Oh boy, the last post here is from, what, two years ago? Oof, these past two years have been a bumpy ride.
Life has gone in a lot of directions and I’ve had to let go of a lot of things for my own mental and emotional health. I’m now 27 and the flow of time is getting weird. I’m not old, but I’d be lying if I told you I had the energy I had when I started this blog six years ago. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, though. The past 2 years have seen me double down on the things that actually matter. Not just pissing away tons of energy in 8 directions at once, to no noticeable effect.
In this energetic vein, digital communications are completely different creature today than they were in 2004, let alone 2008. These days, there’s 8 conversations going on in pieces across 4 different communications platforms. It’s overwhelming trying to stay abreast of it all. Often times I lose myself and feel out of time. Not in a good “eternal” way, more of a twilight zone type of feeling. It’s really draining.
Which is why the groundedness of Simon Moreton’s recent newsletter for his zine Minor Leagues really hit me:
Spring is here! I mean it isn’t, but it feels like it could be soon; the potatoes are chitting on the window sill, we’re turning over the soil on the allotment, and the rhubarb is growing back. The days are getting longer and the air smells good. Goldfinches on the overhead telephone wires. Sparrows in the bushes. Electric air.
The other day I was drawing the last comic for the new issue of Minor Leagues and something really weird happened. The house shook. ‘Huh’ I thought, ‘that was an earthquake’ and carried on drawing. True story.
I’ve been making Minor Leagues for two years now, and, frankly, I never want to stop. It’s my way of talking to the universe, to the world; asking if people can feel this thing that I feel, too. The world is rough, but life, well. What is it?
Yup, I love making zines. Thinking, writing, drawing, scanning, laying out, designing, tweaking; printing, assembling, stuffing envelopes; going down the post office, joking with the cashier about the cost of overseas stamps… daydreaming. Joining the dots, sowing the seeds.
It’s been a brutal personal time trying to get regrounded since I got back from studying at the Center for Cartoon Studies.
I left the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont in 2014 with my MFA and dove into a job working in water ionization, building filters for hospitals. Why I thought that was a good idea, I’ll never know. (It’s the best paying job I’ve ever had but goddamn was that an awful experience…) maybe I thought a non-arts, non-administrative job would let me have mental space for comics making? Who knows.
I do know that it created enough of a financial buffer for me to help Jenn through some tough times and I was left with some savings to take a chance kickstarting a career teaching comics and visual literacy freelance in Pittsburgh. I started working multiple gigs simultaneously, among those were a program called the Digital Corps, workshops series through the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, a couple of Artist Workshops at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and eventually through a private school, Shady Side Academy as part of their summer programs. In tandem with this I was helping Frank Santoro launch the Comics Workbook Rowhouse residency, co-organizing the Pittsburgh Zine Fair annually, and facilitating 3+ gatherings a month for the Pittsburgh Comics Salon.
Can you smell that smell of burn out? Well, I wasn’t able to at the time. If you want to know about this time, let me know and I’d be happy to talk in person. I have a hard time stringing together linear explanations of how things happen, so you’ll have to be patient with me.
For now, I’d like to just let you know where I’m at. I’m doing better. I’m more focused, despite not being as young and able. I’m currently holding down full-time work at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, tending to my personal life with Jenn Lisa, honing my comics making/analyzing chops through writing weekly for Comics Workbook, co-organizing the Pittsburgh Zine and doing some really amazing things with the Pittsburgh Comics Salon, “bringing comics to the people.”
So what’s up with the Pittsburgh Comics Salon in 2018? You may have heard about it before but weren’t quite sure what it was. Here’s the deal:
The Pittsburgh Comics Salon is a cultural organization dedicated to creating an ecosystem for comics making in Pittsburgh. This includes hosting workshops, readings, book discussion groups, gallery exhibitions and publishing solo works and anthologies by local artists. The goal of the salon is to build solidarity, get new conversations started between cartoonists and comics-makers in the area and to push the frontiers of comics.
We currently meet once a month (down from 3 times) at the Lili Cafe in Polish Hill. That is soon to change, but more on that soon.
The Pittsburgh Comics Salon strives to provide a safe and positive experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, or religion. As Bill Boichel and Frank Santoro have said before: commodity form as community form. meeting folks where they’re at. I’m doing my best to reach far outside of the stagnant bubble of “the comics world”, indie/alternative/commercial and mainstream alike.
It’s all one stream. I’ll go into this more at length in the future, for now though, take it in: It’s all one stream.
Anyway, the hope is to write here more often, sharing the process of growth taking the Salon to the next level as a cultural entity. This’ll be a space for public reflection that I’m accountable for 😉 thanks for joining me for the ride.