Big things are happening in my small bubble of a world. As I type this, off in a darkened corridor lie the yet-unsorted piles of clothes, textbooks, and knickknacks that will be accompanying me tomorrow on my trek back to my college campus dorm. I'm eagerly excited to begin my next set of classes, and perhaps more so the experience of dorm life- I secretly hope that real life in the world of adults at least vaguely resembles the shenanigans that transpire here. For the first time in my life, I've been able to really delve into this still-alien world of "socializing", and "hanging out". This is a phenomenon I'd flirted with in the past, but I delved in far further my freshman year than ever before. I enjoy living within walking distance of so many interesting and lively people, and I'm looking forward to living amongst them again.
On reflection, this season's been of that strange variety, the endless summer that somehow rushed by in the blink of an eye. Certainly it didn't involve my usual hibernation in the basement, seeking the companionship of my favorite game consoles and ignoring the rest of the outside world, by choice or other forces. No, I actually was more active this summer than perhaps all my other summers- this was mostly due to my employment as a summer camp counselor, which as far as first jobs go, was far from the soul-crushing experience I'd been led to expecting have a job would entail. It's a bit odd that my only problems were from either myself or the result of immature staffers- as much as some might distress over how children are merely devils in disguise, my students were overall not only wonderfully behaved, but incredibly endearing. At times after classes, when I was trotting about the camp on one errand or another, I'd be called out by some of my students, who could spot my Cookie Monster hat from a mile away. That hat became my trademark for the summer, as well as my assumed identity. I fondly remember the closing campfires, where after the staff finished their final song and dispersed the group, a small pack of scouts would linger until I wandered out from the grassy stage. "Cookie!" they'd shout, rushing over to give me one last group hug. I have a feeling that my experiences as a camp counselor will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I learned much during the camp and this summer; I learned many practical things, as I had to teach them to the younglings who swarmed around my sun-burnt picnic tables each morning for seven weeks. But I also learned more about teaching- the old line that "If you can't learn, teach" isn't just a cynical saying. It's a truth. I learned more teaching those kids about nature and the biological wonders that pepper our planet than if I had, on a whim, decided to simply lock myself away and study my way to enlightenment. Certainly, this is useful information for me, and in a way makes sense- my family's always had a foot in the educational arena, seeing as my mother's been involved in all sorts of programs related to the schools and still works as a librarian for my old middle school. Even when I was younger I was interested in education- I had ambitious notions of bringing video games into the classroom, of finding new ways to make lessons interactive and exciting. I still do, but they've only recently bubbled up to the surface, along with a few projects ideas of a similar nature involving comics. I imagine I'll be looking further into this as my college courses continue on- I feel like I'd have a grand time teaching in some form or other.
Speaking of comics, I'm having a wonderful time over at Enter Void. The voting for the second round is still proceeding right now (you can check out the new comic right here: [link]
, but I'm hungry for the next round to start. Ever since I experienced DeviantDead last year, I realized that these comic competitions were an easy way for me to solve what I perceive to be my biggest problem: That is, the fact that it's rare for me to get ANYTHING done. All of my long-term projects have run out of steam barely after bolting out of the gate (Jukebox is looking the same, but I've more thoughts on that for another journal), and any other projects are often hastened to completion for fear of the aforementioned fate, leaving them a bit rushed in appearance. Granted, Void hasn't quite changed that yet- it's a common criticism from the other members that I'm breezing through my pages too quickly- but the fact that there's genuine criticism is a marvelous boon all on its own, and the relatively short weekly deadlines means that I can have just enough time to finish without necessarily panicking. This is the sort of atmosphere I've been seeking forever; the advice may be a bit harsh at times, but it's more often than not dead-on accurate, and the fellow artists are more than willing to put up with my inane questions, carefully picking apart my pages and offering precise advice for improvement.
It's because of Void that I've begun using a device called an Ames Lettering tool, a strange little widget that, while initially confounding, has become absolutely vital to my process. I could not imagine making better comics without this gadget. It's because of Void that I'm pushing myself to learn better inking techniques- it was my decision to focus solely on my lineart and not hide behind my usual bizarre color palettes, in order to tackle the problem head-on. I'm rereading all of the comics I have strewn about my room in an effort to absorb a variety of inking styles, and by chance I picked up an issue of Orc Stain I purchased a while back. It still boggles my mind that James Stokoe, the creator of the gloriously brilliant series Orc Stain and a professional comic artist, was at one time a citizen of Enter Void, an ordinary human being and an underdeveloped artist. It's humbling to look over the list of artists who have trained here, many of whom I already admired before even catching whispers of the site. That being said, I am still determined to not rest easy. I feel a tinge of masochistic glee when I scan my inbox for new comments, for I know that more likely than not they'll be the harsh-but-true critiques I've already begun to crave. Yes, I say, tell me more about how bad my art is, I want to know how terrible it is, tell me all of my flaws so that I may assault them myself. Break me down, and make me stronger. That's what I want to get out of Enter Void, and so far it appears as though that's exactly what will happen.
All in all, this summer's been fantastic. I've got lots more thinks to write down, but that will have to be for another time. I want to thank all of you for looking at my work- I don't say it enough, but I really do appreciate people taking the time to comment on my pieces, especially when you write such nice things about them. And if you spent all this time reading the whole journal, then an extra big thanks to you, too.
I hope you all had a wonderful summer, and will all have a great rest of the year. Let's all work together to be the best artists we can be, and the best humans we can be!