Hello! Here’s an update on what I’ve been up to.
Co-leading Comics in the Circle
First and foremost has been Comics in the Circle. I’ve been co-organizing this weekly meetup with Katie Starr since last October. We’ve had a great, high quality turnout with about six regulars and more people popping in and out. We’ve also hit a digital groove with a Zoom meeting every Wednesday at 7 PM.
The original plan was to do one group exercise and do a show and tell every week, inspired by a combo of Coffee and Comics by Cleveland Public Library/The Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Game Developers’ monthly meetup. What we do now rather is a monthly schedule: usually at least one exercise night (typically Lynda Barry), one free draw night, and one Broken Picturephone night. Next week we’re trying a presentation night, and we’ll see how it goes.
Organizing this group has filled me with so much energy. Comics in the Circle is really becoming the supportive comics making community that I’ve wanted for years now. We have many different perspectives on comics, drawing, and writing — AND on the market and culture around it. Don’t let the weekly schedule intimidate you. If you want to pop in and say hi, please do! Or email/direct message me your questions.
Secondly is teaching! My second Comics Journaling class with Lake Erie Ink concluded last month. It’s a great paid gig. I get to lead Lynda Barry exercises and the like with students from middle school to high school. This eight week session had a lower turnout than my four day summer session, but we made it work. Zoom fatigue is real, and these last months of this Ohio pandemic winter have been mentally brutal for me. I have assumed it has been just as nasty for students, if not more nasty.
My weekly goal was to sit in front of the camera, make comics with them, and be okay while doing it. I found that if I could just sit and hold this space to make this work in the comp book, it was enough. The journaling exercises in Making Comics supported this honesty and openness. I try to be as real as I professionally can with students. The practice of observing your day on paper doesn’t need to be fun or high energy. I would say it’s a blessing, but teaching this practice in particular was my intention when coming up with ideas for LEI last summer: this compbook writing and drawing practice meets you where you are, even in the stormiest environment.
I took time off from my day job to teach two Friday workshops and one Saturday workshop at Lake Erie Ink’s annual Kids Comic Con. I led one exercise where you draw a monster’s entire life and another activity where you turn a lie into a one-page minicomic, inspired by something LB posted on her Instagram. I wish I had a kids comic con around when I was in school. Also all of the panels are up on their YouTube page.
Just today I led some exercises for Writers In Residence, an organization that teaches writing to youth who are incarcerated in Ohio. Then I’ll be doing another summer Comics Journaling class with Lake Erie Ink. I am not sure if it will be outside in person or online yet.
This Blog + Career Research
My third project is this blog. Okay, self explanatory. I want to navigate my portfolio to this website too. This is part of an overarching effort to research and solidify my creative career ambitions. Comics and writing? Illustration and comics? Comics and teaching and writing and editing? I am accepting unsolicited advice on how to make steady money off of creative work. 🙂
My fourth project is my upcoming perzine, short for personal zine. So… actually making comics! Lol. Self-anthology-style. This will look like a 24-page self published half-sheet (digest format) booklet. Very similar to King Cat Comics and Stories. I’ve been excitedly sharing progress on the Comics in the Circle Discord, to much encouragement. I need a regular place to put short story comics, illustrated essays, fanart, and maybe some comics that have resulted from doing exercises with other people. 24 pages lets me be picky and intentional, but it’s big enough to be satisfying for a lil’ sit down read on the couch. Easily sent though the mail too.
That’s what I’ve been up to. It looks like a lot, but I only do a little at a time. Between a full time job and other commitments, I put maybe 4 or 5 hours into my comics stuff a week. Thanks for taking the time to read this!