art, comics, creativity, psychology, self care, spirituality

Another heat wave. Stationery, art, and metaphysics?

I’ve been largely offline for a couple of days, and that’s due to another heat wave passing through the area. When I associate the computer with work (or back pain…or ill health from being sedentary), it tends to cause me to find reasons not to be on the computer.

Over the long term, this is probably an important self-preservation skill, as regards my physical and mental well-being, but in the short term it means that things either go unlogged, or they get logged in hard copy, which is (understandably) harder to scan for content. Hyperlinks help.


If you don’t want to read about stationery, hop on down to the separator bar, below.

Right now I’m on page 115 of 160 in my journal, and have found myself wanting to finish it. After having tried a number of different brands, I found one I really like using: it’s an 80-leaf A5 Kokuyo Soft Ring notebook. The squishable spine (allowing one to lay their hand flat on the pages) may be a gimmick, but it’s a nice one.

This notebook is very good at avoiding bleedthrough of fountain pen ink, the words on the other side of the page don’t show through to a distracting degree, the paper feels nice under fountain pens (I say this even though my first fountain pen [a Pilot Metropolitan] is still my favorite one), and 80 leaves at an A5 size means that the page divisions suit the length of time I can tolerate writing (clearly) by hand.

The one thing I don’t like about this notebook is that my Pilot Iroshizuku inks tend to smear even after they have dried. I am not certain why this is, but I think it has to do with a coating on the pages.

I’ve also found that the one Noodler’s ink I’m using (Black Swan in Australian Roses [BSAR]) has a hard time drying and needs to be blotted. It also doesn’t show the black tone of the ink very well in this notebook — BSAR’s black component (it’s pink with black overtones) shows up much better on cheaper paper — but this may be due to the formulation of the ink. I’ve had BSAR in a Broad Kaweco Sport for months, and it hasn’t dried out or needed to be refilled even with rare use, which I find curious. I’m not sure if it has to do with the quality of the seal on the Sport, or if it has to do with something in the ink preventing it from evaporating.

Also, though: Iroshizuku’s Yama-Budo competes directly with BSAR; they’re very minorly different in appearance, but apparently not so in formulation. Yama-Budo is, to my eye, a reddish purple; just a little more purple than BSAR. Yama-Budo also doesn’t have the weird drying-time issue, but BSAR might be more permanent if accidentally re-wet. (I’m not sure: haven’t done the test for myself, yet.)

Two other notebooks I enjoy using are the Maruman SeptCouleur and the Maruman Mnemosyne (although I’ve only tried writing in their dot grid layout, so far. I have purchased a lined version, but don’t yet know if I like it: there’s some possibly culturally-specific stuff going on with dividing a B5-size page up into thirds).

I’ve also tried Kyokuto (the Expedient and their F.O.B Coop), but I wouldn’t put anything too…important, in there. The Expedient has issues with bleedthrough of my fountain pens, although I do still really like the Expedient’s dot grid, which falls back enough visually not to worry me. Looking back on it, the Expedient performed well with gel pens (I was using it as a Bullet Journal in grad school) — it’s just not great with the fluid inks I’m using.

These are largely Pilot Iroshizuku inks, some Sailor Shikiori inks, and that one Noodler’s (BSAR), with the Shikiori and Noodler’s reserved for non-Pilot pens (sometimes Pilot pens are only recommended to be used with Pilot inks). I did try out Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts briefly, before I read/saw that it can gel up inside one’s pen. That didn’t happen to me, but 54th Massachusetts gave me problems with nib creep (on a Noodler’s Ahab, no less) and bleedthrough on my pages. (Nib creep is what happens when ink seeps out of the nib when you aren’t using it, and seems to want to cover the nib, of its own accord. I found weird buildup under the nib when I disassembled and cleaned the pen out. Later, I used the same pen with both Shikiori Souten and Nioi-Sumire inks. No issues.)

The F.O.B Coop notebook I have is a Cross-Grid layout, which is basically like a dot grid but with little + and × marks instead of dots. I wouldn’t recommend it except for broad, flex, and stub nibs; otherwise, the crosses distract (me) from the text. Combine that with the fact that I often can see the writing on the back of the page (though never a full bleedthrough, even when I accidentally dropped a bunch of Sailor Shikiori Yodaki ink onto the paper), and that for legibility I need to double-space on this paper (5mm spacing isn’t quite wide enough to give my eye space to rest between lines); and the situation gets a little busy and ugly for my tastes. (I don’t know, however, how this paper would fare if someone were writing in a language that uses a grid rather than lines. I can see the use for the extra crosses, for example, in learning how to write kanji.)

I much prefer the paper in the Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks (which, in my version, include tiny marks on the lines which give one a sense of space, somewhat like tab stops every 6mm) although I wonder what uses the Cross-Grid can be put to. For example, I could see the Cross-Grid being useful in modeling page layout. The pages really aren’t designed to be torn out for reproduction, however. Neither are the Kyokuto Expedient pages. The Kokuyo Soft Ring and the Maruman Septcouleur notebook pages do have tear lines; so do the Maruman Mnemosyne notebook pages.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into international stationery. Hmm.

Disclaimer: I bought all of these items with my own funds, I do not represent anyone but myself, and I am not materially gaining anything (no kickbacks, etc.) by writing this.


I’ve been working with a lot of paper. Particularly, journals (including an art journal and a sketchbook I recently decided to use again), books, and watercolor paper. I’ve been going through books focused around art on my bookshelf, which I initially intended to read, and didn’t get around to.

Today — well, yesterday, Sunday — I woke up at 5:30 AM after a few hours of sleep. I don’t entirely remember what I was doing, but I do know that for a portion of that time, I was drawing (because I have the drawings). If my memory is correct, I could have been going through the art books I mentioned, to try and glean what each was about…but I honestly don’t recall if I did that before or after I slept.

I’ve decided to just go ahead and mark these books up. Someone at Goodwill will appreciate them after I’m done (generally speaking, writing in a book greatly decreases its resale value).

The day before that — I think it was Saturday — I did complete painting out the vast majority of the Daniel Smith dot cards I got, however long ago. That was a chore. I probably should have stopped at some point, but I was like, “I only have one more card to go!” Same thing I do with books.

So, generally speaking, I’m succeeding in incorporating more things that I actually want to do, into my life. Making art, learning Japanese language, journaling, reading.

There have been issues coming up from my reading about learning to be stifled (to put it shortly), when creativity is an overall human trait. I’ve been thinking about the necessity of “play,” in, “art,” the freedom kids have in making art, how most of us lose that as we age; and how I’ve found artists and artwork to be generally undervalued. I’m wondering if this is because artists are expected to explain their worth and what they do in verbal language, to which the portion of the brain involved in creating art, has no access.

For that matter, a number of references have come up to learning, “the rules of art,” with one author (a social psychologist and artist) saying we’re better off if we don’t know them and hence aren’t restricted by them; while to others (this was likely an art critic and not an artist), art can’t even be art if no one interacts with it. So on one hand you’ve got Outsider Art, on the other…someone I don’t want to be like, but then there is the constant question of What Art Is, which is the title of a book on the philosophy of Art I picked up, quite a while ago.

I’m guessing I take what works, and leave the rest.

I’ve also begun to look into the books from the bibliography of Rethinking Information Work. They aren’t that great (without discarding 92% of what the book says because I either already know it or it doesn’t apply to me)…with the exception of Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been through decades of introspection and therapy and counseling. You kind of end up knowing yourself better than some random book that wasn’t intended for you, does.

And…yes. I know I want to learn Japanese language, and I know I want to create art. The two are likely linked in that I find fulfillment in creating and decoding texts, and Japanese language — in text — is partially ideographic, which may be triggering a part of my brain that hasn’t been used. (That is, when I write using kanji, I am also writing in pictures, not just sounds. The same could be said of my sketches, my past “comics,” and my art.)

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata are more like logic puzzles. They stimulate a part of my brain which is already very strong — my analytical and verbal skills. I am not sure if I would have chosen Librarianship as a career without the influence of my Vocational program, but I’m here now, and there are ways forward from this. One of these is Translation; one is Editing, one is Writing. And, of course, there are Library Technical Services, and/or working for a Library Vendor or Aggregator, or otherwise within the Publishing industry.

What I’m learning to do is compartmentalize the times when I deal with rules (as in my career), and the times when I know I can choose my own rules (as in my creating).

I haven’t scanned or photographed anything for a few days, but I’m learning not to become ashamed when my art is comic-style art (and hence to try and do things more realistically); or when my drawings don’t resemble reality. That’s possibly a good thing. It means I’m being inventive. It doesn’t mean I need to be different, to change who I am and what comes out of me, because other people have personal issues with the genres my style is associated with.

I’m not normally a person who deals in faith, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider an idea that could help me. One of those ideas is that I did not come into being in order to reify what I see around me. My creativity was not given to me so that I could copy my surroundings. I have something to contribute, even if finding it is akin to asking a fish to recognize water.

What I believe isn’t necessarily true. I see the validity in that statement by looking at everyone else and then finding my commonality with, “everyone else.” So there really isn’t harm, not now for me, at least, to try on the provisional belief that maybe I have a soul. Even if I can’t understand the workings of the universe with my primate brain, that doesn’t mean that things are as bad as they seem. I got here once. The Universe provided me with a life.

In a system I can’t control and don’t understand, maybe just trusting — myself, the Universe, and if there is anything Divine, the Divine — will help me through. At least, through this method of creation.

Could it hurt? I mean, with discernment: could it hurt?

art, comics, creative writing, drawing, illustration, self care, sequential art

The things that bring me joy…?

Today has been another day in which M has encouraged me to think about what I really want to do, regardless of whether it pays, or not. I feel…kind of silly for what my mind snapped to, first…but it might have to do with the ethnic identity stuff that I’ve only started to become really conscious of, within the last 5 years. I’ve just recently started diving back into Japanese language study, again. I feel silly because so much of it is so basic.

If I hadn’t left my first Undergraduate University to eventually major in Creative Writing…I most likely would have majored in Japanese Language and Literature: I had a start. I’ve realized recently that my primary interface with the rest of the world (outside of family) is text-based. Having Japanese language skills opens another door onto the world that I only have really had a taste of, in English. I’ve only seen what others have seen fit to carry over into English, or which English speakers have produced.

My main issue has been what I can do with Japanese Language and Literature, other than teach Japanese…or work in a place where my bilingual capacity would be needed and appreciated, like a Japanese food store (have you tried to read the cooking instructions on any all-Japanese packaging?) or tool shop, for example. Or, I could be a translator — although face-to-face translation might be difficult for me because of social issues (race, gender, etc.) combined with obviously not being an extrovert.

However…I’m seeing more openings for the possibility of bridging cultures, now. I’m extremely grateful for the influx of materials and culture from the middle and other side of the Pacific. It’s not out of the picture that sometime in my life, I may wish to travel or stay in one of those places. Not necessarily in Japan, but somewhere safe. Not crazy (like this place is, right now), but if I could find a place to settle in peace, it would be nice. Japanese language plus English would at least give me a couple of routes where I might be able to be literate and function, overseas.

I also believe that part of what I’m dealing with is influence from East Asia through my family and what of culture has filtered through to me in English; but not knowing in-depth any East Asian languages, and having my earliest cultural contact on my Japanese-American side being Nisei (second-generation) — meaning she was missing important information — I’m missing the representations of people who may be more like myself than I imagine, in their own words. Not that I have any pretensions of being especially Japanese-from-Japan.

I know I have been raised in California. My cultural background is thus, hybrid. But there is a lot that has been passed down to me through family, and some things (like how to tie an obi) that haven’t been.

I believe I rejected wearing a maru obi at a young age because it restricted my movement. (Rage at constricting, restricting, and unnecessarily revealing clothing, has been a theme throughout my life.) Of course, the other Japanese-American kids at school probably knew I was half-dressed when I wore kimono to school improperly. My family — my nuclear family — however, seriously didn’t know better, and I suspect that my grandmother not letting me know how important an obi was, was based in passive aggression. (There were race tensions.)

In any case, I still don’t know how to properly wear a yukata (most kimono available here are either yukata [cotton summer kimono], or vintage formalwear) although I have acquired a book on it. Something like a haori or hippari (both are kinds of jackets) would be of more use here, though. Particularly, a hippari: the culture is too casual for something like a formal black haori, unless we’re going to a play or something.

On top of having so many gaps in my knowledge of family (and my own) background, is my awareness that the society I live in now isn’t the best society in the world, just because I happen to live in it. (As well, I’m aware that my ethnic background isn’t the best thing in existence, just because it’s mine…and that my beliefs aren’t necessarily true, just because they’re mine.) So…I see ideas from elsewhere, and I get curious.

It’s nice to see something different! That may be an American appreciation of diversity talking, but it’s one of the things about metropolitan American culture in which I find value.

I had to stop this post a couple of hours ago because I was getting into how I might use the skill to support myself, and totally lost interest in this entry. To be brief: book translation. To move on…?

Earliest loves. First loves.

I still have an urge to make comics. I don’t know why. I don’t know if I’d still like it if I were doing it. My issue is that…a lot of the things I feel, I feel very intensely, and so it’s hard to tone it down, sometimes. (Not toning it down, makes it difficult to sit with those feelings.) I also don’t have a lot of social interaction, which makes trying to describe social interactions as a method of explication, difficult. Third, there are a lot of potential pitfalls in the graphic novel genre.

It’s easier to communicate ideas; but there’s also the risk of creating stereotypes, which no one can (or, perhaps, should) live up to. Then you’ve got kids drawing their eyes in extra big to look like the characters, and it just…it shouldn’t be about the images.

We’re more than what we look like; what we look like doesn’t dictate who we are; and real people aren’t idealized sketches. Real people aren’t the hype; they aren’t the conglomeration of the perfect character design and the perfect voice and the perfect hair and the perfect clothes to suit a certain concept. The strength of the narrative isn’t even always about the individual characters, but it can be about how those characters interact, and the world they’re in, and what they co-create.

But…I should try getting back to this. I did just purchase an apparently Non-Photo-Blue mechanical pencil (this disappears on scanning, or can be selected out digitally), and a couple of fat Copic Multiliners for dense blacks. The reason to use the Copics rather than the Pitt Brush Pens (they seem to perform in parallel, from what little I’ve tried to do with them) is that I know that black Pitt ink (only black, so far as I know) does shift a little, under water. Copic, shouldn’t (none of my other Copic Multiliners, do) — but I haven’t tested the heavy ones, yet.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that I can work pencils, I can ink; but I still haven’t gotten to the point of putting in graphic shadows, or color/shading.

I do, as well, have both a tablet and Photoshop. Not that I really want to try and produce screentones in Photoshop (or Illustrator — and not that I’ll necessarily need to), but I’ve wanted to make comic art. It’s the reason I have both of these resources. Once I actually make some images to work with, I can get Illustrator, again…but right now, it’s superfluous. I’m not to the page-layout point yet. I’m still in the Concept Art/Design/Scriptwriting phase.

And that’s OK.

My major issue is going to be whether and how to work with color…though I could do monochrome or duochrome, easily…which could be interesting. If I get deep enough into it…huh. I have just found, really, that I might want to use earthtone watercolor, as versus Copic. The Warm Greys I see, aren’t really “warm” enough, for me…and Copics are too expensive to settle for something I don’t want.

Perhaps Ultramarine + Raw Umber? (Is that latter one, the right name I’m recalling?) The two colors together create a neutral grey shade, but lean a little left or right, and you get…chromatic greys. They can be beautiful, and with these you can tip the color balance warm or cool, depending on which pigment is stronger. (It is ironic that Ultramarine Blue — at least my French Ultramarine — would likely be “warmer” than Raw Umber, because it leans violet…but then you add in Burnt Umber, and man…! I’m not sure what it would do [Burnt Umber is an earth red, while Raw Umber is bluer with yellow tones], but I want to try it!)

{EDIT, 9-1-2020: I was thinking of Burnt Sienna as an earth red; Burnt Umber is a rather plain brown.}

(For that matter, if I’m using watercolor, I have an entire arsenal at my disposal…though maybe limiting my palette could be useful, in the beginning.)

I could then clean this up in Photoshop (which might be easier than trying to block in color, digitally).

As for anything else…I want to be reading more, so that I have things to write about.

Sequential art plus writing plus reading plus Japanese? Is that what I want to be doing?

(I did mean to get into the fact that I’m attracted to working with color for some reason, but I don’t know why, and haven’t been able to place the venue for its uses…)

It certainly sounds like this is what I want. Even though part of me thinks it sounds childish, just because I’ve wanted to make a, “comic,” since I was in 9th grade (at the latest).

And, I suppose, I should not be afraid of, “illustrative,” styling…I just have to remember that I wasn’t given the gift of creativity simply to replicate reality…

God. I have the materials, and the time, and the preparation, to do this (well, mostly)…

…and I have The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels, here! (Just in case I want to research how other people have done stuff…)

art, comics, sequential art

Digital Revolution

Earlier, I began this post noting that I hadn’t done any work on the comic today, but that I had realized that it was possible (and most likely, the closest solution) to edit the black, white, and midtone points of the image I uploaded last night, in order to achieve more gradation between black and light grey.

I knew how to do this in Photoshop (PS), but not in GIMP 2. I tried the latter earlier today; it wasn’t wholly satisfactory. Unfortunately, Photoshop and probably most of the people who use it, have a love/hate relationship right now, due to Adobe’s pricing schedule. That, in turn, is likely because Adobe has made itself indispensable and industry-standard in the Graphic Arts.

Yeah, kind of like Apple.

The light grey from my original scan, in particular, did not show up to full effect, and I even got some washing out of an area which obviously (to my eye) isn’t white. I wasn’t sure if this was something that needed to be tinkered with, within the scan program, or not…

Scan as saved in GIMP 2 — I can’t recall if I messed with it or not. I think, “not.”

…but as my alternative was to either hardcore tinker with the scanner software (which I will likely still do); to save the file in an alternate file format like .TIFF or .PNG (not .JPG, which is getting on my nerves, at this point, as I think it’s the source of the grittiness of my attempted edits); to purchase an artist-quality flatbed scanner; or to use a commercial scanning service; I started thinking of alternatives.

That actually did get me to unearth my digital tablet. It also got me to rediscover Adobe, much as it pains me to say. Here is the edited version, which I also shifted to grayscale (the above is color):

The above image as edited in PS CC, with a focus on the range in the Holbein watercolor.

…which is closer to, if a little darker than, the original. I think it does look a bit different from within Photoshop than in my current browser (and especially from within the Edit window on WordPress, within the same browser — I know WP has, at least, used compressed image renditions in here, before)…but hey, I’m not being surgical with this, right now. I’ll see what it looks like, after it goes live…

What I had heard a long time ago is that scanners are more sensitive to differences in color than our eyes, so scanned artwork often shows a lot of flaws when it is rendered back into visual format. I’m not sure if that’s true; if it were, then this begs the question of why I can tell the many different shades of dark grey and light grey that my scanner couldn’t (and which Photoshop apparently still can’t — if the input is bad, I wouldn’t bet on improving it [or GIGO, as we would say in Digital Archives: Garbage In, Garbage Out]). This may in large part be due, however, to programmed-in biases which assume I’m scanning black-on-white text, not image.

So…I know the apparent solution to this. The apparent solution is to color the lineart digitally. Not that I want to…but my lineart looks freakin’ awesome in both Photoshop and Illustrator, even at relatively low resolution. Really, my biggest question is to what extent I can use or will need vector graphics in order to place color fills (or if I’ll be able to do something with a superficially similar effect, using my tablet). It’s not going to be great to have to re-learn how to use Adobe tools…but it will probably make my life easier, in the long run.

I still haven’t decided on whether to use the Ben-Day dots, yet (otherwise known as screentones or halftones). DELETER used to (and still does, actually) make a bunch of hard-copy black-on-clear screentones which were already sticky on the back: you stick them down, burnish them, then slice out what isn’t meant to be in the image, with a razor blade or X-Acto. They’re really fun to work with; unfortunately, for anyone doing anything of size, they’re also relatively expensive. What isn’t expensive (per-use, at least) is replicating the effect digitally; it’s just…complicated. At least, to learn.

And — yeah, I am glad I didn’t get rid of my digital drawing tablet, right now. It’s another peripheral to plug in, though, another bit of software to have loaded; which doesn’t make me comfortable. The more stuff I have on here, the more can go wrong. At least it’s not my ancient tablet (though that one did have tilt recognition; this one doesn’t), but I wanted to try out something small before committing to an expensive tablet that I might not use. (My old tablet has been physically biodegrading for a number of years, but that’s an aside.)

Right now, I have a very short-term commitment to Adobe. I won’t need all the programs I have access to: in particular, I can only see three that might be useful to me in this current project: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign (as a note to myself). That’s unless I went the route of webcomics — which could happen if I wanted to use color, or wanted to have a global distribution. Dreamweaver would help with that. Granted, I also hear Dreamweaver at least did insert a lot of extraneous code — but that was in 2007, before Adobe Creative Cloud (the current incarnation of all the above programs) even existed.

Of course, I know a bit of how HTML and CSS (and scripting) work, at this point; it’s possible I could edit that code to make it more streamlined. (I also have a huge book on PHP and JavaScript, that I got discouraged from reading. I blame my college introductory class on scripting. And having to do mathematical proofs in Honors Math.) It might be worth it to at least see what languages Dreamweaver can produce. Though — I don’t think I’d go live with this, anytime soon. (I ended up taking down my ePortfolio site, because playing around in the shallow end of the pool isn’t like swimming in the ocean. However…building something and not releasing it to the wild, immediately [until it’s ready] — that’s an interesting proposition.)

Anyhow…apparently, black-on-white lineart is still something I can do by hand (and enjoy doing by hand), though I still haven’t tried anything substantial with the dip pens — given that I only recently figured out how to prepare them en masse. (Prior, I was concerned about melting and bending the tips of my plier jaws with heat from open flame [it has happened]…which put me off of the dip nibs until I found my Third Hand again [it’s a weighted base with steel jaws and a magnifier — comes into heavy use when brazing or hard soldering], and then later, the potato method.) It will take me a bit of time to get back up to speed with Adobe…but then, those will also be salable job skills!

I also have a connection who may be able to help teach me how to do color fills…I came across her name and email, while sorting through old slips of paper. I think she’s connected to me on Social Media, too. Could be worth reaching out?

art, art media, comics, illustration

Ink and nib testing.

Well, I did it. I went out and got some more Illustration paper, this time with Non-Repro-Blue lines (also called Non-Photo Blue, as they aren’t — or, weren’t — supposed to show up in scans, though with modern scanners, who knows); and Canson Bristol (Vellum) — the latter of which is supposed to be better for the use of watercolors in illustration. I also used the raw potato method to successfully eat off the lacquer coating on the outside of the Tachikawa nibs I recently obtained (a sampler set of 5) — though I also have a mirror-like Nikko set of 5 to which I can compare them.

Apparently, you just stick the nib into the potato past the cutout portion and let it sit there for 15 minutes. Longer than 15, and the Internet states that the nibs will start to rust.

I gave them a quick rinse and dry, each, then got to work. I tested the following nibs in this session:

Copic Multiliners are very precise, with little line variation.
  • Brause Blue Pumpkin nib
  • Tachikawa:
    • Spoon nib
    • Japanese nib
    • G nib
    • School nib
    • Mapping nib (hard)

I then tested these nibs out by writing and drawing on Illustration paper, with four different inks:

  • Blick Black Cat Waterproof India Ink
  • Tachikawa Jet Black ink
  • Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay Black India Ink
  • Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star Hi-Carb India Ink

…though I quickly surmised that of the nibs I had, I could see the most use out of the Blue Pumpkin nib, the G nib (both of which have relatively high ink capacity and relatively heavy, easily expressive line) and the Mapping nib (which has a low ink capacity and is on par — almost — with my Copic Multiliner 0.05, which is one size above the tiniest they make [which is 0.03]). The major difference between the Mapping nib and the fine Multiliners is the fact that you get much less line variation with the Multiliners. There isn’t much variation in the Mapping nib, either — but it’s noticeably there, in comparison. The Mapping nib is also subtly thicker when pressure is applied, in order to get that effect.

Out of all of these, I feel that the Black Cat and the Bombay inks allow the most easily expressive lines (though Tachikawa ink is good as well, particularly for me, with the G nib), though after the first go-round with all 6 nibs, I did just start using the Pumpkin, G, and Mapping nibs. The Black Star Hi-Carb ink would be great…but it’s thick, and still rather glossy, even after drying.

It also dries very quickly, and is difficult to remove from nibs with water, paper towel and Q-Tip, and rubbing. (Yes, I know that I can accidentally work-harden spring steel [making it brittle] by rubbing it. I didn’t want to give these a dunk in pen cleaner, though.) I also cannot really think of a good way to clean stuck-on, dried ink out of the inside of the (hollow) Mapping nib, without using pen cleaner, or one of those cone-shaped brushes you use to get food and debris out from within tooth gaps. Which…now that I mention it, is a good idea.

Because of the difficult cleanup, and the fact that the Bombay performed just as well, if not better than the Hi-Carb, I’d lean away from the Black Star and towards the Bombay (which has also been easier to source, for me). The drawback to both is needing to dispense the ink through an (included) eyedropper, onto the nib.

The Tachikawa ink was just as black and bold in the G and Pumpkin nibs, but its bottle has a much larger mouth and lower ink level, which makes it easier to dip the pen in there without dirtying the nib holder. It also dries matte, not glossy. The drawback to the Tachikawa Jet Black ink is that it’s not easy to find, though it can be sourced online.

Again, the major drawback of the Blick Black Cat ink is its lack of viscosity; it runs off the nib quickly (and also dries very quickly), meaning you have to reload it more often than any of the rest of these — though it may be on par with the Bombay ink, here. The upshot of Black Cat is that it’s easy to find and it comes in potentially huge quantities (I think I have a quart, which I’ve dispensed into a tiny watertight screw-top jar to dip into [I had to buy this, separately]). I can also dilute it and use it for tonal washes over the top of dried ink lineart, which is a nice bonus.

There are some issues with unevenness of tone with the Black Cat in my last test, however, which could be due to a number of things: too much water in the brush; not having let the paper absorb water first (to paint wet-on-wet instead of wet-on-dry); using a cheap synthetic brush instead of a natural-fiber one or a “thirsty” synthetic that doesn’t dump out its color all at once (like the Princeton Neptune line — which I haven’t yet tried, though I will); or the unevenness could be considerably attributed to the paper quality (and absorbency) itself.

The good part of having tested these four inks above, however, is that I now know that they are all waterproof after a relatively short time (what felt like less than an hour). I went over my tests with clear water, and then various black wet media (all diluted to grey with water and painted wet-on-dry on Canson Fanboy Illustration paper, with an inexpensive flat synthetic brush):

  • Ecoline Black “liquid watercolor”
  • Yasutomo Sumi Ink
  • Blick Black Cat Waterproof India Ink
  • Holbein (HWC) Lamp Black watercolor (tube)
  • Winsor & Newton (W&N) Mars Black watercolor (tube)
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi fountain pen ink
Sample swatch with colors in the same order as listed above.
Drawing Ink: Black Star Hi-Carb. Nib: Brause Blue Pumpkin (Steno 361).

I’m going to have to do some more experimenting with these colorants, as I had significant issues with uneven water flow as the media dried. This was most pronounced with the Yasutomo Sumi ink, the Blick Black Cat, the Holbein Lamp Black, the W&N Mars Black.

This majorly leaves the Ecoline and the Pilot Take-Sumi (first and last color, above), which both lean relatively blue…and may be dyes, not pigments. I know that the Pilot ink should not be water-resistant. I’m not sure about the Ecoline, yet: I still have yet to go over a painted area with a wet brush to try to lift or dissolve the grey.

On top of this, the Ecoline and the Take-Sumi, are both pretty much transparent. As for whether they’re archival…I don’t know. That would take some long-term testing, to figure out.

As I look at this, the Ecoline (with my current screen settings) looks most true-to-life, without adjusting the color using an image editor. The Ecoline also promises a better way to get consistent coloration between print and digital, as it is dispensed drop by drop. Watercolors, on the other hand…are much harder to predict.

This scan missed a lot of subtleties in the original image, particularly dark but non-black tones, and light tones.

What I will say is that I eventually got my smoothest color laydown in this batch of trials with the Holbein Lamp Black, once I had gone through one pass with my paintbrush, then re-wet the bristles and painted back onto the paper. I’ve got to remember that. I’m not sure why it’s less textured than the W&N Mars Black, especially as Holbein watercolors are formulated to hold brushstrokes; I just know I got the flattest color dispersion, here. To me, that’s something I’m presently aiming for.

However: I had only tested the two watercolors (at the time of this post).

Increased visibility + increased texture with Dodge & Burn.

I am surprised that the light grey of the HWC wasn’t fully picked up by the scanner. Using the Dodge & Burn tool in GIMP 2 did make the grey a bit more visible, but also increased graininess in the image. I can only use it very sparingly without seeing a bunch of digital artifacts.

The other thing I can say is that all four of the inks which I made lines with, initially repelled pretty much all of the colorants I put on top of them. That’s likely due to the fact that they’re waterproof. However, the glows around the lines self-resolved prior to drying, for most samples; with the Black Cat and the Tachikawa Jet Black inks faring the worst in the long run.

Updates intended to come to the blog (not all in this post):

  • Painting wet-on-dry with various colorant media on Fanboy Illustration paper
  • Painting wet-on-wet with same
  • Testing water-resistance/liftability of different colorants on Illustration paper
  • Experimenting with “thirstier” and natural-hair brushes — is there an improvement?
  • Preparing and testing other nibs (Nikko, Speedball, any other Brause, etc.)
  • Testing archival qualities of all six colorants (should take a while)
  • Testing Canson Vellum Bristol Board
  • Testing Strathmore Bristol Board
  • Testing watercolor papers with pen & ink…

I’m not getting any kickbacks or compensation for doing any of this. It just interests me.

art, career, comics, creative writing, illustration

So scripts are easier to write than prose

…At least, so far. I have three solid pages of comic scripting to lean on in my drawing practice, and I’m very glad that I drafted out the core synopsis — though now I realize how limited it is. I’m wondering if working back and forth between image and text will help develop the story…my intuition says yes.

The major issue I’m having with the script is narration: lots of narration. (I’m very proficient at revealing story and character through monologue.) However, there are other ways to convey the same information. The thing about scripting, though, is that it’s minimalistic; so I didn’t have to craft a bunch of flowery prose for what is basically the next step up from an outline.

Working between image cues and words…I might be able to turn some words into images, or convey what the words convey, visually. What I’m getting at may not be really making a lot of sense right now, but please give me some leeway — it’s 1 AM here.

I’ve decided to keep some violence in this version, even though I’m not a fan of violence. Without it…the story feels like it’s a bit fluffy and seeking goodwill from the majority by downplaying the consequences of being different. With it, however, it’s solidly geared towards an adult audience, though I have at least two characters of complicated gender, now. That stuff didn’t really come into its own here, except within the last 20 years. (I do know, however, at least two seniors of complicated gender.)

I have actually finished reading the book I mentioned before, on getting published: this was The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman. There is a ton of information in this book, though I would say it probably is geared toward an English-speaking U.S. audience (and of that audience, particularly New Yorkers). I haven’t checked out all the leads in it personally, though (for one thing, there are too many to do so in such a short time), so I can’t be sure.

That book, however, led me to What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, & Business of Book Editing, edited by Peter Ginna, which looks like it will be pretty interesting. It is basically an anthology in which the writers are Editors, and gives a window into what being an Editor could be like (with the caveat that these roles are wildly varied). I’m not far into it, yet.

Now that I mention that…I think I’ll read some more before sleeping, and plan on doing some illustration work for tomorrow. Working intensively with text really makes me want to break out of it some way, and it could be the thing to spur me on to getting back to my artwork…

Business, career, comics, LIS

Expansion and direction: reading, writing, and editing

Over the last several days, I’ve been reading a lot. Surprisingly much. Because of this, I haven’t been really in a mental state to write. There’s a difference between being in an absorptive state and a creative or responsive state, for me.

Since getting a handle on a cluster of related skills to reinforce (and these in relation to reading, writing, language, and books), I’ve been researching a number of different ways to make ends meet, if it turns out that Librarianship isn’t something I want to — or healthily can — do full time.

In part because I have an Undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I have experience which would prepare me for work as an Editor in the Publishing sector. I also have direct experience in writing as an art form (though yes, the majority of this is prose), which would help me publish as a writer in my own right.

The rest of my qualifications rest on what caused me to get the Creative Writing (CW) degree, in the first place — which existed long before I obtained the BA. It goes back to having been an AP English student (which allowed me to skip my basic English class in undergrad, as I had taken the AP test and gotten college credit), and prior to then, having had my aptitude for sensitive description noted by my 5th-grade teacher (which I remembered before I became a CW major).

If I worked in Editing, and/or Librarianship, and/or as a Writer, I could cobble together the means for a livelihood (as I’ve heard is normal for creative types) — even if two out of the three of those (Editing and Writing) were freelance. Librarianship could give me, essentially, a source of steady income and health/vision/dental benefits. Not to mention that Library skills make one good at research; and reading widely, plus knowledge of commercial markets and brand positioning, help with all of these.

Also: getting an MFA would likely open some doors for me in both Publishing and Teaching. Do I want to do it? Certainly so, if money (and time) were not an object.

I haven’t put all of this together, yet, but I’m a bit concerned I may forget about what I’ve been doing over the last several days, if I don’t record it, somewhere.

As an aside, I did find this article from LitHub on how to choose a medium for one’s story. Unfortunately, the amount of material on how to actually tell which medium to start out with, prior to having started, is sparse. And…essentially, difficult to gauge, without experience. As well — the author of the LitHub article wrote scripts for comics; I don’t know if he illustrated them (though his bio says that he at least had been a cartoonist).

I’ve just looked back at what I wrote as a bare-bones introduction to my script, and it really isn’t a big deal to convert it to what would likely read as paranormal fiction. (I must admit, though: I still need to do research on what distinguishes “literature” from “genre fiction.”) I mean, what I wrote isn’t a lot: it’s condensed and not meant to be fleshed out, at this point.

What I did realize, though, last night — was the fact that I could run tangential or side-stories as comics, and the main body of work as prose. I’ve seen some Young Adult (YA) material, existent both as graphic novels and as prose, work like this (though possibly not precisely like what I’m thinking of).

What I’m thinking of, specifically, is the Full Metal Panic! series. Of course, FMP!, as I first heard of it in the U.S., was known for making constant insider Japanese pop-culture references which I doubt would have translated well. Nor have I gone to the effort to read any of the novels. I just know they exist.

There are a couple of other YA series which I know also exist in comic + prose formats. One is Warriors; the other is Maximum Ride. It seems there should be another James Patterson novel + manga series I’m thinking of; is it Daniel X? Hmm. Possibly.

Anyhow…I know I want to get into comics, but I am also thinking that I should aim for a project that’s small and able to be accomplished with limited skills — at least, at first. It’s been a really long time since I’ve made comics, though as a kid I drew my stories out obsessively. (This was before they became long and complex enough to merit MS Word documents.) I do still have copies of this work: on floppy disk! (I also still remember what it was like to try and edit a novel-length document for consistency.)

Like I’ll find a computer that can read 3.5″ floppies and old Word files. Gah.

Anyway, it likely wasn’t even that good, considering I was probably around 17 years old when I wrote it. Not to rag on young people (I know Eragon was written by a teen) — but I wasn’t that good.

The biggest step I could take towards any of these goals is to keep on writing and reading. If I can find an inlet into the Publishing world, it would get me in there sooner, and without incurring an extra $22,000 in debt that I would have to expect, should I go for the MFA.

The fact is, though: I have chosen library work as a primary career option, which at least theoretically should enable me to be exposed to the works I need to be reading. If, that is, I can tell which they are. That in itself is not necessarily easy; Reader’s Advisory is something else I wasn’t really taught about in Library School. As well, the organization of fiction in most libraries, leaves something to be desired. I do have sources to look at, though, which should be able to help me navigate that.

I should also note that I may not want to go for an MFA to get into the Editing or Publishing businesses, without first having had some experience in the field (which may negate the need for extra formal training, or show me if I really don’t want the job[s]). I made that mistake with Librarianship: getting the degree before the practical experience, so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the degree.

I am also, however, in a position where I may in the relatively near future, be able to run Creative Writing groups (giving me Teaching experience), or network with co-workers and find people who are already established Editors. If I network, I might be able to find someone to take me on as an Assistant Editor, which is basically an apprenticeship position from which I could step up to being an Editor at a Publishing House (or online; and/or freelance).

So…yes. I need to be writing, reading, and looking at jobs in Publishing.

That’s clear to me, now.

And it’s probably faster and more efficient, to network. But I feel like I have to get my knowledge together, first…like understanding the difference between a Copy Editor and a Developmental Editor; fiscal and other pressures on the Publishing industry; knowing just how much reading an Editor needs to do. Things of that nature…

art, art media, comics, creativity, sequential art, writing

Getting back to where I was before

Not to reference a certain transphobic Beatles song, but I’ve decided recently to try and do what I want to do (within limits), rather than…abandoning my former line of practice.

Specifically: I’m planning on giving Illustration another shot, and picked up a number of dip pen nibs that I have never used before. They’re Japanese ([Nikko, Tachikawa] with a couple of Brause nibs [which I think are German]), so they will likely perform differently than my Speedball nibs (I believe Speedball is a U.S. company). I also found Tachikawa dip-pen ink for sale. All of this stuff, I can test out. It will be interesting.

I haven’t yet gotten back to working on my script or in my Creative Writing journal, though I can; likely, should. The tension between doing sequential art and doing literature had basically stopped me. Too many possibilities?

On top of that, there’s that whole thing where I get intimidated away from being creative, even though that’s really something I — at least think I do — well. But right now, I’m feeling the graphic novel thing again. I’m going to try and work on the script. EVEN IF that means I end up having to use transparent inks, a.k.a. “liquid watercolors”. They aren’t my favorite medium, but they’re guaranteed to be transparent (as versus FW Acrylic Inks — not to mention regular watercolors — which may not be entirely transparent, depending on the pigments used).

On that note, I should see how they perform on Bristol board or Mixed Media paper. I still haven’t broken into my Arches, but I did get a mechanical pencil which should enable me to erase my underdrawings, pretty well. I realized a short time ago that even though regular pencils had been on the outs with me, I did appreciate drawing with mechanical pencils, because of their erasability. Right now I am still working on a backstock of Pentel Hi-Polymer Lead, that I obtained in High School. It erases easily, but smudges. I guess I’ll just have to see if it also degrades over time.

The Tachikawa ink is also supposed to be good at not fading under erasers, and being waterproof. A while back I got an eraser sampler, but to date, have only used one of them. I’ll get to try out the rest, fairly soon.

As for reading…well, I found an interesting book at the library that talks about the Publishing Industry and what authors need to know to increase their chances of being published. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily include indy comix artists…I’ll have to start reading (and studying) comics, too. I’m not familiar enough with the field, or with page composition — especially, page composition using English language. (Manga, in their native languages, can have vertical or horizontal alignment of the words, which make the pages flow differently.)

And…yes, I do realize that comic authorship is going to be more of a challenge for me, than literature. But I think I can handle it. The main issue seems to be…what I’m motivated to do, rather than what’s easy; which is a familiar question. Overly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that this project is…such fantasy. And I can get lost in fantasy.

The fact is, though: I know myself much better now, than I used to.

There is also the fact that I don’t know how much I would like illustrating the conflicts in this story. There’s the Fine Art camp, where people are making things to bring beauty into the world; there’s the Literature camp, where people describe and work out conflicts in words. Conflict implies…well, disagreeableness. Literally.

But I guess in every project, there’s what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do. It is possible to just refer back to what happened in the backstory, without actually illustrating it. That…doesn’t seem like the strongest approach, though.

Eh. I’ll have to think on it. I may be able to work it out, somehow, through writing and editing the script.

And, I guess, in the meantime…it wouldn’t hurt to try to draw, again!

“You say whaaat? You’re considering making a graphic novel and you haven’t been drawing?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

I want to draw, but I don’t see a reason to aim for traditional subjects (flowers and plants, excepted — and this is for a reason I know). This might, at least, get me drawing, again…

I should also mention that I filled one of my fountain pens with Take-sumi (black) ink…and it has got me questioning whether I’d appreciate Platinum Carbon Black ink, in a pen. However…I’ve got to think on it. It might be just as well, or better, to invest in some Copic Multiliner SPs (these are the refillable ones with interchangeable nibs)…

art, comics, craft, creative writing, drawing, illustration, sequential art

Needing to focus…

“Focus,” that is, on which projects I want to work on, now. There is the issue of where to put my resources so as not to overwhelm myself. It wasn’t long ago that I was looking at embroidery (I still am)…and then at quilting and sewing. A helper at a quilt store nearby introduced me to English Paper Piecing (EPP), which I’ve been browsing about, tonight.

If I did work with EPP…I would either be using a trapezoidal (EDIT: wait, no, just quadrilateral) pattern I made up myself (though I’ve seen something like it [along with a bunch of other stuff] called “Whirligig” [“Whirlygig?”] online), or hexagons with trapezoid borders. The latter might be…well…more systematic and predictable. I know a place where I can get whole hexagonal pattern pieces and then cut them up to make a modularly-edited quilt. (Is that a term?)

The Whirligig pattern that I’m thinking of, by the way — if I’m remembering it correctly — is made of an origami-paper square which is folded so one corner meets the midpoint of the side it’s folding towards. Unfold it, then turn the paper 1/4 turn and fold the other three sides in the same manner, turning it in the same direction each time. When you unfold it, you’ll have a cross in the center of the paper marking the midlines (which you can ignore), and four other lines which — if you cut across all of them — will give you the pattern I have.

If you, instead, fold the paper so that the parallel lines touch (it helps to mark the midpoint on one side before going to fold the other), you’ll get a Whirligig without a center square. If you then arrange these symmetrically, you should get a repeating, borderless hourglass motif.

Right now when I look at my quilt square that I did — likely years ago (time flies when you’re not a kid anymore) — there’s a cross going by the interior borders, and a square in the center. So when these pieces are placed as I placed them, you get a lozenge border contrasting with an hourglass border — I think (depending on color placement and where you focus; it’s easier to visualize with the little colored paper pieces here) — which are filled in with solid blocks.

Of course…it’s easier to envision when you have the pattern pieces in front of you. I don’t have the original pattern next to me right now. I had to go and get a paper to fold so that I could report accurately what I did. Something in me remembers, but it’s not the part of me that is good at writing. :)

But I’m curious as to whether I should do this project, now, just because it’s mine. I do have plastic sheeting to make templates (from the paper prototypes). I got it for this. I just left off of the project, I think, because of the whole demand for precision (flatness requires precision) and the question as to why I was hand-quilting it instead of machine-quilting it. (There are lots of straight lines.) I’d either have to mark or eyeball a lot of pieces…whereas if I were machine-piecing this, I’d have a built-in guide in the plate below the needle.

The helper at the quilt store encouraged me to make a pillow cover as a starter project. I can, seriously, do a pillow cover. I can do lots of friggen’ pillow covers. In different colors, for different moods. :)

I guess I can also make pillows.

So, then, there is also the issue of embroidery. I picked up some more stuff for it, thinking that I’d use a new book I’ve bought (Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches), which…I haven’t used, so far. I’ve been flipping through it, a lot. But this…from what I can see, it’s a serious embroidery book. So when I’ve just relatively recently taught myself how to do Feather Stitch (which required deciphering what each pierce of the needle and wrap of thread would do), it can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I was able to find some more beginner-level stuff at the Library, one of which includes a pattern for a needle case. Which…I could use.

So we have that.

Otherwise, what am I working on? There’s the ‘zine thing, and the development for it. I’m probably still waiting to get back around to scanning, optimizing, and uploading my images of those tests with the black drawing inks, and the Ecoline “watercolors”. However…what I’ve learned is that bottled dip-pen drawing inks labeled “India Ink” are more likely to be waterproof. Just as a blanket statement. I am not entirely sure why; I just observed it as a pattern.

I’ve also really got to see whether I can use a dip pen on Marker paper (I’m thinking more along terms of Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker or Borden & Riley Layout [which is translucent], as versus Aqua Bee or Deleter paper [which is opaque; and that is if the Bee paper I’m speaking of is even still made]), or if I’ll need to use fineliners for the lineart, and markers otherwise. This matters because if the paper can take liquid media and dip pen, I can use everything I’ve got: ink and brush, pens, watercolor, etc. If it can’t, I’m limited to markers and fineliners (the latter of which I would also, actually, consider a type of marker).

The alternative is to work the art out entirely on a wet media paper: something like a smooth Bristol, or hot-press Watercolor paper, being my first thoughts, though “Mixed Media” paper might also be okay. I need to test it out. I should also remember that as long as the drawing is to scale, I can always digitally shrink it to fit (though the lines will also shrink).

A night or two ago, as well, I made a prototype model of the book binding I might be using. It kind of matters to know this, so I can size the images correctly as I make them. Right now I’m aiming for a 5″x7″ booklet, which opens up to 9.5″x7″. Since I don’t yet know how to bookbind with an awl and needle yet, it may (unfortunately) end up being stapled. But that assumes that I won’t learn the skill. (I do think I have cork board around here…)

There’s also the possibility of not worrying about the image alignment and sewing the volumes the normal way (Coptic binding?), which might be easier. Because of this, I’m going to want to print across all 5″ of each page (to give me leeway if I change my methods). It’s just that no critical data can go in the inner 1/4″, next to the spine. And the page order will take some rearranging, if I go the Coptic route. I can’t remember how many pages a “magazine” (a internal section) in Coptic binding is supposed to hold, but I can look it up. (Ah: 8, 16, or 32 pages.)

And then we also have…that script I’m working on, which is somewhat fun, even if somewhat disturbing. When I get into a flow state, though, it’s really easy. Editing the script and composing the images, will be different.

I kind of think that’s enough on my plate, for now.

art, Business, career, comics, creative writing, self care, work

I have more, and different, things to give than this.

I did finally take the leap today and started writing out a script for the story that has been gnawing at me since my young adulthood. Although it took a while to ripen (I had to get sufficient life experience to be able to write, contextualize, and understand the story)…the current story is, well, interesting. Though I probably overuse that term.

I can skip around in the story’s timeline, to tell it more quickly. At this rate, I’m not sure what I’ll have left to clarify, before long; then, I can work on fleshing it out if it needs it. (I was taught not to include extraneous details, a form of minimalism which I didn’t understand for a long time. I used it to good effect in my plot summary, though.) However, as I’ve said, this is a finite story with an ending. I’m not going to run a series on until it stops selling — sales aren’t the point. Experience; practice; and getting it out of my head, onto paper, and shared; are.

I’ve also found the difference in definition between, “comics,” and, “comix.” I’d be in good company if I really…utilized my creative freedom in a ‘zine format.

I’ve started to remember that I do have a personal life, ambitions, and goals, outside of my employment…which I need to hold onto. I’m not worthless without my job. I’ve just had so much anxiety recently, though — largely from taking work issues home with me, the stress of being on-call, and learning to drive — that I’ve needed to step back.

If this doesn’t work out…the job search will start again, and I will likely want to find a job in between the end of the last and the beginning of the next library stint. However…well, I know that the job I’m thinking of may be highly difficult for me, as it’s customer-service oriented. Because customer service is what I’m struggling with right now (that is, emotional labor coming from being seen and related to and expected to be and react as a “girl”), it might not be a good fit (unless I want to take a low-paying job where I can practice those skills, which will apply in any public-facing job in a Library. Of course…I’d prefer a job which was not public-facing. At least I feel that way, now).

The major difference between working for a private company and working as a Public Servant, is that in a private company, I can say, “no, I’m not going to serve you.” That’s harder when you work as a public employee, and have to tolerate some level of inappropriateness.

The upshot of said Clerk job is that I’ll make new connections, and be around artists and art materials — something I desire. Of course…my own background is more eclectic than not. I’m not an artist who has been able to devote a life to art…wait, unless you consider writing an art. Literary Arts, I guess I have been involved in for quite a while. I got a Bachelor’s in that stuff (though that wasn’t the name of my degree). Also, an Associate’s in Art; so…hmm.

What I meant is that I haven’t had the money or inclination to go to “Art School”. I mean, I’ve wanted to. Particularly recently (within the last decade), I did find at least one place giving an MFA in Comics. I have just known that dropping money on an Art degree like it’s nothing, hasn’t been a financially sound decision. But then, majoring in Creative Writing also wasn’t a good financial decision. I just didn’t know that when I got into it.

But hey. I have two AAs, a BA, and a MLIS…which isn’t a bad track record. It should prove to people that I can get through College and University, at least; and also that I can learn, and that I know how to learn. I can also work with technology. Even as much as I don’t want to, sometimes, it’s nice to be able to fix things (and understand what I can of how things work). It’s just that getting to the point of capability with that requires blood, sweat, and tears; and to be honest, I have only scratched the surface of dealing with this. I just haven’t wanted to look forward to a lifetime of learning new technologies in order to remain viable.

So getting back into Scriptwriting and Arts and Crafts…has really been good for me, in that I know that I don’t have to fall back on my Library work for the rest of my life. I was actually talking with another person about this recently (she volunteered the sentiment — possibly because she saw that I was entertaining the thought of eventually taking on the ongoing operation of a library Art display. It would be a Volunteer position, but that could still hold me over if I had to switch jobs and then re-enter the job market with little or no paid work). I think the other Substitutes know how hard it is to be in my position. It is a small comfort.

I also have the skill of journaling — I was able to get five pages of writing out today as to what was going on with work, and why I was feeling the way I was (to put it succinctly, I was upset very recently). That way, it’s recorded, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.

It’s nice to be able to do that with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Writing has been a very useful skill for me, over the years. Even when it has shown me things I would rather not see.

Regardless, though: it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get on top of new job openings; and I know I can be more than a retail Clerk. Kind of like I might be able to do more than become a Public Librarian (though the pay scales and levels of appreciation probably can’t even be compared). The MLIS introduced me to a lot of skills which I don’t necessarily have to use here. It might be useful to look back through the classes I did take, and their applicability within or outside the Library world.

It also might be useful to get back into a Business program. But I’ll get to that if and when I come to it. It could be useful if I wanted to help a Small Business, like a bead or fabric store. Though at this point, they may eventually want to put me into Management. Right now, I wouldn’t turn it down; I have enough experience working lower-level jobs and seeing both good and not-great Management in action that, if the pay is right, I might be moved to do it. Before I left my last job (of 9 years) as an Aide, I did realize that I could become a Circulation Manager — if I wanted to be one — because I knew about optimal workflow (and about who wasn’t doing their job). But being in that position isn’t easy — the difficult cases get referred to you.

But again…that’s only if things come to that. In the meantime, I should try and, well, feel better, and not assume that this job is the only job I’ll ever get, or that it’s the end of the world if I lose it. That’s not a great bargaining position.

And I’m more than that. I have more to give, than that.

art, comics, creative writing, illustration, self care, self-publishing, sequential art

‘Zine dreams

Well…let’s see. We’re still rearranging the house. Bright spot: I may now have an area (extra desk, cart, and space) I can use for sewing. Somewhat-uncomfortable spot: I think a lizard may have gotten in. Not that they’re terrible or anything, but all they do is die…

I’m not sure that’s the best way to start a post, but you know. Best not to forget about the lizard. Last I saw it, it may have run behind the TV–!!

Right now…I do just kind of wonder whether I had a surplus of free time for so long that I’ve just been able to develop a number of different skills. I am thinking that if I were working on a different timetable…if I had to support myself, that is, I wouldn’t have had time to begin these practices, at all.

A number of days back, I realized that I could combine embroidery, applique, and piecework in order to make original artworks…this, though, has led to me finding my sewing stuff, my fabrics, and projects which I’ve intended to work on, but haven’t had the motivation (or memory) to do so.

I’ve also found a bunch of…old, completed or mostly-completed sketchbooks. In a couple of them, I was getting into things heavily enough that I had started to work out situations which stories could take place within…or actual stories. And characters. And drama. And page layouts. Seriously. How much more exciting is it when I’m not hesitant to make my characters feel?

On top of that, I have a lot of pencil character sketches which I could translate to marker paper. I know that working these out in black-and-white should be easy. I also know how Copics work, now, and a bit about their color ranges. There’s also the thing about working these out on heavier paper, or on Deleter paper. I have a fairly decent amount of the latter…but I still don’t yet know its properties (stability under water or light washes; how it takes alcohol marker, or dip pens; I think I remember using it before with Microns, but not Copic Multiliners, which I found out about later).

In short, going through my old art stuff reminded me of old and unfinished projects. Last night, I realized a method of binding that I could use to make comic pages with full bleeds (images running off the edge of the page), without needing to align printing on both the back and front of the paper. (Fold the paper at the center, bind the loose ends. One image, two pages.) That, then…that opens up a world of possibilities.

I also thought of writing and illustrating the thing for a small circle of friends here, and in ‘zine format, distributing it within small independent bookstores and ‘zine fests. From there, it can grow, or not. But it will have reached people I’ve most wanted it to reach.

I’ll also, then, have a portfolio piece. And I’ll be able to get this story out of my head.

Last night — after drinking an iced oolong in the middle of the night — I realized that I needed to get the core of the story down, and then build the rest of the story around it to support it. Then I realized that I did know the core of the story…which I eventually decided to take a moment to scribble down. One page. So much.

So today, I have the essential core of the story (plus some extraneous things). It is very…LGBT+ themed. I’ve learned over the years that it isn’t worth it to try and alter this story away from what it is (or what it has become, at least). I wonder if this generativity has come, also, from getting tired of writing the same things over and over in my journals.

The major thing is…graphic novel format feels more “alive” to me, somehow, than just text. At least so, when I make an effort to show emotion through my characters…and there are a lot of ways to do that. But I wonder if it’s worth it to try and illustrate the story as versus writing it out, first. Generally, so far as I know, at least; scripts come before illustrations. However, that isn’t always the case.

Doing the writing and art separately implies a division of labor between writer(s), who may not be able to draw — and illustrator(s), who may not write as well as they compose and create visual art. However, if they’re both the same person…that’s different. Jeff Smith, who wrote and drew the original Bone comics, was like this, though he started off with a blank page with a set number of panels, and basically drew the story as he imagined it.

Of course, he also started his own publishing house to get his work out there–!

Not to say I’d work exactly as he did — I don’t imagine that. However, the only person who needs to understand my process, is me. That means I don’t have to artificially separate generative tasks in the way I would if I were not currently aspiring to be an indy comic artist.

I do think that somehow, getting back into…this kind of gentle non-figurative stuff with letting myself be okay with just doing sewing, or embroidery, or abstract watercolor (and disregarding for now the possibly salient concept that all of these tasks have been accorded to women in the past) — it has also stimulated other parts of my mind.

Like the discursive part that doesn’t care if, say, when we’re talking about ghosts: what ghosts are, in reality; and whether I’m being accurate to reality, and whether life after death exists, and what paradigm to write from when writing about life after death, etc. That’s why fiction is here.

I also had to be okay with shifting away from my prior goals, to new ones. Yes, I know that I hadn’t planned on this, but I also know I can’t over-plan my life. Sometimes I just have to look at what I have the ability to do, with the resources I already have. I am looking at what I’ve already sunk resources into, and what I already know.

Sometimes…like with Japanese language, I’ve sunk monetary resources into it, but I haven’t used the materials much (at least, recently). On the other hand, with something like Spanish language, I’ve sunk (at least five) years of study and practice into it…to the point that I can understand some basic spoken or written Spanish, without help (like someone asking a clerk today how much an item cost). Because of this, the barrier to entry is much lower than with Japanese, which I spent at most one classroom year of time, studying and practicing.

I’ve also sunk time into Art training, including at least three semesters of Figure Drawing. It’s to the point that I’ve begun to envision at least skulls in three dimensions…and I find myself struggling with the idea of letting form slide for the sake of cartooning (although of course I can make cartoony versions of my characters’ images). The major difficulty I find right now with the concept of illustrating a ‘zine is the fact that there is so much drawing involved. (Do I know if I like drawing that much?) But my writing and vision may make up for present deficits in my skill level…which will rise as I practice, if I practice.

There’s also the fact that this story as it stands is finite. I know the ending already (I also noted it last night). That makes it easier to envision tackling.

Then there is stuff just to do for relaxation. I can’t focus on my career 24/7. It stresses me out too much, and makes me dread going in to work. I’m thinking of setting aside a set number of hours every week (3 to 6) for Professional Development activities, and not worrying about my progress, outside of those. Pretty much every time I go in to work, I’m gaining practical experience and getting closer to becoming a Librarian. That’s really what I need to be doing.

Reading materials on Chat Reference work or Library Programming will get me closer to that, as well, but they’re not things I really need to know now. Probably the thing that I most need to do out of all of it is to read up on Reader’s Advisory (though that only really impacts me at one branch), and reading up on how to handle difficult situations, like dealing with people who are hostile or inebriated, or people experiencing severe mental illness.

And yes — the driving lessons have started. My fear and tension is probably my biggest problem, and that should reduce drastically as I get more comfortable behind the wheel. Kind of like work, now that I think of it…