Year in Review: 2015

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I’m waiting on hold to try to curse out Virgin Mobile for not having decent coding on the part of their site that processes payments, so I now have the time I’ve been meaning to set aside to talk about my year.

2015 basically started with me getting a double kidney transplant and, like, holy shit, I could stop right there and say it was a great year. But after I sat on my ass recovering for two months, there were still 10 more in the year, so I’ll talk about other stuff too.

I’m ending the year feeling a little worn-out, like I’ve run myself ragged. I’ve honestly spent the last four days doing almost nothing but watching movies and scratching my butt. I feel just completely run ragged. And while I’ve been thinking about what I would write for this post, I think I can see why. I got so excited when I got out of the hospital back in January about how much more I could do, how I could finally get to some of those projects on the back burners.

The problem is, after 3.5 years of dialysis, I had about 50 back burners! The image that comes to mind is that of my younger brother when he was one year old and eating cookies. He’d grab a cookie, take a bite of it, and then grab another cookie in the other hand and start eating on it. I started trying to take on multiple projects while also trying to get caught up on my webcomic – whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean at this point. I came out of the transplant telling myself not to expect too much from myself in terms of finding a new normal anywhere inside the first six months; but I think now, 10 months out, it’s going to be even longer than that. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and it seems like I’ve been learning the lesson about “how much I can expect to create in my spare time” for the past 6 years or so. I hate tradeoffs, and sometimes wish that I was in an endless version of that experiment where they put you in an underground bunker for months to see what it does to your circadian rhythms (if I remember correctly, the human body shifts to a longer “day” of 26 hours or more).

So I end up beating myself up for not accomplishing as much as I’d like to. I like playing checkers, by the way, and as much as it’s the less-favored cousin of chess, winning does depend on thinking many moves ahead, as well as knowing your opponent’s capacity for doing the same. In this case, my mind is its own opponent, and I can see where things would go if I start beating myself for having worn myself out. I’m not going to get out of this mindset the same way I got in; I have to cut myself some slack for not having done as much as I thought, in some platonic ideal of a life, that I would or could do. I have to remind myself that “how much I can expect to create in my spare time” has changed on an almost yearly basis for the past five years. And even the things I’ve managed to do continuously throughout that time have not remained stable. Consider an issue of Jimmy Jone done before I was on dialysis: Issue 39 with one that I posted earlier this year: Issue 68. More characters. More backgrounds. Characters interacting with the backgrounds.

And hey, that’s a good segue. Let’s talk about what I did accomplish this year. There’s another psychology study I remember reading about where people were asked to rate how morally upstanding they were by listing things they had done that they were proud of, as well as things that they regretted. The variables here were whether they were asked to name just a few (say, 4), or a lot (say, 10) things they had done. Lower number of items = more likely to complete list = more likely to think you were good or bad, depending on which things you were writing. Higher number of items = less likely to complete list = less likely to think you were good or bad, depending, etc. So let’s see if I can be proud of myself!

1091 1107 1125 1147 1172 1193 1213 1238 1262 1281
Jimmy Jone

I kind of shot my wad (read: buffer) at the beginning of the year because I was so excited about getting kidneys.  So that means I had a few months with no new comics.  But I did post 9 issues this calendar year! That’s three more than I’d posted for the past 2 or 3 years, so I’d call that a win!  And if you’ve never read my comics before, the stuff I posted this year is as bad as any other point to start reading (I’m even counting the beginning of the series), so why not read them now?

Issue 66 / Issue 67

Parts 2 and 3 of a three-parter; Jimmy is going through the initiation for the psychology club, while Stuart and Priscilla try to take their relationship to the next level (you’ll get that joke once you read the story; it’s not a good joke, but you’ll get it)

Issue 68 / Issue 69

A 2-parter! This time, all of the students that Ron and Jimmy have tricked out of their rooms sit around and do basically nothing, while Chloe and Jenny babysit a character drawn with crayons at a theme park (I actually do draw that character with crayons; it makes things take longer!)

Issue 70 / Issue 71 / Issue 72

A 3-parter, but I’m kind of stretching the definition of that here.  Chapter whatever of the Prank War bookended by Ron going crazy and Jimmy going sad.  The end jokes of 70 and 72 are some of my favorite end jokes in the whole webcomic so far.

Issue 73 & 74

Another damn 2-parter!  The hobo kids try to get their rooms back, while Jimmy tries to get his groove back.  And that Lego thing is the most work I’ve ever put into a stupid long-term sight gag.

Also, my cowriter and I spent all year writing the script for issues 101/102, and it’s still not finished!  I think he has, like, 8 kids now or something, so that one will be a while coming. (And yes, that means that issues 75 through 100 are already written. Hoo-boy, wait until you see #94!)

Just to prove to you that I am still working on the webcomic, the cover for issue 75’s up there, too.

dumpstervinyl

Dumpster Vinyl

Another thing that’s been sitting in my closet for years is about five boxes full of vinyl that my uncle salvaged from a radio station in Rome, GA. They were already in the dumpster, but my uncle has a keen eye for finding treasures.  And these certainly are!  I’ve only digitized 16 of the discs so far, and there’s easily another 100 I haven’t gotten to (no joke), but you can use this blog category link to see what I’ve done so far, and then hit F5 for weeks to see if I ever post another one! If you’ve ever wanted to hear Bob Denver tell you stay in school, or Tony Bennett to tell you what the temperature is, this series is for you!

Commercials Grandma Taped

I’ve also been digitizing and uploading all the old VHS tapes I’ve been lugging around for the past decade. They’re full of cartoons recorded, for the most part, from Atlanta stations like WATL-36.  What I’ve uploaded to YouTube is just the commercials and bumpers and station IDs, but they’re amazing to just sit and chill out to, if you have the time.  There’s seriously nearly 24 hours of commercials on that playlist, so pace yourself.

HaariboGittersport

German Wacky Packages

Okay, so this was a failure.  I put up a Kickstarter for a set of sticker cards in German, based on the Wacky Packages stickers you may be familiar with. When it seemed pretty clear that it wouldn’t get funded, I ragequit it and sulked for three days; then I was upset at myself for another three days after that.  I should have let it die on its own just so I couldn’t blame my own emotions.  Maybe if I get a nice tax refund I may just print them up anyway and sell them if anyone still wants to buy them.

Music Playlists

I kept going with my journey through the music of the 1970s and 1980s via my paid Spotify account. I gave in and coughed up the $10 a month just so I wouldn’t have to hear another commercial for “Waterburger” with soundbites of customers just straight up telling you a list of the ingredients of a burger. I’m not even kidding; in one of the commercials a customer described a cheeseburger as both “beefy” and “cheesy”.

Anyway, you can read my thoughts about–and hear my playlist for–1971 here

And the same dealio for 1979 here

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Janie Kidshow’s Cartoon Roundup

Janie Kidshow’s Cartoon Roundup is a second site I started so I could have a place to put comics that aren’t Jimmy Jone.  And wow, yeah, for the first time in years there were comics I made that aren’t Jimmy Jone.  There’s only a couple things there right now, but that Two-Face story is comedy gold and 100% devoid of plot holes.

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ALF to the Future

Somehow, over the course of a week – a week that I was doing jury duty, no less – I managed to put out a whole 5-page story about the time Alf traveled back in time from 2015.  It was written by Philip Reed, whose furry fetish manifests in the strangest way possible: reviewing episodes of ALF.  You can read the best work by a writer/artist team this side of the Eisner Awards here.

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Perfect Strangers Reviewed

Lastly, I started a review blog of my own!  Remember Perfect Strangers? If you said “sort of”, you’re not alone! We all kind of remember watching it, meaning that most of us have forgotten how bad it could be.  By watching this show as an adult, I’m taking up mental space that could have been used for, um, wait, I think I knew this one once. Anyway, I do one episode review each week.  I’m currently halfway through the second season, meaning that I’ve still got 133 episodes to go!  I’ve put Two-Face, ALF to the Future, and Perfect Strangers Reviewed together here because I want to say the same thing about them all: these have all been nice writing/drawing exercises for me.  I spend so much time on Jimmy Jone, and it has its own baselines, as well as its own high water marks. Doing things outside of that has pushed me to do better within that.  You probably won’t see too much improvement in the comic for awhile. Like I said, we’ve written the next 26 issues, but hoo-boy, wait’ll you see issues 97-99!  Anyways, my reviews drop on Fridays, which means you’ll get one tomorrow morning.  So quit being so goddam ridiculous and stop by sometime to see what wacky antics Balki and Cousin Larry have gotten up to!

(I’m glad I have kidneys now to filter these toxins I’m putting into my body.)

Having the best friends ever

I want to give a shout out to all of you who stuck with me through the Dialysis Years.  You took my calls and were there for me when I was down (which was really often); you came to visit me when I couldn’t visit you. You helped me stay on the transplant list. And when I got kidneys this past January, you all came through.  You donated money to cover my medical costs; you put out the word to others who donated as well.  You came to Houston to be caregivers at personal cost; you cooked and cleaned, you made sure I made my appointments and knew my own limits. You put up with my idiosyncrasies and watched shitty movies and TV shows with me. You gave of yourselves in a way, and to an extent, that means I am in debt to you in ways I could never pay back, even if you let me try.  But I’ll say this: you’ve all got first dibs on whatever other organs I still have two of. Disclaimer: you’ll have to NEED one of these to call this in. You can’t just, you know, have an eyeball or a testicle ball to put on your mantel.

Year in Preview: 2016

Here’s a glimpse at what kinds of stuff I hope to do in 2016:

Jimmy Jone!  We’re almost to the end of the characters’ sophomore year, so you might get to see some actual plot developments over the next 12 months!  I think there’s even one or two jokes in some of the upcoming issues.

Dumpster Vinyl! I need to get a new record brush and some new cleaning fluid, but I want to get these done before

Toys!  I’ve been collecting more weird-ass toys you’ve probably never heard of. I would have posted about more of them, but I’m waiting until I can complete the sets and maybe get some information from the people who designed them way back when.

Music! I’m already halfway through listening to what Spotify has for 1984. After that? Maybe 1976? Maybe 1988? We’ll see.  And finally…

*sigh*

Perfect Strangers reviews…

Projects I’ll probably never get to, even if having had an organ transplant hadn’t significantly shortened my life expectancy

Puppet Master trilogy film scripts (this exists in me, growing like a tumor; the Perfect Strangers reviews are all that hold this back; you tell me which would be the worse alternate timeline)

Post-apocalyptic film script based on the concept of the “bubble” of my undergraduate alma mater

Reading War & Peace all the way through, instead of quitting about 200 pages in every 5 years

Actually buying dolls for my ventriloquist doll concept where I don’t actually do any ventriloquism

Redubbing the five sets of late-1970s hospital orientation/training slides that I digitized almost 9 years ago

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