Monday, January 6, 2014

Don't forget what you are

Hello!  2013 is over and this is my annual year-in-review blog post.  (See also: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009)
-I had a 3-issue run on It Girl & The Atomics, my first superhero gig!
-I got to illustrate a story for the Thrilling Adventure Hour’s anthology (and I worked with Archaia for the first time).
-I had a nice exhibition at Sequential Art Gallery and a few pieces in Orbital Comics' "Portland Comics Heaven" show in London
-I started two blogs: a dedicated movie review comics blog, and this travel blog
-I made a 32-page art book to collect my work.  Periscope Studio organized a whole fleet of them, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter!
-I created online content for Bitch Magazine!
-I illustrated Sarah Mirk’s book, Sex From Scratch
-I made 11 new movie review comics
-I live-drew a set for Peter Serafinowicz as a part of Picture This! at the Bridgetown Comedy Fest
-I got some really great freelance work this spring that allowed me to save money and take the risk to move overseas
-I went to a professional for my taxes for the first time.  I’m finally on a big girl’s quarterly estimates system
-I contributed a good amount to my retirement fund, which was hard at the time but makes me feel secure when I look into the future
-A Boy & A Girl hit shelves to a great response!  I was really touched to be on several best-of-2013 lists and get write-ups on USA Today and i09.
-I continued life drawing and sketching as much as possible, and people seem to love it.  It's helping me improve my anatomy, gestures, and character diversity
-I continued running.  I made friends in France through running together, and I ran my first race in December (the Course de l’Escalade in Geneva!)
-I hosted more events at my house, including a Jurassic Park party, movie nights, and a welcome back party for Molly
-I house sat, car watched, moved a friend, and sat with a friend through a crisis day.  I’m afraid I can err on the side of aloof and unavailable as a friend, and I want to make sure I’m doing these kinds of things
-I learned how to drive manual!
-I learned how to Skype and used it to stay in contact with home
-I learned how to live out of a backpack, couch surf, and use Blablacar (a.k.a. travel like the poor student I am).  It’s really fun!
-I allowed myself to relax more, take workday breaks with friends in cafes, visit friends for dinner, go to Powell’s and read, or just take the day off now and then.  I organized two group vacations to Sunriver, which was more relaxation than most cartoonists allow themselves in a decade.  I didn’t have any of the overworking/stress injuries I struggled with in 2012.
-I moved to France?!  I also visited Italy and Switzerland for the first time and went back to London
-I went to my first French convention (Saint-Malo) with an “auteur” badge!
-I lived in the present, versus constantly planning for / worrying about the future.
-I feel like I am taking full advantage of my time on this earth and going after the things that excite me again.  It’s scary and wonderful.  Risks!  Failure!  Growth!  It’s true that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone.  I feel a lot like a teenager, acutely feeling the full range of emotions.  It’s great.  And terrifying.
-I was turned down for a LOT of things I applied to in 2013 (primarily jobs).  I applied to the TAPIF Pprogram and it was a bitter disappointment that I didn’t get in (I may or may not have cried through an entire day at Periscope???).  Shout-out to my friend Pat for helping me with this and putting an inspirational adventure-seeking book in my hands.  He helped me remember that there are a lot of options out there, and to get creative when you want to do something a little crazy like live in a foreign country.  Doors didn’t open for me this year, but I found some windows.
-Things didn’t work out with my host family.  I stayed for 3 months and I’m glad I did it, but I think terminating my au pair contract was the right choice for both of us.  We made the most of an imperfect situation, but it still stung not to see things through to the end.
-I didn’t actually draw a ton of comics this year.  I sketched a lot, I did my It Girl and Thrilling Adventure Hour pages, worked a lot of commercial projects, and did some personal projects, but it was another year without a new creator-owned graphic novel, and that doesn’t feel great.
-Socially, I still get really annoyed by a select few people and I just cannot seem to tolerate them.  I want to be able to get along with anyone, or at least fake it through the times I HAVE to spend with these people, but I’m still not there yet.  The people I admire in comics are the ones you would describe as "nice", who get along with everyone and are really thoughtful and kind.  I want to be one of them.
2013 Highlights:
-SDCC!  I saw TheThrilling Adventure Hour live twice, got to hang out with Ben Acker, and saw my brother Nick experiencing the show for the first time.  Good times.
-The comics Sunriver trips.  We went down into the Bend Lava Caves, hot tubbed, watched movies, practiced lassoing, petted ponies, rode bikes, spotted deer, made jell-o shots, played Jenga.  All the good things.
-Moving to FRANCE!  Everything about it, but especially my trip with my mom and Les Baux, Cassis, Florence/The Uffizi, Musee D’Orsay, and l’Orangerie
-London!  Oh my god I love British people.  We had fun.
-Travel!  I mean, I’m doing it, but I don’t want to go home without seeing Barcelona and Madrid at the very least.  I also hope to visit my friend Barbara on her north Italian vineyard, see Brussels and Berlin, and get back to London.
-Participate in some French comic festivals!
-Get back to a stable situation where I can really work (a room of my own, scanner, wifi, income, free time) by the end of the year
-Focus on my own stories
-Build/find artistic community
-Make movie review comics once or twice per month
-Stay open to new friendships and connections.  Make the most of being in a foreign country.  Say "yes" and see where it takes you (In The Waiting Room, anyone?).
What I learned (about myself):
-I crave artistic community.  Periscope, KCS, the Blue House, the Bloomsbury Group, my monthly accountability meetings with Erika and Dylan last year, sketch groups...these kinds of things are really important to me.  I want to surround myself with people who inspire and motivate me.
-There aren't shortcuts to anywhere worth going.  Building a comics career is a long, hard journey, but it's one I undertake willingly.  I can get there if it's important to me.
-I want to work on my own stories.  I love working with other people and I learn from every collaboration, but in my heart I know I need to develop my own voice.
-I’m not super into the idea of marrying or having kids.  Letting myself admit that feels good.
-Happiness is a haircut you can air-dry and shoes you can walk 5 miles in.  I'm loving being lower-maintenance and owning fewer things.
-I've put so much time and energy into my freelance career, it is now officially better than most of the options I have for day jobs.  This is both exciting and terrifying, since "taking a day job" is no longer that nice back-up plan I feel I could fall back on.
-I love traveling and using foreign languages!!  I'm so so so glad I came to France.  I think I'll be a life-long language learner, and I hope I can afford to travel internationally every year or find a good time to live abroad in a more permanent way.
Final thoughts / miscellany:

Maybe the best thing I read this year was I Was A ManicPixie Dream Girl by Laurie Penny.  Please read and consider the whole thing (not that I agree with all of it, but I do agree with most of it, and a lot of her ideas were new to me).

I also recently watched An Education, which explored similar themes against the backdrop of 1960s England (and Carey Mulligan's perfect perfect face).  Sooooo good.  God I love me some Olivia Williams, too. ♥ Required viewing.
Happy New Year!  I'm staying with Nicolas Hitori De and I have access to a scanner again, so I'll post new comics soon. :) Be good!!


  1. This was a great read, Tally. Also, Berlin would love to have you!

    1. Thank you, Claire!! :-) Berlin is so on my list!! I keep hearing great things about it, that it's bustling with artists and culture. I will definitely contact you if I make it over! :D

  2. What a great post! I've been following your blog for a while now and it's really interesting to see all the victories and the struggles summed up in this post. Wish you a fun and successful 2014 :D

  3. All your travelling seems to be infusing a lot of character, spontaneity & style into your work. "Home" is feeling like kind of a loose sequel to "Between Gears," in a sense, and I'm glad that you're sharing as you go. You're definitely one of the more interesting artists to follow! Keep it up, and safe travels!

    1. Awww, Christian! ;_; Thank you. It feels really right to be doing this, and I'm lucky to have people like you along for the ride. I think that taking a year off is going to make my future comics better.