The Upshaw family got through the toughest Easter weekend ever. Two weeks ago, my cousin David Williams was taken off life support; his funeral was Good Friday. Because of this, my family decided not to make the big Upshaw Family Holiday Dinner we usually do. Instead, we just had a quiet Sunday like we always do. David's parents, my Uncle Dollyboy and Aunt Jannie, were flooded with so much food from caring loved ones, they ran out of room to keep it all, so we got some of it: turnip greens, candied yams, fried chicken, a bundt cake and the most delicious homemade muffins I ever tasted. I gotta get that recipe!
On a lighter note, that Easter Sunday I finished a small animation, uploaded it on social media and got applause for it. It encouraged me to make more cartoons, print and animated, which I hope to do all this week, since I don't have any doctor appointments until next week.
But today is (ugh) Tax Day, the deadline for filing. I decided to file online, since I seem to mess up my written tax forms. It was simple to do, until I got an error notice on my state tax form where there were no errors. I got into the Chat Room and the woman on the other end said I had to correct my federal tax form, which I did. But the error on my state tax form that isn't there still says "error". Back to the Chat Room!
Usually, when some glitch like this happens, I'm thinking, "I must be on the right track." If all these bad things are popping up, it means someone wants me to lose because I'm on my way to something great. So I now welcome glitches, since now they're a sign of success. And you can't succeed if you don't fail!
I leave you now with Jeremiah G. Hamilton, America's real first black millionaire. But Madam C.J. Walker is still great!
Today is the first really good day of spring here in East Chicago. I wanted to do a vlog recording outside but the wind interfered with my audio. So I recorded indoors as usual. Here it is.
Let me get one thing straight off the bat: I do not hate mainstream media. Before the internet, there were very few ways a cartoonist could make a living: Magazine gag cartooning (which I did), newspaper syndication, big comic-book companies (there were more of those back then) and big animation houses, all based in major cities, mostly New York and Los Angeles. Now that there is online media and other alternatives to the mainstream, as well as affordable technology, I have something that is right for me.
I can just make something, upload it and let everyone know it's up. It's simple but not easy; the not easy part is building an audience slowly. The fun part is reaching out to my audience on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter account and this very blog.
Joe Wilson, the creator of webseries like Vampire Mob and PlayShorts, did a series of YouTube videos for Film Courage's channel about doing webseries. In one, he warned online creators against the "spike mentality", measuring success by big numbers like the mainstream. There a movie or TV series has to be "a hit show from the get-go" because they do not have the time to let an audience build slowly--they have sponsors to please and cast and crew to pay. Besides, they pour millions into doing a good story, and they want a huge return on their investment. With a webseries, it's all about telling the stories the creators want to tell, and reaching out to the audience, no matter the number of people in it, by talking about the making of it.
Now it's no secret that I do care about making money with my original creations. That's why there are Amazon affiliate ads on this blog and I've signed up with Fliiby to upload my creative files and make money with the ads run with them. But I also realize that making any significant money will take time, and I am in this for the long haul.
The "bottom line" for this 'tooner is to have fun: Enjoy making cartoons and sharing my creative processes with my friends, fans and followers online. I still want to make money but people's compliments and encouragement are the best returns on my investment there are.
Well, I did it. I entered an art contest with my cartoon. The entry is in and ready to be voted on.
What contest? The Famous Faces Celebrity Art Challenge from Blick Art Materials, an online and brick-and-mortar chain of art supply stores (I used to go to the store in Chicago before I got scared of being shot in the Loop).
In this contest celebrating our country's fascination with celebrity culture, the only real rule is to do a celebrity-themed work of art in any style using any medium. I, being a cartoonist, did little caricatures of President Donald J. Trump and his cast of(f) characters that surround him. The heads were simple cartoon portraits on Japanese "kawaii"-style bodies. Cute and harmless-looking.
Now I'm asking all of you blog readers a huge favor: Vote for my entry. The five works with the most votes will each win a prize package worth over $315. The package includes a set of 96 Tombow Brush Pen Markers, and you know I love markers! So, here's my entry:
You can vote for my work between April 3 and April 10 at this link: bit.ly/2nAneAh and if I win, I promise not to accuse the other four winners of wiretapping my basement. So, come April 3, vote for a REAL winner! Thank you.
All right, I've made my decision based on popular opinions on the Freedom Junkies Facebook Page (I'll tell you what FJ is later). The Ladytooner Micromedia logo I'll use is:
This logo was my favorite version as well because of the way it just "hits" the viewer in the face as if to say, "I WILL HAVE YOUR ATTENTION!!" Plus, purple is a color associated with creativity (I think) and yellow was my favorite color when I was a kid (my Easter outfit was yellow one year).
Now, who are the Freedom Junkies? They're a group started by Nicole & Michael Connoly, a couple who, prompted by a death in Nicole's family, sold their belongings and traveled the world for over four years, working as social media managers in orer to afford their traveling lifestyle. The Conollys are similar to other "freedom lifestyle" promoters like Natalie Sisson and Dr. Valerie Young, with their "escape the 9-to-5 and follow your dreams" lessons; but the Connolys, especially Nicole, really got me going for it seriously.
So, what is my idea of the "freedom lifestyle"? It's making a living soley off my creativity, working in different locations that have wifi. Right now that means the basement, Mom's computer room, the living room chair, the kitchen table and two branches of the East Chicago Public Library. Since I still help take care of Mom, my "freedom" is limited, but then, isn't everybody's?
I'm getting support for this lifestyle everywhere I can, including, and especially, the Freedom Junkies Facebook page. This is where all of us "freedom fighters" seek not only support but direction and ideas--as long as we don't promote our businesses there; we can get our own Facebook pages for that. I'm grateful and thankful for Freedom Junkies and all the people and groups online who have encouraged and still encourage me. I am now ready to take some major steps, and you'll hear about them on this very blog.
D.K. Upshaw here for Ladytooner Micromedia. I bring the biggest little laughs to your smartphones with short 'n sassy cartoons that are off the wall! So get on your browser and log onto Ladytooner! Or get the app!
How's that for a fast pitch? So fast it could win the Cubs another World Series? I'm gearing up to start LM but I haven't decided where to put my cartoon shorty-shorts. On Instagram? On Fliiby? On Dailymotion? On a Facebook Fan Page apart from the one I already have? I want EYEBALLS on my cartoons, eyeballs looking at smartphones, especially in East Chicago, my hometown.
East Chicago, Indiana has more cellphone stores than restaurants (OK, I'm exaggerating), and just about every EC citizen and his uncle have at least one. When I get a home for LTMM, I have to get EC to actually watch. They all know me as the lady who "can draw"; I want them to know I'm also the lady who can make 'em laugh with my moving drawings.
On the East Chicago buses, dozens of people are on their smartphones, usually talking to someone (yeah, they still do that on phones today), but one day I saw a woman watching a video on her phone. It was a live-action video about I don't know what, but she was watching. Now if I can only get her and people like her to watch my stuff...
At least I've made one small stride: A logo for the biz. I leave you now with three versions of it:
Some time ago I did a blogpost about politicians saying stupid things in the media. Well, it still happens today. The latest dumb remarks came from our new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson. (Personally, I think President Trump got him the job because he is black, and to him, black equals urban, like urban music.) Anyway, while addressing his HUD staff Monday, Carson said this about America's immigrant heritage:
"That's what America is about: a land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land."
All together now: Say WHAAAAT????
The good Doctor is making it sound like black Africans were volunteering to be captured, chained, placed in the dirty bottom of a slave ship where a good number of them died, sold to white masters like livestock and treated worse than that, given long, hard working hours and little food, and seeing their families torn apart by being sold. That's the American Dream, all right!
This is worse than his remark during the Republican Presidential Nomination race that the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built by Joseph in the Bible to store all that grain during the seven years of abundance to prepare for the seven years of famine. I suppose after the famine was over, then the kings of Egypt were buried there with all their riches.
Boy, did Carson get lambasted on Twitter, most notably by Samuel L. Jackson, whose tweet I cannot quote due to profanity, but he used the same bad word he used for those snakes on that plane. Then there's @1neveragain2020, who tweeted in part, "There's a couple of slang phrases for #BenCarson. The nicer one is 'Uncle Tom'." And @reneeygraham reminded us, "Slaves were no more 'immigrants' than #HBCUs were 'pioneers' of school choice," referring to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' dumb remark.
I leave you now with my cartoon portrait of Dr. Carson, that great black historian.
All right, last Friday I made big plans to cartoon the whole weekend away. I gathered my books, my art supplies, my paper, my digital media--I even photographed them and put the picture on Instagram. So what happened last weekend? Nothing.
Well, not exactly nothing. Friday, I made three gagtoons for a Fiverr buyer but stopped right there. Then, I went shopping at Walmart, not for art supplies but for clothes I needed: two pairs of pants, three belts to hold them up, and a nightgown, which I wore all weekend. I felt better, so I finished the three gagtoons and let the buyer Jeff know they were done and could he send me the rest of the gags he wanted drawn? He said he'd send them Monday.
So on Saturday my parents and I had a visit from my brother Paul. We just talked most of the afternoon, so I didn't get any drawing done. Otherwise, it was a quiet Saturday.
On Sunday I made a halfhearted attempt to draw something, but all I did was write some plans for what I wanted to draw. What the heck was wrong with me? Starting off with big plans? Getting overwhelmed? Feeling tired? Getting older? Afraid of stressing out and going back to the hospital?
All right, it's Monday. Or, as Eric Thomas would say, "THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY!" Jeff gave me the new gags, so I can work on them this morning. I guess I'm so set in my ways I can only work on cartoons I know I'm going to get paid for. Darn, I care too much about money! I want to let go of financial concerns and just draw for the love of drawing--and I still love drawing! I just have to tell myself, "It's okay to have fun drawing, it's okay to enjoy cartooning. Just start!" That's the easy part; the hard part will be believing it.
I leave you now with DANCING!
Last week I bought a slew of new art supplies: markers, pens--oh, let me just show you!
My favorite part of this haul are the Touch Five Animation set of 80 markers--wow, what colors!
But my very favorite part of this haul is the first how-to-cartoon book I've bought in decades: Manga for the Beginner Kawaii: How to Draw the Supercute Characters of Japanese Comics by Christopher Hart. Hart is a well-known author of how-to-cartoon books, and his style of drawing kawaii characters really caught my eye. So I bought the book, and am I glad I did.
February is a big month for such a short one: Groundhog Day, Black History Month, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Heart Disease Awareness Month...and my cartoon for "The 411", "Our Follies", has always reflected that. Even from way back when there was a print edition, February was special. So for Throwback Thursday, the last one this month, here are some past "Our Follies" cartoons.
Now here are this February's "Our Follies" cartoons.
I hope you enjoyed my little cartoon show. Log onto gary411news.com for the latest in African American-based news and "Our Follies" comics. Wait 'til you see what I've got planned for March, Women's History Month!