Vulnerability and Social Media

How do you define “friend”?

I think about this a lot, especially as a person who easily (and quickly) becomes attached to people I like. It can be heart-breaking to think of someone as a friend, and, later, for them to completely disregard your relationship. As if it never mattered in the first place. This situation seems to happen rather frequently in “real life”, but what in the online world – where the boundary between friend, stranger and acquaintance never seems to be clear, or it’s constantly being re-draw, recreated and redefined.

I’ve been faced with rejection in both my real and online life. It can be disheartening for a minor misunderstanding, or a difference in opinion to make a relationship explode. But I suppose that brings to mind: what is a friend and how do you know when you have one? This is almost exclusively related to social media. In our waking life, it’s easier to see who our friends are; the people who call us or write us. The people who we feel we can talk to about anything. The people who we resonate with the most. But online? Does spending months chatting constitute friendship? Does taking the time to e-mail each other mean you’re BFFs? Do private DMs mean anything at all, or is it just meaningless chatter? At what point do we know when we’ve reached a solid friendship? But also, when have we realized that our friendship is worth fighting for?

You never really know what a friendship can or is able to tolerate until there’s a tremor. Casual relationships, understandably, tend to explode the quickest since there’s no foundation or support to keep the friendship alive. There’s a strong undercurrent of; “I don’t know you, therefore I’m not morally obligated to you or our relationship.” People are more inclined to walk away from something they haven’t invested themselves in, including other people. But the concept of rejection is also very much about power.

It’s similar to the idea presented in “Two Can Play That Game” where Vivica A. Fox says that whomever breaks up with the other person first, wins. I do believe that there’s a strong sense of satisfaction and self-importance at having ended a friendship – regardless of its quality – versus being the person dealing with the rejection. A lot of the time, I think, the people who were rejected long for a sense of closure because everything happened so abruptly. The quickness of it is jarring because a person is cutting you off for no other reason than because they just don’t know you. 

For instance, a girl I knew in college unfriended me on Facebook. It drove me nuts; it still bothers me because she’s friends with people I know. But underneath all my insanity, I get it. I can’t compete with girls she saw every day in her dorms, the fact that I never called her or spoke with her, or the close relationship she had with a girl who become the Godmother to her kids. (Yeah, can’t compete with THAT) So technically, we were never friends, and it made sense for her to unfriend me. Yet at the same time…

This isn’t to suggest that every online relationship is destined to fail – I’ve made some amazing friends online who I hope to meet up with in real life very soon! But an online relationship can, and does, have the same emotional responses as one that’s initiated in real life.

What about you? What are some relationship explosions or mishaps you’ve had since being online?

Ross Campbell, Comics and an Interview!

After attending NYCC almost two weeks ago tomorrow (!!) I’m significantly more interested in getting to know more comic creators and their experience in the business. I’ve been chatting back and forth with the wonderful Ross Campbell for-EVER, and even though we somehow magically missed each other at the Con, I DO have an interview he did for me.

Background in: Campbell is both the artist and writer for his own series ShadowEyes and Wet Moon – which is published by Oni Press —> the series that initially drew me to speak with him about doing an interview for me! He’s also currently the artist for GLORY, while Joe Keatinge is the writer (who I got to meet with at the Con and is so very awesome!).

Here’s the interview below; enjoy!

What inspired the story for Wet Moon?
I wanted to do a sprawling teen/20-something drama romance comedy kind of thing with horror undertones, which wasn’t inspired by anything in particular but was naturally what I was interested in, but a few big inspirations I can cite were the city of Savannah, Georgia and the art college there, and just real life and real people I’d met over the years, all thrown together into a plotless soap opera type set-up. I guess the college aspect was probably the biggest inspiration, I liked how kids from all over, kids who might not have ever met or associated with each other, were thrust together in an environment with no parents to tell them what to do. And I’m into horror and scary stuff in general so I wanted to mix that with lurking weirdness and ambiguous supernatural elements, like Twin Peaks or something.

What initially drew you to creating comics?
I think Calvin & Hobbes and old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics were what got me into comics initially, and I used to draw little strip comics for fun when I was a kid but for most of my childhood and adolescence I actually wanted to be a prose writer/novelist. And I almost majored in fashion at college (that would’ve been a mistake, haha). I ended up going into comics in college but more out of not really knowing what I wanted to do, I actually didn’t get really interested in drawing comics and taking it seriously until junior or senior year of college. I don’t know why it took me so long to come around to actively wanting to do comics, but I eventually realized that I could tell the types of stories I wanted to tell and write the types of characters I wanted to write much better in comics than I could in prose.

Do you have a background in art (college degree, etc).
I guess I incidentally already answered this question but yes! I went to the Savannah College Of Art & Design and majored in Sequential Art, which is a pretty much useless degree. I never really paid attention while in college, I was too wrapped up in my own world, so I did most of my artistic learning after I graduated on my own when I realized I sucked and had to bust my ass to catch up.

How do you come up with designs for your characters? Why did you choose a more alternative look for your characters?
My designs are mostly inspired by real people, people I know, people I’ve met, strangers I see, photos of people, etc. I don’t copy an entire outfit or translate a single person into a character, I always mix and match, that sort of thing, whatever fits the character I’m looking for. I also make up things from scratch, like making up my own outfits and hairstyles or fashion ideas, particularly in Shadoweyes where the fashion trends aren’t quite real-world and I can make up stuff nobody in the real world is wearing. Sometimes I try to come up with designs I’m not totally fond of, like designing an outfit I don’t personally find visually appealing but that I think is something the character would wear, so that’s kinda fun sometimes, trying to think outside of the aesthetics I personally like.

For body types and facial features it’s pretty much the same process, I’m really inspired by real people. I like figuring out ways of stylizing real features into shapes to make each character distinct (resulting in various levels of success, I suppose). My character designs also depend a lot on how a character moves and holds themselves physically, which again is inspired a lot by real life people, and even though my stuff is static images I think a lot about this when drawing the characters and when trying to decide on body type or how a character’s limbs (or lack thereof) are.

There’s nothing really behind why my characters are almost always kind of alternative-styled or punky or whatever you want to call it, I just like drawing those sorts of looks, even though in real life I actually like simple, more conservative, even preppy sorts of styles but for whatever reason I don’t enjoy drawing those as much so they don’t usually end up in my comics.

What made you choose female main leads versus male ones?
It feels natural, I guess. I feel like I identify with and relate to women more than men so when writing female characters I feel like I “get” them more than I do guy characters. A lot of time I even feel confused when writing guys, like I’m not quite sure what to have them do or say, that sort of thing. I like drawing girls more than guys, but it’s mostly a writing preference. Plus women usually get better outfits. XD

Are there certain things you’d like to see more in the comic industry that isn’t already there? (Many people have complained about the depiction of female superheroes, for example).

Yeah, the sexism is obviously a big thing, most superhero comics suck in that regard, it would be great to get more women and other less-represented folks into comics, but the biggest thing I’d like to see a broader range of genres. I’ve been thinking over the past year or so that despite the diverse types of comics being done the medium is still pretty narrow compared to prose and film, at least in my experience. Or maybe comics need LESS genre confines, since many of them seem to almost box themselves into a genre/subgenre on purpose. The thing that really got me thinking about this is when I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s book “Wintergirls” and Alice Sebold’s book “Lucky,” one of which is fiction and one a memoir and both awesome and powerful. And I started thinking how come there isn’t really anything like that stuff in comics, and obviously I’m not aware of every single comic being made but as far as I’ve seen how come nobody is attempting anything like this? Is it because comics are usually cartoony or illustrative and tackling serious topics like rape and eating disorders would seem tacky or inappropriate when drawn in visual styles like that? Even genre fare in comics seems narrow to me, like take horror for example, there isn’t really anyone in comics doing anything like David Cronenberg’s body horror stuff or Vincenzo Natali’s weird sci-fi horror thriller movies. Everyone seems to either stick with imitating George Romero (myself included, heh) or generic pulpy vampire/werewolf/monster horror mash-ups. Maybe I just don’t read enough, maybe if I searched more I’d eat my words.

It seems like you use a lot of social media to promote your brand. Have you found it useful for getting people aware of your graphic novels?

I’m not sure, actually, I think this is probably more quantifiable for some artists out there but I’m not sure how much the various websites I’m on actually translate into readership. Deviantart has been by far the best, setting up a gallery there was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my work, and I came along on the site when it wasn’t booming yet so I got a lot of attention in the earlier days. But as far as purely social sites like Facebook or Twitter go, I’m not sure if they’ve actually helped that much. They sure can’t hurt, though.

Have you been able to get in contact with other industry professionals since you’ve started?

Definitely, I think it’s unavoidable. Once I put out a couple books people started to know who I was, both other creators and also editors. I’m not a huge name or anything, I’m pretty small-time and relatively obscure, but it’s enough that I’ve met a large group of colleagues over the years.

Do you have any plans or hopes to move to a bigger press to get your comics out to a wider audience?

I have in the past, I’ve done work for DC Comics/Vertigo but I can’t really quantify if that stuff got me any significant numbers of new readers or not. It would be cool to do something for Marvel, or a traditional book publisher like Simon & Schuster but I can’t see that happening. I don’t think my work is really their type of material.

Do you draw heavily from real life for your comics? What exactly inspires you?

I guess I kind of already answered this in question #4, d’oh! But yes, real life is the best! Real people, places, cultures, animals, science, the occult, weather, outer space. Music is also a big inspiration for me. Probably the most inspiring works that other people have created are the movie Alien, which has also been a big influence since childhood, just thinking about it makes me want to do comics. Hayao Miyazaki is also really inspiring. Some artists that get my creativity going are Frank Quitely, Amy Reeder, Jillian Tamaki, Lamar Abrams, Becky Cloonan, Kevin Eastman, Gerda Beuchel, among others.

Where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 years?

I have no idea! Freelance comics is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type job, things change so fast, one day I’ll think my career is about to collapse and then the next day I’ll get some great gig out of nowhere. Never can tell. Hopefully in 5 years Wet Moon will be completed or almost completed, and Shadoweyes will probably be finished, too. Maybe in 5 years I’ll finally have time to get back to Mountain Girl!

 

The images are from Campbell’s DeviantArt, it has loads of amazing images!

Being Happy, Single and Childfree!

Today – I’m so blessed to not be married, pregnant or have kids.

I’m thrilled that I can get up and go wherever I want and do whatever pleases me. A part of me feels that it’s insensitive to be openly enthusiastic about my singleness and being Childfree. But, why should I hide it? I never want to have children – unless they’re in the form of kittens – and I wonder if being in a relationship is worth the time and effort that could be better spent on other activities.

This past weekend I attended New York Comic Con and it was FANTASTIC. I loved seeing all the cosplayers, meeting industry professionals and checking out all the new things coming out in the coming months and into the next year. The panels I managed to attend were interesting and I got to make some new friends and connections all within the span of only three days. When I arrived home Sunday evening, the last day of the Con, this immense sadness filled me as I realized that the fantasy was over and I had to return to reality.

But it also gave me massive insight into what I want to do: create comics, talk to fans, sit on panels about important SHIT and have meaningful discussions about representation in comics. Even though I loved the Womanthology panel I attended – since I contributed as a Writer – I realized that all the women talking to us were white and heterosexual. I loved the all-female presence, but still felt ostracized from the group at large. I wandered throughout the Con, trying to find black creators – there were a few – and trying to find black female characters for me to support – hardly found any. Even when I stopped by Prism Comics, they only had three titles featuring black lesbians, and it doesn’t help that the people who are the face of the gay community tend to be white males. And this is something I definitely want to address in my own career.

And as I get myself situated in New York, mostly focusing on my new internship, job interviews, and writing – I realize that there’s no real time (or urge) to date. I don’t think of my life choices as being anti-cookie cutter or “rule breaking”, the way many Gen Y speak about their decisions, but I do have significantly more important things I want to focus on. So, I feel so thankful that I’m able to do that without having to balance someone else’s needs alongside my own (child or partner)!

I definitely plan on being Childfree for the rest of my existence – I don’t particularly like kids and I definitely don’t want them. And dating? Most people my age are frantic in their search for a partner, or are casually worried about dating in some way, shape or form. Personally, I’m not really invested in trying to experience that. Mostly, I think the obsession with dating stems from people’s fears of being alone, especially when you talk about singlism being primarily directed at women.

Naturally – there are many people my age (and older) who are happily involved, pregnant or some such thing. BUT I’m just glad not to be one of those people – I love the freedom I have right now, and there’s no other situation that could replace or replicate it!

I Received The Liebster Blog Award!

Oh happy day! Lynn Asummermoon Davis nominated me for The Liebster Blog Award! This is the first time I’ve ever been nominated for something in regards to my blog!

Here’s the meaning of it that I copied and pasted from her blog:

“Ok, so here is what I’ve learned about the Liebster Blog Award; “in German—“liebster” means “dear,” from the verb “lieber” [to love]“. The Liebster Blog Award in essence is all about recognizing worthy bloggers with less than 200 followers (or was it subscribers?), and raising their blog visibility. In other words, spread the love.  I am assuming that most of the blogs I read probably have more than 200 followers, so I did my best to recognize some bloggers that I feel more certain don’t have over 200 followers and are deserving recipients. I hope I don’t offend anyone if I was wrong, and they do have 200+ followers. Also, there is no obligation to continue this award.  If you don’t want to participate, I won’t think anything of it, and I won’t stop following your blog.”

The way the Liebster Award works:

  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Copy and Paste the award onto your blog
  4. Nominate 3-5 blogs to receive the award. (I read 3-5 on another blog so I opted for 3)
  5. Inform them of their nomination by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here is my list of Nominees (In no particular order):

1. A Summer Moon (Lynn!): I actually found out about her because I was hanging out on LinkedIn and I kept looking at her picture thinking that I knew her! Even though I didn’t, but I friended her on Twitter after checking our her blog. She blogs about a little bit of everything: her journey through life, her thoughts, being Gen Y, entrepreneurship…

2. Julia Tarquinio: I’ve been checking out her blog a lot and I LOOVE a lot of her posts. She taught in Chile for a year, so she talks a lot about that, and now she’s back in the States, doing more soul searching!

3. The Feminist Griote: her blog is about black feminism and the blogger’s observations regarding pop culture and media. It’s really great and I love checking out her stuff!

 

I don’t know which blogs has x-amount of traffic, so I picked ones that don’t get a lot of comments since that seems to be an indication of traffic (???) to me. :D