a.k.a. I Swear You're Trying to Kill Me.
This chapter deals with creating in the right place, near the sort of people who will encourage your craft, where you will make connections and help other people make connections.
Okay, I've had my teacher baggage dredged up, I've hauled my past failures into perspective, I've even gotten to work on projects that I intend to actually show people – and now you want me to be social, too?!?!
One thing I love about this book (it is turning into a rather painful sort of love) is that it's giving me solutions that I honestly have not seriously considered before. It's also showing me where I've wanted the myth of the Starving Artist to be true, because I'm much more comfortable when things aren't my fault. And my isolation as a creator and as a human being in general is my own fault.
Maybe in the past I had good reason to prefer solitude and keep everything I cared about to myself, but now those habits are only hurting me. And having that pointed out is painful too.
I suppose that if it's going to hurt in either case, I'd rather have the healing pain of dealing with it than the slow rot of pretending nothing is wrong.
I don't think that right where I am could be considered a Mecca of the exact thing I'm trying to get into – but one of the good things about being interested in many art forms and attempting to synthesize them into a cohesive and unique whole is that what there is around here, I can use.
Comic cons are interesting and full of passionate fans of everything. Even the relatively small local cons are increasingly about more than comics, branching out into gaming, various TV and movie fandoms, and animation too. True, I spend the entire event in my booth being an awesome vendor, but maybe I could make more of an effort to go to the peripheral events. And there is an arts community – in this rural area, there are still county fairs with art exhibits of various kinds, and there are writers, maybe not in my genre but very respectable in their own genres. I could try a little harder to find people who would also understand the value of art and creating.
What about you? Do you have any sort of local creative scene you could get more involved in? And is that question as uncomfortable for you to deal with as it is for me? Leave me a comment and I'll enter you in the drawing to win a copy of Real Artists Don't Starve.
Am I even ready for this? I'm still dealing with teacher baggage from the last few chapters! Okay, here we go, all about cultivating patrons.
We're out of the Mindset section and into Market, which is something that definitely does not get covered in art class but is vital nonetheless if artists want to not starve. It opens with an Elvis story that I hadn't read before, and which I will not retell here because it really ought to be read in context to get everything out of it. But I will quote this bit: “If you are going to create work that matters, you are going to need an advocate – a person who sees your potential and believes in your work.”
So, lonely, misunderstood artists slaving away in service of nothing but their passion who suddenly emerge from their solitude and strike the world still with their brilliant creation? That's a myth. What apparently really happens is that they emerge to find, like Rip Van Winkle, the world has moved on and their idea has already been done by someone with better publicity. At the time it looks and feels like someone “stole their idea,” but maybe it's just that they had no patron.
So how do you go about getting a patron? There may be some slaving away in solitude involved after all, because you have to have some kind of work to show that you're worth the trouble. And being able to take and use constructive criticism is a huge plus.
Manners are also a huge plus. Nobody owes you the time of day, so thank people for their interest in you and the time they spend helping you. Don't give them any reasons to regret making eye contact. And one of these people (evidently) will be so impressed by your work and your good attitude that they'll get as invested in your work as you are.
Now, there's nothing that special about an artist interested in his own work, but an artist plus another person interested in it? That's unusual. Make it another person who knows the genre or media well enough to make a reliable judgment about whether the work is good or not, and you have an influencer. And without one, the creative work won't spread far enough to make the impact you want it to make.
So, what's your project that's going to showcase your best skills to potential patrons, and is there any sort of project that you'd be interested in seeing?
Remember, commenters on this blog series are entered to win a copy of Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins. Just comment before the series is over!
Finally, Something I Know How to Do.
This chapter is all about stubbornness. While I still have trouble knowing when to be stubborn, I do know at least that I've got it in me.
Yesterday's post forced me to confront a scary truth about myself. I started off this book thinking sure, I know who I am and I'm secure in my art and vision and message and all that. But yesterday, I realized that I'm really still thinking like the girl I was in college – firmly convinced that I'm not worth anyone's time, just plugging away trying to learn more, without hope of “getting discovered” or whatever. My teachers all said there was way too much competition in the arts and hardly anybody made a living at it, after all. I was there to learn to draw and to please my teachers, and when those motivations got stripped away, I quit.
I walked away from a full scholarship and deliberately failed a class because the final exam was to show up and sign in and leave – the teacher wouldn't even be there.
In retrospect, it wasn't a great decision. But I was a teenager used to being treated as an adult at home, and I was insulted. All semester, I had driven an hour to get to the campus, had a morning class, and then waited around for two hours before that class started. I did all my homework with excellence and left bored every day. I'd tried to talk to the teacher (also my advisor) after class about some kind of extra credit or project or anything I could do, and when another student started just talking over me, I was the one told to “calm down.” All semester, I'd fought the feeling that the class – maybe all my classes – were a waste of my time, and that “exam” proved it.
I left that college believing that I wasn't worth the time to teach properly, and now that I'd blown my scholarship on this place, I couldn't afford to go to a college that was even equipped to teach what I wanted to learn anyway. The only thing I felt confident in anymore was English class, so, after a couple years of failing everything else I tried, I went to a different college and enrolled as an English major.
I slayed being an English major. Any time I wanted to quit, I remembered what it was like to wait tables and be screamed at by my manager. I remembered what it was like when my great-aunt – who I was a live-in caretaker for briefly before we realized she had dementia – grabbed the car keys and ran away from home for an entire day. I remembered what it was like to fail at caring for her and come back home with everything I'd worked so hard for as a teenager gone, with no way to get it back. And I graduated with honors.
In my last post, I tried to describe the push that makes decent work into art. Now, this chapter is talking about that weirdly competitive zone you get into when you aren't going to let it beat you – whatever “it” may be. Other people, your circumstances, your own doubts or whatever it may be, you won't allow them to stay in your way. Jeff Goins says, “When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.”
It's funny, because I don't think of myself as competitive and I'd just as soon opt out of a “game” entirely as soon as it seems like I'm getting dragged into something pointless (social status games come to mind). But when I'm up against something that I want to beat, I'm all in. Also, if I lose in one arena, I simply shift to the next arena I can win... and I may not be terribly concerned with any rules that don't actually disqualify me from winning. (When you grow up with brothers, you learn to be suspicious of extra “rules” that give other people advantages.)
I think everyone has this in them. It just needs to be tapped into and applied in the right way – not to trample people, but to build up your own life above whatever rut you may have fallen into.
What triggers your competitive streak, and how can you harness that to drive you on to where you want to be?
At the end of this series, I'll be giving away a copy of Jeff Goins' bestselling book, Real Artists Don't Starve. To enter, just leave me a comment on any post in the series about the book. If I draw your name, I'll email you and get your address so I can mail it directly to you.
Or you could just buy the book. It's worth buying, and if you bought through my link you'd be supporting my site since I'm an Amazon Affiliate now. Out of all the things I could be reviewing right now, this book has enough material to prompt a 14-part series from me, so imagine what kind of insights you'd be getting.
Heading into chapter 3 of Jeff Goins' Real Artists Don't Starve and I've hit big trouble. Specifically, in this axiom of the New Renaissance: “The Starving Artist believes talent is enough. The Thriving Artist apprentices under a master.”
It's not that I think I'm so smart and talented that I'm done learning – quite the opposite. I love learning. I'd have stayed in college and collected more degrees if I could've afforded it. I have a lot of respect for teachers. I'll learn just about anything a person is willing to teach. I'd love to apprentice.
Unfortunately most of my heroes are dead.
C.S. Lewis – Christian fantasy writer whose work has made it to film (posthumously, but still). Solid mythology and theology, and beautifully clear writing. If only I could learn such clear-mindedness.
J. R. R. Tolkien – Christian, epic fantasy writer, fantastic films from his works, yes, but what I really want to know about is being a linguist and (IIRC) mapmaker. I so want to create languages and realistic maps of my worlds. There is no telling how long it would take me to gain even a shadow of his mastery of worldbuilding and more importantly, culture-building.
Walt Disney – holy cow, y'all. Inventor, artist, voice actor, showman – if there was an occasion, he rose to it. If there was a need, he threw himself in and filled it. If there was a problem, he dug in until it was solved. He had grand visions and he saw them through. If I could learn one thing from that incredible man... who am I kidding, I'd be happy to fetch coffee and doughnuts for him every two minutes if it meant I could hear him just talk about how he kept going in the face of so many setbacks and how he brought people around to help him achieve so much.
Steve Jobs – The iPad changed my life. I had always wanted a “computer book” like Penny had in the Inspector Gadget cartoon (and now you know far too much about me and my childhood) and the iPad was everything I thought it would be. Apple is now getting too fiddly for me, and drifting wide from the simple unbreakable elegance of Jobs' vision. He was the visionary of my generation. I want to know if it's possible to duplicate the “reality distortion field” he was rumored to have, because that would be a cool superpower.
By the way, all these great masters and many more are featured in the book. I was so excited to read a few stories about them I hadn't come across before, and see how lessons could be drawn from their lives that I could apply to my own.
For living masters, I greatly admire the imagination and attention to detail of Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Hosoda, who may or may not be competitors in the realm of anime feature films in Japan. Their work is thematically and stylistically very different, but they both have such an incredible grasp of the universal and the specific of human nature. The movies are for Japanese audiences, but they translate so well. (Though Ponyo makes more sense with the sound off. I have no idea what Ponyo's dad was muttering about and his explanations were clear as mud).
Anyway, unless something significant changes around here, I'm not going to get an apprenticeship with any masters of animation in Japan. And it's not likely that I'll come in contact with any in America either - John Lasseter comes to mind. He's done so much amazing work with Disney and Pixar, and pulled them both free of the muck of formulaic storytelling while still delivering stories that have that universal and specific magic in them. I can see where he's learned from Miyazaki there. Probably the thing I'd have to be most concerned about if I did have a chance to learn directly from him is how to not just copy how he does things but to also remain my own person with my own vision, too.
To be honest I'd have that problem with any master. I really do have a ton of respect for teachers, despite a few who seemed to try really hard to disillusion me. And I can see how special it is when someone who's achieved mastery in their chosen arena takes the time to teach someone, because teaching is the most time-consuming, frustrating, crazy-making thing there is. If the precious gift of their time, attention, and interest was directed toward me, of all people, I don't know what I'd do.
I guess I could write some non-stalkerish letters to people I admire who may actually write back. And finishing one of these ambitious projects would be good, so... back to the grind!
There is much more to say about the book, so come back tomorrow, and if you want to enter to win a copy for yourself, just leave a comment on any post in this series. For instance, I'd like to know who your heroes are. Who would you love to learn from, and what do you want to know?
Hey y'all, I intended to carry the posts through the weekend as well but... looks like weekends are not particularly good for writing. So I'm trying things and learning as I go, which beats sitting around and wondering why I'm not getting anywhere.
Today's chapter deals with "Originality" vs. "Theft"
No, we are not talking about passing off someone else's work as your own or pretending it's okay to post unattributed works. But this chapter is about bringing together everything your know and love about many art forms in your own work rather than forge ahead trying to create original art out of pure nothingness. With thousands of years of recorded human history and art, the odds are against that approach anyway.
For example, I am not reproducing the entirety of the book here but rather giving an only slightly spoilerish review of each chapter, plus my own thoughts about what I learned and what that means for my next step.
The concept of bringing together the best of many disciplines is probably easier for polymaths to put into practice - if you're already into everything and trying several art forms, fusing them together is really the next logical thing to do. Here's a quote from Jeff Goins' bestseller Real Artists Don't Starve about the sort of "theft" that's okay in art: "The best artists steal, but they do so elegantly, borrowing ideas from many sources and arranging them in new and interesting ways."
I like that - a lot. It's what I've been trying to do already, and it's a big part of the reason I want to get into animation for my stories. Animation calls for such a huge variety of skills to bring the project to life - writing, of course, and drawing, but also acting, music, sound effects, light, color, mood, an understanding of what's simultaneously universal and specific about people. I'm always baffled by people who look down on animation as just being cartoons. Have they never really considered all the vast array of talents and the sheer amount of work that it takes to put together even a simple cartoon?
One thing I thought that this chapter could have dealt with more is the need to push the work that you're creating. It's mentioned as a matter of course, but it's such a crucial aspect of creating art that it may need its own chapter. But then again, it's a hard thing to quantify in words. Let me see...
The push - when you've done enough and it's decent, but there's an itch in the back of your mind when you just about know the direction your work is going. You could almost see the next mark to make, or the next bit to peel away, but at the same time, it's risky because you have an equal chance of destroying your decent work while trying to make it art. Is it worth pushing when you don't know where the edge is?
In a word, yes. When your work is in your hands and you feel that itch, that almost-in-tune feeling just before it sings or it cracks, push. Push to the edge and don't stop too soon.
Okay, y'all know by now that I am giving away a copy of Real Artists Don't Starve, right? Here's how to put your name in the hat for the giveaway: Leave a comment with your name on any of the blog posts in this series about the book. Counting the introduction and the conclusion, that will be 14 posts. I'll try to post daily but I may not make weekends.
I'm not exactly thrilled with this blog layout, because it isn't very obvious how to leave comments, but if you click on the number of comments in the top right corner of the post, you should get there.
Thanks so much for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow!
Chapter One: Becoming an Artist
The first myth Jeff Goins tackles is "The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one."
Being an artist is a process of continually becoming one, yes. Sometimes I think that we need to say we practice art, like a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer practices law. It's all practice - applying what we know to the best of our ability, but the scope is too great to presume we ever master it.
And here's an awesome concept: "At any point in your story, you are free to reimagine the narrative you are living.... adopting an entirely new identity - or a very old one."
(Somewhat modified quote there, note the 4 dot ellipsis indicating the abridgment of the original passage)
That idea is worth sitting with for a bit. If you could be anyone in the world you wanted to be, without changing your external circumstances, who would you be? Who would you enjoy being? What sort of person has a shot at climbing out of circumstances like yours (because I know some joker is thinking, oh, I'd love to be the sort of person who's already having a great life, thanks!)?
For me, I'm wondering if I'm adhering to rules and norms that aren't good for me. Maybe guidelines I've outgrown or warnings that are useful for a completely different personality than mine, or tips for communicating to people that aren't really in the audience I want to speak to.
Right here in chapter one, I found enough reason and inspiration and a kick off the couch to restart this blog. I've been poking around with rough drafts and groaning about it for weeks. Yeah, I know I need to write the blog, it's not like I can't write... but I can't make it perfect, and amazing, and relatable, and nobody reads the thing anyway... I know what I need now is consistency, let me get a whole bunch of perfect, timely posts written ahead of time... Well that one's too late to post now...
And on and on it went.
So instead of putting off writing this blog forever because I'm so scared of it not being perfect, I'm just writing the thing. If I could be any sort of person in the world, I'd be the sort of person who is free to ditch things that don't work, but who doesn't look down on the things that do. Freaking out about perfection doesn't get the job done. Posting what's on my mind without first agonizing over whether my social filter was in place when I wrote it - I don't know yet if that works or not, I haven't tried it long.
Useful Questions from This Chapter
I think that the best way to become an artist is to start with who you already are and work from there to who you are supposed to be. Along the way, you'll create. You'll practice art. And while you're practicing, you'll be becoming.
So who are you? What rules are you following? At this point, are they helping you or hurting you? What "can't" you do that you actually need to be doing? Who are you really supposed to be?
Something really fun here is that at the same time as I was reading Real Artists Don't Starve, I was also reading Overcome by Clayton King and The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron. These were good to have on hand for this chapter. Also, for us introverts, might I also recommend Susan Cain's Quiet.
If you're interested in buying any of those books, I'd greatly appreciate it if you used my links! I'm just now experimenting with the Amazon Affiliate thing and I'd get a few cents commission if you do. The great thing about the program is that they have so much to choose from, I don't feel any pressure to promote anything I can't get behind 100%.
I will be giving away a copy of Real Artists Don't Starve to one lucky commenter on this blog! Please leave a comment on any post in this series about the book if you want your name in the hat. There may even be a literal hat involved. I'll see if I have a nice steampunk top hat left around anywhere. I will announce the winner here and in the newsletter, so you might want to think about signing up for that too, especially if you have any interest in webcomics, cosplay, and comic cons.
I'm posting this now instead of making it perfect, so... hang on, this is going to be rough.
Hey and welcome to the big bloggery relaunchy thing! I have had enough keyboard freakouts and have arrived at the conclusion that I don't care anymore.
Well, I can't stop caring, exactly, but I think I can quit worrying about whether what I write will be taken wrong because I phrase things weirdly, take a different angle, don't get the givens, etc. Like anyone is going to be that invested in my little no-name two-bit corner of the internet. Sorry-not-sorry -- writing “properly” is not my concern anymore.
(Was that the sound of the entire English faculty at my alma mater gasping in horror? … Nah, couldn't have been.)
Anyway, IRL, I try so hard to be nice and normal and not irreparably damage anybody's tender psyche that my tender psyche is feeling the stress. So here, I'll just go ahead and say stuff.
That said, I will try to post things worth reading about.
One of those things is Jeff Goins' new book, Real Artists Don't Starve.
This book was not necessarily what I thought I wanted, and it certainly wasn't what I expected, but it's exactly what I needed to trade in my excuses for progress. I don't want this post to run too long, so instead of a full review today, I'll be posting a chapter-by-chapter series about it.
Way to go on the controversial title, Jeff! Artists everywhere are freaking out because the nobility inherent in their poverty is being called out like a zit on the nose of the spokesmodel for acne cream. And that's just the title. The inside is packed with much-needed, well-researched, and highly entertaining mythbusting regarding art, artists, and what it takes to be successful.
And by “successful” I mean “successful.” As in achieving what you set out to do. Please don't do that thing where you take out the word you don't want to consider and replace it with the word you actually have a problem with.
The controversy I've seen here is when people take out “successful” and replace it with “rich.” One, those are not synonymous, and two, how is there really an actual problem with being rich? If “all you want to do is create art without worrying about money” then getting rich would do that, but you could also successfully meet that goal by living rent-free in your mom's basement. YMMV.
What does this mean for us all?
So, back to the book! I'm going through it and taking notes, chapter by chapter, and if you've bought it, I strongly advise you to do the same. I'll be posting my notes in this blog series, AND I have also gone ahead and bought a copy to give away to one of you lucky people! It should be here next week. Comment on this blog if you want your name in the hat to win that copy, and this is where I'll announce the winner so you'd better be back with some way for me to get your address or I'll have to pick someone else. You can also sign up for my newsletter to be sure you get that notification.
I'll be posting daily through this series, and then going on as long as I have anything good to continue with, so, see you tomorrow!
P.S. As I have quite a backlog of books that I've read, considered, and have thoughts to share about with you all, I have just now today become an Amazon Affiliate! This means that if you click on my link to buy a book, I eventually get paid a few cents for each book that led to a sale. Here's the official disclaimer Amazon tells me I have to post on my site:
“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”
So, we'll see how it goes.
As always, SC ComiCon was a terrific show. It seems like there are more cosplayers every year, and there's something for everyone. My only complaint is that yet again, I was in the very back, almost at the farthest end of the row, behind a column. That stupid column is my nemesis every year. I covered it with signs as high as I could reach and set up facepainting around it, but my table was still hidden from the main flow of people.
Even so, lots of people came by and several bought my new little dragon eggs. I always wanted a dragon egg - so I'm pleased to find that I'm not the only one! Since I only have a small artist table at this comic con, I couldn't bring my bigger pieces. I don't know if I should try to move to a bigger spot, though. Every year, no matter how soon I send in my registration, I'm stuck behind that column. What if I pay more for a table and just get stuck behind a different column? What if people are looking for me in the old spot?
I guess it's really going to depend on how much I'll have ready to bring next year. This year is going to be big -
I have no debt, I'm full of ideas, and I have no fewer than four dependable freelancers I can call upon to help me finally bring some stories to life! I just have to carefully manage my resources and keep going between comic cons as well.
On a long shot, I've entered Etsy's #DifferenceMakesUs small business contest. It would mean a lot to win this, or even just to get votes. Go to https://etsy.wishpond.com/small-business-contest/entries/148907175 if you'd like to vote for me and OtherRealm Studio. I know, the form stripped my formatting and editing is not an option, so I have no paragraphs. O.O I was horrified. So I'm posting my entry essay below with paragraphs so it isn't such a pain to read.
Etsy Business Contest Essay
I never wanted to leave my daydreams behind to join the “real world” and stop having time for reading and drawing and making stuff. Couldn't I get work that would let me share my daydreams and stories with the world?
The answer was,“Nope! Artists STARVE, so forget it!”
So I chased everyone else's idea of what being a responsible adult should be. Slowly, I began to forget my daydreams.
And then, I messed up. I bought an online course – a good one – on a subject that could make money quickly, thinking that after I made the money, I would finally give myself permission to do what I wanted to do.
Do you see the problem yet?
My head understood the material, but my heart said no. I aced the lessons, but everything I tried to implement flopped. Utterly.
Worse, I had paid with a credit card, thinking that once I got something going, it would “pay for itself.” It did not, and now the interest was piling up.
My husband cut a deal with me. Every year, he works crazy overtime and saves that money for our family vacation. We could pay off that card, but the money would have to come from our vacation fund and I'd have to pay it back, but at least we wouldn't be paying interest.
Suddenly, my debt was not hurting “only me” anymore. All I'd wanted was to make life better – to be creative again and afford some way to bring my stories to life so everyone could enjoy them. Instead, the only thing I'd created was a disaster.
What could I do?
My “someday biz” was either going to be today or never.
When I was a kid, my parents were in a tough place financially. So they built their own business out from a hobby and traveled to shows, selling hard-to-get supplies to other hobbyists in person and by mail-order. I knew show vending. I knew tracking down bulk suppliers and modifying products for individuals' needs. And my hobby (I know Etsy peeps won't laugh!) was making costumes. Plus, I had been a panelist once at a comic con and was amazed at how familiar it was.
It was the barest thread to hang my business on, but I threw everything I had into making the best stuff I could and selling it.
Incredibly, it worked. After months of hustling like mad at every comic con I could get a table at, I paid back the vacation fund. Even more incredibly, I loved what I was doing. Making costume accessories, “magical amulet” jewelry, quirky sculptures, and everything else that would fit on my table brought me joy. And my creations brought everyone who saw them joy, too! I began to be inspired again and create new, original things – lightbulb bug sculptures, abstract fairytale art with multiple layers of meanings, teensy baby dragons to hatch out of their own eggs and keep in a piggy bank hoard. The beautiful imaginary realm of my childhood came back and I could share it with everyone in a way that they could touch and enjoy!
Well, everyone who happened to see my table at a comic con. There aren't many nearby, either. I had to get my mail order going.
But it was scary!
My shipping skills were way out of date. And then, how to navigate the gap between getting the order and getting paid the proper shipping so I could send it out? And in all the vast internet, how are people going to search for my unique, quirky, sometimes downright weird creations? Who even wants a lightbulb bug before they see one?
Everyone told me, and I didn't want another account for a thing, and I put it off... and then, quite recently, I tried it.
Oh wow. Everything is so much simpler. I can get my iPad mini or a phone, and take a nice picture, fill in all the fields with description, keywords, package size and weight, and it's done. It's on the market, in a place where people look for unique, quirky, handmade items, where people appreciate creativity and value the love that goes into crafting. And they can click a button, pay the right amount for shipping every time, and then I print a label and drop it in the mail! Ta da!
Now, anybody can order from OtherRealm Studio, and get their very own bit of that magical, quirky-fun realm in a package delivered right to them. I get to share my newfound joy and inspiration in a way that anyone can hold in their own hands. In my own small way, I can open wide the gates and invite you to experience a place you never needed to leave behind – the realm where daydreams become real and you can escape until you're refreshed and ready to emerge to face the day's challenges again.
May your every day be a beautiful adventure!
If I had ten thousand dollars, my first thought is that I could help so many people! For example, it would help my family a lot if we would quit deferring fixing up the garage as a workspace, as my supplies keep conquering various corners of the house. I am currently creating lots of new items, and experimenting with new media – I'm running out of materials for my little dragons! But the best, craziest thing that I'm working toward, winning or not:
The earnings from my creations are going to hire an artist to help me create a webcomic about the Other Realm, and someday I'd like an animated series – probably on YouTube. There are at least three people I have already had in mind to hire for this if I somehow make the money for it. See my story for why everything I do MUST be paid for in full. Debt will never hurt my family again!
If you think my essay is worth a vote, please go vote for me here! It's free to vote and you will get my undying gratitude :) and I'll be able to come out with better stories and art even faster!
Saturday morning we arrived early at the Metropolitan Convention Center to set up, and we were immediately impressed! The venue was excellent – new, spacious, airy, rather posh, and it was easy to carry stuff to our setup. We had a pipe and drape backdrop, too, which made it easy to put up the banner and posters.
So much geekery! Lots of different comics dealers, lots of cosplayers, steampunk was very popular, as was Harley Quinn, and furries! There was a rabbit who was very interested in the hats, and seriously, next time I must take pictures. But I was busy with the booth, too. I started selling goggles immediately, and sold out of every pair before the end of the day, even the odd colors.
It was a very kid-friendly con – I appreciated that, as my kids were with me and got to walk around and see the sights a bit. But they were most interested in the booth directly in front of us – That Computer Store had a video game tournament featuring Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U! We've been thinking about maybe getting one for a family Christmas gift, and this was a great chance to admire it and try it out after the tournament.
I also did a bit of facepainting. I did a little cartoon Minion, and some of my fair paintings like the rose and the dragon, and Pikachu wearing Ash's hat, and a few others. I'm going to have to paint a new sign with chibi characters and cartoons, just so the moms will realize that I can, in fact, paint a Minion or a My Little Pony or Alphonse Elric reproduced 2” in diameter on their kids' face. Kids are awesome – they come right up and ask for some outrageous thing and the moms get this look like “there's no possible way that can be done with face paint, please ask for something easy.” But it can be done! I love doing those!
Joe thought there might have been upwards of 5,000 people there – I have no idea. I hardly left the booth – I usually don't. Of course I had to be there to paint faces... but the real reason is because I'm an introvert and a homebody at heart and if I have to be somewhere all day, I like to make a nice little home base and then STAY THERE in my safe zone. Because even crowds of the best people I've ever met are still crowds, and... eek. But everyone I saw was awesome, polite, enthusiastic about being there, and honestly I don't know what is going on at these conventions where harassment seems to be a thing? Every one I've been to in South Carolina – which is admittedly new at comic cons – has been wonderful and the people are the greatest. Maybe we're all just ridiculously polite, so accustomed to our “yes sirs,” and “no ma'ams,” and holding open doors for everyone that we just can't bring ourselves to destroy the homey, upbeat atmosphere with petty power struggles. Or maybe we just haven't had time to form cliques.
If you'd love to come to a con but you're concerned about getting harassed because you might be considered some kind of wrongfan, let me be the first to invite you to a South Carolina comic con. We have a ton of fandoms excited to share our previously-closet geekiness with you, even if you are a newbie or not quite the usual fan.
We featured Shandra Koger, creator of Lightning Prophetess, at my booth Saturday (and I still have prints and posters if you'd like to buy!) and she had quite a bit of interest in her art and characters.
We had a full day, packed up at 6:00 pm, went to our slightly disappointing hotel (next time, we're booking earlier and getting the good hotel!), and settled on the Palmetto Pig BBQ buffet for dinner – which was incredible. The hushpuppies, y'all. Yes, the barbecue was stellar, but it's rare that even the lowly hushpuppy is made with such perfection. The slaw was also quite excellent, and the sweet tea was positively candied. If you want authentic, very reasonably priced, all-you-can-eat barbecue and you happen to be within 30 miles of Columbia, you have to go there. Devine Street, you'll find it.
Drop a comment below if there's anything in particular you'd like to hear about next!
Back from Columbia and the first ever Soda City Comic Con! Achievement unlocked: escaped floodwaters!
I didn't see more than really huge puddles and overflowing storm drains, but that is probably because we got out before all the roads closed. Rainfall was a steady, unrelenting drizzle all day, and picked up considerably at night, with some nice scary gusts of wind for good measure. The hotel we were in did not fare so well – not one of the ones with the con rates – it started raining in the dining area so, no hot breakfast for us. Fortunately we weren't on the top floor, since that area wasn't faring so well either.
I kept up with Soda City Comic Con on Facebook and Twitter while Joe monitored the news, and we sat tight until we were clear to head to the convention center. The Metropolitan Convention Center is in a good high spot, evidently, and I figured we were better off there than the hotel! I half expected it to become an evacuation shelter. And really, what is there to do other than make the best of things (and not scare the kids). The weather may be grim, but I wouldn't give it the satisfaction of admitting it.
So we set up just like everything was normal, walked around the other vendors' displays, bought a few things, played video games, and kept a surreptitious eye on the news. A high point was when the National Guard helicopters visited the parking lot next to us – all the boys heard the chopper and raced for the door to see it. That was about two or two-thirty, a few minutes before the con officially announced closing.
The con organizers had been hopeful that the weather would clear and hours could be extended, but then Columbia announced a city-wide curfew of 6 o'clock and that highways were being closed. So we heard over the speaker that Soda City Comic Con would end at two-thirty, and packed up to go. I'd heard from con staff that there was no way to get back to Gray Court – that all westward bound entries to Highway 26 were closed down already. And at first, that seemed to be true. The ramp we'd come in on was shut down, and the next nearest as well. We were cruising through town, with no idea where we were apart from “Columbia” and “slightly uphill,” when we spotted a small sign for Highway 26 at an intersection. We glanced left and there seemed to be fewer cars coming back from that way than seemed to be coming back from the direction we were headed, so we made the left turn, went a ways, and miraculously got on the highway! We hardly dared breathe again until we were well out of the city.
Even then, we saw evidence of trees down, up 26 and after we got on 385, and we were stopped for about half an hour while one was cleared near Chapin.
After that, we made it safely back to the upstate, where the rain was just rain, and had dinner at El Tejano, which is a really great little place in Simpsonville that's Miss Chaos' favorite, even if all she eats is chips, salsa, and a cheese quesadilla. Every time.
So today, I'm really thankful to be home. And my church is having a food drive, so I went through and about halved my pantry today to find things to send back there. Unfortunately I hadn't really stocked up during my last shopping trip since I knew we'd be gone for the weekend, so I only got one decent box together. But on the upside, there's quite a few packets of tuna, several extra canned tomatoes, and some soups bought by mistake that turned out to have wheat ingredients, and I added a can of coffee and some boxes of tea, and a gallon of water I'd been saving.
Lots of places are organizing food drives – I hear Harvest Hope is nearly out, so Borderlands Comics and Games is getting supplies together, and of course NewSpring Church is packing several truckloads, and the good people at Soda City Comic Con are helping at the Metropolitan Convention Center to receive and send out supplies from there. If you have nonperishable foods and bottled water to contribute, please do! Entire neighborhoods are under water, and with the sewers flooded, nobody is going to be drinking any water from the pipes. The lower half of the state is a mess.
Next post will be good stuff about the con's first day, which was stellar, and truly the bright redeeming feature of this past weekend.
Artist, writer, creator of stuff. I just want to build worlds for you to escape to.