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Yesterday, I took time away from most things that busy my day (the blog, the social media, etc and etc), and really began to think about what I’m really, really passionate about as it relates to my career and calling in life … my work. Majority of that time was spent, quietly, in prayer, writing, reading and just taking time away from breaking news, social media and consistent busyness.

Over and over again, I could feel the pull of writing, cartooning and storytelling.

Journalism is merely a small piece of that reality. And yet, it is one that is so important to consider.

When I’m not busy with a barrage of news stories, interviewing, writing and editing, I’m often working on my sci-fi fictional writing, short stories, blogs, and my comic strips. As of late, I have not taken the time to actually work on those stories and have only recently began to get back to blogging. That’s my fault.

I was glad to be reminded … to just take time away and just get away from all of the noise of the world … and really hear what is tugging at my heart.

Each time, I’m reminded of my childhood. I’m reminded of my ongoing imagination playing storyline after storyline of ideas, characters, concepts and more. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I slip into that same thought pattern, coming up with stories and thinking about the plots of my current work more and more.

I do it so much, it feels like those characters in my middle-grade novels and comics I’m writing and creating are my kids. One, because a bit of myself is in each of them and then two, my wife said that they are my kids. And she’s right.

She then told me this:

“Finish your stories … if not for yourself … for me!” – Rachel Lyons

THAT motivates me. And Rachel is right!

 

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Message: Keep Creating

January 22, 2018

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On a cold, winter day, my wife and I ventured off to Northpark Mall in Dallas, Texas for an art event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King.

While there, I had the opportunity to share advice on the creative process and what it took to get my webcomic started:

Do Not Stop Creating

Keep creating the art that you create. Why!? Because, in this day and time, our lives depends on it.

So much is going on and people should express themselves and share their story through art and creativity.

Step Outside of Your Box of Influence

Learn and grow and do something different and challenging. Learn from other groups, other people and other cultures.

As you learn and grow, you’ll find your work influenced. But, also, you’ll find your work get better and better.

I could never have created the webcomic that tells the story of middle school students had I not worked in Youth Ministry or had I not worked around young people who are in the process of growing up.

Keep Telling Your Story

It is so important, now more than ever, to tell your story.

My story is of the kid who was “different” and struggled to fit in. But, I’m in a different place now and I’m a better person in spite of the struggles I’ve been through.

Telling your story could inspire and encourage someone else whose either hesitant or going through really deep and difficult challenges.

Remember Those Before Us

Because of Dr. King, we were able to share with one another and celebrate the freedom we have because of the fight for Civil Rights.

There are countless others throughout history that we should remember and recognize who have made a difference for the rights of women, minorities and people from various backgrounds.

I create what I create in an effort to exercise the appreciation I have for those who went before me. I create because I know I have a story to tell and I’m blessed to be able to do so. I create because I know someone else needs it.

It’s fun for me, but it may be therapeutic for someone else too.

 

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Lately, I’ve been watching, repetitively, a 20-year-old cartoon series that used to run on ABC Saturday Morning’s, “Nightmare Ned.”

Based off a video game, “Nightmare Ned” follows a bespectacled 10-year-old boy named Ned Needlemeyer whose nightmares are used to face his fears. Most times he comes out on top, but, other times his endings are not so good and he wakes up only to realize it was only a dream.

Finding this show was difficult, and I barely remember it being on the air. I was in middle school, 7th grade to be exact, when this show was on. I recall catching the intro and watching a clip or two. And no wonder, the show aired at 11am Central Time on our ABC affiliate here in Dallas. And usually around that time I was already out and about.

ned in a milk cow suit

The show is quite creative and brilliant in its own crazy way. After 20 years, the show still holds up.

I’ve also studied the art style and it has helped me grow my drawing skills. Hence, Ned in cow pajamas from the episode, “Abduction.” 

Ned is relatable, especially if you were the boy who grew up facing bullies, your own personal anxieties and parents who didn’t quite get where you were coming from in perspective.

Because of “Nightmare Ned,” I’m reminded why I write what I write and how my personal experiences from boyhood are able to properly translate. I’m also reminded of my time growing up, slipping in and out of constant daydreams and having an overactive imagination and even wild dreams and nightmares.

I am reminded how some things growing up were tough, but, how things were not always that way.

I’m reminded to be OKAY with the past and write for the future, the future of other Ned Needlemeyer’s and Kendall Lyons’ out there whose experiences growing up were a bit unorthodox.

I’ve found myself writing my characters in my comic strips and in my books in such a way that they are truly “kids!” They’ve become more real because I’ve been reminded of how important it is to get real but still be funny and creative at the same time.

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Joe “Crazy 8’s” and I did these sketches during one of our meetings at a coffee shop! 

When I first started drawing I was by myself for the most part. I would post some of my work online and I would create with hopes that I would get some kind of input or advice or compliment.

Sure, at one point I was a member on DeviantArt and then later I connected with others on social media like Twitter and Facebook. It helped quite a bit.

But, I wanted even more!

Then, Instagram came in to the mix and I was fortunate to team up with other cartoonists…one in person and one from Canada.

walter bill and crazy 8

On Instagram, I often connect with Joe, the creator of “Crazy 8s” and Dave from Canada, the creator of the Instagram comic called “Kid and Mouse.” 

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Joe and I have constantly meet up to discuss our passion for comic strips, discussing and analyzing the works of people like Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) and names that some might not know and independent artists.

I’ve learned a LOT from both Joe and Dave. We’ve done crossovers and collaborations together and they have shared their own tricks of the trade in comic strip creation. But, this couldn’t be if it wasn’t for the idea of connecting, networking and building a community.

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Characters from my webcomic, “By and By,” Walter Ayo and Ace Fox meet Bill and Carl!

When times get rough and we get a little down, Joe, Dave and I often will connect via the web and chat and encourage one another! This is a HUGE investment!

Every bit of that moment and time matters!

Every artist needs a community in which to connect and learn from. It’s not recommended to go it alone in a field or area of interest no matter what it is you’re studying or practicing. You need others to come alongside you and help you. You need people in which to grow with and learn and share with.

I’m fortunate that Joe and Dave are a part of that with me! And, I’m grateful for the other great cartoonists that I’ve connected with both independent and syndicated. And I’m looking forward to connecting with many more artists.