Monday Blog of Accountability

  • On May 6, 2024 ·
  • By ·
Screenshot of a production board in KanbanFlow

This post is going to go a bit different. Whereas others focus on things I’m doing, today I’ll be concentrating on how I’m doing. I try to journal and do a check-in with myself regularly, usually at the start/end of a week or month. It helps whenever I feel I’m going off-track or need to find direction.


Screenshot of my journal entries for April, collapsed for privacy
Screenshot of my journal entries for April, collapsed for privacy

I believe my folks gave me my first journal in an effort to practice my handwriting. Or I simply saw a book with a lock on it and thought it was neat. Either way, writing things down privately was extremely useful growing up. There are two distinct halves I want to highlight:

  • Getting stuff out of your head
  • Processing what comes out

Everybody carries around a decent amount in their minds through out the day.

Some of it is straight memories. “First this happened, then this happened, now this is happening.”

Some of it is plans for the future. “I need to remember to do this, then I can do the other thing.”

Some of it is observations mixed with emotions. “I have to talk to so-and-so today. Ugh. They never shut up about themselves.”

If you’re actively carrying around these thoughts and feelings all day it can weigh you down. I like to dump them out so I can organize, realize what’s on my mind, and deal with them properly. There’s the concept of the internal monologue, or intrapersonal communication. Different people experience it in different ways. Some folks don’t have one. When I was younger I used to narrate my imagination to myself when I played. At some point I got concerned talking to myself would seem weird so I moved it internally. I remember this being a conscious decision and taking effort.

You may be nothing like me and my exact quirks but I still recommend journaling to everybody. (I do mine digitally now, though it’s a whole other conversation about which app/tool/system is the best) Writing encourages us to think about what we’re feeling and stewing over. Journaling specifically is nice because it’s for your own purposes so there’s less need to worry about formatting or making narrative sense for readers. Normally I’m taking steps to plot out my goals, what I have to get done for the household as well as personally and project-wise.

There are weeks where I haven’t had time to physically sit down and write. It’s very therapeutic when I finally do, letting out any frustration or getting to ramble about my latest obsession. It’s not often I realize something I haven’t considered before but I attribute that to writing often. If a lot happens between entries the more I mentally need to wade through to make sense of it all.


Page of my log book from February, 2018
Page of my log book from February 2018

When I started renting office space outside of my home, I decided to keep a book of dates and times I checked in and out of my desk. Before that, I’d been using an AT-A-GLANCE wall calendar to follow the Don’t Break the Chain method of good habit building. At the time I was working on growing my focus, concentrating on a project for an extended period. That carried fairly well until the pandemic, where time seemed to slow down and compress all at once. There were months where I was the only person in the office. Then suddenly other people started coming back in and the place got busy again.

The US-Canada border was closed so my girlfriend and I couldn’t visit each other. I also had to renew my passport while everything was shut down. The official website said they could be sent in but gave no guarantee of when they’d be returned. (To me, this translated to “lost”) So we waited. Once I knew when to expect my passport to be renewed it was off to secure a test for travel. I remember presenting my results on entry but still getting selected for further testing, requiring a follow-up call or email if results were positive. Then my mom announced when she was retiring and selling her house. Suddenly our timeline for planning my move became very real. The dentist told me I needed my first root canal, necessitating an appointment at another location and a rush order for the finished crown. My cat Hope needed to be cleared for crossing the border with proper paperwork. In between those two things I flew out to meet Solange and we drove our little U-Haul van to pack up my Ohio life before driving back with Hope.

I’ve tried using the log book once after I was moved in and settled. It made me incredibly anxious. I suspect because of the hectic memories associated with the last time I used it. Plus it’s designed to make me feel like I’m on the clock, which can be unnerving if I don’t have a healthy routine set up.


Screenshot of a production kanban board in KanbanFlow
A production board in KanbanFlow

The Kanban system is popular in lean manufacturing and software development. It’s good for tracking different phases of a project. I particularly like KanbanFlow as it lets you customize multiple boards and has a built in Pomodoro timer with time-tracking. It’s incredibly satisfying to see what you’re working on move towards completion since so often creative work is abstract.

Mental Health

  • On April 15, 2024 ·
  • By ·
Mental Health on Scrabble tiles

I considered titling this one “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)” but that’s a lot to take in all at once and probably why my therapist didn’t lead with it.


I’m by no means an expert on mental health. If you’re dealing with issues, please seek out a professional. And if that professional isn’t a proper fit, seek a second opinion, just as you would with any healthcare provider. This is my own experience looking for answers and what has worked for me.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

I’ve written before about my ADHD. Growing up I went undiagnosed for various reasons. Being a good student didn’t fit the image most people had at the time. Also the stigma against having something “wrong” with you, especially mentally, is very real. My family haven’t had the best experiences with doctors, to say the least, and actively distrusted counselors/therapists. I don’t really hold this against them as the American healthcare system is broken and mental health services are abysmal. It simply made navigating this all as an adult difficult. Especially when so many resources these days are about treating your ADHD child. :V

The CliffsNotes are I have attention regulation and prioritizing issues. If something isn’t engaging I can literally blank it out. (When I was younger I tried several times to watch the movie Batman (1989). I’d get as far as the hoodlums saying “they call him The Bat” and next thing I knew it’d be at the credits rolling.) On the opposite end, if something is engaging and new I can hyper-focus. Meaning I’ll lose track of time, forget to eat, be unable to sleep, completely consumed until the novelty is worn off.

Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Asperger’s Syndrome has actually been phased out in favor of rolling it into Autism Spectrum Disorder. Johann Friedrich Karl “Hans” Asperger, the Austrian physician who first identified the condition in 1944, had problematic ties to Nazi Germany and eugenics. For our intents and purposes, Asperger’s is viewed as less severe symptoms than Autism, with little to no language or cognitive troubles, (some testing even higher than average) but issues with social skills. It’s gotten the nickname Little Professor Syndrome due to those afflicted having intense special interests they can often have one-sided conversations on. This short video by Danny Raede of Asperger Experts is a good introduction:

I also want to share this one he did on the sensory funnel, which addresses issues of overwhelm and getting somebody with Asperger’s out of Defense Mode.

When I originally asked my doctor for help and started seeing a therapist I thought I had an anxiety disorder. I would have panic attacks, an ever-present feeling of stress hung over me like a flickering florescent light. There’s a scene in Man of Steel (2013) where school boy Clark Kent has to process and make sense of the world around him as he becomes overwhelmed by his super powers. He has a meltdown and hides in the classroom closet until his mother helps him focus. I’ve dealt with similar situations, lately when I experience a meltdown I think of Ironside from Kill Bill (2003-4).

Medication helped quiet the internal noise so I could begin to address outside influences more closely. I started journaling, becoming more aware of my environment while also trying to better read and understand my own responses. Mindfulness has become a buzzword these days but it is an actual thing we sometimes have to practice. Raede also has videos on panic attacks and dealing with stress I recommend watching. He mentions realizing he was more comfortable being stressed than being relaxed and working to change that. How stress doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, that we can let sensations and emotions go through our bodies without feeling like we’re going to die.

What It’s Like Having Both

It’s often multiple similar conditions can occur at the same time, i.e. comorbidity. I recently stumbled upon this video by D.S.A. Threads Costuming which really hit close to home in a lot of ways.

The problem I’ve been struggling with most recently, I think, is getting out of Defensive Mode. That’s where I de-stress, listen to myself, and make decisions going forward. I’ve had a lot going on in my life the last couple years. Moving to another country, getting married, sorting out immigration matters, on top of regular daily concerns like household chores and worrying about finances. It can be very difficult for me to switch gears when I’ve been doing something consistently. I’m not renting separate office space to work outside the house anymore so my ability to isolate isn’t what it used to be. Plus I have trouble letting myself enjoy drawing for fear I’ll lose track of things. It’s important to allow myself time to play creatively so the ideas come out.

How Do I Talk to People, Again?

  • On April 1, 2024 ·
  • By ·
Angry woman holding a bullhorn and raising her hand into the air

How Did We Get Here?

I’ve had my own website, in some form of another, since 2002. In that time span I’ve graduated college, been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), moved countries, gotten married, even grown a salt and pepper beard. The online and IRL world have changed a lot since then, too. For lots of people the internet is a handful of apps probably run by the same couple of companies. These apps tend to aggregate content without providing anything themselves, save access to attention. (I suggest reading the articles on Stratechery’s concept of Aggregation Theory for further thoughts on the differences between platforms and aggregators)

There’s been a lot of stuff people don’t want to mention for fear of being too topical. Use the wrong phrase and suddenly people on both sides of issues will brigade you as opportunistic. Or you get shadow-banned; flagged as unfriendly to advertisers, regardless of your stance on something, your posts and comments having zero reach because you mentioned something verboten. Or maybe you’re simply tired of hearing arguments from the squeakiest of wheels.

We had a global pandemic that largely shut society down for years. Most of us couldn’t physically be around each other from ~2020-? Reddit saw site-wide protests over API changes. The changes still happened, shuttering many 3rd party apps. This led to an exodus for those seeking alternatives. Elon Musk bought Twitter, changed its name to X, and continually muses about getting rid of the block feature. This also led to an exodus as users scattered to alternatives, where some of us learned about the Fediverse. They then got frustrated trying to understand it, confused by everything being decentralized and yet still able to be connected.

(Toot from via

What Does All That Mean?

Communicating with people is complicated. Trying to communicate online is even more so. Blogging feels like walking around with a bullhorn wearing a sandwich board sign. Comments become a cesspool of spam and GIFT. (True story: Even after disabling comments on this site spammers still got in. I literally had to get a plugin that nukes that functionality to stop it)

Podcasting is fun but requires so much effort to assemble, format, post, troubleshoot… not to mention it still feels like I’m talking mostly to myself. I have no interest in hosting a group show again as that becomes herding cats.

I’ve considered taking YouTube or one of the other video platforms more seriously, though that tends to result in falling down rabbit holes, researching and trying to figure everything out before ever posting anything. Putting the fate of my work in the hands of the various algorithms does worry me, I’m not gonna lie. But I’ve still got this site if a host limits what I can do with something.

Web 1.0 was average people putting stuff online. Web 2.0 was supposed to be more interactive and user-based. We’ve accepted the retroactive argument that this meant social media. Now we have doomscrolling. Web 3.0 tentatively includes tech like the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, NFTs, cryptocurrency, and metaverses. Personally I don’t like the vision of the future large companies seem to be pushing. It feels like we’re being sold stuff nobody really wants in the interest of making a select few tech bros very rich.

So What Do We Do?

I’m going to embrace the spirit of the small web. That means intentionally focusing on my presence online. I’d like to start blogging here regularly again as I properly build up my portfolio and demo reel. Hopefully that means getting myself organized on projects and sharing them as I work. I’m always apprehensive about announcing things and failing to deliver. But I’d rather be failing regularly than disappear because nothing ever had a deadline. So check this space next week to see how I do.

I’ve also been tinkering with building an HTML5 animation site since Flash died. I think I have the technicals sorted out. Now it’s mostly a matter of creating content.

2021, Please Don’t Stuck

  • On January 18, 2021 ·
  • By ·
The number 2021 on a binder on a desk, highlighting the new year

Hey, so…

2020. What the hell was that, am I right?


I don’t really feel the need to recap much. Most people reading this were there and can share their own harrowing tales. It’s only January. Every new year still has some traces of the last lingering on until it comes into its own. I feel 2021 is going to be full of surprises. Here’s hoping they’re pleasant ones and not, you know, the kind we got last year.

Let’s Talk Goals

I want to draw and animate more, sharing it online for you kind folks to enjoy. What I make and where exactly I share it, however, is still being determined. I’ve spent the last few years dealing with analysis paralysis. When I made webcomics I struggled with building an audience. I’d focus all my energy on making the comics and spend almost nothing on promoting them. Not saying this was intentional, as I fell down the rabbit hole of researching everything I was bad at, feeling like I could come out swinging if only I knew how to properly go about putting my work out there.

The reality is the web constantly changes. My last webcomic, Billy Badass, ran on Tumblr where I could make use of tagging, posting YouTube videos and relevant links in the accompanying blog to enhance the nostalgia trip. It was designed to play to 80s and 90s kids, tying retro pop culture events in with the story. (Surprisingly similar in a number of ways to Little Billy) That was 2015. In August that year Maker Studios closed, a competitor to YouTube. 2017 saw the first YouTube Adpocalypse. 2018 Tumblr purged NSFW material from their site. 2020 saw COPPA sweep over YouTube and the official end of life for Adobe Flash. Not to go into politics with this post but Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the policy which protects websites from repercussions on user-posted content, has been targeted from both sides of the aisle and would radically change how we use the web. Here’s a video on the history and consequences of getting rid of it:

Posting Places


Obviously I’ve considered posting on my YouTube channel. The problem is the all-mighty algorithm. Animators used to do well on there until the Reply Girl saga of 2012. Monetization went from favoring views to watch time. This effectively killed short format content on the site as animators moved on to producing Let’s Plays and vlogs. Storytime videos eventually brought animation back with creators like TheOdd1sOut, Jaiden Animations, and sWooZie. Arguably these types of films are more animatic than full animations, though to me that’s akin to complaining about the limited animation in Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It’s a cost-saving choice that facilitates the limitations of the medium while still allowing for new original material.

There have also been some impressive collaborative productions. Vivienne “Vivziepop” Medrano and her studio Spindlehorse made pilots for Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss with Hazbin Hotel being picked up by A24. Knights of the Light Table has produced music videos for Night Runner, TWRP, Starbomb, and Ninja Sex Party. Explosm got together with Octopie to create The Stockholms.

As far as individual creators go, there are a few like Felix Colgrave or Jae55555, drawing the toons they want, making it work with a blend of Patreon and/or commissions. Basically for anything I post to be successful would require either a large existing audience or big frequent updates with enough time to grow a following.

YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts is essentially their answer to TikTok with vertical clips up to 60 seconds. This is problematic to me because it corrals videos into a beta feature nobody’s looking for, it’s a copycat move when they have a legit history with short content to build on, and I expect most content creators are going to repost from other similar platforms until they know how long Shorts will be sticking around.


Not a lot of people talk about Vimeo these days. That’s because in 2017 they changed their business model from being a high-end alternative to YouTube to being a software provider for video makers. It’s a good example of knowing what you want to be and working towards that goal as opposed to people’s expectations. I’ve seen a number of folks recommend hosting demo reels on there saying it looks more professional, you don’t have to worry about ads, and if you need to replace/update a popular video it can keep the same URL. I recommend checking out the Plymptoons account from Bill Plympton. He has a wealth of behind the scenes and production blogs.


I’ve used my Instagram account for work in progress material and Inktober drawings. I’m going to be honest, I find the dimension options confusing and regularly check to see what they currently are. Lots of great artists there, though I’ve heard it can be difficult to stand out these days. Best advice I’ve seen is to find specific tags that are less crowded. (i.e. instead of #art maybe try #socalpainters) I remember back when Twitter decided to start using photos and quit showing previews from links in their feeds. :V


First hyped as an alternative to YouTube, IGTV is for videos from one to sixty minutes long. Originally they needed to be vertical but now they accept horizontal as well. It has a dedicated app though on the web you need to go to the Instagram profile of a specific creator to find their videos. A lot of artists I follow post speed paints. (an easy thing to do with the record feature in Procreate or Clip Studio Paint) Mythical use it to share bonus content with their followers. I considered doing shorts for it, though the vertical requirement at launch was a bit of a creative hurdle. It didn’t seem worth designing content I couldn’t fit anywhere else, in an usual aspect ratio. Also a lip sync test I posted got removed due to copyright a year after I shared it.

Instagram Reels

Another response to TikTok, Reels is for 15-30 second videos. Like IGTV you have to hunt to find them. Considering regular videos are up to a minute long it makes technical sense to highlight shorter ones, I suppose. Now they have options for 15-30, ≤60, and 60-3600 seconds. It just feels inorganic to me. Instagram is one app that rolled out these features as afterthoughts, much like their website. They’re intended to keep existing users onboard, not bring new ones in.


TikTok is an app for videos up to a minute in length that came to the US after merging with, a similar Chinese app popular for dance and lip sync acts. I’ve posted a few. A big part of the appeal is using popular songs, either clips they provide or ones you’ve made yourself. The audience skews young but older folks go where the young people are. There was fear it’d get banned after a prank during the election of reserving tickets for a Trump rally and not going, though that’s probably not happening.

I mainly have two issues with the platform:

  1. The vertical aspect ratio. It impacts design choices and makes using elsewhere look cheap.
  2. It’s really geared toward vlogging and sharing quick vids from your phone. Animators can make content but laboring over a project gets frustrating when others can bang out 10 clips at a time.


Remember Vine? The 6-second loop service? One of the original developers announced V2 after Twitter shut it down. Following a few years in beta it finally launched as Byte. Originally sticking to the 6-second formula they’ve expanded to 15 and now offer sounds to work with. I’ve posted once so far.

It’s a different community and different vibe from TikTok. They’re smaller, more interested in being experimental and creative, and I respect that. My question is whether my stuff could gain traction on there or not.


One of the original Flash portals, (who, like Homestar Runner, are now looking to Ruffle to keep their archives going) Newgrounds is a dedicated place for artists. If they like or hate your stuff, they’ll let you know. They’ve supported non-Flash videos for some time now. I’ve shared some of my QAS shorts but haven’t made anything specifically for the site yet. I’ve had some more mature ideas that might not fly on YouTube I may host there. My concern is would original content work better there as opposed to elsewhere.

Fiyah TV

Fiyah TV is a streaming site for online animators. Creators can sign up and publish their own shows in a variety of genres. I first heard of it when the developers posted on Newgrounds. It’s an admirable goal, though I wonder how many new eyes the site actually brings.


Dribbble is a popular site for designers that was invite-only for a long time. I personally know very little about it as I don’t really travel in design circles but it seems a useful place to display and promote projects.


Bēhance is a similar yet different site to Dribbble. I’ve seen a number of articles comparing which one’s better for which purpose. I figure I’ll spend some time checking out both until I get a better feel for how they work.


Did you know you can apply for an Artist Channel on GIPHY? I didn’t either. How about the fact that Facebook bought them for $400 million even though they haven’t made any revenue yet? Here’s a podcast interview with Annie Wong, AKA Headexplodie, about finding clients with gifs.

My Own Site

I’ve actually been working on this last option a bit, off and on. For a while now I’ve felt like the current web has gone stale. The article Why the ‘Weird Internet’ of the GeoCities Era Had to Die explains how things got standardized and uniform. Experimental sites break on different devices. If you’re a big serious corporation you want your site to work every time somebody visits and you expect it to look the same on every screen. It all makes logical sense. Of course, artists aren’t necessarily known for their logic.

Currently I’m playing around with Grav as a CMS and Wick Editor for animating the HTML5 canvas. It has the ease and the energy of making things in early Flash with modern web standards. The problem now is what do I build with it? An homage to Homestar Runner? Something akin to the Space Jam website? I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel as I’ll spend all my time trying to make it perfect and never actually launch.

So I guess I’m relaunching this blog as a chronicle of my steps forward in the animation business. Building up my portfolio, demo reel, and seeing where I land finding work and/or building an audience.

Copyright Bullies: Beware Older Creative Commons

  • On June 27, 2019 ·
  • By ·
Fees punching you in the face

Something I’ve been dealing with behind the scenes for several months is a copyright bully. I debated posting about this but decided it’s important other people know the dangers involved. At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog about my plans for 2019. I found an image online that said it was Creative Commons, pasted the info in the WordPress field for credit, and thought that was the end of it.

Couple months later I get an email from a case management address of a site I’d never heard of alerting me to Unauthorized Use of Image. Apparently there was an error in crediting the image creator and this site was claiming I needed to pay a fee. I checked to see how much they were asking for:


I decided to speak to an attorney before responding. During that time I received a second, third, and fourth notice, saying registration with the US Copyright Office entitled their client to between $750-35,000 should they seek legal escalation. Time was running out for them to negotiate a lower price. After various referrals the lawyer I consulted with told me about what I figured – that I could expect to pay at least $750 for their services and I might still have to pay out in the end.

As an artist I understand the need for creators to get paid for their work. However, this type of intimidation goes against the spirit of Creative Commons. If I found somebody using one of my works without permission I’d contact them myself first. Maybe they aren’t even aware of the mistake. I wouldn’t sick some 3rd party on them. Out of options I responded to the case manager’s email. Was their client aware they were using version 2.0 of the Creative Commons license when the site was recommending 4.0? Perhaps it had something to do with this line,

In the 4.0 licenses, your rights under the license are automatically reinstated if you correct this failure within 30 days of discovering the violation (either on your own or because the licensor or someone else has told you). Under the 3.0 and earlier licenses, there is no automatic reinstatement.

Creative Commons FAQ

I asked what the least their client would accept to resolve the matter was. While I waited for them to get back to me I discovered said client’s account was blacklisted from submitting images to Wikimedia due to sending huge invoices for minor licensing errors. This resulted in a mass deletion of images from a large number of articles. In a discussion log they decided it was best to prevent potential re-users from dealing with charges should they use the images improperly. “It may not be illegal but it’s a scam and we need to protect our users from potentially falling prey to it.”

Case management said I could pay $250. At this point I was going on a trip to Canada for several weeks. My case was forwarded to a new manager who promptly warned me of legal escalation again. Sick of the whole thing I paid their fee and told them any further contact would be considered harassment and forwarded to my representatives.

2018 – New Year, New Plans

  • On January 1, 2018 ·
  • By ·
I hope everybody had a happy holiday season. The New Year is traditionally a time of reflection, making resolutions, and then giving up on them by mid February when we’ve slid back into bad habits. I’m not much of a traditionalist but I do like the idea of setting markers for yourself. This is a good time to look back, figure out what went wrong over the course of 12 months, and to set goals for improving on the next dozen.

2017 in Review

What Went Right
Without a doubt the best thing to happen to me in 2017 was meeting my girlfriend. She’s been there to listen, to encourage, and to be a reminder that life is pretty awesome sometimes.
What Went Wrong
Nothing frustrates quite like wasted potential. As is common with ADHD I had a lot of good ideas but I enacted few of them. Some of it was lack of direction but a lot of it was insecurity. The perfect time to do something rarely ever makes itself available on its own accord. Instead it is up to us to shape our lives, to make opportunities happen, and to try our damnedest.

2018 Goals

Deadlines are something of a double-edged sword. They can bring on stress in a crunch. At the same time they’re a necessity when it comes to routine and staying on task. That’s why I’ve decided to start a Monday/Wednesday/Friday blogging regiment. I’m also relaunching my YouTube channel with a Tuesday/Thursday schedule where I’ll share each update on the blog, effectively posting five times a week.
Working Blocks
My plan for achieving this is to produce multiple chunks at a time. Rather than write one blog post I’ll write all three. Instead of one video I’ll make two or four at a time. This system is actually preferable for me because front loading frees up more room for working later. I get less burnt out when I’m bouncing between projects. It also makes it easier to plan things when I can see them in a week by week format.

I Didn’t Die

  • On November 20, 2017 ·
  • By ·

A problem I often have is falling into loops. These are important to distinguish from routines. Loops are cyclical and keep you in a rut instead of progressing forward. A loop I regularly fall into is researching. You’ve probably heard “Perfect is the enemy of good” before, meaning it’s better to get a project out the door in an acceptable state than to toil on it perpetually without ever actually releasing it. When I was younger I was more likely to start something on a whim. Of course many of those never got completed as I didn’t fit them into my schedule. As I got older I sought to plan things out in advance, to weigh my options better before getting started. Unfortunately this also led to not getting started at all.

The thing about loops is they’re comforting. They’re familiar. When you don’t look up from the wheel as long as it’s turning you think you’re going somewhere. I realized in school that talking about subjects you don’t fully understand is a quick way to show your ignorance. This got me in the habit of researching and learning everything I can on a topic if I expect to be working with it in any real capacity. Partly because my undiagnosed ADHD would make it hard to concentrate in class so I knew I’d have to study on my own and partly because of the anxiety and fear I had of embarrassment from looking stupid. ADHD isn’t simply a lack of focus, either. Sometimes I would hyperfocus on things to the point of obsession. Other times I’d see something new to learn about and be unable to fulfill my responsibilities to an older subject. Repeating the cycle of studying is safe. I know what to expect and there aren’t any repercussions for it. Eventually, however, you need to stop doing what’s comfortable in order to progress.

The unknown can be scary. If you don’t have somebody to reassure you things will be fine it can be downright petrifying. I’ve found plenty of people in life who stay in their comfort zones. And you know what? I don’t judge them for it. It’s very easy to play armchair quarterback and tell others what they should do with their lives. But are you willing to go with them to do all the things they need to do to get there? Will you help them wade through confusing paperwork and legal jargon? Will you show them healthy habits and how to prepare themselves for a better life? Or is it easier and more comfortable to sit back and point out everybody else’s problems so nobody notices yours?

Fear and danger can be managed. Whenever I do something new I can be completely terrified but I always take time to recognize what I’ve done. When I’ve planned and gone on a trip, after I’ve gotten to my destination and rested, I tell myself, “Well, I didn’t die, so that’s good.” Is my brain listing every possible thing that could go wrong the entire time? Yes. Is my family reminding me of all of these while also making a few of their own up? Of course. But I didn’t die. The further out I go and the more relaxed I let myself become the more I see the good in what I’ve done. Then I’m reminded of the line by George Carlin, “So now you can move along to your next embarrassing moment… which is probably scheduled immediately.”

I’m still trying to figure out how I want to use this blog. What to write in it that doesn’t feel like I’m standing on the street with a bullhorn, what I’m trying to say, how to say it most effectively while still actually getting in the habit of doing it regularly. I do know I need to concentrate more on doing things and less on worrying where they go before I do them.

Month in Review – January 2017

  • On January 30, 2017 ·
  • By ·

January 2017 is almost over. This is where a lot of new year’s resolutions fall apart. Rather than set a bunch of unrealistic arbitrary goals I want to use the calendar to track my progress at improving myself. Weekends are good for looking over the previous week and planning the one ahead. Each month a stretch on the marathon that is the year. I should start doing a proper monthly wrap up post in the future but for now I’ll keep this more informal.

This month was the soft relaunch of the blog. I spent a lot of time behind the scenes restructuring the site and I still have work to do. I built a local mockup thinking I’d start from scratch and eventually decided time would be better spent fixing what was broken. I declared my intent to blog twice a week and to restart my podcast. While doing this my microphone stopped being recognized and my sleep schedule went off the rails. I’m not making any excuses. I’m merely sharing how I lost control of my time and days in an attempt to stop myself from doing it in the future.

I forget which stand up comic this bit comes from, but when tired his body becomes inhabited by a personality known as Sleepy Dave. He’s not a bad guy but he’s also not a very good employee. When the alarm goes off in the morning, the responsible person gets up. Sleepy Dave goes, “Why get up when you can stay in bed and ski down a mountain of syrup with French toast sticks for skiis?!” I have my own Sleepy Dave. I plan things like a logical grown up. Then when it comes time to actually implement them a scared and sleepy child comes out who really needs an adult. These are both parts of my personality that I express differently at different times. I can tell myself I need to go to bed early if I want to get up at six the next morning. Actually communicating to the people I’m talking to that it’s my bedtime is an entirely different situation. I’ve had whole evenings swallowed up where I haven’t had time to think for myself until I’m in bed ready to fall asleep. The advice of, “Just tell them you’re going to bed,” is about as helpful as, “All you have to do to lose weight is exercise and don’t eat so much.” If it was really that easy we wouldn’t have entire industries devoted to it.

I’m naturally an introverted and non-confrontational person. Once I’ve talked to you for about an hour, I’m maxed out and need to recharge. There’s a range of responses to this depending on how well the person I’m with empathizes with me or picks up on hints. Some shrug it off like I’m joking. A few get bossy or guilt me for not doing what they want. Others try to distract and always seem to have one more thing they want to ask me about. Sometimes I’ll be talking with somebody I really like who I enjoy spending time with, conflicting what I want at the moment with what I should be doing. This creates a cycle where I’m not rested or thinking clearly so I can’t correct myself. When it’s already the season for early dark and you’re waking up after the sun has gone down all you can really do is try to right your ship the next morning.

Some people may think I sound like a coward for not sticking up for myself. It’s very easy to look at moments out of somebody else’s life out of context and blame them for their problems. It’s much harder to actually listen and provide useful advice. The fact is I have stood up for myself on many occasions. But when others don’t listen to you, gaslight your words to make you second guess yourself, and when it happens regularly enough when you’re exhausted you get worn down. I’ve called my dad, agreed to meet him the next day at noon or one for lunch, and he’s shown up at more door at nine in the morning ready to go out. My mom still doesn’t understand that sometimes I’m open to talking and other times I need to have quiet. I’ve taken to wearing my headphones while out, even though I know it can seem rude, because I need to be able to step back before I have a panic attack. This is the reality of my situation right now. I love my family and friends but they don’t always listen to me or pick up on my social cues. To combat this I’m scheduling my devices to be in Do No Disturb mode during work hours. This may make it harder for some folks to contact me but I need to regain control of my own schedule.

Ultimately I need to have time to myself to think. This last month I kept finding myself on the night before something (if I was lucky) trying to even sort out what I wanted to do. That is not how I want to work. I can’t be pulling all nighters every night for everything. I’ve tried setting hard and fast rules only to frustrate myself when I can’t meet them. The key is going to be getting myself enough rest, quiet time, and keeping myself out of situations where others can have power over my decisions. I see confrontations in my future as people wonder where I’ve been, but not answering my phone when I’m unavailable is less awkward than being put on the spot when I do answer.

Plans for February include more regular blogging, new podcasts now that I’ve replaced my mic, and I’m going to try posting animation on Twitter. I’d like to experiment in the 30 second to two minute range and Twitter sounds like the best place to roll that out without fiddling with square aspect ratios, portrait mode, or any silly restraints other sites with video (remember Vine?) impose. I have fan projects I want to work on as well but I can’t share the content from those until they’re done so Twitter video experiments are a nice regular thing to work on and share. I’d really like the month to be more about structure and routine. I didn’t spend much of January drawing at all. Every time I opened an art program I felt out of practice. My therapist and I worked out some affirmations I’m going to be repeating to myself regularly about permitting myself to work, feeling capable in what I can do, and not letting the negative things that have creeped into my head push me around anymore.

How I Deal with Anxiety/ADHD

  • On January 16, 2017 ·
  • By ·
Ben's Medications

I’m not a doctor. If you believe you have anxiety or some other condition please consult a professional. I am, however, somebody who deals with anxiety and ADHD on a day to day basis. This post goes into how I deal with it personally and I encourage anybody reading who deals with similar issues to share their experiences and suggestions in the comments below. Keep in mind we’re all different and there’s no one size fits all cure.

I’ve said elsewhere I don’t want this to turn into Ben’s Anxiety Blog but as anxiety’s a part of my life it’s something worth talking about here. There are different types of anxiety, it manifests itself in different ways for different people, and there are various methods of treating it. Anxiety itself isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s one of the ways the body responds to certain situations. Sometimes a fight or flight response is called for. If you’re trapped with a wild animal it’s perfectly acceptable. Other times, when you’re sitting at a desk breaking into a cold sweat, not so much. If you regularly have stressful reactions to seemingly minor things, or even to seemingly nothing at all, then you may have an anxiety disorder. For me, anxiety was like the constant buzzing of a fluorescent light. Always kind of there, sometimes in the background, sometimes loud and up front. When I described it to my doctor he decided to put me on Celexa.


Some people and groups don’t believe in treating psychological problems with medicine. I will say right now, for the record and for anybody considering commenting as such, kindly fuck off. There’s enough misconceptions and stigma dealing with mental health. If I could simply “snap out of it” or “stop feeling bad” I would have done that long ago. There is no shame in wanting to feel better.

I take Celexa once a day and Buspirone twice a day. Celexa is the one that helped me to even be able to talk about my issues at all. Before then I was terrified of seeming abnormal. I still get terrified, sometimes, but now it’s more situational and something I can deal with. I started Buspirone after telling my doctor I still carried a lot of physical tension around even with the other prescription. It’s easily the worst-tasting med I’ve ever been on but it does help. Once we determined I had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder I was prescribed Adderall. It helps me keep my concentration though we had to increase my dosage. For a few frustrating weeks I felt like I was of two minds, able to observe my actions but unable to act. It’s also a controlled substance which makes getting refills frustrating and traveling more complicated than it needs to be.


I asked my doctor to recommend me to a therapist because I knew I had some issues to work on. After some issues with my insurance I started seeing one once a week until she retired at the end of November. She helped me identify I had ADHD and sensory issues. Once we figured that out it became a matter of accepting and coming to terms with it. People with ADHD are more prone to develop problems with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. and though I’m pretty sure I inherited mine, being undiagnosed ADHD growing up probably added to my frustration. Therapy for me has two benefits. Having a safe space to get things off your chest is important, especially if you don’t have one otherwise, and it gives you reassurance you’re thinking logically. It also helps you plan. I booked a trip to Canada after my therapist suggested going to an event with like-minded people to get away for a bit. She was genuinely impressed I was motivated enough in my own treatment to do that. I believe in being proactive and, even though doing new things can be scary at times, conquering that fear is part of the reward.

Family and Friends

If you have a good support system set up you’re going to have an easier time. Likewise, if your friends and family aren’t on board, things get more difficult. I love my family but they’re a lot like me in some ways and very different in others. My mom doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with me. She’s convinced it’s just part of my personality. My dad doesn’t really grasp what I’m in therapy for, either. They grew up at a time when you didn’t talk about mental issues. If you had them you were simply nuts. With that mode of thinking admitting there’s anything the matter with me means accepting there’s potentially anything the matter with themselves and they’re not ready for that.

My friends have been very compassionate. I only wish I were closer with more of them. When the only way you keep in touch with most people anymore is through Facebook you miss deeper connections. I fully accept my own blame in this regard. I haven’t been the best person to get close to and it’s something I’m trying to get better at. I care about people but I also get terrified I’ll do the wrong thing and be rejected. I’m also introverted and burn a lot of energy when I’m with others. I’m working on getting better at saying no without feeling horrible.


I’ve journaled off and on since I’ve been able to write. As I’ve gotten medicated I’ve been able to think more clearly address my thoughts/emotions. I try to write every day now as a way to get things off of my mind and to do something constructive with them. Some days it’s just a string of obscenities about whatever’s making me angry. Other times I can have a revelation by actually taking the time to write my feelings out. It’s easy to get busy and spend all your mental energy just being reactionary. It’s a good pressure valve to look inside and sort your own thoughts out. My current favorite method is to type in a TaskPaper document on my computer. I used TaskMator on iOS for awhile but the ability to fold entries up once I was done with them was too important to me. I recently got Editorial and it’s very elegant.

List Making

I mentioned TaskPaper specifically because I sync to my mobile devices through Dropbox to keep things organized. This means I can be waiting in line, pull out my phone, and type something up to get back to elsewhere later. The TaskPaper format makes it very easy to search, tag, and organize. Lists are important to me because they gave me a way to structure the things I dump in my journal entries into actionable plans. They’re also good because we all tend to carry too much in our heads. When something comes to mind, write it down so you can pull it out later. A lot of anxiety can be resolved by planning and feeling secure there’s a plan in place. Lists can always be changed around and re-written, too, so they’re low pressure.

Taking Action

Plans and lists are great tools but they’re only tools. Some people can spend their days debating what hammer they should buy and never actually get to that home improvement project. Settle on the tools that works best for you then take action. In my case that means actually writing the blog post I plan on writing, on opening that art program and designing those characters I’ve been meaning to develop. It’s easy to get swallowed up in just one type of task. I’ve spent weeks tinkering with PHP and MySQL, fiddling with WordPress plugins and CSS, only to realize I haven’t drawn anything in ages. Once you lay out your plan you need to stick with it. Some days I might not feel like writing. Others I can fill pages before lunch. The trick is giving yourself enough room to feel comfortable. One thing I learned doing webcomics is it’s very easy to fall into a strip a day mentality with projects. If you only focus on doing a thing a day you can fall behind easily. Eventually you’re waiting until you’re right against a deadline. I really recommend laying projects out further. I’d pencil a week’s worth of comics at once, for example. It was much more fulfilling getting ahead and getting more done though it did require more lead time up front.

It’s important to have clear goals when sitting down to work. When I’m planning I pull out the calendar and know the constraints I have to work with. How many weeks do I have to work on this? I try to set my own deadlines ahead of when they outside factors influence them. In college when I had to finish something over the weekend I’d stay up all night Friday or Saturday so I could recover on Sunday. Once I know what I need to do I can delegate the different parts as needed. If I’m going to be drawing all day I put myself into drawing mode. Gestural layouts are a different mindset from refined lines and inking, for example. It’s also good to divvy things up so you don’t over extend yourself. If I have to spend multiple days on the same stage of a project I get worn down quicker. If I’m doing an animation I might do the basic planning on the whole thing but the longer it is the more I’m going to subdivide. I’ll work on one segment in rough keys, then refine it, then move on to the next instead of trying to completely rough animate an entire sequence out. I need to feel like you finished something each day, be it that week’s pencils or the rough animation on a segment. Otherwise I can have trouble switching modes and getting back to writing when all I’ve done is draw and vice versa.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Distraction and Ritual

I stated earlier I have sensory issues. I’m still sorting out what that means and the proper ways of dealing with them. I know I’m light sensitive and get migraines regularly. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I’ll turn the lights out in my studio and lay on the floor until I calm down. I also have trouble with background noise, voices in particular. If a television is on in the same room as somebody I’m trying to have a conversation with I can’t tune it out. My mom tends to leave the set on because she likes the noise. To me it’s like constantly hearing somebody call out my name. It’s really distracting and it cuts through to my ears. I’ve started wearing noise-canceling headphones to block sounds like that and to channel my focus on things I actually want to listen to like some of my favorite playlists.

This ducktails nicely into the idea of creating ritual and routine. I have playlists of music I work to because they have an energizing effect on me. They also reinforce the idea that now it’s time to concentrate on work, helping me transition from whatever mode I was in before into one for working. Likewise I also have relaxation playlists for winding down at the end of the day and accepting work time is over. I can get fussy and repetitive with my music, listening to the same artists over and cover as I find it comforting. I listen to a lot of instrumental tracks so the words don’t distract me, unless it’s an album I’ve listened to so much I’m used to it. I try to do as much mental heavy lifting early in the day as I can so my decisions are sharp. Laying out images takes up more headspace than the straight forward tasks of refining and inking or coloring them. It’s easy to get bored with ADHD I need to give myself enough wiggle room to play and enjoy what I’m working on. I don’t want to be my own version of the coworker who did all the creative work on a project and hands it off for the grunt work.

Anxiety tends to be triggered by regular factors. These can vary from person to person so it’s good to know what things set you off so you can avoid them. For me it’s situations where I might not know enough about what’s going on and fear looking stupid. This ramps up when I see others don’t have confidence in me. I hate being rushed or held late, especially when I’m tired and having trouble focusing. This happens to me more than it should as I have trouble excusing myself because I’m afraid it’ll be awkward.

Ben's cat Hope

Being Well Rested

Sleep has a lot to do with how we feel. I know it’s hard to get enough rest, especially when we’re busy, but I really do notice when I’m stressed out that I haven’t been sleeping regularly. We’ve all tried that sleep math of a nap here, a few hours there, hoping it adds up. It’s not just the amount of sleep but the quality of sleep we get. If you sleep through the night you’ll feel better than you would if you woke up every hour. When I haven’t had enough sleep I’ll be irritable. I’ll try to work and nothing will feel right. Even if it’s something I really want to work on I’ll be struggling. Sometimes this leads to getting frustrated with myself and it’ll spiral from there. It’s something I’ve become aware of and need to take steps to prevent from happening.

Now and then I need to remind myself to step back. I have to give myself permission to relax and take some time away from what’s bothering me. Occasionally that means calling it a night and coming in fresh the next morning. Once in a while it means scaling back my expectations so I don’t push myself too hard. Plenty of times it means snuggling with my cat and being ok with what I’ve gotten done for the day.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more on this topic in the future as I get better at recognizing what sets off my anxiety and compensating for it. I’ve learned to not fight with the anxiety so much as accept I’m going to feel it, that it’s ok to get upset sometimes, and remember it’s not going to last forever. Everyone feels anxiety at some points in their lives. It’s a matter of not letting it control us or stop us from doing what we want with our lives. I’d like to thank you for taking the time for reading this far. If you have any advice or comments you’d like to share I’d love to hear them. How do you handle your anxiety issues?

2017: New Beginnings

  • On January 4, 2017 ·
  • By ·

Hi 🙂 If you’ve been following me for any length of time, I want to thank you for your patience. If you’re new, Welcome! I’m Ben. I’m a cartoonist and this is my blog. It’s been awhile since I’ve properly blogged here and I’d like to take a moment to apologize for the way I’ve handled things thus far.

Where Have You Been?

The short answer to this is dealing with mental disorder. I’ve never really felt comfortable blogging on my own sites as it tends to feel rather news post-y. This sets up an expectation in my head that whatever I write about needs to be newsworthy. It sounds silly and irrational explaining it but that’s anxiety for you. I’ve dealt with anxiety and other issues most of my life, certainly from the time I started my first site. It took me a long time to be ok with the idea of seeking outside help for my problems. I’ve shared some of my journey on my tumblr blog as it felt more casual. Eventually I realized this is something I should be addressing in my own official blog. Not that I haven’t been authentic when I post things but rather there’s parts of myself I never shared due to fear, humiliation, or some other rationalization that my own site wasn’t the place for sharing my experiences.

I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I didn’t fit the stereotype growing up as I was a fairly well behaved kid and a good student. Some of that I attribute to family pressure to act “normal” in public and some to how poorly ADHD was diagnosed at the time. I have sensory issues I’m still sorting out. I know I’m light-sensitive and background noise distracts me, especially voices since I can’t tune those out. I probably have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though I haven’t officially been diagnosed with it yet, as I’ve compared my anxiety to the constant buzzing of fluorescent lights. I’ve been in therapy about a year now learning what all this means for me and coming to terms with it. I’m still on this journey. It’s sometimes scary and confusing. Actually getting medicated and seeking help, however, has been nothing short of life changing for me. Before I would be positively terrified of anybody even suspecting there was something wrong with me, much less the idea of sharing and discussing it with people. Mental health has a stigma surrounding it and as soon as I realized my worries were due to a chemical imbalance I decided I wasn’t going to let them control me ever again. I will never feel shame for getting treatment. I hope my efforts to normalize and open a dialogue about mental health help other people realize they have the right to feel ok with themselves. Every person, no matter who you are or where you are on your journey through life, deserves to feel accepted and loved. I want you to know I appreciate you and I’m very glad you’re here with us.

What Happened to the Podcast?

You may have noticed Season 5 of the NoRights Podcast ended abruptly and transitioned into TNT (Talk, News, and Trivia) with Ian and Frank. I apologize if it seemed jarring. Let me be clear I’m still really good friends with everybody involved. This wasn’t some sort of falling out or anything like that. The fact of the matter is it didn’t feel like the NoRights Podcast to me anymore. It became something I liked attending and participating in but no longer wanted to host. I handed the reigns of that show over because I want the NoRights Podcast, like this blog, to have a more personal direction. I like hanging out with my friends but my own voice was getting lost in the mix.

What’s the Plan Moving Forward?

I’ve taken down the static front page and have pushed the blog to be the main focus. For a time I considered starting a multimedia magazine. It’s a good idea but completing full regular issues alongside growing a readership is too ambitious. Instead I intend to post at least two substantial blog posts a week from here on out, hopefully more. I’d like to document my projects as I work on them, share my thoughts and opinions with you, and try to be more engaging than I have been in the past. It’s not going to be perfect because I’m not perfect. But I will be honest and I will respect you. Once I have enough significant content on a subject or project I’ll put together an ebook for it. I’ll be working this into a Patreon campaign so people who like my work will have a chance to support it while getting some nice extras for themselves. More on that to come.

I’d planned to record and roll out the first episode of Season 6 of the podcast on Tuesday but that didn’t happen obviously. I’d spent two weeks vacationing with my mom in California and returning to a productive schedule has been rough. Refilling my prescriptions became an ordeal with travel, my sleep cycle was all screwed up after staying awake 27 hours and then sleeping through New Year’s Eve, and I got slowed down with some depression. I’m not making excuses, just being realistic as some day’s goals are going to be harder to reach than others. That said, I will do my best to be open with you all and keep you updated from here on out. My twitter is the easiest way to reach me if you’re wondering what’s up or have a question about anything.

I’d like to thank you once again for joining me and I hope you enjoy watching me work. I have projects lined up running the gamut from making music to drawing pin up girls, monsters, and animating shorts. It’s my wish that neither of us grow bored and there’ll always be something interesting ahead of us. May my successes and failures inspire you, friend!