In the many years I have kept this site running one thing has been a constant: I do a terrible job updating with new content. By my estimation it has been a little over 6 years since I posted with any true regularity. My interaction with this site dwindled with my interest in making Here Comes Everyone as a webcomic. The distractions of work and the frantic scrabble of freelancing kept me away from updating with what I was doing and how I was doing it.
Recently I was hit with a series of personal disappointments. Things I thought would be sure, failed to be so. I also felt like my experiment of being a professional illustrator, cartoonist, author, and teacher was over. The voice in my head began to chant, “I have a day job. I have two or three semi-steady side hustles/illustration clients. That will be my life from here on out.”
I went to 6th grade at Santa Maria International Catholic School in Tokyo, Japan. It was truly a global classroom with students from America, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, India, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, and the Philippines. I have too many stories to tell in one post from that year, but the one that applies to my new mind set happened at the end of the school year. The sixth grade was the “graduating class” of the elementary school. For the yearbook we were asked to role-play what we wanted to be when we grew up. I chose to be a children’s book writer. I modeled my outfit off of E.B. White and borrowed one of my dad’s pipes. Before I ever got the drawing bug, I knew I wanted to write and tell stories. Where did that vision go?
I thought I had fulfilled that dream two years ago when I had my first authored book published: Comics! Investigate the History and Technology of American Cartooning! I was wrong. It was a flop. And it didn’t make me feel happy or proud. I was almost embarrassed by it, not by the sales of the book, but by how the book wasn’t really from my heart. It was all heady and I think I took all the fun out of the writing.
Instead of doing what is normal for me (defeating myself with negative talk, numbing myself with video games, eating too many carbs, moaning to a dwindling supply of friends…etc), something clicked on. I never gave permission to believe in myself, believe enough that I could enter into the dance of all creative professionals: Try, Fail, Learn, Repeat. I am tired of living project to project and doing it for the money. Money is good and necessary, but it isn’t where the best ideas are born.
I have also illustrated around ten published books and several comics. So, was my dream fulfilled? Am I done now?
No and no. I need to let me heart shine in my work. I need to allow the parts of my mind that I subjugate to reason and logic to move freely. I need to follow my first love: Children’s Books.
So, now begins my journey to follow my heart. It’s a cliche to trust that one’s heart is the way to go, and we should instead find something steady and sure. But I am wired a little differently. I want to share stories. I want to learn how to do better and better at getting kids laughing and excited about characters and plots. I want to try my hardest with the holy trinity of creativity: head, heart, and hand. Then, and only then will I know if I am a colossal failure or a moderate success.
I have already started a daily practice of writing down ideas for stories. It’s a first step. Along with drawing for the pleasure and joy of it. I need to push my own visual style further and craft something more unique.
I will be publishing blog posts about creativity and comics. I will also be posting my ideas and illustrations as I complete them. I hope you find this site in coming days to be engaging, entertaining, and enjoyable.
I’m getting there 6th grade self. I have a promise to keep.