Inktober 2016

Inktober 2016 Day 1 - 31
Inktober 2016 Day 1 – 31

Jake Parker started the Inktober Initiative in 2009 to, as he puts it, “improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.” Its grown into a world-spanning event of thousands of participating artists. This year I took on the challenge myself to produce one inked drawing everyday of October and I think I did pretty well.

I posted the drawings on my Instagram account following the prompts on the Inktober website.  I fell behind here and there due to the inexorable march of life but caught up to finish on time. I have to admit, while I’m pleased with producing something everyday, I’m not entirely proud of all I produced. Instagram responded well, though, and I picked up some followers thanks to Inktober. I’d like to keep the momentum going, though maybe not at the same pace.

So, let me thank Jake Parker for creating awesome experience of Inktober and to all of you that followed and encouraged me along the way.

 

Inktober 2016

The Rundown

lobster-johnson
Lobster Johnson © Mike Mignola  Artwork © Micah Champion

We’re well into autumn here in the Great Northwest. The weather is a little wetter, the air a little crisper, and school is back into full swing.  I had a great summer and I look back on it with a kind of nostalgia. The season was a do-over of sorts from last summer when my cancer diagnosis tossed my family and I into an emotional tumult.  And boy, how I enjoyed it and I’m sorry to see it go.

As I’ve stated before, I’m resuscitating, revamping, and reinventing my art career. How? Well, for one thing, I set the simple goal of attending the Rose City Comic Convention in Portland, present my work to the greatest number of art pros, collect feedback, and assess my next step.

The convention was great and I learned a lot. The first lesson I learned was that I’m not a very good businessman with lots of room to improve. The good news is what I lack is information. I’m not totally out of my depth, thankfully.  I gathered a good chunk of information at Rose City and the implementation is attainable with some hard work and a little luck.

Second, pro artists are great.  Everyone I asked to look over my work did so graciously.  A few times, even, when I thought I was taking up too much of their time, they wouldn’t let me leave until they gave me their full feedback.

The feedback itself was largely positive with a lot of constructive criticism peppered throughout. It gave me a lot of confidence to continue working and, with better business practices, create a nice little niche for myself in the wider art world.  In practical terms, this means more comic pages, an improved website, prints for sale, and a better presence in the next year at conventions.  Chad and I continue to work on our creator-owned property The Brood which we hope to finish and shop around to publisher or distribute ourselves in the near future.

Thank you for your time. More to come.

 

The Rundown

Your Brain In A Vat

When the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes published his Meditations on First Philosophy in 1641 he inadvertently created a science-fiction/fantasy sub-genre. How? The Mediator (Descartes’ narrator) methodically reasons from known falsehoods he once believed to the unreliability of his sensory perception, and finally concludes that abstract truths such as mathematics could be false. Why? According to The Mediator it’s possible that an omnipotent demon could be preying upon his mind and senses, feeding him falsehood built upon falsehood.

Page 1, Panel 1 & 2, The Brood © Chad Huskins, Micah Champion.
Page 1, Panel 1 & 2, The Brood © Chad Huskins, Micah Champion.

This idea of false reality is not original to Descartes. It dates back to the dawn of human history from Gnostic religious movements like Greek and Roman dualism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Belief systems supposing that the material world is inferior or illusory, and that our senses in fact obscure this reality, existed well before the philosopher. However, Descartes’ innovation was to uncouple this false reality from the salvation, or gnosis, of any particular religious or philosophical path. Enter the Cartesian nightmare.

Now, there’s so much more to the concept of “learned doubt” that Descartes offers. I will exclude here how he attempts to answer this doubt and the further responses and criticisms of other philosophers. But, for storytellers, this nightmare provides incredible and intriguing potentialities.

Victims of a false reality usually play the story’s heroes. Descartes’ demon is greater in evil than even the evilest of evil corporations manipulating world markets and orchestrating the rise and fall of nations. The Matrix’s (1999) villains and or the Black Mercy in the Superman story For the Man Who Has Everything intrinsically communicate evil to the audience because they harness all human connection, emotional and rational, to their own ends. Your life is a lie but only they know it.

In my mind, the major problem with nearly all of these stories is motivation. Why bother, really? Yes, a mad scientist could trick the a man into believing he sits under a tree when his brain is in fact submerged in slimy liquids, diodes suction-cupped to the prefrontal cortex, and no such thing as a “tree” actually existing. But why? A ‘humans as batteries’ plot is insufficient. The villains are sentient machines with flying squid ships. Nuclear clouds obscuring the sun seems much less difficult an obstacle compared with the expense required to keep humankind bottled up. Just sayin’.

Even when a story’s plot doesn’t rest on this “Brain in the Vat” premise, the characters in any story inhabit a vat of their own kind. We, as their storytellers, put them through their paces to expand our horizons, stretch our imaginations, and entertain ourselves and others. There is no hope of them knowing they live in a false reality unless we enlighten them. We make them fly on the backs of dragons when no such things exist. When we write stories, we reverse the roles. We become Descartes’ demon, creating our character’s realities for our own entertainment.

Whenever you or I create a story we invest ourselves in an imaginary world with our experiences, emotions, and, yes, even our rational minds. If successful, a story maintains the “suspension of disbelief,” which we readily volunteer the moment we step in line to purchase the tickets, buy the book, or download the media. Only afterward, if at all, do we reevaluate a story to scrutinize a character’s strange or deficient motivations or plot holes that jack the wheels off a storyline.

We have incomplete knowledge, so creating a story that’s both competent and compelling requires a lot of skill to mask over those deficiencies. Every story bends, but hopefully doesn’t break, under the falsehoods we inevitably weave into our narratives.

It just makes me wonder what glaring plot hole makes my life story so unbelievable to those watching me.

 

Your Brain In A Vat

The Easy Descent #2

I finished up the second page of my web comic and here it is:

The Easy Descent, Rick O'Shea, pg. 2. ©Micah Champion.
The Easy Descent, Rick O’Shea, pg. 2. ©Micah Champion.

There won’t be a post next week due to the annual family camping trip. Enjoy that sun.

The Easy Descent #2

The Easy Descent

Summer is here and, like most transitions, I have bumped along the road of so many assumptions that I arrived at my destination late.  I missed my post last week and a day late this week because schools out, the children stay up late, wake late, and remain restless all day.  The time to stamp out a post on anything, well, is short.

But, nevertheless, I made it.

This week I am few on words and long on pictures. I have teased myself quit awhile with the opportunity to write/draw a noir-ish detective story like so many of my favorite writers. My character, Rick O’Shea (a horrible homonym that I enjoy all the same), is my detective and this story his first case you (the reader) and I (the writer) bear witness to.

I have outlined most of the story, written only a few pages, and drawn just one. My reasoning for posting the one page now, as opposed to waiting until closer to completion, is twofold. First, I just need to do it. I sat and contrived the story and characters a number of times, over the past several years, and never pull the trigger. Maybe fear or timidity kept me from sharing or, perhaps, just perfectionism stood in the way.  After cancer, little seems precious to me in the light of my life and relationships. Perfectionism is no longer a goal and timidity a small hobgoblin to step over.

Second, this is an experiment.  I’m not a writer, but an admirer of writers. I do not expect this to rise to level of classic or, even, competent storytelling.  Consequently, I hope for interaction, input, and criticism.  This is an opportunity to learn and improve as an artist by putting on the habit of a writer.  I enjoy stories of all kinds and variations.  Mine and your life, itself, spools out like a tangle of knotted, unruly threads that, gathered together, create a rich tapestry of the human story. How better to learn than to try?

The title is The Easy Descent. I hope you enjoy.

The Easy Descent, Rick O'Shea, pg. 1. ©Micah Champion.
The Easy Descent, Rick O’Shea, pg. 1. ©Micah Champion.
The Easy Descent