PAX South Tickets are on Sale!

PAX South tickets are on sale and I realized I haven’t written about my last experience. So here’s my belated thoughts on my second annual January San Antonio vacation.

I was at PAX South for the first time in 2016. This last January, Jake and I returned. PAX South 2017 was everything I needed it to be and I’m so thankful I didn’t chicken out and not go. I was so nervous because not only was it my first vacation/outing out of the city in a year (I’ve been dealing with a lot of medical issues), it was my first outing in a wheelchair. Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, I can’t walk well anymore and I use a wheelchair to get around. I was nervous because I had no idea how accessible everything at the conference center would be, I didn’t know I’d handle the inability to be in control of my own motion (I don’t have a lot of strength in my arms either so Jake pushed me everywhere), and I was worried about how friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile would react to seeing me immobile.

Thankfully my worries were for nothing; the actual trip was above and beyond my highest expectations. The two main reasons for that were: the incredible PAX enforcers who helped me get my medical badge and made sure EVERYTHING was accessible to me; and my beautiful amazing welcoming wonderful friends who greeted me with open flying tackle hugs. It was a long and exhausting weekend and I paid for it in the following week (I slept a lot), but it was worth it. So worth it. Which is why we are going back for Pax South 2018!! To get myself even more excited about 2018, check out my PAX 2017 photos (and friends) from earlier this year:

My handsome husband & I

PAX SOUTH!

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Today’s Webcomic Wednesday is one from the FUEL archives – we’re going back in time for an interview with E.K. Weaver of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal fame, a (more than epic & NSFW) comic about two guys who throw caution to the wind, and take off on a cross-country road trip. As the author puts it, “”This is the story of two dudes who drive from Berkeley to Providence, take multiple detours, smoke too much weed, eat terrible Chinese food, sleep in seedy motels, get kicked out of a Goodwill, contemplate fate versus chance, piss into the sunset, start a brawl in a Waffle House, and fall in love.”

On with the Interview!

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What started you down the road of comics?

I wouldn’t really say I’m “on the road of comics”… maybe on a smaller frontage road, or in the bike lane. I’ve always liked drawing quick sequentials, but never really identified as a Comic Book Artist – partly because it’s not how I make a living; partly because I’m still a very green amateur. Honestly, what got me started working on a comic book was realizing the story I had in mind was best told in that medium. That’s it. I’ve come to love it, though – the craft of comics, I mean. Scripting, pacing, timing, layout. It still blows me away that when you make a comic, you manipulate time with art. How cool is that?
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Who was your biggest inspiration in the field of comics or cartoons?

Oh gosh, um. There are so many amazing artists (many my age and younger) who are continually evolving inspirations, but if we’re going with the past tense, I’d have to say Al Hirschfeld and Kyle Baker.

I’ve always admired Hirschfeld’s knack for distilling a person’s likeness down to its essential forms – not just facial resemblance but style of motion and posture as well. He depicts someone’s essence clearly even while rendering it in impossible ways – placing the eyes below the mouth, say, or drawing tight spirals for eyes. Not only that, but watching the documentary The Line King and seeing how instead of just flinging out these effortless curves and perfectly placed lines (as I’d previously thought), that he took each drawing through a painstaking sketching and refining process… it was like a beam of light out of the blue. I saw that pouring effort and time into artwork showed dedication, not inability to “get it right the first time”. That artists aren’t gods but people who work really damn hard.

As for Kyle Baker: His comics showed me the importance of acting. Characters don’t just move through a scene, they live it – they act it. Just read the first 10 or 15 pages of I Die At Midnight and you’ll see what I mean. His work is incredibly cinematic. Also, Baker’s books Why I Hate Saturn and Undercover Genie – and more recently, How to Draw Stupid – have been huge inspirations. There’s a LOT of Saturn influence in TJ and Amal – building characters through conversation and facial expression, setting the story in its place and period rather than trying to make it ‘timeless’, telling the story in ordered vignettes rather than one continuous arc…

What were some early creations – and what do you think of them now?

Comics-wise? I don’t really have much to speak of. Most of my creative projects before TJ and Amal were commercial illustration and design, or fandom stuff I did just for fun. Nothing I could call a truly original creation.
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What is your favorite medium to work with?

Plain old mechanical pencil.

Regarding your process of creating a finished panel, what is your favorite part? Sketching, lineart, or the color?

Probably the first passes in pencil and ink. That’s when things really start to solidify, and when the emotion starts to show clearly. It gets me pretty pumped to see everything finally taking shape.
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How long does it take you to create a final, fully-detailed comic?

We’ll find out. Three years, at least. *haha* A single page takes between 6 and 15 hours, and a 10-page segment usually will take between 3 and 6 weeks. (I have a day job, so comicking happens on weekends and at night. )

Who is your favorite – TJ or Amal?

I can honestly say I do not favor one over the other. Amal’s easier for me to relate to, but TJ’s dialogue is much easier to write.
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If TJ and Amal were stranded in a rainforest, do you think they’d survive? (And who would crack first?)

Probably. TJ’s appetite might have him end up eating some nasty mushroom, though. (Amal would crack first, just because of all the bugs.)

Annnndddd…. What is your favorite webcomic?

Oh man, that’s like setting me loose in a cheesemonger’s and telling me I can only pick one! Erm, so I won’t.
For strips, probably either Nedroid, Hark! A Vagrant, Girls With Slingshots, or Something Positive. I’ve been following those last two for a long time. Long-form webcomics I like include Hanna is not a Boy’s Name, Templar, AZ, The Meek, Octopus Pie… I don’t think I can go on without leaving someone important out, but there are way more than this! There’s so much love, enthusiasm, and talent out there in the webcomics world. It’s really exciting.
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You can find more about E.K. Weaver and her art here:

It was one humdinger of a week in the USA. The Boston Marathon bombing, then the gigantic fertilizer plant explosion just two hours north of us here in West, TX – a place we frequent on many a road trip, and then the manhunt back in Boston. What a week. And that sentence right there, well I’m grateful that I can say that. It was one week. One day of fear. I am so thankful we live in a place where a statement like that is a big deal. Last night at the Boston press conference with commissioner Edward Davis, they mentioned that it was a long day of terror. But it was a day, and now it’s over and the sun has come up again.

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We’re so lucky to live in a country where a few days of terror is so rare it makes global headlines. We are lucky to have people who rush forward to help instead of hiding behind doors. We are lucky to have the government we do that allows us access to the media and local resources. We are lucky to live in a free country. We are so very very lucky to live in a place where we are woken up by alarm clocks and not bombs, where our police are there to protect us not take from us, where our president talks about his love for diversity and his pride for the people he governs. My heart goes out to those who aren’t so lucky, to those who live in this terror every day, for weeks, months, years. My love to all those who are not so fortunate.

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7 6 5 4 3 MORE DAYS TO DONATE! WE ARE FULLY FUNDED BUT FEEL FREE TO DONATE IF YOU STILL WANT THE INCENTIVE!

Remember last year when y’all sent me to SXSW Interactive and I livetweeted the whole thing and shared all my notes and pictures? Yeah? WELL LET’S DO IT AGAIN! This year’s interactive is going to be even bigger and better and once again, I want to go and bring you all with me! Of course that can only happen if you help me again. This year I have some even more awesome incentives to help send me to my third SXSW Interactive. Read on!

The SXSWi 2013 Snailbird Proposal

If you help to send me to SXSW Interactive 2013, I promise you I will bring to you all the latest, greatest news and education from the most awesome conference ever hosted in Austin, Texas. I will create a brand new SXSWi 2013 page (similar to the Design Coyote Resource Guide for SXSW ’12) where I will write up all my notes, post all my pictures, and share all the tweets (both on designcoyote and rescueanimals), and resources I find. I’m even going to revive my #SXYote hashtag for Twitter usage so all you have to do is follow it to see my SXSWi tweets.

This year I have a fun theme I’ll be exploring: Embracing the Geek Life! I will be covering gaming culture (specifically from the eye of a female gamer), the influence of social media on space travel, and the heart and mind of the creative entrepreneur! And of course there will be a bit of comics and illustration thrown in there for fun. Some of the sessions I hope to go to (which is also all the things you get to learn about as well!) include:

OH! And don’t forget I would totally take pictures and share notes from speakers like Al Gore, Neil Gaiman and Chuck Lorre, Matthew Inman, Rachel Maddow, and Tina Roth Eisenberg. Because hell yes, you know you want to hear from all those amazing people.

We all love learning. And you already know that I love sharing knowledge – on here, on @designcoyote, on I Love Rescue Animals, and on @rescueanimals – so you know that I’m only going to be bring you the best quality and create a stellar resource for those of you who can’t make it to SXSWi yourself. This is your chance to be a part of SXSWi for just a small donation (and some fantastic incentives). I will be sharing a ton of resources for social media, sharing positive causes, utilizing the internet and social media to raise donations, and how to market yourselves online, as well as design tips I learn, the newest technology for artsy folks, and other great education resources.

How Much Will This Be?

The total amount of money I’m trying to raise is $1,150 – which is JUST the price of one SXSWi ticket. Since I live in Austin, all the lodging expenses are taken care of, and I’ll pay for my own food and goodies. I just need help getting the ticket.

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What You Get For Helping!

Don’t worry. You won’t be walking away empty-handed either. Besides the shared knowledge of all I learn, you will also get an awesome incentive depending on what level you donate to. These are as follows:

$1 or more: Join the list of other donors on my SXSW page.*
$15 or more: The above and an individual shout-out on the designcoyote twitter (2,000+ followers).
$30 or more: The above and a pencil sketch of your pet/favorite animal (in The Family Menagerie style).
$50 or more: The above and the pencil sketch gets inked and colored with marker.
$75 or more: The above plus a 100×100 pixels digitally colored avatar of your choice (in TFM style), as well as a shout-out on the rescueanimals twitter (28,900+ followers).
$100 or more Be included on the donors page, receive a twitter shout-out (on both), a sketch of a pet/favorite animal, a 100×100 pixel digitally colored avatar, and 1 month of advertising on either the Snailbird or I Love Rescue Animals blog*.
$175 or more: Sponsor A Full Day and I’ll *bring your company to SXSW with me! (Does not include any of the above incentives.
$200 or more: Mention on donors page and twitter accounts, marker-colored image of pet/favorite animal, 100×100 avatar, 2 months of advertising on either blog*.
$350 or more: The $200 incentives AND a full-colored digital illustration of your choice.

$500 or more: SPONSORSHIP LEVEL 1! You will have a large prominent THANK YOU at the top of the SXSWi resource page, thanks on both Twitter and Facebook (for both Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals), PLUS 6 months of advertising on the blog and a full blog post thanking you on Snailbird*.
$950 or more: SPONSORSHIP LEVEL 2! You will have a large prominent THANK YOU at the top of the SXSWi resource page, thanks on both Twitter and Facebook (for both Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals), PLUS 12 months of advertising on the blog and a full blog post thanking you on Snailbird AND I Love Rescue Animals (and if you or your company has a blog, I will also write up a guest post about everything I learned because of your generosity that you can use on your website)*.

Interested in donating but looking for some other prize/incentive? Feel free to comment or email me and we can talk! I’m open to hearing your ideas.

*Being included on the donors page, as well as getting posted on Snailbird and I Love Rescue Animals websites, means getting your name and link seen by artsy folks, nature-lovers, and lots of animal advocates, pet bloggers, and other activists. Snailbrd gets on average 5,000 unique visitors a month with 30k page/visits a month. I Love Rescue Animals receives an average of 6,000 unique visitors a month and 40k page/visits a month.

Donate to the Send-Nikki-to-SXSWi Fund!

7 6 5 4 3 MORE DAYS TO DONATE! WE ARE FULLY FUNDED BUT FEEL FREE TO DONATE IF YOU STILL WANT THE INCENTIVE!

So you can all help keep track of where I am in donations, I’ve set up this nifty Paypal Donation widget. Once you donate, you will receive an email from me/Paypal confirming the amount and I will follow up with a Thank You and a list of the incentives you get. Just click on the yellow button in the Paypal widget below to donate.

***Simply click the yellow “Give” button and on the next page, you will be able to fill in whatever amount you would like!***

****The PayPal widget is slow to reflect actual donations – we are fully funded at exactly $1150, but you are still free to donate until March 8th if you want one of the incentives.***

The Final Plea

Guys, I want to go to SXSWi a lot. It was an incredible experience last year, especially because I got to share it with all of you, and I want to be able to give that to you again. I learned so much, and I feel that this year is going to be even better. So for just one donation, you can help send me to this awesome conference full of great opportunities and in return you get to learn all that I learn and some (you know those incentives are pretty awesome). Pretty great deal, yeah?

So please please help, and share with your family and friends! I will be forever grateful to you and so very honored. Thank you! You guys rock!

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