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roaring dragon, spore, monster friday

Hi all,
Like the subject says, THE GARLICKS campaign on Indiegogo ends at 11:59 Pacific time tonight. I hope if you pledged at Kickstarter, you'll support me at Indiegogo! Signed copies of THE GARLICKS with a print start at just $25. 

http://indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks

The original art for the Kurt Busiek Eats a Bug print is up as a perk now. $350 gets you the art, plus four copies of THE GARLICKS and other goodies OR your choice of two of three other perks. Details are on THE GARLICKS main page, below the video.

$100. of the Kurt Busiek Eats a Bug original art support goes to kittybungalow.org, an L.A. non-profit that catches, fixes and releases feral cats and fosters feral kittens for adoption.  

http://indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks

THANKS SO MUCH!

roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
Attention Conservation Notice: you can just go straight here to read/see/pledge to/share THE GARLICKS Indiegogo campaign (especially if you pledged before and would like to pledge again):

http://www.indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks

First: THANK YOU for your support of THE GARLICKS on Kickstarter! It meant a lot!

You may recall the last time I was here that I was one week from finishing my Kickstarter, with $30,000. to go. I gave it my best until the last hour, called it, made a thank-you video, and started planning my next campaign: which was to re-launch THE GARLICKS on Indiegogo!

With the help of Astro City creator Kurt Busiek, I retooled the book (from one 160-page book to 4 60-page books) and campaign so my goal would be $19,000 instead of $40,000. Since I raised just under $17,000 with Kickstarter, this is an achievable goal. Yay achievable goals!  

http://www.indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks?a=1119501

There are all the best incentives: signed books, prints, magnets, custom sketched books featuring Kurt Busiek eating a bug of your choice, a library of all my graphic novels, and so on.

THE GARLICKS still needs you! With the money raised, I will be able to pay for production and printing of the first volume and get my new book out into the world! 

If you can't support financially right now, you can still help a LOT by going to THE GARLICKS campaign page and using the Like, Tweet, G+, Share, Email and Favorite buttons. These not only get my project in front of more people, they keep me on the front page of Indiegogo's Comics Page, and move me up in their Popular section--all of which lead to more pledges!

In case you missed it, THE GARLICKS promo art:

 

That URL one more time:

http://www.indiegogo.com/divaleathegarlicks?a=1119501




roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
WOOOOO! THE GARLICKS Kickstarter topped $10,000. last night!

Kurt Busiek (The Astro City and Marvels guy!) is eating bugs for THE GARLICKS! When you pledge, he will eat a bug! (Maybe metaphorically, but HE'S EATING THEM!)

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/divalea/the-garlicks-pandora-orange-fail-vampire

I'm about to enter the last 7 days for this Kickstarter with a large (but doable) amount to go. It's a full-time job, the care and feeding of this project, and I want so much to cross the finish line a success!
Please help! Pledge, share, upgrade your pledge to a hardcover. Share THE GARLICKS across all your social networks, among friends and family and mailing lists.

Help me make this happen!
roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
Hello again!
I've got a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for my newest graphic novel, THE GARLICKS: Pandora Orange, Fail Vampire, which will be a 140-page digitally painted, full-color, all-ages comic, my first new graphic novel in SEVEN YEARS. I want to work on THE GARLICKS full time, then print it as a graphic novel.

And I need your help in funding an ambitious amount: $40,000. ($25. or so at a time. A LOT of $25.'s, that is.)

I'll explain why I need that much, then tell you how awesome THE GARLICKS is and what it's about, then ask you to pledge at least $25. (but you can pledge less guilt-free) for REWARDS and GOODIES like signed and sketched copies of the finished book, customized pencil cases and art.
Then I'll say "pretty please tell all your friends," because without this campaign catching fire, going viral, reaching critical mass, it's not going to fund and that would SUCK LEMONS.
(BTW, if this Kickstarter doesn't fund, you are charged NOTHING. Your money doesn't get paid to me unless I succeed.)

But first, an exciting video of me making ART!



That's how THE GARLICKS is going to look. A pretty new style for me!
You can read the first THE GARLICKS story HERE: http://thegarlicks.net.

Holy cow, $40,000?!
$40,000. sounds like a lot until you know that if THE GARLICKS meets its goal, Kickstarter, Amazon, and the IRS take $10,000 right off the top. The remaining $30,000. is split 50/50 between me earning a page rate to draw it so I can deliver 3 pages a week as a webcomic to fans and followers, and then printing trades of the comic, having rewards made and mailing the whole lot out.  (I expect postage alone to run $2,000., never mind addressing and stuffing hundreds of envelopes!)
I want THE GARLICKS to be a full-time job because I want to bring my readers a new book after a seven-year hiatus. And eat, roof over the head, take care of burly teenage son. The wee things.

What's it About, Lea?
THE GARLICKS is told from the point of view of Pandora, a vampire with zero vampire abilities and the big sister of baby Pamila (who's usually called Ham), who seems to have gotten everything Pandora didn't, like being able to shapeshift into an adorable flying fish and eat meat.
Pandora turns to her passion, making comics, and chooses her family as her muses: the exhausting Ham, her father Vourdain, (a flower-eating barista), her mother Olive (who is butcher), and their house/business, Orange Espresso and Meats.
Pandora thinks her problems begin when she puts a suffocating Ham (in her fishbat form) in a toilet to save her life, but things really get crazy when the catch the attention of Maxim, a boy who can see monsters, and three rock-stupid but very dangerous demon hunters.
Pan quickly finds out that the only thing worse than having no time to draw stories is having entirely too much material to draw from.

So.
I need your help to make THE GARLICKS a job for me and a book for YOU, my LiveJournal ninja followers. if just HALF of you pledge $25. for a signed and sketched trade of THE GARLICKS, I'm $5,000. closer to my goal, and I'd be at 25% funded.
And if you tell five pals and one decides to listen to you because you are ALWAYS right, I'll have about another $5,000., and ALL of you have books to read and share and talk to each other about, and I eat Skittles and drink coffee and make comics.

Thank you SO MUCH. Please back me and spread the word! If you can't back, talk THE GARLICKS Kickstarter up, tell your journalist friends, etc. It all helps!

That Kickstarter for THE GARLICKS link again: THE GARLICKS, Pandora Orange, Fail Vampire.

And that first THE GARLICKS story at http://thegarlicks.net.

Uninsurance: Bless You, Now Shut Up

Boots Made for Walkin'
NOTE: The following is an update, a rant, and a purge. I'm not asking for advice or chin-upping. (Unless, of course, you can put me on your insurance plan (har)). Please don't exhaust me by giving me polite advice to deflect or answer.  

Been awake for a while. The crushing reality that I have two weeks to find two special needs kids medical coverage is back upon me.

I found out yesterday my kids no longer qualify for Medicaid because of my income. Their benefits are over in two weeks. In two weeks, I have to find them a new provider, no mean feat as I have  cartoonist's income (meaning very low). However, I still make too much money, even for CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program). (Not CHiPs, by the way. There's no Erik Estrada in this. I want to scream when people call CHIP "Chips.")

Summer and Fox can't teeter along without benefits since they both have mental health issues (and Fox a disability) that require medication and therapy. Not to put too fine a point on it, their care is life-saving. It's horrifying to me to contemplate Summer's depression when she doesn't have her medication, or Fox negotiating a school day without anxiety.

So today begins another disheartening search for care for them. So many roads lead straight back to where we don't qualify: Medicaid and CHIP. I'm hoping to draw on resources I've already been able to use.

Fox is going to lose speech therapy, which has helped him learn to negotiate social settings with less disasters and more confidence. He's also going to lose the twice-weekly companionship of his therapist Maxine. He's not going to understand why.

Which leads to the purge:

I remember sniggering and righteous loftiness on Twitter about a mom who barricaded herself into a Health and Human Services building here in Texas and posted to Facebook from her phone before killing herself and trying to kill her children. "Why did she have a phone? Why not buy food?"

Let's tackle that phone thing, first:
Try living without a phone when you're waiting for news about a job, help, your kids. I've lived w/o a phone, any phone. It sucks.More importantly, the barrier to having a smart phone is real damn low.

Now the food:
The barriers to insurance and food assistance, Medicaid and SNAP, are very high: hours in waiting rooms, paperwork, having a place to live already, child care (or not). There's a price extracted in worry, too: crushing worry that comes from an unrelentingly unsettled state of finance and mind.

Bless you if you never had insurance that your kids required for their mental health yanked out from under you. I've had it happen twice now. My kids are resilient, but resilience doesn't keeps them in medicine or therapy that, in turn, gives them quality of life.

You're not going to find me barricaded in a government building posting to Facebook and waving a gun, but I understand that anger and helplessness. Bless you again if you don't have that rage and fear and have the glib luxury to tell someone to just sell their phone and go buy groceries or get a job.

Bless you, and until you turn in your phones, insurance, stability, and dignity, shut up.



roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
About a year ago, I wrote about how to write graphic novels, and it's a mighty fine post if I do say so myself. Because of that piece, I was just emailed for some more specific resources, since I have other work to do, making some time to answer was very attractive. 
I also want to be at least 1/10 as generous to aspiring comickers as pros were to me when I started out. (They were pretty damn generous, 1/10 of that is a really lofty goal.) Not be be discounted is the time-saving aspect of being able to grunt, "There," and point to a URL when I'm asked for a starting place.

The best place to start, based on recommendations I got when I polled my Twitter stream is http://penciljack.com. Lots of resources, places to get critiques, and to hook up with an artist.

Some resources on how to get a handle on that pesky creature that is "What should my script look like?":

Lots of script and proposal samples from veteran writer Dwayne McDuffie:
http://homepage.mac.com/dmcduffie/site/Scripts.html

A good and short article by Tim Stout about script format:
http://timstout.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/graphic-novel-script-format
(There's lots more at Tim's site on writing GNs.)

Get that script written first, before ANYTHING else, then follow with letting people read it and critique it, certainly before submitting it.

Try hanging out on Twitter and following comics people and see what they're talking about, read their books and talk to them about their work, and so on. Socialize. Network. Enjoy meeting them without the crush of a convention happening around you both. Post links to your work. (But not too much, says the person who's on it too much.)

At last, 99 words on failing:
My best advice: if you're going to fail, FAIL BIG. Don't be afraid to. If the wheels come off the bus (and they probably will at least once, it's the lot of comickers and other storytellers and creatives), be a splashy (yet gracious and good-natured) disaster.
I promise you, no matter how awful you think something is, at least one other person (besides you) is going to love it. And you'll learn from it. 

After that, as my good friend David Seidman (and editor and writer himself) says, "It's not how you fall, but how you get back up."  

I Was a Good Dave Stevens "Good Girl"

roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
I have a piece of Dave Stevens art that hasn't been seen by anyone but me in over 20 years until about two weeks ago. It's a layout Dave drew for me for the cover of Space Vixens in 3-D, a book of Dave's short comics stories reproduced in anaglyph 3-D by Ray Zone. (Anaglyph is the kind of 3-D viewed with the iconic red/blue glasses.) I think it's about time to share it.
 
I first met Dave Stevens at a con in Houston, Texas, in 1984. Dave was that hot new guy in comics, because Rocketeer had come out of nowhere and gotten comics fans, good girl art fans, and Bettie Page fans excited. I was still cosplaying, and I stopped and talked to him at least once when I was dressed as a Plexus Ranger from Howard Chaykin's American Flagg!. (This cosplaying will be important in about three or four paragraphs.)   



(I don't have any pictures of myself in that costume, but here's one of me as Doris from "Vampire Hunter 'D'", taken at a friend's place on Halloween 1987.)

Sometimes people say Dave was born a little too late, I think he was born just in time to make sure pulp had a chance to be new. (When I visited him in Santa Monica in 1988, and was looking at all the things he had crammed in his teeny apartment, I found a badge a friend had made for him; it said, "Dave Stevens: the answer to the question where are all the new old hacks coming from.") Pulp and pinups were sure new to me, and Dave's work didn't look like anything I'd ever seen. His girls were pretty, his colors were gorgeous (he colored his comics art on photostats using markers, Q-Tips, and, well, spit (he said)), and Dave was absolutely the best artist working in comics in the 80s, hands down.

I loved Dave's art, and was a frustrated model (I'd done a little work in high school), and I wanted to be in one of Dave's pinups. So, I did what I've done a lot in my comics career, I just asked for what I wanted. Maybe I asked Dave if I could model for him in 1987, when I saw him again at the first San Diego Comic-Con I went to, or later when we were corresponding. (With letters sent with stamps. Only people who didn't want to be able to pay their rent used email in 1987, Compuserve was often spelled "Compu$erve" for a reason.)

On June 24 or 25, 1988 (twenty-two years and eleven months ago), Dave sent me this letter with the Space Vixens in 3-D layout:



(A "Jackson" was old-fashioned slang for a $20 bill. Dave also used the vintage slang "pins" to complement my legs, "Great pins!" The lettering jobs were how I planned to make money in comics and network at the same time. It was working for Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai, Stan was lettering the Spider-Man daily newspaper strips and drawing Usagi. This plan worked out okay for me, even though I was never even remotely as good as Stan.)

Here's the layout Dave sent with the letter and the Jackson:




(Dave Stevens, graphite and ballpoint pen on vellum. Right-click and open in a new tab to see a larger image.)


The reason my cosplaying ability was important was because I had to cobble together approximations of the costumes in the layout for the photographs so Dave had a better idea of how what he drew would drape and fit over an actual body. I made them from pieces of costumes I still had around (I quit cosplaying at conventions in 1985 because I wanted to be taken seriously as an aspiring comics professional) and my own clothes. My now-ex shot the photographs; we took them on the balcony of our first apartment, and yes there was about as much to my costumes as in Dave's layouts. We were careful and fast shooting those pictures! 

I had huge hang-ups about how I looked in then (thanks to my ex and my ex-family, sad but true), so I only looked at the photos long enough to make sure they were in focus and sent them on to Dave.

Eventually, Dave mailed me a copy or two of Space Vixens in 3-D:



(photo by Robert G)

I modeled for Dave a couple more times after that, but nothing we shot was ever used in finished art, and I never saw the pictures. I did, at Dave's urging, take self-portraits and have myself photographed and preserved the pictures. He bought me a nice album when I saw him in Long Beach in 1990, just before he went to shoot The Rocketeer movie, to make sure I did. He said I would be glad I took and saved the pictures, and I didn't believe him, but I did it anyway, and he was absolutely right.  

To this day, it's peculiar to look at this art and see myself looking back. In fact, it's more peculiar now than then, maybe because Dave has passed on and his chapter in comics and pinup art is closed. It's also kind of amazing and wonderful to realize I had the privilege and luck and chutzpah to model for and be the friend of one of the greatest pinup artists that has ever lived.

Across time and space, thanks, Dave, for letting me be part of your life and work. Mwah!
  

Waving, Not Drowning

roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
Hi, I missed you all.

I haven't updated since February, and when I decide to start properly blogging again, what happens? LANDLORD!DRAMA!

Two notices of lease violations came in yesterday. One's legit: we had cats. One's bullshit: my flat is "unsanitary." In the first conversation with the manager, they wanted me to pick up, run bleach through my dishwasher, and bleach the caulk in my tub.

Okay. Pick up. Sorry, are you my mom? No, they want me to keep "clear walkways" because I might "hit my head" or something. They want me "to be safe". FuckWHAT? If I only HAD enough to trip over! I have ten pieces of furniture, seven pieces of furniture for LIVING if you take away my two desks and office chair, but include a patio chair.

As I very reasonably pointed out, if I slip in my tub, it's not going to be because my daughter didn't make her bed!

In the second conversation, the cats were brought up as the unsanitary issue, even though that's not on the lease violation paper. Yeah, I'm not letting that go. Then the whole picking up was reiterated.

Luckily, the law is on my side as far as picking up goes. They can't ding me for unsanitary conditions if I don't pick up. There's a thing called privacy, and Texas tenants, gasp, are actually guaranteed it.

So, I'm going to clean out the stupid dishwasher (which has no more than the usual amount of schma you'd find in ANY dishwasher after a year) and re-caulk the tub.

Oh, the tub. Yeah. The caulk was done improperly, so it comes up when I try to scrub it. It won't bleach out, and the mold laughs at caustic cleaners. They want me to bleach it white, then they're going to PUT CAULK OVER THE CAULK. That's like installing another toilet on top of one that doesn't work. It doesn't fix ANYTHING.

I suspect, since my lease was up at the end of March, and I don't have a new one yet because paperwork hasn't been processed, and I have Fox here evenings and two weekends a month, that something else very different is at play here, that has nothing to do with having unmade beds when the manager came in with the handyman.

I cried for about four hours, but now I'm just mad. I don't like being treated like a bum, and I don't like dealing with discrimination. 

Anyway, I'm moving the fuck out. I'm not going to subject myself to the stress of wondering what piddling thing will get me a third lease violation, and an eviction notice on my record. Even if I beat the notice, it's on my record when I try to rent again.

I remember vividly now why I hate renting so much. Because I have yet to meet a landlord or property manager that wasn't a total asshole. Because I loathe the feeling of being at the mercy of someone who can intimidate me, fuck me over, and take away my home just like that.

Updates as they happen. It's not all bad news, it's just that this is foremost. This sucks, but I promise everything else is reasonably good.

But DAMMIT!

Bunny Seasons Prints ON SALE!

roaring dragon, spore, monster friday

It's rent time again! This time, Bunny Prints are on sale! My goal is to sell 20 sets this weekend!

The Seasons Bunnies were a set of paintings commissioned for a nursery. The client wanted bunnies representing the four seasons, each with a whimsical element (or three). Why are there five paintings? Because the first Spring Bunny came out decidedly pinker/redder than I meant for it to! I redid Spring to lighten the overall color scheme, the Pink Spring Bunny painting found a new home.

The prints are on 8" x 11" acid free matte photo paper, the image size is 5"x 8", this allows for a lot of options in matting and framing.  All prints will be signed!

Prints are $10. each, or $35. for a set of the four seasons (specify which Spring Bunny you want), or $45. for all five. Postage for up to five prints to US addresses is $2. (Foreign post will be determined by country.)

I take PayPal at divalea @ gmail. com. 

If you can't buy right now, it'd be great if you could pass on a link to this post!

SPRING WHITE


SPRING PINK


SUMMER


FALL


WINTER
roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
A fan of my work wrote and asked for advice about writing a graphic novel. Here's what I told her:

My first piece of advice is to completely give up on the idea of "totally new." Really. Let it go. Nothing is totally new. (A good thing to remember when people say "Kids these days!")
I wanted that totally new, too. It'll make your brain hurt. Instead, go for a fresh take on something that's already been done. (EVERYTHING'S already been done!) Take a story that didn't work for you because the idea was good but the execution was bosh, or had an unsatisfying ending. Take a page from your own life, take MANY pages. We've all had amazing days, and amazingly crap days. A favorite teacher, or not a single one. A friend who moved away or died, or was true to the end.
See?
 
Only ONE time has a story just come to me BAM! and been all there. Every other one has been a lot of work. Fun, sometimes nail-biting work. But work. Hard work. Enjoy it while you're doing it, because you will almost inevitably look back on the time you spent writing your GN and feel a little wistful. Only once in my career did I loathe a job from beginning to bitter end. One year out of twenty-three.

Don't pull things out of your butt. Don't try to be mysteeeeerious. Remember that your story is a closed world. Put in nothing that is not essential. You CAN have interesting characters that you don't have to explain them. They are texture. That's fun. But somehow, they have to fit. A good way to close your world is to have a prologue (which you can toss later) which encapsulates the theme(s) of the whole story. I did that in both Cathedral Child and Clockwork Angels and Rumble Girls.
A wonderful piece of advice is start as late in the story as you can and end it as soon as you can.

Read things beside comics. Please. For your own good. Fiction, non-fiction, it's all good. If you want to avoid reading things in the genre you're writing in, do. I do. But that's me. I'm chicken that I'll see someone do exactly what I wated to do, and better, and pffft my energy is gone.

Have people read what you've written, and ask where they got lost, if they did. DON'T ask how they liked it. That/those answers will make you crazy. Just ask if they got it. If they didn't, DON'T defend it, FIX it. LISTEN to what they say.

GIVE UP PERFECTION. There will always be plot holes, awkward turn of phrase, characters who would sound like jackholes if a real person said their dialogue. The beauty of your readers if they have NO IDEA how it looked/read in your head. NO IDEA what you threw out, or how art and dialogue turned to hash. Remember that YOU know everything about your story and at the start your audience knows nothing about your story.Relax!

My good friend Jim Salicrup (he's the co-publisher at the graphic novel publisher Papercutz, and was also and editor at Marvel and Topps) says, "Do the best you can in the time you have." That is the most excellent advice.

NEVER EVER put your work down. "It's not my best work..." Then why are you showing it? If you're not ready, don't share. If it is ready and you're saying that, you're trying to deflect criticism. True story: *I* did it. It's obnoxious. If you need fresh readers tell them, "I need readers." Full stop. When you're pitching that minty-fresh gn, say "Thanks for looking." That's ALL.
(On the other hand, NEVER say, "I'm better than..." Law of horrible awkward. genital-shriveling, stomach in the basement coincidence says you just insulted their best friend and/or favorite artist. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. Oh god do I know.)

Finally, finish it, and do another. And another. And another.

I wish you nothing but good luck. It is delightful to see people succeed, and I hope you are one of them.

Lea

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roaring dragon, spore, monster friday
divalea
Lea Hernandez-DivaLea
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