#DiscoveringWrestling #002 – 5000 Years of Chinese History (MKW: Middle Kingdom Wrestling) Part 2

When I initially decided that I wanted to cover Pro-Wrestling companies on the fringes, outside of the mainstream Wrestling media coverage, I figured it would be a hard sell. I knew that it was a subject that I was direly interested in, and which desperately needed more coverage. However, I had no clue when I first set out to write last week’s article almost a month ago (Damn, I was slow to get started!), that the reception and level of support for this idea would be as strong as it has been. I’m not going to gussy it up and over-inflate my ego. I honestly thought I’d have a few friends read my first #DiscoveringWrestling piece disinterestedly, pat me on the back for a “good job”, and that would be that.

Instead, I was greeted with excitement from the wrestling fans who read it, praise for the quality of my writing, and encouragement to keep going onward from professionals running the kinds of companies that I want to talk about. I should have had a suspicion that this was a good idea when Adrian Gomez, the founder of Middle Kingdom Wrestling, agreed to be interviewed by me off of a glance over my previous blog efforts and the fact that I wanted to research wrestling from around the world. I had expected to be refused, but he graciously accepted – and well before he had ever seen what I had to say about his company.

I happily sent him a brief list of questions by e-mail and waited, admittedly anxiously, for his response. What follows is the first interview, and definitely not the last, in the #DiscoveringWrestling series and I would like to sincerely thank Adrian Gomez for taking the time to help us all to better understand his approach to and engagement with Pro-Wrestling, as well as to help kick this series off!

NC: Who are you and how would you describe yourself?

AG: My name is Adrian Gomez.  I love pro wrestling, and traveling and living all over the world.

NC: What made you decide to be the guy who would take advantage of the opportunity you saw for Pro-Wrestling in China?

AG: I’m an expat. I love pro wrestling. I love pro wrestling so much, that I’m willing to take this risk. I love China, I love the way of life here, I love the language. It’s what I was born to do, I feel.

NC: How long have you been living in China?

AG: I’ve been living in China for six years now.

NC: I can think of no better name for a pro-wrestling company in China than Middle Kingdom Wrestling, it evokes a sense of awe and reverence for the cultural heritage of 5000 years of Chinese history. How did you land on that name? What is the meaning behind your logo?

AG: Hahaha! Yes, there are a lot of people that like Middle Kingdom Wrestling just based on our name.  Yes, it’s pretty cool, isn’t it ?  If it evokes the feeling of 5000 years of Chinese history, then that’s exactly why we chose that name.  The logo has a piece of The Great Wall of China on it.

NC: What do you see as the influence of Chinese history and traditional Martial Arts on the way Pro-Wrestling is performed in the country?

AG: Absolutely.  You’re going to see the way we incorporate Kung fu with Pro Wrestling soon.  It’s just a natural fit between both styles of fighting to merge together.

NC: I’ve read some articles that give me a limited understanding of Pro-Wrestling in China, so I know you aren’t the only game in town (so to speak), and I was wondering how you would describe the Chinese Pro-Wrestling scene?

AG: We’ve been working with The Slam, the original Chinese Pro Wrestler, who has been trying to get pro wrestling started in China for over ten years. He’s the only guy in China who can train, he’s the only guy in China that can buil[d] rings. He’s been having his own small pro wrestling shows for almost a decade, and we’ve developed a strong relationship. We are just two people that love pro wrestling and we both want to bring this scene into China’s mainstream.

NC: Was the first season of MKW TV you’ve posted to YouTube filmed at your first event, or had you had previous events?

AG: That was our first, right. We filmed season 1 over two days.

NC: What kind of wrestling do the Chinese like most? and, what about Pro-Wrestling connects with the Chinese audience?

AG: This is a brand new pro wrestling market, right – so in a lot of ways, you can kind of go back to the basics. They like the athleticism that “Kung fu pro wrestling” style brings, but they also love the simple larger than life stars lifting their opponents up for a gorilla press.  They love the comedy aspects, they love the sense of wonder. I think that our live audience reacts to almost everything in a positive way.

NC: How would you describe the style of MKW? What kind of wrestling is it that you do?

AG: I don’t believe in featuring just one style of pro wrestling.  Yes, we have Chinese Pro Wrestlers and yes, some of them do the “Kung Fu” wrestling, but we have all sorts of styles.  MKW pro wrestler Candy Brother wrestles lucha style, Selfie King incorporates gymnastics and so on.  If we had more guys available with different styles, I’d incorporate them as well. It’s about giving everybody a little bit of everything.

NC: Travelling to foreign lands to learn, adapt, and hone one’s skills has been a large part of Pro-Wrestling’s storied legacy and has been the foundation of many very successful performers’ careers in the business. What kind of opportunities do Chinese Pro-Wrestlers have to travel the world and learn different styles and develop their skills?

AG: MKW is all about developing relationships with other promotions around the world. Our guys, through MKW, have a chance to travel to so many places in the world.  Take this November – we’re bringing several MKW pro wrestlers to their first ever Thailand trip in Pattaya, in a huge two day long event called International Pattaya Showdown: Wrestlestar III.  There will be wrestlers from a dozen countries! What a great opportunity to learn from pro wrestling styles all over the world.

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NC: I’m interested to know how you discovered the workers you have brought in from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the United States, and the United Kingdom? Was it difficult to get people to come to China? Do you have any favourite promotions from these regions?

AG: Oh man, that’s a great story.  I studied, I traveled, I had to meet other people to meet other people. I had to know him or her, to get to know him or her.  It was like traveling on a web. I went to Taiwan, I went to Hong Kong, I went everywhere, to make friends and share with them my idea about Middle Kingdom Wrestling.

NC: Do you have any experience in the Pro-Wrestling business outside of your ventures in China?

AG: I’ve always tried to help out at my local independent wrestling events back in the states. Hold the camera, drive wrestlers around, etc.

NC: Do you have any favourite companies, wrestlers, and/or matches that have influenced your opinion on what wrestling is?

AG: My favourite wrestlers are Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, Mick Foley, AJ Styles and Eddie Kingston – from the indie scene.  I love WWE and Ring of Honor.  Especially ROH Vs. CZW era Ring of Honor. Great stuff that was.

NC: What does it mean to you to see Hoho Lun and Jason Lee representing Chinese Pro-Wrestling in the WWE #CWC (Cruiserweight Classic)?

AG: Wow, sometimes you just can’t believe it’s happening – it’s really happening. WWE putting their attention in China in such a big way like that, even hiring MKW superstars. It’s great.

NC: In an article I read on pigchina.com you implied that your key to success would be through the presentation of characters and gimmicks, “developing characters…with Chinese characteristics“, rather than more sports-like presentations such as the CWF, why is that?

AG: There’s been quite a few one off pro wrestling shows that have toured China.  I can tell you, for certain, that Chinese audience[s] don’t react much to chain wrestling. I learned that very quickly, so we changed our focus to offer more entertainment.  We love to make people smile. That’s what we want to focus on.  If you watch MKW TV: Chinese Pro Wrestling, we’ve taken a lot of inspiration from WWE Monday Night Raw.  We try to build stories, our episodes are not just pure wrestling.

NC: How big is your ring?

AG: It’s 14 by 14

NC: While watching the episodes of MKW TV that you’ve made available on YouTube, I was struck by how much bigger and more polished The Selfie King got between seasons. What was he up to in the interim?

AG: The Selfie King H.W. is our baby.  We believe that he is the Future of Chinese Pro Wrestling.  He had a rough night the first episode of MKW TV – Ho Ho Lun did too, they weren’t able to talk over their match. Anyway, not to make excuses, Selfie King started training a lot more between seasons, and [started] getting a lot of advice especially from MKW Champion Dalton Bragg.  Dalton Bragg and Big Sam both see a lot in “Selfie King” Hong Wan. Our goal is to send him to Japan at some point and put him over in a big way.  He’s the future of this business, we feel.

NC: Finally, what do you see as the future of Pro-Wrestling, generally, and Middle Kingdom Wrestling, specifically, in China?

AG: We just want to give Chinese pro wrestlers and Pro Wrestlers all over the world a platform to be able to wrestle regularly in China and Chinese Pro Wrestling fan a product that they can proudly support as Chinese Pro Wrestling.

 

When i received Adrian’s response to my questionnaire, I was immediately struck by how passionate he was, and how friendly. It felt like I was sitting down for a beer to catch up with an old friend. This was a familiar experience for me. I’ve felt that way many times before when talking with Pro-Wrestling fans. We are connected by our passions, and it takes a special kind of passion to weather the storm that often accompanies loving Pro-Wrestling. In retrospect, it shouldn’t have surprised me that he was willing to take time out of his busy life for my fledgling blog. Passionate people want to talk about their passions with people who can understand them, and when you add a fascinating and exciting product like Chinese Pro-Wrestling into the mix, you must want to shout it from the rafters everywhere you go. I know I have been. Okay, maybe not literally the rafters.

So, then, what can we take away from the information found herein? First and foremost is the confirmation that the Chinese Pro-Wrestling audience has yet to decide on what it likes best, what gets it going the most in a match. As a fresh audience to the art of Wrestling, they react well to most things now. I’d be interested to check back in on those questions in five or ten years time and see if the response has changed, if the broad acceptance of all tropes of Pro-Wrestling has developed into a Hybrid-Style spiced up by the Chinese worldview and identity or if one aspect has risen to the forefront as the preferred expression, the “National Style“. Doubly interesting, in this same regard, is the general disinterest that the Chinese audience has for chain-wrestling. “What does this speak to?” is the question that comes to mind. Could it be that their unfamiliarity with the genre has yet to give them an appreciation for the technical expressions of style, or is there something innate to chain-wrestling that just doesn’t, and will never, really click with the Chinese audience? These are things to keep your eyes on.

Furthermore, I found it both exciting and interesting to see that the one performer I asked a direct question about, The Selfie King, is the pet project of Adrian Gomez and that the more experienced wrestlers who have been brought in to bolster the roster of MKW see big things for his future. Part of my excitement is self-congratulatory, as I love to play armchair talent scout. If I were starting up a new company in China, or looking to run some tours in the country, and I saw him develop that quickly into an exciting competitor, I certainly would want to scoop him up and push him hard. He has a bright future, and hopefully he’ll get that world-travelled pedigree that all great wrestlers seem to get and you can see him live in your neck of the woods one day.

Finally, and this will be explored further in later posts so I’ll just touch on it briefly here, Adrian tells us how much of a focus for him there is in building inter-promotional relationships  and co-promoting shows. While he only directly mentions the Wrestlerstar III show in Thailand, his dedication to this philosophy can be verified by the announcements that they will also be co-promoting shows in China with help from the APWA as well as in South Korea with the PLA. This normally would be really exciting, as crossover events always add spice to your cards, but with Adrian also saying that the ROH vs CZW feud is one of his favourite times in Pro-Wrestling I would wager that, as these relationships develop, some intriguing storylines will arrive.

To keep up to date with all the latest news and developments in Middle Kingdom Wrestling and other interesting promotions from around the world, keep an eye on the #DiscoveringWrestling series on NuclearConvoy.com and head over to my FaceBook page and Twitter to like and follow me. For more information on MKW right from the source, head over to their Website, FaceBook page and Twitter and like and follow them as well.

And don’t forget, sharing is caring, so if you know anyone else who’d love to learn more about the dark corners of the Pro-Wrestling world, send them my way!

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#NoLookingBack #003 – Knowing You Don’t Know What you Need To Know

In my last entry I may have crossed the line a bit too much into teaching you what I am being taught, dearest readership of zero people. That is not my intention. I started out last week by telling you that in six hours with Ty Templeton (you can find his course at http://www.comicbookbootcamp.com daddy-o!) I learned more than in several semester’s of college art and creative writing classes, and now I understand the reason for it. Those CEGEP courses I took at John Abbott College in Quebec weren’t actually teaching me skills. It wasn’t imparting knowledge upon me. In my excitement over having actually learned skills and wanting to put them to use and demonstrate them for you, I may have crossed the line a bit too much and all apologies and reverence are due unto Ty for finally connecting the dots in my mind.

Back then, when I was really learning nothing, classes were structured in a bizarre way to teaching skills. My art classes would have us sit in a circle around an empty space in the centre of the room and just stare at some random object, or my own hand, and try to just inherently recreate that in flawless detail. It infuriated me. It still infuriates me that they took no time before that step to drill some skills into my head. The writing classes were similar and may have even been worse. It would be all “share your story with the group on the class web portal and then we will discuss the story” and inevitably the discussion would be derailed by someone who found something inherently disturbing about the subject matter or wanted to nitpick word choice. We never got down to structure, building blocks, believable story arcs or anything essential to the understanding of how to craft a good story. At that point, and up until now, everything I had learned and knew about story structures and pacing and creating enjoyment in the audience had been gleaned from absorbing material, taking it in and deciphering its inherent algebraic formulation, and attempting to replicate it without fully understanding what I was doing or why It mattered that I did it.

After class today I had a discussion where Ty echoed my feelings about those classes I had taken from his own youth. He hadn’t learned anything in similar situations, so that when he created his own classes he wanted to actually impart direct, comprehensible, structured knowledge onto us. This brought me back to something which I have had to recognize in myself, and something I laid out for you back in entry #001 – in at least some fashion. To be able to improve, you need to know what you need to know and seek out the resources that will educate you in a manner that is effective.

What this entails, essentially, is doing research. Now, I’ll happily admit that coming across Ty’s courses was not the result of me doing research. My discovery of his Comic Book Boot Camp system (if you’re in Toronto or the surrounding areas and you want to get into comics, take his courses. No matter your skill level, you’ll learn something, I’d wager) was PURE serendipity. I was merely at the right place, at the right time. I couldn’t be happier for it. I had gotten to the point where I felt lost without proper guidance and his classes almost feel like mentoring more than education. But, that being said, I had at that point reached the conclusion that I knew I needed help with both drawing and writing in such a way that I could no longer teach myself strictly through buying books and watching tutorial videos on youtube. It wasn’t helping me the way I needed to be helped, and a few minutes on Free Comic Book Day at a local shop of Ty explaining (pitching really) myself and some other lookieloos on his class and I knew that this was the direction I needed to head in.

But this hasn’t been the only time wherein I have identified what I need to know, researched it as best I could, and gotten help when I have hit my personal limits. In my efforts to get a comic book project off the ground I have had several failed attempts at collaboration, shared creation, so many years ago I attempted to go the route of paying artists to do work based on my scripts and concept art. Since I would be getting money involved, and wanted to protect myself and my intellectual property, I looked into what I would need to do in a contract to protect my investment. So far, and I won’t name names, the majority of artists who have signed contracts with me have decided to try and not complete do the work I had contracted them to do and keep the money I had paid them upfront (I like to give some upfront to help cover costs they may incur during the process and then the remainder upon completion). Having a written contract between us has protected me and gotten my investment back, hassle-free, in one specific instance where the artist recognized that she did not have the legal upper hand at all considering the terms of the contract to keep my money without completing even 1% of the work she had been contracted to do. My position was strengthened by the contract’s existence.

Most people I have spoken to have had, in the creative fields at least, some kind of similar situation to mine and I feel lucky to know that, due to my dogged determination to have a contract, I have protected myself. And when, more recently in my life, another, longer working relationship fell apart and I anticipated complications even with the benefit of a contract existing between parties, I knew I had to seek help and learn what I needed to know from someone who knew more than I. At that point I turned to the internet, fired up my googling skills, and found myself a free legal aid clinic for artists in Toronto, scheduled a meeting and got myself educated. I left that meeting with a massive weight off of my shoulders, the weight of ignorance and uncertainty, and while my end result is still uncertain the fact is that understanding my options and having a game-plan to move forward on are tremendously important in struggling towards your goals. If I had never visited http://www.alasontario.ca/ I would still have a pit of confusion in my stomach. It is never a bad thing to ask for help, to reach out to find someone who can help walk you through the skills or information you don’t have an understanding of but you know you need to move forward, to resolve your problems, and strive for the next level.

You’re likely to stumble often in pursuit of whatever your chosen career is, particularly if it is in an industry that is so remarkably subjective as the creative arts can be, and that involves as many egos as these industries have, all competing to have their own needs met. It isn’t a sign of weakness to use the tools, people, and resources available to you to get a leg up. It is intelligent. Learn from others. Don’t try to do it on your own, it will only frustrate you.

#NoLookingBack #002 – Week One in the #ComicBookBootCamp

Note: I had intended for this to run in time with the classes, but now there is a significant delay due to, well, life. So, this is now several weeks behind where I am at. However I still intend on keeping track here of this process.

It’s funny to think that while I attended CEGEP in Quebec I took several drawing/ painting and Creative Writing courses that were a full semester in length and in a mere 6 hours with Ty Templeton I have already learned far more. The information Ty presents is no nonsense and down to business, cutting straight to that which is most practical within the first moments of each class. There’s a strong likelihood that my innate understanding of what he is showing me is more developed and I am in a better place to understand it than the me that struggled to grasp foreshortening back in college, with many years of slowly developing skills in each category, but that does nothing to undercut how efficiently and effectively Ty communicates the information to teach is practical skill sets for these creative fields. I understand how he is teaching it, as well as why he is teaching it, and immediately see it as a beneficial tool in restructuring my previously developed ideas.

In the first of the two classes this psst week he demonstrated a professional perspective on storytelling and artistic creation that was a tempered mix between the passion he has for creation and an informed understanding of what it takes to make a living in this business.  It was refreshing. I have read many books on writing science fiction and fantasy, but none had deigned to teaching me what I would need to be able to be successful financially and not just from a quality of my work standpoint. It was exactly what I needed. I know how to have wild ideas and crazy adventures spring forth from brain. I don’t know how to break down plot development into a succinct list of concepts that can be easily turned into a successfully marketable story. If I want to make a living at any point in my life off of my ideas in the way that I want to (think KISS level merchandising,  but likely on a less colossal scale) I need to know how to take the uniqueness that I can offer to the world and make it commercially viable. I do not believe quality content that is also merchandisable has to be the Loch Ness Monster of the artistic industries. There are several creator’s presently doing just that, who have never compromised from their own unique vision and have been remarkably successful.  Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman come to mind.

I  was taught that “No one wants to read your story” is the first lesson any creator needs to learn. This was never meant to discourage us in the class. It was meant to provide us with a shift in perspective on storytelling. We need to work to get the audience’s attention by building our stories in such a way that we both give them what they were expecting and to give them what they weren’t expecting but that what they weren’t expecting is what will leave them full and satiated as a consumer of your creative goods.

It’s all in your hook to begin with, as Ty broke it down in a way that had me seeing the hooks in successful media immediately. It also made me realize that some of my stories already had great hooks built into them? And that some of them seemed lost for want of a hook. Practicing making hooks has become a fun experiment, with my girlfriend even challenging me to make hooks out of random locations she threw my way, my favourite was “library storage room”. It resulted in the stellar hook:  “In the most secret library storage room lies a magic  book that wants to steal the souls of its reader’s and let loose the demon trapped inside.” The structure of the hook almost writes itself without much fretting. Not every hook in my practices was that good, but this isn’t about quality so much as it is about reinforcing the basic premises of how to set up the hook. It is, after all,  practice.

After addressing the hooks, and the simple structure that goes into them (here’s another for you. Go on,  see if you can spot the pattern: The fastest midget in New Hampshire wants to break the world sprinting record ) , we move on into identifying the characteristics of your protagonist and how to work them into the plot in a 5 act structure.  This requires a decision first as to the nature of your protagonist : are they a hero, an antihero, an everyman, or a misanthrope.  This scale was something I understood before the class on an inherent level but was not able to codify and identify so readily as the tools Ty provided us with allow us to do. It’s basic structure and ideas that, for some reason, seem to be held back in other creative writing educational experiences I have had.

Ty lays out these bits of information that feel revelatory to me like he’s putting peanut butter on toast. I guess that’s what comes with 30-someodd years of experience in creating stories for a living. He breaks down famous scenes from comics and film to illustrate his points as we moved through the class and made effective use of every instance. It’s hard to write this without nearly copy-pasting my notes from the class to communicate how appropriately and succinctly he breaks these things down.

So instead of me giving away all of his secrets,  how about I just show you some of it in action.

We’ll start with that nice simple hook from above, “The fastest midget in New Hampshire wants to break the world sprinting record”. We can also arbitrarily decide that in this instance the character will be a true hero, which means that he is selfless, brave (which means that he must be willing to face his own fears,  and that he has admirable qualities. Now, once we have decided that we can begin to structure the story. First we need to lay out how it begins and how it ends so that we can have the middle portions make sense and logically feed into our ending. So we introduce him, let’s call him Bob, we introduce Bob in a way that highlights who he is and only he can do: Let’s have him show up in a local statewide sprinting competition, audience perspective focusing on all these athletes running when suddenly Bob comes barreling by and passes these super-fit athletes and wins this statewide competition, then we follow him home where he puts the trophy along with a plethora of other championship trophies all with the state name on them. A little heavy handed,  maybe, but it communicates that he is the fastest in New Hampshire effectively.  It not only tells you who he is, but it establishes what is normal for him.

Now we have take some more decisions about this story’s arc. Does Bob succeed in his desire? And what is the unexpected gain or loss that makes the story more than just a series of expected scenes predicted by the audience’s mind when they read your hook? So, let’s arbitrarily be a downer and decide that he fails to break the world sprinting record. Womp womp. And why not give him love, possibly the most universal unexpected gain, and something that has added depth and meat to a variety of works that otherwise would have been terribly one – dimensional. He’ll,  even Indiana Jones was made better by a love story built underneath his fight against nail for the arc of the covenant.

Now, with that beginning and ending out of the way we need to start fleshing out how we get from one end to the other. Since we can’t have the character have a desire that isn’t introduce in the story we can have a simple inciting incident wherein someone passing through our protagonist’s home town in good ole New Hampshire is an athlete, nay a sprinter, and he runs into our hero at some pub. Let’s call it Ye Olde Dash to be overtly metaphoric. So he gets into a drunken chat with this sprinter and challenges him to a – have you guessed it? – a sprint!

Our intrepid hero loses the race, maybe partly because he’s drunk but also because he isn’t as fast as he thinks he is. He hasn’t considered that people from that most despicable of places (Vermont!) or elsewhere in the word might have something that he has never run up against before. His small worldview thoroughly shattered he sets himself to learning about the global context of his sport and training his body for the arduous task ahead.

We need to show his characteristics in scenes where his attributes are revealed to us as solutions for problems he encounters. We have three acts between the two we’ve already established to work within.  So we have to show that he is brave, that he is admirable (his blankiest blank provides us with his admirable characteristic), and that he is selfless. So, now we’re gonna get a bit breakneck in our pacing here.

So, we’ve got our hero training  and in act two we decide that he needs to show that he is brave. To do this we retroactively insert into act one some sort of fear for him, let’s have it be babies, he is absolutely terrified of them and their soft, not-fully-developed craniums. Now we just put him into a situation where he has to deal with babies to get through it… like, I dunno, his new trainer gets held up somewhere in a broken-down automobile and calls our hero to pick up his infant from some daycare or the training won’t move forward (I never said this plot would be good or logical). Boom! We have him go through with it, he gets this baby, carries it at arm’s length, and faces his fear. Our protagonist is brave, facing his own personal fears, and now the audience knows it. Here we also have him meet the lady who works at the daycare who he finds attractive. Setting up the love-interest.

Now we can do a simple third act where we force the character to have to go through some sort of qualifying round in his desire to break the world record, where him being the fastest in New Hampshire is what he uses to solve the problem, where he has to break his own personal records to show that his training is paying off. We think that he is now going to go on and be successful in breaking this record!

Act 4 rolls around and we need to demonstrate that he is selfless, so I envision him on the road to the big event when the love interest he is travelling with gets a call from someone close to her who is dying and he is presented with the options to let her off and continue on to the event or take her to where she needs to go and we have him choose to take her there, giving up on his goals but gaining something more important to him in the long run.

And there you have it! Bob’s Amazing Sprint, a fully developed story in five simple acts. Of course there is much more polish that needs to be put onto this for it to be entertaining and good, but we have now laid-out a framework that we can move forward from and build upon as we create the finer nuances of the plot structure.

#NoLookingBack #001 – Beginnings

The route that led me to the moment I coined for myself my definition of #NoLookingBack was a long one, filled with quantities of frustration and disappointment that I still cannot fully express. This is not because I lack the words to communicate my thouhhts or the understanding of the events that transpired needed to generate said expression, but because the definition of #NoLookingBack that I came upon dictates that it is no longer necessary to dwell on the past, so long as I learn from my mistakes and strive to do better on each subsequent step of my journey towards the life and career that I aspire to.  Reality necessitates that, because of outstanding financial issues, I inevitably revisit these events and deal with the ramifications of their fallout, however, this new ideology — yes, let’s call it that — is one that allows me to separate from the burden and realize that it is simply a necessity and creates for me the opportunity to learn from these events and improve upon myself as a creator.

The realization was actually quite simple:  through pattern recognition I learned that if I want to put out a comic book that actually represents my vision and strives for success — as I choose to define it — I could no longer try to play the collaboration game. I had spent too much time and money on collaborative efforts and had found my ability to discern whom I should try to work with lacking.  I had to reinvent myself and get over my biggest fear as a creator: that my drawing skills are severely lacking and that no one would read a comic I drew. I had it in my head that I couldn’t ask people to buy a comic that I myself would not pay money for. The obvious solution was even one that I had worries about, and thought my art wasn’t good enough to even try and gain an audience with: Webcomics. But that’s where we come back to what I mean by #NoLookingBack : It is a personal philosophy of endeavouring to achieve my goals while learning how to do it, practice through the practical application of the skills needed to make the comics I wanted to make, to market it and build an audience and find a way to make a living off of my ideas. This entails that I produce content without being embarassed by it or letting my recognition of where my flaws are hinder me from releasing it or letting myself obsess over trying to make it right or perfect. I had to release it and learn from my missteps to make it better. This all sounds so simple when I write it out, but it wasn’t an easily accepted realization. It’s amazing how hitting a new low, having years worth of progress and effort dashed to the side by forces outside of your direct control, can get you over yourself. I had to take a step back and reinvent myself, change everything about how I was going about chasing this vision of mine, if I was going to succeed and not be sent into an infinite tailspin. This might sound similar to your experiences as well. You might call it something else, but it helped me to label it and make it mine, to hash-tag it and motto-ify it and brand it as my own. This is my path and my plan.

But what exactly does this mean I’ll be doing?

Well, it goes something like this:

1) I’ll be releasing content regularly and inspite of flaws. If I finish drawing a page of my comic,it gets lettered and put in the can for release. This applies to blogs and other content as well.

2) Record my flaws and actively work towards improving in those areas moving forward.  This list may or may not be an actually written out and tracked list.

3) Actively acquire and engage with feedback; and ignore the inevitable haters. It may hurt for a moment when you tell me how terrible my art is, but I know where I’ve come from and how much difference a year can be in getting better

4) Pursue knowledge. Likely the most important and understated requirement for getting to be better is to obtain the skills and information needed to be able to level up. A voracious appetite for knowledge and seeking it out, after correctly identifying, what you need to know, is going to be an advantage.

To this end, I have enrolled in a couple of classes being taught by Ty Templeton in Toronto, under his comicbookbootcamp.com program to learn from someone who has had longevity and success in the industry that has captured my attention relentlessly throughout my life. I’ll be starting this coming week and have made certain that no factors will stand directly in my way of obtaining as much from this as possible.

I will be chronicling my classes and thoughts on improving my skills and ideas throughout the coming 7 weeks , 6 hours each of class time in this very blog.

5) Scheduling my life to specifically achieve these goals. Sounds so simple, but the practice of making one that makes sense over a year in advance is a complex task that requires a lot of information.  However, for myself, I it is an inexorably required part of the plan. Knowing myself here is key. Part of this scheduling effort includes measuring how long it takes to produce content and, with that in mind, developing a stockpile of work before the project goes fully live so that my release schedule is not hampered by my need to produce new content.

This is, by far, an oversimplification of the actual amount of work that this will entail, and everything above can be subdivided and expanded upon in so many different ways,  but it should suffice to communicate how I intend to proceed.  From here on in, there’s #NoLookingBack