Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Crucible, and the importance of being in one

    Man, this one is hard to begin...
It was all supposed to go so differently. Last September I started working on the house to get it ready for market. At the first of the month I tried to continue full time at work while renovating the house, but it just became too daunting. So I dropped to part time and continued the reno, but by the end of the month, I could see I still didn't have the stamina. Sept. 28th 2012 became my last day at work, ending 16 years with my employer. Putting full time into the reno was supposed to help get our house on the market and sold before the holidays. My family would be home in Texas well before the first of the year, BUT... Guess what... after two failed escrows because of a low ball FHA appraisal,  we're still here.
   Somewhere, in some unspoken, un-intellectualized plan I put my creative life on hold. Packing it  away in bubble wrap and shoving it into Card board boxes, awaiting their triumphant unleashing upon our return home. Well that didn't work. I can see now that I've been wrestling with a bit of depression. I know I am effected by S.A.D. Seasonal Effective Disorder. Have been so for years, but cupeled with putting myself out of work and struggling with all that entails I'm afraid I have deepened the blues for myself this season.
   I had dreamed of quitting for years. "FREEDOM!!!" I thought. (you know, I really tried to apply David Acuff's council in his book Quitter  but I guess I am forever putting carts before horses and counting chicks before they hatch.) But are we really ever? Free I mean? And my motivation behind this post is the question, Do we really ever want to be?
 From that struggle, that "Crucible" of troubles comes the motivation for our creativity. I was afraid that once I quit the day job that this very thing would happen.  I would stop waking up at 4:30am to work on my art. That I would lose touch with my fellow artists. That I would waste time watching TV shows and playing stupid games, growing fatter and lazier by the minute. Take the pot off the stove and What do you have? Eventually a pot of useless lukewarm water.
   In the background of it all has been growing the germ of an idea that I feel will spark the fires back into life again. Listening to my favorite Podcast this morning, Paper Wings  Chris Oatley and Lora Innes interviewed Ryan Woodward Whom I mentioned in my last post http://samkirkman.blogspot.com/2012/07/motion-comics-or-interactive.html His work Bottom of the Ninth is truly ground breaking. In that interview, Ryan suggested, "follow your passion and pick the project that, in a sense, first picks you,"   And when we try to communicate something that is profound to us in a way that is not overstated or "Spoon fed" to our audience that it will connect. Like he said, there really isn't a formula for it, you just have to feel it and go with it.   
   So that's what I hope to do, keep the life in my embers, so ta speak, and share something personally profound and yet universally accessible, not spoon fed or overstated. More soon I hope.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Motion Comics or Interactive Storytelling?

   With the advent of the iPad and other tablet devices, creative individuals are searching for ways to harness the possibilities they offer for artistic expression. A few years ago, the Comic industry experimented with motion comics, with disastrous results in my opinion. As many observed, it strained the fabric of what make Comics Comics. This was a learning experience for everyone and I feel, even though an unsuccessful venture, it was valuable exploration.
   What caught my attention recently, are interactive, or what I'd like to call immersive experience Comics. It started in some of the first Children's offerings for the iPad. Alice In Wonderland from Atomic Antelope was an eye opener to what might be possible. Since, there have been a flood of such titles, again mostly in the Children's digital book market. No surprise. Such books have always been well received by their audience. Since the day of the popup book and those annoying read along and play books you see everywhere, publishers have been making the most of it.  One might be inclined then to lump interactive, immersive comics into either the failed or the puerile, but let me put forward a couple of examples that might prove otherwise. first,

                                         Bottom Of The Ninth by Ryan Woodward .
 Ryan is a phenomenal animator artist and storyteller, and now add innovator to his achievements. Now there may be some purists out there that might argue, but I say that he has made a step, a huge step in the evolution of Comics. As defined by Scott McCloud; "Comics- Juxtaposed pictorial And Other images in sequence intended to convey information and / or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer" The possibilities are so exciting to me. Not just Static images, but animated and interactive elements "Juxtaposed" to other content. In spite of a few technical glitches at first, I find Ryan's offering inspiring!
   Another offering that I most highly recommend is

                                      CIA. Operation Ajax from Cognito Comics.
 This work is simply astounding! In so many ways. in subject matter and in execution, exemplary. This not only suggests an advancement in entertainment but also in education. It enlivens the otherwise dry events of history and slaps you in the face with a huge dose of relevance. If you truly want to understand why the middle east hates the west so much, this will shine an unflinching light on the subject. I'll leave it up to others more skilled in word and critique than I to give a rounded evaluation, but just read it, NO, experience it. And if you are a creator like myself, be inspired by it.
   And not to leave you without a tool to do so, might I recommend downloading the first and only app at present for you to experiment with.

Demi Books Composer is an app that allows you to build an interactive story right on the iPad and the company offers you a way to make that available to everyone through the iTunes store. That particular portion of their offering I haven't fully explored yet, but the app is free to download and use.  
So what are you waiting on! Get busy! Get out there and start astounding people!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

New portfolio site & some Fan Art

I just love my new iPad. It allows me to make posts while while I eat lunch. I've got a couple of exciting things to share. First, a brand-new portfolio site.
If you have a sec, check it out let me know what you think.
Second, Jason Brubaker of http://remind.blogspot.com is having a fan art competition. What! You haven't read ReMIND? what's wrong with you?
Head on over there and do it right now! Jason is a really great guy. I got to meet him at WonderCon this year. it also hosts a podcast called Making Comics. He said some really great guests, David Petersen, Doug Tenaple, and Ethan Nichole to name a few. At any rate, here is my fan art submission. Why not submit one too! I'd love to see what my buddies come up with.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Mowing of Grass and the Mending of Fences

On a TED talk I listened to recently, a designer spoke on finding happiness. "Happiness must mean doing more of the things you love, and doing less of the things you hate." But... doing less of the things you hate can pile up on you. That is exactly what has happened to yours truly.  Now you know I love creating art, and over the last few years I've created quite a bit. I have been very happy. Now, Mr happy is bemoaning the piles of procrastination that have accumulated. Mending a fence built over 11 years ago, hacking through a jungle that was once a beautiful garden, and fighting the color green in what should be an azure blue pool have been taking up quite a bit of my time.
   The inevitableness of our move back to Texas is fueling this weekend warrior faze. May it pass swiftly!
 We are moving back to be near family. Now I love my family, and I love living in California, but when there is a choice between the two, I know there really is no choice. One must sacrifice. The truest expression of love is self sacrifice. And so, I prepare the body. With the jagged edge of a hedge trimmer I let loose the crimson in my vanes and try not to think of all that I will miss. Friendships made, incredible beauty just a few hours away, the place that Walt built, Yup, I'm gonna miss California.
   There is however a glimmer. I will at long last be loosed from the salt mines. 16 years in retail is long enough.
"But Sam! What will you do for a living!?" I would like to say that for a change, I will live for a living. Becoming a working freelance illustrator and Author is of course my goal, but to reach that goal, it is going to take more sacrifice. We will simplify. Living in Texas will be much less expensive than living here. (There is no state income tax in Texas for one thing.) I will find part time work. We will not eat out. We will go camping under the stars rather than doing Disneyland. Then, within all that "Meantime," I will continue to pursue my goal, be with my family and, put first things first.
For me this feels like a leap of faith.  Faith in the talents that Jehovah has given me, and that it is his will that we make this move. My mother is 74 and not getting any younger.
   Yes I've read Quitter by Jon Acuff, and yes all the way through I was looking for the affirmation to quit.
All good council and I applaud him.   But he didn't speak much of being trapped in a toxic job, heading  away from where you want to be. His jobs always seemed related to his ultimate goal. At the very least, he was able to use his creative skill sets on a daily basis which by effect, got him closer and closer to his goal.  I have been on the wrong buss headed in the opposite direction for a LLLooonnnggg time. If I'm ever to expect to get to where I want to be, I gotta change busses NOW!

On a HUGELY Positive, Wonderfully SPLENDIFEROUS note,
the gang from the http://illopond.com are forming a new group the Anthology 8  group of artists. Paul Caggegi, with his marvelous brain and bounding talents has taken initiative to set up a site dedicated to a core group of artists. Those who have been involved in our anthologies in the past, and who will be taking things to a whole new level. We are not leaving the Illopond, we just feel the need to make this a sustainable enterprise for all those involved. We encourage others to continue to pool their talents and build something like we have done through the illopond. And of course we will continue to drop in from time to time to encourage & foster continued collaborations there.

   My next Story for FarFaria will be out soon.   Here is a lil peak. If you have an iPad, I hope that you will download subscribe to the app. It is the best value for Digital Children's literature out there. Most single book apps out there are running anywhere from 3.99 to 12.00 for a single book! FarFaria delivers new books added every week to an already huge world of Children's titles. The first month is on the house. you can read as often and as many as you like. After that, it is a 3.99 a month subscription, but like I said, new books are added weekly! And you will find soon five stories illustrated by yours truly.          

  Lastly, and certainly not leastly, I'm honored to be part of an exciting project. My friend
Ian Narcisi, an incredibly talented musician, singer song writer, invited me to contribute some visuals for an up coming Concept album     There will be a kickstarter campaign in conjunction with this project that I hope that you will consider contributing. Can't say much about it right now, but I've been messing around with animation Via Corel Painter for it. I think you will be blow away!
At any rate, Yup. Life is busy, and once my seat on the bus is final, I will breath a sigh of creative release. And if you know of anyone needing a dedicated, easy to work with illustrator mention my name!!! I'm only an email away.    


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A piece revisited

I can never leave a piece alone. there always seems to be something I can tweak, something I can rearrange that can make a piece better. Some day I may get tho the point where I can leave well enough alone, but for this piece I think a little fiddling was well worth it.  

the older version.

And so, 
on to the next piece I can't keep my hands off of.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Two White Horses now available

My story that appeared in Dark Mischief from Dreamwalker press is now available for digital download and indyplanet digital . I is in Volume 2 of Dark Mischief which is yet to be released, but as a special surprise, I will have a few copies available for purchase at WonderCon this next weekend in Anaheim.
I will have Hard copies of Two White Horses as well and of corse, the new Ouwangalaymah #3 and lots more. If your going to WonderCon this next week end March 16-18th I do hope you will stop by and say hello. And please,  check out the digital. It looks GREAT on an iPad!  :o)         

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Well I can finally disclose the project that detoured my progress on my personal work. FarFaria is an iPad  app full of Children's stories to delight and amuse. I was privileged to work on four of the stories.
It was such a pleasure to work on these stories. And being my first official freelance gig, I was a bit disappointed when it was over. While my heart is in my own stories, I must admit that it is a completely different challenge to bring someone else's story to life. The folks at intuary were great to work with. I do hope to work with them again and welcome any other jobs that might come my way, but I must say I am so glad to be able to get back to finishing Ouwangalaymah. 
One of these day's I hope to own an iPad and read the other stories in FarFaria. I understand it will be an app that will continue to grow as more stories are added in the future, so be sure if you are an iPad owner to download it and let me know what you think!