100 Demon Dialogues Tour: Leg 2

Hi everyone!

I’m back from a frankly ridiculous month of touring across the Midwest and down the East Coast, which means it’s time to announce the dates for Leg 2 of the 100 Demon Dialogues Tour. But first, some stats about Leg 1:

PRETTY HECKIN’ COOL, RIGHT? I feel very accomplished. Also very tired. Turns out moving house every 1.8 days will do that to you. Check out these lovely smiling faces from the many bookstores, comic shops, and venues I visited in June:

I was especially grateful to how many people participated in my experimental Guest Book idea, where folks filled out name tags about what their demons said to them. Here’s a selection:

Even though the resultant volume is pretty heavy reading, my hope is that people found it helpful to see visual proof that they weren’t alone in their fears. We can get through this together.

If you’re on the West Coast or hanging around the Southwest, I’ve got a slew of stops for the next few months right here (also a bonus visit to the UK and back to the East Coast for a couple comics festivals):

 

Here are those stops with RSVP links, in case you’d like to invite any local friends to tag along:

  • 826 Valencia‘s Pirate Supply Store (with special guests Rose Eveleth, Molly McLeod, and Anxy Magazine) – 6:30-9pm, July 25th, San Francisco, CA
  • Local Color – 6:30pm, July 28th, San Jose, CA (followed by Mighty Mike McGee’s Spelling Bee/r!)
  • Bart’s Books (Hometown Shindig, come meet my adorable parents) – 7-9:30pm, August 3rd, Ojai, CA
  • Other Books – 6-8:30pm, August 12th, Los Angeles, CA
  • [Venue Forthcoming] – August 16th, San Diego, CA
  • San Diego Writers, Ink: Generative Demon Workshop – [Event Page Up Soon], August 17th, San Diego, CA
  • BookPeople – August 20th, 7pm, Austin, TX
  • [Colorado: TBA for Boulder/Denver]
  • Thought Bubble Festival – September 22nd & 23rd, Leeds, England
  • MICE – October 20th & 21st, Cambridge, MA

Thanks for keeping up with this wild and crazy endeavor! I’m looking forward to visiting some new places and returning to old haunts over the next few months.

A note on actually PURCHASING copies of 100 Demon Dialogues:

Due to Some Nonsense, the official in-store release date for 100 Demon Dialogues got pushed out to July 19th (although I heard some comic shops got their copies this week). If you’d like to encourage friends and family to buy a copy in the meantime, you can get both soft and hardcover editions (and Demon Plushies, stickers, postcards, and prints) from my own online shop. This is actually the best place to send folks, because more of the profit goes back into supporting my work, but I also want everyone to be able to get the book from their local shops if they so choose. Keep your eyes out next week for wider availability in stores!

Hope to see you on the road,

L

The Long, Hard, Elegant, Easy, Stupid, Creative Way

I read something this week that really ticked me off.

I’ve been building my page on Goodreads as I gear up to put 100 Demon Dialogues into the world, which partly means leaving lots of reviews for creators whose work I admire. If you follow me on Patreon you’ll know Deb Norton because I interviewed her for my unofficial podcast, but just in case you don’t she’s got an amazing book called Part Wild: a Writer’s Guide to Harnessing the Creative Power of Resistance. She was also my writing mentor in high school, and I owe her an enormous debt for her impact on my creative development.

Anyway, I realize reading reviews on Goodreads is basically like reading the comments anywhere else on the internet (DANGER, DANGER), but after writing my review for Part Wild, I idly scrolled down the page to see what else people had said about the book. And then I stumbled on the following sentence:

…if you are really finding it that hard to write and need to use all these prompts and tips, then it probably means that writing is not for you – find something else to do.

You know Ghost Rider? He’s that comic book character who’s basically a flaming skeleton on a motorbike. That’s what I turned into directly after reading this sentence: just a skull on fire in road leathers doing 90 down a highway screaming “FUCK OFFFFFFFFFF.”

Whenever I react this violently to something it’s usually because I fear there’s a grain of truth in it.

This attitude digs at the root of something that’s deeply entrenched in our cultural beliefs about what creativity “is” (the answer, of course, is many things—it’s a paradox—but we’ll get into that later). We’re taught to think that, for creative people, making things is easy. You know you’re “Creative” when you’re able to sit down and art flows from your fingertips like water from a mountain spring. The Muse appears, the Art happens, and there you are like some sort of divine lightning rod just channeling your Gift into the world.

I’m as much a fan of being in a flow state as the next guy, but I also think this is a dangerous load of hooey.

Like, what does this mean, really? That experiencing any type of resistance or challenge means you should just give up and go do something else? This is not a growth mindset. It is small and constrained and petty and miserable and OOOH IT MAKES ME SO MAD.

Okay, okay. I’m under control. I can do this.

Do I worry that I’m not cut out to be an artist (or a writer, or a small business owner, or a public speaker, or a…) whenever the work feels like pulling teeth? Of course I do. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this great talk Frank Chimero gave about doing things “the long, hard, stupid way,” and it always makes me feel a lot better.

Frank was struggling writing his first book, and then judging himself for struggling because clearly it meant he was doing something “wrong.” (This is something I’m very guilty of.) But then he shifted his perspective and recognized that this less efficient methodology actually defined his creative process. Accepting the quirks of his personal practice allowed him to relax into it. (Pair this with Chuck Wendig’s excellent advice to “embrace the joy of the forbidden.“)

I am constantly reminding myself that experiencing resistance, strife, doubt, and complexity mean I am on the right track. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my career it’s that these feelings are normal and they do not go away. In fact, if you’re experiencing a total absence of those feelings it probably means you’re not taking any risks at all, which means you’re not growing, which means it’s time to get back in the ring.

Okay, next paradox:

I have complex feelings about Tim Ferriss, a massively successful technology-culture-productivity-type entrepreneur, but I was interested to read about his take on overcoming these mental traps:

What would this look like if it were easy? is such a lovely and deceptively leveraged question. It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard, that if you’re not redlining, you’re not trying hard enough. This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, creating unnecessary hardship in the process.

But what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain? In doing so, we sometimes find incredible results with ease instead of stress. Sometimes, we “solve” the problem by simply rewording it.

So now we fight, right? The Long, Hard, Stupid Way vs. The Elegant, Easy, Simple Way.

But I don’t actually think these attitudes are opposites. There’s the inherent challenge of making creative work, but then there’s the self-judgement of that challenge—and that’s what Ferriss’s question can help us get around.

Rather than getting mad at ourselves for being a skull on fire, maybe we just accept that being on fire is sometimes a normal part of the creative process. That way whenever we burst into flames and/or have a case of the brain weasels we don’t have to worry that there’s something wrong with us. We can accept the weasels as part of the process and get on with doing normal things, like riding other wheeled contraptions, coming up with new ideas, and continuing to move forward with the work.

I think I’m gonna leave it at that.

***

(A note on credit: the Ghost Riders—or should that be Ghosts Rider?—in this post were illustrated by: Marc Silvestri, John Cassaday, and Mike Bear. Thanks, fellas.)

Inner Critic Investigation Week, Day 6

It’s Day Six of the Inner Critic Investigation series I’m collaborating on with writing coach Deb Norton! Our goal is to help you develop a dialogue with your Inner Critic as if it were a separate, living character. I’ve found this massively helpful for understanding what’s in my way when I sit down to make work.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Get a pen and a sheet of paper.
  2. Set a timer for six minutes.
  3. WRITE. Ask your Inner Critic the question and find out what they have to say. Keep your pen moving, even if you’re writing lies or “Blah blah blah” over and over.

Today’s prompt is:

Your Inner Critic is probably all too keen to tell you about the things you’re doing wrong, but about the times they’ve royally screwed up? Take confession in six minutes of free-writing.

If you’re feeling brave and want to share any of your responses to these prompts, you can leave excerpts in the comments below, or email them to me (lucypcbellwood@gmail.com) to be included in an anonymous roundup at the end of the project. The last prompt goes up tomorrow!

If you haven’t done so already, you can listen to a whole conversation about this Creative Resistance stuff in this talk I just recorded with Deb.

NOW GET WRITING!

The Galaxy of Super Adventure: Fears

Hey Friends,

If you like spaceships, comics, radio drama, and the practice of making things, let me recommend a really fun podcast! The Galaxy of Super Adventure is part one part galactic adventure saga, two parts creative advice round-table. It’s run by my comics pals Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo, and Jerzy Drozd, and this week’s episode (all about FEAR) features a guest appearance by yours truly!

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I play Bold Space Adventurer and Sensitive Artist Lucy Bellwood, crashing in for a talk about artistic anxiety and self-doubt with the help of my sentient French mustache sidekick, Polly (pictured above).

The whole series is a hoot, and I highly recommend listening to it from the start, but if you just want to jump in for this episode, check it out here. Enjoy!

 

Inktober-In-Progess: Dealing with Demons

As you’ve probably all noticed, this month’s Inktober challenge has morphed into something of a themed exercise for me. I’ve been illustrating my horrible little self-doubt demon in his many forms, trying to name some of the fears and anxieties that everyone deals with (in one form or another) when they sit down to make work. Here’s a selection from the first half of the month.

DemonsHalf

If you’d like to join in, please do! I’m trying to keep an eye on the #drawyourdemons hashtag and I’d love to see what your little jerks say and how you respond to them.

This character came out back in 2012 when I was stuck in an art rut. A bit of digging in the Ancient Bellwood Archives revealed the original:

CrapComics

Followed by this additional doodle:

DemonPunch

(I can also guarantee the little bastard’s been plaguing me since long before I started making comics about him.)

Anyway, I’m contemplating putting all these illustrations together in a little minicomic when the month is done. If you’d like in on that, keep an eye out on Twitter. Happy Inktober!

Stumptown Comics Fest This Weekend!

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It’s that time of year again, folks! The Stumptown Comics Fest arrives this weekend and I’ll be boating it up at table D02 with fellow nautical cartoonist Molly Hayden for all your Baggywrinkle-related needs. The show runs Saturday (10am to 6pm) and Sunday (12pm-6pm) at the Oregon Convention Center, and costs $10 per day or $15 for the whole weekend — a steal! Kory Bing was kind enough to make this goofy map, where you can see all the fabulous folks who’ll be tabling around me!

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Basically, it’s gonna be a party.

Speaking of parties, I’ll also be participating in the annual Stumptown Art Battle during the official Saturday night after party at the Jupiter Hotel! Come see me duke it out with fellow cartoonists Ming Doyle, Dash Shaw, Jeff Parker, Mike Russell, and Cat Farris as we vie for your drunken approval.

ADDITIONALLY: Those of you who missed my Freelance Badassery talk in January can catch it in an all-new incarnation on Saturday from 12-12:45 in Room B113. The Righteous Creative will be a snappy 45-minute pep talk to help you navigate the pitfalls of dealing with inner critics and figuring out how to do the work you love. We’ll discuss strategies for conquering the blank page, building and maintaining momentum, and staying on target. Bring your best creative productivity tips, as there will be a skill-share portion of the discussion.

Apart from that, I’ll just be hanging out at the table for the rest of the weekend, so come say hello! Table wares include Baggywrinkles 1, 2, and 3*, True Believer, Tales from the Fragment, button packs, prints, ladies’ t-shirts, original watercolors (I only have a few of the super-popular talking birds left!), and the one, the only, SQUEAKY WALRUS.

*A note about Baggywrinkles #4: Although I had originally planned to have the issue out by Stumptown, my unexpected trip home to help my dad recover from hip surgery threw a spanner in the works and set me back a few weeks. Rest assured, I’m busting my buns to get it finished in time for TCAF, so if you’re dying for a copy it should be here by mid-May. Thanks for understanding, guys! I’ll bring some of the in-progress pages so you can all get a sneak peek.

See you on the floor!

Spottin’ Blacks

More weekly challenge stuff. Focused on high-contrast faces this week to get more decisive about laying down blacks:

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And thanks again to everyone who came out to the workshops this week! It was great to see so many of you there.

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I’ve posted my lecture notes from the Freelance Badassery talk on Tumblr if you wanna go get a creative kick in the pants. I’ll hopefully be putting them up directly on this blog sometime in the near future. For now: work beckons!

Free Workshops Next Week! Creative Motivation and Kick-Ass Kickstarters

Come learn things from me! I am a PROFESSIONAL.

As promised, here are the details for the two free workshops I’ll be teaching next week at Reed College. These puppies are open to the public and will involve SNACKS. Do I have your attention yet? Good!

First up is Freelance Badassery 101: Maintaining Enthusiasm in the Face of the Unknown (Monday, January 21st, 5pm-7pm). This is a long and fancy-sounding name for a very simple class. The goal is to help you figure out what you love doing, then empower you to do it more and do it better. It’s a class for anyone wishing to light a creative fire under their ass. It’s gonna have some nitty-gritty info about contracts and taxes and invoices and other business things that might be useful to a freelancer, but what comes first is the Work. And that’s what we’re going to tackle head-on. BYO creative self-doubt demons. They’ll be begging for mercy by the time we’re done. Facebook event with directions and other info is here!

The second workshop is Kickstarter Bootcamp: Harnessing the Herd to Make Your Creative Dreams Come True (Wednesday, January 23rd, 5pm-7pm). This will be a hands-on, practical info workshop for those wishing to fund their creative endeavors. The first hour will cover Kickstarter basics, then we’ll critique specific projects. If you have something brewing that you’d like feedback or advice on, bring it in! I’ll be spilling all the dark secrets I learned while riding out the True Believer Kickstarter (730% funded?! How is that even POSSIBLE?!) and incorporating lessons from other successful projects in the Portland area. Facebook event with directions and other info is here!

Both workshops will take place in the Gray Campus Center at Reed College (3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.). The GCC sits in the central Quad and also houses the College’s dining hall. Parking is available in the North Lot (enter on SE Steele and SE 33rd) or the East Lot (enter on SE Woodstock and SE 36th). The workshop will be held in the Campus Center conference rooms, GCC B, GCC C, and GCC D. Most anyone should be able to steer you towards them, if campus maps prove unhelpful.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me at lucypcbellwood(at)gmail(dot)com!

Hope to see some of you there.