Friday, January 20, 2012

It's been like five months! Is Marginally Unhinged going away??

Yes, I know, it's been forever. The joys of relocating halfway around the world. I'm now settled in, and I'm getting caught up on work after almost three months of not being nearly as productive as I'd like to be.

Rest assured, my friends. There will be more Marginally Unhinged soooooooon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another update

I know, it's been a month or so since my last comic. I am once again up to my nose in work, plus I have the move back to the States coming up soon, so be patient with me. I have several ideas for new strips, and I have a new toy to help me draw them (digital pen instead of my touch pad).

Anyway. Hang tight, let me finish a few projects on the "must do" list. Then there will be all kinds of stick figure frivolity again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I Can Never Shock My Family Again.

Finally! Another comic. Sorry for the delay, all. I've been up to my face in stuff I have to do and rather behind on stuff I want to do.

First things first, I'm using a lot of familiar images in this strip because a) I can't draw them to save my life and b) the real thing just looks better. Copyrights belong to the respective companies.

Anyway.

A lot of people ask how my family reacts to me being an erotica writer. The short answer is: they really don't. I mean, they kinda go "...whut?" at first, but then shrug it off like, "Well, I'm not surprised." And I, in turn, am not too surprised, because I've pretty much desensitized my family to my shenanigans. Really, short of appearing on America's Most Wanted, there's not much I can do to shock them. And even that might not work.
But how did this shenanigan numbness come to be? Well, mostly from years of knowing I'm a rather eccentric individual. There was, however, an event that was (so to speak) the nail in the coffin.

Back in 2000, shortly after I turned 20, my grandmother died.
Now, I wasn't terribly broken up over this. I mean, when most people imagine a grandmother, they picture something like this:
I, however, lived with this for 20 years:
No love lost there, believe me.

Still had to go to the funeral, though. Loads of family coming in from out of town, lots of friends attending, and it wasn't quite the time or place to express my feelings about my grandmother or her passing. So, out of respect for the living, I went, and I think I did a damned good job of keeping up appearances.
No one needed to know the truth.
So after the funeral, the family retired to my grandparents' house. Now, my grandfather -- who, by the way, was absolutely cool as hell, and may he rest in peace -- could no longer drink due to health reasons. There was still a great deal of liquor in the house, though, and at some point during the celebra-- er, post-funeral thingy, the liquor cabinet was opened.

And everyone indulged. Mightily.

I, however, was 20.
Now, let me pause for a moment to explain something else that was going on in my life around the time Granny kicked the bucket.

As a part time job to keep me reasonably sane in between my miserable job of selling rocks to rich people, I had recently become employed by an adult film industry. Yes, at the tender age of twenty, I had become...

...a porn editor.
It was quite an interesting job, let me tell you. I mean, the e-mails I'd get from my boss were nothing like the ones most people get from their employers.
To be honest, what I was working on didn't really faze me. The novelty wears off after about ten minutes, and within a couple of days, I was working on a porn video without even really thinking about it. Just like any other job, I'd sit at the computer with a sandwich, listening to music, and work.
Since I worked alone, I had the luxury of being able to make/take personal calls while I edited, which sometimes made for rather awkward pauses during the conversation.
Incidentally, for those of you who enjoy the occasional indulgence in adult films, you should be aware that editors are the unsung heroes of the porn industry. You don't really think about it, but face it, folks. We have to see the things you should be glad you never see.
Anyway, where were we?

Oh, yes. The funeral after party.

By now, the booze reserve has been opened, and everyone's feeling pretty good. Not getting trashed and doing stupid shit, just enjoying a totally badass post-funeral buzz.

Knowing my family, there was some bantering and shit-talking going on. Believe me, I come by my sense of humor honestly. At some point, if I recall, my brother was the target of some good-natured but oh-so-pointed jabs.

As people often do in such a situation, he went for the redirect:
And the reactions...well, they were varied:
Now, I was by no means ashamed of what I did, but I have to admit, it's a little...awkward...to suddenly have your entire extended family looking at you and reacting to such a thing.

Needless to say, having my employment in the adult film industry revealed at my grandmother's funeral was a rather difficult act to follow. I'm reasonably certain there is nothing I can do to shock my family.

But that won't stop me from trying...

Monday, July 4, 2011

My childhood, as viewed through the 4th of July.

Today, I'd like to revisit my childhood once again. Specifically, how I evolved as a childhood through the magic and wonder of the 4th of July. I almost didn't post this one, but Jules put a comic bunny -- not to be confused with a plot bunny -- into my unsuspecting head. WAY TO GO, JULES.

Anyway.

I grew up during the 1980s and 1990s. You know, that wondrous time when children were allowed to play outside and scrape their knees without being rushed into intensive care and then put through years of therapy to deal with the trauma. My knees and shins are more scar than skin, bitches. We were hardasses back then. We didn't take shit from the pavement like kids today.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. The Fourth of July.

My earliest years were spent being innocently mesmerized by such things as sparklers and bumblebees.
It's hard to believe now that bumblebees are illegal in most places.
Especially the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. I mean, so what if a little paper bee the size of a half dollar goes careening around in the sky while it's on fire? IT'S THE NORTHWEST. Everything is WET.
Anyway, as I got older and was less entertained by sparklers and fiery insects, I developed a love for the wonderful Roman Candle. Oh, the power of holding a stick that shot fireballs up into the night sky!
Yes, I went through a great deal of my youth looking at things in slack-jawed awe. I don't generally look like a blow-up doll in real life, but my Photoshop skills aren't great, so there it is.

Anyway. It happened one fine July (or probably late June...oh, come on, we weren't the only ones who lit off fireworks early!) when I, for whatever reason, took a moment away from the afternoon's backyard pyrotechnics to do something I had never done. I mean, it seemed utterly stupid. Why would anyone do such a crazy thing? But I was a wild child, and I did it.

I read the warning label on a Roman Candle.
And the gears in my head began to turn. They turned and ground like a turning, grinding thing.
And then...

Then it hit me.
Trust me, you would've made that face too if you'd reached the conclusion I had. And when the shock wore off, I went and did what any reasonable child would do in such a situation.

I ran off to tell my brother.
And from that day forth (not to be confused with that day Fourth), fireworks had changed in our house. Well, in our yard. Mom and Dad didn't let us light stuff off in the house. Messy, noisy, etc. Wherever we were, things were different after that.

Why?

Because thanks to a warning label, we had discovered...

ROMAN CANDLE WARFARE.

Because THAT is how you do childhood.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Writing Journey Part IV: Plot Bunnies

This is a plot bunny.
Plot bunnies are little mythical creatures who come wandering in and drop ideas into the brains of writers. Kind of like the Muse, only furrier and less sentient. Basically, if the Muse had a bastard lovechild with a dust bunny, the end result would be a plot bunny.

They come along at the most random times. While I'm driving, walking around, shopping...
...even just looking up at the sky.
I can't even tell you how many have come hopping into my brain while I'm snorkeling.
Wherever I am, the plot bunny will find me.
And this is a good thing, of course. There's a reason I keep a notebook and/or my iPhone (thank you, notepad app!) with me at all times.

BUT. There are times when plot bunnies are not welcome. Specifically, while I'm working on another story.

What usually happens -- to me, anyway -- is this. The story will be coming along nicely...
...which means I'm reasonably immune to the nibble of the plot bunny.
So they wait. Just outside my peripheral vision, they wait. They wait until that vulnerable moment...
When the story stalls. When I need a new idea like I need a damned hole in my head. That, my friend, is when they make their attack.
Some can be quite...demanding:
Now, I've tried telling them I have deadlines to meet. I'd love to play with their new little ideas, but...yeah, can't always do that when I want to. Because in my mind, a deadline should act as a repellent for such creatures.
But...well, let's put it this way. I was raised around Morgan horses. Morgans are what would happen if you ever crossed a horse with a termite. They like to eat barns and fences, and there are these wonderful companies that make such products as ChewStop, which, as its name would suggest, discourages horses from chewing.

And for the most part, it works.

Except with Morgans.

Spray ChewStop or anything like it on a fence, and a Morgan will do one thing and one thing only:
So since deadlines won't do the job, I find other ways to keep plot bunnies at bay.

Sedation works quite nicely.
Of course, like anything, this can backfire. The only thing harder to ignore than a plot bunny is a plot bunny who's drugged out of his gourd.
Photobucket
Today, the sedation didn't work.

The plot bunny chewed through its restraints, and is currently gnawing on my skull, even though I'm trying to work on something else. This happens a lot...but OMG, I do not have time for it. (Yes, I have time to spend an evening making a webcomic. Don't judge me.)

My friend Melissa had a suggestion tonight, and quite frankly, I think she's right.

If this plot bunny doesn't get its teeth out of my head and let me finish the book I'm working on right now, there are simply no other options.

It must be done.
(screencap from Monty Python & The Search for the Holy Grail)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why I Love My Job.

When I'm not screwing off on Photoshop and making ridiculous stick-figure cartoons, I actually do have a job. As many of my frequent visitors are aware, I write for a living. I spend my days sipping gin and waxing poetic, and when the muse strikes me, I sit at a computer and effortlessly spew grand thoughts and momentous epiphanies onto the page. Then I send the books to JK Rowling, Stephen King, or whichever other big name author I think of at the time, and they get me in with their publishers so I can score mad advances and spots on NYT Bestseller list.

Yeah. Right.

No, it's actually a job. It's definitely work. Some days, the body is willing but the brain is weak.
Hey, I'm human (so they say). I have my limits. So, I have to just take a day off to recharge. And on those days, if I'm not out snorkeling or causing general mayhem around Okinawa, I spend some time drawing comics for this blog. Hey, guess what I'm doing today?

Ironically, I'm cartooning about my job today. You know why? Because I freaking love my job. Even on days like today where I just can't get the words on paper in the correct order, I wouldn't trade this for the world.

And it's not just because I get to spend all day, every day writing stories. Or the fact that I get to spend a lot of time dreaming up crazy new places and ways for people to DO THE DEED.

Crazy new places and ways...
(images courtesy Free-clipart.com)

Though that is a perk. I mean, seriously, it's entertaining as all hell. And I love love love writing like I can't even tell you.

But today, I'm highlighting all the reasons I love the fact that I work at home. Now, if you're a fan of The Oatmeal, he touched on a lot of the pros and cons here. If you haven't read that page, do so at once. It's fucking hilarious. Seriously. Go now. Here's the link again in case you missed it.

So I don't need to rehash all the awesomeness of that.

One of the best things about working at home? The commute. You see, this used to be my commute:
Yes, that was my actual commute. 80 fucking miles. Each way. Every damned day. And I had to be at work at 7 am. Do the math.

Then I moved to Virginia, and shaved over 50 miles off my commute, instead condemning myself to grinding through forty-five minutes of some of the planet's most godawful drivers en route to my cubicle:
This morning? My commute took 1 minute, 47 seconds, counting the time it took for me to stop by the fridge for a glass of juice and step around my cat:
So now I'm at work. I work alone. My cat sits on my desk, I have people to talk to via instant message, and sometimes my husband is around, but for the most part, I work solo.

Which means: No overheard conversations from the next cubicle.

If there was one thing that drove me crazy while working in a cubicle environment, it was the conversations my co-workers would have.
True story - One of my co-workers started EIGHT CONVERSATIONS in one day with that line. And I was chained to a desk that was well within earshot, with neither headphones nor earplugs to spare me the Chronicle of the Colonoscapades. EIGHT TIMES.

But no more! I have complete control over my work environment now. No intestinal tales here, no sirree. And it probably benefits the rest of the world, too. I mean, my own conversations these days would be NSFW in any other work environment.
Yes, my friends have as much ADD as I do.

There's also the matter of unwanted conversations. Nothing quite like trying to work, and having someone pester the crap out of you about politics, workplace gossip, moldy lettuce, sports, or other things you couldn't give two shits about. When working at home, relief is but a click away:
Not only do I not have to put up with other people's obnoxious conversations or subject them to my own, there's also the matter of music. I have yet to work in any kind of communal office environment that didn't, at some point, have some teeth gnashing and general spark-striking over the volume or content of music. For whatever reason, headphones have always been forbidden wherever I've worked, so the music battle never ends.
Working at home? There's no arguing over the volume, radio station, or how many times a particular song is replayed. I get to listen to WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT, and no one else can hear or complain about it.
Yes, those are the most-played songs in my iPod. Don't judge me.

Then there's the perk of not having people watching my every move. So what if a link is NSFW? It's not like anyone knows or cares what I'm looking at on my computer.

Well, aside from Rex.
But Rex doesn't really count. He can't exactly do anything unless he thinks there's a reason to tip off the CIA about my recent searches relating to the climate of northern India, how much gunpowder it takes to create a decent-sized explosion, or aqua regia (all of which I've googled recently).

In an office environment, though, someone is ALWAYS WATCHING:
Photobucket
And it's fucking maddening, amirite?

So I have no one looking over my shoulder. I'm in my pajamas, listening to whatever music I want, blocking out the universe if I feel like it, and generally able to fuck off if the mood strikes me. No time cards. No peer pressure to be a team player. No boss demanding I actually, like, do something.

Which means...I could pretty much not do anything if I felt like it. Yet, I work more hours now than I ever have in my life, and productivity isn't a problem at all. But how? HOW? How does one remain productive without being surrounded by slave drivers and given all the "motivation" that is rich in a corporate environment?

Well, besides the fact that I love what I do and wouldn't trade it for a date with Jared Leto, there is the part where I need to write. My characters want their stories told, and they don't let me sleep until I write those stories. Quite frankly, if you ever X-rayed my skull, chances are, this is what you'd see:
Yes, I'm insane.

And yes, this is the best job in the world.


(More cartoons to come soon; still have a couple of deadlines to meet this summer, and then I'll have some more time to draw stick irreverent stick figures)