Catching Up in 2024

Carp Pond, Constitution Gardens in D.C.

Carp Pond, Constitution Gardens in D.C.

Howdy! It’s been a while since I last dropped a post here but now is a good time as any to catch up (:

Some big stuff happened this past year on my thirty-first trip around the sun. Between July through November of 2023: sold our house, moved to the DMV area (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) as the locals call it, visited NY and NJ twice (three times if I count February), bought a car (literally the day before we left Texas), got to hear Chappell Roan live (unforgettable, also she just did a tiny desk concert!), attended SPX (it was a cartoonists candy store), dyed part of my hair magenta (it’s back to blonde now), and did a big re-write to my Broomcrow graphic novel project (that was a whole grieving process), all while juggling my contract work (oy).

Needless to say all this movement, work, and socializing utterly drained me. I was kaputz for a few months there. But I knew I needed that quiet time. There is something very powerful about giving yourself permission. Permission to do nothing, to rest, to simply be. Inaction is just as powerful as action. We can’t get answers by doing all the time and it gave me time to think too. How would the next year be different? 

candle comic on burnout

my first comic back from not drawing for a month

goal post comic running away

and another after

2024 Vision and Comics

I was speaking with my critique group (JAJAMAKA!!) and we decided to make a vision board for this year. We had done one the previous year and enjoyed looking back on it. It was fun being able to share our wins and lessons learned. It was a great exercise in retrospection and goal setting. Plus, who doesn’t like putting pen to paper? It felt so good to ink on bristol again.

There is something to be said about not being able to hit undo. No amount of paper tapping will change that mark. It’s just done. However, I did make a few mistakes and painted them over in white. Heh, can you see where? 

vision board by cartoonist graphic novelist

I took a few weeks on this, going back to it when a strong idea took hold

One big realization I had was that I had fallen into the trap of taking on a big project as my first! 😅

I never got into making short comic pieces before. I just went straight for the gusto. Which isn’t bad, go where your heart tells you, but it is a tough road to go down. 

Some lessons can be learned quickly through smaller projects. Why not try quantity over quality? Why not try comic strips? How do you make a comic strip? Just how different is it from writing a graphic novel series?

So, I began researching. And reading and reading and writing up findings. I learned new ones like Kishōtenketsu, Gustav Freytag’s Pyramid, Syd Field’s Paradigm, Ken Adam’s Story Spine, and many other iterations of story structures that made my eyes spin. But I looooved going down the rabbit hole! What I found was that short comics are not that different from graphic novels. The difference is scale. 

The story pattern for comic strips is simplified down to the bare essentials to communicate (usually) one thing. Novels are many ideas layered panel by panel, page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book. A nesting dolls of story patterns/arcs. I suppose it is a no-brainer, but it took me this long to think about it and understand it!

Later on, this research was the basis for a blog post I wrote for Kids Comics Unite called How to Make a Four Panel Comic. I was also able to interview three cartoonists who went in-depth about their process and learned sooo much. It was such a fun experience and super inspiring reading other creators join in the “Make a four-panel comic” challenge! 

Here are a few I made during that time:

Note that not all are four panels! While drawing, I realized that if I tried to stick to only four panels, it would halt my flow. I would begin overthinking my decisions. Many could not be whittled down to four panels (or at least I couldn’t write it to be like that). So to make sure I didn’t stay stuck I’d just freestyle and see what happens. After all, the point is just to make comics! Be loose. Kinda like sketching. It’s easier to toss a shitty 5-minute sketch than one you stayed on for an hour. I try not to be precious about it.

What I’m Up to Now

Small Press Expo

I will be entering the SPX lottery this year to see if I will be tabled! Last year I did not get into MICE but it served as a great push to get some work done by a date. I live by deadlines, and the more they are associated with something outside of just me going “you need to do this” is wind to my sails. So regardless of what happens, it’s a win.


I am part of KCU’s anthology project and it’s already been an interesting start. We are in the early phases of staging committees, forming a timeline, and theme, but chugging along. Right now we have (I believe) 45 onboard this project!

Broomcrow Update (my middle-grade graphic novel)

Broomcrow holiday comic

a spread I submitted to my agent for a holiday zine

As I mentioned, I have gone through a pretty big re-write this past year. I felt it was time to finally move from the outline stage. So I begin roughing pages and I’m about 50 in. I’m feeling good about how the story is progressing. My dialogue is clumsy but I noticed that switching to storyboarding helps to simplify things. Hopping between script to storyboarding to roughing helps to keep the flow going.

I learned a few things while I’ve been doing this for the past few months:

  • Each page must end with the reader wanting to turn that page.
  • Try not to put too many ideas onto one page. Ask yourself: what is the main point I’m trying to get the reader to understand by the end of the page?
  • Clarity is king. It is a careful balance of actions, panel composition, framing, choice of words, balloon flow, environment/background, and mood that all lead to clarity of idea.
  • I think the biggest compliment you could give a graphic novelist is flipping through and reading the work with such ease, that it all seemed effortless. So much work goes into distilling such an experience.

Once I get enough pages under me, I will do some test pages and see if it would be possible to ink analog and color digitally. I dearly miss inks and having tangible pages to hold.

There is a YA project I also have in the works. It is still in the development stage, but more info to come!

Some Storytelling Inspiration!

SXSW Panel of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (the Daniels who created Everything Everywhere All at Once) describe their process of writing stories and broach this subject that I have been thinking about for a long time, but never formed into words: how do we reconcile a paradox? How do we find the answer to opposing views to form a synthesis? Or if not synthesis, how are we able to sit with uncertainty? I first heard about Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis while reading up briefly on Hegel (though I believe this specific wording was coined later by someone else, the initial idea was attributed to him). But it serves as a guide to think about whenever I’m stuck or am trying to make a story decision. Anyway, there is a lot of good stuff in it and it left me feeling good about making stories.

You Do What You Do with Kazu Kibuishi was a good podcast interview! My one takeaway was how he mentioned that graphic novels give the gift of time. Knowing your work will be read in a few hours after you have spent years on it is a hard pill to swallow, but that is also the beauty of graphic novels. It can give information in a quicker amount of time than a prose novel and with the visual language of graphic design and film.

What I’ve Been Reading!

Fool Night by Kasumi Yasuda (one of my top faves right now!)

Tiger, Tiger by Petra Erika Nordlund

Doughnuts and Doom by Balazs Lorinczi

Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin

Filth and Grammar by Shelly Bond

The Ultimate Guide to Making Online Comics by Star Prichard

The Universe in a Box: Simulations and the Quest to Code the Cosmos by Andrew Pontzen

What I’ve Been Watching!

Manben documentary series by Naoki Urasawa

Delicious in Dungeon (soooo cool to be able to compare it to the manga now and it’s by Studio Trigger!!)

(reading and rewatching) Revolutionary Girl Utena by Kunihiko Ikuhara

(rewatching) Digimon Tamers with head writer Chiaki Konaka

Critical Role Season 3 Campaign

Contrapoints on Twilight


Phew, this was a big boy of a post, but felt good to get it out of the system! 

Thanks for reading <3

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