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July 9th, 2011, 3:37 pm

Hosting, and a Return from a Hiatus

Hello again, after an excruciating (and entirely unplanned) hiatus! Here's what's been up with Memoria the last few months, and where Memoria is going in the future:

After a long history with the comic host, Smackjeeves, I've finally determined it's time to move on. Smackjeeves was a great place to start; but recent developments have prompted me to reconsider where I'm putting Memoria. Most notable is the shift with the readership available on SJ- it's becoming more and more based on "yoai" comics or other forms of romance/erotic comics. I've ignored it for a long time, mostly because I assumed not everyone there was reading those (I certainly wasn't), and I wanted to stick to the community that my work had gotten it's start on.

But push came to shove this past month when I tried accessing my comic on local wifi only to discover the whole SJ host is blocked because it's deemed pornographic. It was a bit of a wake up call, to be honest.

I would love to stick with SJ for a number of reasons, but I'm starting to see that "the time has come" so to speak. I'm looking into a few different options for hosting while I continue making pages; hopefully by the end of the month I will have a new place to put Memoria and I can go back to updating as usual!

Keep an eye out for the new URL soon.
Thanks for reading and being patient! :)

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April 14th, 2011, 11:43 pm

Between places

Earlier, I sent a text to twitter: "Today is a weird day". Today is not the only weird day though.

As I count down the weeks til my "final summer vacation", I find myself kind of walking through a fog. I have a lot of small tasks to do- finishing up class papers and presentations, fixing last minute details on various websites for work, and also trying to make time to celebrate the little things with friends. But it's all very surreal; it's like time is blending together and fooling me into thinking I've got more than I actually do- and it's starting to hit me that I don't have that time.

I called this post "between places" because that's kind of how I feel right now. I got this feeling a bit at the end of my senior year of high school too. Even though I'm still a junior here, I stil get the feeling that I don't quite belong where I am, but I'm not quite ready to move on yet either.

Although my college experience definitely has it's ups and downs, I really like the community here, and I've learned a ton since I started college just a few years ago. The art department has, quite literally, become my safe haven and family unit here on campus. Just the smell of it is familiar now; I walk in and know it's safe to breathe again. There's always someone hanging around to goof off or chat with. We're all comfortable around each other.

And yet...

I'm starting to want? something more. Or, maybe a better way to put it, I'm wanting to keep what I've got and get more at the same time. I want the security blanket that the department and my art friends provide, but I also want the option of spreading my wings and getting out.

The problem is, I don't know where OUT is.

I've lived in a couple different places in my life. I lived in Washington for the first 9 years of my life, made a cross country move to Kentucky, and now I'm living in Indiana (during the school year). And yet, I don't really feel driven to return to or stay in any of these places. Certainly, they have their good aspects- I have family in Washington and Kentucky that I love very much, and friends all over Indiana- but it doesn't quite feel right.

Let me put it this way. There are beautiful and wonderful things about all the places I've lived so far. I like them really well. But there's nothing about them that says "live here. put down roots here. stick around for a while".

I mean, I know I've got plenty of time to figure it out. And I'm not totally stuck on living in one place for the rest of my life either- I didn't grow up doing that, and it's hard to imagine spending more than ten years in one place! But I'd like to have some idea of where I want to go, and right now I don't.

Some of the things that have kind of forced my thoughts into "the real world" have been my current job and my internship hunt. My job insomuch as it's been the first little needle to pop my "art bubble" in a long time. Which, while it was (and still can be!) disorienting, I really think I've learned a lot from it. I like to whine about it from time to time, as it is very time-consuming, but I really do enjoy it. It's a challenge, but a good one. I like having my mind and communication skills stretched- I need that as a comic artist.

But it's been my internship hunt that has really forced my hand and made me consider where I want to be after I graduate next year. There have times during my hunt that I've thought that I have no options; and now I'm finding that there may be too many in too many places! I don't have one yet, but just seeing the wide variety of firms out there is rather overwhelming. It's hard to fathom that in a year or two I won't be interning at a design firm- I'll be working at one.

But on the same note, who knows, maybe I won't even end up at a design firm. Maybe I will be in a foreign country doing mission work, or making millions off of my comic! XP

I guess what this comes down to is discomfort. I'm between places, and oftentimes those are the most uncomfortable places to be. "I'm afraid to live and afraid to die" at this point; I'm standing on the brink, waiting for things to happen.

On the bright side of this discomfort though, I'm finding that I'm having to turn to God more and more often. I'm not on fire yet. But with each little journal entry and each little minute I set aside to chill with Him, I start to think it's going to be alright. It's funny, because I feel like I get this same lesson every few months, but it never really sticks. It's like I have to have a mini-panic-episode to calm down and realize hey, God really does got this.

I'm praying for more good moments of praise as the days go on. I'm still very busy, but I hope that I will be granted the serenity to know when it's time to just let it go and let the stream take me where it will. Perhaps when I finally let it go- whatever it is, my fears about getting an internship, anxieties about classes or work- I'll realize that I'm already where I need to be, or close to it.

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March 27th, 2011, 12:01 pm

What I learned from Junior Review

Well. As I've mentioned before on the news posts for the individual pages and via Twitter, I recently had my junior portfolio review at my school. The junior portfolio review exists to "look forward" to our senior show work- basically it's a discussion between the faculty and the student about the work we've done, and where we want it to go.

As you might imagine, I pitched Memoria for my senior show work. I've been working on this comic for 5+ years now; and it's taken a lot of different incarnations, twists, and turns, but I think I'm ready to start really taking the next step and promoting it properly. I want to start talking about it more and taking it even more seriously.

I said all this and more in my written statement at my review. I gave all the background details, showed all my pages, sketchbooks, and past versions; I even brought in a computer to show the "final" digital pages and the website.

And yet... I still didn't pass my review.

I'm still a little hurt about the whole thing. The review itself went very badly, in my opinion; the whole thing was very discouraging and disappointing. My particular art program doesn't have any kind of "comics/graphic novel/sequential art" class or professor, but I was hoping that my teachers would be able to look past some of that and give me some good advice anyway. There's a lot of wisdom to be had around there, from both the fine art and design disciplines, but I don't really feel I was the recipient of any of it during my review.

I felt very... attacked(?) the whole time. I mean, given, I'm a complete nervous wreck when I'm asked to talk about my comic (it's kind of like asked to talk about the deepest parts of yourself in front of a bunch of strangers for me). But I hoped to get a little mercy, as I mentioned this nervousness in my statement, explaining that Memoria was a way for me to communicate to others when my words fell short. I don't think that was the case though.

Now, I don't think that my professors weren't intentionally "hounding me" or trying to trip me up with weird questions. I think I may have gone a little out there with some of the stuff I talked about- Memoria is very personal, and perhaps that made them uncomfortable? I'm not sure. But they stuck very much with the formal aspects of the work- who were my exemplars, why don't I call this a graphic novel, etc. Which is fine. Those are okay questions. But not what I had hoped to focus on during my review. The questions just weren't pertinent- or rather, in my mind, they weren't pertinent enough to spend the entire hour on.

I would've loved to go into some of the details. I wanted them to look at my sketchbooks that I put out. Ask me questions about settings or characters. I really would have liked to talk about the color usage in Memoria. Or really anything besides what we did talk about.

Don't get me wrong. I think there is a definite value in the formal stuff- knowing the "greats", understanding the historical value of various art, etc. That's something I'm seeking to improve even now, reading the works of other comic published comic artists and blogging about them.

But I think the fact that I'm looking at comic-artists may have been part of the "problem" at my review.

Because I didn't list fine art exemplars, I got nit-picked for a while. And when I called Memoria a comic- not a "graphic novel"- there seemed to be a problem as well. It was never outright said, but I could feel a bit of a negative vibe in the room; like somehow because I'm a comic artist I'm not a "real" artist. (Which of course, freaked me out and made me shut down and become very quiet, which probably didn't do me any favors).

The thing is, and I wished I would've had the guts to say something at my review about this, but frankly, those things shouldn't matter. Or at least not as much as they were made out to. I gave a history lesson on the term "graphic novel", and why I didn't care for it. And I'm not doing fine art- it makes more sense for me to look at comic artists. I see the value in looking into fine artists; but frankly, I was under the impression that we were supposed to choose artists we genuinely liked and got excited about to study for our senior work.

I think the root of my whole problem is that I believed that my senior work was going to be MY senior work. That I was going to be allowed to do what I loved; and that I would get the opportunity to communicate my passion to others. And perhaps I may yet during my undergrad career. But after this review, I'm left with a bad taste in my mouth about the department and senior work.

And yet, while I could just leave the school, or act completely rude to the whole department, I find myself unable to really "blame" anyone for this. I'm angry and upset about my review, but no matter how hard I try I can't turn my professors into monsters or even "break ties" with them in my head. They're still good people; they've taught me alot, and I think they mean well.

...Which of course really just makes this whole thing much more frustrating. It would be a lot easier if I could just have an angry tirade and ragequit! the department.

I really love my school overall. I like to whine and complain sometimes, but I've had a really good experience in the art department thus far. But there's a duality to the departments teaching that is really frustrating and confusing to me; and this is not the first time the nasty side of it has come back to bite me in the butt. I wish it would make up it's mind- am I really free to do what I love, or am I not?

I'm having a meeting with my adviser and design professor on Monday, so I'm hoping perhaps he can provide some (positive!) insight into my review experience, and how I should approach it next time. Perhaps I didn't consider my audience well enough first time around.

Regardless, while I didn't really learn anything that related DIRECTLY to my physical work, I did learn something from this experience, and I think it's important enough to share.

If you have the opportunity to encourage someone, do it. I'm still working on this (and probably will be forever), but I'm starting to get how important it is. I don't always do this myself- it's a lot easier to ignore or be negative towards people or things I don't care for. But what's easier isn't always better. I could've pitched any number of ideas out at my review; I could've stuck with web design or client work, but I chose to take a leap of faith instead. Unfortunately, I feel like I was punished for it. But I certainly don't regret it- just the outcome and aftermath.

This doesn't mean the end of Memoria. This just means I put my nose to the grindstone and push on, regardless of what anyone thinks. I've gotten poor reviews before, online and elsewhere, and sometimes you just have to take it with a grain of salt and keep on keepin' on. I'm not going to give up on Memoria, because I love it. And I'm not going to give up on the art department, because for some reason, I still love it. I'm just going to have to work harder to show it.

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