This one (my 30th since I started this practice in June of 2019!) is about stuff I lost track of in 2021, things I’m thinking about in the new year, trying to abandon perfectionism, what to share and what not to share, the topography of the Ojai Valley, and various other things.
Also: looked at a bunny, found some owls.
You can read the transcript or browse all the notes and associated ephemera over on Patreon for free, or just listen directly below.
[Rambles are typically 20-minute freeform audio updates recorded outside every couple of weeks. You can listen to previous Rambles here or subscribe directly in the podcast app of your choosing with this link.]
Haven’t been super exact about remembering to cross-post when I release new Rambles, but I wanted to be sure I shared my latest one because people have said some deeply thoughtful and lovely things in the comments over on Patreon, and I think this is a discussion worth having right now.
Broad Themes: similarities between grief and creativity in both their acute and ambiguous forms, what to do when there is nothing to be done, Vaccine Feelings, broadening the window of tolerance for discomfort, models for social and economic validation, the metrics that matter in understanding Patronage, object permanence and online audiences.
Guest Starring: a lot of birds.
(If you prefer reading to listening, you can download a transcript here.)
Last month, while driving from Portland to Ojai, I stopped off in San Francisco for a distanced morning park walk with my pal Robin Rendle. After I’d got done screaming about how unbelievable it was to see the sun and be outside in short sleeves, we remembered we’d been joking about recording a podcast for a long time and figured there was no time like the present to give it a go. So I offer unto you:
A Robin Rambdle or I’m Sorry, You’re Welcome, Episode 1 or…
(You can download a transcript of our conversation here, if reading’s more your bag.)
This is broadly a discussion about unusual websites and trying to be yourself on the internet, but we also managed to talk about The Muppets, book design, 1970s British television, generative poetry, and at least two types of cheese.
We also watched a hawk building a nest in this tree the whole time we talked. Magical.
Here’s links to more or less everything we mentioned:
It feels strange to cross these streams here, but my Hometown Self and my Professional Self got together and gave an interview to my friend Bret Bradigan about being in Ojai and what I’m working on right now and how I’m thinking about communities and support for artists these days and some other stuff. You can listen in via this handy embedded player:
Katherine Kwong is a delight. She’s smart and earnest and curious and very, very kind. We first met in person at my book tour event for 100 Demon Dialogues at McNally Jackson in New York, and her online exuberance is even more tangible in person. When she told me she was launching a podcast to interview folks about formative books from their childhoods, I couldn’t wait to hear it. Little did I know she was planning to interview me for its inaugural season!
Because of Quarantine Time I honestly couldn’t have told you when we recorded this conversation for This Book, That Book, but given the details I share about our foster dog it seems to have been fairly early on in the whole process. Possibly March. Anyway, I was delighted to get a text this morning saying that my episode had gone live, so I share it here for all of you to enjoy.
We discussed My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, a sun-drenched dream of a book full of thoughtful observations, eccentric characters, and a deep love of the natural world. It holds a place very near to my heart and manages to act as a touchstone in our conversation for growing up with a menagerie of creatures in Southern California, life as an only child, and my nascent love of tall ships (partly catalyzed by the book’s own small vessel, the Bootle-Bumtrinket).
You can listen to the episode (and check out the four other interviews released so far) below:
I love being on Patreon for many, many reasons, but chief among them is the platform it’s given me to record more conversations with creators I admire. I already keep an extensive archive of panels, talks, and classes on my SoundCloud page, but the support and enthusiasm of my Patrons has allowed me to add candid monthly interviews to the mix. Typically these conversations go up for Patrons first, and then (if the artists are comfortable with it) on the public feed a few weeks later.
Back in September I spoke to Tessa Hulls—a dream interviewee of mine for some time. Tessa’s work defies categorization, but it often encompasses notions of heritage, independence, wilderness, and community—all things I am endlessly fascinated by. She did a staggering number of residencies in 2018, all while juggling enough concurrent projects to make my head spin. I am deeply in awe of her energy and dedication.
In this 90-minute conversation, we discuss merging identities to create powerful new selves, balancing finances as a traveling artist, the transformative power of alternative community gatherings, coming into one’s own as a vulnerable communicator, navigating fine art spaces, “pathological independence,” and the current cultural crucible of female rage. Notes on our conversation below:
If you want to see more of Tessa’s work, I’d highly recommend starting with…
This week I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest podcast episode with writing coach Deb Norton, a long-time friend and extraordinary creative resource.
I’ve known Deb since I was 13. She brought me into my first writer’s group and taught me so much about working with my inner critic in the company of other dedicated creators. She was a huge inspiration for the 100 Demon Dialogues project, so I’ve been itching to talk with her for a while. We ended up recording an hour-long conversation about creative resistance, grit, risk-tolerance, accountability, limitations, shame, self-knowledge, protection, NaNoWriMo, recovery, process, and so much more. You can listen to the audio through SoundCloud, or watch the video if you’d rather see us wave our arms while we put everything to rights.
As a fun bonus exercise, we decided to collaborate on a series of seven prompts that will help you get to know your own Inner Critic a little better. The rules are simple: set a timer for 6 minutes and let your demon do the talking. It always wants your attention anyway, so give it the floor and see what happens.You can write lies, you can write truths. Just make a mess.
A new prompt will go up at 9am PST every day this week. You can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Patreon, Facebook or via this blog. (Gracious, that’s a lot of social media. Something for everyone, I guess!)
Thanks for reading, and good luck with the prompt! I look forward to hearing what comes up for you all.
Let’s take a brief trip back in time to January, 2016.
When Jessica Abel started posting the podcast adaptation of her storytelling handbook Out on the Wire, I was totally hooked. The series pulled from her own robust career and from interviews she’d done with luminary radio hosts and journalists, but took a wider stance on applying their lessons to an essential question:
What makes stories work?
I appreciated her candor at not knowing the first thing about making a podcast, and simply figuring it out as she went. I enjoyed the camaraderie of listening to ideas and practice exercises from other listeners. Most of all, I loved the way it helped me think about my storytelling work from a nonjudgemental, process-oriented standpoint. It was a community—not just a product.
So I tweeted about the show and how I much I was enjoying it, which I think is why she ended up watching this talk I’d given at The Animation Workshop in Denmark and following me on Twitter. It was one of those “WHOAAA A REAL CARTOONIST IS LOOKING AT ME WHAT DO I DOOO” moments, which I can tell you from experience everyone has. Jessica co-authored Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, which was a really formative book for me back when I was getting into drawing comics and couldn’t find a program that had the rigor I really wanted from a formal perspective.
Fast forward to this summer, when she wrote and told me she’d been teaching workshops about a creature called The Should Monster that was super similar to my inner demon. Jessica’s students had pinned their inner critics to the page, just as I had, in order to defuse their power.
Then she asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a live, online event—part interview, part Q&A—where we could discuss work-life balance, creative practice, and social media.
I was beside myself with excitement—especially because our dates aligned with the launch of my new Kickstarter, which explicitly deals with overwork and self doubt and a million other things.
And then she wrote this essay about it and I had to come to grips with the idea that somewhere along the way, I had become a working cartoonist. And what’s more, I was good at it. I had learned some things that other people might find useful, and someone I really admired wanted to get that knowledge out to a wider group of people.
It’s not going to silence the little voice that claims I’m a phoney forever, but it’ll definitely do for today.
So here’s our upcoming event!
Demons and Monsters with Lucy Bellwood and Jessica Abel
Join us on Crowdcast to talk about
building an audience for your work,
using Patreon, Kickstarter, and self-publishing to pay (some of) the bills,
and fighting off the Should Monsters and Self-Doubt Demons that want to stop us from making it.
Ask your questions and get some answers!
There will be a replay for those who can’t make it, but you only gain access by registering, so be sure to sign up either way.
July 25 (next Tuesday) at 12:00 noon Pacific, 3 pm Eastern, 9 pm European.
At this link: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/demons-lubellwoo !
This event will be online in real time. You can join us from anywhere via Crowdcast, the online platform we’ll be using to stream. (There’s even an app if you’ll be out on the beach and still want to tune in.)
So reserve your spot here, and we’ll see you soon!
Hey Vancouver, I’m heading your way this Saturday and Sunday for the loveliest comic arts festival on the West Coast: VanCAF!
You can find me at Table C11 with copies of my new book Baggywrinkles: a Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea,along with maaaany other delightful goodies. Just look at these fresh, fresh books!
So delicious. You can also catch me on the following panels and live podcast recordings:
RE-WRITING HISTORY: RESEARCH & INVENTION IN HISTORICAL COMICS Saturday May 21 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM Hosted by Jonathon Dalton Featuring Lucy Bellwood, Tony Cliff, Rachel Kahn, Steve LeCouilliard, Kris Sayer
From the stacks of the library (or the recesses of online journals) to the page, cartoonists plumb the depths of history for inspiration. In this panel, these cartoonists will discuss their methods – from research to brainstorming – for creating comics rich in, and inspired by, history.
SNEAKY DRAGON’S VERY TALL PODCAST Saturday May 21 5:00 PM – 5:45 PM Hosted by Ian Boothby & David Dedrick Featuring Lucy Bellwood, James Lloyd
Join the Sneaky Dragon podcast’s David Dedrick (Totally Tintin) and Ian Boothby (The Simpsons comics and CBC’s The Irrelevant Show) as they welcome cartoonists Lucy Bellwood (Baggywrinkles) and James Lloyd (Futurama comics), discussing everything from tall tales and tall ships to the work habits of fairly tall cartoonists.
It’s gonna be a hoot! I can’t wait to see you all there. If you’d like a cheat sheet, just refer to this handy-dandy guide:
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!
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!