Friday, August 29, 2008

The Importance of Momentum

Ideal Momentum
6.00-6.30 Rise and morning ablutions.
6.30-7.00 Feed animals, let out sheep and take dogs Belle and Jake (including my one year old hand reared old sheep Tynney) for a walk.
7.00-7.15 Drive to gym.
7.30-9.30 Gym and drive home.
9.30-10.00 Shower & breakfast.
10.00-1.00 Work in home studio.
1.00-1.30 Lunch
1.30-4.30 Work in home studio.
4.30-5.15 Feed animals & clean out kitty litter.
5.15-6.45 Work in home studio.
6.45-7.15 Dinner
7.15-7.30 Dishes
7.30-9.30 TV
9.30-10.00 Read
10.00+ Sleep

Reality Momentum
6.00 Too cold and dark to get up.
6.15-6.30 Reluctantly force myself to get out of bed and morning ablutions.
6.30-6.45 Can't find new dog – Australian kelpie, Jake – who we got from a neighbour that was moving to the suburbs. Find out he's escaped by climbing over a 5 foot fence in an enclosed yard. He's now gone on walkabout. Swear under my breath.
6.45-7.45 Feed animals, let out sheep, and find an old ewe lying on her side after she has just given birth to a dead lamb. Push the ewe to her feet so she doesn't suffocate and bring her some supplemental feed so she can get her strength back. Wrap up the lamb in a towel and put it aside for cousin to bury. Cry.
7.45 - 8.00 Take Belle and Tynney for a walk.
8.00-8.30 Suppose to go to the gym but drive out to look for Jake. Return home empty handed.
8.30-9.00 Do some stretching/toning at home while answering two phone calls and having a quick shower.
9.00-9.30 Breakfast and clean up cat vomit from floor in house.
9.30-9.45 Work in home studio.
9.45-10.15 Neighbour who lives one kilometre away across two large paddocks calls to say Jake is with her because her female dog is on heat. Drive over and pick up Jake.
10.15-10.45 Work in home studio.
10.45-11.30 Get onto FaceBook and send all my friends hugs, chocolates, fairies and guardian angels, good karma and comic characters.
11.30-11.45 Read 'must read' industry blog posts.
11.45-12.00 Check on ewe.
12.00-1.00 Watch Dr Phil and have lunch.
1.00-2.30 Work in studio while simultaneously cuddling four kittens who are climbing over my keyboard as I work. 
2.30-3.00 Wonder whatever happened to the cast of The Ghost and Mrs Muir television series and look them up on the Internet. Only get through three actors.
3.00-3.15 Round up Tynney who has just cheekily run into my office and left pooh pellets on the carpet. Clean carpet.
3.15-4.30 Get some actual work done.
4.30-5.30 Feed animals, check on ewe, talk to cousin about burying lamb, take dogs and Tynney for second walk, clean kitty litter.
5.30-6.15 Work in home studio and get interrupted by bank wanting me to sign up for a credit card, as well as a call centre in Singapore that wants to tell me about some sort of resource company. Tell them my name is on the 'do not call' list established by the government.
6.15-7.00 Do a Black Mermaid blog post and research various references to put links onto the post. 
7.00-7.15 Look at my work To Do List for the day and mark off two items out of six.
7.15-7.30 Dinner & no dishes.
7.30-11.30 TV while simultaneously taping other channel.
11.30-11.35 Read
11.35+ Sleep.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blog Web Browser Problems

Oh my lordy us! We just accessed our blog via Internet Explorer instead of our usual web browser – Safari. Everything is topsy turvy. Our template no longer exists. The YouTube videos are not showing up. The font is all in upper case. Everything but the blog heading is left justified and there is a big white empty canvas of space on the right hand side. We are not really computer savvy but we thought we were doing pretty well until now. Will have to go into the Blogger Help menu and see what in the hell is going on. And we'll have to check other browsers as well to see if they are bringing up nonsense. Apologies to everyone out there if this is what you've been looking at up to now. We'll do everything we can to rectify the problem so you can see what we're seeing.

29/8/08 UPDATE: Spoke to our webmaster who told us that the Mac Internet Explorer was an old version and and had not been supported or updated by Microsoft for many years, resulting in these blog layout problems. So there's the answer. When we checked our blog on Firefox, Safari and Windows Explorer everything was cool. 

Self Publishing Cerebus

Jozef found this gem on YouTube. Deni Loubert, business partner and ex-wife of Dave Sim who managed their comic book company Aardvark-Vanaheim in the late 70s early 80s, talks about the old days of marketing Cerebus. These guys are the pioneers of successful self-publishing so listen and learn. In the early 1990s long before he became controversial, we were fortunate to have met Dave Sim at an OzCon in Sydney. We had just signed with Warp Graphics, and Dave was very kind to us – he was an advocate for self publishing and fiercely encouraged us to publish our own original material in the future. He said that anybody who signed with a big company and assigned their rights was a fool (his language was a little more colourful than that). We also had some phone contact with Deni while she was working in a marketing capacity at Warp, and now this interview has finally given us a face to the name and voice. The interview's long but it's worth it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 7

I recently discovered a beautiful collection of mermaid cards called "Tarot of Mermaids" artwork by Mauro De Luca, text by Pietro Alligo.

I bought it on Amazon on my birthday while I was in a mermaid-purchasing frame of mind. I came across this set, and just automatically added it to my shopping cart without knowing what I'd find inside, although the cover illustration was lovely. I figured one way or another I'd have a lovely set of mermaid images.

Well when I got it I was blown away with the beautiful artwork – it was very well drawn and amazingly colored. Any mermaid lover will love this set.

As a pagan goddess figure it also make sense to see mermaids in the Tarot. I've done readings with Julie on mermaid related projects using her various mythology-based tarot card sets, and funnily enough, the mermaids within the tarot pack all made an appearance in the readings.

I showed the pack to Julie a few weeks ago, and we asked some questions about
Elf-Fin. Being that all the cards were mermaids, it wasn't now about what mermaids surfaced in the reading, but which ones in particular. Well the reading was very favourable although it highlighted a need for patience. I think that the mermaids in this tarot pack are excited about Elf-Fin...

Creating Comics and Graphic Novels Workshop

For those of you who haven't stopped by our website lately and read our Events page, Jozef and I are presenting a workshop on "How to Create Comics and Graphic Novels" at the New South Wales Writers' Centre in Sydney on the weekend of 18-19 October 2008. If you attend, you'll learn about the versatility and scope of the comics medium, the history of comics, the language and conventions of comics, and do lots of practical illustrating and writing exercises so you can create your own comics work both on site and at home. We'll also focus on the business side of comics for those of you who want to turn pro. For workshop details and bookings go to the NSW Writers' Centre website. You can also ring on +61 2 9555 9757; fax on +61 2 9818 1327; or email on Participants will also get a sneak look at some completed coloured and lettered Elf~Fin pages when we take you through the production process. Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love cooking and entertaining. This is a byproduct of having European parents and a mother who is a splendid chef in her own right (you should taste her strawberry chocolate hazelnut cake and her napoleon!). Well yesterday I invited a friend who I haven't seen in years over for brunch. She was on crutches and drove a long way from the North Shore near Manly (a beach side suburb about 20km northeast of the Harbour Bridge for the overseas folks who may be reading this blog). I usually go over the top with my cooking and prepare about half a dozen if not more dishes which then leave me too tired to socialise. This time I kept it simple. I served a variation on the classic Mexican dish Huevos Rancheros which is fried eggs cooked with lots of red capsicum and served on a tortilla. My interpretation which was sourced from an Australian Women's Weekly recipe book was scrambled egg served on top of a tortilla with grilled tasty cheese and served with chorizo sausage and tomato salsa. The menu also included Mexican hot chocolate, hashbrowns cooked with onion and fresh rosemary, and for sweets – a spiced waffle with stewed apples and sultanas served with ice cream and roasted sugared walnuts. Now usually I have to get up at 5am to do my chores and start cooking, but this time I leisurely worked my way through the each recipe component, set the table, picked fresh flowers and actually had time to fix my hair and put on something decent to wear instead of my usual farm chic. My friend and I had a nice conversation and filled in all the blanks from several years of having missed each other due to heavy work commitments. 

So why do I bring this up here? Well, outside of wanting you to salivate for just a couple of moments, I've decided to apply the same principle to my work life. Usually I overload and multi-task and then only get three or four things done on a list of ten or twelve which leave me feeling distinctly unsatisfied, disappointed and a failure that I didn't have the energy or the time to fulfill the "shoulds" on my  TO DO LIST. I'm going to switch things around now – I'm going to apply the well know KISS (keep it simple stupid) rule and only commit to a handful of daily work tasks. This in turn will leave me with a great sense of accomplishment and feeling refreshed enough to then actually knock off a household task such as ironing or even participate in a recreational activity such as finishing off the day by reading a few chapters from the book by my bedside. Oh my goodness! I am actually doing what normal intelligent people with lots of commonsense do – I'm finding  balance!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Acknowledging the Positive

After I finished high school and prior to attending university, I entered the work force and took on a part time management certificate at technical college. I had always been interested in human behaviour and the internal world of thinking and feeling, so I had my first exposure to managerial psychology at tech which I absolutely loved. We studied transactional analysis, Maslow's heirarchy of needs, and read books such as Thomas A Harris's I'm OK – You're OK, as well as Eric Berne's Games People Play. One of the more practical lessons we were taught (and don't forget I was an impressionable 18 year old who soaked this all up and tried to apply it in my work as a manager) was the importance of positive strokes. Just so you know – strokes is another name for recognition or acknowledgement that you give to another person. It is all too easy to dwell on the negative and in fact I have only ever written one letter of complaint to a company where the service (or lack thereof) was so appalling as to be extremely rude. What I prefer to do is the opposite. Every now and then I come across exemplary service and so I write letters to businesses drawing management's attention to the person who was patient, friendly, and who went beyond the call of duty to provide excellent customer relations. I also like to send out thank you cards and/or gifts to those friends and colleagues who have given up their time to help me with a project or who offered me good advice or an ear when I needed it. I have been so busy the last few months that some of these less-urgent letters have accumulated on my TO DO LIST. Well, I am happy to report that I dedicated an entire afternoon to writing them today and they are now in the post. Positive recognition creates a win/win situation – everyone feels good. It is SO important to be grateful for good fortune, good health, good experiences and the good people out there who help us on our way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weeki Wachee Mermaids

Had a flashback to 1976 the other day. My parents and grandmother took my brother, sister and I around the world for close on six months. We skipped school so it was a pretty good time for all. The trip included a seven week stay in the USA, which I absolutely adored. We travelled cross country from the west coast to the east coast. I made a very good friend on that trip – Kathy from Wisconsin. We met in New York and we have since travelled together in the States and she has visited me here at in Australia on two occasions. 

1976 was the Bicentennial Year celebrating Independence Day and there were special events all over the country. One of my favourite stopovers was at Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida where we checked out the mermaid show. I've since caught sight of it I think (I haven't checked the credits) in movies such as The Right Stuff. Swimming mermaid style underwater with a tail and breathing tube is terribly difficult so you need to give these women a lot of credit. I'm a good swimmer as many Australians are so I should know. I wonder if retired synchronised swimming Olympians make their career here? I don't know if I'll ever be able to find out. Anyway, I thought you might want to see what I'm talking about. Check out these YouTube videos including the underwater musical adaption of A Little Mermaid, and check out older archival footage at the leech video website. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Books on Comic Book Companies

I do so love my Dorling Kindersley books – I have a whole bunch of travel guides on my book shelf and pretty much the entire set of the children's science and natural world series (forgot the various series title!) but they include volumes on anything from sharks to trees to volcanoes. Great pictures, concise explanations – I actually prefer to use them over adult books when I'm doing preliminary research. I also have a great DK title called Spiderman: The Ultimate Guide, written by Tom DeFalco. Now DK's released The Marvel Chronicles, as well as The Vertigo Encyclopedia based on DC's imprint. They look to be great references for comics aficionados and comics history buffs. Read more about the release on the Publishers' Weekly website.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Lament

It's official. I now have Scarlett O'Hara hands. If you don't know what I'm talking about go watch or read Gone With the Wind and find the scene where Scarlett visits Rhett Butler in gaol. The Civil War is over. She's dead poor and holding on to Tara, the family cotton plantation, through hard work and by sheer strength of will alone and she wants to hit Rhett up for a loan. To fool him into thinking she has returned to good fortune, she converts a plush green velvet curtain into a dress. But Rhett is not stupid – her ragged hands give away her true plight.

So aren't writers' hands supposed to be smooth and soft and elegant – untouched by the sun or adversity? Not mine. In between working on my computer, I have been running the farm. My hands are shrivelled from the cold and marbled and scarred with bruises, scrapes and love scratches from our playful cats and from cleaning out the sheep pen. Am trotting out the soothing aloe vera tonight. Will coddle my hands; will wrap them in bandages soaked with vitamin e oil; will sleep in cotton gloves until they resemble (oh irony of ironies) my male, city-dwelling, artist and business partner's tapered hands – those of Jozef.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Decluttering the Soul

Been working 24/7 the last few months (always wanted to say 24/7 although it's more accurate to say 12-14/7) and am weary and a bit emotional. I decided to take the week off from the usual Black Mermaid activities including blogging. A week off didn't mean I was in the clear though – for normal people a week off would constitute a flight to a tropical island somewhere to sip cocktails at sunset and to skinny dip at a secluded beach (which is what my friend Rod did last year in Fiji around this time!), or perhaps going into the city and staying at a five-star hotel and having spa treatments while eating strawberries dipped in chocolate. A perfect week for me would be packing up a big fat suitcase of books I've been dying to read and just sitting down and polishing them off one after the other. I remember keeping tabs of my reading activities while I was at school – I think my bumper year was around 180 to 200. Not these days. Now, it's more like one every fortnight. And as far as my week off went, well it actually constituted a massive decluttering of my studio.

Anyway, I'm now happily looking at a wide expanse of pink carpet in my office. Gone are the scattered messy piles of filing – all I have left in the actual office is one large laundry bucket of paperwork to sort, which I will work on bit by bit during this week. I've reorganised my filing system, thrown out lots of rubbish, dusted, collated, and archived some comics artwork including an old WaveDancer piece that Jozef gave me as a gift several years ago, as well as a wonderful page by artist Paul Abstruse from WitchKing. The artwork is nestled safely in a portfolio folder until such time that I find some fabulously wicked frames and hang them on the wall.

I do feel that decluttering is good for the soul – it frees up mental, emotional and physical energy and I most certainly am feeling fresher today. Jack Canfield and co-author Janet Switzer devote an entire chapter to it in their book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. They talk about cleaning up your messes and your incompletes, and about completion consciousness.  I also heard about another book with the rather amusing title Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? where the author Peter Walsh recognised a correlation between clutter and being unhealthy. Apparently, many of his clients found that they dropped weight once they cleaned up their homes. I haven't read the book, but it sounds about right.

My job is by no means finished. I still have two tables in the garage with about eight boxes left to sort. That is my goal for this year. My 2009 decluttering goal will be to go through about five years worth of old newspapers I haven't read but hoarded. It sounds obsessive and it undoubtedly is, but I don't intend to read them except for any articles that jump out at me or inspire me creatively or give me ideas for stories. One of the most important things to do if you're a writer is to read read read constantly. I keep these old newspapers because occasionally I come across a story or a photo that just leaps off the page and gets my creativity flowing. I cut those out and stick them into a scrapbook, which is full of pictures mostly – faces, eye colours, costumes, nature, architecture – you name it. 

My 2010 goal will be to sort through and archive all my old photos, as well as all the torn out recipes from magazines which would take about 100 years of fulltime cooking to test every one of them. Got to cull cull cull. Got to dump dump dump. A few years ago I taught my equally messy niece a little chant when she discarded stuff all over her bedroom floor or the rest of the house: "You took it out; you put it back." I really need to start implementing my own advice on the moment rather than in retrospect. Consequently, I am working hard at consciously breaking old habits by putting things away or throwing them out once I have finished using them rather than letting them pile up. And that includes reading papers within a week of being purchased otherwise it's the rubbish bin!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 6

Well not quite... strictly speaking this is not mermaid paraphernalia, although I sometimes imagine what it would look like with a mermaid figure on it. I love this piece nevertheless and it holds its place nicely in my mermaid collection. It's actually a lamp. I had it next to my bedside when I was a child and for some reason it gave me great comfort to look at it. It's a pink pottery shell with a couple of colourful angel fish in the interior and a cluster of decorative sea anemones and clam  shells along the base. There's a sticker on the outside that says "Peggy Stanton Hand Styled". I just Googled it and got a hit onto eBay that says it is a "rare pottery shell and tv lamp" and yes, that it's "very kitsch". 

Book Publishers at San Diego ComicCon

More on the ComicCon but from the traditional publishers' POV who were well represented on the exhibition floor. Check out Publishers Weekly for more info.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More on Graphic Novel Proposals for the Mainstream Book Market

About six weeks ago I did a presentation at Supanova Sydney on how to submit graphic novel proposals to mainstream book publishers. The first piece of advice given was to meet the publisher's exact submission guidelines, which may vary from company to company, imprint to imprint. The second piece of advice was that comic book publishers often have very different needs to traditional book publishers and that in fact, all the former usually want to see is about five pages of finished sequential art (by finished I mean coloured and lettered) and maybe some cover art and a brief synopsis of the story. Traditional book publishers on the other hand usually want more information than that – they want to know what the genre is, who is the target market and other marketing information, as well as biographical information on the creators behind the project. In terms of the actual graphic novel itself, they usually want it treated in the same way as a picture book submission – a few finished pages and either an outline and sample scripts or a full script – this way if they make a decision to accept the book they can choose a size and format (such as landscape or portrait) and then ask the creators to prepare the rest of the work according to these specifications.

In the last part of the presentation, I went into a lot of detail about the components of a book proposal. This information was gleaned from three different US sources – a literary agent, a publishing consultant, and the submission criteria of a children's publisher to whom I had pitched a property a few years ago (it took me about two weeks to write the proposal based on their criteria). All three I must add don't specialise in graphic novels, since this is quite a recent publishing phenomena in both the US and Australia, and some publishers are still cementing their understanding of what they are actually looking for. However, the reason for this level of detail in the proposal – as was explained by all three of them – is that they want to see that the creators know their market inside and out and make a case for their book, that it helps the agent know which publishers to pitch to and the publisher to decide where to position the book in their list, and it helps in defining the marketing plan. Furthermore, it gives the publisher confidence that the creators can proactively handle publicity and promotion, rather than passively relying on the publicity department which might be working on multiple campaigns at any one time. An author/artist/comics creator's familiarity with marketing also helps ensure the longevity of the book and pushes it to become a strong backlist title if sales are consistent and good. 

The one thing I didn't take into account – which is why I add this blog post as an addendum or codicil to my original presentation – was cultural differences in the publishing world (and this is where I put on my hat as "perpetual student" – see post below). What may be embraced by some in one country or continent, may be too overwhelming in bulk or prescriptive for others around the world, simply because the dedicated staff in many publishing companies have little time, stretched resources, and are coaxing or juggling many projects at any one time through the editing, production and marketing stages. As audience member Tad Pietrzykowski of The Dark Nebula fame so concisely said at the time of the presentation, sometimes "less is more". 

So the original advice still stands – always respond by meeting the submission criteria for each publisher (for some it may brief for others it may be a behemoth). Either way, the act of writing out a comprehensive book proposal even if you don't send it in to all publishers actually helps you understand your own product so you can talk about it coherently to your publisher and your readers.

Ultimately, as Brian Cook, literary agent and publishing consultant of the Manuscript Agency said at the presentation, "content is king"! The graphic novel will be picked up on its quality alone, and the rest is secondary. Having said that, sometimes a good pitch (which meets the submission guidelines and demonstrates your understanding of the creative property and the market) can help nudge your graphic novel over line once it is presented at publishing meetings where editorial, finance and marketing must make the decision together. 

The Perpetual Student

A few years ago I was faced with the dilemma of being cast as an authority on a complex subject I felt I was just learning about when I was asked to pitch a non fiction new age book to a publisher that was just starting a new imprint. It didn't really matter that I had been ingratiated into that particular world for many years or that I knew more about it than the average person in the street or indeed that I had completed many courses on the subject matter and seen many clients. It was just that I felt there was a gap – a time lapse – between actual logical learning and actual full integration into the mind/body/spirit. What I mean by that is that sometimes I can listen to a lesson, but actually not experientially "get it" until much later down the track at which time I will sit up with a jolt and declare to myself or others "Now I know what lecturer X meant when he/she said that..." This is a point of time when the information becomes a natural part of yourself and you can communicate about the subject as easily as if you were having a conversation with your best friend without reconstituting a textbook. 

Now ... I am no Pretender (where are you Michael T Weiss, you sexy thing?) ! I strive to live a life of truth and authenticity which means looking into the mirror and acknowledging those aspects of myself that need more work, and also foregoing many of the defense mechanisms that we are all accustomed to using or exhibiting under emotional pressure (I actually may do a special blog post on this for you so you know what I'm talking about). So how did I deal with the original dilemma that made me feel significantly uncomfortable – that is, how could I label myself an expert when I didn't feel like one? How could I be an authority figure when I was still learning (and indeed still am) through much of what I do? 

Well it turns out that I didn't, and that there were three tricks to this as I came to discover. The first is a basic one about constantly refining and improving yourself. The second one is about being open to new information that could influence, impact or even change your previous learnings. The third one was answered in a most unexpected place when I attended a Mark Victor Hansen Mega Book Marketing event. One of the speakers was a guy called John Childers, whose niche was in public speaking training for profit. He took to the stage with great aplomb as if he had been born there and told his story. One of the things he mentioned was how he got started on the speaking circuit – how he had researched the real estate market and made some good investments and became a millionaire in the process. He was asked to do a seminar at a community event and he was faced with the same dilemma as I was – how could he speak from a position of authority when he was only five minutes (that's me taking dramatic licence – it was more of a case of a couple of years) into the real estate game. He came upon the realisation that he didn't need to fake anything – that in fact he could speak from one of three positions: the expert (one who knows everything there is to know about a specialised subject), the reporter (one who has no direct experience within a given area but who has researched it profusely and is merely delivering the material to an audience) and the student (one who is in the process of learning about the specialised area). At his initial talk, John Childers took the third position and found that that the admission didn't hurt him at all  – in fact, if anything the audience responded with greater enthusiasm because they could relate to him. Needless to say, he nailed the presentation.

That message was like a gold nugget for me and it hit me – I could work from either one or indeed a mixture of those points-of-view in the future and not compromise myself or the reader/audience. 

I ended up writing a bonza of a book proposal, which to this day I am extremely proud of. Unfortunately it wasn't converted into a publishing project because the editor in question vanished a few months later and the new imprint didn't eventuate. But no matter – I integrated something extremely important in the process – and perhaps in this act of blog posting it I become, for just a moment, an expert.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To Meet or to Avoid Mr Right? That is the question

I'm going to my fabulous Leo-friend's book launch tonight at one of Sydney's beach suburbs. Her name is Anita Heiss and she is a force to be reckoned with – bright, talented, passionate, stylish, witty and extraordinarily generous and funny. The book in question is called Avoiding Mr Right. It's the follow up to the hilarious and perceptive Not Meeting Mr Right. Go out and buy them now! That's an order! 

Monday, August 4, 2008

ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio Update

We've been working hard the last few weeks on various briefs for the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio where we are dual portfolio holders. The recommended freelance rates (eg. inking, colouring, convention sketches etc) are currently being researched; the legal officer is drafting up various Minimum Approved Contracts for Comics Creators; the Executive Director will be doing a costing of a proposed Comics Creators Talent Register which we want to put online onto the portfolio page of the ASA website so that publishers searching for talent can find it all in the one place; we've just finished the Supanova round of seminars for the year; and we've had several meetings at the ASA offices. There's another secret plan up for consideration this weekend, and Jozef and I will be addressing the fourteen-person Committee of Management and letting them know what's happening in the Australian comics community, as well as outlining the direction we'd like to go in over the next year or two. Jozef is also currently designing a logo for the portfolio, after which I will be putting together a regular ezine which will be going out exclusively to members. All this is taking lots of time, so our heads are spinning at the moment. If you're an Aussie comics creator we recommend you join. Heck ... if you're an overseas comics creator just come on board and help build the membership and find strength, resources and inspiration from the community.