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New Year, New Focus

Blog Comic 38-1

Alright, 2016. Forgive me whilst I adjust my aviators as I slowly exit the DeLorean with dry ice smoking all around me.

I’m dreaming, of course. I mean, I don’t own a pair of aviators… (yet)…

However, all that being stated, the end of 2015 was one helluva busy one. What with the whole ‘Christmas Time Mania’ that seems to strike all around and – when I was about to start getting back into the swing of things before the beginning of the new year – I got struck down with the mother of all fevers on New Year’s Eve.

That was a fun night.*

(*ED: Still have sinusitis. Thanks, flu!)

However, I’m not going to use this small snag bring down the start to a new year with a new focus on the horizon: working out what I would like to accomplish in the next few years. 

See, I don’t know about anyone else, but probably because of that flu – I’ve had this thought in the back of my mind – and it goes a little like this: “if I die tomorrow, who do I want to be remembered as? What did I achieve?”

Sure, the above statement is a little paranoid in its entirety, but it definitely brings up a good point. Ferris Bueller put it so damn accurately: “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop a look around once in a while, you could miss it”. 

I’ll be honest with you: most of my twenties were a flailing disappointment in certain respects. I wavered between dreams, goals, aspirations, ideas and – although I did achieve certain goalposts that I set for myself – I also missed opportunities that I should have been a little bolder with. Thinking about it too, I probably should’ve traveled sooner, but when you’re an anxiety-riddled underdog with high hopes, it gets a little challenging at the best of times. So, I try to take the harsh inner-critique a little easier these days.

It’s 2016. I’m almost 31. Where to next, man?

Simple. I re-branded myself.

Now, if you will forgive the superficially-charged edge to the statement “re-branded”, that’s exactly what I did. It’s what I felt I had to do for myself at this juncture in my life.

Who was I really?

Getting down to the gooey-guts of it all: I was an oddity. An outsider. A slacker (in various respects) with a dreamscape that twenty lifetimes couldn’t fill. But, what I liked about all of that was – I knew who I was at my core – I was all of those things and a whole lot more, but when I thought about the things that made me who I was as an artist, it came down to three things that I thought summed me up at this point in my life:

* ACTOR – (I love to act)
CARTOONIST – (I love to draw)
* STORYTELLER – (I love to entertain)

“Gotta good balance of life goals here, yeah?… Yeah…”

I wanted to think of something that I could do to combine all of these traits. And I did.

I toyed with the idea of Audio Visual Storytelling (or ‘Video Storytelling’) for sometime. I dug old programs that used to utilise the power of well constructed pieces of narrative and would use illustrations to kind of ‘fill in the blanks’ (if you will). Almost like ‘Story Time’ way back in the Primary School Days. There’s something kinda cool about allowing enough of your imagination to wander in these scenes as the story unfolds to you. It’s not quite “animation” as it is not about the characters moving with complete independent fluidity (the trick being that you don’t notice the drawings or renderings etc.), but it’s a hybrid between both watching a story unfold, and listening to the details in the narration. It was an interesting and involved concept.

So I tried it.

I came up with an idea for a series entitled: “The Adventure Satchel”. I resurrected the look of an old character I had kicking around, “Max”, and started to think about potential series and what some of the plot lines might be. Ideas started flooding my imagination, but as I had learned from my past mistakes (REF: the whole of my damn twenties) that ambition is great, but actual delivery of said ambition, is even greater. So, I gave myself a series of rules (or “criteria”, if you will) that I needed to follow per episode to ensure I didn’t make ‘Ben Hur’ out of my crazy, little idea:

1.) The episodes must be set within a country/region every couple of episodes or so. It must be generated by a random online Country Generator. 

2.) Episodes should be no longer than 5-6 minutes. 3-4 minutes is the sweet spot. 

3.) Each episode MUST contain either:

a.) An item or object generated by a random online generator
or
b.) A place or location generated by a random online generator (e.g. an ocean, a forest etc.)

The purpose to all this was to create something that I could stick to and also be an experimental platform to try out and test my material. I mean, am I an okay writer? Illustrator? Voice actor or narrator? I guess there’s only one way to find out – go and do something about it!

Which reminds me of something… I know this is already quite a lengthy blog post, but this does bring up a good point, the reason why I shifted gears and decided to work on something like ‘The Adventure Satchel’ before trying my hand at something I would really like to do one day…

Filmmaking.

See, the thing is: with ‘The Adventure Satchel’ or any other Audio Visual Storytelling project I might decide to do, ultimately, it’s up to me. If something doesn’t work out – it’s completely 100% my own doing – no one else dictates whether something is happening or not happening. Mind you, this is not a shot at anyone in particular, this is just something that I have noticed over the years. I guess I figured that if I want to see something done at *this* very point in time – then I’ll have to do it myself. Ultimately though, I am working towards a long-term goal of mine: to become a director someday. Hopefully a director of my own material. Material that I’d love to appear in myself (perhaps as an actor in some small capacity) – I mean, who knows really? See, despite what I just wrote above, I would love to direct live-action films some day. I’d love to work with actors and other collaborators and and see the types of films I’d love to see myself if I wasn’t making them. That all being stated, I would probably write material that is oriented towards mature audiences rather than a general audience. Nonetheless, in any case, ‘The Adventure Satchel’, strangely, is a step in the right direction. It is teaching me about character development, timing, angles, lighting, the necessity of sound and music and in general, how to actually “put together” a project using all of these elements. Thus far, it’s been a great tool and I am thankful for trying it out. (ED: In fact, it’s almost like a “high-end animatic” of sorts. That is not a bad thing. Not by a long shot!)

Onward though. I mean, I don’t know how far ‘The Adventure Satchel’ will go – who really knows after all – but, what I do know is: it’s a practical step in the right direction. In my own time. My own stride. With my own flavour. Unashamedly mine.

2016, I don’t know what you have in store – but I’m liking our friendship thus far, O’Calendar Year – let’s keep steppin’ in that good direction – I like it over there.

Cheers,
Jake

(**ED: I have been researching different cameras, lenses and general up-to-date filmmaking equipment and essentials. Thinking about the future…)

(***ED: UPDATE NOVEMBER 2016 – I have moved all my illustrated and animated content to Newgrounds.com. You can view ‘The Adventure Satchel’ and other creative projects of a similar vein here: http://jrrun.newgrounds.com/

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Ghosts

Forgive me. It’s been a somewhat lengthy hiatus.

Usually, I feel humorous and dare I say somewhat ‘witty’ whenever I write one of these blog posts, but I must confess, this one doesn’t quite feel the same. It doesn’t even feel quite the same as some of the other slightly seriously-edged ones on here either.

This is different.

I ran into someone I once knew.

I mean that as honestly as it sounds. Without too much artistic whimsy, I simply ran into someone I once knew and its affected me ever since then. Dare I try to interject with a pun – something along the lines of say that it’s ‘haunted’ me since then? No. It doesn’t change the feeling.

This was a friend of mine. Someone I spent some of my life with. I grew up with this guy. He was one of my closest friends.

Now. Two different strangers meet at a fast food stop by some sheer coincidence and their lives crash together once more.

To get real with the confession here, on my regular trip from Port Macquarie to Sydney (where I study Acting on the weekends), I usually stop near Wyong. There are two Caltex Service Stations either side of the highway. The idea being that you can top-up, fuel up and stretch your legs one last time before you enter into the bustling metropolis that is Sydney itself. They are a regular visit for me. Almost like clockwork. They just work that well.

This particular weekend, I was taking my sweet time to get down there. I don’t know why, really. I just wanted to rest up a little more before class started this time around. So, I took it in my stride.

As I ordered my food from Maccas this time around, I was waiting in the cue with one of those printed ‘Serving You Now’ receipts, casually listening for my number to be called when I noticed a lady in a white dress. Now, I have to be honest and say, I wasn’t ‘checking her out’ really, this was the kind of noticing that occurs when you remember someone. Recall something… something that you cannot quite put your finger on. There’s a familiarity here, but I can’t really think from where. Somewhere in my past, perhaps?

I basically go to shrug my shoulders just after this realisation when I see her partner. I don’t quite see him in full ‘profile view’ – just the back of him at the virtual ordering station that she is at – pressing on the screen. That’s when it kind of hit me. It looked like my old friend… but was it him?

Now, before anyone reading this judges me too harshly here – yes, alright – I *suspected* it *was* him. But I didn’t know for certain. I’m awkward enough not to go up and ‘double-check’ either, so I casually kept glancing across as I kept one earshot out for my order to arrive.

Was it him?

Suddenly, number (whatever) was called, and I hastily made my way over the girl at the order counter and politely – but quickly – acknowledged that I knew already that my coffee would be at the McCafe section. I thanked her very much anyway. For some reason – right around here – my guts twisted and my heart wrenched. I could feel my throat gulping as I made my way past them – inconspicuously – and part of me really didn’t want to be noticed by them… if it was them.

Why was I reacting this way? I should have been ecstatic, right? This is one of my closest old friends. There’s not many of them left in this world…

Upon realising this, my mind starts racing. What are you doing? Find out. So then I start to analyse my very being: Look, you’re already a loner by choice. You already shut the world out enough. What the hell’s wrong with you? You really are crazy, you know that about yourself, right? Gutless. Purely gutless. Get in the car. Get to Sydney. Roll up into a ball on the hotel room floor and rock yourself to sleep like a nutjob. Go on. Do it. Disappoint yourself again and be a goddamn loser and neverever know…

I grab my coffee and politely thank the girl at the cafe and already my heart is racing and I feel the hot pressure of anxiety riddling my being. So I breathe and the thoughts settle down a tad and I make way to a faraway table and sit down to just eat my food and leave. I mean, it’s bad enough that I’m eating this and it’s probably not that good for me, right? Okay, justified. I shouldn’t even be here. This is my punishment for ordering this type of food when I really shouldn’t be. That must be it…

Then I look as casually as I can from my partly chewed burger and that’s when our world’s collided: my old friend recognised me. Smile across his face.

“Rundle!? No way!”

I react as though I never knew he was there. Then again, did I? I guess so…

Still, nonetheless, the reaction was one of genuine surprise as I saw him and let the reality sink in. Beaming, he shook my hand and we hugged. The pact of familiar friendship came stinging back, flooding nostalgic memories of years past gone. I was in a state of bewildered bliss, and yet, of utter shock. What has transpired since we last spoke – nay – were in contact?

“What’s happening, man? You look good!”
“Thanks, you too, man – eh, just got married…” he chuckled as he gave me the (ring) finger with a brand new golden band signifying just how much of his life I had missed abroad.

Then I thought about it as I stammered for general pleasantries about whatever the hell I’d been up to the past three or so years: I’d missed this much. He just got married? My heart skipped and sank. Life’s moving too fast. It’s too short. How did I not know about this? How’d I miss something this important in his life? 

I felt like a fraud. Some friend.

He reintroduced his new wife. We had met before. Another event way back when. They looked like a great couple. Casual, relaxed and ready to take on the world together. It’s strange to say it, but there was some kind of ‘giddy hope’ that they seemed to radiate – almost like a wonderful naive innocence that seems lost on some – but not to them. It was refreshing to see, actually.

“Do you want to have dinner together?” he said to me.
“Yeah, sure – that’d be great – of course…” I managed.

We sat down and caught up on generally what we had been up to over the past three or so years. I had traveled and lived overseas. He had moved out of the city (slightly) with his new wife. I was living back home with my folks. He had two spoiled cats. I was studying Acting. He wasn’t surprised. I was somewhat melancholic deep down. He was happy. I smiled.

He was happy.

That did it for me right then and there. He was satisfied in his life. He had already started to build himself a wonderful life and was looking forward to the next chapter, as I was I – in my own way, but we were on very different paths.

It wasn’t long after taking a trip down memory lane and catching up on a few stories – filling in the missing pieces of our lives – that we shook hands, “well, man. We’d best get moving. We’re flying out tomorrow on our honeymoon…”

And that was that. They left the place first and I stayed behind. I had to process everything that just happened. I sat, shaking somewhat, at the table we ate at and processed the feeling of emptiness. My friend is gone. Again.

I inhaled and took my time to exhale. Collected my thoughts – and my coffee cup – and put my sunnies on. Back to the real world, ol’ buddy. As I headed out of the automatic doors and through the car park, I casually looked across to my left and saw the familiar, blue car he had three years ago. The horn beeped a couple of times and I waved back with a smile on my face.

That might be the very last time I ever see him again.

I processed this thought as I sat in my car.

Then again, it might not be… 

I felt myself lighten up a little. I turned the keys in the ignition. Focus up. You’ve got work to do… 

Ghosts.

If that was truly a ‘ghost of the past’ coming to visit me, then that’s okay by me. Come see me again, anytime you please.

It’s better to be haunted than to be alone.

 

NIK KERSHAW
“Old Friend”
feat. Elton John
From the album “Duets”

I want to be good, I want to be strong
But I treated him bad, I’ve done him wrong

I’ve taken his money, I’m given him hell
And he takes it all ‘cause he knows me well

We can say what we mean and mean what we say
We don’t like to mess around
But we’re there to hold each other up
When we’re falling down

Just like an old friend
Putting me on my feet again
Giving me back my pride then
Letting me go
Just like an old friend
Putting me in my place again
Giving me back my hope then

Letting me know that he’s an old friend

I don’t suffer no fools – I testify
But he must be one for being by my side
I’ve broken his heart
I’ve shaken his tree
But still he doesn’t want anything from a fool like me

We won’t talk for a year or two
Maybe when we do we won’t say much
Even so we know that out of mind is never out of touch

We’re having a man-to-man
Don’t want to get sentimental
But both of us understand
We’ll never have to say goodbye, just see you later

Blog Comic 37
Never destroy a good friendship.
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June-Bug!

Well, hiatus – old friend – it was fun, but it looks like I return to the shady world of internet blogging once more.

Ah, May. Helluva month. Can’t really remember what happened that month except to say that it was all a blur. Not as though ‘blurs’ are a bad thing necessarily, however, it is nice to have some memorable stop gaps along the way whilst whizzing through the infinite spiral that time itself unfolds as we’re busy “livin'”.

So, were there many – if any – of these ‘memorable stop gaps’?

Well, a few I guess…

… although truth be told: I can’t really remember any of them.

Oh, wait! I finally finished watching Netflix’s “Marvel Daredevil” and it absolutely rocks! Go see it if you have the chance!

*Ahem*

That’s about it.

Actually, no it’s not.

I also caught up with some friends of mine from the UK who are now living back in Oz (long time overdue there!) It was great to see ’em as well!

(Hmm… what else… something is naggin’ at me and I can’t seem to…)

AH HA! That’s it! And speaking of “HA!” …

What I did do was spend some time putting together a customised Joker outfit for the very lovely, Laura, whom currently lives across the pond in way away land… (or the ‘United Kingdom’ if you want to get completely, y’know, all ‘navigational’ about it all…)

Okay, so let me explain this one.

Laura is a huge Harley Quinn fan, and as such, she makes one helluva Harley Quinn when she has the opportunity to dress up as the heavily psychotic jester-ess. Now, over our regular Skype chats Laura may have dropped a few small hints at yours truly dressing up as Harley’s partner in crime: the psychotic ‘Clown Prince of Crime’, The Joker. 

Now, of course my tiny mind’s scramblin’ away with ideas (especially when given the opportunity to play a joke on a good friend or two) and so… I deflected her ideas as nonchalantly as I possibly could. You know what I mean? Dodging them aside by saying things like: “oh, yeah? Well, I dunno… maybe one day I guess… hey, by the way: did you see…” (etc.) all the while I was scouting eBay like a rabid warehouse seller, trying to track down all the necessary ingredients to make the ultimate ‘Joker’ outfit with varying degrees of success.

Firstly, I technically could’ve spent over $500 (actually, closer to $600 now that I really think about it) on an official ‘Joker’ costume, but the thing is, I wanted to put my own spin on the character (and… save some money whilst I was at it… hey, it’s win-win, ‘k?)

So, I was able to track down the purple suit first (a great bargain and a wonderful and prompt seller – which always helps!) and get the orange dress vest around the same time. Cha-ching! Done.

Then came all the other details – and cry-mo-niddley! – some of them were fun…

The forties inspired gangster spats… yeah. Either the wrong size or the better part of a zillion dollars. So, I took my time really going through all the international sellers to make sure that I got the right pair for this ‘ere zany Joker dude!

The socks were okay. I wanted to make sure I got the Joker right – AND I mean right down to his undergarments, dammit! – well, kinda… the socks at the very least. So, like the spats, I really took my time to make sure I found a pair that would work well with the costume.

Finally, with all the ingredients mixed (or ordered, as the case may be) the Joker was about to be assembled (not unlike an Avenger. Okay, terrible joke. Even more tragically that it’s the competitor company’s creations. I’ve dug a huge hole… well, time to get comfy in here then…) and put it all together, cross my fingers and hope for the best…

“Say “CHEESE!” HA HA HA!”

Well, whadd’ya think?

Okay, some slight colour correction here and there, but overall, I must say: I was quite happy with the result.

The best thing about this whole setup was that it was for Laura… however… my ‘element of surprise’ was ruined slightly by some germ that I had picked up…

Yeah, that’d be right – I got a freakin’ cold.

“Aww! Diddums!” I hear you say and normally I would agree too. However, when you’re gearing up for a photoshoot, you want to look and feel your best.

So there I am, all nasally and congested like a human exposed to the Umbrella Corporation’s latest leak (well, that’s how I thought I looked at least) and feeling like an infected, gross, half-dead rodent. Virtually choking every ten seconds whilst spluttering and coughing – and I’m supposed to be the ‘Partyman’? Are you kidding me?

Blog Comic 36
“Y’know what? I don’t even *need* this ‘Joker Undercoat’ thing. The upshot is: it’s gotta be economical, I guess…”

Well, I didn’t care. I was dressed up now and nothing was going to stop me! Oh, no, no June-Bug! What? You think you’re gonna prevent me from pulling off the ultimate plan? HUH!?

Well, you sorta did… BUT I still proclaim that I won in the end!

So how did I win in the end I hear you ask? Well, I still surprised Laura when I uploaded the photos to Facebook and tagged her name on the album so she could not miss them. She had no idea I was going to do this either – so it worked just brilliantly – but ultimately – I couldn’t see her reaction via Skype, which is what I had initially planned to do when unveiling the photos for the first time…

Drat! Curses! And sweary windings here…

Nonetheless, the plan still (basically) went off without a hitch and I have to thank my Mum for the photos and her friend, Anne Blair, for helping out with the props. I couldn’t have done it without them both. Thank you!

So, wait’taminute? Why not just reveal the photos over Skype anyway? *Pfft!*

The main reason being: I had completely lost my voice. Gone. Buh-bye! Not to mention, that I wasn’t sure whether or not I would’ve been in bed trying to recover rather than staying up late to Skype. So I erred on the side of caution and uploaded them earlier. Plus too, I just couldn’t wait to show her the shots. Waiting would’ve been like Homer playing the waiting game…

… yeah, the Waiting Game sucks!

… Let’s play ‘Hungry, Hungry Hippos!’ 

Happy Early-ish Birthday, Laura! Glad you dug ’em!

Now, to shake off the remainder of this June-Bug and keep on keepin’ on! Busy, busy. What with acting, working, writing, drawing and generally still trying to make my dreams a reality.

Although I have to admit at times: the impossibility of such things seems like pushing… certain things… up a hill…

But who was it that said that “every artist needs to struggle, or else you don’t really have anything inside that you’re burning to say” (or some such thing…?)

Either way, it’s a damn good point. So I’ll keep on struggling forth.
Although, on that “hill theory” above – it’s well into June now and it’s pushing beyond the halfway point in the year – so technically, I’m at the summit now.

Time to plant a flag.

Then keep climbing.

Cheers,
Jake

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100 Years – ANZAC Day

25th April 1915: Our troops land at Gallipoli.

25th April 2015: ANZAC Day commences and the Dawn Service is attended by record breaking numbers throughout Australia.

This gives some hope that the sacrifice given by so many brave men and women throughout the wars across the ages shall never be forgotten.

We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

ANZAC Day 2015
1915-2015. We Will Remember Them. Lest We Forget.

Link to ‘ANZAC DAY 100 Years’ artwork here.

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The April Fool and the Serious Stuff

Alright, it’s blog time for the month of April 2015.

Things are happening, as per usual. Life is … fine, and generally, all’s heading a direction that I’m no longer scared about now – no, in fact you could say – I’m downright excited for it all. I’m living the life I want to live. So I’ma rock this disco ball to the max!

Y’see, in case I haven’t mentioned it before (or this is the first time you’re reading one of my blog posts and or ‘status updates’ – what a world we live in, eh?) I live with anxiety.

Anxiety is not fun, kids. Hell no!

Now, I do realise that there is a greater emphasis on this harrowing, insidious mental condition known as ‘depression’ – and as well there should be. It’s high time, I say! – but there is that “other side” of the illness … it’s called anxiety. And it’s a b*tch.

Anxiety, basically, if I can try and put it into words is like this: imagine a jack hammer inside your brain. When you think of something – no matter how small – that jack hammer is turned on. It’s only turned to a ‘low setting’ at first, just drilling your mind full of rapid firing thoughts that coarse throughout your synapses (I suppose this “process” for lack of a better word, might be called ‘thinking’, yeah? And apparently, with some debatable morons being the exception here, we all do it!) Now these synapses fire and swirl thoughts and emotions throughout your brain and activate certain senses and reactions. Okay cool. Dig the basic science here? Let’s move on …

(…provided you’re still following and aren’t bored by now… you’re not? Brilliant!)

*Ahem!* So these thoughts are stimulating what they need to… but … uh-oh! Mr. Anxiety is a funny kinda punk and wants to have some fun ‘ere so he’s gonna crank that jack hammer up a notch or two!

What happens now? Well, imagine from the analogy that I’m using above that those thoughts swirl and repeat. They get louder and louder. More and more absurd. They can get so bad in fact, that you may even ‘flip a switch’ and venture into paranoia!

You have trouble breathing.

You become overtly alert and tense.

You can’t sleep.

You have trouble thinking straight (after all, this stuff happening is just ‘oh so important’ … apparently…)

You become a bit of a ‘nervous wreck’ (if you will).

You stop functioning on a level of calm and collected.

It’s almost like you’re someone else whilst this is happening.

Hounded and hurt.

Worried and overwrought.

That’s what it’s like.

But you should just be able to ‘snap out of it!’… right?

Right? Don’t make me come over there and shake it out of you!

Ha. No.

Not that simple, Jack. I wish it were. I would imagine that, on this level, this is where – perhaps – a tragic similarity to depression is crossed. You don’t just ‘snap out of’ this stuff. Sorry, but you just don’t.

Instead. You deal.

You get stronger. Push a little harder. Try going back to the well again and again AND AGAIN! Because you are who you are. You’ve got what you got and you’re a fighter, dammit!

Push through it all! That’s it… pick yourself up…

Step one.

Two.

Three.

Only you can do it. So you do.

No punches pulled here. I’m going to try and be as raw as I can in this blog because, contrary to what some may believe reading this, I am not feeling that down and terrible at all. I’m in a good state of mind. But I am addressing what can consume me at times because I’m not scared of it. I have refused to let my demons get the better of me. I’ve started letting things go. Things that are no longer my concern. And that in and of itself has been amazingly fulfilling.

Just one step at a time is all it takes? It’s true. For me at least.

For almost eight months I felt as though I was trapped in some kinda limbo. It sucked. But if you think about that whole: “The night is darkest just before the dawn…” type’a stuff, eh well, it rings pretty true to me anyway.

“Life ain’t about how hard you can *hit*… it’s about how hard you can *get* hit… and keep movin’ forward!” – I dig that quote from ‘Rocky Balboa’ and I have to say – it’s probably one of the most accurate quotes regarding life in general. I try to stick by it at all times. Especially when that feral, internal gloom grows a little … louder… if you will.

I remind myself that I am not perfect. Ha! Perfect? I gotta be kidding myself, right? Far from it – and I don’t wanna be either. I keep reminding myself that I who I am that is just fine. It’s what makes me unique. Just like everyone else. I have a right to chase my dreams no matter what they are. And succeed.

Hey, c’mon! I shrug to myself – you will get smacked down. Again. Yeah, maybe. Possibly mocked. Fail. Fall. Crumble. You will. The world doesn’t want you to ‘win’ – sure, you do – but it doesn’t care about you. It is what it is: a gigantic rock full of over nine billion people. You matter to it? Get real.

But that’s okay. I remember that I do matter. That’s the whole damn point. And anyone reading this – yes, you! In case you might be wondering – YOU matter too.

Since starting my new journey this year, I have endeavored to work hard towards the goals and the things that matter the most to me in my life – and once it all got going – I haven’t had time to stop. It’s been great!

I am back acting this term at NIDA and I cannot wait for that new journey. The whole experience thus far has been unreal… crazy, at times, sure… but unreal nonetheless. I have met some really cool people and have already started to feel as though I might have found a place where I’m not such a ‘wanderer of the lost’ n’ such. A place where people want to think creatively about creating characters and worlds. A place where fictional magic is spun and delivered through the medium of visual storytelling. It’s all pretty damn awesome!

The ‘crazy’ of it, of course, is that I travel to Sydney most weekends from my hometown (which takes about 4.5-5 hours one way each time) to do the course. I don’t mind it though and Sydney is one happenin’ place. Maybe it’s the “New South Welshman” in me or somethin’…

On top of that throughout the week, I am working harder than ever in my day job. But that’s alright too while its at it. Life’s full of challenges.

Around all of that busyness, I’m drawing fairly regularly and making some time for creative writing where I can. It’s not always easy. There’s only twenty-four hours in a day after all – but hey – I just need an hour or two. I ain’t that greedy…

On the ‘relaxation’ and ‘fun scale’ of things, I’m getting back into some much neglected television and film watching. Recently, after signing up to Netflix, I have started watching ‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ and am making time to watch the odd film where I can. Plus I have also added some comics to the mix. Just recently I added ‘Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Vol. 1 to the collection and I absolutely cannot WAIT to get my hands on “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode” and “The Legend of Luther Strode” both of which will be added to the Library very soon. AW! Hell yes!

So it’s all full on. I don’t have time for the anxiety – though I’m sure it’ll pop in to pay a visit from time to time – it’s just like that, y’know?

But – eh – it doesn’t really matter. Cos asides my pretty brilliant family providing me with support and an ear from time to time when I need it, I have this amazing friend who lives on the other side of the world that I talk to regularly. She’s something else… ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ you might even say…

Anyway, I gotta go. This is getting long.

See ya and have fun! I know I will be.
Jake

Blog Comic 34
Enjoy the brighter times on the way through. Aw yeah! *NB: No particular religious sentiment was intended nor should be inferred here*
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Marchin’ Right On

Laura, this one goes out to you. Thank you for being you! 

March! You dreaded month of wonderfulness – how be you?

Ah, March. The month that I was born. So each year it becomes an interesting reminder of ever fading youth.

Speaking of ‘fading youth’ and potential baldness, I was born on the same day as Bruce Willis. Now, fair readers, that used to be a really cool thing to be able to say …

Honestly, it really did! Especially as a bit’ta trivia …

Nonetheless, we will always have ‘Blind Date’, ‘Die Hard’, and of course ‘Pulp Fiction’. Also, it’s probably just me but I reckon that “Welcome to the party, pal!” would be the ultimate sound byte to play at someone’s party before you reveal the cake … (hmm…)

So that’s March …

Anyway with the month being mentioned above, it has reminded me that I have been flat-strap for the past two months. It’s been great too – lot’sa stuff happening and whatnot – so I thought I would do somethin’ a little different for this month’s blog post: do a ‘lazy list’ (type’a thing) about what’s happenin’ and what’s potentially ahead (etc.)

Here goes:

  • still have surfing lessons to arrange. Interestingly both times I’ve been booked in to go surfing things have come up … minor things … like, for instance, a stormy and unforgiving ocean on the first day I was booked in. Not advised conditions, I do believe. On the second round, I came down with a virus… fun n’ games thus far – however – I do remain fairly optimistic that third time’s a charm! Want to know what it’s all about actually…
  • I also have a present from my parents to celebrate having an “0” birthday – skydiving! – yeah, man! I just wish I had coolio 90’s surfer-grungy type hair like Patrick Swayze from ‘Point Break’ so I could try and go ‘FULL BODHI, BRO!’ (heh … sorry! Yeah, trust me: that ain’ta happenin’!)
  • I’m looking to try and get back overseas this year too. I miss not travelling and being somewhat ‘wander-lost‘ within this great wide Earth of ours. Yep. It’s a strange, scary and fascinating place all at once. Plus, I have to also confess: that I don’t feel too cooped up and stupid when travelling. It literally does broaden your horizons and opens your perspectives. It’s a thirst that courses through your veins and feeds a part of you as a whole that cannot be completely described (well, I feel anyway!) – hell, if you could describe it – then why would there be a zillion books on what it feels like to be encapsulated by ‘wanderlust’? Just sayin’ is all …
  • I’m working on actually finishing a project that I thought I’d long since given up on. There’s no point in quitting something, I’ve found, unless it stops making sense. Nine times outta ten it’s me that gets in my own damn way. Allowing myself to listen to half the garbage from other people and compare my lifestyle to their lifestyle is what hinders me from accomplishing my goals and dreams. Yeah, I know – it sounds a little ‘wishy-washy’ and whatnot – but it rings true – and for good reason! Ultimately, life’s too damn short to be worrying about ‘what so-n’-so might think if …’ – if acting classes have taught me anything it’s to strive for your ultimate objective. Even if you don’t reach it, it’s worth everything to strive towards it. You’re probably gonna trip along the way, so enjoy the downfall whilst you’re there and keep on keepin’ on. Eventually, something will crack … it’s basic theory (I do believe … well, it’s solid enough for me to believe in its theorem, so it works for me to keep striving for as long as I humanely, possibly can …)
  • Give up the cynicism. Just a little bit anyway. I love comedians like George Carlin, Louis C.K. and Bill Burr (to name but a few – and honestly – they make more sense than half the politicians I see and hear …) however – they are great in small doses. I sometimes feel that they can be ‘too much of a good thing’ (if that makes sense?) like, for example: after I listen to any one of them, I laugh myself silly and then feel really, really depressed immediately afterwards. Now, to me, that is obviously very clever and interesting comedy. The fact that it can provide a stinging afterthought of complete truthfulness, sells that for me completely – but – I have to believe that the world will be okay… even though at times, my “wise” (ha!) thirty year old self sincerely doubts that it will be. Yeah. I still keep looking at the potential good that can come from it all.
  • Settling down. It’s gotta happen at some point. I’m carefree at the moment. I live with my folks. Can save some dosh. Can travel. Can do – basically – whatever the hell I want to do! But … truth be told … I wouldn’t mind the idea of perhaps … (yeah I know: *shock horror!*) ‘settling down’ with someone and starting something together for the dreaded long haul! … Like a mortgage, for instance! (Ha! Just kidding … well, sort’a … it’s one of the steps … ANYWAY!)
  • Keep Acting! Get Acting! Love it! Simple as that.
  • Drink less coffee … (yeah … this is a long term goal … but … no, wait! I love coffee! This is a very, very long term goal – actually, it’s probably my ‘life objective’ … heh!)

Bring on April. The month of colds n’ flu, cracked and dried hands that look like eight fingers and two thumbs worth of living haggis… wait’taminute! “Give up the cynicism” …

Eh, it’s another “long term goal” I guess …

  • Have more fun. For me …

Cheers!

Blog Comic 33
There’s only so much that can bring you down …
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2015: The Neck-ed Truth

Ah, 2015. This is the year I turn thirty.

Thirty years old…

Thirty revolutions around the sun. Thirty Christmases (and all the social mania and customs around that shiz). Thirty winter seasons and battling through all the colds and seasonal phlegmage.
Thirty years of survival…
Of change…
Of …
… getting older.

Now, generally speaking, aging hasn’t really bothered me. In fact, come to think of it, there were definitely periods throughout my life where I couldn’t wait to get older. When I was a kid getting picked on at primary school, I’d often think something along the lines of: one day I’ll be old enough to do what I want to do and not have to put up with this (****) (etc.)

And, in actuality, I kinda enjoy the whole nostalgic notion of actually being able to say: “hey – I was alive in the 80’s, punk! I know what it was all about … even if it was only for my first five years of existence … I was still there. Cop that! Wait’taminute – you were around just pre-millennium? – ha! I lived that era … bizkits were limp and Brittany was speared. I know all about that too! …”

But, if I’m being honest, I am noticing that my body is starting to take, well, a toll.

My neck has given me curry for years. It started way back when I was about twelve years old. I was chucking a mono (or “wheelie” for those ‘cool kids’ out there who just haf’ta have the right lingo, dude …) when I flipped back too far and landed smack-bang right on a rock … with my neck …

Now, although your spine is somewhat … flexible considering … my vertebrae didn’t enjoy the fact that I was going to use them as a crash pad. Consequently, as a result of pure rebellion I safely wager, they decided to ‘throw themselves out’ just to spite me… (the attitude of spinal fixtures just baffles me. I tell ya, I just don’t know… I mean, throw me a bone here, yeah?) (tragic pun inserted for this post. Done and done.)

Nonetheless, this was my own very first visit to an actual Chiropractor who could hopefully put Humpty back together again. It took several sessions and a whopping amount of pain that shot through my brain like glass each time, but eventually, the agony turned to discomfort and then to just … well … “okay” (I guess you could say?)

Seriously, without any written and phoned in jokes here, it was never really the same again. It was something that always kinda stuck with me in the back of my mind (… oh, that’s kinda another pun … how did that happen? … anyway!) it never really left.

Where is all this going?

Well, as you get older – and I’m sure quite a few people will attest – things start catching up with you. It becomes more and more noticeable as time increases its inevitable wear n’ tear upon your body.

That’s the story with my neck. It can affect me greatly at times. Actually, it’s a solid reason why I’m starting to hate summer with a passion the older I’m getting.

Why?

Well, simply put: try nursing a splitting headache (which I’m ninety-nine percent sure is caused by my neck being outta whack) through a humid, sweat soaked summer’s evening when you’re trying to “sleep it off”.

You ain’t sleepin’, bub! Not a wink. Instead, you will writhe and wanna rip your skull through your skin just to annihilate the jackhammer pounding upon the inside.

Up To Your Neck
“Hey! Did you forget I was here? Fine, we’ll do this ALL night! HEY! I’M TALKIN’ TO YOU!”

Whoa, ‘k then. What about, I dunno, codeine stuff? Y’know? To help you relax an’ sleep, eh?

*EHH!* WRONG. Nothing like that will work. You’re stuck with it till you’re too damn exhausted to care anymore. Then, I suppose you could say, your body will “let you” rest. For a little while anyway. That’s it. No solution.

Then, there’s the “roll off effect”.

Oh, that’s fun!

Okay, here’s how this works: so you haven’t slept a damn wink, surely your body will ‘shake it off’ and you can just ‘heal’ with a good night’s sleep, yeah? Now, I’m not a doctor, but I do know my body better than anyone else. Here’s the thing: you feel worse in just about every sense after one of these nights. Your body aches. You feel nauseous and sickly ill. Your neck is still playing havoc to the inside of your head. You feel like death warmed up.

Ah! But a younger man – yes! – a younger man could cope, yes?

Yep. Probably.

That’s the one thing I will miss about youth. With all the little ‘niggly-idiosyncraticy-health-glitches’ that one might have, when you’re youthful, you tend to recuperate a hellu’va lot quicker than when you’re …

Thirty.

Hey, I am complaining and whaling in this post like a jaded politician, but there is always a bit of a silver lining to all this type’a thing: no matter what, I am glad that I am pushing past (some … just some) of the naivety of my twenties. True, I am getting a little more sour (rather than “sweet”, I spose…) and a little more rickety in certain respects, but I’m still young enough to enjoy some of the finer things without too much consequence. Plus too, I am incredibly lucky in this world. I am thankful everyday for the life I have. So now, well … I take things …

At a slower pace … at my own pace …

All that, without worrying too much about social norms n’ what’s to be ‘expected’. In many respects, I don’t care as much about the things that I used to. You don’t like me? Who cares, really. Truth is, one day I’ll be dead – hopefully surrounded by loved ones (or ones who just dug my wacky sense of humour and bizarre outlook on things) – and that’s all I really want. Some serious highs in my life knowing I tried and accomplished ‘something’. Something that hopefully made the world spin in a better direction rather than spinning the other way ’round and gurgling into oblivion (etc.)

Melodramatic, huh?

Well, there’s more to that for a later post, I guess. For now though, I’ma raising a cuppa tea to gettin’ on in life. Having my hair thin out slowly into an ‘M’ shape upon my forehead. Watching my tummy expand just because it wants to. Wearing colours n’ fashion that just clash or is ‘standard’, man. In other words…

Bring on thirty!

I like the damn number anyway.

Best wishes n’ vibes your way,
Jake

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Je Suis Charlie

Sometimes I want to believe that the world is going to be okay…

Sometimes …

You’re quickly reminded why it isn’t. 

In Paris, France on the 7th January 2015, a senseless massacre in which 12 people were killed at the offices of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, devastated people around the world. However, the reaction to this tragic event, was one of peaceful rebellion. Art struck back in the best way possible: heads n’ pens down, scribbles abound, sharing welcomed and of course, the message of peace, love and laughter just grew stronger and stronger throughout the world.

The simple slogan summed it all up: “Je Suis Charlie” which translates to: ‘I am Charlie’.

Now, amidst the pouring of love, compassion and understanding that has flowed through the social channels of the world, did those responsible truly think that people would just – oh, I don’t know – shut up n’ sit back? Are you serious?

You’ve got another INK coming!

Sometimes, I want to try and believe that the world’s going to be okay. This is a start.

Je Suis Charlie
Je Suis Charlie

Also too, my good friend the lovely Miss Laura Howley, sums all this up beautifully on her blog. You can read her blog entry here and whilst you’re there, please do check out her amazing artwork. She is an incredible talent in multiple fields!

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Yule Be Back!

Hey’a!

So it’s that time of the year again. Christmas time. Here it is rollin’ on around once again and – well, for me personally – I can be a little … ‘eh’ about it all.

Actually, ‘indifferent’ might be a better way to put it.

The cool n’ good news about it all though is that I get to spend Christmas in Melbourne with the majority of my family.

Yee-ha, man!

I sincerely dig Melbourne! Honestly, its impression upon me was immediate. The second I touched down in the city to meet my sister and her partner (who live there now) a couple of months ago, it was hard to ignore the fact that it was a very happenin’ place indeed. Truth be told: it lived up to the rumours. If you’re remotely into arty pursuits or cultural wanderings – it is the Aussie city for you hands down! (IMHO) …

So, what’s the deal-io after Chrissy-o (?) … (*yikes* that was appalling! Oh well…)

Well, for myself at least, it will be the start of working on some smaller pet projects of mine that have the potential to be … something.

Strangely enough, it was almost like an epiphany the other day: I was sitting in my car about to drive away from JB Hi-Fi – without buying a single thing, I might add – chuffed at my own self-control – when suddenly – a thought struck my head like a cushioned, metaphorical bat: ‘Why don’t you just work on smaller ideas? That way, you will get more personal projects completed, the way you want them completed and with enough variety to keep you creatively stimulated whilst still being able to manage your everyday, very boring life?’ 

Pondering these paraphrased thoughts a little further – and after berating myself with internal insults to sweeten the deal upon my already chuffed mental state – I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear for the first time in a while.

Y’see, to me anyway, the hardest thing about being a creative ‘lostling’ is focus and drive.

Focus is one thing. Focus all your energy and application into *this thing here* and the end result will be *a completed, fully realised thing there*. Easy in theory, I do concur – but – try being a creative person with only one thought. Okay, true – they might exist – hell, that might even be your Great Aunt Audrey or something – but most creative people have many ideas – not just one and then call it a day. Focus is a really, really hard thing to do if you have a billion ideas and one, very uncertain mortal lifetime in which to complete them all.

So what does one do regarding focus?

The easiest thing – or so I can think of at this point – is to break it way down to its smallest possible potential. What is this creative thing at its core? Is it a Hollywood blockbuster movie full of the good stuff (like explosions and ridiculously hot women?) or is it something that can be told in one, shorter story? Or mini-series? Or comic? Or book? Or painting? …

If you can visualise an end to something: it’s worth trying to pursue all the way through.

Now, this is all said with an “IMHO Disclaimer” as I do not profess to know very much at all (how arrogant do you think I really am, casual reader, eh?) – BUT – I do stand by what I say as I have learned the hard way in my whole twenty-nine (almost thirty) years upon this here planet. So, continuing on said point above …

Can you see the end? Give it a shot to make it to the end then.

Recently(ish) I started my very first online webcomic entitled: ‘Social Anxiety’. Now, this project came from a very personal and dark place that I feel we all have deep within ourselves. I have had to deal with anxiety in my life and the insidious tricks it plays within your mind can be downright brutal – but then again – the world can be downright brutal. And unfair. And cruel. It can be.

So, what do you do with all that ‘junk’ that sits within you festering? Let it all out of course!

BUT – rather than just unload it unhealthily like an absolute nutcase upon the unsuspecting individuals, as a creative person you allow it to fuel you. Feed you. Nourish you. You pour it through your very fibers and onto the page in its own uniquely spilled fashion and allow it to become … something …

Something tangible. Something doable. Something achievable.

Suddenly, all that garbage becomes ‘recycled’ – I guess you could say – into something meaningful, and if not ‘meaningful’ per say, then at the very least something motivational and different. It’s a release in the best possible way. The only way that seems to make sense in this crazy ol’ world. Something that generates your creative juices and unlocks further potential.

Well, that’s what it’s done for me at least.

Whatever it was about ‘Social Anxiety’ that started as an experiment and then just … well … worked. Then, I suppose it just … (uh) … worked?

There it is: it worked.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.So by this very discovery the easiest and most rational solution is the one right in front of your face (forest an’ tress type’a thing, I think…?)K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple, Stupid.Now, this ‘simplicity’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘thematic gravitas’ nor ‘generic characteristics of a particular character’ – no, no! – I’m referring to workload. 

See, to me anyway, if you can chew away at a project and have it not start to sag upon you creatively so you hit a wall n’ such – then it’s definitely worth a carefully sighted shot – and that’s exactly what I’m doing with these next few ambitious (but not too ambitious) projects come next year.

So chewing away at something tangible that can be completed. Start short n’ small so that you don’t require the four arms of Goro to complete it all, and you’re probably going to get something done – dare I even speculate – get somewhere … 

That to me is better than nothing at all but procrastination – of which I boldly state – I can be an absolute professional at.

Which brings me to my next point: drive.

Now, drive – much like ‘focus’ – is about actually tackling the task as opposed to just ‘focusing’ on what it is that you’re actually doing. Truth be told, they probably coincide with each other just as much, but actively working on something whilst focusing your attention on it is the main aim to absolute productivity. Now, getting these two to work harmoniously at times (once again IMHO) can be the really, really tricky part (and yet, as another point might argue, shouldn’t these be the easiest things regarding our work?)

This is why – once again – I’m taking a huge step back from my ambitions and jaded ego and starting as small as I possibly can whilst satiating my artistic drive and giving myself ample room to grow and push myself further. This is where challenge and ambition can be seen as goals rather than impossibilities (or so I’d like to think).

In any case, this is a strategy and this is a start to something new … again … but that’s the way it often times rolls. We fail, trip n’ fall and then we try and push back up. Press on forth and move again. It’s not easy either – I don’t care what some people say – it’s not that easy for me. Other cases, sure might be easy as pie (you lucky dodgers!) but for me personally, it’s tough but rewarding. That’s why I love to draw and write. They are the two things in my life (outside of my own family and friends) that have remained with me and grown as I have grown. I can’t give up on them. They won’t quit on me (for goodness sakes! Stop buggin’ me with ideas then if you want me to quit! *yeesh!*) (he he!)

So, with that it’s time to bid 2014 a fare thee well very soon!

Good. I say. Wasn’t a tragic year (in some respects) but then again … it had some serious moments that would make me question that …

Either way, I’m winding down for the year. Year thirty starts for me next March so I’m looking forward to doing something nuts (jumping out of an airplane or a spontaneous trip somewhere … or somethin’ … who knows?)

Conclusively, to bring it back to where this blog post started initially – bring on Melbourne for Chrissy time – and my sister’s ‘fur babies’ for some company and pet antics (they’ve got two cats and a great dog with energy to spare! Ha! Good luck sleepin’ in!)

Yeah, why not? Bring on the new year just … well … (‘cos it’s the new year, I guess …) and bring on the artworks, future wanderings n’ other stuff.

Onward 2015!

Tally-HO!

P.S: Have a tip-top Christmas and a safe, n’ wonderful new year while you’re at it, dear reader!

Morning Human
“** Hey’a, human! We don’t sleep in ’round this way – GET UP! – P.S: I love you!”
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Remember, Remember O’ Bittersweet November …

Lately, it would appear that things have been going quite smoothly in my world. Nothing to really complain about at all – nor ‘pick-apart’ to analyse – or otherwise it would seem fair to say …

However, I have had a few events over the past couple of weeks that have shaped my overall mood and demeanor. Events that have taken a toll. Events that have caused me to ‘over-think’. Events that have … well …

Basically put: I feel flat.

Now, I don’t mean ‘flat’ as in “physically” – or realistically – ‘flat’ in the literal sense of the word, but ‘flat’ as in “I don’t really *feel* like I should”. Not up or down or in between. Just drifting through a little TOO casually, you might also say.

I don’t like it.

Simple as that, really.

Even in my darkest moments – and yes, I being the human being that I am – I’m never really ‘flat’. If anything, I hurt. Sometimes a little too much. Conversely, when I feel energetic and sprightly – I am anything *but* ‘flat’! – at the moment however, well, it’s caused me to ponder what has just recently been n’ gone and what and where my life changed lanes…

So, to Hell with it!

It’s time for one of *those* posts (here be fair warning, thy casual reader) where I lament about what has just recently transpired and why my life was – essentially – nothing but disappointment since about the year 2004 onward (considering a few very notable exceptions) and I absolutely do need to mention those!

Let’s start with what happened recently: my Grandmother died. (R.I.P. Grandma). She was nearly ninety-four. Ninety. Four! Not a bad innings whatsoever and I can only *hope* to somehow make a distance that long myself! Absolutely incredible when you actually think about it all as well. To put it into perspective, she was born in 1921. Now, in her lifetime she experienced the better part of the 20th Century. I mean, just think about that – say it out loud to yourself and *really* think about that for a second – 1921 – 2014. She took in: the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and then pressed INTO the “Twenty-Teens” (I guess you could say). Just check that out! Mind blowing, in my honest opinion. Way to go, Grandma!

Now, I could very well go on about what she meant to my family, her friends, the community and of course, myself – but – I am not going to do that. Although this is the era of the ‘internet’ – some things are for family only.

OK, fair enough. So as a family, we’re all pressing on and dealing with that together – and what has impressed me personally is – the way it has mended some bridges and brought some family closer than ever before. Amazing sometimes what it takes. Then again, if something good comes out of something – well – ‘not so good’ (I guess you could say) – then that can hardly be a bad thing in and of itself. Of course, once again, just putting my own personal spin on things ‘coz that’s just what’ti do.

Asides this, I have taken a course this week so that I can look at potential future job prospects should the need arise. To be realistic: it might. I couldn’t even imagine to try and see where I’ll end up or how this world works (half the frustration and half the fun, I suppose? Maybe.) So, another ‘feather in the cap’ one might say. Guess I’ll know when I get there.

Upon considering ‘future options’ and whatnot, I also couldn’t help but start to reflect upon my past… notably, as a struggling – and I do mean hugely unsuccessful – artist for the better part of a decade. Life is a funny thing and sometimes it just doesn’t always work out the way you want it too. I feel as though I wasted too much time in my own head space as a lost ‘yearning’. By ‘yearning’ I mean an artist ‘yearning’ to get out there and make something of himself.

Here’s how it all breaks down…

2004: I moved to Brisbane, QLD for a course entitled the ‘Diploma of Screen – Specialising in Animation’.

Now, this is pre-YouTube. Once again: pre-YouTube. So everything was all about the inevitable ‘demo reel’ of awe inspiring animation that you could create in a year. Interestingly, this should’a been the point where I realised my “cartoonist-like ambitions” were never going to work out. Hindsight however, is a damn wonderful thing … in hindsight. (Funny thing that, eh?)

So, I dive head-first into this course as I always wanted to be an Animator – or ‘Cartoonist’ – honestly, whatever you want to call it – I wanted to draw pictures for a living slumped over a lightbox or Wacom pad – whatever really – but I wanted to just … draw. Get paid for it (enough to survive, possibly) and live my life until I gave out.

That wasn’t the ‘aim’ of the course…

I move up there. Nineteen years of age. Haven’t left my small nook in the world (Rural NSW) and I get into a city course that’s all about ‘Animation’ alright …

Games Animation.

3D Animation.

Not my bag at all, baby.

Now, I won’t say that I ‘hated’ my experience up there – I worked hard at it and completed my diploma – but I am not a fan of working in 3D. Some people clearly are – and that’s cool – but that’s just not me.

Still, I had skills, right?

Well, I did and I didn’t.

Upon industry night (which is the night where you present your stuff to people in the industry etc.) I managed to get a few people raise an eyebrow at my average Flash animation demo reel. It was a fake movie trailer entitled ‘Miles/KMS’.

That was about it.

No other prospects to follow up on up there, I had to make a choice – and quite possibly the only choice I had that made any sense at the time – was to move back home again …

So I did.

2005: Down – but not completely out – I move back to Rural NSW and live with my folks again – this time though – I had a diploma AND a demo reel. I could now go out and get a ‘real job’ in the Animation Industry, right?

Wrong.

I worked my butt off for almost the entire year – sending out demo reel after demo reel to companies, working on portfolios and telling myself things like: “hey man, it’s OK. It’s just a setback. Someone will pick you up! You’ll see …”

“You’ll see …”

Nothing.

Doors in face. Windows shut. Chimneys blocked. No dice.

I manage to get work at my local supermarket again – for a few shifts a week – essentially, I was able to earn some ‘pocket change’. That’s about it.

My downhill spiral started from here …

2006: I turned twenty-one. Should have been one of the greatest highlights of my young life. It wasn’t. In fact, it was quite possibly one of the toughest years of my life. Emotionally and mentally draining, I hit the wall in a big bad way this year.

What essentially happened was stagnation.

Now, out of every other evil in this world – stagnation is certainly not one I would wish on anyone – no matter what. To say it’s ‘awful’ is an understatement. For an artist, it might as well be death itself.

You go around and around in circles achieving nothing to come right back to where you started and back again. Essentially, to draw from the essence of the word, there is very little – if any – growth.

I had stopped.

I stopped drawing for a long period of time.

I was stuck.

The only thing that got me through this entire year – upon reflection, of course – was writing. I decided to write a screenplay. And I did. It was cathartic. It was an achievement. It was necessary.

It wasn’t enough though.

I spent an entire year trying to get this produced or to get it made myself. I even went to the writing award ceremony in Sydney to network with other writers to see if I could get my foot in the door there.

Once again, everything wasn’t working in my favor.

“Doom N’ Gloom” type’a stuff here, eh? Will there ever be a rainbow?

Not quite yet. Things tend to get worse before they get better. Some lessons are harder to learn than others. Sometimes it’s a mere matter of your enormous ego blocking progress and causing you to delay taking a necessary risk. Look at things another way.

Spiraling …

Towards the end of this year though, something happened …

My dad and I got into a huge fight. Not ‘fist-i-cuffs’ or anything like that – not at all – if anything, this was probably the greatest thing that happened throughout this whole entire year…

I lost it this one day. I had hit the wall in every respect. No-one wanted to help me finance, produce or fund my film. Other avenues locked up. I couldn’t find the resources that I needed. I was close to broke. I felt as though my whole life had collapsed – and in retrospect in this complex world – I am a very lucky guy. I don’t live in a world of total devastation and fear. I have got nothing to complain about, really. But – that aside – my passion had depleted. The fire had almost ceased burning and a mere ember was left sparking …

My dad threw the harsh reality of life right at me: ‘The world owes you NOTHING until you EARN it!’ he bellowed at me as we got into a heated argument. I collapsed and he brought me back up once more.

I was a lost voice. Not even a shallow echo within the world. No one outside of my immediate family and friendship circles knew I existed – nor cared – about who I was or what I wanted to do. It was up to me to make it all happen. And I knew somewhere deep down – that might never occur – but still it was worth the shot…

I needed to get back to square one.

I needed to refocus. 

2007: I enrolled in a TAFE course at the nearest campus. The course was a ‘Certificate IV in Graphic Design’. This was probably the most essential thing that happened to me if I am really thinking about it in retrospect. I didn’t mind the course at all and met some great and interesting people throughout the duration of that course. However, it drew me towards one immediate conclusion: ‘I don’t WANT this anymore.”

I was done.

I decided I would finish the course up, get my credentials and then – basically – give it all up. It never made so much sense until now. I really didn’t like the industry at all. I mean, it never even tried to give me an option prior. It was all down to nepotism and ‘who knew who’ – and hey, I actually get it completely – that’s the way the world works from time to time – but not for me.

Besides which, I was tired of people pulling my work apart telling me I ‘didn’t have it’ or that I was ‘too amateur’ (and things along those types’a lines). I thought about that six – or eight – OR ten year old kid way back when I used to draw – what did I used to love about drawing then? Making it? Or just because I dug it and it’s what I could do.

Simple. I just loved doing it.

Done.

If I was ever going to make it: it would be on my OWN terms. 

It was after this point I threw it all in. Said ‘enough’ and quit. 

It was the best move I ever made.

2008 – 2011: The University Years. It was throughout this time period that I decided to rock the boat completely and try something completely different to before: education.

I wanted to do something that I thought I might be good at asides just trying to make it as a cartoonist in this world. I thought, “eh, why not? I’ll give it a shot and see what happens…”

What happened was four years of ups n’ downs (in their own right) – but ultimately – I came out the other end with a Bachelor’s Degree and having met a bunch of interesting and wonderful people whilst at University.

Then I started work and began to look at what this all meant.

It was something else. I was scared. What if I wasn’t going to do a good job? What could go wrong with this job? …

… But …

What could go right? What other opportunities were there in this world now? Could I finally travel?

Possibly…

It was something I had always wanted to do – and now at the very least – I could try and go for it.

So I went for it …

I remember saying to myself at the time: ‘whatever opportunity comes along FIRST, I’ll take!’ 

It wasn’t long after promising this to myself that I received a phone call. It was from an agency in London. They wanted know if I was interested in travelling overseas to work and live in London.

The decision was made.

I was going to London.

2012 – 2014: The London Years. This was without a doubt the scariest, stupidest and greatest thing I had ever achieved in my entire life (well, up to this point anyway! And I must say: it’d be a hard one to top too!)

London didn’t start easy for me. I’ll be one hundred percent honest here. I was very green to the whole ‘travelling wunderluster’ type’a thing and being a fresh expat in a big city like London – it was going to be challenging anyway – despite what some might say. True, I suppose if you move across the pond with someone else (be it a partner or even a group of friends) it would probably be fifty-billion times easier – but hey! – I’m just not that type’a cat. I’m a little crazy and I had no one in tow. Just me.

Just me …

I remember the first time I stepped off the plane and into the Old Blighty itself. It blew me away! It was as though I ventured through a portal and entered into a brand new world. Still, it was a world I recognized – and strangely – even knew a little, but different, nonetheless. It captured my imagination and I remember feeling overwhelmed with utter joy above all other emotions. I felt as though I belonged – even though I felt completely alien at the time – but still as though I was meant to be here… at least for a little while.

London tested me though.

My first proper share house was a pit. Simple as that. Didn’t have the greatest experience there, so I’ll be as truthful as possible without going into too many details. I didn’t have any heating in my room for the first couple of weeks (and it was a cold Winter that one!) I recall rugging up with my sleeping bag as well as some bulky blankets from Tesco. The pre-paid utilities just about did my head in also. I would return from work upon occasion and find that we had no lighting or gas. I would have to go up the road and pop about a hundred quid on the top-up card. All this whilst adjusting to the culture shock of the whole place. Not to dissimilar to other accounts I’ve noticed either.

So by the end of that year – and typical of my timing – right when my mum was coming to visit for that Christmas/New Year break – I decided to move out. The primary reason being that I didn’t want my own mother in that place.

I made a huge mistake right about here.

I found a place. I thought I’d done my research. I was wrong.

We packed up my room and moved to another share house in the East and – all I can and will really say about this experience – was that it nearly broke me down in a big bad way.

Thankfully, my mum had already flown the coop back to Oz when it got bad … terrifyingly bad … The horror stories about London can be true – so buyer beware – if you ever do consider moving over, really go with your gut more than anything when looking at a place.

Lesson learned.

Harshly…

I fled the place.

I packed up all my belongings within an hour or so at most, called a cab, managed to book a hotel in Westminster (of all places!) and moved into a hotel for the week.

Between that week and oblivion I had to find a place or pack up and get home.

I fell.

What made matters worse still – if you can believe it – was that certain people showed their true colours right throughout this period. Could’a done without that. Still remember it all like it was yesterday.

At this time as well – just to add to the excitement – I was in the terrible world of ‘online dating’ just to meet some people (and yeah, OK if a date had’a worked out, then all good – but still – I will continue on with the post …) Oh yeah! – I’ll admit it – why not add to the stress levels with this head trip in tow? Brilliant idea.

Long story short: it was one knock after another. The people I was meeting up with were flaky at best throughout this period, I really didn’t have anyone to turn to (except my family and friends back home, all of whom, I feel so grateful for having in my life!) and my heart was being stomped on amongst it all.

Fun, eh?

Well, this is where London surprised me.

It got better.

Way better!

It wasn’t overnight or anything – but – once I started to follow my heart and a passion – suddenly – London started … I don’t know … happening? I guess you could say.

Firstly, I moved into the best share house! Pure luck, as some might say too. I owe Janelle and Richard so much here as they took me in. The knew I had been kicked down – so they offered me a roof over my head – and asked me to move in as soon as I possibly could. So I did. Best decision I ever made up to this point. I was safe. Now, all I had to do was get back on track. This wasn’t going to be easy … but then … I tried something …

As quick as that, throughout mid-2013 or so, I was acting in films and I was able to weather the storms a little easier now. I had adjusted a little better to the place. Started to understand it a little more. Got a little more comfortable. Saved a bit more dosh. Started to flow to my own groove a little more. Stood up for myself a lot more and wasn’t taking it like before. Cut some loose ends off. Moved up.

London started working. The weather got warmer. The days got longer. The insanity started to die down a tad. It was swingin’ fully – and – I dug it completely!

It almost beat me.

Almost.

In London I achieved a great deal. For instance, when I really think about it all, this is what I accomplished there:
* Moved overseas on my own to another country completely on my own.
* Experienced the Hell of share houses and found my own ‘second’ family over there.
* Found and enjoyed regular work and saved some reasonable dough.
* Started acting in short films
* Starred in my first feature film, ‘Rock Band Vs Vampires’ as a lead actor.
* Traveled throughout Europe and got a unique taste of the continent.
* Met some of the most amazing and wonderful people ever – many of whom – I am very fortunate and lucky enough to call my good friends.
* Became a little tougher and a lot wiser.
* Had to leave way too early.

The last point above is a poignant one. I had to leave the country. My visa was going to be due and I couldn’t extend, re-submit or appeal.

My dash over there was done …

For now.

London taught me to live and to experience things that I would have not otherwise experienced back home. Europe gave me the taste and the thirst for adventure as well as meeting some of the coolest and most eclectic group of people I’ve ever met! Some of them I am thankful to call my friends also.

I pushed through it all and came out the other side.

In 2004 I was beginning a journey to become a cartoonist. A successful animator. A geek of moving drawings.

A decade later, and I have traveled some of the world, met some amazing folk, work in education and live with my folks…

At this point…

I am still drawing and I’ve never given up completely. I carry a backpack with my sketch book, pens and pencils and nothing pleases me more than to sit in amongst the hum of the human buzz – usually in a cafe – and sketch for hours on end.

Asides my anxiety acting up on occasion, I am a much more grounded person and I am thirsting for the next steps.

I’ll do it on my own terms.

I’ll be seein’ ya.

You betchya! 

2004-2014
A few bumps n’ bruises along the way …
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