Cocoon Year: Weeks 11 & 12

Cocoon Year: Weeks 11 & 12

Digital art of a teeny tiny baby monarch butterfly caterpillar chowing down on its own eggshell. The caterpillar stands on microscopic milkweed fibers and lifts the eggshell overhead, chomping away. The caterpillar is light peach in color, with a black head, black legs, and black spikes running down its body in rows. Its butt is facing the viewer. The eggshell and the milkweed leaf are seafoam green. A watermark in the corner reads: http://hmcgill.art

Cocoon Year: 2nd Half of March Summary
This is the week I completed all of the art and writing for my pitch packet…at least, completed it enough to send it out. In that sense I’m emerging from my little microscopic shell, and now I have to focus on eating it.

 

 

Cocoon Week 11

This week was spent wrapping up additional character and prop art for my packet, as well as decorative borders to make it look more medieval. As I got closer and closer to the end of the pitch packet, it became harder and harder to work on. The next step after this is revealing it to people who don’t know me well, and who have no reason to love this on sight.

I went through all my writing, on both the short synopsis and the long synopsis, and added more to them where necessary. Lebeau’s new backstory has evolved into the tale of a saint with two skulls and an abandoned tomb. I scanned more through the book on serfdom and slavery, but didn’t find a whole lot more that would be specific to Lebeau’s case. I am also making an ‘historically inspired’ vs. ‘historically accurate’ decision to assume that if Lebeau can live in Paris and prove themself a good citizen, they’ll be free from tending an old tomb for the rest of their days. I don’t know specifically what law in Paris existed to accommodate this. Since it’s such a melting pot of a town I assume that King-appointed leadership might decide to protect its citizens, no matter where they came from.

The only Capesian law I do know about is one protecting a widow’s right to keep her late husband’s land. This is not true throughout Europe as far as I can tell, but what was important about this law is that it indicates the people of the time were able to tell when someone in their society was vulnerable. Were they able to consistently enforce such a law? Now there’s the trouble. Not really, I would imagine. Just an absolute dumpster fire of dueling power structures and lack of resources going on there. While crime faced fewer negative deterrents I still have to believe that most people wouldn’t actively try to hurt each other for no reason. Otherwise, humanity wouldn’t have persisted for 800 more years.

Anyway! Most of this is guesswork that slants towards making a dramatic story. If I must jump to a conclusion then let it be an entertaining one. I only worry about how much historical information people tend to absorb from pop culture and entertainment media. There’s also the mistaken idea that ‘more suffering = more real’ and I’m hoping that some of Warlock’d’s core themes successfully point this out.

On that note, it reminds me of the story of a nasal spray vaccine that failed. I don’t know about you but I would love to get a nasal spray vaccine. However, people didn’t believe it worked because it didn’t hurt enough. I think the same attitude has been bleeding into fantasy and historical fiction reader tastes. If characters aren’t suffering enough, then it doesn’t feel real enough. I myself enjoy a good round of character-obliterating pain, probably far more than my intended audience would enjoy it, but at the end of the day any sort of conflict can be relatable as long as it’s punched-up enough.

I had to return the book on slavery half-read, because interlibrary loans are tough like that.

Cocoon Week 12

I began this week with a couple of query letter drafts and a final readthrough of my full synopsis. I think that’s all finally ‘there’. An actual story with stakes and a conflict and rising action and falling action and themes.

I really do not want to just…leave Warlock’d alone while it’s percolating. Do I have to? Maybe it’s time to noodle on an Amphiox sequel about adult Lyrat’s day job. Or, I could work on my middle-grade dinosaur pitch, or my adult romantic comedy/abominable fancy mashup set in an Italian Renaissance-ish fresco guild.

Yes, to be honest, it’s probably time to pull up a backroom project and examine that, then leave my schedule open for suggestions and edits on my pitch if I happen to get feedback.

I’ve also been dabbling more with pixel art and it’s become an enjoyable part of my day. Crowdsourced art direction is chaotic and not always helpful, but I like talking to people about craft. Every now and then someone absolutely ‘gets it’ and even if things get nitpicky it’s a lot better than being ignored. I call this ‘pixel art brain rot’ but Devin thinks it’s fine that I’m doing this.

I chose the first agent to query. A friend stepped in to help me when I was struggling with a query letter. They rearranged my sentences and it was magical of them. I uploaded all my stuff to a portal and clicked ‘submit’ for the first time. I’m not quite sure what to expect because my packet was designed a little bit differently from what the agent specifically wanted, but I also feel like I have more than what the agent usually requests.

In other news, I pitched to another Sequential Artists Workshop anthology (Troubled Histories). They’re not the type to turn pitches away so now I’m writing something about locks. Here’s how my editing is going with Karlo and Emma:

“Locks weren’t very good in the 12th century.

  1. There were few ways to combat thievery: You could pile all your valuables into one spot, making them more difficult to remove, or hide them, or petition your local ruler to do something about thieves.
  2. As far as security went, it was largely theatrical. Most castles never saw battle. Their size and shape implied fortification, which was enough to keep most thieves away. However, castles weren’t built on any foundation so most of them could be dismantled by a determined person with a shovel.
  3. Imprisonment in these structures is expensive and reserved for prisoners of note, not random misbehaving commoners.
  4. Therefore, you get records of inhumane punishments for thieves — mutilation or death — because there’s no other way to permanently deal with a thief. Even banishment wouldn’t necessarily keep a sentenced thief away.
  5. Today, locks are commonplace, and we don’t kill people for thievery. Even though mass production of locks means people can perfect techniques for opening a house uninvited, the very presence of a lock is enough to keep most intruders away, just by communicating privacy.
  6. However, we aren’t looking at better ways of dealing with thievery by dealing with root causes (poverty and mental illness)… we’re investing in prisons instead, which are just as expensive as they were in the distant past.
  7. Perhaps prisons are like castles, in that they look intimidating but can be dismantled by new ‘locks’, such as universal basic income and a wider availability of mental health services.

So, it’s an overly generalized view of locksmith/legal history and no citations at all. Maybe too complicated and in need of simplification.”

To which Karlo has already responded with the following advice, and I’m paraphrasing pretty baldly here:

 

 

“Please, H., you’re killing us. For the last time, do not do additional research.

Just make the damn comic.”

 

 

However, joke’s on him. I already requested an interlibrary loan of a book on locksmithing. I was meaning to look into it anyway!

I also think I may release the full version of my other anthology submission, from In the News, Again, on social media. Here it is in full:

Digital art comics page. It has three panels depicting how my 2019 Geek Girl Con went. Panel one:

Page two of a comic done with a digital artstyle. It has four panels and takes place in a lime-green convention hallway. Panel 1: Me and Devin rush up the escalator with all my con merchandise in tow. A graphical badge overlaid on the panel indicates the year and date: Nov. 5th, 2022. Me: Is anyone even gonna show up? Panel 2: I'm wandering out from my table to pet a live iguana perched on someone's head. They're using a motor scooter to get around and their helper is nearby. The hall looks extremely empty and tables ar every far away from each other, blockaded by black curtains. Narration: I sit here for ONE eight-hour day and I'm not sure what sales will be like... Me: Wow! I love your iguana! Narration: I make $600. Panel 3: Me on a simple pea-green background, holding cash in hand. Me: Neat! Panel 4: Me on a dramatic explosion background while I grip the money fiercely. I look dismayed. Me: Wait, what?!

 

 

I think I can do a lot better than this for Troubled Histories. I’ve already refined my lines to be a lot thinner. The coloring is more deliberate, clean. Weirdly, pixel art has opened my eyes to a lot of cel-shading tips, too. I’ll be sure to use them liberally in my comics from now on.

 

To Do Next Week:

  1. Contemplate which gear to switch to while I wait for word on Warlock’d.
  2. Roll up another query letter or two, depending on vibes.
  3. Work on my locksmithing comic.

Care to read more?

Cocoon Year: Weeks 27 & 28

Cocoon Year: Weeks 27 & 28

Cocoon Year: Allowing Synopses to Build on Each Other As I write, I learn new techniques for visualizing entire stories. Learning to understand synopses has been really important for me. One important thing I’ve learned about them is that they’re good for sharing with...

Cocoon Year: Weeks 25 & 26

Cocoon Year: Weeks 25 & 26

Cocoon Year: Finding the Character in Objects Writing progress became confused, dismal. I figured something out between the way I approach problems and the way my spouse approaches problems. When we play a puzzle game called Picross together, we often mess up the...

Cocoon Year: Weeks 23 & 24

Cocoon Year: Weeks 23 & 24

Cocoon Year: A Retrospective of Drafts I really wish this wasn’t already halfway through the year. I’d hoped to have gotten started on the art part of my project instead of languishing on writing like I always do concerning Warlock’d. For both weeks, I decided to do a...

Want to chat about this?

Geek Girl Con ’22 Recap

Geek Girl Con ’22 Recap

Photograph of my assorted art zine, Crab Rare Arts Best, next to my calico cat, neatly arranged on a bean bag.

Where to Sell my New Zine?
I recently compiled a selection of my Pandemic drawings into an art zine. The fun of zines is sharing them with someone who will read them.

Photo of my calico cat turning away from an open zine in my hands. Drat!C’mon. Just read my stuff…

Having exhausted my household of zine-readers, I decided to table at Geek Girl Con. This is a convention that takes place in Seattle and was on hiatus during the COVID days. I had only tabled once before but the feeling of the convention was, well, a weight off my shoulders. Geek Girl Con feels a lot more personal than big comic cons, but it still has lots of people attending and there is plenty of workshops and panels to attend. I don’t feel bad for being an indie creator at GGC! In fact I feel very encouraged to continue doing my own thing. The sales last time I went weren’t bad either.

Digital artwork of a dragon chomping a dove. This is painted in a medieval style. The dragon is on a red background with a title of 'crab rare arts best' in the background. Doves perch in the tree, fearful of the dragon.Crab Rare Arts Best – my new 48-page zine featuring odds and ends, including drawings, doodles, and short comics.

This zine is named via magic square, so the title isn’t supposed to make sense. Scraps of knowledge were collated by ancient people and protected with magic squares instead of properly being titled. So I did that in the same vein. It’s 48 pages of unrestrained nonsense, pulled together by virtue of ‘this is everything I happen to have on my desktop right now’.

I also created giclée prints of my elasmotherium unicorn, my gastronomy chart, my medieval cat meme, and various small artworks I’d made on my livestream. I used my inkjet printer and archival-quality cotton paper. To fill in the rest of the table, I brought leftover acrylic fossil charms (some of which were in blind boxes) and some older zines from pre-pandemic times. Warlock’d and Hands & Feet made their appearance. Then Devin and I masked up, loaded everything up in the car, promptly snapped off the side-view mirror while backing out of our garage, and called in a Lyft to get the rest of the way to the convention. I totally forgot my banner so I sent Devin back for it. He arrived with all my forgotten stuff and also…dumplings. He’s sort of amazing.

Digital artwork of an elasmotheirum depicted as being unicorn-like in a field of interlocking flowers. The 'unicorn' has clearly stomped its way into a small fenced paddock, leaving ruin in its wake. The pomegranate tree from which the unicorn snacked is falling over. Regardless, the unicorn wears a beautiful blue collar studded with gems as well as a gold chain twining around the tree. It's a pastiche of the classical medieval tapestry 'The Unicorn in Captivity.'Of Pomegranates and Unicorns –  $60 print I had for sale.

I thought for sure this print was going to be the star of my show. I even made extra copies and an additional design with the recently-reconstructed horn. I only sold one, and I only sold it while I was away from the table! Maybe I should have Devin pitch this one in the future.

Digital artwork of a constellation chart. The joke is that these constellations are all food-themed, so that the chart is a 'gastronomy' chart instead of an 'astronomy' chart. The artist's personal favorites are 'Burger-cules' for Hercules and Drink-o the Dragon. Gastronomy Chart — Another $60 print I had for sale.

Much to my delight, Gastronomy Chart sold several copies. I even had it hiding behind the bone charms because the contrast of the dark night sky made the bones pop out. People still had a fun time discovering it and that probably added to its charm. I was worried about this one because online it’s never been very popular. Just goes to show that social media literally means nothing when it comes to point of sale.

Digital artwork done in the style of a 14th century illuminated manuscript piece. A small calico cat is angrily plinking away at keys on a pipe organ, while passive-aggressive flowers curl and twist up to the cat's thoughts: Mother!! print — a $40 offering at a smaller size than the big luxury prints, same quality of paper and printing though.

This passive-aggressive cat meme was the surprise hit of the show. You can really tell when someone is responding to something on the table. People would run up and show their friends or reference roommates. Glad I made a few prints of these as a joke. I couldn’t even use my tactic of redirecting purchases from the pricey $40 print to the $15 zine — People just wanted the cat, and they were willing to pay the meme premium.

In terms of other sales, I sold the average amount of zines, and was surprised by the enthusiasm for some of my older zines. Someday I will shift those out of rotation. Still have a few left.

Among the various cosplayers and con-goers near my table, I encountered a very tame iguana on top of its owner’s shoulders and I got to pet it. Everyone was wearing masks. My usual sales tactic of handing people stuff off my table to handle it was a little awkward, considering. Devin was also somewhat better at selling my stuff than me. I think he pulled in more sales. Lesson learned: I should just go walk around and relax more at these things.

You may have noticed the high quality of photos taken of my table in a previous post. At the convention, I met an amazing photographer (AnnaMaria Jackson-Phelps) who offered to take shots of my table. Sporting an impressive portfolio of print media photography, I was very excited to make her acquaintance and see what she saw through her lens. The organizers at Geek Girl Con put her in touch with me and it turned into a cool collaborative adventure.

I also met someone from the Sequential Artists Workshop in person for the first time! We both live in the Northwest area so it was cool to get my local social circle widened a little.

Photograph of a watercolor print arranged on a warm table, next to a cow-shaped succulent pot and on top of a cloth with delicate leaf embroidery. Paintbrushes lie near the print. The print itself is a bright crop of a restful, happy blue whaleshark swimming through a school of yellow fish in teal water.Look at this adorable whale shark print by Rebecca Martinez!

I picked up a moon rabbit sticker from Rebecca and couldn’t be happier with the design aesthetic. Now I just have to get back to drawing traditionally so I can get a new sketchbook, as I like to crown my sketchbooks with stickers. I highly recommend grabbing something from Rebecca’s Etsy shop if you can. It’s certainly inspiring me to do something digital, so that I have somewhere to send all this leftover stuff from the convention.

Should You Do Geek Girl Con?
All in all, Geek Girl Con only lasted one day, but it worked out really well. People had to buy then and there so I did about as well as I do during a three-day convention. It does make me wish that artist alleys were only open for one day, so that artists have more time to browse around and escape their tables during the rest of the con. I adore this convention and highly recommend it as just big enough to get visitors to your table, and just small enough to make you feel like you’re part of something special.

As far as health safety goes — everyone wore masks. It was still tricky to navigate health boundaries because part of a convention is handling merchandise and saying hello to tons of people. I know I accidentally thrust my hand out to a baffled person because I had totally forgotten not to do that anymore. In general I could feel my social skills grinding slowly into gear, but never really overcoming the awkwardness of basically holing up for 3 years with my partner and losing all of my small social groups in the process. There wasn’t anything particularly special in terms of health requirements outside of the masks and I believe (?) a vaccination requirement as well. So, do this one at your own risk when it comes to skirting COVID.

Geek Girl Con also does plenty of remote outreach via their Twitch channel. Geek Girl Con is something you can interact with all year round from any distance that is safe. I really appreciate all the work they do to make a safe vibe for a convention. Just really positive and light all around.

 

 

Care to read more?

Cocoon Year: Weeks 27 & 28

Cocoon Year: Weeks 27 & 28

Cocoon Year: Allowing Synopses to Build on Each Other As I write, I learn new techniques for visualizing entire stories. Learning to understand synopses has been really important for me. One important thing I’ve learned about them is that they’re good for sharing with...

Cocoon Year: Weeks 25 & 26

Cocoon Year: Weeks 25 & 26

Cocoon Year: Finding the Character in Objects Writing progress became confused, dismal. I figured something out between the way I approach problems and the way my spouse approaches problems. When we play a puzzle game called Picross together, we often mess up the...

Cocoon Year: Weeks 23 & 24

Cocoon Year: Weeks 23 & 24

Cocoon Year: A Retrospective of Drafts I really wish this wasn’t already halfway through the year. I’d hoped to have gotten started on the art part of my project instead of languishing on writing like I always do concerning Warlock’d. For both weeks, I decided to do a...

Want to chat about this?