Friday, April 12, 2019

Graphic Medicine ComicCon

I was trying to think of how to sum up the past... month.
"Things went as expected, but not as I'd hoped."
That's the Optimistic-Pessimist in me. Truth is - the hormones, the surgery, the pain, the PTSD, the insomnia... things have not been going very well. I'm not exaggerating or looking for pity - just, it's been really rough.
An example? At the 7 week post-op exam:
Doctor: "Hmmm... that doesn't look right. Huh. Would you mind if I have my colleague take a look?"
I HAD warned her! I'm not like other people. The tumor wasn't "normal", my body doesn't react to surgery or heal like normal peoples', and my brain doesn't think like normal brains do.

What I really needed was a project. With other cool people. (And by "cool" I mean "total geeks"!) I needed a Purpose and Hope - something to look forward to and work towards.

A while back, I had signed up for the Graphic Medicine ComicCon to be held at the UMass Medical School in Worcester, MA. It seemed so far in the future - surely I'd be all healed up by THEN!? Well, THEN suddenly became NOW and I was in a panic about whether or not I could do this daring thing...
• Leave the house (it's been 4 months!!)
• drive
• be in a crowd
• talk to people

Turns out? Yes, I can.

Bill left a note on the door
My very comfy hotel room and recharging station
Room Service!! (My room even had a Doorbell!?)
Hot bread and sweet potato and crab bisque
Garlic sauce and calamari!

Seriously? It's been warm-ish and sunny for days, and now, it's 36 degrees and SNOWING for an hour!? And I have to walk to the far side of this photo, across a highway and behind a huge parking garage... maybe I should just stay in the hotel and go back to bed?

Hey! Did you know that fancy hotels have courtesy taxis on speed dial!? Awesome!

The keynote speaker was Rachel Lindsay, whose new graphic novel is called "Rx" and is about her hospitalization for manic depression. We were all given copies of the book. I was in awe of her bravery - and she's an excellent speaker too.

What made my day? During lunch, I went up to her to get my book signed and to give her a copy of my "We Will Never Leave You" comic and some Demon pins. She signed the book and drew her character in it. When I showed her my comic, she said, "I have your comic! I got it at the Graphic Medicine conference last August! But I really want a pin!" So cool!!!

I also went to the workshop about Creating Science Comics with Maki Naro. That was really interesting - his style is fun and I encourage you to take a look at some of his work online (

 To illustrate the importance of Accuracy, we played a comic version of the game, Telephone (see the upper right corner of the sketch notes). The image below is one of the examples...

Out in the lobby, there were tables with paper and colored pencils and idea prompts and big boards to post our comics on. The comics also served as entries for the raffle (the prizes were graphic novels of course).
The Self-Portrait comics
Close-up -- Maki Naro's self-portrait

My self-portrait! I also combined it with another challenge "What do you do?"
Marek Bennett's "What do you do?" comic
LOVE this one!!

I chatted with people during lunch and walked up to total strangers and said, "Would you like to pick a Demon?" How's that for an ice breaker?! That made it really easy to explain that I'm a cartoonist and illustrator and I draw comics about mental health. I really enjoyed talking with people. There was a mix of medical librarians, HS and college librarians, other medical folks, and a few cartoonists. I couldn't sit for the afternoon lecture, I drew my comic challenge (self-portrait) but ended up staying for the whole conference!

I walked all the way back up the hill to the hotel (hoping I didn't bust anything else internal or external!) and crashed on my bed.

Amazingly - I slept through the night (first time in many, many months) - and when I woke up for a few minutes, very early in the morning - I saw a gorgeous sunrise over the city! (Then went back to bed!)

Friday, March 8, 2019

Meanwhile, Back in the Studio...

Here's another behind-the-scenes for a different project I'm working on.

Starting on January 1st this year, I gave myself the goal of drawing a Toy Every Day!
Then I added a few more parameters.

First, I was aiming for 5 out of 7 days - it's not always possible to spend the time necessary since I always overdo these things. And the week that I was in the hospital - I didn't do any drawings.

Second, I'd work on 6"x6" cards, and use materials, like alcohol markers, that I needed more practice with.

Third, the toys (I have thousands) would primarily focus on figures. So, not a drawing of an American Girl bicycle, unless there was also an AG doll on it.

Here is the process for the toy I drew today:

pencil sketch


darker markers in the brown and gold shadowy areas

warmer browns and yellows, then darkest blues

blending the blues so it looks SHINY!

And then I post them to Instagram
It is very satisfying to see the collection grow...

...if I can keep this up, then later this year, we can do another Kickstarter and turn the toy comics into a book!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

You know you want THIS!

The Kickstarter only has a few days left (it ends at 8:30am (ET) on Monday, March 11! And we still need to raise about $1,000 more. We CAN do this!!

As extra incentive, I've added two super special, limited quantity, Rewards.

Boxes of Books and Goodies!
I have so many Zentangle books and tiles and pens and tangle cards and tangle tattoos... tangled everything!!! Help me untangle...

There are only five of each of these rewards available and they will have lots of really great, special STUFF in them - so go back the project right away!!

If I can get backers for these boxes of goodies, I will consider this Project a MAJOR success (and I'll have a bit more space in my Studio Shop) - and YOU will be so busy playing with your new art supplies and getting inspiration from all the books, you won't leave your house for weeks! But don't forget to feed your pets before you disappear into your studio.

Monday, March 4, 2019

READ! Behind-the-Scenes

In my QUO VADIS Kickstarter Project Rewards, I have an option for Custom Original Artwork. As I was writing the description, and trying to describe what I would actually create for a Backer - I wrote this:

To clarify, here's another example: Let's say you are a librarian and want artwork to hang in your elementary school library... you could ask for the word "READ!" with some Lilah Beans. I would create the R-E-A-D letters made from books and stacks of books with Lilah Beans sitting on the stacks and reading other books. You could also tell me if there are particular titles you'd like on some of the books. Hmmm.... that sounds pretty cool - I may have to draw that one for myself!

I really liked the image in my head, so I decided to draw it!

I start with a pencil sketch that I trace over lightly with pen

I clean up and clarify the lines with ballpoint pen

I love ballpoint pen because I can do shading with it as well

I like it simple, but I was determined to do a piece with more detail and color

I have lots of colored ballpoint pens too

I like this part with B&W and just pink cheeks

color is cool too...
I get most obsessed over the shading!

I was really excited about how it turned out! So I added it to the Rewards - you can get this original artwork or you can get a 12"x 8" print of it on heavyweight, archival paper. I also have the "BEGIN" art available as a Print too.

Please take a look at the QUO VADIS Kickstarter Project and scroll to the bottom of the project description to see the New Rewards added for this final week!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Alrighty, Universe...

I take the melatonin. I take the Trazodone. I sleep until 11am. And I'm excited and start to think of all the cool things I had been working on and all the new projects I want to do and places to go and people to reconnect with...

And then I have a night like last night where I only sleep three hours then lay awake... thinking. And thinking...

I am incredibly exhausted today.

Yesterday I wore my mom out over FaceTime. Actually, I wore out both our phones too. There was just so much that I was worrying about and it all seems so impossible to solve. I know it's impossible to solve because no one wants to talk about any of it. Plus I'm tired and cranky.

Mom had no solutions. But then, right before she went to bed, she texted:

One thing we all seem to have forgotten.....The Universe!..... how 
about thinking of a request, like you’ve done in the past. This thought 
just came to me as I was asking for help from my end of things, 
as I was trying to get to sleep. Then I had to turn on the light and tell you. 
Now, goodnight!😴😘💤🌙 🙏😻💤💤💤

She's right. So I spent a lot of time overthinking that too. And then, I got out of bed and got to work.

Here's a page from the Quo Vadis calendar comic (my current Kickstarter project)

No, I didn't get all those things. But I have since learned that I was TOO specific on some of them which actually set me up to be disappointed.

According to Mike Dooley, who is an expert on the Universe and Manifesting, The Universe is always listening and gives you what you want. Unfortunately, WE don't know what we want and don't even realize that we are asking for it.

He suggests that we think of it more like a cosmic GPS system:
First, you have to get IN the car (decide you want something).
Second, you set the GPS with the destination. (What do you want? You don't need to know the directions to get there, just the final destination).
Third, put the car in gear and start moving! Just start. The Universe will adjust the GPS directions no matter what wrong turns you take, you just need to keep moving.

I also need to re-read to Danielle LaPorte's amazing book, The Firestarter Sessions. I'd forgotten how blown away I was when I first read that intentions, goals, etc. will lead to disappointment if they are based on wanting someTHING or to achieve some success. We need to think about why we want that and how it would make us FEEL. For example, I want a buttload of money so I can pay my bills and go to retreats. Definitely. But what I really want is the FEELING of abundance, and financial freedom, and security.

So if you combine the two theories, you'd get something like...

This is the Destination I'm entering into the Universe's GPS system -
"I want to feel financially secure and generous"
Then I start driving by rereading Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
I clean up my accounts, set up auto payments and auto savings.
I run into an old acquaintance who invites me to sketch-note a conference in exchange for admission and lunch. At the conference, one of the speakers notices my sketch-notes...
...and the GPS keeps readjusting to move me toward the Destination.

If I insist on the incredibly specific money intentions I wrote in the comic above - I will be disappointed. Not only because I won't/didn't achieve them, but because I am so focused on those that I am overlooking much better opportunities that the Universe is tossing in my path. That's self-limiting. Like driving your car into a wall rather than taking the turn suggested by the GPS.

What do I really want? I have to think some more about it - but at the moment - I want financial stability, a healthy mind and body, and I want to feel like I belong with other creative, inspiring, funny, loving people.

I removed all my silly intentions from the comic (seriously - how can I get a man to ruin my lipstick - if I don't even wear lipstick!?) and made a blank mini-print:

I just added it to the Kickstarter campaign too. If I can get the pledges up over $1000, then everyone who chooses a Reward, no matter the amount of the pledge, will get this mini-print! Then you can write out your own intentions and stick it where you can see it and remember what you really want.

OK - so please go back the Kickstarter and remember to "Follow" so you can get comic updates.


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