What a mess.

This blog is such a mess. The category organization is a mess. The tags are a mess. Mess. Mess. Mess.

And yet, it’s still here. That’s comforting. It’s nice to still be here.

That said, I’m changing things up a little. From this point on this is just going to be a 100% catchall blog, channelling the spirit of the early 00’s. This used to be a space for me to put out things related to my comics making and exploration of the medium, but that bandwidth is too narrow. I think about too many things nowadays. I can’t stay on a single topic for too long. I have more to say.
(That said, visual language and self-authorization of expression via drawing and publishing of comics and zines and jpegs and gifs and pngs is something that I engage with practically every day.)

So, some updates:

Since last fall I’ve been quietly at the helm of Comics Workbook. I had been assisting Frank Santoro with the site and social media starting in 2015 as the mouth piece of his Rowhouse Residency project and his Correspondence Course for Comics Makers. This work started when Frank and I created the Pittsburgh Comics Salon and launched the Kickstarter to buy the house next to his in Swissvale to create the Rowhouse Residency.

Last year, and things leading up to then found Frank’s life was going in a different direction than what the Comics Workbook project needed, so after 6 years of manning the ship. I saw this as an opportunity to lighten his load and to launch a vision for a comics making hub. We talked and he conferred control of it to me.

I took some time and put the whole project on hiatus, publicly. Up to that point, a core crew of volunteers: Caleb Orecchio, Sally Ingraham, Aaron Cocklere and myself had been running a daily blog where we wrangled up as much interesting information from the world of comics, art, commerce and technology that intersected with comics and visual language. It was a monster of a Daily News project. Sometimes we’d write short essays, or reviews of things we were reading about it. It was awesome, but tiring. I hope to bring a practice like that back to the new website.

The hiatus was good. It was the first time I really let something rest. To dutifully nap. In that nap there were dreams that I kept returning too. I allowed myself to wander through the landscapes of those dreams as they pertained to Comics Workbook and I found a feeling that I wanted to manifest, that I wanted other people to experience when they made, read or learned about comics and visual language. That was the spirit from which the new Comics Workbook was born.

In early 2019 I set to work with Pablo Selin to restructure the existing website, http://www.comicsworkbook.com. After some extensive thinking, we landed on a nice structure that allowed us to organically grown and tend to a new digital body of comics knowledge, this time focused on the art and the creators of that art, real time.

At Comics Workbook we are testing a new type of learning space for comics-making.

Through the publishing of comics, essays, reviews, interviews and tutorials we hope to expand the known limits of the comics medium.

We are committed to:

  • creating a hub for comics-making and writing about comics-making that emphasizes the healthy growth and development of its contributors and readers.
  • nurturing an exciting cultural space for makers by makers.
  • investing in the exploration of the comics medium as a vital community form, evolving from its 20th-21st century existence as a commodity form

I’m using social media to motivate new and aspiring makers to create comics and share them, while also boosting the signals of contemporary makers that may need support in building their audiences. Above all I am trying to create a space that is for makers by makers. I do not feel that such a space exists, and for my own sake, I would like it to exist. I believe it will help others.

What else?

Jenn and I are getting married next year. We are excitedly, though overwhelmingly, planning a wedding for next June. Because Jenn and I don’t have very much money, and these things, well they cost money, we’re working hard to figure out effective, cost efficient ways to bring family and friends together next year. Whatever it takes, I want this to be a joyful union of family and friends celebrating the love and trust that Jenn and I have in each other. Loving Jenn and being loved by her has been a life changing experience. More on that in future posts.

This Fall I’m preparing to leave my job at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and to dive into coding. I’ve talked with my supervisors and they are flexible in allowing me to take classes while I am working. I will have to go part time so I will need to figure out how my healthcare coverage will be handled… but that’s a logistical detail you don’t need to worry about!

I am hoping, long term to get into software development. I love computers, learning through computers, I love creatively solving problems and I need to really dive into a career that allows me the money to support myself, my family and my community. At the moment I have so little time and energy to give on all fronts, primarily due to the stresses of money. It sucks, but it is what it is. I am hoping to change that.

As a concrete step to that goal, I have begun Harvard+MIT’s free online Programming Course, CS50. I will be making my way through it this fall.

There’s a lot more, but as I’ve promised to be back here soon, I’ll leave that til then.

It’s late and I ought to get some rest. Take care and be good to yourself.

thanks for reading,
juan

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