I want to encourage you. But give me a minute.
I'm an introvert, it turns out. I know you wouldn't think that, because I'm smirky and I'm a comic and I'm a redhead. But, turns out, I'd rather be drawing and writing than almost anything else on the planet. The three exceptions to this are:
- being on, or in, water
- traveling with my guys
- climbing Mayan temples
- eating Mexican* food
*Or, Indian food. Either one. Both magically delicious in their own amazing way!
I know, that's four!! And then, five, with the asterisk! Keep reading anyway!
I think you have to be pretty self-motivated, when you're a freelancer. And lately, I've been frustrated with what I am or am not getting done - that's a big piece of it too. In the last few months, I lost my dear Dad (very shaky still), and we've moved to a new city (this month), and I'm still staring at many unpacked boxes (intimidating, and where's my dang Martha White Corn Meal?). It's a (let's call it) challenging time of life. And I know "the West" gets it wrong, with grief, and how fast we should process things. But that's another bloggy wog. Sooooo, anytime I get down about my work, or my life, or my mood, I just pull out a sketchbook and my iPad . . . and I keep drawing, and I keep writing.
I talk to the Great Creator (which is a lot of what is in my head and on my pages) and I ask WHY? and WHY NOT? a lot. I think right now that God may be very bored with me, but somehow fascinated, like a now-jolly, now-angry kid watching a roly-poly on the sidewalk. And I ask God questions, and I think, hmmm. God is not answering, God is observing, or God is waiting, or God is binge-watching "Stranger Things" on Netflix, like everybody else. And I think about how small a word "God" is, for the Great Creator. And I want miracles for everyone with Parkinson's and Cancer. Right now.
I'm so glad to have my health, and mad that others don't.
And wondering why some people think they have to be mean to others. I'm horrified by what Leslie Jones has been going through, and proud of her for standing up to it. And mad about how that redirects her great, creative energy for a bit. Stealing her time (I'm always in a bad mood if you steal my time, even without all that hate attached.)
And then I'm back to me again, feeling inadequate, still, of all things! You would think that at this age, my middle-school insecurities would be wiped away, but nope, turns out, I'm human. Dammit. I keep trying to rise above that, but well, as you see.
And then I make a list of what I've done this year.
Which includes 300 drawings for two coloring books, plus comics and cartoons for Dirty Diamonds, The All-Girl Comics Anthology, an illustration for The Cartoonist, for the National Cartoonists Society, two comics and two ads for Magic Bullet (DC Conspiracy), my own work on Haint Blue, my it's-taking-forever graphic novel about the supernatural, and submitted my Fog of Worry panel comics to more than one syndicate (waiting on that). I've written and performed stories on stage with Story District DC and Storytalks NYC (Gotham Comedy Club), and performed my standup act at Comic Strip Live in NYC.
And I feel a little better, but cancer and Parkinson's are still attacking people I know and love, and their friends and family. I'm mad about that. I keep coming back to it.
And I spend a little time praying, and hoping prayer "works."
Back to drawing.
Hang in there, everybody, we are all on a journey no one else can really see. Because if they DID see, we would be embarrassed at how often we turn to brownies for solace, even if they ARE Fiber-One brownies, and so much better for you.
Right now I'm planning the fall cons - CreativeCon Panama City, and New York ComicCon. Well, I'm not the one planning them, who has time for that? (See: "Stranger Things".)
peace, love, and other things hippies say,
You know that 3x5 Challenge going 'round? Where you post 3 pieces of art 5 days in a row? Here were two of mine yesterday. I love this Bible verse, and I think I've done about 5 art pieces of it so far (maybe more). these are art marker (Faber-Castell Artist Pens) and gouache and watercolor on Moleskine watercolor paper. Anyway, enjoy! I'm working on new ink pieces, and Magic Bullet 10 comes out soon! Be sure to follow DC Conspiracy on Twitter @MagicBulletDC; it's awesome comics by DC area cartoonists! Check it out! Meanwhile, I'm trying to live by Micah six eight. But I think it's hard to claim the humble part if you have a blog, and Twitter account, and . . . and a PLEASE Like ME PAGE . . . oh what a tangled web . . . I'm trying, anyhow. :) peace, trl
Ramblings about faith and comedy and crap
I freely admit I like me some schlock. I am a full-on fan of cheesy stuff. Over the years we have had quite a kitsch souvenir collection, which includes a huge ceramic Las Vegas die, a plaster “Welcome to Florida” alligator with his throat open to joyfully hold toothpicks, and a jewel-encrusted Statue of Liberty. My favorite is in my hubby’s floaty-pen collection. It’s the Last Supper, and when you angle the pen, the loaf of bread slides back-and-forth on the table, from disciple to disciple. Jesus sits in the middle, patiently like he does, waiting for those wacky disciples to simmer down with the bread, already. Low art is very high art, in my opinion.
I love those Sy-Fy (gaaaah, I HATE spelling it like that!) Channel movies like Slither, and Anacondas: Curse of the Blood Orchid, and, yes, one of my favorites is Mansquito!
There is nothing like seeing people morph into giant-sized things we already hate! Except for Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Because I LOVE tomatoes. My point is, these creatures are such that even the best HR department could not deal with them.
“Mansquito, please stop feeding on the guys in the mail room. We need them. Maybe you could try sucking the blood of someone from middle management.”
“Swamp Thing, can you please wear Crocs or something? You are schmutzing up the carpet by the water cooler.”
“Blob, can you be a little more of a team player? There is no “I” in the word ‘team!”.
Saving Sharknado for a special weekend.
You know what? I even sorta liked those hell movies they showed us at youth retreats to scare us into accepting Jesus. They were über-schlock! To be clear, these are extreme tactics, but hey, I DID get baptized again!! And I mean, dunked, baby, none of that sprinkling stuff. We Baptists-at-heart like to see people just go for it, full-on humiliation, in a clingy, wet, white robey-thingie. Yes, mis amigos, choose your underwear carefully for your rendezvous with the Baptismal pool.
Yep, I got Baptized twice. Maybe I just had better underwear to show off the second time around, you say. Nope. I just wanted to make sure it “took.”
Long story short (too late, you whine), I’m a follower of Jesus. I lurv me some Jesus. But, the last few years, I’ve wanted very little to do with American Christian Culture.
Or, I should say, I would rather have a LOT to do with the less-publicized believers, the ones who aren’t sure about everything, and who don’t think to follow Jesus is to be equated with following Republicans. Seriously, it’s not the same thing. Wish I could Mail-Chimp that to all the right people. I don’t think Jesus is concerned with our stupid politics here. But maybe that’s because I have a dear friend from Syria, and a student from Nigeria, and I listen to BBC news . . . so I think Jesus is thinking about more important stuff than the Sunday morning talk shows, and who brought who to the White House Correspondents Club Conference Prom Thingy. We don't care, really, we just like the comedians. But maybe I'm biased.
I don’t actually usually talk politics or religion much (if ever) in my standup comedy act. So far. I guess so far I’ve saved that for print and the interwebs.
Onstage, I just talk about IMPORTANT stuff like my uterine bulge, and the size of fast-food drinks! I mean, genius, original stuff like, “Whoaaa, have y’all noticed how big a Big Gulp can get?? Whoaaaaaa. Really big.” The comedy of legends.
And I don’t equate talking about Jesus with talking about religion. I think we need to be able to laugh about our questions, so I just wonder out loud about stuff, like I did when I worked in comedy clubs (and hell-holes, too!), putting 1,000 miles a week on my Dodge Raider. I like doing church events though, because they almost always involve very good food. And very nice people, who rarely throw things.
In the last few years I realized, hey, there are churches that will pay a funny Christian to do comedy for their events. What a great fit! I’m funny AND I lurv me some Jesus!! Woooot. I remember the first Christian comedians gathering (yes, we gather, does that frighten you?) I ever attended, and the people at my dinner table thought I was such a hero for working out in the “highways and the hedges,” in the clubs. It puzzled me, because I’ve always thought it was awesome to get to go work in comedy clubs, and loved the green room, and the people you meet and work with. It didn’t seem like a “Livingston, I presume?” sitch to me at all. But I’m weird, so that works for me.
There was a rumor going around in the Christian Comedy Community (I dunno, it felt like it should be capitalized) for a while that some people were pretending to be Christians so that they could get work in churches. All I could say was, “Who the hell would do THAT?” Nobody does that. Really? That’s kinda hilarious. I mean, who would do that?!
But more and more, as the years have gone by, as I’ve become more liberal, less sure of everything, and more clingy to actual Jesus than to church tradition, I've learned some things.
I know it takes bravery to speak up for your beliefs, no matter what side you are on. But your bravery depends on where you are. Like, if you are playing big Christian arenas and concerts and events all the time, and you think you are in the fray, you are just being silly. If you are only hanging around “your” people, you are taking the safe route. Same with liberals. We should all mix it up a little.
I am not dissing these groups, I love working for these groups. It’s comfy! Did I say that? Is it the volunteers who are so caring? The beaming, welcoming, friendly audiences? The gift baskets? The lack of things being thrown at the stage?
It’s all of the above, and it’s like totally awesome.
I’m serious about the humor business. It has made me a living for about 30 years now, from page to stage.
I’m at a point in my life, and in my career, (use air quotes here!), that I do see all that bad-mouthing and back-stabbing and people-dunking (wait, that doesn’t go here) as just speedbumps in life.
Jesus said to expect crap like that.
Well said, Jesus.*
*Before I get a hundred missives dashed off from post-milennialists who think I’m being blasphemous, I do NOT mean to imply Jesus said stuff like “crap,” or “floaty-pen,” but then, I also do not mean to imply that he DIDN’T.
A self-portrait. :) BTW, following me on Twitter is a really good idea, if you are interested in the art processes here and at my Etsy shop . . . links to both are in the right-hand column ON MY HOME PAGE here. I like to post often, photos of pieces in progress, as well as notes on materials, etc. ALSO, ON TWITTER, I post a LOT of smart-alecky thoughts which never make it onto a page or into a cartoon. (See below for how my mind generally works . . . )
This piece is a stream-of-consciousness real-time (as if you couldn't tell) thingie. Sometimes I just need to encourage myself . . . and I figure I might as well encourage y'all at the same time. I have tons of actor, comic, writer, screenwriter, director, artist, musician friends . . . creative friends of every kind. Sometimes it gets hard, and some get lost along the way - so here's to us all, the success is in the HANGING IN THERE! peace, trl
Actually, this cartoon is about yesterday . . . but that will let you know HOW MUCH yesterday kicked my butt, no?! See, my butt was sooooo kicked, I couldn't even finish the cartoon until TODAY!! AND, IT'S NOT EVEN FINISHED!! It's my LAZY version of a sketch on a holiday weekend!! Back to full-on professionalism tomorrow, dear ones. peace, trl
This journal piece I'm posting is a meditation, and I call it a meditation, because then you will think I really really worked hard on it. But! That goes against the whole point of ART JOURNALING, which should be done pretty quickly, to reduce the self-editing factor. I know you can hardly believe I ever edit myself, but oh-yes-I-do. Okay, and if you cannot work quickly, work slowly but HONESTLY. Not yelling, just emphasizing. I'm posting a piece I did last August, when I was working hard to not regret some things. The results of choices I've made - bemoaning my woeful business sense, wondering when I come off as insensitive, (lots of lack of sense here), wishing I were taller . . . you know the routine. (BTW, I'm 5'6", but due to my width . . .) ANYWAY!
Today I want to encourage you (and me) to focus on the future with the learning from the past and awareness of the present. (Should I sell this as a motivational poster at Staples?!! You tell me!) No, really. I have been guilty of beating myself up, why I did this, why I didn't do that, why I didn't choose one thing over the other, why I wasn't more assertive or why I didn't understand a certain situation clearly, or why I don't look like a supermodel. (Geez, back to shallow.) Plus, I have a straight answer on that one, and it has to do with my sincere, deep, and heartfelt love of collard greens cooked with ham hocks, blackeyed peas cooked with bacon, and a big corn pone served up with buttah. I hear that the bona fide supermodel Kate Moss has said, "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels," and I think that's because she's never had my mama's cookin'. And, for my part, I choose the comfy soul food I grew up with. (Okay, but I'll exercise more this year.)
So, here's to forgetting regrets . . . I cannot say "no regrets," because in my estimation, to never have regrets at all would mean one is a very insensitive arse of a person. So, don't beat yourself up, don't be an arse; hang in there, look forward.
BTW, this is meant in no way to endorse MSNBC's new promo phrase "Lean Forward," because I think that's stupid. It just makes me think that they don't believe in actually GOING forward, just looking like they might consider it at some point. Like, hey, don't you think we won't, 'cuz we're gonna. Maybe.
"Lean Forward" also makes me think of those trick clown shoes which hook into the floor so they can lean all directions and not fall over.
A clown leaning forward.
Brrrrrr. Way to give me the heebie jeebies, MSNBC.
peace, love, and other things hippies say,
Listening to the radio right now like I do. A lot. And there are a lot of shows and interviews about (but not enough, they are too busy trying to figure out WTF is up with the latest candidate-we-never-heard-of-but-he's-got-an-ego-and-a-kabillion-dollars-so-why-shouldn't-he-run??!!!) job-hunting, how to survive being unemployed, and I feel the pain. But, unlike the viewpoint of a lot of those shows, it's something I'm used to. So, maybe I should say I'm empathetic, but not really in pain. Anymore. You see, I'm a freelancer. I've been a freelancer for many years. Also, my hubby has been a professional in theatre for decades. And, in theatre, most of your work is year-to-year, month-to-month, or show-to-show contracts. So, we know what it's like to put ourselves out there, work our butts off, and hope people don't stop seeing shows and buying art/cartoons/handbags-I-make-while-watching Rocco's Dinner Party.
My several years of attempts to get back into the "corporate" world just proved to me that even though MAYBE I could get in, staying in was another matter altogether. I mean, they TELL YOU TO DO STUFF. Like, all the time!! And, after you've been a stand-up comic (IS THAT WORD HYPHENATED?! I dunno), and a freelance cartoonist . . . well, let's just say that being a professional smartass doesn't exactly prepare you to EXCEL in a cubicle. (Read: they don't LIKE it when you say what you really think. They just asked you that because HR told them they are supposed to look like they give a flying f--- . . .) gaaaahhhh. See what I mean? Anyway, I gotta stick to jobs where brutal honesty and political incorrectness pay off. So, being a comic/writer/cartoonist/artist, or however you prefer to describe me, is PERFECT for me. I can blog in my PJs. I can sleep in my clothes and then work all day in the same thing. Saves time. I can wear no makeup. Like EVER. I can pontificate on my blog and Tweet and Facebook and other nouns-turned-verbs. Is that a gerund? I dunno THAT, either. SEE HOW HONEST I GET TO BE? See how I get to yell in type whenever I feel like it!! THAT is freedom.
But, there are tradeoffs.
The freedom it does not necessarily allow you is financial freedom.
This doesn't mean you don't make money. It means you never know WHEN you're gonna make money. It is feast or famine. With a lotta famine in between. It works for me to wear my PJs as clothes and my clothes as PJs, first of all because I wear black all the time, so it works as a fashion statement, but also because I haven't bought new clothes in a long time. But, I don't care. I use gift money to buy art supplies. And then I make art and then I sell it. Circle of Life. Like in The Lion King! (Though, as our very little boy pointed out to us when that movie came out, "It's actually a Circle of Death. Because the lions eat the other animals.") Which brings me back to the corporate world.
The thing about not having a job and being in this scary scary market? Well, first of all you need to know that every artist, writer, singer, musician, actor, performer, event planner, filmmaker, freelancer of ANY sort which you know is USED TO SCARY. We live it, we breathe it, we ride the knife edge of when will another licensing check come, and will it, and do I have the money to go after fill-in-the-blank who definitely did not pay up, and thanking God that there are still AWESOME companies and people who value artists and writers, and then back to pleez-let-them-return-my-original-artwork-intact - WAIT!! This knife has too many edges. Bad metaphor. Roller coaster better? More of an analogy than a metaphor? I'm blogging, I don't have time to look these things up, and I have to get back to my 1920's-Paris-Bistro-Table-turned-art-table and make some draw-rings. Man, don't I love the dash? Or hyphen? You can look that up, too, if you feel compelled. I have a Harbrace College Handbook, but it's gathering dust at the moment. I'm too busy downloading vampire novels on my Kindle to bother that thang at the moment.
Anyway, all this yammering is meant to ENCOURAGE you. For reelz. Because, I have put myself out there. As have many others. Many of us are hurting in this economy (and if techies and nurses are having trouble being un- or under-employed, how do you think this economy is treating comics and writers and artists? The non-famous ones, I mean), but you need to put yourself out there. And keep doing it. It ain't easy. Matter of fact, mostly it sucks the biggest wind.
You might be surprised at this, but I'm actually an introvert. I'd rather sit and have a glass of wine with one or two friends than work a room or attend any party. I avoid crowds. (With the notable, which is why I'm noting it, exception of being on stage performing stand-up, and don't get me started on the psychology of that one! I just enjoy. Then I go backstage and beat myself up for all my mistakes, make notes on my set list and wish I'd been skinnier because then EVERYONE woulda liked me, really liked me!) Anyway, I do love performing comedy. I hate the business of comedy.
Trouble is, the business of freelancing ANYTHING is how you get the work. I have a couple of clients right now (and I feel really really BLESSED in this way) who really like my stuff. So, it's a volume game for the most part. If I do ENOUGH work, usually I make sales. It's a LOTTA work, I mean. You'd be surprised how many ideas get generated, drawn, and submitted to get ONE accepted. And I've been in this a while, so I'm not sending in stuff they've seen a kabillion times. But I love it. That's why I'm in it.
I had a whiny little text session with a friend in LA t'other day about how much I HATE the comedy business. Not the comedy, not performing it or writing it, or having tons of awesome hilarious people as friends, but the actual GETTING OF THE WORK. It sucks.
It's gonna suck.
This reminds me of a little thingy I read in (I think, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) Syd Field's book on screenwriting. Someone asked him in a seminar if Hollywood was really sexist and misogynist and racist and religionist and ageist . . . 'cuz that's what they had heard. His answer was . . .
YES. Are you IN or are you OUT?
So, that's the attitude we have to have. Even when we owe people money. Even when we don't know how to look nice for an interview, even when we are sick of getting new photos and spending hours resizing files and posting videos. Even when we really don't want to hear a critique of what we do, even when it seems everyone else is getting the breaks. (They're NOT.)
Are you in or are you out? Your decision.
I am a professional smartass.
And I'm glad my meds finally kicked in.
peace, love, and other things hippies say,
ADDED AFTER ORIGINAL POSTING: BTW, I'm not trying to give advice here. I'm just trying to encourage you. You are not alone. A lot of people feel your pain. And, really, actually know how you feel, deep down. Ignore the politics of this - the politicians who tell you they care usually don't, or used to, but are so far away from our day-to-day, they are clueless. (When your job is trying to be popular, well, I guess it does something to you . . .) So, hang in there, in spite of them. (Okay, maybe that IS advice.)