Your Grandkid is Weird Because You Sold Out

Article / 21 September 2020

For someone perched right between the boomers and the millennials, I gotta say it’s weird to see the 2 age segments that can learn the most from each other react like oil and water when thrown into the cesspool of the internet. If I’m really being honest and objective, no generation has taken more shit and criticism simply for being who they are than the millennials.

I get it, they’re goofy, but this is what you fought for Boomers; before you gave up, for whatever reason, and decided corporate brands like McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart were reputable members of the community that you trust with your best interests.

As a GenXer, it’s really all I can do to say anything at all. I’d much rather play my typical role of the uncle sitting in a dark corner, hidding my cigarette from the kids and rolling my eyes at how ridiculous the older and younger generations sound when they squabble. Now I’ve gotta put out my smoke and think about how much shit I’m gonna get for telling the kids the dirty secret their Mammy and Pappy have been keeping.

Guys, I grew up as a child of the 80s and 90s. I grew up in a culture where you guys patted your backs and showed off with all of the self-aggrandizing film, and television, and pop culture you could. Media trumpeted about the great achievements you made with the hippy movement, sexual liberation, love and peace and saving the Earth.

What the fuck happened guys? I mean I know something happened between the events glorified on celluloid and when I was born. Before I was old enough to pull my pud, I knew the world that I lived in, did not work the same as the one they lived in. It doesn’t take more than a 5-Year old intellect to put together that if half the back-patting you did about bra-burning, desegregation and defying authority were true, then something must have happened, some sort of compromise, for the world to have changed so much by the time I came along in 1981.

I’m sure we asked when we were kids, maybe once or twice. I vaguely remember maybe being given a half-hearted “I dunno”.

So really, what the fuck happened guys? 

You raised us in a world that worshipped and praised money, fame, power, and violence, while telling us stories that extolled the virtues of austerity, humility, justice and peace. Somehow that also relates to how great of a guy you were for marrying the same lady you fucked in a field at a music festival or peace rally. 

So what finally got to you? Was it just the money? 

What was it that got you started? Did the system break you? Or did they seduce you with the promise of a better life than the one you had?

I mean something happened.

Maybe it doesn’t matter where it started if you still have the ability to look back and see it.

HOW DID THE GENERATION THAT FOUGHT TO SAVE THE PLANET BECOME THE GENERATION FIGHTING TO KILL IT?

Really. How did the generation that started Earth day become pro-coal? How did the generation that praised peace and love become the first one to broadcast bombings in foreign countries on live television?  How did the generation of free live become anti-gay?

Listen. I get maybe you’re insecure because deep in your subconscious you’ve been waiting to be called on your bullshit, and you resent that kind of judgement from someone that is your junior and you therefore perceive as having less life experience than you.

Guess what, they don’t have less life experience than you. Since you decided to give up your fight and accept the gnawing embrace of corporate capitalism into your lives, every generation after has been paying it forward, so that you can be comfortable. Boomers, we have more in common with your parentsthan you do. A financial system that is stacked against you has a way of making a person more frugal and have to make more sacrifices just to make due with less.

I like to think of it that way anyway and not some other way; like whatever the compromise you made was, has turned you into a bloodthirsty vampire, siphoning off of your subsequent generations to pad your retirement fund.

But that’s what happened.

In our lifetime, Genx has seen the cost of most things increase 400%. I’m not kidding. And it doesn’t make sense. It well exceeds the natural rate of inflation. Books, cars, houses, gasoline...it’s real easy to see. What causes artificial inflation like that?

Greed. Human greed. And guess what? It’s not going to the average working class person. All that extra inflation money went to senior staff, upper management, members of the board. The old boys.

As you slowly siphoned off the money in the wage pool that your kids would have been able to use for a down payment on a house, you justified it to yourself, saying that it was a small shortfall, your kids would have plenty of time later in life to work hard and make up the difference. It would be like it never happened.

After awhile you kinda got used to the taste of that extra lettuce, and with the way inflation and increased prices are going, you might just have to grab the rest of that wage pool money yourself. You took care of them so long, but you can’t take care of them if you don’t take care of yourself. Besides, that money will be so much more meaningful and make them much happier if YOU GIVE it to them.

Before you know it, 90% of your generation has spent the house fund for the kids on expensive toys and entertainment and you’re working 60 hours per week, demanding a larger and larger salary than your underlings, and justifying that your grandkids work full time and have to use the food bank, but it builds character and they can have your money when you die.

Hell, if the retirement bonus is big enough, you can dump whatever you want wherever you want. It takes like 100 years for those chemicals to show up, and we’ll have figured out a better cleaning and disposal method by then, I’m sure.

Except that last gamble didn’t pay off and your descendants are soon going to turn their gaze on you and ask you to explain why you would poison the planet that they have to keep living on after you, even as they watch that planet die. But nature’s resilient right? Feel free to choose any other cliche’d saying to help you sleep at night if you don’t like that one.

Now, I just want to take a moment to say; some of you Boomers are also the sarcastic uncle or aunt who sits in the corner smiling and trying not to laugh as they thoroughly enjoy witnessing us give our parents shit. We see you and we’re cool. This message isn’t directed at you. We know that you know the old “do as I say, not as I do” routine has gotten a little tired.

But really. What amount was it? A huge raise and we’re okay with polluting rivers? A decent holiday bonus, and it’s not so hard to look the other way when they burn a rainforest? How much did it take to make it okay to fill the ocean with plastic?

I mean for god sake, you raised us on tales of glorious tree huggers who just want to save the planet, all the while placating us with sugar and saturated fats so we wouldn’t pay attention too long and ask uncomfortable questions.

Well guess what? 

The truth comes out no matter how deep you bury it in potato chips and Sunny D.

The one good thing that came out of it was an idea. Hope. Hope that things could change and that another opportunity would come for people to stand up against the tyranny of an oppressive system and push back. Beyond that, and even more than that, maybe we could actually make a small sliver of that imaginary utopia real for our kids, simply by being tolerant and not trying to force them into the molds that you were forced into.

Your parents may have told you how to dress, think, act and love, but we’re not doing that to our kids.

My generation grew up talking about being confused about who we were, in large part due to the mindfuck of the mixed messages coming from you Boomers, lauding your advancements in enlightenment while calling for the blood of Saddam Hussein with childish glee.

We’re not here to call you out on the hypocrisy, but we just want to make it clear ahead of time that we will always shield our children from you, as long is there is a chance it will make them happier.

Now they’ve decided that they’d like to save the planet, and we’d appreciate if you’d get out of the way  so that they can finish what you started. No judgement. We’re not even going to push for you to explain this drastic 50-year long reversal of position.

At the end of the day, even if climate change isn’t real, why are you fighting people who want to protect the planet that you live on? You told us to listen to the children, because they’re our future. Okay, so LISTEN TO THEM!

No, I don’t want a same sex relationship, to dress as a furry, eat avocado toast or want a 3 foot rainbow mohawk, but if they do, why not let them? If they are healthy, happy decent people trying to make the world a better place, why try to make them behave differently? It’s not hurting anyone and they don’t need to ask your permission anyway, so why insert yourself?

Stop getting sucked into all the bullshit and just get out of the way if you can’t pitch in and help clean up this mess.

Also, here's some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Advice on how to determine who you should vote for.

Article / 16 September 2020

As the looming federal election down in the U.S. crawls into the very near future and campaigning begins here in Canada, it occurs to me that there are probably a lot of people out there like me, who feel that voting is important, aren’t decided on who they will vote for and also feel that all politicians are full of shit. Agendas, parties and policies can be a minefield to intellectually navigate, so here are a few things that I think about when I choose who deserves my vote.

1. When they share stories, speak publicly or debate, do they say “I” or “we”, when they talk about solving problems? Do they brag about past achievements and talk about how they will single handedly fix major issues, or do they talk about how colleagues, partnerships, bi-partisan projects, and public will work together to resolve issues and improve conditions for the people that they govern?

It’s my theory that a candidate that refers to the self and “I” more frequently than “we” my be motivated more by power, awards and accolades. They want bragging rights and to top the previous thing on thier list of achievements. Someone like that will devote little attention to solving the problems of the average person unless they can somehow leverage the situation to further benefit themselves. Conversely, someone who says “we” may have the wisdom and maturity to understand that there are oroblems and that it will take hard work and co-operation to make things better.


2. Any candidate that uses smear tactics, or tries to rally followers into violence and hate, is manipulating others for their own benefit. I don’t believe naturally occurs in humans. I certainly don’t believe hate organizes naturally on its own. If it did, we never would have survived this long. The variety of colors and races African and Eurasian continents would have all killed each other dead before anyone could have discovered the new world. Our ancestors had to have been tolerant of each other, or they wouldn’t have survived. Yes of course there was racism and war, but I don’t believe the sentiment that humans are naturally predisposed to war or that humanity has always been at war since the dawn of time. In order for someone to want to organize and create a group or movement based on hate, they must at least partially exist outside of that demographic psychologically before they can recognize it as a trait that they can use for their own benefit. If the organizer believed in the cause or had the same hate, they wouldn’t need to use someone else’s hate to advance their agenda, because they would use their own and they wouldn’t be afraid of speaking up independently. The person who organizes the hate group or hate rally has to have a mindset that recognizes the hate in others as an asset they don’t have, that’s why they need them. The organizer is a manipulator who need to take advantage of the actions of their followers because it will somehow benefit the organizer. It’s the actions of the followers that benefit the organizer when they purposely whip people up into foaming anger. No one who uses and manipulates people that way is looking out for the interests of others. Their behavior has already shown that they made the decision to put profit before morality or ideology. If you follow someone who preaches hate you are being duped. Don’t vote for someone who hates the same people as you, choose the person that you genuinely feel will work to make the quality of your daily life and that of your loved ones better.


3. Any candidate pushing a pro-military action is not to be trusted. War is real, war is serious and war costs people’s lives. Someone who fully understands the gravity of this does not use the gamble of those lives as a bargaining chip to win an election. The decision to go to war should be solemn and respectful, not a marketing campaign. I truly believe that humanity has come to the point where we are intelligent enough that any problems between countries, nations, groups, etc. can be resolved with negotiation and mediation. As long as both sides are willing to talk and voice grievances openly, communication and negotiation can always be used to solve a dispute. No more of this always having someone jump in and say “but what if they do this...” to try to undermine the point. We’re not five yars old any more. Clearly if one party demands the extermination, persecution or confinement of the other party, they aren’t being reasonable or negotiating in good faith. Yes, there will always be leaders who for one reason or another feel the need to prove status or be unreasonable, but when someone is like that, negotiations would stop and the issue would be forwarded to the U.N. There the nation members could make decisions about sanctions, aid relief, limiting trade, etc. as tactics to pressure the unreasonable party to reconsider and come back to the negotiation table with more reasonable demands. If not, only when all other options have been exhausted should the UN consider sending in military or peace keeping forces. This process should be respected and not condone direct nation-to-nation conflict and should never be used to weaken, take over, or otherwise take advantage of smaller or weaker countries, but only begin in the case of a dispute between two separate countries, a border issue or a human rights issue. With all that in mind, I don’t think any candidate pushing for war fully understands these things and just believes a military is a tool for them to bully others and take what they want. That’s also someone who doesn’t care about your well being.


So those are my thoughts anyway. Yadda yadda yadda, you may not agree and that’s okay.

Here’s some of my recent art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

We have what may be the first, last and only civilized option NOW!

Article / 13 September 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of the world in general lately, ever since this whole worldwide mindfuck known as the ‘Rona started.

I’ve made it pretty clear on here that I don’t have faith in the current system and that it will collapse under the current and prolonged stresses and pressures that the system will be under. I think everyone underestimated the side-effects and fallout of grinding an economy being run by incompetents and criminals to a halt.

I believe that to be true no matter what side of the argument you are on. Real or hoax.  Mask or no mask. Liberal or conservative. Act of God or Conspiracy. Regardless, I think human ego severally caused us to misjudge humanity's ability to maintain a society under the systems we currently have. We miscalculated. Now we are just stuck in a corner unable to do anything but wait and watch the collapse caused by our mistakes.

I believe that same human ego, something that each one of us may be biologically prone to,  has caused us to over-estimate the strength of our systems and their ability to cope with the pressures that the leaders of our civilization have chosen to put them under.

So, I believe the system is going to collapse eventually anyway. I don’t believe that trying to go back to the way things worked pre-corona is going to work.

So, I believe, that we, as a society, can turn this into an opportunity, possibly the only time it will happen in history.

I think that if we, as a society, work together instead of letting our disagreements and differences divide us, can build a new system together without having to destroy the old one.

Essentially instead of tearing down and burning everything before we rebuild, which is how every civilization has been built before, including ours, we can be smart and civilized enough to recycle and repurpose what is left of the old system in a fair and measured manner. 

I think that if we want to avoid a collapse that includes a societal division resulting in a civil war in countries such as ‘Murica, we need to work together now and stop fighting with everyone on social media about differences in opinion.

We need to talk with each other, in a productive nature, to plan, discuss and figure out how we can make a new system that allows the basics of human rights to everyone and how we might reallocate resources, retrain those whose jobs may be affected, repurpose public property, and a number of other things that we would need to do if we wanted to be the first society in history built in civilized and compassionate manner, an approach that would focus on building and repurposing instead of destruction. 

Maybe we are the first civilization that has reached the point of simultaneous intelligence and enlightenment that we are capable of working together to create a new civilization that acknowledges the past without clinging to it, where every person treats every other person with an equal level of dignity and respect.

It might sound crazy, but if the alternative is watching society collapse as your friends and neighbors fight each other in the streets over differences in opinion, maybe it’s worth considering?

Also, here’s some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

It’s okay to be angry

Article / 11 September 2020

Okay, so I know we all try not to carry around negativity and anger in our lives, but sometimes circumstances occur that make anger the only sane response.

I’m mad. I’m mad at the state of the world. I mad that, if you say anything and speak out, there’s a perception that you’ll be labelled with the social stigma of being a crazy or conspiracy nut.

I’m mad, that I spent 30 years chasing dreams, reaching goals and developing skills, only to have the society that I developed those skills within crumble around me. I commited to chasing my dreams in a world where I expected that civilization would still exist once I felt confident enough to call myself a professional.

Had I known that the people steering the ship were criminally incompetent or corrupt or both, I would have had to choose a different path. When a person decides to follow their dreams, it’s because they believe that the people in charge of the basic infrastructure of society are competent enough to keep it running for the foreseeable future. In my lifetime, that’s how society has always worked. It doesn’t anymore. I love my life and don’t regret my choices, I just can’t help but feel like if I had known how bad things would get, if I’d foreseen society moving backward, maybe I would have tried to get involved in law enforcement, law, government, humanitarianism or politics or something else that would have improved the world in some way. 

I’m trying not be to resentful or negative about the world, but I don’t understand how everyone else in the world doesn’t seem to notice society crumbling around them, while I want to write an apology letter to future generations. I don’t know, it it just me?

I also made some art!:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

My name is Mike Gagnon, and I do not want to be the next President (or Prime Minister)

Article / 06 September 2020

As the title states, I’m Mike and I don’t want to be the next President. Since I live in Canada, I can’t. We have a Prime Minister, but let’s be real, I don’t ever expect to be a running contender for that either.

In reality, I don’t want to be President or Prime Minister or any other title with a similar job description.

To be honest, I don’t think the job should exist. I’m not just talking about “THE PRESIDENT”, though the last few years of events with my neighbours to the south are an excellent example of why.

I’m going to do my best to keep this shortish.

I think the entire system of a single decision making/ruling figurehead should be abolished.

That right, I said it: The Presidency should be abolished.

Here’s why:

When the idea of a presidency was created, it was very fine and valid for the people of the time. In an unconnected world, the decree of one ruler can only have an effect on so many lives. Things moved so slowly that it took a long time for negative effects to spread.

Today is not the same. When the presidency was created we didn’t have the internet, or a 24/7 media cycle,...or nuclear weapons.

Let’s set aside the big red button issue for a minute and simply talk about what can happen when a person who may not be mentally sound is given such a level of power that their choices have direct effect and repercussions on the life and prosperity of millions of people.

Just look at how life in America (and North America) has changed since Trump took office. Crashed economy, joblessness, racial unrest, murder in the streets, and so on and so on.

Much of this, if not created by Trump, has certainly been exacerbated and encouraged by him.

Thanks to reach of things like media and social media, the world learns news much faster than just 20 years ago, and much faster than 50 years ago, and so do the negative effects of a despots choices.

No one person should have the power to negatively impact the lives of millions on a whim.

Honestly, I don’t see the point of the position any more. If we are actually interested in making sure everyone is represented and included, developed nations should be ruled by senate. Basically the same way a senate works now, (each state/province/region votes locally for a candidate to represent the interests of their area as part of the federal senate, usually located in a nation’s capital)

There is no reason that the choices and duties of a president can’t replaced with a majority vote in the senate. Eliminate the VP position too obviously, and increase the security of each senator and have access to a community bunker for emergencies. 

Turn the White House into a museum and have it generate income from tours etc. (Basically the way it does now, but with exhibits like “the oval office”.)

This also makes it much harder for any foreign or domestic terrorist to assassinate your leader, too.

But beyond that, in a world with nuclear weapons, no ruler of a developed nation should have access to launch a nuclear attack on a whim. 

You can’t tell me that Trump is the kind of person who should have access to nuclear weapons (guys, if he doesn’t launch ‘em, he’ll probably sell ‘em). There’s been clear evidence that he is not stable and is not the kind of person you let play with any kind of weapon, if nothing else then to protect themselves and those around them.

The world hasn’t gotten fully up and running from the Corona lockdown yet, so there is no better time than now to take action and cause a major shift, as well as systematic change.

Regardless of which party to support it’s time to take action. If you’re a Senator or in a senior position of power, you need to be working together to approve having the secret service forcibly remove him to confinement for psychiatric assessment, then you can start working together to help implement a senate system with minimal disruption to society. Then you can work on healing America and lifting it’s international status back to previous levels.

Rule-by-Senate isn’t communism or socialism, nor is it anti-democratic, it’s just a better system for managing a large and powerful society in a modern age.

Also, here’s some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

To be honest, I don’t want to work for an employer that checks Facebook first.

Article / 03 September 2020

I know humanity is stuck in this “replace religion with technology worship” phase that we may never move forward from, but I don’t like the trend of employers checking social media and online presence of applicants before hiring.

Whether on social media or my blog, I’m expressing myself and my opinions are my own. My beliefs and how I spend my free time away from the job are mine and up to me. These things should not affect my hirability.

The excuse is, that the business wants to protect it’s reputation and in these ever prevalent web connected times, businesses can’t afford to be associated with someone that might create a scandal.

I call bullshit on that.

Not that there can be a potential scandal based on who you are associated with, but that the value of that risk and the preservation of your businesses reputation is more valuable than my right to exist publicly as a human being with my own individual set of thoughts and feelings. Sorry, potential scandal is a risk of doing business and I shouldn’t have to worry that some petty issue makes me a less attractive candidate.

I don’t care who you are or what you business is, I shouldn’t have to censor myself in regards to what I say about important issues or add explanations to defend myself. 

I shouldn’t have to worry that if I write about my anxiety, that a potential client or employer will be apprehensive to hire me because I might be crazy.

The surface excuse is always innocuous or exagerrated: “We just wanna get a feel for your personality” or “we just wanna make sure you’re not a serial killer, ha ha”, but there is way, WAAAAY, too much potential for abuse and misuse. Apply somewhere that a hiring manager has opposing political views? You don’t get called. Have opposing viewpoints on legalizing marijuana? Resume in the trash. Hated the newest movie that helped them through an emotional time in their lives? You get the picture.

And those were trivial, yet feasibly realistic examples. What about the hot-button issues of society, such as race, religion, gender, identity & lifestyle, etc.?

I believe in freedom of speech. I believe that every person deserves dignity, justice and respect. I believe that everyone deserves these things regardless of race, religion, color, gender, sexual preference, gender identity or anything else. Of course there are always going to be extreme aberrations that require a legal system to solve crimes or issues, but just bringing up “well what if this person did this...” does not negate the fact that we still need to have respect and equality for others in order to thrive as a society. It’s okay to be skeptical, but why don’t we just try it and see if respect and dignity for our fellow man doesn’t reduce that number of extreme exception that happen?

If there is any employer that is offended by those personal beliefs, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

Btw, I did some art today:


Thanks for reading,

Mike Gagnon

Stereotypical Artists Malaise

Article / 28 August 2020

I hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

Those moments when I catch myself living a stereotype of the artist or creative type.

Growing up, my entire life, my arrogant little self thought those stereotypes were ridiculous. Cliched tropes of the modern entertainment age.

Then I became one. 

It’s a strange paradox really.

When I was a young artist, I was insecure about my skills, but confident in making choices.

Now that I’m facing the fact that I’m no longer classified as young, ahem, I find myself feeling the opposite; happy and confident with my professional skills, but overthinking my decisions on every micro-level to the point that it’s hard to make a decision at all.

Such is life I guess. Super aggravated because the piece I wanted to do for Fan Art Friday today just didn't work. Everything I tried just didn't work. The concept was Batman psychologically being tortured by The Scarecrow. It was the Batman part that just kept looking like ass and seemed to fight me at every step. I haven't felt that way while doing art in awhile. 

I ended up scrapping it and going with a scene of just scarecrow that I'm working on now. I'm happy with it, it's coming along, It will probably be on my Facebook today. It is going well but it still bugs me that it isn't the piece that I had in mind. 

Here's some other art I did that's also technically fan art because it is of Count Orlock from Nosferatu:

Thanks for reading!

Mike



I have lost faith

Article / 26 August 2020

Hey guys, is it just me, or is the future of civilization up in the air more than ever before.

I mean, I’ve been smugly implying that we were watching the decline of civilization at dinner parties for at least 2 decades, but now, I really believe it. I mean, I believed it before, but now I really, really, believe it.

I know I’ve been mentioning that my anxiety is out of control recently, and this is one reason why.

My entire life, I’ve always had a sense that the future of the human race, though unwritten, could be pre-ordained, if you will, based on the predictable response of human behaviour oven a given length of time. Not that our civilization could have been anticipated, per se, but that if given the facts of everything that has happened before our civilization, that one could have predicted that a civilization, such as ours, would form.

One could logically predict which governments would be in power, how people would behave, etc.

I don’t feel that way any more.

I have never felt more uncertain of the future of civilization as I do now. I feel like anything could happen, nothing would surprise me, and whatever it is will be unexpected.

I have literally never experienced this depth of terror my life.

I feel like the average person has really been ripped off worldwide.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of the “social contract”, but if not it as follows: the unwritten rules of human social interaction that we respect and abide by when interacting with other humans. Basic manners, respect, social etiquette, etc.

Well, the people in charge of our society; the politicians, the corporate class, the 1%, or whatever else you wanna call the people who make the decisions that stear the ship of society have been violating a social contract with us. That social contract was that as long as we did our part, stayed in line, conformed to the parameters of society, that we would be okay. That our social systems would be in place to help us if needed. The whole basis of having a civilization that would create the concept of a city, is that a person in that society can forgo hunting and gathering for himself and his family by paying someone else to do it for us, with money that we would make by working for someone else and help them make money so that they also don’t have to hunt and gather for themselves anymore. Everyone gets money and can provide for their family. Theoretically most involved will experience an increase in liesure time as a return on the investment of the time they would have spent doing their own hunting and gathering.

Gradually, over time, somehow the powers that be convinced us to add a clause to that social contract that said that if we devoted more time and energy to the employers, if we worked harder and helped them make more and more money, that we’d be okay and would always have the resources to care for ourselves and loved ones.

And then, along the way the employers and leaders took us out to the strip joint, got us drunk and convinced us to sign an addendum to that contract that said that if we devoted our lives and energy and loyalty to the company. If we gave up our hopes and dreams and aspirations and instead, gave them those years, the best years of our lives, that we would be taken care of. We would always be able to provide for ourselves and loved ones, even if we had to sacrifice much of our time with our loved ones, the extra money that they would pay for that sacrifice of time with loved ones would be more than enough to keep them safe and happy while you were away working for them.

Even though we knew that it was dirty and under-handed, and we felt embarassed and taken advantage of, that at least, at least the systems that we rely on to run a society would be there when we needed them.

That was the social contract that many people all over the world, under different types of structures and leadership, lived under.

It’s time we admit out loud that those that we have put in charge of society with our votes and our dollars have broken their social contract with us.

Since the industrial revolution, humanity has made the compromise that if we shirk our own hunting and gathering duties to work for someone else, that there would be a social structure and infrastructure to help support, care for, and facilitate life.

That seems to have gone out the window because our social systems have been failing and degrading long before the added stresses of the Corona Virus hit them. We are at a tipping point where people who work 60+ hours per week can’t afford to pay living expenses, feed a family or even have any security that the job will still be there a week later. The corporate and political class have become so corrupt and greedy that they just don’t care anymore. When someone speaks up, they are just paid off, fired or eliminated. And we know it. 

In the arrogance of greed, they fail to realize that now that we know how poorly they have been doing their jobs and failing to keep those support structures for the working class in place, there is little to no incentive for the citizens to continue to support the system.

We are literally equally as well off taking our own hunting, gathering, farming, building and medical responsibilities into our own hands, and doing whatever we want to do, anything we are passionate about, in our free time around those responsibilities. 

I think we should all become farmers and barter with each other.

Oh, btw, here’s some new art!


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Online Art Censorship Marches Forward, Unchecked

Article / 04 March 2020

Well I got an e-mail this morning that does not bode well for my continued presence on artstation. One of my works, not containing nudity, has been deemed offensive and removed from the print store. First, here is the e-mail that I received:



And here is my response:


And for reference, here is a shot of the image in question:


I would love to have someone explain to me if they even understand the context of this painting and what reasons they find it offensive. Do they understand whether it is anti-religious OR anti-commercialism?

Either way, this kind of shit is nonsense and becoming too prevalent. As much as I hate wasting my creative time on complete website rebuilds, I'll be doing it soon, as I won't stay on artstation or any forum that is going to bow to such ridiculous complaints. 

I will always be on formats and platforms that don't censor and suppress art and expression. I'll be doing the research and appreciate anyone who forwards me info on platforms that allow freedom of expression. 

I don't want to support suppression and censorship. I don't want to build my own platform. I want to make art. If a free expression platform on social media, art, news anything doesn't exist I will create it. I don't want to, but I will if I have to. I'd prefer to support existing platforms that allow creative freedom, so I'm open to recommendations from anyone who has any.

After all of the trouble getting Trumpocalypse Now out and available to readers and gamers, I just have no tolerance or patience for this type of narrow-minded knee-jerk pettiness any more. 

-Mike

I think I may have outgrown comics - Part 4 of 4 - Changing forms of art

Article / 25 February 2020


I think it's clear by now, if you've read the previous articles in this series (let's face it, you should have) starting with this one right here: https://mgagnon81.artstation.com/blog/VNEN/i-think-i-may-have-outgrown-comics 

Then you already know that I don't have much of an optimistic outlook for the future of comics, at least the way that we know it. Hearkening back to one of the points in that original article, the comic industry has failed to keep up with changing delivery methods and formats, instead of continuing to push the overpriced and gimmicky print format (Hey we did 47 different covers for this one issue!). 

Let's be real. At&T and Disney could shut down monthly print comics of their properties tomorrow and be fine. The money is in the movies and games and merchandise. Not only Could they stop producing new comics, they could do it and actually make the fans happy. They could just start reprinting the 80 plus years worth of comics in their library as affordable reprints every month. They could publish collected trades every month for 20-30 years and when they were done, start re-printing them again. There are more than enough stories to draw from for movies, games, TV and their reboots every 5-10 years. Whether it was affordable monthly floppy reprints or trades, they could support comic artists by commissioning new covers or even maintaining just a handful of new adventures. They could also print monthly 100 page giants with one new story in them, giving fans the best of both worlds; new stories of favorite characters and classic stories they may not ever have had a chance to read otherwise. They could even commission existing comic artists  to produce new original graphic novels to be published of top tier characters every 3-6 months, thus maintaining the livelihood of at least some mainstream comics creators.  (Though If they do this I think it will only be during a transition period until they move to a fully licensed format as outlined in part 3, here: https://mgagnon81.artstation.com/blog/o6zN/i-think-i-may-have-outgrown-comics-part-3-retreading-old-stories-and-neutering-good-creators

If they wanted to exist beyond this as an official publisher instead of a licensor, they'd likely need a time-machine to go back and embrace new comic-style storytelling formats like visual novels (choose your own adventure style narrative video games that are hugely popular in Asian countries), or comics tailored for widescreen format and digital distribution instead of traditional print style formatting. DC's early attempts at widescreen web comics, called Zuda comics, ultimately failed, but that failure was a mix of poor execution and lack of corporate interest, fearing change and revolving back to the familiar print format for their profits. Had they taken another stab at a successful format, today's comics landscape could be quite different. DC Universes streaming service that gives subscribers the ability to read DC's catalog on their TV is a step in the right direction, but one that may be too little, too late. 

The time is coming soon that technology is going to change the nature of art as we know it as well. Unless you've been living under a rock for the better part of the last 20 years, you're probably familiar with the advent of digital illustration and the growing number of artists that produce their art electronically (with tablets and software) instead of traditionally (paper, pencil, ink). What i'm talking about goes a step beyond this.

Now, I absolutely love and respect the work of every comic creator, especially those of previous generations, heck, I'm part of that group, and I always think there will be a place for comic art as we classically recognize it. I'm right along there with everyone else who has spent years honing their craft and refining their skills in perspective, proportion, light & shadow, body language and a million other facets of creating professional quality illustration.

What I am talking about is the advent, ease and accessibility of 3D CGI art and modeling. Some of this technology is already being used in places in comics (some professionals that I know of have actually been CGIing their work for years and hiding it with digital filters, editing and layering with digital art techniques), but as the next generation comes up in a world where digital modeling is easily accessible and accepted as a visual part of entertainment, there will come a time when the traditional skills of art and illustration will become niche skills. I'm not saying they will go the way of the town blacksmith, but they won't be the dominant form or style of comics, or even commercial illustration. 

Think of it this way: Why are comic books and cave paintings drawn? Because it's the fastest and easiest way to visually share an idea in your imagination with someone else. Sure you might be able to tell them and explain it, but what if you don't speak the same language? Drawing has been the quickest and easiest way to explain something that you imagine to someone else clearly since the dawn of man. Thanks to technology that fact is on the cusp of changing.

Up until the mid-40s or so, most magazines and newspapers used illustrations, because that was the best way to visually show a picture of something. With the advent of affordable and accessible photography that fact changed quickly. Those that made a living illustrating newspapers found themselves quickly out of work. Those that were smart became photographers.

CGI character design, animation and modeling is not new. Anyone over 30 has literally watched the technology grow from very rough early infancy, to the prevalent use in all manner of media and pop culture that it is today. And that use is growing. And CGI software becomes easier to use and more accessible every year. Self-publishing and authoring tools have given the common person access to sharing their work in many different formats. 

CGi gives a designer or artist the ability to create a virtual object or character that exists in a 3d space with 3 dimensions that they can rotate view and examine with high definition. 

Let's look at it this way. Why does drawing exist? Because it's the fastest easiest way to visually explain what we see in our imagination. If there was a better option that was as easily accessible to someone then we would use it.....

Up until now, drawing has been the best choice. Thanks to technology, 3D modelling will soon overtake that age-old truth by making the ability to craft your ideas in high-detail for practical use. 

People spend years perfecting the skills needed to draw and ink well. I'm one of them. The reason for that is to be able to make those ideas put to paper more and more accurate to what we see in our imagination. I've been drawing for 33 years. Working in comics for 20. I've been working with CGI design and animation for less than 2 years. I can tell you already that I can create an illustration or comic book page in more detail and more accurate to my imagination in less time with CGI than with using my drawing skills.

I'm not saying that there's no place for drawing skills or that I don't still use my own. Personally, I tend towards using my drawing skills in the earliest rough stages, and when the design idea is more solidified in my mind, then I move to 3D modelling. As an artist, the choice has become natural, because I know that the work I do in 3D is more detailed, realistic and accurate to what I'm imagining than any drawing can be. 

That doesn't mean that I think 2D classic comic art will disappear. I love the look of many 2D artists. I'd never want to see Cyanide and Happiness or the plethora of other web comics and independent comics that I love switch over to CGI rendering. They don't work that way. The style of their art is part of their charm. But when it comes to mainstream monthly scheduled comics run on a regular deadline, written in a format where publishers survive if readers keep coming back for the next issue, 3D art creation has 2D beat, hands down. 

Again, that doesn't mean that there won't be comic-style art, but I do believe that we will get to a point where such art will be a conscious aesthetic choice made by a creative team after considering other options, and probably easier for creative teams that aren't working towards a short, looming deadline.

Just as there are specialists in penciling, inking and coloring, in the future there will be artists specializing in sculpting, design, materials and surfaces and lighting. Those who are currently working with traditional comic art techniques and are technically inclined may be well-served to add one of these 3D art techniques to their repertoire, to keep their skills current and in-demand. A penciler may also want to learn to digitally sculpt. An inker may want to get very familiar with digital lighting. A colorist may want to learn about materials, textures and shaders. Mainstream comics in 2D or 3D will still be a collaborative group effort, it will just be using newer art generation techniques.

Writing won't change much, other than maybe the script format may move closer to that of visual novels.

In actuality, most of these programs have optional filters and plugins to render outputs that look like flat 2D comic drawing. As mentioned before, there are already some artists working in the field doing exactly this. Once you get really familiar with the process, a good eye can spot a few visual signs that this is how a piece of art was created. Working in the field, I personally know of a few artists who do this. I don't feel any need to "out" these artists. An artists creative process is their own business. If they can create their art in 3D and output it to look like 2D comic art and everyone is happy, then why bother? What does it matter? I've also very openly done this with a few of my pieces and explained how to do it both online and in-person at conventions. 

The reason I don't think creating in 3D and outputting in 2D for the illustration of classic-style work will become the norm is that it's adds extra steps and makes more work necessary in order to complete the same project. Another drawback is that converting 3D to look 2D looses a lot of fine rich detail that texture artists put into their work.

Many 3D programs come with pre-built starter models and basic objects, meaning that the barriers of having to spend the time necessary to perfect things like proportion and perspective are gone, allowing new creative talent to jump in and start sharing their work and ideas with others faster than ever before, which ultimately gives easier access to more voices across a broad spectrum of people, regardless of race, gender, status or anything else. Take some time to check out programs such as Maya, ZBrush, 3DS Max, DAZ 3D and many more and you'll see the amazing quality of art that is possible. 

If you have read my previous article (again, you should have. Again it is here: https://mgagnon81.artstation.com/blog/o6zN/i-think-i-may-have-outgrown-comics-part-3-retreading-old-stories-and-neutering-good-creators ) You'll know that I strongly believe that the current publishing landscape is going to change and what we know as monthly floppy comics are going to fold, no pun intended (but appreciated). 

When compared to the other options that entertainment consumers have for serialized content, such as streaming video, video games, television and more, the monthly serialized format we are all familiar with from comic books no longer holds up. People don't want to wait a month to find out what happens next when they are used to being able to see the next episode now. Even traditional network television has new installments every week. Comics take a team of artists a month to produce, so increasing frequency isn't necessarily realistic. Some weekly comics have been done, but are far from the norm and don't have any real stand-out successes. If mainstream comics were set and committed to maintaining serial print product, which I think would be a mistake, they could go weekly, but the logistics of such, and multiple creative teams that would be necessary quickly make the proposition sound like more complication than it would be worth.

A well crafted, affordably priced, detailed 3D visual novel with interactive features will always offer the reader much more value and entertainment for their money and would have a far better chance of succeeding on a monthly, quarterly or irregular schedule than a floppy comic book. 

This is what I see coming in the future anyway, not from a fever dream, but from the writing on the wall of watching comics and pop culture change, mutate and evolve over nearly 40 years. 

I could be wrong. If none of this comes to pass within a decade I'll be the first to raise my hand and say how wrong I was, but in the meantime I'm going to hedge my bets and and steer my ship towards a future that looks prosperous and relevant. 

Thanks for indulging my rant (even if the only person who reads this is my mom).

Yours Truly,

Mike Gagnon a.k.a. All Day Breakfast Productions