How to protect yourself against cyberstalkers in 2021

by Mike Gagnon

Hey comics comrades! If you've been following the developments of All Day breakfast Productions as it grows, forms and takes shape, the very attentive may have noticed some details regarding issues in my personal life that I'd like to put to bed before All Day Breakfast takes off and absorbs most of my attention.

Not too long ago, I blew the whistle and got out of a situation where I had been blackmailed, gaslit and cyberstalked by a colleague for years.

Through talking about the issues I've faced and the trauma caused by them to my mental health, I've learned that I am definitely not alone. There are many people out there in similar situations, be it with work, like mine, or in personal relationships.

In the interest of serving the public good, I'd like to share some notes, templates and strategies on how to deal with this kind of situation, should you find yourself in it. A public service announcement, if you will.


Step One -

Go through proper channels and do not fear negative reactions and doubts from others. Especially if you are dealing with this situation at work. Narcissists and sociopaths are the kind of people who will act this way. They have probably observed and figured out all the chinks in your armour before you even realize that you've been targeted. These people create successful campaigns of personal terror by letting your own mind analyze and come to natural conclusions, then they prey on the fear that causes and amplify it.

If you haven't dotted your i's and crossed your t's, this person will know and will jump on any failure in process or personality that you may have to undermine your claim. Regardless of what may happen to your work or career, no job is worth suffering through psychological torture, especially when you consider that the ultimate goal of gaslighting is often to drive the target insane or to self-harm and suicide.

In order to escape this torture you have to do a few things; pay attention, do not be afraid, put your foot down and mean it.

By paying attention, what I mean is, use the bastard's techniques against them. Don't show that you are suspicious. If you think someone is targeting you maliciously, don't announce right away. Pay attention. Analyze this person the way they did to you. These kind of people are manipulative and methodic. Very often they have anticipated that you will eventually figure out what they are doing and have planned for that. Often part of their plot is to get kicks by watching you struggle to defend yourself and look crazy.

Realize you are dealing with someone highly intelligent, but with a brain that is wired and thinks in a way that you will likely never understand. This person expects you to eventually figure it out and watch you destroy yourself by trying to expose them. It's very likely they've already manipulated other co-workers and undermined some co-workers opinions of you with rumours and distorted information.

By paying attention you can determine who is manipulated by this person, who is in their “clique” at work and who is loyal or idolizes this person, who may be very charismatic on the surface.

Why should you not be afraid? – Psychological warfare can be horrifying, mostly because the person targeting you plants the seeds in your mind that allow your imagination to run wild with worst possible scenarios and questioning how this person could want to harm or destroy you mentally. These type of abusers count on you to create some of the ideas and torture from your own imagination to help you terrorize them.

Remind yourself that the reason that these people use secrecy to direct psychological attacks from the shadows, if often because they are cowards who fear confrontation and are deeply insecure. They aren't really confident in their feelings of negativity toward you or they would have handled their issues with you through proper channels in a legitimate way. They count on your imagination to wonder how crazy they are and if they are doing something to harm you. Often a direct confrontation will cause them to shrink away and disappear, until they find another target.

BUT USE CAUTION. Don't just explode and confront them at work. That could backfire and get you fired. The best thing you can do is talk with a direct supervisor and if that person does not provide a satisfactory resolution to the issues, then escalate it to the next person above them. If you want to prove your case and prove your point, the best thing you can do is demonstrate that you have exhausted all options internally to try to resolve the situation in-house, before going outside of the work environment. Again these abusers count on your fear and insecurity to keep you from speaking up and prolong toying with you. Yes, HR might side with them. Unfortunately a lot of work places will side with the abuser out of fear of word getting out and causing negative publicity or making the company responsible legally or financially for the emotional damage done in the work place. You NEED to understand that if that happens, that's a flaw in the person and company policy you are working for. They clearly don't value you or a healthy work environment. You have to be willing to risk your job, while having the confidence to know that if your employer reacts negatively or fails to support you, that doesn't mean you are wrong, it means the company you work for is more interested in protecting themselves and the business than their employees. If they try to convince you that you haven't been targeted or victimized and you know you have, don't let them intimidate you or cause doubt.

IF your employer does not take action to resolve the situation and you've exhausted all options, then that's when it is time to start contacting and considering things like police, lawyers, restraining orders, media, lawsuits and a personal blog.

When you know you are being targeted and have had enough, YOU NEED TO BE FIRM. Put your foot down. Don't make idle threats. Whether it is directly, through HR or work supervisors or online, make your abuser aware that you know of their abusive behaviour and targeting. Make it clear you will no longer tolerate it and if it continues, you will take action. Again, don't make idle threats. Follow through. If that person can't control their own mania enough to back off when exposed, make it clear that this is going to result in a public exposure of their behaviour with legal repercussions and DO IT. Don't let money or finances prevent you from defending yourself. DO some research in your area, you will likely find a lawyer in your area willing to take the case and add your legal expenses to any resulting lawsuit or settlement. This person needs to know and believe that you will defend yourself and once they see that the consequences may not be worth the entertainment they got from bullying you, they will likely completely pull away, because in reality, they are hiding their own fear of judgment for their actions.

E-mails are considered legal documents admissible in court. Very often an abuser will attempt to save face when losing control. If you have any correspondence via text or e-mail with the person targeting you, save all of it, even something unrelated or innocuous may turn out to be relevant and fit with some of the outstanding puzzle pieces. Sometimes it's as simple as the abuser setting up their target by encouraging behaviour or work methods that don't meet company policy or regulation. It gives them something to point to and claim that your work is flawed or subpar to distract from the real issue of their abuse.

Gas lighters often use the “stupid” defense in order to save face. In my case, my abuser sent an e-mail CC'd to the supervisor above them, that they had no idea what I was talking about. A very common gaslighting tactic.

I responded with a clear cease and desist letter, briefly detailing the situation, CC'd to multiple members of management and administration. It's not a bad idea to even CC local or regional law enforcement. Because the recipient will be able to see who was CC'd, they will know that you mean business. If this happens to you, you should do the same. Here's a template that you can copy and paste and fill in with your own details:

Mr./Ms./Mz./Mrs. {Last name here} – {Keep a formal and professional tone.}


I do not believe that you are unaware of your actions and the targeting you have committed towards me.


In the last {amount of time you believe you were targeted}, I believe that you have directed and targeted psychological abuse toward myself, by way of {in this paragraph detail the type and nature of abuse, targeting, length of time, and refer to any supporting documentation that you may have saved.}


In this time, my own well being and mental health has been impacted. I have {in this paragraph, detail the doubt, mental anguish, how the abuse has caused doubt and anxiety around the work environment and any impact on your personal life.}


From this point forward, you are to have no contact with me or involvement with anyone who may be able to give you further information about me. If the abusive behaviour continues or I am contacted again by you in any way, including a response to this e-mail, it will not be me who responds, but a legal or law enforcement representative. {Remember how I said not to bluff or make idle threats? Here's a great example. If you get anything, or even a weird message from an anonymous person after sending this, start talking to police and lawyers and pay the money needed for a lawyer to respond with an official legal statement requesting to be left alone or legal options will be pursued.}


Sincerely,


{Your name, position, signature, etc.}


Let me reiterate, if they contact you after you send a message like this, don't wait. Get the ball rolling with the legal industry. I personally look at criminal charges with law enforcement first, as I have no desire to get involved in a battle with some gaslighting asshole over money, and police tend to send a stronger message that scare these kinds of cowards more than a lawsuit.

Do not back down. You do not deserve to be tortured, no matter how bad your own self-image is. These people can sense your insecurity and low self-worth, that's why they targeted you, because they know that those with low self-worth are less likely to come forward and more likely to suffer silently, because they think they deserve it. You don't deserve it.

Above all, save as much proof of your claim as possible, get real legal and law enforcement professionals involved. BE PREPARED TO GO TO COURT.

If the abuser is arrogant enough they will laugh and taunt and not back down until you have to go to court. Don't be afraid. Tell your story and the truth and facts of the situation as best as you can. Abusers count on self-doubt and that you'll be too afraid to move forward with the expense and stress of court.

Remember that if you walk away, this person is going to continue abusing you or another target and may become worse, as their ego will be bolstered by what they see as a “win”. They will play on your self-doubt and try to make you think your legal action is silly or frivolous or baseless. Don't let them get in your head or back down. If you do, they win.

Bring your evidence and trust in the fact that any judge has at least a fair sense of truth, reality and common sense.

I'm preparing for the event that I'll have to take my own abuser to court and thanks to the fact that I planned and did my due diligence, I have years of e-mails, texts, correspondence, evidence and witnesses and allies. I have no hesitation or reservations about entering a court room with this.

If you find yourself being targeted or tormented this way online or outside of the work world, it's a bit simpler and easier. Block this person on email, phone & social media. If they somehow reach you after this, send a cease and desist letter and start talking to legal or law enforcement representatives.

Above all, remember that the stronger you appear the weaker your abuser will feel. Often, a brave and positive face will scare a bully off, because they feel impotent and inconsequential after planning so hard to torture you.

IF you have further questions or would like to read more details on how to handle these situations, don't be afraid to comment or send us an e-mail and I'll do my best to expand on this topic in the future and perhaps in the community forums of the website.

Thanks for reading,

Mike

How to Lead by Example and be the Change you Want to See

By Rohit C. 

Real-life leaders have always fascinated us, such as the “Father of a Nation” - Mahatma Gandhi, “I have a dream”- Martin Luther King Jr, “Hero of South Africa”- Nelson Mandela, “The Greatest Statesman” - Winston Churchill, to name a few.

As legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” What sets them apart is their character, creativity, competence, and charisma to be great leaders.


Leading by Example

The foremost quality of a leader is that they practice what they preach. They lead others by doing all of the things they advise others to do. The shining example in human history is of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the largest democracy of the world, India, to its freedom from British rule. Gandhi was the epitome of simplicity; his simple life attracted millions of Indians irrespective of their status and beliefs to join hands to fight for a common goal. He led a life of a poor Indian, dressing with bare minimum clothes with no material possessions, setting an example for people to live a simple and meaningful life.


Empathy towards others builds a culture of trust and makes people feel comfortable. They are willing to share their concerns without fear. All it needs is an ability to listen attentively to those around and by doing this, leaders have a greater awareness of the people. “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Respect for others comes from self-respect. If we have a feeling of pride and confidence in ourselves, it becomes our nature to respect others. Treating others with care and compassion is the only honest way to gain the respect of people around us. “I don’t care if you’re black, white, short, tall, skinny, rich, or poor. If you respect me, I’ll respect you.” – Adele


A true leader believes in the power of love and not muscle power. They can use their great influence to push people to take the path of violence and hatred as a means of achieving their goals. History shows us many examples of leaders who thought it was right to force people to take up violence and the subsequent fatal results of their actions. 


Leaders like Nelson Mandela advocated peace over violence and are a source of great inspiration for many in the world and South Africa. As a great leader, his actions and belief in non-violence transformed a country by breaking the shackles of apartheid to attain freedom for all based on principles of democracy. Black people rallied behind Mandela as he gave a message of peace and that the way forward was a path of reconciliation and acceptance between white and black communities. It shows the true strength of a leader that they can convince people to follow a path of justice with their hearts and their honest actions. 

 

Be the Change you Want to See

If we desire changes in our world, we have to start with remaking ourselves. We can spend hours trying to change people around us, our friends, relatives, and colleagues if we feel they are impolite, hostile, selfish, and so forth. But we face denial, resistance, and stress as no one likes to listen to the hard truth. We think that if a person becomes nice to us, we will also show goodness towards them. But that does not happen. Why? Because we miss an important understanding that if we change how we behave with others, it acts as a strong catalyst for them to change their behavior towards us. By changing ourselves, we become a new person with a fresh pair of eyes and the change within allows us to take actions we were afraid of or never thought of while stuck in our old ways. More importantly, we can see other people's perspectives which helps us in getting a better understanding of the situation and accordingly taking actions to support them.

 

We can all see how little actions can lead to bigger changes that we never imagined in the first place. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager, has done what many of us only think about or felt; how can we be the change that we want to see?


Climate change is real and happening at this moment as we breathe, still many in the world community see it as a showstopper to their country’s progress or an issue that is not so alarming and should be left for future generations to take care of! It was in May of 2018 that young Greta decided to raise her voice against climate change that was causing large-scale changes in weather patterns, a result of relentless human-driven emission of greenhouse gasses. What started as her solo protest in front of the Swedish parliament grew into a worldwide movement and became viral with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture. She has been able to inspire millions of students worldwide about the urgent need to address climate change and has received support from a wide spectrum of the global community. The world is now united in its focus and efforts to reduce carbon emissions to fight climate change. Greta has achieved significant success in raising greater awareness to address climate change urgently because of her strong inner belief that she can be the change! Greta was prepared to undergo hardships, face resistance, but never for a moment thought of backing down. 

 

Time for us to introspect and decide as to how we can be the change we want to see. There are many ways we can do our bit for society. If we care for our planet and want to reduce global warming, we can find ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, like putting up solar panels, planting trees, eating seasonal veggies, driving less, conserving water, reducing waste, and so on. 

 

The onus is on us for the change we want to see in the world and not the public institutions or political leadership. We do not need massive changes, but small consistent steps. To become good citizens, we just need to follow the norms of the society that is meant for the well-being of us all. If we want to build a community of happy and caring people, it should start from us and our homes where we live and spend most of our lives.


Comic Book Confidential - Why expression, human rights and anti-censorship are important.


Orlok Explains Fanmail



I never thought I'D be the one to say that there is still hope.

Well, 2020 was something wasn't it? I know the roots of my 2020 were set back in 2019, and further. 

In 2019, I felt that I was stagnating at a professional crossroads. I had to admit some hard truths. The one on the forefront of my mind was that too much of my time had been taken away from what I love, managing so many other concerns, and teaching. No I also love teaching too, but it was also something I was maybe spending too much time doing. As I said, this was tough to admit because I had to take a long-hard look at myself and admit that although I had learned and taught many new skills over the last decade, that the overall quality of my artwork was slipping and I could tell by looking at it myself that it had degraded over time. 

It's not that I didn't love art anymore, it was that I had really fallen in love with writing and developed and strengthened my skills in that arena, while also falling in love with teaching and enjoying that, and publishing and mentoring and social media presence and so-on. I was hiring other artists to create art for projects that I had created and written, because I was no longer confident in the quality of my art. Although I knew all of the ways in which a person could create and publish a comic, video game and more and taught them, I lost confidence in my art skills, which with everything else in life, just fell by the wayside. Stress and life and bills always seemed to push art out of my life. 

Too be fair, at times I feel like I have a special brew of circumstances that makes letting those skills slip almost acceptable, and at first, I told myself the comfortable lie ; that was the case. A comforting excuse, but still an excuse.

Not to belabor or bemoan my own problems, but the mix of severe head injury from an accident in my teens, lifelong issues with anxiety, alcoholism through most of my late teens, 20s and early thirties, lifelong weight yo-yoing, work injuries to hands and arms and a plethora of other things that I've experienced in life, I should technically have enough nerve damage to barely hold a pencil. So it really shouldn't shock me that the quality of my work was slipping, right? Wrong. Everyone has those stories. Sure, their stories might be different, the details may vary, but everyone in the world has just as many tragic stories, and excuses, not to try. Of course I am not exceptional, just lucky, someone else in the same boat may try and fail. What's important is that they tried. 

Thankfully I realized fairly quickly that I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could. I was letting the acceptance of those things in my past be an excuse not to push harder. It can be very easy and equally dangerous to let your past be your excuse not to try, and a lot of people do it every day. 

The difference was that I knew that if I continued to let things slip, if I let this slide, it would be that much easier to let the next thing slide. One of the things I teach new comic artists is digital illustration and production. The skills for the software alone change every 6-12 months. I simply couldn't let my skills continue to slide and I needed to focus on at least getting my art skills back up to acceptable standards. If I couldn't do that I wouldn't be much use to my students, and I would likely lose my job or, even worse, force them to endure a hopelessly out of date and out of touch class. I respect myself and fellow artists too much to do that. 

So, I wound down my teaching duties and stepped away from several teaching positions. I planned ahead. By the end of 2019 I had wound down my teaching work and was looking ahead to 2020 being the year I spent focusing on my own skills and self-improvement. To learn new skills and techniques and get to the point where I enjoyed looking at my art again.

And coincidentally another very lucrative offer came up...in teaching. It was a new school and new class I hadn't taught before with more hours and more money. It was just good enough at the right time, that I was planning for the future, and it was local, minutes from my home, which was a BIG factor. 

Though a little apprehensive, it turned out to be an enjoyable experience. The students appreciated the work I did in class and extra work I did for the course. I found ways to adapt my learning and working on art skills both outside and inside class. At many times I introduced new concepts and software that had the students and I learning together, which was really cool.

Even after the VID shut down the school we continued online, up until July when I was laid off due to online classes being merged with another instructor. I can't blame anyone for that situation it was business, no worries. I had EI and I could also look at the positive side, I'd get more time to devote to learning and improving my skills and getting my art back to a place where I felt confident in it's quality again. 

6+ months later I can say that I've accomplished my goals. My art isn't perfect mind you. No one's is. There will always be new and old techniques I'm tweaking and practicing. Every artist should be making progress in their art throughout their life. 

Along the way my 2020 has been tumultuous, just like everyone else's. I extended that journey of improvement into facing and admitting more of my own faults, flaws and issues, and beginning to blog publicly about my struggles with anxiety. I had to ask a publisher to back out of my creator owned mini-series half-way in, because the craziness of the real world suddenly conflicted and went far beyond what I had intended to do with that comic and the concept of the story kind of got blown apart by real-life events. 

There's been plenty of time for me to delve into personal things that I had been ignoring and let fester for a long time, and face the personal demons that were holding me back and led to the point where I had to admit that I needed time away from all of it to renew my skills and passions. 

Anxiety is a very funny thing, as it can convince you that you are protecting yourself or playing it safe, when you are really selling yourself short. I think that's been my biggest lesson of 2020. 

In a few weeks I'll be back to teaching and also producing fun new content with the skills I have practiced in the last year. 

I'm looking forward to it. And so should you. 

It sucks that we're all essentially locked in for the second time, but I do believe that we can, must and will find new ways of doing things that will be better that what we did before. I truly believe that if enough people look at the world and accept the reality of what it is, not what they want it to be, that people will propel the movement to improve the way we live and work for everyone. 

It's my sincere hope that we as a society can move beyond money being the central focus of life, and I am doing my best to lead by example. Being the change I want to see. Exploring all of my crazy ideas with new content and media and sharing these with people on a non-profit basis. 

I think it's apparent that there were holes in the system we didn't see until a worldwide emergency happened. I also think it's fairly plain for most people to see that corruption isn't something that exists in a country half-a-world away, corruption is right here and it is in every country. The main proof of this corruption is that whoever has the most money gets to be leader, regardless of whether they have any vision, leadership skills or redeeming qualities. And I'm not just talking about you-know-who. It's evident of many other world leaders as well. When money determines the outcome, regardless of competency, that is corruption. When everyone is swayed by dollars and can make deals and compromises for cash, our system falls apart due to ineptitude.

It can be really hard not to get stuck in a very negative outlook on life when you start to see these things. My blog is proof. I admit, at times I get stuck in a generally very negative outlook on humanity. I do. I have very little faith, if any, in most institutions, businesses and people. 

And somehow yet, I have hope and optimism. Hope that people of all ages, races, lifestyles and religions will see through all of the ridiculous agendas that have been pushed to profit from the division they create. If we stop buying into the bullshit artists with the most money, I sincerely hope and believe that we can and will move forward. 

We've seen what the alternative is, right? Did anyone like that? Is anyone enjoying it? So why go back to that?

I know that we can move forward and embrace a future where we help and respect each other, instead of nitpicking each other or fighting with strangers on Facebook over the minutiae of a recent film, when there are so many more worthy things to focus your attention and time on.

I hope and believe that when can get past the shit show of the last 12 months as well as the decades before it and build a new system and society that is based on helping each other. I hope my work helps further and inspire that, even if it is just the smallest tiniest way. Even if it only inspires one person. 

Is that person you? Can you inspire the next?

Thanks for reading,

Mike

Some artistic inspiration and great skill observation


Never too late to recognize your flaws and improve.


Crapping on others, does not make what you do better.

Something that there is no shortage of is people complaining. One of the more popular things for people to complain about, is the creative work of others.

It's a strange cultural development that we pick apart the people who create our "favorite" art, as if we know their jobs and objectives better than they do.

What I have observed as particularly troubling is the trend in my college age students of the last few years, to use the mutual hatred or ridicule of someone as a way to fit in. Often, if pressed, most students can't really verbalize or articulate the reasons for their group hate on something or someone, with the discourse falling apart with a trailer off sentence that leaves the unsaid very clearly. Hating on a mutual subject was a way of fitting in with their peer group.

Our own pop culture and media can influence this as well. When something reaches a critical tipping point where a certain percentage of the population deems something "not good", the pressure to change your opinion and also dislike that thing seems to come from every direction; television, radio, internet, and even peers.

What? You're an adult over 30 and you like the Star Wars prequel movies? Surely, you must at least hate Jarjar Binks!?!

There are plenty of other example I could used, some are specific and individually targeted artists. I won't expand and give more examples because I choose not to take part in the behavior of singling out others and don't want to draw attention to actions that I myself do not want to perpetuate.

I can't help but find this trend most egregious when I see it in a group of art students.

There is no group in the world more ready and willing to stand up and call out any type of bullying in real life and on the web, and then they can turn around in the next second and take part in the same behavior that they just condemned, secure in the feeling that the targeting that they are doing is justified. Their friends and favorite website and Facebook wouldn't have lied to them, right?

That is why I make sure to devote at least one lecture for each class to point out that bashing other people's art doesn't Ake your art any better. This can be applied to all manner of creative ventures.

Sure, cutting down someone else who you perceive to be more accomplished and successful makes you feel good about yourself, but that feeling is artificial and fleeting. That ego boost is temporary because at the end of the day, pointing out the flaws of others doesn't do anything to make your life or work better. It doesn't I crease your achievements or make any achievements you may have earned on your own shine brighter. When it comes down to it, that person you are criticizing is probably more accomplished and well-known than you are. That's why you're talking about them. In your subconscious you know there's big gap between your and their achievement. This is dangerous because when you ego boost runs out, it doesn't just go away, but leaves you feeling more empty than you did before. 

It can be very easy for a person to fall into this pattern of behavior and never get out. The artist who thinks he should be writing and drawing every comic book. The graphic designer who never stops talking about how others designers work is garbage, and so on. We all know someone like this in some context. These are people who found themselves feeling emptier than when they started and failed to recognize that the feeling was caused by their own actions. So, these people find someone else to rip apart, they feel better about themselves again, so they think it worked. When the euphoria wears off and that person finds them in an even deeper emotional hole than before, so they keep ripping people apart, thinking it's making them feel better until you end up with a negative, bitter, disgruntled person who trusts no one and thinks everyone has treated them unfairly.

The damage is double edged, because this bitterness will also push away people in your own support system, perhaps even those peers who you started the behavior to fit in with in the first place.

I don't want that for anyone, friend or enemy, which is why I decided to write about this.

It all boils down to this motto:

"At the end of the day, the time you spend hating others does nothing to help you or improve you life."

So, instead of throwing away your time in trying to ridicule others, take that time and devote it to something positive that you are passionate about.

Make a sculpture, film a movie, draw a comic, practice and perfect any skill. 

That time you would have spent hating others is much better invested in improving your own skills and accomplishments. It will leave you feeling much more accomplished and fulfilled than spending your days hating on others.

I spent my time writing this blog and making this art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Division is Bullshit

At the end of the day there is no us and them, not the way we've been taught to see it anyway. There is us, one group, called humanity. We should be working together to improve life for everyone instead of tearing each other apart. 

Anyone using an arbitrary designation or classification to direct your action against another group of humans is the enemy. 

The idea of Liberal/Democratic and Republican/Conservative divisions within society is ridiculous. It's two wings on the same bird tied to marionette strings for our distraction and to keep us arguing with each other instead of looking deeper into the system that we live in, no matter how much we know the system that we live in is failing. Do not look behind the curtain. 

I know good people, not like Trump, on both sides. I know liberals who are great people and I know conservatives who are good people too. There are also horrible and bad people on each side. Every single person is following their own agenda and power and influence in groups can be very attractive toward someone's ends, so inevitably you are going to get bad people inside both camps working toward their own agendas. 

How do you tell who the bad ones are? Anyone using that group dynamic to sow division and dissention. Anyone trying to foster conflict instead of co-operation. If your politician of choice isn't trying to work with other politicians, regardless of what party they belong to, to improve life and solve problems, then you need to re-think your political allegiance. Simple as that. 

Attacking another side and widening the rift doesn't move the ball forward for either side, it just widens the gap until we have no ledge left to stand on and we all fall in. 

We don't all have to agree on everything and just because someone sees a thing a different way doesn't make them the enemy. 

The enemies are the people who manipulate the two groups against each other for their own agenda. 

Any division, any "ism", is stupid. Hating or oppressing, or targeting someone maliciously, over gender, race, color, age, weight or religion is just stupid, and if you can't figure out why, you haven't been paying attention to the world around you for your entire life.

People working together with mutual compassion and understanding is the only way forward. 

Jealousy of others success is stupid too. There's no reason for it. Someone else's success does not equal your failure or take anything away from you. 

Be happy for both friends and strangers at their successes, it looks a lot better on you than withdrawing or gossiping out of jealousy. 

That's all I got for today, so check out some artwork!:


Thanks for reading,

Mike

Don't Be Limited by What Others Have Done Before

One of the lessons that I try to drive home in all of my writing classes, is the will to risk. Risk doing something different. Risk changing the status quo of your writing. You never know what is going to be successful and absorbed into the genre or fandom. 

The easiest example I can make of this is modern film and fiction depicting vampires or werewolves. What most of us think we know as standard facts about werewolf or vampire mythology was actually created by the movie industry in the last 100 years and were never part of the original myths and legends. Death by sunlight? Made up by movies. Must sleep during the day? Made up by movies. There's actually a much better and great explanation of this concept by Simon Pegg by way of Max Landis, which used to be on youtube that I would have dropped right here, but it seems impossible to find now. If anyone knows what I'm talking about and has a link, send it my way. 

The gist of Pegg's advice video is this: Don't be afraid to create your own rules for fictional characters and don't be constrained by rules created by other writers. Want your vampires to sparkle? Not sure why, but why not? Want your vampires to prefer their hemoglobin mixed with bourbon? sure. Want a werewolf who transforms at the sight of a cat and fears rolled up newspapers? why not? Vampires and werewolves don't exist, so why be held to account by the rules another writer made up 50 years ago? Don't be afraid to make your mark and be different. It may catch on. 

In a similar spirit, I've been thinking about comics lately. 

I got into comics because I wanted to make art and tell stories and the sequential form really resonated with me. I loved comics. Spent my life learning to make them and eventually became a working member of the industry. 

This is a moment where sayings like "Be careful what you wish for" or "Don't ruin your passion by making it a job." come to mind. 

I still love comics and sequential narratives and storytelling, but the industry scene is a hot pile of garbage right now. 

Never in the history of comics, as I've known, have the different segments of the industry and fan base been so at each other's throats. Fans hate the distributors. Distributors hate the retailers. Retailers hate the publishers. Publishers hate the fans, and no comic themed conversation can be had online without it devolving into childish know-it-all-ism and name calling. 

DC Comics literally can't do anything without the entirety of the internet screaming in disgust, whether what they are doing is really that big a deal and even worthy of attention or not. 

I have lost all desire to work in mainstream comics and don't read them any more. I don't think any of those publishers really give a shit about their existing fanbase or making good comics. Pretty sure they don't give a shit about my demographic by the junk being put out. 

It's a hot mess with no security and at the end of the day, it's very uncertain whether you'll be paid for your work from ANY publisher right now.

So why wade into this sewer and try to get everyone to play nice? 

I just want to tell stories. I want to share them with people. I want to make art that makes you think and discuss it intelligently with readers.

I don't need mainstream, or even comic book publishers to do that. I'm fully capable of producing my own comic, but in the uncertain economic times that are 2020, why put out the extra expense and headache? I think I'll be shying away and strictly limiting any print self-publishing that I do from here on out. Digital publishing is way less headache for a small business or individual artist and since there are way more options and possibilities with digital delivery, why not explore them?

At the end of the day I'm happy to take my own ideas and skills and make my own kinetic novel, visual novel, motion comic, video game or any other creative work featuring my own characters on my own terms and share them with supporters on my own website. 

If word-of-mouth can't grow my audience, then I need to go back and look at my work. I prefer my work to speak for itself, so if something I'm doing isn't resonating, I need to go back and review my approach and no amount of money spent on Facebook or Instagram ads will change that. 

Don't get sucked in by those social media platforms or by "mainstream logic" that says you have to slave away for a corporate giant while being underpaid and disrespected. Make your own way and your own mark.

 Make your own rules. Comics are supposed to be fun after all. 

That's my rant for today, and also, here's some art:


Thanks for reading,

Mike