Narcissist’s Log #9

So, I went to Idaho last weekend for Boise’s first ever “Library Comic Con”.

Big thanks  go out to Ulises “Sitting” Farinas (Judge Dredd) and Erick “Freight Train” Freitas (Gamma) for demanding that the Boise brass invite me.

Those guys are such talented sunsabitches I’m honored that they even know my name, let alone  think of me when asked for guest list recommendations.

(Freitas on the left, Farinas on the right. They looks sorta like Ben Grimm & Mr. F)

And props go out to The City of Boise itself for bankrolling their very own non-profit convention.  I hope it starts a trend.

If my hometown had thrown something like this when I was a kid I would’ve lost my mind.  They had vendors, art and costume contests, how-to panels, and TWENTY FIVE creators in attendance (including me, Erick, and Ulises–who they flew out, put up for the night, and gave some generous per diem spending cash to).

(My swanky, Diabolik-esque hotel room at The Modern, paid for by the kindly tax payers of Boise)

The whole thing was a blast.  I had no idea what to expect from Boise…but it sure as Heck wasn’t the ultra-hip, ridiculously welcoming little artists’ colony that we found ourselves in.

(A friendly local welcomes Ulises to the land of potatoes & brotherly lovin’)

Speaking of:  big thanks go our to Chris “Carver” Hunt, our unofficial tour guide:
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Yes, I am aware that this is ridiculous looking. We were practicing "angry"<br /> looks...

(He looks like the kind of guy who would murder a buffalo with his bare hands, but he’s actually one of the top five nicest dudes I’ve ever met in comics

   I legitimately thought that Chris was mayor of the town for the first few hours I was in his presence.  Every bar we went to, folks flocked to the dude to pay their respect.

  Guys like that should get a medal for all the good they do for the perception of comic book creators.  Kinda makes me want to burn my Batman shirts and buy some flannel.

…kinda.

I did pretty great at this show, especially considering that majority of the folks who showed up to meet me were there to talk about my Bravest Warriors and Adventure Time stuff…both of which have been announced, but haven’t come out just yet.

It’s cool, though.  Most everyone who came to my panel dug what I had to say about FREELANCERS and THUNDER CHRIST, so I moved enough of those to make the weekend financially justifiable a few times over.


Autograph & crummy sketch!

Unsure if this young lady is cosplaying, or just Idahoan.  Either way: I approve.

Clearly a huge BLACKEST TERROR fan.

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“Selfies” are the new autographs, I learned.

Also: I am old.

The traditional garb of my people.

Signed a little dude’s hat!

My sister said on Facebook that this kid reminded her of me when I was that age.  I’m usually not one to argue, but this guy was waaaay cooler than I ever was.

I signed her guitar, which made me feel pretty rock star.

That poor kid has to wear a shirt with my name on it!

Bullies: please be gentle.

This was also the first show wherein I was referred to as being “Los Angeles based”– which felt equal parts completely alien and utterly natural.

  ldaho, thanks for the good time.  Ida-owe you one.

Narcissist’s Log #8

Human consciousness is really just a sophisticated form of the pattern recognition that prehistoric monkeys used in the wild to discern which mushrooms were poisonous.

The only reason we humans have any awareness of causality at all is because our furry, primate forefathers needed to know that some mushrooms tasted delicious if you put them them in your little monkey mouth, and others made your little monkey stomach all rumbly and your little monkey poops super unpleasant.

That’s it.

But somehow our species got lucky enough to live so long that our once-necessary-for-survival mushroom analysis software upgraded into this weird, complex thing called “imagination”.

Now, we don’t just see cause and effect when it’s relative to the integrity of our bowel movements—we also see patterns that aren’t EVEN THERE: We hear thunder and we sense the presence of hammer-wielding Viking Gods, we fabricate weird relationships between the length of Summer and the bravery displayed by a groundhog when it’s confronted by its own shadow.

We take pain, and chaos, and confusion and we turn that into purpose. And we call this talent “imagination”.

Human beings, as a species, are unique—and not just because of our AWESOME thumbs, but because we are the only animals who are capable of seeing a better world where one doesn’t exist

…yet.

As all of you know, I am a freelancer. That means that I only get to sustain myself for as long as I can keep my imagination running to the satisfaction of my clients.

Right now the coffers are running low. Things are lookin’ hairy.

But I refuse to believe that I was put on this Earth in order to get evicted and starve. I look at everything I’ve been through, everything I’ve done, and I choose—like a child finding shapes in the clouds—to imagine a more grand design.

I imagine that I am capable of accomplishing much more than the math of who I am says I should be able to. I imagine a world where the ideas that I have about hope, faith, love and justice are worth $2.99. I imagine that I can write our story a better ending than the one we’ve been sold.

It could be that I’m “just imaginging things”–but that’s worked out pretty okay for me (and our species at large) thus far…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narcissist’s Log #7

iron

 

I live in Los Angeles and lie for a living.  As far as lives go, that’s a pretty cushy one.  At least on paper.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t have a steady gig lined up until the middle of next year, so I have to hustle tons of smaller, one-off jobs in the interim in order to put food on the table (and by “table” I of course mean “steamer trunk full of old action figures and covered in The Smiths stickers”).

I’m lucky.  Right now I’m coasting by on the scratch I made sellin’ old stock at The Latino Comics expo, but as of this very moment I have $16 to my name…and I have to make that  last for four days, until The Boise Library System flies me out to Idaho for a mini convention, feeds me, puts me up in a fancy schmancy hotel, and pays me $50 a day to  hang out with fans and answer questions about who would win in a fight between Thunder Christ and that walking L’Oreal commercial over at Marvel.

The per diem from that gig & the little bit of bread I scrounge up hawkin’ my wares should tide me over until mid-month, at which point BOOM! Studios will fly me out to Baltimore for their convention, I’ll smile, shake hands and kiss babies–and secretly freak out about having to line up another job IMMEDIATELY lest I have to start feeding the cat bits of paper soaked in my own (super nutritional) blood in order to keep it from withering away into furry nothingness.

This is my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…but sometimes, DAMN.

Narcissist’s Log #6

Collaborations are hard, man.

I used to be friends with this guy…and not just friends, but, like, I-would-take-a-bullet-directly-in-the-heart-for-you  best friends.  We did everything together: loaned each other our rarest trading cards, cried on one another’s shoulders about girls, helped each other move, all that jazz.  We even made our very first comics together (I wrote and he illustrated).

We haven’t spoken in years.

I don’t know why.  The whole thing was 100% one-sided…but here’s what I do know:

1.) The whole thing started going south the second I started getting attention from the industry for my efforts.

2.) In an attempt to emulate my “sudden” success, he put down his microns and started trying to write (presumably because I made it look easy.  If I could do it, then surely anybody could, right?).

3.)  He hasn’t put out A SINGLE BOOK since we stopped working together.  Not a single panel.  Not even a crummy, freebie, online thing, just for fun.

The hard lesson I’ve learned since parting ways with said dude is this: Just like “groupies” who only want to have anything to do with you when you’re a success, there are people in comics who only want to be in your life when you’re struggling.  There are people who exist on the same planet as you and I who have no interest in actually succeeding at the thing they talk about wanting to succeed at all of the time.

These energy-vampires don’t want to see their friends accomplish their life-long goals.  They don’t even want to do well for themselves.  Their sole purpose in life is to attach themselves to people who are floundering, and the minute the label of “starving artist” doesn’t apply to them anymore, then they’re no longer interested.

These people fall into two camps:

“Tourists” – Rich kids who grew up in awesome, stable households but were sold on an overly romanticized idea of poverty and struggle by the media.

“Self-Saboteurs” – troubled individuals who only knew strife growing up, and as such are made uncomfortable when things are goin’ okay.

This guy is one of the former.

This old buddy of mine moved to Los Angeles a few years before I did, in pursuit of the kind of work I do now.  Surprise, surprise:  In the four years or so he has been out here, he has yet to land any.

Since moving to L.A I’ve been terrified of running into this old pal again…and not because I’m afraid that he could say anything that would damage me in the eyes of my new friends and colleagues…but because I’m weirded out by the idea that I’m a character in someone else’s personal mythology–and not just a character, but a villain!

Not being the protagonist of the story…it’s every writer’s nightmare.

Plus, I’m a terrible villain.  I’m vegan, for Thunder Christ’s sake!  If you’re gonna have a villain then at least get some dude with a metal mask and a double-sided lightsaber, or something.  Get someone who drinks cow’s milk and doesn’t even give a shoot–THAT is evil.

But what do I know?  Maybe I’m the self-saboteur and we’re going to run into another soon, it’ll be great, and then he’ll do a cursory internet search of my name, find this post, and our rivalry will begin anew.

Who am I to argue?

Maybe I am evil.

Maybe we deserve each other.

Narcissist’s Log #5

iron

So, I’m writing the second draft of this prose thing, and my editor plugged in his edits directly onto the the word processor document, but on a separate layer–almost like one would in photoshop.  It’s a little hard to explain.

Basically, I have the option of right clicking on any of his amendments (which show up underlined and color coded) and clicking “accept change” to allow his phrasing to override mine, or I can click “reject change” and argue my point and draw this thing out into another draft, and another conversation, and another deadline.  Sometimes my words are worth fighting for.  Most times they are not.  My editor is a man who I deeply respect–both as an artist and as a person–and he doesn’t bother to but in with stuff unless it’ll drastically improve the work.  He knows what he’s doing, and I trust him.  That’s why I took this job in the first place.

So, here I am–sitting, alone, on the roof of my new apartment building, in a city that still feels alien to me, working in a medium in which I’ve never been published before, hitting “accept change” over, and over, and over again.

Accept change.

Accept change.

Accept change.

Alright, God.  I get it.

Narcissist’s Log #4

I get depressed from time to time…but what’s worse than the depression is the guilt that follows it–because I know that working the gig that I do, having the friends and fans that I do, having survived the stuff that I have, I have no right to feel anything but grateful.

But that’s not right at all, is it?  We’ve all got a right to feel whatever we feel, regardless of how logical it is.  Biologically speaking, we’re just wet, gasping bags of chemical slurry and arbitrarily firing electrical pulses.  We can’t help what we feel–only what we do with those feelings.

Being one of the most self-centered human beings on the planet, I know exactly what makes me feel better–and that’s expressing myself through comics.

I’ve been having a real bitch of a time recently, honestly, when it comes to getting stuff out.  I’ve reached a point in my career wherein I have to deal with editors, and licensors, and self-sabotaging primadonas who think they’re God’s gift to publishing, and it’s bumming me out something fierce.

I miss working on books that read like I wrote them.  I miss comics that feel like honest-to-God comic books, and not storyboards for films. “Burn down the Disco, hang the blessed D.J. Because the music that they constantly play IT SAYS NOTHING TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE,” y’know?

I want to get back to doin’ books that are unfiltered, unfilmable, unmarketable, unsalable buckets of crazy sauce.

I don’t care about getting paid anymore.  I just want to be part of the conversation again.

Artists, hit me up:

Twitter: @ericMesquivel
Email: ericMesquivel@gmail.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ericMesquivelFanPage

Narcissist’s Log #1

“I took on jobs I didn’t think I could do, so I put myself in the position of either doing them or fucking up and dying” – Howard Chaykin

So, yeah.  I moved to L.A.

I didn’t do it because I hate Tucson (quite the opposite, actually.  I owe more to that city than I’ll ever be able to repay), but I felt like I had reached a plateau.  “The Dirty T” is a small town, and even though the comix community is vibrant, talented, and active as all get out, it’s still teeny tiny compared to those in…well…real, actual, human civilization.

There came a point when I started seein’ the exact same faces at every event I was invited to (both behind and in front of the table), and I began to get the sense that folks were startin’ get get as bored as I was.

Plus, #HumbleBrag, living in Tucson was easy.  My rent was like, four nickels and a smile a month, I had a weekly comic strip runnin’ in the newspaper, all of the local stores/cons were kind enough to bring me out whenever they had anything goin’ on… I didn’t have to think too hard to make ends meet.

So, as I’m wont to do, I hit the eject button with the urgency of a pedestrian in an Arizona summer pounding on the crosswalk control panel, tryin’ to catch the bus across the street.

I don’t know if there’s a name for what’s wrong with me, but I know exactly what my problem is, and it’s that I hate security.  It feels like a trap.  It feels like the exact opposite of growth.  It feels like a boring chapter in a story that, if I was editing it, I would trim.

So, yeah—here I am.  In Los Angeles.  With rent that’s literally twice what I paid in Tucson for a place three times the size (which is saying a lot, because my old house was just about the size of a mid-range meth lab), no steady gig to speak of, and no real, logical reason to not end up homeless and super duper dead within six months’ time.

I’m lucky enough to have made the trek with Hannah Partlow, my ultra-talented, mega-babely life partner—but she, like an “adult” (whatever the Heck that is) has a reliable, on-the-grid day job in addition to her various side hustles (which are numerous, and impressive, and for which I’m constantly, nigh-unbearably proud of her).

There’s a good chance that I’ll fail—and not only put myself in financial and physical jeopardy, but endanger Hannah as well (who relies on me to pay half the rent/groceries/etc).  Honestly, there’s no logical reason why I shouldn’t.

…but what if I don’t?  What if I become the person I always wanted to be, with the career I’ve always wanted to have, and I earn a spot in the world that allows me to not only take care of myself, but also Hannah—and anyone else who ever believed in me beyond reason?

Crazier things have happened, right?

I don’t want to be a successful writer because of the money, or the acclaim, or whatever—I want to be a successful writer because I want access to the tallest soap boxes and the loudest megaphones in the world, so that I can use them to scream out to all the confused, angry, self-hating young people of the world who are just like I was at that age, and tell them that they’re not alone, that’s it’s perfectly okay to not be okay for a little while, and that—if they want to—someday they can grow up to have their own soap boxes and megaphone, and start the whole thing over again.

Yep.