A while back I was in Powell’s Books in Portland, and got to peruse their extensive children’s books section. I was astounded at the quality of some of these books, and couldn’t help but bring a few home.
No word from the agent I submit Neat Birds to, and I can only assume it was denied. It was unrealistic to expect that the first agency I queried would pick up my first manuscript. Many authors submit to dozens of agents and publishers before they get signed (IF they get signed).
So my options now are: continue pitching this script, self-publish, or move on to another project. While I think Neat Birds is fun and many kids and adults would enjoy it, I also know it doesn’t compete among the top tier of picture books, and I’m therefore hesitant to push it with all my hope-and-dream-energy. Increasingly, I’m seeing Neat Birds as an valuable learning experience — a rung to help get me to that top tier of visual storytelling. That said, more could be learned, so I may work on it occasionally and eventually self-publish.In the short term, I’d like to finish a coloring book I’ve been drawing, with the hopes of unveiling it at Oregon Country Fair in July. With the warm weather comes my Season of Action, so art may take a back seat for a while, but I hope to continue drawing and updating the ‘ol blog when I can. Happy summer!
Tomorrow I begin sitting my third 10-day silent mediation course. It’s extremely uncomfortable in all ways imaginable, but afterwards the sense of empowerment and peace make it all worth while. It’s sort of like pressing the reset button on your brain.
I’ll be there for the full moon, the equinox, and my birthday. Should be a powerful time. Wish me luck!
Upon turning twenty-five, I abruptly switched life paths. Feeling unfulfilled with my corporate IT job and Los Angeles itself, I decided to follow my passion for art and expression, and made a new life in Austin, TX. Ever since (in between various jobs) I’ve been practicing drawing and visual storytelling. This nine years of practice (I can’t believe it’s been NINE YEARS already!) has cumulated with my first children’s book manuscript, Neat Birds, which I’ve recently submit to an agent. This is a big deal!
If signed by an agent, it means they believe this book will get a publishing contract. With high hopes, I decided to submit to a VERY GOOD AGENT. Their agency represents the very talented and popular children’s book author & illustrator, Mo Willems. I’ve given them exclusive rights to my manuscript for a month, after which I can submit to other agents. I must wait up to six weeks for a reply from them (they receive MANY submissions), and if I don’t hear anything, I should considered it DENIED (brutal, eh?). Publishing is a competitive industry, and aspirants must learn to flow with rejection. That said, I feel like the book proposal is strong, and those who’ve seen it have had very positive responses — so I’m optimistic!
In the submission package were two documents. 1) The picture book dummy (the book storyboard), and 2) some samples of finished artwork. The images below show the art going from rough storyboard to “finished.”
They say there are no atheists in a foxhole. Well, there are no atheist authors-desperate-for-a-book-deal either. Your thoughts, prayers, and magic workings are appreciated. :)
Gosh, the ‘ol website has been down for nearly nine months — the longest hiatus since I started the blog back in 2009. I guess I’ve felt like I’ve needed some space from self-promotion. It’s been nice to draw all these months without catering to an audience. I’ve also had a lot going on in my personal life, and as always, I’ve been evaluating what’s important and what to prioritize.
I used to think becoming a successful artist (whatever that means) was of upmost importance; the only goal worth pursing. With age, I’ve mellowed, and I find more and more value in outdoor activities, and being a good friend and community member.
Speaking of which: for the past year, I’ve been involved in a group trying to get classrooms built for our rural school, thus freeing up our community building. I won’t explain the whole project here, but it’s been important to me, so I thought I’d share it, and offer you the chance to contribute if you feel moved. We have an IndieGoGo campaign running now where you can learn more about it and see my first attempt at filmmaking!
I’ll try to get back in the habit of posting art here regularly. Here’s a recent comic I posted on FB, prompted by the Caitlyn Jenner thing.
By the frequency of these blog updates it must look like I’ve given up on art, or at least scaled back my ambitions. But I assure you, dear reader, things are moving slowly yet surely towards some inevitable conclusion.
As you know, Life is a delicate balancing act involving dream chasing, money making, responsibility maintaining, friendship sustaining, family visiting, relaxing, grooming, and dating. That’s right, lonely ‘ol Dallion ain’t been so lonely since May, when he started seeing a lovely lady who’s been very patient and understanding with this goof. Turns out this summer has been one of growth, more often in areas less-related to art, but important nonetheless.
Yet even artistically, things move forward.
I’m excited to announce that I’ve snatched a table at Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on October 4th & 5th! It’s a comics convention put on by the same people as the San Diego Comic Con and will be my first experience displaying and selling my work publicly. It has lit a fire under my ass to make merchandise, and lately I’ve been collating and binding my two comic books as well as creating prints and hand painted greeting/thank you cards.
Having no idea how many copies of my books will sell at APE, I’ve decided to horde my limited stash until after the event, but soon afterward, you’ll have a chance to purchase goodies when I open my online store. Start saving your pennies!
“So what’s the deally-o Dally-o? Not going to tell us about your Vagrant Adventure?”
It’s true, I’ve been protective of my homelessness experience. I’ve shared some details with a very few people, but have been careful with what I give away, and when asked, usually speak in generalities like: “It was powerful. I met the people I needed to meet, saw what I needed to see, and had the insights I needed to have.” If I feel like a mischievous imp, I simply say: “You’ll have to buy the book.”
It’s not that I’m trying to be a mysterious dick, it just that when an experience is precious and profound, you’re not wanting to give it away. I feel like the magical quality of the trip would diminish if I tried to portray it with words. It would be a shadow of the real thing, and the more I’d talk about it, the more I’d believe the words and forget the experience. I found this to be true with Vipassana. I came out of Vipassana “high” and wanting to share it with everyone, but the more I tried to explain the transcendent, the more it became words. Flat, dead, rational, categorical, words.
If I were a William Blake or a Rumi, I could get you close the the actual thing with words, but even their poetry isn’t the thing itself. The thing itself is always beyond words. If you want to know the thing, then go do the thing!
Honestly, I’m still processing the experience and expect it will take a while. The Vagrant Adventure is like a gold mine to visit when I need material for this book or understanding about life in general. I’m excited to explore expression via the unique combination of art and words.
I’m ready to embark on a new graphic novel, and the journey begins with a bus ride to Austin, my old hometown, the place the book concept was sparked. For the next ten days I’ll be researching and seeking inspiration in Texas, and since one of the themes of this book is homelessness, it means I’ve chosen to live like a vagrant during this trip. A friend encouraged me be authentic about it, so I’ve decided not to stay with friends nor bring any money or credit cards. Undoubtedly it’ll be challenging, but great things are rarely accomplished from the comfort of ones couch.
To me, this adventure is a sort of spiritual endeavor: trusting life to provide my sustenance and, more importantly on this short trip, the experience and insight I need at this time.
I haven’t done a sad, whiny, love comic in some time, and if there’s one occasion they’re allowed, it’s Valentines Day, right? They would put the Love holiday in the longest, most desolate month of the year, wouldn’t they, the bastards.
But I’m doing fine. Great, in fact. People on Tumblr liked this comic and it earned me some more followers, and tonight I’m having dinner with friends, and showing familial love in the meantime. Besides, it’s not like I always feel this way. The concept came quickly in a moment of passion, then passed, like all feelings do.
Wishing you a good V-Day.
PS: Added a few more faces to the gallery below…