Thursday, July 31, 2014

TransCat #2 Cover Preview, Gaymer X Shenanigans and New TransCat Happenings!

I was hoping to make the Pencil Adventures more of a thing, and in the future I will. I haven't had a lot of spare time to do a new one (nor have I had tons of great ideas for ones either). So instead, I figured I'd showcase a newly finished draft of the cover of TransCat issue #2 instead. The colours on this piece were done my one of my newest partners in crime, Winnie Tong. we met at Fanime, I wanna say three years ago, then we met again totally randomly on OKCupid! How's that for coincidences? Seems like most of my best friendships come about through amazing coincidences.

Anyway,we ALSO tabled together at Gaymer X this year. I have a cute mini photoseries from that con that you can find on my Facebook Fan Page, become a fan if you aren't already.
Sadly, as much  as I like the pictures, they don't really do the con as a whole, justice.
In summary, it was one of the best conventions I've ever gone to. A LOT of that had to do with the fact that it was a Gay / Trans / Queer themed nerd convention, and that's just something I've never been to in my life.
Another huge redeeming facotr is that you HAD to be 18 or older to even buy a ticket. So unlike Fanime there weren't a lot of racist/homophobic/transphobic teens wandering the halls, trying to be "edgy" by insulting people. I can't even say how GREAT that was to not have around.
But mostly, just being around all that creative energy, in a non judgmental environment, full of people who not only accepted you for what you were, but never question it, never challenge it, and above all, understand it! That was an amazingly comforting feeling that I can't say I've ever experienced at any convention, or ANYWHERE, ever before.

The last evening was the best. I spent the evening in our hotel room, with my two roommates (one cis woman and one trans woman) they invited two friends over (two more trans women) and I invited one additional friend over (one more trans woman), where we talked, and laughed and played games, drank (they drank, I just had a soda) and essentially just had one of the best nights ever. It was such an accepting and inviting atmosphere, so much so that having to say goodbye to everyone at the end genuinely made me sad. I wish they didn't all live so far away. Oh well, my two roommates I can pretty much see whenever :3

And now comes the bad news! As awesome and cool and wonderful and sensational as Gaymer X was... IT'S IN TROUBLE! I guess there was some trouble with finding to begin with, and then after that there was an issue of a sponsor who I guess backed out of their pledge at the last minute. It resulted in the organizers being left unsure of Gaymer X would even be a thing next year. :/

You can read all about it HERE

There's some good news tho~ I guess when news of this broke out, a bunch of other gaming companies responded in kind, hoping to revive the con for 2015.
No news as of yet if there's gonna be a Kickstarter, or an Indie-a-Go-Go or any type of donation system that regular people can donate towards, but rest assured that if *I* hear about it, I'll be posting it either here, or on my Facebook, because this is important to me.

Some other good news on MY end!
While Issue #2 of TransCat is still about a month away, Issue #1 might see it's day in the sun once again. While at Gaymer X I connected with the owner of Northwest Press. I don't wanna get my hopes up too much, but he was VERY engaged by the first TransCat adventure and seems like he might be interested in publishing it. TransCat can ALREADY go all over the world, but this might actually help me get some actual readers... from all over the world ;-)
It's all very exciting, and I really hope it goes through. Once again I'll be updating like CRAZY when I hear for sure!! :D

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TransCat Pencil Adventures! Issue #1




So SF Pride day is almost upon us, and TransCat needs more places to shine.
The book is out and it's doing rather well, but I wanted to do some exclusive online content as well. Lotsa peeps are asking of TransCat will ever make it to my blog.
I'll be honest, the capitalist in me is trying to avoid that. Specifically because I've been making some calls around to see if I can possibly get this book in comic store across America. So you can see how giving it away for free on my website might clash with that business model.

In the mean time, here's a little 3-page short. There is no official TransCat timeline yet, but if I had to ballpark it, I'd say this little story takes place in between issues #2 and #2. The character who does most of the talking's name is Chloie, she becomes very important in issue #2. Drew is just a throwaway character who might come back later, I dunno.

Either way, this is based on a real conversation I had with a friend and a friend's friend.
I guess this is a thing some straight people think about us now, Apparently we're the aggressors now because we have a gay pride parade but they don't have a straight pride parade! Do you know someone who thinks like this? Have YOU thought like this? Take a read here, maybe give yourself a little context and hopefully the rest will make sense to you in time.

I don't wanna summarize it here, because I said everything i needed to say in a dialogue.

I honestly don't blame people for not knowing about the Stonewall Inn riots though. I honestly had never heard of it until earlier this year. It's one of those unsung civil rights battles that doesn't get covered in school and no one really makes movies or documentaries about it that get lots of widespread recognition.
I dunno what kinda arrogance makes me think I'm gonna turns that all around with my little comic, but what can I say? I'm an artist. I'm an egomaniac. Things I say matter!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

TransCat Lost Him!


So my friend, and ever vigilant TransCat warrior Cody decided to try and help spread the word by posting TransCat on imgur.com. It was basically a short advertisement saying the comic was on sale, and showing off the front cover of the first issue.
If he had asked me first... it mighta been a hard thing to say yes to. You know, dat imgur snark n' all.
I'm kinda glad he just did it though, because if I had thought too hard about it, I wouldn't have had this gem of a conversation with a young cis-male while shall remain nameless ;-)

So I read a thing like this, and I'm think to myself "okay, you appreciate it. WHAT do you appreciate though? What could you possibly appreciate about a trans narrative if you're so easily put off by the fact that it's NOT a cis-male narrative".
So I asked him that. I couldn't ask him exactly like that, though, because of imgur's 140 character limit on comments (sigh).
I wasn't really expecting a reply, as most of the comments were centered sarcastic guesses at what TransCat's powers where, if she uses the men's or women's litter box and if Marvel and DC has a copyright on the term "superhero".

But I DID get a reply!

It's a little bit more well thought out than I expected, even if it is a tad predictable.
I do not understand why the term "cis" or "cisgender" offends so many cis-guys, and it's mostly cis guys! I've never heard a cis-woman complain about the term. I guess cis-guys prefer terms like "straight" and "normal", or maybe they just don't like us weirdo trans peeps assigning them names!
I mean, that's cool, I get where you're coming from, man. I didn't pick the term transgender either. That term was invented in 1965 by John F. Oliven, a cis-male, I might add! i'm not offended by the term though, even though i didn't choose it for myself, it's... merely a descriptor. A newly invented compound word used to give a name to an identity that there simply wasn't a name for before. Cisgender (and cissexual) on the other hand was coined by Carl Buijs, a transexual man from the Netherlands.

So when cis-men are offended by use of the term "cis" to describe them, what they're saying is that it's okay from them to name us, but not okay for us to name them.

EITHER THAT.. or they just don't get what cis even means, they're defensive so they assume it's an insult, and that just generates it own host of dumb ass problems.

So I responded to the guy again, letting him know what cis means, letting him know it's not an insult and blah blah blah, because it's a fair bet he just has no idea what it means. It's also a fair bet that he's heard it used as an insult before and just attached that meaning to it in his head.
Cis CAN be used as an insult, like if I were to say something on my site "Order Issue #1 of TransCat now! It's so easy even a cis-guy can do it!" But by that same token , I could say "It's so easy even a white guy can do it" but that doesn't necessarily make "white" an insulting term, does it?

But I digress, I just thought this was an interesting experience to share, and more than likely it is an experience I'll be having more of as word of TransCat spreads far and wide :3

But hey! As long as we're talking aobut TransCat in the media, my friend Roxanna Meta found this awesome shot of me at Big Wow on Metroactive! :D

Lookit dat comic book pimp! ^__^

Fanime Day 0 starts tonight! I have a feeling I'll be in line for a very long time, or maybe not, considering I'm an artist again this year. Those lines are long, but not as long as the regular attendees line. I really with registration could get their shit together :P

Oh well~

Reports coming soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

TransCat Can Do It!


This has been an eventful week for TransCat!
She made her overpowering debut at BigWow Comic Fest this Saturday, and today, Issue #1 is officially for sale at the Para~Somnia store! She is shipping world wide! So where ever you are, if you needs some TransCat, you can haz!
There's also this lovely poster, colours by the amazing Winnie Tong!
I am going to do my best to make this available to you as soon as possible!

So Big Wow! That was fun! I got to say hello to John Dolmayan of System of a Down again, second time I've run into him at a comic convention. This time he actually commissioned me for some artwork this time though! It was great, I vandalized a dollar bill for him. I've never felt quite so accomplished as an artist before!

I got interviewed for a few local newspapers, which is always great exposure. I'll be damned if i can't remember which newspapers they were though D: I was able to spread the gospel of TransCat though, so like, SOMEone will read it!

I was worried selling TransCat to the Big Wow crowd was going to be difficult, and it kinda was. TransCat is somewhat of a progressive comic book idea, and Big Wow tends to cater itself mostly to older comic fans. The Golden/Silver/Bronze age peeps. And not that they're not progressive, it's just that a little indie comic can be a hard sell to someone who has their mind set on filling the gaps in their Marvel Star Wars collections.
Despite that, I feel like I was pretty well received. I AM in California after all. There were some trans folk as well as many advocates around who were very taken with the concept. Even if they didn't buy the book right then and there, at least the word is getting spread.
One person who bought the comic said something to me that I found very reassuring. They said they were relieved when they opened it up and found out that it wasn't a tragic trans story. It wasn't about persecution, or harassment or death. It actually made them laugh, and they really liked TransCat as a character.
It says a lot when the majority of stories told by and/or about trans people are so terribly depressing. Art imitates life, after all, but I guess for some people enough is enough. I wasn't consciously going out of my way to make a non-tragic trans narrative, that's just how the story came out, funny :3

Perhaps in the future, when I do interviews, I can kinda make a point to draw attention to that.

But yeah, Big Wow was definitely more successful than I was anticipating. I am way more enthusiastic about Fanime though. The reason i was so butt hurt about possibly not getting into Fanime is because that's totally my people there! The Trans/Gay population of nerds tends to love Fanime a lot (I know I do) and if I'm to spread the word of TransCat effectively, Fanime is the place to do it! SO EXCITE!

Those of you looking for me, I'll be at table 906 in the Artist Alley.

Here I am on a map, sucka!


I'll be there chillin' with my buddy Red Shirt!
I'll have the book, maybe some posters, definitely some stickers, and I'll be signing autographs and taking sketch requests! But above all, having fun!

Hope to see you all there ;-)

<3 p="">

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TransCat Randomness!


It's been awhile since I've uploaded anything, the reason for this is I've been so busy setting up for everything that's about to happen in the next couple weeks.

First and foremost. TransCat #1 is coming out in... THREE DAYS!
I't's been almost a full year since I first put pencil to page on what would eventually become this finished product. TransCat as a project has been a concept for far longer than that, but what you're about to see, the book you're about to hold in your hands, that started around a year ago.

I remember the day very vividly. 
I was working for this little game company in the Bay Area. We had just organized this little focus group for an impending release that I had gotten a few of my friends into. It was an early morning meeting, so after it was over, we all went out for brunch, and wound up at a local IHOP.
I had just bought this new spiral bound sketchpad, with a nice hard plastic cover, and I was so ready to start something in it. I had been sketching TransCat ideas since about 2011. The character had changed a lot over that time. At first TrnasCat was Cat Man, a little boy who wanted to be Batman, but liked cats better. The whole thing was very Calvin-and-Hobbsian. Later i thought it would be funny if Cat Man's stories mirrored my life, but at that point calling him Cat "Man" wasn't gonna cut it anymore. 
Cat Girl was too generic and Cat woman had been taken. Cat Lady has some disturbing connotations behind it :P
Then, in that IHOP, on that day, the idea struck me that gender swapping would be one of this character's powers, and thus TransCat was born! If Ranma could do it why couldn't I? Mine was obviously going to be a lot better though!
Starting in May 2013, TransCat became my main project. I penciled in 5 chapters worth of stories, and that first chapter will be seeing the light of day for the first time this FRIDAY!

This will be just in time to debut at Big Wow Con, where I'll be making my triumphant return to the world of conventions ^w^ Hurray~!

Then that very next weekend is Fanime, which I have managed to actually get into, against all odds :/
I have to be honest, even at this point I have no idea how I got in. I know I have the fine people at BAAU to thank, but i'll be damned if Fanime wasn't trying to fuck us over at every turn.
I swear, even when you get IN, the registration process seems like it's built to make you want to drop out, OR get kicked out accidentally.
I complain now, but I KNOW that after this one is over, I'll have had so much fun that I'll be like "I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR" and the whole process will begin anew ^___^

Just you wait! Mark my words! This will happen!

Monday, April 14, 2014

TransCat #1 Cover Final Version!!


So yes! This! This is finally a thing! I'm so excited! After a multitude of delays for various reasons, TransCat #1 is finally a finished product! Looking at an early June release, maybe late May, depending on what happens with Fanime. Colours are by the ever talented Dani Smithers <3 p="">

Fanime! Whooo-boy! Now there's a clusterfuck right there.
Fanime, for me, has historically been a clusterfuck, but I always manage to overlook it because in the end it's always such a good and fun experience for me. This time might wind up being very different for me, because of the latest fuckery the Artist Alley is dropping down on the townsfolk below.

To put it a simple way, the main reason Fanime has been such a hassle in the past is because the Artist Alley has always been first come first serve. It is stressful in it's own right, but I could always rely on myself to be fast enough to get in somehow. If I didn't make the initial cut, I at least always wound up pretty early in the wait list, and kept my fingers crossed that it'd dwindle down to the point where I could sneak in, OR I could rely on a friend to share part of their table with me. Point is, I could get in one way or another using this system, even if it took a little finagling.

The new system, on the other hand, makes it WAY harder to get in if you didn't make the initial cut, and it seems like it's been tailor made to create animosity and rivalries between artists. The idea  is in essence, a jury system. Instead of everyone trying to get in first, Fanime set a time period of two or three days to get a very basic portfolio in, and then a panel of judges(?) would review them all and decide who they thought was "good enough" to be in the Artist Alley.

Now, before I even submitted, I had reservations. With any kind of jury, or panel judging system, you're going to have to deal with bias. I don't care how impartial they're consciously trying to be, there is GOING to be a bias! My initial fear was that everyone chosen for AA was all going to have art that looked essentially the same. I've joked in the past how a majority of indie/underground comic artists all looks like Scott Pilgrim meets Adventure Time, I'm imagining that Fanime this year will look like that with a dash of Kill La Kill mixed in.

Piled on top of that is the fact that the judges didn't post any kind of rubric for what the portfolio should include, and NO clue about they were even looking for or how they would be grading, so everyone kinda just went in blind. The results we got back were even less helpful. It was either "Hey, you got in!" or "Sorry, you didn't". I know this whole process wasn't meant to be a "critique", but the fact that no one knew why they were chosen or why they weren't chosen kind of defeats the purpose of a jury system at all. This was further illustrated by lots of people who were rejected posting the portfolios they submitted on the Fanime Facebook page. They turned away TONS of great talent from a great number of different styles. this only adds to the confusion, WHAT were they looking for? WHAT made the cut? We won't find out until Artist Alley actually opens on the first Friday of Fanime. If my fears are correct, I am going to be very sad.

All this drama was not made any better by the fact that the Facebook kinda exploded with the smugness of those accepted and the anger of those rejected. This wasn't true of every person, but it sure seemed like those who didn't make the cut were hellbent on tearing down those who did, and those who did make the cut were just being snarky assholes about it and lording it over those who didn't. Those seems like they were the most vocal conversations. It was depressing to behold.

I did not make the cut myself, and I would be a liar if I said I wasn't immensely butthurt. It's kinda hard to not take it personally when an institution you've been part of for 14 years tells you you're suddenly not good enough to be welcome there anymore. Especially depressing because I look SO forward to Fanime every year. After last year's debacle with the Artist Alley lots of artists are angrily shouting that they'll never work with Fanime again. I don't want to be too hasty, but I might be jumping on that bandwagon. I'm too often the optimist who says that things might be bad now but they'll be better next year! That has been demonstrably false with Fanime year by year. The con itself might be fun, but the hassle of AA gets just dumber and dumber. I have some friends at BAAU who are TRYING to squeeze me in to a table, and if that works, I'd be very happy... but if not I won't count it as such a big loss. If the system doesn't change again next year, I do not see myself returning to Fanime in 2015. The end of an era for me, most certainly.

...how depressing...

On a much MUCH lighter note, I may have found a new home at Gaymer X! I am all signed up for it, thanks to my good friend Winnie. I did not go to Gaymer X last year, but I heard it was a blast. It's kinda nice to be getting on the ground floor of a new con that's already so successful. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm hoping for good things :3

In other news, I had a speaking engagement this last weekend up in Stockton for their local PFLAG chapter. It was essentially me recounting my experiences getting started in comics, and encouraging the various LGBTQQIA people who have stories they want to get out there with my humble success story :)
It wasn't a huge crowd, but I felt welcomed by them and felt like the things I had to say were appreciated.
Perhaps this will be the first of many speaking engagements I participate in.

Anywho! Keep your eye out for more news on TransCat. It will be coming!

Friday, March 21, 2014

TransCat #1 Promotional Ad Storyboard

So it's been about two months.
I've had to make some very tough decisions about the future of Brilliant Black Starres. I'd been uploading my Draft 1.5 thinking that very soon I'd devote some time to actually making a second draft that would implement the changes to the intro and the ending that I'd been kinda tossing in ad hoc to draft 1.5, but it was stupid and sloppy.

In the mean time, I kept on working on TransCat and would have these great idea for stuff that I could use in either TransCat OR BBS. And all the best shit kept on going to TransCat. Soon, BBS was shaping up to be a pretty second rate comic, and that's being generous. I can't play favourites with my creations, I dunno if i'm really capable of carrying on with two series at a time, and since TransCat is more important to me and has more headway, I'm putting BBS on indefinite hiatus.
TransCat #1 on the other hand is... pretty much finished. Just a few more things to spit shine and polish up before actual release. I'm getting the cover coloured, which is gonna be bomb. I have a friend who is helping me draw an epilogue for the story which is ALSO gonna rule.
I was hoping for a release this month, but I didn't want to rush these final details. I had my mind set on it being a quarterly, so I'm going to hopefully be ready to debut at Fanime at the end of May and then have an official June release. This all seems very do-able.

Other things of note, I'll be speaking at the PFLAG Stockton monthly event this April the 13th.
A short lecture about LGBTQ portrayal in media as well as LGBTQ content creators (like me!) The point being first and foremost to educate, the second being to hopefully inspire some of the cool LGBTQ affiliated kids in the audience with my own personal "success" story, *nervous laughter*.

So yeah! come to that thing! Here, I made a flier.


The OTHER thing, and it's not necessarily a thing yet, it's more the idea of a thing.
If you remember, a few years back I had done an appearance at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco for the release of Dave #1. It went really well and they liked me a lot there. I let them know about the impending release of TransCat and they're interested in having me again :D
no concrete plans have been made yet, because I guess the organizer just went on vacation or something, I caught her just a few days before she left, so we're gonna talk about it more when she gets home.
I'm assuming sometime around June/July, but I'll keep you guys updated. There will be many updates!

In the mean time, what I MOSTLY wanted to share with you is the storyboard for the TransCat animated commercial I've been planning on unleashing.
I found a very talented animator to help me with the project, and I'm super excited to see this all happen ^^