Weekly Update 2/20/18 | Completing My Life On The Sidelines Prologue, Designing an Oracle Deck, and Balancing Projects

[Image: The Wishing Well card, #1, from my upcoming Starcatcher Oracle deck.]

Hey y’all!

My gosh, I have been BUSY. Life…work…conventions…and art and cards…*zones out more*

So. First off: Yes, I missed had to reschedule my deadline for My Life On The Sidelines. It’s unfortunate, but I had to – I just could not work last week, and that was the last week I had to work. Fortunately, I’m very nearly done, so that should be done by the next time I update. This particular comic has gone much more smoothly than my previous projects, and I think I’ve worked in a balanced way – or, at least, a more balanced way than I have done past projects.

I’ve already jumped into the next project, though, which is typical of me. I’m now working on…the Starcatcher Oracle! It’s a deck of oracle cards (similar to to tarot but without the typical Tarot system) and it is inspired by my own spiritual/mental landscape and language of symbols.

The Bouquet sketch

I believe that all tarot and oracle decks are languages of symbols, and different decks/systems just have different vocabulary in that same language. So this is a deck of MY symbolic vocabulary, the set of symbols that MY subconscious speaks and thinks in.

This particular copy – these physical cards – are MY copy of the Starcatcher Oracle, and depending, it may be the only version that ever exists. However, I’m hopeful that this will lead to me making actual illustrations and having them printed as a deck.

Why am I doing this? For the same reason that English students are encouraged to write and speak in English, and Spanish students are encouraged to write and speak in Spanish, as much as possible. In the same vein, I’m “speaking” in the language of symbols, specifically the ones that work for me, by making this deck.

The art isn’t actually the most important part, for me, and that’s been hard to accept. I always asked “why do deck ‘Authors’ get so much credit? Why is there not more credit for the people who actually made the cards? Why is Doreen’s name so big on this box??!” (I still wonder SOME of that.) But I never realized how much planning, thought, and research goes into just deciding on those symbolic images and the titles and the keywords and guidebook. It’s not as easy as one might guess; it’s not JUST drawing 78 (or 80, or 88) images. It’s designing everything from the color language to the density of symbols in each card. THAT is often what “deck creators” who don’t do the art, actually do. And it is valid, challenging work.

So yeah. I have a new appreciation for deck/guidebook authors. I do still think that the artists’ names should be much more prominent on packaging and advertisements for decks, but we can’t have everything right away.

I’ve illustrated one of the cards fully and have sketched several more. The one I’ve completed is the Wishing Well

The Shaman sketch

And my favorites that I’ve sketched are The Bouquet, The Drifting Ashes, and The Shaman. The Shaman illustrates beautifully how I’m going about my goal of creating a “naturally diverse” deck. What I mean by naturally diverse is, as opposed to “intentionally diverse.” In my humble opinion, intentionally diverse decks (and media) use tokens and try to check off every minority they can manage to include, as if we are but boxes to check on a list as “INCLUDED – NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN.” I don’t feel like the intentionally diverse decks are actually diverse because they’re trying SO HARD to be inclusive that they’re just a too-perfect rainbow of…tokens. Stereotypes. There are trans people other than middle-aged blonde trans women. There are LGBTQ+ people other than two white gay men. There are races other than the very few one might name off the top of their head.

 

What I’m doing is just going intuitively and trying my best to just allow my ideas to include people of different abilities, ages, races, genders, sexualities, sizes, and so on. When I was creating the Shaman card, I had an image in my head of an elderly, heavyset black woman knitting. I thought this was lovely. Not because it included a person of color, person of size, person of a different age, but because it just fit for the Shaman AND included some diversity!

That’s kind of where I’m going with this: incorporating diversity as PART of the deck and part of the meanings of each card, not just cramming diversity in wherever I can manage it and where it doesn’t actually make sense. I think that’s where a lot of modern “Diverse Decks” go wrong – they just cram in diversity for diversity’s sake. I’m trying to include diversity where diversity fits and suits the cards’ meanings and symbolism.

Will I be intentional about adding some diversity? Certainly – I’m going to make sure that I include at least one differently-abled person, even if it’s just a woman with a cane; I’m going to ensure that I include ethnicities other than black and white. Yes, I will have a checklist, in a way. But it’s not going to be the primary direction for my deck.

I am making an oracle deck that includes diversity. Not a Diverse Oracle Deck.

The Drifting Ashes sketch

Other than diversity, the Starcatcher Oracle will focus on sacred storytelling, universal myth symbols, Jungian archetypes, and Pagan/New-Age spirituality. All pretty standard for a modern divination deck. But I wanted to mention those factors, regardless.

I have NOT chosen a name for this deck officially yet – I’m torn between Starcatcher Oracle and Sacred Storytellers Oracle. Let me know what you like better!

And if anyone’s interested, the tools I’m using in creating this deck include:

  • 300gsm white card from Recollections (Michael’s) as the actual cards
  • Graphite mechanical pencils for sketching
  • Sakura Pigma Micron pens for inking
  • Crayola 100-colors colored pencils for coloring
  • Going to seal them with matte spray-on Mod Podge.

That’s all I’ve got for now; that’s the process (so far) of the oracle I’m making. I have a BUNCH more card-reading videos coming up, so stay tuned for that. And if you’d like, you can follow the Starcatcher Oracle’s Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/starcatcheroracle – to get notified when there’s anything new, or to see work-in-progress images!

I wish you abundant blessings, and I hope you’re having a great day.

~Julian

Weekly Update 2/6/18 | The New Copier Is Here!! | Starting Out Self Publishing | Investing in Technology

[Image: Photo of CANON ImageClass MF632Cdw consumer-range office printer/copier. source: canon.com]

Oh gosh, I have so much to talk about. I rambled about the new copier in a video here, but I’ll give you the run down in text form too:

Basically, I am now the owner of a Canon imageCLASS MF632Cdw – a mid-range color laser printer/scanner/all-in-one. It is a beautiful little machine and I’m really happy with it so far! I got mine from a big chain electronics store (won’t say which) and

I have already had to replace the toner cartridge, but that’s to be expected. They give you a half-full toner cartridge to start with, and when I got it, I was kinda hyper and printed a crapton of test editions to figure out my offset layout software…So I wound up buying a toner the next day. I’m sure the store thought I was absolutely out of my mind but I needed that darn toner!

But the proof is in the pudding: I’ve been able to print my first zine-size (6×8, roughly) editions of You Are In Love and The Cheyenne Line, my first two comics. They are so beautiful, dude, I’m just freaking out that I was able to make them at home, for so little money. 🙂 I’m also developing a couple of other zine-format (folded, stapled) publications, including an Inktober zine (containing my Inktober illustrations from 2017).

So what do you DO with a bunch of zines? And what about those slightly-off-kilter, misprinted misfits? Do they get thrown out or wasted? Nope. I’ll be using those as promotional items – I’ve found that people who would NEVER buy a romance comic based on a song by The Ataris, would totally take a free copy. People love free shit, is what it comes down to.

And as for the nice ones, I’ll have them on sale, but most of the ones I’ve already printed will be given or traded to artists when I go to Katsucon in a couple weeks. I’ve never been to a convention, and while I’m not tabling this year, I’m definitely going to be heading into Artists’ Alley, and I want to have something a little better than a plain old business card to hand out.

Choosing to invest in this printer – and choosing to commit to the continuous investment in toner cartridges – was a big decision. I had to talk with my partner about it and think about whether it was the right time to buy such a thing. Financially, it’s perfectly plausible; but whether this was the right place to put the money was another matter. I’m not exactly a big name, and I’ve sold a grand total of one of my comics. One COPY. EVER. (As of this writing, anyway.) So, sadly, I’m not sure I can justify it based on “I’ll definitely be printing enough comics to make back the money in six months!”

However, my partner and I agree that based on the quality of my work, and the consistency with which I produce content, indicate that yes, it’s time to own a nice copier. It’s worth it to invest in, because even if it’s not within six months, this copier WILL pay for itself.

I intend, however, to prove myself wrong and “pay it off” (make back the same amount we spent) within 6 months. I’d like to at least use it to pay for the toner!

Anyway, you can click here if you’d like to purchase one of my comics. I had fun putting them together, and I think they came out great, so head over to the shop to explore what I have for sale.

Also, I have FINALLY got my mojo back on working on my spiritual stuff! So expect more grimoire/Book of Shadows posts soon. I’ll be doing flip-through videos once I’ve got some done, and until then, there will be at least text updates.

Sorry this update is going up late this week, I had kind of a crazy weekend. But all is well now. 🙂

~Julian