Working under Shiga


For an entire year, once a week, I would go over to Jason’s place to help him print his comics for his Patreon for his comic ‘Demon’. The 720 page webcomic has been completed, the last of the Patreon orders mailed out, the limited print run chapters all done, and now my job has been retired. It was a great ride while it lasted.

Every day I worked there, we always had a nice chat during lunch break. And I always learned something new. For the entire year I was there, I always asked questions, and many times, I was surprised about the answers he gave me.  I feel it is because I’m in a different generation of artists in artist alley, while he is in a generation of artists who haven’t really relied on artist alley. Well…sorta?

Here are some highlights I learned from working there.

A comic artist’s life may not be for every person who dreams to be a comic artist-this one might be a bit hard to explain, and is in no way offensive. For some people, crouching over and making comics 8 hours a day is the best thing ever…..if you want to do that for years and years. For some, that might be too much work, and having a part time job to split the work (although that also means more working), is actually a better way to both get stuff done, have a breather, and still get paid for something else. I think the best decision for my future was to take a step back, study pharmacy tech, and get a job. I recently got a job, and although the sacrifice is energy and time, I now have an income and a way to fund my projects.
I don’t know if I’ll be a pharmacy technician for the rest of my life, but one day, if I get a constant stream on income for my artwork, I might become a full time comic artist. But for now, I’m quite contempt being a hard worker.

Artist alley should be a way to promote. Earning money at artist alley is a plus, but don’t think you can live solely off of this when selling comics–I know there is the 1% who can, but for most people, it’s more like a fairy tale. I really thought this was possible, but there was one week where Jason went all the way to Canada just to sell his comics. I asked him about how he’d ever profit from that, and his answer was that promoting it is more important than just selling it (that and I think he wanted to go on vacation). He doesn’t go to a lot of conventions because there’s not much profit in the work, but promoting it online and carefully choosing which conventions to go to display your work is more important. For me, cutting back on conventions was also one of the best choices I’ve done for myself. Instead of stressing over what kind of ‘fanart’ I should make, I was able to utilize that stress-free time to create my own comics–I was published in three anthologies, and working on two anthologies right now. And now that I think about it, the people I often see who really DO live off selling at conventions are often the people who have massive walls of fanart prints, not self published comics.
I don’t make as much money at artist alley now, but I definitely feel a lot prouder of the work that’s come out of having extra time to do the work. At the same time, my hard work has been paying off, as my internet shop has had a few more frequent sales through the months.

2016-02-28 08.55.29

Draw what you want to draw.–If you’ve ever read Jason Shiga’s Demon, then you know exactly where I learned this from.
It may have been one of my most ‘crude’ looking comics, but I definitely wanted to make a comic about proper convention behavior. I gave these out for free at Yumecon and Anime on Display, and got some great reactions.
previewMy fear of people judging me for my work was one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome when I made that comic. I’ve made comics where I spent months perfecting, while this comic was drawn in a span of two days (albeit it took several hours of interviews over a span of several weeks to get the right info). I look back at that piece of paper folded in half, and I think to myself ‘what the heck was I so scared of? I’m giving the comic out for free o_O’
What’s important is that you make a piece of work you’re proud of.

You don’t have all the time in the world-I’m not sure how to word this correctly, but I hope my explanation makes sense.
Sometimes you will get one chance to do something, and whether you take that opportunity or not, if you miss it, you may never get that exact same chance again. I could always drive down to San Jose for Fanime in fourty five minutes. But a plane ticket to Austin Texas? I’m not sure if I’ll ever make time next year. Or there might be a steak restaurant there that might go out of business. Or maybe that plane ticket will be more expensive the next year. I mean yea, going to RTX will cost at least three times as much as Fanime, but having the opportunity to do something may never come back in a long, long time.

I went on my first plane ride last year to Seattle to go to Emerald City Comic Con, met artists I’ve only dreamed of shaking hands with, discovered new amazing artists, made connections with companies I thought was impossible, had some amazing food, and somewhere in the far, far back, I saw a mountain with snow for the first time in my life! I may have spent a shit ton of money to do that, but I regret nothing from this experience.


above: While most people were closing the shades in the airplane and trying to take a nap out of boredom on the plane to Seattle, I could not help but stare out the window for the entire time. It was the first time I’ve seen a sunset from an airplane, and it was so beautiful. I saw rivers, creeks, some mountains with snow, and while the sun was setting, I could see the building lights slowly turn on in the cities.

Everyone starts from nothing-Everyone who is a comic artist has all started from a single thing–making a comic. So if you want to be a comic artist, and improve your comics, and get recognized for comics, you need to make them to climb your way up a crazy mountain of other creators. And unlike other professions, there’s no end to this chain. You can keep climbing higher and higher–make more comics, create new works, branch into movies, games, and other things. But everyone starts from nothing.

You won’t know unless you try; don’t be scared to try things few have ventured out to do. This is my very first custom nendoroid. And also, my first time with my professional camera, shooting figurines. I started from nothing, and now this is my new hobby :3


Kids are a lot of work–He’s got a kid. Sounds like a lot of hard work. Be prepared.

Well, I’ve changed a lot in the past year. Maybe these tips will help you, maybe they won’t. But for me, I think I’m finally walking on the right path to my future, thanks to Jason. I hope you look forward to my future blog articles ;)


Cosdrawing: Love yourself


Lately there have been articles all over the internet about photoshopping, feminism stuff, and young girls being unconfident about their appearance which leads to eating disorders, whatever. I think one of the greatest things about anime/comic conventions is that when cosplayers dress up, all of that crap is ignored, cosplayers are probably thinking ‘fuck it all i’m gonna do what I love’. Although the critics sometimes don’t agree, the initial passion of the cosplayer is always that they wanna be who they wanna be. Ya know, haters gonna hate right?

ALSO I WOULD LIKE TO NOTE THAT EVEN GUYS ARE SELF CONSCIOUS ABOUT THEIR APPEARANCE TOO. There as been more than one guy who has commissioned me to draw eight packs on them. Maybe it was a joke or something, but I mean, they asked me to change their physical appearence in some way. I’d like to also note that I’ve never had a girl ask me to draw her skinnier, taller, or bigger boobs or whatever. Also like to note that in my experience, more girls ask me to draw them than guys. And everyone of all sizes, shapes, racial whatever, I don’t really care blah blah ask me, it really doesn’t make a difference, since the same idea goes on in my head for this concept.  I’m sure it’s different for everyone though.

One of the most rewarding commissions for me is when the person asks you to draw them. Today I actually found a very memorable moment that made me realize how great it is to do it:


Mind you, this was four years ago in 2011 when these lovely two ladies asked me to draw them… but when I made it I was so nervous that the girl on the left would be angry that I made her a little chubby. I mean..well, she asked for me to draw her, and even with my lack of art skills it’s not that hard to see the diff of her size with her friend. But I did it anyway. I would feel more ashamed of faking someone’s appearance on a piece of paper when I was specifically paid to draw who they were, and I did just that.

When they picked it up, their reaction was quite different from what I expected, and I asked just to make sure. They were really happy about it, and the girl on the left said something like this: ‘yea a lot of times they always make me skinny, even though I’m not. I love how you’re so honest about this, I’m very happy!’ Her other friend agreed, and my heart lightened up.

I recall a conversation about the diff between drawing a cosplayer and making them into an anime character. You know, I look around other tables to see how they do it: make the usual anime figure, with the circle, line in the middle, and the upside down rounded triangle, slap some anime eyes, add the same hair color as the cosplayer, voila. It’s their ‘style’, and I have my own too. But I mean..they asked to be drawn, not to be made into an anime character. Do they really want to be skinny-fied and anime-ed into someone else? I actually don’t know the real answer to that question, but after that moment, I had made my own assumptions, and I’d like to share my thoughts:

1) Chubby people are chubby. They know it too, and when you take a photo of them, they’re not being shy to the camera, right? I mean they paid you to do it…

2) People have flaws. So what? We all do. Our nose isn’t a perfect triangle, we might have a few blemishes on our face. People have different skin colors too. It’s what makes us unique.

3) Girls have different bodies, not everyone has sexy D cups, they know it. I mean, unless they ask you to enhance it. Hell, boys don’t have perfect abs and aren’t all seven feet tall.  EVERYONE can get self conscious about their body, but they commissioned you to draw them specifically.

4) Their cosplay isn’t perfect, what do you expect?

5) I always tell them twice to make sure: ‘just to clarify, you want me to draw you, not make you into an anime character, right?’-er..something like that.

Even though I sit in artist alley and do commissions, I don’t know what the hell people do with these pics (and if two people are in it, who the hell gets it), but whatevs. I know one thing though-when people ask me to draw them, I make sure I am seeing the person I’m drawing, not the character I’m imagining.

Even if your ‘style’ is anime, comic, abstract, or whatever, I think everyone should believe that when someone asks you to draw them, you should see the person you’re drawing as a person, not your ideal character. If they don’t like it, I think you should tell them that they commissioned you to draw them as a real person, not a barbie doll. Er….something like that.

I wrote a previous article about it, but anyways I made up the word cosdrawor cosdrawing, which is basically a shortened version of me saying ‘drawing cosplayers so they look like cosplayers and not ideal anime characters’ But like I said, some people really only draw anime characters or very skewed comic book characters, but I still think they should have the mindset that they’re drawing a real person. Even if they’re not cosplaying, you should still think that.

When someone asks you to draw them at a convention, I’m pretty sure they want you to draw the person who just paid you to draw a person. They wouldn’t pay you if they didn’t want themselves on a piece of paper; they like who they are, they love what they look like. I think I like drawing these commissions, because it’s pretty much telling the person who commissioned you ‘I like how you like yourself’. Some things are just hard to put into words. 


I use cosdrawing as a means of figure drawing and studying how clothes work. As you can see, it’s changed quite a lot. At conventions it looks a bit different, but I think it still gets the point of this article across.


Guy in a green power ranger cosplay


Angry Artist Alley: My Art is worth TOO MUCH!


This is a topic I don’t have any proof except for walking around and buying peoples’ art every year, and mass amounts of artists agreeing on it and telling me their stories. I don’t really talk about it straight to an artist unless I feel REALLY confident about it. I know it pisses some people off, but I just want to speak my mind. Well, since I’ve already made this series and few have denied the problem, I want to warn you that this article may offend innocent pure-hearted people who do art solely because they love it. Mines was once very pure. After trying to live as a freelance illustrator, my eyes on these subjects have definitely changed. Still happy and proud about it, but have seen the dark side of business as well.

Brace yourselves, this is a LONG article. 

It’s quite obvious with the economy these days, things are getting more expensive, and people are trying to earn more money to catch up with that. Heck, even artist alley table costs have risen.  But you know, people are used to paying a specific price for this stuff. But why should you work MORE to get paid LESS? America sucks that way. Just consider minimum wage here. Doesn’t mean you need to completely bow your head down even further than the rest of the people.

Even though my work improves every year, I earn less as well. I manage better artwork, way better quality stuff from many years before. But why earn less every year for the past four years? Hard to believe, but prices for work have dropped significantly year after year. Materials cost more, but we still sell the same. Consumers may just be consumers, but I still have dignity for my own artwork. There are more people at cons every year, how come you’re not earning as much?

It could be that people want to spend less money, or think your work is overpriced. Or maybe you think your work isn’t worth that amount of money, and that you should charge less because of it.

Here’s some factors regarding this issue:

1. When faced with two pieces of art, the consumer usually go towards the one that costs less–face it, the cheaper it is, the more you want to point your eyes to it even if the art isn’t as cool. As long as it has that chibi fanart, yes? Most consumers (especially at anime conventions) mostly buy things as cheap gifts or because they like the character, not really because of the skill and effort you stick into it.  No guarantee the one you spent so long making would sell at all. When they see the cheaper price, then they go for it. That is usually why artists at conventions can get away with more cash selling things for cheaper (although have to work harder and longer for it). The factor is price.

2. The one that has significantly “cooler” art- “Cooler” does NOT mean that the artwork looks better or had some skill and effort put into it. What I mean by that is that the consumer usually looks it in another way and considers it cool. They don’t see that I spent and entire week hand inking and coloring a 14×17 piece of marker, all they see is the character on the page. Say…if you had a print of Kirito that the artist spent 10 minutes on, and a print of kirito you spent one week on, they don’t see the time you spent on it. They’re not paying attention to the effort, they are looking for the result. The factor could be fanservice.

3. The content is popular. When you’ve got work involving a character you know and like, you’d point more towards this. When the art is some sort of parody or joke, people think that’s interesting. For this specific reason, this is why original art doesn’t sell as well as fanart. I’m not saying you won’t make sales, I’m saying that you could make more selling fanart. Sad, but true. The factor is popularity.

Flashback to the Past:

About 8 years ago, commissions and prints were more expensive than nowadays…which I believe this system is really messed up–even in this economy, a large part of our income comes from these things (especially comic artists). At anime conventions, most 8.5 x 11 prints were about $10 and up (I know some of you are shocked right now). And it would be normal to get an 11×17 for $20. Buttons were your usual $1, and so on. Walking around conventions in the past year, I can see prices have DROPPED. 8.5 x 11 prints are selling around the average of $3-5, and I’ve seen 11×17 prints sell at $6-10. I’ve seen buttons cost 50 cents. And etc. I’m not saying every convention is like this, but it does happen more often than it used to.

What happened? How did it happen?

I am not pointing names, because I know for a fact that I’ve met a TON of people who have experienced or did it before (hell I did it a few times)–a never ending struggle of trying to keep up with pricing compared to other extreme tables. When one table decides to sell something significantly less, the competition balance changes. The rest of the tables need to catch up with that one table by LOWERING all their prices. But what if another table decides to sell the same thing even cheaper after everyone else lowers it? The fact that a lot of artists draw the same fanart from the same series makes it even thougher. I’m not talking about if their art was a masterpiece or not, I’m just saying that the struggle hits all of us, no matter where you are on the food chain.


I graduated in the California College of the Arts in Illustration. I learned the financial difficulties as an illustrator, and through the life of real comic artists that have to maintain their own business as well. Freelancing is a very difficult thing, and some of us whip out our own calculator and calculate cost, time, supplies, etc for every thing we do. Stephen Silver says it like a boss, but I hope this makes sense when I say it. Check out all of his videos about living as a real artist.

1. Time is money: Just because you spent six hours on it doesn’t mean you spent six hours working on it. It means you spent six hours drawing it/making it, and what may have been a lifetime of training to do it, PLUS the time it took for you to get the materials as well. Remember, the consumer does NOT know how much time and effort it took for you to do your work (unless they ask). Therefore, you do not have to undersell because you spent less time on something. The people who DO pay attention to that are usually artists, and they respect you. But consumers are not all artists.

2. Your stuff doesn’t cost the amount of money you spent buying the supplies. It costs more. WAY more. You spent time, blood, and money to work on a piece, it doesn’t mean you should just bow down to your sellers and give them the bare minimum of cash needed to pay for your table and supplies. If that was the case, you could manage your time better by NOT buying a table, and spread 300dpi printable versions of your artwork for free everywhere. In fact, if all you wanted to do was pay back for your table, wouldn’t the wiser thing be to just not buy the table in the first place?

3. Selling something cheaper vs. selling something more expensive: The concept is that you can sell 10 buttons for $10, or 1 print for $10. Or you could sell 2 prints for $5. Each one of these products you spent time at home making separate versions of it. What are the odds of all of them? You can sell things for cheaper and they sell, but you’d need to sell more to make up for something that someone might buy for more. Think about this concept. You can take advantage of this by spending less time and effort on something and selling it more (although I do lose respect for some people who do this). It can also be your downfall.

4. We’re All In This Together: Selling for profit may be a battlefield in artist alley, but one thing you may not know is that we’re all supporting each other too. When you break the balance of selling something super duper cheap, how the hell do you think the rest of our tables are going to support ourselves? So please, by having everyone keep a somewhat consistent price on their work, we’re able to maintain a balance of profit for everyone.

 *note: if you don’t know where I got that term from, it was from a hilarious comic by e1n:

Fact of the matter is: This took me a bit of understanding. If you walked into a gallery (or even art museum), you will find that prints that are about 8.5″x11″/11″x17″ is at a regular price of about $25-$75 each, sometimes with a backing board and mat. Heck, I once sold two prints at a gallery, for $60 each. Even if the gallery sometimes takes a 40% cut from it, that is still completely normal–cut or no cut in a gallery. Is it a rip off? No, people just find more worth in your art there compared to other places. But at a convention, it’s absurd to have it over $15.

5. I’m just a beginner: For those who have this mentality, you may be thinking a bit too low of yourself. You already had the courage and money to get a table, why are you doubting yourself? Do you think the consumers would really know that if they look at your art? Do they know if you went to art school or that you have been practicing only a year ago? Stand up for yourself. You’re this far ahead, you bought a table, you’re a novice, but you can’t look at yourself as being lower than everyone else who has had a table. You are a confident artist who just started sitting behind artist alley. You are no a kid who is trying to tell the whole world that you THINK you suck. This entire blog is so your mind isn’t set on this problem. Don’t charge significantly less because of this idea. Be proud, stand up straight, and know that every artist in artist alley started out just like you, and look at them now–everyone is a role model for you. 

Personal Opinion Blurb: I never buy a commission that’s under $20. On a personal level, I feel anyone charging under that is doubting their skills. It takes a lot of courage to finally feel that your work isn’t worth a Subway sandwich, but instead a nice dinner at a sushi restaurant. I’m not a big supporter of $1 commissions, it just doesn’t feel ‘worth it’ for me.

6. It’s just an experiment to see if people buy it: So you made something brand new, and want to see if people buy it, so you charge less for it. Kiddo, nice thinking, but nope. If you do that, then people will think that it will normally cost that price. What I mean is that people might just be buying your ‘experiment’ just because it’s cheaper, not because they’ve fallen in love with it.  Of course I’ll buy a cute little origami pin for 10 cents! But not if it’s 25 cents, because I thought it was normally 10 cents last convention. If you really want to test out this experiment, price it normally. And if no one buys it, figure out why, and either fix it or lower it a little then. But not your first try.

Pacific Rim

This is a Pacific Rim fanart print. The original was a marker and ink piece with just a hint of white ink. It is 14×17 inch total (you heard me right). I spent approximately three days straight(from 7:30am to 11pm with food break), had to cool my hand down from arm stress, and another day. I made prints of it. How much do you think that print would be worth, personally? How much do you think the original costs? And lastly, how much do you think it was sold at for a convention? 

[EDIT (added May 16)]7. But they buy my stuff anyways: If this is what you’re thinking, you’re missing the entire point of this article. So you’re making a profit selling it? Congrats, but how much more did you need to print and how much more time did you need to work to get that far? Metaphorically speaking, it is faster to scrub the floor clean with a towel than it is with a toothbrush.
If you feel it’s unfair to print your drawings and charge ten dollars if the printing cost $1.50, consider that the burger you ordered at the joint cost about the same to make, but they charge you ten dollars too. Craftsmanship, time, service, and many other things are put into the materials as well.

[EDIT (added May 16)]–8. I just want to be showered with compliments, I love it!Don’t we all? But let me tell you a secret: THEY WILL COMPLIMENT YOUR ARTWORK REGARDLESS OF THE PRICE TAG. Whether or not someone would actually buy that kickass piece of art, that’s not up to me, you, or anyone else but that person. In my honest opinion, I feel happier when a customer says ‘oh wow, I love your work!’ instead of ‘oh wow, it’s so cheap!’, even if the person walks away from my table after saying one or the other.

What should we do?
Just price your work wisely. One thing I’d like to add is to stop lowering your prices lower and lower..and lower. It’s getting way out of hand at the past few times I’ve walked by these things. When one person sees work that’s significantly cheaper than the rest of ours, it sometimes makes us look like we’re the ‘bad guys’. None of us are the bad guys here, but it does drag us ALL down a lot. Like I said, if you spent money on a table to sell your work, and selling your stuff at almost the bare minimum, it’s like you don’t even know what the purpose of ‘buying an artist alley table to sell your artwork’ means whatsoever. Why should we have to work till 3am on a project knowing that selling it would only give you the chance of earning ten bucks? Trust me, if you want exposure, give it out for free to people walking buy, they’ll love it. If you need money to pay for something you really dream to have, please help everyone out at artist alley. Many of us sitting behind artist alley have goals we want to achieve which is why we sit behind the tables selling our art. Let’s work together!

Well, how much should I price them?
Unfortunately, this is an age old question that even I cannot comprehend. All I can say is to look around the tables, see how much they price them, and that should be your estimate. And never make your price lower than the lowest price of anyone’s work at the convention. That will just build to the already existing fire for the future. Keep it uniform, and it will help everyone. You can make it the same as the lowest price if you want, or you can choose the most popular/average price range, but never under the cheapest price at conventions.

[EDIT (added June 17)]
People are complaining my work is TOO expensive!
I’m going to assume a few things. I am assuming the person thinks their art is ‘better’ than your work, and envy the fact that you’re making money off of what they think is more inferior. And I’m assuming the person who has the ‘expensive’ art is making some amount of profit on it. And they want you to lower your price because of that. Or maybe you’re the one thinking that to someone else. Here’s the much more positive way of thinking–instead of telling someone to LOWER their prices because their work isn’t as good as yours (or so they claim) and they make money, and you could do better, why not RAISE your own prices and see what happens?  Problem solved, everyone is happy. Yea?

This is an excerpt I wrote when I responded to a facebook post about artist alley, about overpricing vs. underpricing:

“Let me give you an example/explanation about peoples’ expectations regarding underpricing and overpricing, based on real life experiences:

Say you have a commission, and you charge it $20 and profit from it. Then people are complaining it’s ‘too high’ for that quality of work, implying their work is superior. If they’re complaining about me making that much money off of drawn commissions, why don’t they just higher their commission prices if they think their work ‘is better’ and make a more reasonable price for their time?

But imagine me underpricing my work. People would complain that I don’t value my work, I have to work longer and harder to get a profit, and I’m pretty much doing more harm for myself than good. People may have to make the choice of lowering their prices just so they can match this one person’s ridiculously cheap prices. AND the customers who have seen this one person who underpriced their work would also consider everyone else’s prices a ‘ripoff’, and have lower standards.”

If you would like to flame me about this, don’t. This whole article represents my own opinion, and I do not plan to change sides. And nor will you, if you want to argue with me about this. It won’t solve anything. If you want to speak your opinion, do it at a facebook group, where you’ll get multiple opinions from multiple people. However, if you want something clarified, I bet I have some sort of life story/experience that goes along with any of these topics I listed. 


ANGRY ARTIST ALLEY: This is NOT an angry artist alley.


I would not consider this an ‘Angry Artist Alley’ thing unless there is a reason for it. And that is that on Saturday I went to a convention called CogsCon. And I’ll tell you this convention did a lot of great things. Maybe they read my blog? :P

Cogscon was incredibly small in Sunnyvale, California, taking place in the Cogswell College. I don’t care if this was honestly one of the conventions I’ve ever been to with the worst business (PLUS this is the second time I hit the red zone), but I will give my regards and respect to this convention because I know the reason was NOT in the customers and it was more like there wasn’t ENOUGH of them. If you go to a convention like this and stay smiling and happy all the way till you get home, then you know the entire adventure was worth it. In fact, I was much happier at the end of the day. So here’s a list of things that seriously made this day worth it:

note: I am not exaggerating a single piece of information here. 

1) When I walked to the building,  they immediately greeted my friend and I. In fact, the moment I said my name they knew I was an artist and walked me to the direction of the room. There was blue tape on the floor, and all we had to do is follow it.

2) The moment I got to the room, another person greeted us and walked both of us to the tables! We saw two bags on the thing, PLUS a small nametag with our names just to make sure.

3) In the bag, we saw a bunch of cute goodies. What really opened my eyes was that THERE WAS A BOTTLE OF WATER. Okay, the moment I saw it, I just knew the staff already deserve a lot of love and respect to be so thoughtful. Why a bottle of water? Because when you get dehydrated from talking, you drink water. So this was the WIN of the day, pluuuuus……

4) Another guy in a very beautiful Link cosplay with a sword on his back said if we needed anyone to guard the table if we needed to get food or use the bathroom, he would help us out. WOW, now that’s some seriously thoughtful staff here.

5) During table setup, I was approached twice. One one stop, they asked me if everything was good, and I said yes. And another stop, one person asked if I needed help with setup. Did they do it with my table only? Nope. They approached every table and asked, even if their table was set up, just to make sure.

6) I made a slight complaint to my friend Laurel about being hungry, and guess what? They directed me to the ‘staff room’ where I could get some chips if I wanted (for free). When I walked in, there was indeed two boxes of small chips, AND waterbottles. There was staff there, and I asked if I could get two bags because I was really starving. They didn’t mind.

7) During lunch, they provided free pizza. You do not talk down on a convention that provides free food. This is the second time ever that’s happened to me. But wait, there was even a vegetarian one just in case there too! Of course I got the one with some sausage on it too, coz I love that stuff on my pizza. And another bag of chips.

8) Nice bathrooms. Although in the end of the day two stalls really DID run out of toilet paper (HA! I TOLD YOU!) Actually the other stalls had toilet paper too, so that’s cool. That’s the wonderful thing about college conventions–there’s more than one bathroom place you can go to.

9) Staff walked at my table again to make sure I was okay (remember, this is about 2pm, which means they’ve been doing a routine check just in case).

10) PHOTOGRAPHERS: Of course, I made an article a while ago about photographing without permission. Indeed there were a few, but you see, these people were incredibly thoughtful after a ten second talk with them. One guy was photographing for the school press/website, and after I gave him my short lecture, every single time he walked by my table for a photo, he would ask one more time. This was very thoughtful of him. Another girl accidentally took a photo of one of my friend’s work. She gave her short ten second speech, and even before she could finish, the photographer understood, nodded her head and deleted the photo right in front of her and apologized. Very respectable young lady.

11) After the masquerade that took place (It is a small convention so it was in the same room), the music was slightly louder. I told the staff, and in less than five seconds the music was down and they asked if it was okay. Indeed, I was finally able to hear the staff from my table, and I thanked them.

12) Customers were really nice and polite. No idiots, and even the kids were really thoughtful. I had a comic called Detergent with an ‘Adults Only’ sign on it, no one picked it up and read it without my permission. YUP. I didn’t have a sign that said ‘DO NOT TOUCH BUTTONS’ and people asked before they touched. Amazing.

13) The staff literally had bright orange shirts (not just badges on their thing). You can immediately see who is staff without reading their badges on the other side of their body or looking for a hidden black earpiece on their head. If you had a question, they had an answer, and if they didn’t have an answer, they would IMMEDIATELY find the guy in charge to answer that question. I think the head guy approached me three or four times for my concerns too! All the shirts were purposely noted with a word that describes them. I love the volunteer staff that had shirts that said ‘Minion’ on them, it was so cute. I personally think of them more as knights and bishops in a chess game :3

14) Artist Alley was in the same room as Dealer’s Hall, and some promotion for games.

15) Although I didn’t need it, THERE WAS LOTS OF PARKING. And it was free too.

So business wise, I did very poorly, but I know it was NOT because of the convention, the staff, the customers, or even me (or was it?). Like I said, I walked out of this convention happier than I did walking in it, and it was NOT because of business. I will definitely come again to this convention. Because it was truly a happy experience for me. And that’s what a great convention should be. They asked for an art donation and I gave them some old prints. But if they asked me again, this time I would be prepared and would literally work on a marker piece of a dragon tamer and their dragon if they wanted one, just for donation to this convention.

Recommendation for Cogscon? It’s small; in fact it’s the second time ever. But you know what? This is a place that has potential and deserves to be FAR LARGER than what it is now. Given another chance, I will definitely go and drag as many people there as I can. Because it’s places like these where I want to sell for the enjoyment of the atmosphere, and not always concerning about my business while at the same time sitting behind the table.


Featuring me (left) and Ratgirl Productions (right, and omg SHE MADE THAT THING HERSELF!)

This is NOT an angry artist alley :P


What is an “OCT” ? Welcome to…EnterVOID.


“OC” stands for an ‘Original Character’

The term is meant for a character that you create–appearance, personality, abilities, even a back story. Although this may sound like Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s pretty much like that, it is commonly used in artwork too. For some artists, it’s very convenient to use the same character over and over in different images, with different scenery. Some people use it for role playing rpgs, and some for actual games.  And some people use them for drawing comics. Which leads to the question:

“What is an OCT?”

OCT stands for Original Character Tournament. It has been around for quite a while through comic artists who show their work online. Artists would create a special OC that fits the theme of this ‘tournament’, hosted by people on the internet. They are paired off with another artist online who has created an OC for the event (or sometimes they get to choose), and they ‘battle it off”. What that means is that they are given a limited amount of time to create a comic with both characters conflicting each other, like a battle, or a situation that both characters must overcome. They are usually given a week to a month to work on this. When the time limit is up, both artists must turn in their submission (the comic they drew with their OCs). It is judged by the panel or the public that is involved in the tournament, and the winner goes to the second round. This process continues until there is only one artist left in the tournament–the winner.


A few months ago, I joined a group that does something very similar. EnterVoid is a group of comic artists, made by comic artists. The site is In this site, you create your own OC and then challenge other artists’ OCs into a ‘battle’ with a time constraint. Winners are chosen through votes by other artists, and heavy criticism is encouraged, so artists can improve for the next challenge. Since I wanted to work towards the comic world, I joined to learn more efficient ways to improve my composition and typography skills for comics. Well I improved on more than just that. Anyhow, just to give you a taste:

The Process of an OCT  (and what I did on EnterVoid):

1) You’re often given a theme to create an original character. A samurai, a piece of food (yea actually there is one like this), a fantasy fighter, etc. Here, you will brainstorm an idea, and create a character. In EnterVoid, you are allowed to make ANYTHING you want, as long as it’s accepted by the staff of EnterVoid.

For my character, I created Florence Ailey, a young teenager who came from the elite ‘Bunny Assassin Academy’, which trained kids at a young age to become assassins. He left the academy after killing everyone, but only after he saw his best friend die in battle. Mentally, he feels very attached to his friend, often thinking she’s right beside him. I wanted to create a happy character with a dark past, but at the same time all it doesn’t sound serious whatsoever, which is why I chose pink bunnies as his theme.  (more info here)

2) Your character is accepted into the tournament. Sometimes they are rejected for poor story, inappropriate work, infringement, etc. In EnterVoid, you must submit a 2-4 page introduction comic as well as a color character design sheet. This ensures that you’re actually serious.

3) Then you are paired off with someone else for a ‘battle’ in the beginning. Sometimes chosen on random, sometimes by your previous rank on another OCT, sometimes by skill, etc. Fortunately, on EnterVoid, you have the choice of challenging another artist for a battle, or rejecting a challenge that someone has for you. Also, you can choose the time constraint, from one week to four. 

 (click for the actual comic)

4) During the time your challenge has accepted, you must draw your comic before the deadline. Even if it’s unfinished, you still turn in what you got (so people can at least see you were working on something). Remember, you’re not creating an entire BOOK or series, you’re just making a comic. It could be one page, five pages, ten pages, and if you’re nuts, 20+ pages. But there’s almost never a limit to how many you can make. Sometimes there is a limit to how FEW pages you can do though.

5)After you turn in your comic,  it is then voted by staff, voted by selected artists, or voted by the mass public. Whichever way it’s voted, winner is always determined by majority vote from a ‘point’ system (given points to story/art), selected member discussion (when a small group of people talk about the comics in private and decide the winner), or majority vote from public. Whichever way it is, winner will rank up the tournament. In EnterVoid, there is a deeper ranking system of productivity, skill, amounts of challenges, and wins, all calculated together, which means just because you suck at drawing you won’t be dead last in the ranking system. 

(click for the actual comic)

In the end, if you win or lose the tournament, you should feel really proud of yourself for even accomplishing such a task. Well, I do. And I know I’ve learned a lot in the past few months here on EnterVoid. I’ve only made three comics here (on my fourth one actually, and deadline is Wednesday). I can say that even though it’s only been a few months, I’ve improved a lot, with an environment that feels more encouraging than competitive about drawing.



When Flowers Bloom (in tea, that is)


I just want to say a while ago I had a project to help out at a website, but it was scratched out in the middle of production. However, I decided to use my little ‘lighting kit’ which basically consisted of a white box and a piece of cloth underneath, and wait early in the morning to film this. I had a friend, Edward Ballar do the music with his ukulele, and this film has absolutely no color correction or speed editing on a program–all realtime.

This was a personal ‘film project’ with my camera, as well as a little advertisement for the tea shop, and if anyone is interested you can find out more here:

I will note it has incredibly high stars and ratings on the site, conveniently located near Powell Bart Station, the quality is superb, and cost is by far cheaper than anywhere in Chinatown. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift, check out Lang’s Tea!

Please check out:

Youtube version:

If you can, please ‘Like’, and ‘share’ everywhere, thanks!

To purchase, this is the address:

429 Stockton St
(between Sutter St & Bush St)
San Francisco, CA 94108


Alternative Press Expo Part 2: Comic Creator’s Connection


This will be a three part blog entry, each highlighting a different topic. This one focuses on the  Comic Creator’s Connection event.


So, what exactly is “Comic Creator’s Connection?”

CCC is an event in the San Francisco’s Alternative Press Expo; it’s like speed dating for individual artist and scriptwriters looking for a collaboration. You get 5 minutes with a different person to talk to. Every five minutes you switch. If you’re an artist, you get to talk to about 10-20 scripters. If you’re a scripter, then you get to talk to 10-20 artists. That’s the gist. Give em your business card, a sample piece of art/script, etc as a memoir.

Above: On Sunday, it was much quieter than Saturday. I’m glad I bought a two day pass because the people who were in charge of this let us do it on both days :3

I shouldn’t be surprised, but when I was at the tables the gender difference was overwhelming. I believe on Saturday there were only three females sitting behind the artist side of the tables (me included).

My three main reasons as why I went in the first place:

1)see what people are interested in (get to know the trend)

2) it was free, and hoping one out of those few might actually be paying (need some pocket money)

3) find out how to throw my pitch (learn to socialize about the topic)

SO. Here are the CONS of CCC:

NOISY: I can’t just single handedly blame this on the group of people across from our table doing a demonstration, nor can I blame it entirely on the floor below us at the artist alley. We were also trying to talk over each other’s voices across our tables too.

WATER: After about three talks I needed to drink water constantly. Even had to refill the bottle at one point. My throat hurt so much after that thing. Next time I do this I should bring a gallon of water.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR PITCH?: I am not going to name anyone in general since there were more than just a few, but CCC was most likely meant for more serious people who have already stuck to an idea for a script. I wish APE would have mentioned this a little more on the site or something, because I know some people walked in with nothing but an idea for work on the top of their head. Or a synopsis of an idea on a piece of paper and no script. Even artists with no work is not a good idea. Actually the guy who sat next to me on Saturday just decided to bump in to check out CCC, but at least he was smart enough to hook his work up to his smartphone and show it like that.

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH: I am an ass here, but some people just talked too much about their idea without me being able to say much about my own interests. It wasn’t that ‘I wish I had more time to talk to you about this’ it was more like ‘okay can I PLEASE talk to you right now about this?’ But still, all of us tried to be considerate, and seeing as we only had five minutes, I needed to quickly interrupt a few people just to make sure we’re both on the same track.

WHERE IS YOUR CONTACT?: Okay, I’m very sure APE specifically said to ‘bring your contact information with a sample of your work’. I don’t know how much more concise that can be. For anyone who has ever written any contact on a piece of scrap paper, I’m going to tell you it’s probably in the paper recycle trash bin in my room. BUT if anyone who was smart enough to pick up a piece of paper on the main table (that said APE COMIC CREATORS CONNECTION) for artists/scripter contacts to write on, then I’ll take a peek.

ONE PIECE OF PAPER: Just to point it out to anyone who works at APE–I think only five of us or something followed this rule. The script writers usually stapled several pages, but some gave me a few papers that weren’t serialized so it got confusing whose scripts were whose in the end. For me I used a single piece of paper–I made a tri-fold brochure with a business card inserted. BOO YAH suckas.  But still, APE people are right to tell people to limit their samples, and I think this was incredibly mis-interpreted on the site.

I PLAN TO MAKE IT THIS LONG: Wishful thinking can be nice, yes, but wishful thinking without even knowing what your proposal is…that’s another thing. It’s great to think your idea is going to go somewhere, but as an artist one of the things I learned was ‘don’t get your hopes up’. Some proposals could be a year long. Some longer. Some a month. But as I’ve noticed, many people here scripted movies instead of comics (just reading their scripts with a glance to tell you if they knew what they were doing or not). They aren’t quite aware of the time, effort, and planning it takes to make a single page. Many scripters had a full plan as to how long their comic is (with a synopsis), but their ‘guess’ on how long it would be on a comic is very, very, very off.

Above: Another person checking out my portfolio. Imagine more than 15 people checking out that binder for the whole day, giving your a pass/fail chance to collaborate with a project. Nervous, anyone? I know I wasn’t the only one. 

AND. Here are the PROS of CCC:

I DON’T KNOW YOU: Awesome. Many strangers to talk to, friends to make, people you may never ever see again in your life. Some you’ll meet on the internet again. If I hated you and I hated your work, it’s completely O-K because it’s likely you won’t remember me ever again in your life. Or will you? *gulp* But being serious again, everyone was at a different level and we all respected each other for that (well, for me and my tablemates, yes)

WAIT, SO YOU DRAW AND SCRIPT?: Yes, there are people who are capable of both, and more. Congrats. I was kind of amused when people asked me if I wrote the stories that I drew in my portfolio. And of course, I saw some ideas tossed around in CCC and I thought ‘hey man this guy should just draw the comic himself–his art looks totally rad!’ Some of us conversed on being both artist and scripters…stuff like that.

IT’S NOT TWILIGHT: Lol i just had to make that phrase. From my memory, I don’t think I heard a single story about vampires, and only a few about romance. Well, not sure if it’s a pro, and I’m spoiling something, but there was a lot of  pitches about zombies and post apocalypse…..and post apocalypse zombies.  Haha, let’s see what next year’s comics cough out XD

HI, WE MET AT CCC: Well, I guess CCC is pretty fun, efficient, and I finally met someone who wants to collaborate. Congratulations on those who emailed me, but I was overwhelmed with the emails and now I have to sort it out. Thank you all whom I’ve talked to at the con–scripters and artists alike, I’ve learned a lot reading/looking/talking with all of you, and it was a great experience. I’m sure we’ve all made friends here. Even if none of us hooked up.

I LOVE THAT TOO!: Seriously, I found TWO other people who loved Tsutomu Nihei, and I was totally psyched! I wish I had the contact with the guy I sat next to on Saturday, he was soo cool since he was the first ever person who liked BLAME! as much as I did. And lol I’m so glad I added those simple doodles of the Darkstalker chicks in the back of my brochure. Seems like a LOT of people love Darkstalkers :D

And to EVERYONE who went to Comic Creators Connection, the best PRO of it all was….

You were all a brave soldier to be here.

You (and I) were all brave souls to sit in front of people whom you’ve never seen or met before. We put our game faces on, tried to impress the other person who was trying to impress us in five minutes. [Almost] all of us were noobies who have never done this in our life before. We all learned something from it, it was a two hour gamble in APE to find someone…someone in this world that might have similar interests as you. If you found someone, good. If not, now you know that this event….is just the beginning.

Above: At the end of the event, all of us were pooped.



Alternative Press Expo Part 1: Overall


This will be a three part blog entry, each highlighting a different topic. This one focuses on the over pros and cons of the event.


So I went to Alternative Press Expo this weekend. Glad I didn’t get a seizure from over excitement. And I kind of regret not shoving my hand into all the ‘free candy’ bowls. Still, incredibly experience as always. Lots of more serious artists than other places. I barely bought a thing on Saturday, and barely spent much on Sunday. One reason is because I already had a lot of things that were sold from last year. Second is that I haven’t really had much of a chance to save any money. Third is that quite some people I wanted to see….weren’t there :(

above: ARCH Supplies was one of the incredibly few merchandise tables that didn’t sell comics. I didn’t even see that sign that said ‘ARCH’ on it when I ran to the table, and the guy was like ‘HEY!’ I had that usual blank face when I was staring at him for a minute. It took me a bit to realize it, but wow even the art store guy recognized me!

Things that happened:

  • meeting/seeing people I know: Walking down every row at APE, someone would make eye contact and wave, or tap me on the shoulder and say ‘HI!’ Soooo many people were from CCA (California College of the Arts). Classmates, teachers/faculty. In fact, I don’t think I knew half their names, and I think I’ve never seen a few in my life. I have this really funny feeling that the MFA comics department knows who the hell I am after the Phil Jimenez show.
  • Classmates with tables: Stuff to buy, stuff my classmates were selling. I feel a bit guilty for not just lavishly spending money on my classmate’s stuff, but I call that ‘pity buying’, where I buy things I don’t seriously seriously want from someone I know so they can make profit.  Maybe something minuscule, but nothing big. I mean it always cheers me up when someone buys my stuff, but it also disappoints me that they end up never being hung on the wall and often stuck in some dark corner or tossed. I sound really harsh, but with more than half my room covered in OTHER people’s’ work, I think I know when to stop doing that, and that I’m sure my CCA buddies understand the other way as well.
  • People look at my work: This year was a bit more supportive than last year. I’m glad I wasn’t completely rejected by a guy who already saw my art half a year ago. I do this to every comic convention–not to just flaunt my work (there are many with better portfolio), but to see if groups are interested, have commercial media companies tell me what they like in my work, what to focus on, and what direction might be good to head to, and make sure my improvement is constant. My work may have started in one direction last year when someone at APE told me to ‘work on backgrounds’, and so I started improving, and now that led me to a better understanding about how to ink them in pencil drawings.
  • Comic Creator’s Connection: Very interesting event. Kind of like speed dating with script writers. I’ll have a blog entry about this soon. Let’s just say that it came out incredibly positive.

NOW, let’s start with the cons, at this con (get the joke?)

  • Biggest issue I had was THE NOISE. Hoo boy it was so loud that  many times I’d literally be shouting at the other person’s ear or repeat over and over to say what I’m trying to say. It was freakin insane. Even upstairs when I was doing the Comic Creator’s Connection event, it was still just as loud, PLUS all the talking across from us with the lecture/event.
  • Not enough time. Usually conventions start at least 10am for artist alleys. I had Comic Creator’s Connection, and that already killed two hours.
  • “Walls”: For anyone whose table was set up on the sides of the building or along the bars, you are one fortunate motherf*cker. That is very rare, but because you guys all had that, it was SO much easier to see what people were selling instead of staring at the table. I feel very uncomfortable making eye contact with artists, and by pretending like you’re staring at the wall, it’s much easier for me to concentrate on whether I should buy it, instead of that crazy guilt I feel when I see the artist’s near-crying eyes begging me to buy something, or have them say ‘HEY CHECK OUT MY SWAG’
  • Stupid name tags are too delicate. Even before the day ended my tag fell off its necklace thing, and I literally had to shove a new hole through it with a pen and stick it through again. That is bullshit. But at least they are saving that extra plastic. However, next time they do this, they should have those donut-shaped stickers  you stick on line paper when it rips.
  • No bags upon registration: I mean…it’s not a HUGE deal for me anymore because I know it’s San Francisco and I knew there wouldn’t be much about plastic bags when you registered for APE, but I think they should have noted that on the site earlier, just in case.
  • Anime Destiny and New York Comic Con were on the same weekend as well.
  • That map they provided was INTENSE. I had no idea how to read that thing!
above: Fuji Dreskin (red hair) sitting behind table. Seeing as tables costed so much, I hope everyone who had a table at least broke even :(

And now for things I liked:

  • The registration took less than a minute, even when Laurel and I were a bit late.
  • The tickets were quite affordable for two days
  • Advertisement: Okay you’re probably thinking this is the most goddamn annoying part of cons–all those extra postcards and papers you’re never gonna read that they put in your bags at cons. Well, they didn’t have any bags, and they laid everything on two tables. So you could CHOOSE what ads you wanted to keep. I looked for ones that were offering opportunities/publishing/printing….things I might be able to take advantage of. Very nice. However, Sunday the table was a shit pile because people just tossed them everywhere.
  • People and artists: As always, there were plenty. And for the record, there may have been a LOT of people, but I’ve seen way more hectic ones before. If I can super-walk-dodge across a row with a bag in each hand without bouncing into anyone on Saturday, I will say it wasn’t too crazy.
  • Toilet paper in the stalls, and water in the water fountains

above: Tone Rodriguez actually caught me when he said ‘didn’t I see this portfolio before?’ Damn. Well, at least this entire portfolio was full of comics and not my usual cg drawings), so he read my stuff. WHEW. But then comparing what he saw at Big WOW and now, I’m improving, at least. Even I get aggravated if the same person hands me the same drawings and ask what I should improve on, so I completely understand. 

Overall, loved the thing. Even if I said there were a lot of cons, the fact that there were so many serious artists who were here makes it way better.


CCA Lecture: Phil Jimenez


I recently went to a lecture at the California College of the Arts, with guest comic artist Phil Jimenez. oh boy.

The first half of the lecture was just Q&A with that guy sitting next to him (the second half was the audience asking questions). It was really great, because on the facebook website, we could post questions prior, so that when he was doing the Q&A, many of our questions were answered. I think I posted a lot of questions on that page. In fact…it felt like  half the Q&A part were my questions. Well, I got answers from an honest professional, which is great.

I mention honest, because he works in the profession as a job instead of a hobby (something illustrators understand a lot). Things he liked, things he didn’t, ideas…comments, I dunno. He didn’t try and dodge questions. Something that really blew my mind was his explanation of American superheroes vs. Japanese manga characters. I can’t quite quote it exactly, but here’s the idea summed up:

‘American Superheroes aren’t represented to have so many flaws. instead, we see them as an icon–a theme. Some superheroes represent justice, while villains represent immorality. In Japanese manga, characters are related because they’re human–they are flawed, and therefore, we relate to them in a different way. In American comics, the superheroes are themes–ethics, morality, capitalism, religion. They’re more like metaphors represented in the character; they’re not real. They are ‘represented ideas’, icons.’

Okay, that was just a bit of what he said. Since he worked for DC, I asked him about women in comics. I don’t think he answered it as a representer of DC, but an honest guy working in the superhero comic industry. Here’s roughly what I remember (and hopefully I’m not twisting any words):

……Okay, I really don’t remember very well what he said. >.>’ To sum it up, female artists are given the doubt of being a comic artist, when one should actually be respecting their skill to bring something new to the world. I do remember my ass being on the edge of the chair the more he talked about it though.

Well, that was most of it. In the end, I was able to get a photo of me and him. He’s awesome.

I think the head of the MFA Comics department knows who I am now (from all the question-posts for Phil Jimenez). Sadly, I don’t think I will ever be in the program. But I hope in the future, because of this program, there will be more guest comic artists in the industry of comics that aren’t indie experimental ones.





Okay, Spice It Up Cafe is actually a mini-donut AND CREPE foodtruck company, but hell I had so many mini donuts my tummy couldn’t eat any more to judge the crepes. But damn, it was so freakin worth it. I took the Fruitvale BART all the way to Union City, and walked all the way to the James Logan Highschool to go to a food truck. Yes, that is correct, food truck. It is no ordinary food truck–the entire truck is covered in cute anime-themed artwork, and they sell mini-donuts and crepes!

First, it smelled nice. But I wasn’t sure why all the “mini-donuts” were sold in boxes of 12. But because it was three dollars and fifty cents there, I bought a box. Of course, no one knew what the hell was coming out of that truck because it said ’12 donuts’, but when I got the box, I was sooo delighted!

 I apologize for the blurry photo. But here, you see tiny bite sized fresh deep fried donuts, with chocolate syrup on top. YUM! I told Alex, the chef, not to smother too much syrup on the donuts because of my sugar tolerance, but hell I wish I never told him that X3


Okay this was the point where I am going to go deep into some key points of what makes these things worth buying, and why:

 1)Ready Made vs. Fresh: I believe the cook themselves made the dough out of scratch, and damn it tastes good. Nice and fluffy, not too condensed, etc. How do I know they didn’t make them already? Because from what I saw, every single person who ordered there had to wait for the donuts to finish deep frying so they could receive them as hot crispy as possible. YES! Also, I tried their Strawberry flavor, and they even put cut strawberries in it :3

2)Package: Yes, they stick it in a box for you. Even give you a fork so you won’t be so messy, how thoughtful.

3) No oil residue: For tons of food like this, you can see oil dripping on the side of the box, and sometimes the box changes to a yellowish tint. Oddly, when I finished these things (not to mention I asked to refill more in the same box), none of that appeared on the box….at all. I give kudos to that dude for working the deep fryer draining the oil off of these babies. (below: emptied box after two servings of donuts. All that’s left is chocolate syrup and strawberry syrup from the other set of donuts)

4) Fills you up: There may be many factors to this, but I recall starving like crazy and got two boxes of these things, and being unable to eat dinner an hour after. I also got really thirsty, but I was also wearing a cardigan in a hot Union City day. I’d consider a box a nice small meal, but make sure to drink something to compliment it.

5) Bathroom break? A huge reason why I go to food trucks sparingly is that I often have to use the restroom a few hours later. This is the ‘bathroom test’–did I have serious digestive issues afterwards? NOPE. Yes, food is freakin sanitary here.

(left: You know he likes the donuts too)