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Faith Erin Hicks on Finding A Balance

November 1st, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Faith Erin Hicks continues her streak of being one of the most interesting people in comics by talking about finding a balance in your career. She’s talking specifically about comics, but it’s really good advice regardless. You can’t do everything, and if you want to do anything well, you’re going to have to sit down and dedicate time to that thing. THat requires removing time from another thing, because time management is a zero-sum game. You’ve got twenty-four hours, so there’s a limit to what you can do.

Her solution was giving up videogames. I don’t really have that option, on account of my day job, but I can relate. I’m real picky about games these days, pretty much only playing AAA titles or weird downloadable stuff that I heard good things about (Tokyo Jungle, whattup). I buy maybe four or five disc-based games a year, and then I play them over a period of six months or more. I like PSN titles, the downloadable joints, if only because they’re cheap and they’re usually built for bite-size playing sessions. NBA 2k13 is about the only game I binge on these days. I even do a mission or two of Sleeping Dogs and call it a day most times.

I had to sit down and hammer out a schedule earlier this year, because of Issues. I alternated between not sleeping well and sleeping too much, and I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. I came up with two rules. First, evenings and nights are sacred. Once I get home from work, I’m free from work. Evenings are for relaxing, decompressing, resting, video games, and what little tv I actually watch. Second, I needed to do something about my mornings. I’d wake up tired, go to work tired, and come home tired. So I needed to sort that out.

What I ended up deciding to do was pretty easy to pull off. I used to wake up early to go to high school and watch Sportscenter with my granddad and uncle. They were out of the house by 0530. I told myself that I would wake up at 6, and use the three hours before work to handle writing and other stuff. I exercise in the mornings anyway, so I’m just waking up a little earlier, so I still have time to run, lift, stretch, or whatever’s on deck for that day (abs, ugh). I don’t play games in the morning, though I will download games or demos for playing later in the background. No TV either, outside of streaming youtube videos off my Watch Later playlist, which is almost exclusively music videos, at this point. I try to avoid tweeting in the evenings, but sometimes the allure of dumb jokes is just too much and I relapse. I don’t IM at home, though, or do that email-tumblr-twitter-email loop.

Write in the mornings, work during the day, and relax in the evenings, only writing after the sun goes down if it’s absolutely necessary.

It worked, mostly. I feel much more alert when I work out or run before going into work, and it’s nice to have a demarcation of what I do and when. Previously, I’d write whenever, willy-nilly. Come home, play some games, and then write ’til midnight, or come home, write, and then stay up past midnight. Now, I go to bed earlier and wake up more rested and better equipped to handle a hard day.

I’m still tired sometimes, and getting up to do anything in the middle of the night is usually a pretty bad idea, but I’m pretty happy with this schedule. I’d always thought of schedules, of rationing your time, as a thing that stinky grown-ups did. Schedules are boring, yeah? I knew that schedules provide a structure to make sure things get done, but I didn’t realize that it could have an overall positive effect on your life. If I know what I’m doing, then I can be flexible and change plans and know exactly what I need to do to make up for it. I can look forward to getting home and doing a thing, instead of look forward to getting home, at which point I will write, and then, if it isn’t too late, maybe have a chance to have some fun.

I don’t cook dinner at midnight any more. I have more free time. I’m super excited about watching a bunch of basketball games as they air (and one or two in person!) this year. I feel good about getting off work. The schedule works. I’m that much closer to finding a balance.

Hicks’s post is pretty great. Check it out, absorb it, learn from it. Read this bit from Hicks, too, and check out her new comic with Prudence Shen, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.

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I Got So Much Culture On My Mind 02: feh.

April 27th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

-I’m slowly getting into Michael DeForge’s work. It’s weird and a little out of my wheelhouse of cusswords and violence comix, but I like how creepy and weird and John K his style gets sometimes. He’s put Kid Mafia #1 online for free, asking only that if you read and enjoy it, you kick him fifty cents via Paypal. I read it, I liked it, and I paypaled him fifty cents in Canadian dollars. If you like it, you should do the same.

I like this idea, and I hope more cats who produce minicomics start doing this. I’m not much for paper books and totally fine with making it rain via Paypal. Hopefully you are, too!

-I did a podcast with Chris Eckert from Funnybook Babylon about our comic book origins. I really like this photoset he made for the chat, which really says it all:

Is it any wonder my taste in comics turned out like it did? That Batman cover is crazy, though. I also spill the beans on the time I had a nightmare about Terry Kavanaugh, which is one of the stupidest things that has ever happened to me. We talk a lot about Image comics, too. I guess I hadn’t realized how fundamental their stuff was for/to me until this chat, so it was nice to look back and sort of reconcile what I like now with what I liked then.

-Michael Peterson and Kevin Czapiewski have launched Project Ballad, a webcomic about a girl named Kendra Price, RPGs, and maybe… video games?? Start reading it here. It’ll update Monday-Wednesday-Friday from here on out. You should read it. I am.

-I watched Lena Dunham’s Girls, but I don’t really have a thinkpiece in me like the rest of the internet. I hated it, basically, because the experiences and people I watched on TV were so completely and utterly alien to my experiences. Like, magic, kung fu? I can buy that. Asking my mother for eleven hundred bucks a month to pay my rent while I douchebag around town? My mom would die laughing and then haunt me for the rest of my life, telling me to get a job in between ghostly guffaws. So yeah: not for me.

-I watched Frederic Jardin’s Sleepless Night the other night. I liked it a lot. It’s this tight little crime thriller about a cop who robs the wrong guy and gets his son kidnapped. Most of it takes place in one building, there are several factions, and I love love loved that the violence was so awkward and off-putting. Tomer Sisley as Vincent is not playing Jason Statham as Jason Statham, as the fight scene in the kitchen proves. He’s just a cop, rather than a supercop. Also there are father/son issues, and I’m a sucker for those, not to mention gunfights and action.

A lot of Sleepless Night takes place in a nightclub, but it never dragged the movie down like every other nightclub scene does for me.

Sleepless Night reminded me about Fred Cavayé’s Point Blank because… well, they’re both in the same genre, French, and pretty good. Point Blank shakes out a little differently. Samuel is a regular dude, a nurse, put into a tough situation. He sucks a a lot of things, but the movie livens things up by teaming him up with a hardened criminal. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see cross on double cross on triple cross over the course of the movie, though. Gilles Lellouche is perfect as the desperate regular dude, and Roschdy Zem gets a good turn as a gangster. There’s a scene in an apartment that was tremendous, really great writing, action, and film-making.

-My man Sean Witzke put me onto Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, which is a… some type of band. Rock? Noise? Whatever. I really like “Hoshi Neko,” but the entire album is pretty good.

I don’t really have the frame of reference to describe it in proper terms, I guess, so I’m going to copy & paste from their blog:

YT//ST was founded in late 2007 by performance artists alaska B and Ruby Kato Attwood, born from the ashes of the late Lesbian Fight Club. Armed with mixed-race identities, mad illustration skills and a whole pile of home-brew junk electronics, alaska and Ruby wrote and performed the first mini ‘Noh-Wave’ Opera, ‘YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN I’ in April 2008. YT//ST continued to perform short homebrewed operas, eventually forming a network of Asian and Indigenous artists through collaboration and formed the current YT//ST collective.

They have this weird multi-disciplinary sound, sort of dissonant but appealing at the same time. The vocals sound like they’re coming in from a distance, or through a filter, and instruments sound like they fade in and out of the mix as needed. I dunno, I could keep putting words that don’t quite fit on it or you can listen to “Hoshi Neko” and “Reverse Crystal//Murder of a Spider” and hear exactly what I mean. I bought the album and it was more than worth my time.

-This guy Boulet is so good. I love this strip about childhood dreams, too.

-Philip Bond is still drawing spacegirls.

-Faith Erin Hicks is great. I think she’s super interesting as a person, going by her essays on making a living in comics & animation and whatnot, and of course she’s scary talented. She’s got a Tumblr now, which includes this great picture of Liz Sherman from BPRD:

I really really like this. Liz’s bored expression, which extends to the lazily arcing cigarette smoke, is pitch-perfect. Even the lazy posture, starting from her bent left leg on up. But, and maybe this is weird, my favorite part is Hicks’s signature. “feh.” is the best signature since Walt Simonson’s dinosaur. Someone should do one of those knock-down, drag-out, ultra-long, “here are all of my opinions on every subject ever” interviews with Hicks. I bet it’d be a great read.

-Powerhouse blogger Kate Dacey is curating a Manga Movable Feast on Viz Signature, which may well be the best comics imprint since the glory days of Wildstorm. The MMF is a collection of reviews, criticism, and just content in general, all on the subject of Viz Sig’s fantastic catalog. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to contribute this time (my motivation for everything these days is on approximately a negative thousand million, but it’ll pass. I’ve been working on this simple post since Wednesday, ha ha), but I did pick Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond Vizbig 9 and Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka as part of my best of 2010, and I still like this look at Inoue’s writing. I’m down for another Vagabond reread, actually. Maybe that’ll be this summer’s big series of posts? Inouefest, 2012. In-No-Way-Fest 2012. Anyway! Go, read! Kate’s list of 7 essential books is pretty good.

-I’m probably going to pre-order the super deluxe funcrusher plus monster package of El-P’s Cancer 4 Cure (that title!!!!!) and Killer Mike’s RAP Music. I love those guys, and dropping 85 bones on their work doesn’t seem like a huge extravagance. I’ll have to wait to see how next payday shakes out, though. I definitely want the vinyl of both. I just have to make sure the math makes sense. It may be smarter to just order Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music on vinyl separately, though. I don’t necessarily need the instrumentals or poster.

-Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos have a kickstarter going for their book Fairy Quest. Here’s a video:

And a widget:

I like these guys, especially when they work together. I’m going to kick some cash their way come payday, too.

-Here’s a couple STS videos I liked. I like how regular the video for “Good Intentions” is. It’s just a bunch of guys hanging out and doing things. It fits the theme of STS’s Goldrush, too, which is laid back flips of established songs. And STS is a spitter, too. Always a treat to hear a new verse.

-Tucker’s Comics of the Weak is still the best post every week. He’s got Jog and Abhay backing him up this week, plus Nate Bulmer, so maybe you should get down or lay down. Also, I vote you don’t get to make the Holocaust into a pithy comeback in your stupid fight comics. Been there, done that.

-Next week: I’ve got my uzi back, you dudes is wack, face it, the Wu is back (hopefully, but if the Celtics beat the Hawks on Sunday, I may spiral back into the Pit of Depression)

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