[VIDEO BLOG] Down the Rabbit Hole

Productivity amidst upheaval.

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http://jinwicked.etsy.com/

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.

Stupid Sexy Sienkiewicz

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.

Legacy

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.

» Jin Wicked @ Fine Art America
» Jin Wicked @ RedBubble
» Jin Wicked @ TeePublic
» Jin Wicked @ Society6
» Jin Wicked @ Spreadshirt

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.

I edited my #MeToo post for clarity, names, and additional images.

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.

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Good Quill Hunting

There was an expectation that I would start to experience some unexplained aches and pains after turning forty years old. I did not expect the entire world to start falling apart. Anyone who knows me on a personal level is aware of my apocalyptic disposition, but my money was on a gradual slide into oblivion through the effects of climate change, not a fairly rapidly-moving plague.

Not that quarantine changes much for me, since I have been mostly holed up in my office, working on various things. It does seem to feel more suffocating when you have no choice. Multiple people have noted that I was fortunate to leave elder-care when I did. I am delaying the CNA class until danger passes. I have enough savings to tough things out for up to six months living frugally. Very frugally. Please consider becoming a Patreon subscriber, or purchasing a piece of art, if you can comfortably afford to do that. I know almost everyone is struggling right now. It has been difficult to remain positive.

In an effort to cut back on my use of disposable technical pens, I have been inking almost exclusively with brush and quill pens. The Mandalorian piece and assorted sketchcards below were inked with quill pens. I have been working with Speedball Hunt nibs #102, #107, and #104. I also picked up a selection of B-Series nibs, hoping for a satisfying alternative to felt-tips for stippling.

Tiny But Fierce

My “house brand” sketchcards are here, and the first couple of batches have been shipped out. The ability to ‘request’ cards is a Patreon subscriber perk, with the option to pre-purchase the original before it is offered to the general public. The cards are $60/ea including US shipping, however I am guaranteed to spend at least an hour on each card — usually more.

JinWicked.com Sketchcards

These were completed mostly last November and December, but I can finally share with you my contributions to this new Dawn 30th Anniversary card set, published by Dynamite. The occasion marked both my first paycheque from a major comic book company, and first mention in Previews World magazine.

I continue to be incredibly grateful for all that the Linsners have done for me, including the opportunity to work on this sketchcard set for them.

I will have a very limited number of Dawn cards (much like the ones pictured) available directly from Etsy later in the fall, with my Patreon subscribers given the first opportunity to purchase them. $100/ea including US shipping.

With my tax refund, I was able to restock all of my books currently available. Each “printing” is 100 books. This is the fifth printing of Best of Crap I Drew on My Lunch Break, third printing of Just the Rats Ma’am, and the second printing of Best of A Dollar Late and A Day Short and my Happy Rats colouring book. For my future books, I will be running Kickstarters for the first print runs.

Books available at Etsy!

These are all things that, under normal circumstances, I would be (and was) terribly excited about. Right now, anything resembling bragging feels gauche and insensitive. Mostly, I just feel an uneasy weariness. I am going to hunker down, continue working, and hope for the best. Stay safe, everyone.

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Happy Happy Jin

Two days after publishing my previous post, I resigned from my aide position about a month earlier than planned. Multiple friends and coworkers had been independently giving me unsolicited advice to, more-or-less, be more selfish. When your own coworkers are telling you to escape, that you deserve better, I think that is a fairly clear sign. The facility piled even more services on top of my already-crushing usual nightly assignments, and I threw in the towel.

Most of last week I spent catching up on business, running errands, building a new website for the comic book convention, and sleeping ten hours a day. I finally started to feel somewhat normal again by this week. To get back in the swing of things, I finished up colouring this set of four Happy Happy Rats for both prints and inclusion in my upcoming art book. When I made my colouring book in 2018, I had a few rats earmarked for prints and stickers later.

Happy Cthulhu Rat

Happy Art Nouveau Rat

Happy Unicorn Rat

Happy Picasso Rat

Jin Wicked Sketchcards

I also finished the design for new 2.5″ × 3.5″ custom sketch cards, and sent it off to the printer. Completed cards will be available for sale through my Etsy shop, however, to request specific characters or subjects on custom cards will be a Patreon-exclusive benefit. You can subscribe to my Patreon here.

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