Archives For writing

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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.

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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.

 

Free To Speak

March 17, 2017 — 3 Comments

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On a Friday morning I had a chance to go to the barbershop while I was out of town in Oklahoma City.

You know the experience especially if you’ve ever ventured into a predominantly black barbershop. Their’s that familiar sound of electric clippers humming in the background, boisterous conversations over the current affairs of the day and sometimes you get a hint of background noise from the TV or radio.

I normally don’t go to the barbershop, but this time, I had a chance to experience this very familiar moment once again. The discussion between the barbers and the people in the shop turned from who was the best quarterback in football to the president and the congress and finally to race and culture.

As I sat there, I quietly listened. It reminded me of the times I was a little boy. I would sit and listen to this adults go back and forth until they were blue in the face. But then it hit me…I am free to speak now! I actually have a voice! I am an adult with the privilege to share my views and analysis.

One gentlemen said a few things I both agreed and disagreed with. I listened intently to the man’s take on race, prejudice, life, women, politics and much more. My arms and legs were crossed and my eyes slowly wandered as to avoid staring.

As I was getting my haircut, I felt this deep, bottom of my stomach urge to speak up. I really, really, didn’t want too. Seriously, I didn’t!

I mean, what could I possibly contribute to this conversation? What would happen if I did say something? Who would care? Why would it matter? Who on earth needs to even hear it? I don’t have the background, experience or anything to back up what comes out?

The conversation was finally over! I realized I just about lost my opportunity to speak up. I felt like such a loser at that moment. A really deep part of me demanded to speak out and I kept silent.

But just as I was about to give up, the conversation started back up.

I added my two cents! A consensus was made with a very understandable group of men who heard what I had to say. In fact, they even demanded more depth from me, which I might add was pretty cool! Here I am, a young guy being asked to expand on my analysis in front of men who were several years older than me.

Deep down, this very real, masculine, powerful and vocal part of me wanted to speak out and I almost missed out.

Why!? Because we short change ourselves! We doubt if we really have what it takes. We doubt if we could make a difference. We sit back and allow things to unfold and cower in the back.

The experience at the barbershop moved me from being the boy who sat back and watched to a real man with real perspective and real insight.

19 and 32

So, for fun, I thought it would be kind of neat to write a short-story of me interacting with my 13-year-old self. Needless to say, I didn’t have too much trouble putting it together. 

Ken (age 32): Just wait till you get to be my age!

Ken(age 13):  You mean I actually survive till my 30’s?

Ken 32:  Of course you do! What makes you say that.

Ken 13:  You forget, I’m in middle school….in Dallas.

Ken 32:  Relax! It can’t be that bad.

Ken 13:  You DO have bad memory then. I’m  itchy…smelly…and constantly feel awkward.

Ken 32:  It’s called puberty! You’ll get pass it.

Ken 13:  That and the fact I didn’t shower today.

Ken 32:  HA! Gross.

Ken 13:  Well it’s not like it’s a habit. It’s been a long day. Anyway, do I grow up to be a Meteorologist or what!?

Ken 32:  Well, let me put it this way…..no.

Ken 13:  WHAT!?!?

Ken 32:  But you do get to work in media. And you’ll be a minister. Oh, and you’ll be a cartoonist.

Ken 13:  Hmm…well, gotta have a back-up! Wait, hold on….I’ve got so many questions.

Ken 32:  I bet…

Ken 13:  I preach!? And I actually create cartoons and stuff!?

Ken 32:  Yep

Ken 13:  I preach….and I’m a….

Ken 32:  A cartoonist…yes. And a writer… And you’re gonna do other media stuff. Oh, and you’ll get married in your early 30’s to an amazing women.

Ken 13:  WHAT!?!? How in the world did I go from THIS to THAT!?!?

Ken 32:  Jesus…a whole, whole, whole lot of Jesus. And you were faithful. You worked hard. You grew up. You matured. You changed. And you didn’t give up. You kept going.

Ken 13: (pauses and looks away) ……. So I actually become somebody.

Ken 32:  You already are. Just be yourself.

Ken 13:  I keep hearing that….but I hear ya.

(a pause between both)

Ken 13:  That means you know….uh….my deepest….personal thoughts….correct?

Ken 32:  Yep. But, don’t worry, you’ll get past that stuff too. Get prepared to see a counselor or two.

(13 year old self sighs)

Ken 13:  So I figured.

Ken 32:  Surprised!? Concerned?! Maybe anxious!?

Ken 13:  Actually, no…..now I’m curious. Looking forward to the future now.

Ken 32:  To the future!

Ken 13:  To the future!

(Ken 13 and Ken 32 pop open a can of Dr. Pepper at the same time)

 

 

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I have a confession to make! Sometimes, I get concerned about what I should or should not say or what I should and should not write.

So, sometimes I say nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh sure, I have my moments, but, for the longest time, I didn’t say or do anything on the grounds that it could cost me.

I could end up in a confrontation that I’m just not wanting to start.

I may make people who are “religious” angry and people who are not excited.

Or I could make “religious” people happy and people who are not very angry.

I could make the person of another political view happy and the other angry. And vice versa.

Or…people may think I’m weird and different or they may not like me.

WHO….CARES!!?

I have come to find out that not doing something that you have truly been called and purposed to do only to declare fear or worry is lacking faith. And, by the way, it robs other people of what you have to help them.

Playing it safe is something that I’m sure came from my childhood.

In the past, I was told certain stories I wrote were not good. I was told that the ministry I wanted to start using comics and cartoons would not work. I was told that adults didn’t watch cartoons or read comic books. I was told that writing wasn’t a reasonable profession.

I’m glad I ignored such ridiculous thoughts. It sounds like these individuals were actually afraid for their own lives and only wished to see me fail so their point can be proven.

I did my best to avoid getting into fights at school. I kept to my own world. I tried to keep the peace at all costs. But years later, I realized that being “nice” was not enough. It was never meant to be. I had to learn to grow out of playing it safe. I had to learn to take risks and…yes…step out on faith.

My challenge to us all is to take risks that open us up to a much larger story than the ones we try to craft on our own.