From Word Vomit to an Outline

I sat down to an open word doc and just started word vomiting everything that came to my head about my main character. That spread to the supporting cast and then a bunch of random interactions. Everything flowed out so naturally and I remember thinking this is it. I’m aces at this and this isn’t hard at all. I most have word vomited in that doc over the course of 5 years with little to know to format…

This, of course, meant my first draft was a hot mess and had no direction. Not just plot-wise, but artistically as well. I had no breaks between scenes, no information about the world and its surroundings for drawing reference. It was just a mess,(like my topic hopping on this blog) and incredibly frustrating to go through once I tried to sit down and decipher what I was thinking since I thought I was ready to draw everything out.

Boi that was a setback and rude awakening. Obviously, this wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought, and so I let myself get defeated and just went back to drawing one-off pieces and being intimidated by my interstate pileup of a word doc.

I knew it needed to be formatted, but I didn’t have the motivation to do it. It wasn’t until I  was lucky enough to catch a free seminar downtown for making comics did I get the direction I needed.

I wish I could remember the speaker so I could give him a shout out. The seminar was actually geared toward submitting work to an anthology he was working on, but he imparted a lot of wisdom in that one hour his seminar lasted.  He imparted great wisdom that got me refocused and working on what to do next. Not only that, but he was very firm about what he was looking for to include in his anthology. He provided script examples, talked about the difference between making a comic and being an illustrator, and was very open to answering questions. It was pretty amazing, and I am glad I went!

I didn’t apply to his anthology project, wasn’t sci-fi or fantasy so it fell flat for me, but I did apply his script outlining techniques to my train wreck. I started fresh and made an outline. I started from the ending and then went to the beginning and made a few things I wanted to see happen character-wise in the middle. From there I add and subtract. It has taken a long time to get everything sorted, and it’s still not complete. That’s ok though. Everything doesn’t have to be a word for word completed before drawing a single page. Having an outline and at least being a chapter ahead of everything=drawn is my obtainable goal. Doing it this way is better for me anyway. I will be able to explore ideas more freely and grow with my comic.

The takeaway… Whenever I used to look at seminars I would shrug them off our look over them. Like why bother when there is the internet, but these gatherings of like-minded individuals and professionals can be amazingly helpful, insightful, and possible networking. Neat tips and tricks, handouts for clarity, Q&A sessions, portfolio reviews. It can seem stuffy to think about, but if you can get in on one you definitely should. Conventions can be fantastic for this too, so go get it!

There’s always another way to approach a problem and you may find it at one of these gatherings.

I only see you and size ain't got nothing to do with it
Masking fluid is pretty neat, got my water looking crystalline clear. More on these two on my Instagram!

Word vomiting may get you moving, but an outline will tell you where to go.

-Lady T.

Getting Cozy with your Written Word

Almost dying definitely put my life into perspective. That experience made me prioritize things that make me most happy in life and what I want to do with the time I have left. I went to college for art, but not the art I wanted to do. I wanted to make comics. I had pages of original characters and one-off neat pieces with cute stories in my head, but I rarely talked about them outside of my closest art friends and I knew that would have to change.

Whenever I feel creatively stomped or frustrated I have art meetups with other art friends. During the time I was I got serious about making a comic, it was my buddy M who I would call on most days. M was also an awesome artist with her own style and tons of stories. We would spend so much time sharing our ideas with each other and it would always give me such a rush. It’s amazing to have someone you can bounce ideas off of who really just gets it.

I’m a visual person. So much so that I’d rather talk through pictures than use my words (Emoji’s were my language before they were a form of language). I know that sounds silly,  but because of that (and the fact that my handwriting is really bad), I didn’t write many of my story ideas down. When I did, I would have a hard time deciphering them (sadly). Getting that old Acer laptop from my aunty was truly the bee’s knees. I could type over handwrite!

I started off by writing blurbs under my pictures to get myself comfortable with writing to some degree. Having folks engage with my characters and asking questions over the years really helped the boost confidence. It’s one thing to write a paper in school, but putting yourself out there to share something personal is a different animal. Writing blurbs helped, but to make the jump to comics, I would have to write a lot more than that.

Well aren't you glowing to see me
Mixed media: alcohol markers and acrylic ink. More on their story on my Instagram!

Draw a story with your words and write a picture with lines.

-Lady T.

Inktober and Experimenting

I love it when an artist shares the materials they use to create their work, I’ve had great luck with finding a variety of mediums through checking out the artist of Instagram or Twitter since you can post multiple pictures in one submission. A good bit of folks will also post what they used next to their pictures and that get’s me pumped.

It’s like a mystery case waiting to be solved. Here is the finished product and here’s what I used. Figure out how it came to be! Thanks to Inktober I have been having a blast with that. So far I have done every day in Inktober and it has just been amazing creatively. I’ve been drawing things I wouldn’t naturally think of and it’s been quite the learning experience. It’s also been great on actually using these materials I have on display in my studio. Art supplies aren’t worth jack if you aren’t using them!

I look forward to what my sketchbook looks at once these 31 days are up. I am still working on MagicalMashup! of course, but doing Inktober alongside it is helping me practice with time management and deadlines. Something I can say has been about 30% of my can-do attitude these days. That and getting organized. Oh-me-oh-my getting organized. I’ll talk about that later though.

First inktober pic!

Art supplies aren’t worth jack if you aren’t using them!


College End and a New Begining

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by college when coming straight from high school. I can tell you this though. I am so glad I was as dedicated as I was during my sophomore and Jr. years because at the end of my Jr. year I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.


Sudden right, well that’s how it happened to me. It was a hella taxing experience I mean between surgery, chemo, the pain, and medications I thought I would have to drop out of college and just quit everything. It was a pretty bleak time for me. It all literally came to a head during the last few weeks of school. One of my best friends at the time had taken me to the hospital and tried her hardest to help me when she could. I didn’t have insurance and even when I told my symptoms to the doctor I went to see, he didn’t believe me. He Just swore I was probably having “crazy sex” that made me shat my insides out or was pregnant.

What a turd.

Once I wrapped up finals and made it home I fell to the couch. I couldn’t move. My mom came in from work and saw me balled up on the couch holding myself while sobbing on my second day home and knew whatever was hurting me was something bad. She rushed me to a different emergency room and they took everything I told them seriously and immediately started to run tests. The tests were awful but worth it. Because they ran everything they could think of. Thanks to that they eventually found the tumor and were able to get it out.

That’s the short and sweet. That’s how I thought it would all go down. I remember thinking that we are in the future and the surgery would be done through tiny tubes and robot hands. That’s definitely not what happened. I was split from under my chest to past my navel. When I woke up a few days after the surgery I had a franken-belly. Staples traveling down my torso, drainage tubes off the side, one in my mouth (the F*n worst) and a Colostomy bag. That last one was the kicker. I’m sure somewhere in my drugged up haze the doctors said something about cutting my colon up and pulling my intestines through my tummy and needing to go in a bag for a while, but it really doesn’t hit until you literally see it sitting there.

2009 was the hardest year I have ever lived through, but I did it. Thanks to my amazing friends who went out of there way to make me feel awesome and gave me all the support and humor a gal could ask for and a mom and sister who went above and beyond to take the best care of me and keep my spirits high. Above all else, I am grateful for the love and understanding I received from the college community, friends, and family #blessed.  Last but not least I am thankful to me because I’m a trooper!

I finished college on time in 2010 after assuring the school I would be able to complete my work. My plan had always been to get all core classes done and take as many hours as I could from the start so that senior year I could art stress-free. Again, I’m glad I took most of my intensive writing and logic classes before senior year. I didn’t put out as much art as I wanted my senior year since I wound up spending huge chunks of time in dreamland escaping the ick that chemo gives, but I did complete what I needed to get done.

My art took a pretty decent turn for the dramatic I’ll say. I had most of the pieces I wanted to show for my Senior Gallery, but I needed a few more. I won’t say everything went smoother because it’s harder to say no to a student who is doing chemo while attending classes, but I was able to push through and get my digital works in my Senior Art Exhibit. The compromise was that I had to have some traditional pieces mixed in with the digital. I could do that. I just had to do some more traditional painting.

Instead of trying to find inspiration outside of myself, I looked towards my current situation. I started to paint my current situation. It was a raw experience that was pretty therapeutic actually. Before the surgery, I wouldn’t have dared showed my belly to anyone. After, I was like:

“Well dang, why not? Every doctor and trainee in the hospital has ripped my clothes off and seen me at this point.”

After having people literally see your insides, having someone look at the outside shell just didn’t seem as much of a big deal to me anymore. Don’t get it twisted though, I’m not flashing the goodies just because, but I’m more at peace with myself now.

Opening day the response was a bit surprising, but not entirely. I had all of these large Afrocentric ladies being beautiful and in the buff alongside these emotional pieces illustrating how I felt using oil paints in various techniques. (pics later). I was having a hard time learning to love what I looked like all over, so it took a lot of me to put myself out on display like that. It felt right though, and it got a lot of folks talking, so I took that as a win. Afterward, I gave a presentation on my work to a packed room and boom. Lady T. completed her four years and got her BFA.

I know that was a long detour to hit when talking about what it has to do with anything, but due to it, I was able to get to where I am now. That year of my life provided the biggest change in attitude I have had since I started middle school and decided that I was going to be more outgoing and outwardly confident.

During everything I went through that year I had large stretches of time to just think (well when I wasn’t on antidepressants [which made me kind of just zone out] or pain meds [which just knocked me out). I thought about everything I wanted to do and would do once I felt better and could do it. I thought about my mortality more intimately. I thought about what makes me happiest in life and how I could do it more often. Turns out the most important thing right after recovery was “me time”.

The following few years I spent my time focusing on myself and getting my priorities together. I tried some online dating, I went on more road trips, hung out with friends more, did temp work to try new things, and got caught up with video games again. Before I knew it I had entered “official” adulthood and had a stable job.

Almost dying totally sucked, but it also was an eye-opener. It made me realize what I wanted to do and what is most important to me. Not what I should be doing based on outside expectations. I’m grateful for that. Once I got the wanderlust out of my body I was ready to get back to doing what my heart yearned to do. DRAW!

Sneks are cool
My DnD Gorgon I didn’t get to play for long, but designed her anyway

Take time for yourself to be yourself.

-Lady T.



Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Now I used to hear that quote all the time. It used to grate on me as a child. I mean as a kid everything you do seems small to an adult but as a kid. Mannnn, it was life impending.

I find myself more and more learning to appreciate that quote. Maybe almost dying of cancer, or maybe just growing up has made me warm up to it, but I sure as shimmy shitake am glad that I have.

This blog for example. It’s supposed to document my comic making process. If this was a younger Lady, I would refuse to put anything here but steps on comic making. All the post would have pictures, and they would be amazingly edited, but there would only be two posts.  Where is the point in that? Documenting a process has many parts to it. Some that seem assinine, some that are right on target, and others that pan flat. It’s all apart of MY process and I have learned to embrace that. The messy with the neat.

I want to fix this baby up to look as good as my art and design degree will allow it to be, but I know that will take hours. Hours that I would rather spend creating the actual comic at the moment.

This is a fantastic experiment and may not be how I always document my process. I mean Vlogs are a thing, but for me, that’s the easy way out. I want to exercise my ability to word vomit cohesively.

I will get this place looking better, but for now. I am happy knowing that it exists.

Some Faie Chasing Dusk

“You can’t fix something that hasn’t been made yet!”

-Lady T.

Making the Most of College

It’s been almost 10 years now since I said I wanted to turn the drawings of my OCs into a full-blown comic. Since then I have countless doodles, notes, illustrations, and even a few character sheets to refer to. I’m a visual person so of course, it was hella easy for me to just start drawing and make pieces fit into the world, but that leads me to a dead end after a while.

I had all of these awesome pieces floating around, but they weren’t connected. I had all of these loose ideas for how everything could be related, but without written guidelines, it all just spiraled into piles of papers and one-off posts with long-winded comments on my DeviantArt paged. I started to make a ton of continuity conflicts that made my head spin. Naturally, I just stopped pressing the issue and took a break. I was in college at the time and I had to focus on my degree: Studio Art with a minor in Graphic Design.

The college I attended was great for many things. Friendships that I still value, memories I cherish, Art History (the only history I have ever enjoyed), and knowledge in general, but for what I wanted…kind of mixed. I figured art would be a subjective thing and open to interpretation, but once I started classes I began to think a private liberal arts Jesuit college was maybe a bit to high brow for what I actually wanted to do.

It didn’t take long for me to get a clue. After a few traditional art classes, I had a dawning realization while stretching a canvas in a room smelling of mineral spirits with tubes of paints that cost more than the clothes I wore and abstract paintings adorning the walls that this was not really me.

I love that I learned classical skills and wouldn’t trade them, but painting on canvas isn’t cheap, and I come from humble origins. The price tag on everything made it hard for me to dive in and create, so my pieces never had that “Thick painterly look” and that was a pretty big critique I would receive in my reviews. I also had it in my mind that the only thing I could paint on canvas had to be a masterpiece, but since “I thought” we were discouraged from drafting on the canvas in pencil I spent a ton of time lost since I didn’t want to F* up the canvas. When I did paint, everything was always skewed to one side, didn’t fit on the canvas, or painted over so many times before drying that it turned to mud.

I would have felt lost if I didn’t know about digital art. DeviantArt was still the rage back then and I had a page since high school ( )it’s still up, but I don’t use it as much as Instagram). I got reimmersed into the digital art world and after seeing all the amazing art being created I knew that’s the scene I wanted to be in on. I bought a rinky-dink “my first tablet” and just started to draw.

It was weird not looking down to draw and that tablet I used was way to slick. I was bent on making it feel natural though. I knew that digital art would be the way to go in my foreseeable future since, after the initial deposit of money, it would be cheaper in the long run and offer a ton of versatility depending on the program I used. Thinking of it like that made it feel like a worthwhile investment to my broke ass.

I started to bring my off-brand graphics tablet into class and the professor (the hippest old lady ever) loved it! She immediately ordered tablets for the computer lab and boy was it an upgrade. Wacoms were game changers. Drawing on it was more fluid and the pen control… it was just awesome. My artistic friends and I would just gush over them. I started spending more and more time pushing digital art into my design work over using stock images. More and more classmates started to use the tablets as well. By my sophomore year, the Graphic Design department went all out and made a unique Mac lab filled with Intuos Graphics Tablets. I thought I had seen the height of digital art equipment, but I was wrong. Drawing directly on the screen beats everything else!

College is a marvelous time to single-mindedly devote yourself to your passions. I had to work and do classwork of course, but when I wasn’t having a social life I would learn as much as I could about digital art, Mostly independently since there weren’t any digital art specialist to teach me what I wanted to know. I mean,  my class being the first to have a legit Design Lab with tablets. Even if my design professors weren’t as knowledgeable about digital art, they were incredibly encouraging of what I created.

I received a fine understanding of Graphic Design and Typography from the design classes I took and I soaked those lessons up. My typography professor was a sharp dude and was the real deal. He did not play. He could take your designs apart from the core and critique them. It could be hard to hear, but he was always constructive. I’m glad he took his lessons as seriously as he did (even if they could be stressful). I spent more time putting in extra hours to learn Adobe products for there design uses as well as art then I did in the Artist Studio painting. I should have just switched to a Design major, but I had my reasons. Two words: Senior Artshow. 

By sophomore year I knew that I wanted that Fine arts gallery showing over the Graphic Design one for my senior project. The tricky part would be convincing my fine arts professors that my digital works would qualify for a gallery showing. I figured I would approach that bridge when I hit it, but in the meantime, I would keep making art and learning all I could. Who knows, I might get hip to the traditional stuff.

It didn’t happen. Even when I tried to be open to it. I completed my lessons, but most of my pieces were pretty meh. From painting to sculpting, everything fell kind of flat.

To this day I am 3-d challenged and my mind doesn’t comprehend sculpture. Like my faces are always flat and I just cannot make dimensional forms from clay.

The only somewhat ok pieces came from when I got to work in mixed media. I love mixed media! I never got the nude figure drawing class I was promised, but heeyyyyy, thanks to the Internet and having other artist friends, I have made do.

Procreate on iPad is pretty fun and convenient to create with!

What you have may not be the best, but you can make the best of what you have.

~Lady T.

Style Maven Inspiration Sophie Campbell

I have a ton of artist and movements that isnpire me, but I want to go back to the artist who inspired the style into me.  The beautiful Sophie Campbell!

Imagine a high school geeky, black, tall, not typically considered pretty, and a fat gal who had been drawing for around 8 +/- years at that point, but had never created a character that represented who she was. Lots of heroic figures, and wishful thinking, but none that actually showed any of the realness that she was in a setting that she dreamt of. Not because she didn’t want to, but because it just didn’t occur to her to do it.

Wild right!?

I had my gal Amanda Waller in Dc comics, and the old but good anime Crying Freeman gave me black women with black features being amazing badasses (and even a super-sized lady who I grew to love even though I didn’t at first due to her childish ways). And I’m sure if I squinted really hard and went deep into the recesses of the dial-up internet I could squeeze out a few more, but for me, that was about it…

I was in high school when I read Sophie Campbell’s the Abandoned, I became woke to what was missing in my geeky life.   This woman was illustrating everything I wanted to see, and it blew my mind to finally see it. All the nitty gritty beauty of the bodies, the emotions, and just how raw her women were allowed to be. That sort of representation was so scarce for me.

It was a weird introspective moment that made me think about…well everything. I craved this representation, but because I never saw it, my subconscious had pretty much erased it from the realm of possibility. EVEN THOUGH I COULD DRAW IT!  That’s some mad crazy Twilight Zone-ish to wake up to. Goes to show how easy it is to internalize things based on what you see or don’t see in the media you consume.

After that, I made a conscious effort to draw inspiration from the amazing women present in my daily life. It took an effort to change the way my pencil translated what I thought to what was drawn, since the urge to blend out, smooth out, and “fix” was so prominent, but the effort paid off! Now it’s second nature to draw rolls, afro-textured hair, muscles on women, and imperfectly perfect bodies.

I have a ton of other major influences on style, taste,  and what inspires me… but this lady gets her own post for being the first to wake me up and represent the kind of people I wanted to see more of in the media I love.

Thanks <3

It's a meeeee
Alcohol marker testing on a chubby cheeked Avatar idea.



What Took You So Long…

I have had the idea for MagcicalMashup! swimming around in my head for over a decade now, and whenever I would get folks asking me for more on the scoop behind Junah and Kaelen I was more than happy to talk about them. Hearing all the interest got me thinking about how cool it would be to make their story into a comic, so I started outlining it out.

Oh boi did I, more like script it out as the outline is 100+ pages (not even including supporting documents for world building). It’s easy to get stuck at this phase, and I did. For YEARS. It wasn’t until I received the ultimate push (more on that later) from an amazing friend of mine that I put my butt in gear and in the headspace that bringing this comic to life is totally doable.

“Take it in parts lady.” I repeat that often whenever I feel overwhelmed at the task at hand and it helps me see the smaller pieces that make the whole. I had the two leads and I knew magic would be involved. From there I started to flesh out everything else by writing down everything I liked about fantasy as a genre and the types of  characters I liked until I got this:

MagicalMashup! is the story of Junah, an airy fat black gal with the power to compound elements to create new forms experiencing life outside of her secluded home in the enchanted FaieWoods and Kaelen a stoic wizard…of sorts that would rather hone his skills than socializie and how they work together as partners (and eventually more) in a world filled with magic, mysticism, and mythical beings.

It’s pretty much everything I have ever wanted to see in fantasy and it would be brought to life by my own hand!

The writing part started slowly at first but picked up to include word vomit on any and everything about this world that I could think of. Everything from the races, the landscapes, beliefs systems, world history, trees, and everything else I could remotely think of. So many details that I took the time to develop. Sounds great, but ultimately, it just made it that much harder to make a page 1.

So much pretense just made it seem always incomplete and I’ll be darned if I release something incomplete. Well, that’s what I thought. The beauty of making comics these days (specifically indie webcomics) is that all creative decisions are left to the creator. That also means it’s ready when I say it’s ready, completely scripted or not.

There is something refreshing about that. It has just taken a while for me to see that. Not having everything written in stone leaves room for growth, and the ability to watch your world grow organically. I still have my mega script, but I have learned to leave room for improvements and leave stuff open to interpretation.  I’m learning to embrace this more, and I think in the end it will work for what I’m making instead of against it.

Oohh ahhhh

“Give it your best, keep at it, and know that you will get better as you keep creating!”

-Lady T.