finally finished up in mid-May. Etsy store link for the original.
As everyone now knows, on May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. This is where time really begins to dissolve. I live in Saint Paul, across the river, about a fifteen minute drive away from where much of the rioting in Minneapolis happened. I am closer to where rioting broke out in Saint Paul. Not close enough to be in immediate danger, but enough for concern.
For a little more than a week, my sleep schedule shifted to wake up around dinnertime, and listen to Saint Paul fire and police dispatch throughout the night. My main concern was uncontrolled fire, and being able to quickly alert neighbours to evacuate if needed. I still have not unpacked my suitcase. Fireworks, gunfire, and sirens were near-constant background noise for several days. As was the smell of burning tires. Before it was over I was able to see some of the military vehicles in my area. I was never afraid, but the constant vigilance is exhausting. While the riots persisted I did not get much work completed.
I 100% support Black Lives Matter, and in the grand scheme of things, it is incredible to be so close to where the current wave of protests started.
At the beginning of June, I finished a new graphic design/logo that I originally came up with in 2019. It was intended as a T-shirt design, but in response to the changing economic situation, I scrapped any plans for new T-shirts. The design adapted serendipitously well to face masks, however, and perhaps my favourite piece of merchandise I have had made yet — an embroidered patch. I am waiting on one more item before launching to my Patreon, email list, and then the general public. Watch for those in the next two or three weeks.
Almost all of these items are Made in the USA. You will be able to snag this BRAND NEW design on black cotton face masks (Union screenprinted), 2.25″ buttons and magnets, 1.5″ lapel pins, 2″ keychains, 3″ vinyl stickers, and 3.5″ embroidered patches (Union made). I may also do a signed $5 print!
Its message feels more timely now than when I first envisioned it.
I am gradually adding my artwork to a selection of print-on-demand sites, including some choice older works, so if you have not already take a moment to check those out. Every Wednesday I offer a “design of the week,” for pieces that have been added to all storefronts. There are many print options, apparel, gifts, and home goods available that I could not otherwise offer on my own.
You may also notice my websites looking a little fresher. The last time I did any significant work to my websites or their infrastructure was in 2014 – 2015 before leaving Texas. Much has changed since then, especially the ever-increasing usage of mobile browsers. Some database issues had also cropped up through user- and server-migrations. I could not edit old posts on my comic sites at all. So I am in the middle of nuking everything from orbit, and rebuilding almost all of my websites with fresh CMS installs and databases, optimization, etc.
Rather than rely on third-party plug-ins such as ComicPress, I decided to customize my own WordPress theme to handle my comics. Fixing the comic sites has been a major obstacle (both psychologically and literally) to moving forward on those. Every old task I manage to finally conquer is a victory, and gets me a little closer. My server speed and resources been upgraded as well.
The last thing I am working on at the moment are my several ongoing book projects. A hardcover 2015 – 2020 art book, a mini art book, and new upcoming comic collections. Expect me to run a small trial Kickstarter soon.
While digging deep on my desktop drives, searching for missing high-resolution art files, I ended up having to manually sort through almost 10k (yes, really) files that had been dumped on the Desktop or in a hodgepodge of “temporary” folders. ADHD! These are files I saved while working on projects, and things copied off of my mobile phone. During this process I found a lot of photos and mobile phone screenshots that I assumed had been unintentionally deleted.
The traditional comics community has exploded with allegations of abuse and mistreatment in recent weeks. Each time this issue resurfaces, to some extent I end up living through many of my own experiences again. I posted a small Twitter thread about it. This year has been emotionally unrelenting.
…And, lastly. Sadly.
Thursday I attended the Celebration of Life for Mike Edmundson, who passed away unexpectedly on June 20th. Mike was one of the pillars of the MCBA/MCBF. I first met him on the morning of May 16th, 2015, when he picked me up from the Roseville hotel and took me to the MN State Fair Grandstand, where my new life really began. Big Mike’s warm smile and giant-sized hugs were always welcome and appreciated. He was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most good-natured souls I have had the honour to cross paths with, and one of the most dedicated supporters of the convention. Beloved by volunteers, creators, and attendees alike, Mike’s loss is one that will be felt deeply, forever.
Thank you for everything, Mike. I am grateful that I got to call you Friend.