Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shimmer Baby Mermaid Tails [LINK UPDATED 19/06/12]

We've been corresponding with Renee who recently opened the Shimmerbaby Mermaids website – an online shop for all your mermaid needs. She sent us these pics yesterday so we thought you might want to have a peek at her tails for sale. Oh, and she runs mermaid-themed birthday parties and mermaid camps. She has three mermaid tails on order for the Australia Day celebrations an is working on a black mermaid tail – we definitely want to see that one!

Read and Heed - Children's Book Creators' and Graphic Novelists' Perspectives

Colleen Doran is constantly looking after the needs of comics creators and has given us two articles about how the Google Settlement might impact children's authors and illustrators and graphic novelists. Read them on her A Distant Soil blog: Google Behaving Badly: concerns for cartoonists and Children's Book Author Diana Kimpon clarifies Google Book deal on graphic novels. We owe Colleen and her contributors a big debt of gratitude for keeping us in the know. Thanks, C.

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Valentine Black Mermaid™ Design Revealed

Jozef has just delivered the new 2010 Valentine design in our Celebration Black Mermaid™ series. The design is called "Dusky Rose". The musk-pink colour of the heart matches the new pink patent shoes I bought myself as a Christmas present. Hope you like our new interpretation of our lovely logo. She's available for a limited time at our Black Mermaid Boutique, so don't be shy in ordering a gorgeous cushion, t-shirts, prints, or all matter of pressies for your sweetie or yourself. We certainly will and we're the shopkeepers! What's more, we'll be wearing her after Valentine's Day to the various Supanovas we'll be attending all over Australia over the upcoming months. Oh, and I'll be wearing my pink shoes there too!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elf~Fin Leaks & Peeks 14

And now for something a little more dramatic!

Elf~Fin Leaks & Peeks 13

Here's some new work from the upcoming Elf~Fin to whet your appetites in 2010!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Graphic Novel Adapted Into Theatrical Production

If some of the theatre stills are anything to go by, the stage adaptation of Shaun Tan's award winning graphic novel The Arrival will be wondrous. New Zealand's Red Leap Theatre has brought the wordless story to life in a wordless theatrical piece – now showing at the Sydney Festival.

The story is about an immigrant who journeys to a new land and strange culture in search of a better life for his family. The production runs for one hour and fifteen minutes and incorporates puppetry, shadow play, dance and music. The season runs from 10 to 17 January 2010 at the CarriageWorks in Eveleigh, Sydney NSW Australia. For further information about the show and booking information, visit the CarriageWorks website.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Logos and Pie Charts and How to Dump Clients Who Don't Pay You

Follow this link for a good belly laugh. Read this on Colleen Doran's must read comics blog and couldn't resist reposting it. It's hilarious but quite typical. I wonder if we all have the gonads to respond as this graphic artist did to a familiar predicament ... when clients don't pay for delivered commissioned work.

New Years Eve Aussie Style

No city does NYE fireworks like Sydney does. Here's a glimpse of 2010. Oh ... and tee hee ... see you all here at the end of the year!

Post-Xmas Post 3

Just downloaded some Xmas pics – thought you might like to see. Our family doesn't use a real tree – nobody wants to cut down and kill a young pine just for the sake of a few weeks so we recycle a fake tree every year and spend our money on ornaments. My sister and I have a tradition of buying an ornament each for our departed Babushka (grandmother) who loved Christmas and cherished beautiful baubles. The flower you see in the table centrepiece is a white protea – an Australian indigenous plant (although I am not quite sure if this variety also grows in Africa). I had a conversation with an American friend (and Black Mermaid blog reader) Cat who may be visiting our shores this time next year. One of the things we talked about was the difference in plant species between our two continents and the protea is a good example of that. I look forward to showing her our waratahs, wattles, grevilleas and bottle brushes – oh and mustn't forget the kangaroo paws.

Here's the Xmas menu which I also posted on my FaceBook page so you may be able to make a game out of spotting which dish is which on the table: Chilled pea soup with mint gelato; Maple glazed ham; Mushroom and goat cheese gallette (vegetarian option); Salad of dried pears, prosciutto and blue cheese; Peach, BBQ duck and pecan salad; Lacy parmesan biscuits. Dessert: Sour cherry and ricotta strudel. Drink: Lime and mango tropicano.

We had a wonderful Xmas although there was so much congestion on the mobile phone networks that I didn't receive Jozef's sms greeting and good wishes for about three days.

Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids Exhibition

Got to love some of the wonderful exhibitions that come to Sydney!

The Australian National Maritime Museum is hosting the Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids Exhibition until 23 May 2010 – on tour from the American Museum of Natural History.
Mythic creatures give shape to humankind's greatest hopes, fears and dreams. For thousands of years, humans everywhere – sometimes inspired by living animals or even fossils – have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, songs and works of art... [this exhibition] traces the cultural and natural history roots of some of the world's most enduring mythological creatures, bringing to light the ways in which people have been inspired by nature to envision and depict these strange and wonderful creatures.
LOTS OF MERMAIDS plus sea monsters, rainbow serpents and water dragons!

The Australian National Maritime Museum is located at 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia.
General Enquiries: +61 2 9298 3777 (Mon-Fri) or +61 2 9298 3777 (weekends).

We've put it into our diaries – we'll make a day of it with lunch at the fish markets down the road. How apt.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Making a Living from Comics in 2010

A late HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! It's ridiculous that we're already into 2010 when all the fuss about the millennium bug seemed like a moment away. We actually held a "Come as you are in 2010" party about five years ago and now we're here – doubly ridiculous! Anyway ...

We apologise for not having posted as regularly as we would have liked over the last month. In fact, we're going to be pretty quiet midweek for about another month but give you a glut of blog posts on the weekend which will hopefully sustain you for the rest of the week.

You see .. our respective savings have run out. We've been living off savings so we can move Black Mermaid Productions, our Black Mermaid Boutique and Elf~Fin forward. It's slow and steady work but you know what they say about the journey to success being at least 10,000 steps (and often mundane ones at that). We are so COMMITTED to our comics work that we're savouring the moment when the first Elf~Fin issue is launched and it reaches you – our readers. We've been giving you sneak peeks along the way – a panel here, a cover there and at least one double page spread (sans the dialogue of course – we do need to keep some secrets up our sleeves). We have a few more panels to show you except that Jozef recently had to overhaul his entire computer system and his PhotoShop isn't operational at the moment so he can't scan any artwork. But patience will be rewarded ...

In the interim we've both needed to find some work to replenish the coffers so that we could continue working on Elf~Fin. This segues into a topic we've been wanting to touch on for a long time – how do you make a living as a comics professional when you have nothing in print?

Well most successful full-time comics professionals have a body of work and a large backlist of books which yields passive income in the form of regular royalty cheques to keep them working. But what happens when you're starting out or coming out with new product with a long development period?

Well, you need to find some other form of part-time bread and butter work to allow you to push forward with your publishing goals. So, every now and then Jozef picks up some well paid freelance art jobs (animation, poster design, gaming illustration) and I pick up freelance writing work (web content, ghostwriting, marketing) to help pave the way and pay the bills. We advocate two strategies in finding jobs that would suit creatives:

(1) Low "mental energy" part-time work, or
(2) High paying short term contract work.

The first has its advantages in the form of regular income that you can count on for budgeting purposes. The low mental energy part of it all is advantageous because the job doesn't suck your internal resources dry so that you have nothing left over to channel into your creative work at the end of the day or on days you have off. I used this to my advantage many years ago when I got a two day a week part-time work in a tertiary institution where I was working in an admin role. My body was there on the job but my mind was a million miles away – dreaming and planning and writing in my head. I did my job well mind you – I organised everything efficiently, did all the filing, arranged meetings, typed up important information, worked up project management plans and fulfilled all the criteria within my job description. The job didn't drain or challenge me – which for all intents and purposes was a good thing. I know of other creators who work as store-men, as waiters and waitresses, or in admin roles – all examples of low mental energy jobs. The money you make isn't brilliant but it it is regular and gives you the freedom to focus on the task at hand – your comic/graphic novel project. We have always been grateful and appreciative of these jobs.

The other option is to pursue intensive short term work that is exceptionally well paid. You throw yourself into it for a limited time (up to three months is our recommendation). You make a packet during that time and squirrel it into your savings account so the final payoff is at least four or five months of savings to live off while you concentrate full-time on your creative project. The disadvantage of this scenario is that you can lose momentum on your comic or graphic novel or have to work late nights and weekends on it until your schedule clears again – which basically means you get little sleep for the contract period. I am working once such job at the moment (hence the lack of blogposts). It finishes at the end of January or early February and will afford me the opportunity to live off the savings for several months. My schedule at the moment is something like this:

4.30 -4.45 Morning ablutions
4.45-5.15 Weights or stretching exercises
5.15-6.00 Feed all the animals/clean kitty litter/let out sheep/walk dogs/check emails
6.00-6.15 Get dressed
6.15-6.30 Breakfast
6.30-6.45 Brush teeth etc
6.45-7.15 Drive to train station
7.15-8.15 Train travel into city
8.15-12.15 Work
12.15-12.30 Lunch
12.30-4.45 Work
5.00-6.00 Train
6.15-6.30 Drive home
6.30-7.15 Exercise - swim or walk
7.15-8.15 Feed animals/lock up sheep/walk the dogs etc
8.15-8.30 Check emails
8.30-8.45 Have dinner
8.45 - 9.15 Get clothes, breakfast and lunch ready for the next day
9.15-9.30 Shower
9.30-10.00 Miscellaneous activities/read
10.00 Sleep

This is a pretty heavy timetable and requires me to be quite disciplined, and if I add TV to the formula I get even less sleep than I should. My body will only withstand it for a certain amount of time but I know there is an end in sight and the pay off is worth it. The work is interesting but pretty relentless so I have nothing left over at the end of the day and need to spend the weekend doing admin work such as finances, and other activities such as blogging. However, what also makes it worthwhile is the team I am working with who are all psychologically healthy, intelligent and funny people so the work environment is very pleasant.

Both approaches work for different reasons and occasionally you can mix it up a bit. Ultimately, it's up to you as to what works better for your own internal rhythms and home/work balance. Ultimately, these are strategies that can help move you towards your ultimate goal (if that is indeed what you want) – to create comics full-time and to make a substantial living out of it.