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Some Things, Off the Top of My Head, an Artist Should Know

Please don’t take my extended absence personally: I barely wrote anything in 2017. Let’s change that this year.

But this post, as the title says, wasn’t planned. It started out as an answer to a Reddit post asking what you should study if you want to go pro, but as I kept writing, I realized it was turning into a blog post.

So here you go: a list, from memory, of what I think an artist with career hopes should be reading up on.

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Build a Studio from Nothing

Early this year, I moved a thousand miles and had to rebuild my bedroom studio from scratch, and a couple months later, my laptop bricked itself, forcing me to replace it and all its programs.

So I took that opportunity to tackle one of comics’ oldest questions: What are the cheapest supplies you need to make a good one?

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So, we’ve finally identified my mystery malady: Bipolar Type 1 with Psychosis.

For those of you who’ve never dealt with that little inconvenience, please don’t. I’d rate it zero stars. But let me explain what’s happened in the several months I’ve been mostly gone.

Bipolar disorder was formerly called “manic depression:” as that implies, it’s defined by periods of mania followed by (much longer) periods of depression. For most of my extended absence, the depression was the problem, driving me to stare at blank walls and sleep for fifteen hours a day because the only time I felt remotely good was when I was dreaming. The manias were short, fleeting, and mostly a fun reprieve from slogging through misery 24/7.

But in May, I had my first psychotic episode.

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No picture this time.

I just wanted to let you all know that I’m very sorry, but the blog (as well as my comic) might have to go on extended hiatus while I undergo treatment for something that I’m not yet comfortable talking about.

Thanks for your understanding.  I’ll update as things progress.

How I Tone Yume-Hime

I don’t talk much about my own comic.  Partially because I’m not comfortable analyzing my own stuff, but mostly because it’s only 22 pages in and updates as infrequently as this blog.  But, since I’ve been meaning to talk about the art, and toning was one of the the hardest parts to figure out, I might as well share the method I currently use.


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Where Great Art Comes From

Just a theory.


What to Do When Someone Steals Your Art

Hi again.  There’s a big post on perspective coming up soon, but to tide you over, here’s a smaller article I did for another site.

It’s not about webcomics, but I think would also be of interest to you all, since uncredited reposts are standard practice in the webcomics world, costing artists a ton of potential publicity.


Linking Binge II: Linking out Loud

Here is another thing.  Note that it’s been an unusually long time since the last thing.  That’s because I’ve acquired a day job and two additional freelance gigs since my last post in early April.  Yeah, it’s been a weird two months.  I’m writing this at 4 am, knowing full well I have to be up in a few hours, but desperate to prevent at least one more follower from forgetting about my existence.

The two of you who still follow Yume-Hime have noticed that it’s currently in the middle of its longest hiatus to date as well.  I haven’t given it up—its half-finished 21st page is taped to the drawing board in my room, leering down at me in judgment every day—but…   Sorry.  Nothing else to say here but “sorry.”  Should have said something on the comic’s site itself.

Anyway, in a last-ditch attempt to capture your interest, here’s some content, mostly pulled from the Webcomicry Tumblr.  You like content, right?

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The Horror Process

First, a disclaimer: Although horror might be my favorite genre, I’m no expert on it.

In fact, a lot of readers would say I’m the last person who should try to teach anyone about it.  Two years ago, I wrote a story, a spontaneous rework of a crappypasta, and submitted it to them.  When I’d showed it to friends and posted it on critique sites, the response was universally positive, but when it went up on the site, it tanked, debuting as one of the bottom five stories in its history, and only managing to eke up to 5/10 stars after several days.

As for the comments…  You can see them.  Most of them didn’t bother me too much, since they misinterpreted my intent in writing it, but the one that really caught my eye was the one that described it as a forced attempt to be scary without knowing what that meant.  In hindsight, that was dead on.  I didn’t know how horror worked at the time; I thought it was like any other type of fiction, but with more bad stuff happening.  I had a lot to learn about its unique plotting, atmosphere, and methods of building tension.

This is probably why it fell flat with that particular audience, despite succeeding with others: it works as amateur transgressive fic, but not when presented as horror, and the realistic feel I tried to give it ended up being its biggest problem.  If you look at the plot, it’s just one thing happening, then another, then another, without much continuity between them.  …You know, like real life.  But, also like real life, it doesn’t make for a very good genre story when told as-is.

So, why am I airing out a flop I’m still embarrassed by?  Both so you can learn from my mistakes, and as a”before” for the “after” that is this article.  Since then, I’ve tried my best to learn how it works, and part of my reason for writing this was to collate my own notes into something coherent.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that it seems to follow an identifiable process.  A lot of people have given us clues to this: Stephen King shed some light on it when he talked about the difference between a mere gross-out, the horrifying, and the truly terrifying.  Someone else, I can’t remember who, said horror hits you in the brain, the heart, and the stomach all at once.  Both of these are parts of the “formula,” but now I’m going to try to explain what I believe is the whole.

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Tell Better Stories With Memes

Note: This post is the first in a series of three on writing techniques.  It’ll help you understand the next two, so even if you’re not interested in the topic, least give it a quick skim.

Also, throughout all three, I’ll make a lot of bold-sounding statements about how things work and the reasons behind them. These are just theories: conclusions I’ve jumped to after reading a lot and thinking “All these things seem to do the same thing.”  And I’m not an expert, so don’t take this as gospel.



The title and page image are intentionally misleading.  This is actually about memes as Dawkins originally defined them: bits of knowledge passed from person to person via word of mouth and various media.

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