This time around, I want to talk about inspiration and motivation. But before I get into that topic, time for my regular weekly progress update. I am currently working on the linework for Page 18 of 30, and expect to finish it later today. I expect Page 19 to be a fast one, so when the calendar turns to February, I will likely be working on Page 20. I originally hoped to be done with the linework for the whole issue at that point, but between my two week holiday and the decision to add 2 new pages to the story, things got a bit backlogged. Still, things are moving along, and I expect the linework to be completed some time in the week after Valentine’s day.

So… inspiration!

I’ve already talked some about the direct inspirations on this project, like Scooby Doo, the original Life with Archie, Archie’s Weird Mysteries, the Three Invesitgators and Trixie Belden, Lois Lane and Veronica Mars. But this time around I want to talk about inspiration in general — what I find inspiring, what recharges my creative juices, what excites me and makes me want to make comics.

Early on in the process of creating The Crimebusters #120, I attended MICE 2018 – the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, which is filled with dozens of self-publishing comics creators. In a very real sense, indie comics are the lifeblood of the medium. Not only are self-published comics done for the love of the craft, but they also provide a fertile forum for new talents to develop their skills. Many comics professionals began in self publishing, where they often had far more creative freedom than is possible working for a big publisher on licensed properties.

Because of this, self-published comics have an incredible breadth and scope. Anything you can think of — anything they can think of — has a comics about it. And while the skill and talent levels vary wildly, that’s also part of the charm. There’s little artifice in indie comics. Nobody is phoning it in or faking it. You only self publish comics if you love comics, and love making comics, and that spirit I found tremendously inspiring. Opening a self published indie comic is a thrill, because you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s guaranteed to be someone’s dream come true.

Comics I bought at MICE 2018.

I also recently had a chance to travel to Berlin, Germany, where I visited an amazing art collective called NeuroTitan. Part gallery, part art shop, and part interactive experience, NeuroTitan was like the ultimate embodiment of the artistic vibe we found throughout the city. Berlin is a place that seems to have really embraced street art, from the murals on the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall to the graffiti in the subway tunnels.

Nowhere was this more evident than at NeuroTitan. Located in a hidden courtyard, the entire approach to NeuroTitan is covered in intricate street art, with paintings, graffiti, and stickers covering every surface. Up a flight of stairs is the store itself, which is a collective of art prints, postcards, t-shirts and — of course! — self published comic books. And through the store is the gallery, where the artists in residence display their works in interesting exhibits that cover a range of social and political issues.

Leaving NeuroTitan we couldn’t help but be jazzed about making stuff, making art, and making comics in particular. It was an energizing experience.

In the NeuroTitan courtyard.
A self-published German comic I bought at NeuroTitan in Berlin.

Finally, earlier this month, I also attended the Boston science fiction convention Arisia. Dancing, gaming, and singing take place side by side with a fantastical art show, and a dealer room filled with novels, art prints, and strange creations. Plus thee were dozens of interesting panels touching on creativity in different ways, such as the panels on Writing for Comics and Writing with Tarot Cards.

But there are also hands on workshops. Want to learn how to make chainmail, or play the theramin? No problem! This year, the highlight for me in terms of workshops was the blockprinting workshop, where we learned how to carve stamps out of blocks of rubber and then hand-make prints.

And most of all, there’s the cosplay, and the community it creates. Seeing fans dressed up in elaborate costumes they built themselves simply out of love for the character is the perfect mix of creativity and geeked out fan joy, which is how I feel about comics when I love them most.

It’s inspiring to be around people who are passionate about things. Passionate about creating things, passionate about the creation of things, and passionate about the creative process.

Now don’t you just want to make a comic book?!