Inktober; or, I’ve Actually Got the Time to Do This For a Change

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Every year, when autumn rolls around, I tell myself, I’m going to participate in Inktober or NaNoWriMo, and every year, I either forget or I try and fail. “Well, this year is going to be different!” I proclaimed. Then I blinked, and it was October 7th, and I’d forgotten. Oops.

But you know the old expression: Better late than never. My friend, Ally (@Ally_Santra on Twitter), started doing a pinup Inktober prompt list, which I found very interesting. So, I dove in and double-timed it to catch up, and in the end, for the first time ever, I completed it. I can’t tell you how uplifting that was in a time when I really needed a win.

In this post, I’ve included every black-and-white drawing I did throughout the month, but my favorites I’ve colored and added a few words about what I like and more importantly, what it has taught me about myself and my work.

At the beginning, I was posting three drawings per day to catch up, and I actually liked two out of every three. Not bad, really. And it’s not that I hated the others; I just didn’t feel they were nearly as good. I used all five of my series’ recurring female characters as the models, and while I love all of my girls, I think my favorites are Ash and Maren. Their drawings usually turned out to be the best ones I created for this month.

Inktober 2018 #31

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…”

Alright, let’s get this one out of the way first. You all know how much I love Casablanca, so for the group Halloween costume this year, I decided to take inspiration from there. First off, yes, it’s not a pinup. Sorry, not sorry. My challenge to myself was to actually make a scene without any dialogue, and I’m pleased with what I accomplished. There’s tons of tension everywhere. But my favorite part is Mike as Sam. His design turned out better than I could have hoped. It’s a difficult pose, and it was going to be an excellent test of my skills. I had so much fun with this drawing.

Okay, now, on to the actual pinup drawings, starting with Stefanie, Esmerelda, and Caroline.

Inktober 2018 #1

“Witchy woman. See how high she flies.”

First drawing of the month, and I felt great about it; one of my best drawings of Stefanie. Until this one.

Inktober 2018 #26

Raggedy Ann, you need a longer skirt, I guess?

I’m sure a good chunk of these don’t technically classify as “pinup”, but who’s counting anyway? I really tried to get good pinup poses when I could. I think this one was a homerun. Or at least a triple followed by an RBI.

Inktober 2018 #22

“Gotta lose your mind in Detroit rock city.”

I’m a KISS fan, I’ll admit it. They’re a legendary spectacle, and I wanted to have some fun with the prompt.

Inktober 2018 #5

“Hey, good lookin’. Whatcha got cookin’?”

Esmerelda, our newest character, kind of got the short end of the stick. But she started off well. I found out that I had a hard time drawing butts, apparently.

Here’s Caroline showing off that I still cannot draw posteriors. Wonderful. On the other hand, here’s Caroline looking delightfully literary…sort of.

I absolutely love this drawing. With my Inktober drawings, it was either feast or  “I guess I could eat”. I either loved it or it was just passable. Unless it was one of these two golden girls: Ash and Maren. I loved just about every drawing I did of them. I’m going to start with Maren first.

Inktober 2018 #4

Music makes me happy.

There is nothing here I don’t love. Everything just kinda clicked. Everything looks good. It all works. I was blown away.

Inktober 2018 #28

“Hey! Listen!”

Another one rocking on all cylinders. I have a few girls who have interesting hair styles; interesting in that they look great from one side and weird from another. Maren is one of those girls. Stefanie is the other. Maren looks excellent from her right side. Not so much from the left. So, I wanted to work on that. For reference, here’s her from the right.Inktober 2018 #24 (Color Background)

See? Looks so great. That’s why I focused on the left side. I want to be able to get her into shots from all angles, along with other characters, and there’s only one way to get that down: Practice.

Inktober 2018 #7

Good morning!

Ash, on the other hand, has no problems like that. She’s the first girl I drew and has changed relatively little over the course of the series. I really think the only major change to her look is her eyes, which have elongated over the past couple of years as I figured out my drawing style, something I probably should have done before starting a comic, but whatever; that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I love this drawing for the pose. It just looks like it works, and there’s such a lovely little moment there. I love the joy in her face, the optimism, because that’s who she is.


Inktober 2018 #3

Fall is upon us.

I could absolutely envision this before I drew it, and I’m gobsmacked that it actually came out the way I imagined it. Another happy stretch for Ash. She’s been a great study in body language.

Inktober 2018 #25

Heartbreaker? Hardly.

This one was another surprise favorite. The response on this one was higher than I expected. Don’t get me wrong: I love the hell out of this drawing. I just was surprised it got as much love from y’all as it did. I almost think this one shows more about my growth as an artist than any others. It all just looks…right.

These were fun ones. And I think that’s the other side of Inktober: Enjoying your art. If it’s not enjoyable, what the hell’s the point? We create because, well, we must. There’s no other way to describe it. We create because if we don’t, we’ll probably explode. The energy needs an escape, and this is our steam release valve.

Inktober 2018 #27

Opposing forces.

I’ll leave you with this one. Not the strongest of the group, but it’s a fun one. There’s two sides to every coin. Doesn’t take a lot to flip it.

So, what has Inktober taught me about myself? A good deal, really. September and October have been trying months. Really, 2018 in general has been difficult. With so much going on, Inktober was, first and foremost, a much-needed lift, a wonderful release. It was incredible having both the time and energy to be able to pour into such an exercise. Beyond that, it showed me how much I’ve grown as an artist. Inktober made me take some more risks than I usually do in my regular comics. For the most part, I feel I was successful, and really, I felt successful in just completing this month-long challenge. It was an enormous boon I desperately needed. This is something I can do pretty well, and it’s something that I can enjoy at the same time. I can’t stress enough how important such a thing is to have in your life. It will help propel me forward for the challenges which still lay ahead.

-The Retail Explorer

Job Hunt; or, Thank the Maker for My Savings Account

You know nothing Jon Snow

It’s been hard to find the time, energy, or words to sum up the past two and a half weeks without going into massive amounts of extraneous detail. If I had one word for it, that word would be “strange”. This has been a new experience for me. I’ve never resigned from a post/been laid off before. I’ve never had to fend for myself when there was no real safety net to catch me. That uncertainty has been slightly unnerving, though not nearly as bad as the previous three months with the other owner’s idiocy and ego looming over the business.

I was so sure how this whole mess was going to play out, but life has an incredible way of making you brutally aware that, like Jon Snow, you really know nothing. My fiance got a tattoo when she went to Hong Kong this summer as a tribute to Anthony Bourdain. It’s in Mandarin (I think?) and loosely translates to “I am sure of nothing.” That is life. Just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, it tosses a wrench into your machinery and mutters about how it’s a pity you didn’t see that coming.

By the same token, though, I’ve never felt so free, really. I’ve been working on a massive project at home almost every day since I left my job, and it’s finally at the completion stage, which means I’ll need to get hired soon or find something else to do immediately, because I might die from boredom.

(“But, Explorer, what about the webcomic? Or that novel you started a decade ago?” Shut. Up. Voice. In. My. Head. Nobody asked you anyway!)

Anywho, to get you all caught up, a couple of weeks ago, I arrived for work with a text from my boss saying he would not be returning to the business as long as the other owner was there, since the other owner had called a meeting and voted my boss out as president. Turns out, he was installing his own people, who knew less than nothing about running the business, and hoping to keep the rest of us on to keep the business running. Yeah, I had an enormous laugh about that later, too. After meeting with him and showing the new office staff how to do the bare minimum (taking payments from students so that they could pay my instructors), I submitted my formal resignation. A week later, the business was shuttered. I don’t know what all went down, and I really don’t care. I’ve washed my hands of it, because I had determined that attempting to keep that place running without the two most essential cogs (my two bosses) would be a nightmare, and I didn’t want that fucking headache. The last task I completed for my former bosses was payroll for their final payroll period, and I never walked back into that place after that.

So, I’ve been doing what’s best for me, recharging, applying for other positions, working on my projects, and helping with my folks while my dad recovers from foot surgery. It’s been a good period, all things considered.

Here are my thoughts on this period in my life: 1) OMG I am elated that I will never have to deal with Big Boss or Minivan Moron EVER AGAIN! 2) My boss from the job before this most recent one called me. I did not take the call, and I don’t know if I will be returning it. Yes, it’s a job. It’s money. But that man is an idiot and undervalued me, and I refuse to work for someone like that again. 3) Do you know how confusingly gratifying it is to be told that you are overqualified for a position? 4) Furthermore, do you know how amazingly gratifying it is to have an interview with multiple, strong, stable, growing companies? It’s staggering. I have a #1 company and a fallback, and neither is a step backward for me. 5) Earlier this week, I shot a 99 on the golf course, and I had some good strokes out there, too. I’ve never shot so well in all my life. So, there’s that, too.

I may write more on leaving and moving on from retail later, but for now, I’m going to focus on where I stand currently. To say I feel good is probably the most accurate descriptor that I can find. Because I feel great these days. I’m going to go into the next phase of my life with renewed vigor and determination. I have been given so many tools and experience over the previous nine months. I can do anything for myself, because I make my own destiny. There is nothing forged into the stars for us so much as a path which must be followed, merely destinations you will reach. The path is up to you.

That is what I have learned. I am who I am, and I’m excited for who I will become.

-The Retail Explorer