Tuesday, September 06, 2011

This Blog Turns Six Today

Six years is hardly a milestone, but it's the first year I happened to notice when the anniversary of this blog took place. Initially begun with the intention of solely promoting new work of mine as it became available, this blog quickly morphed into something not quite so commercial and a bit more personal.

While many of the posts were announcements that the latest issue of a comic book series I was working on was now available for purchase, or that a television episode I wrote was airing, more and more of the posts ended up connecting to things that have influenced me and my work over the years, particularly the stuff that shaped me as a child, so suddenly there were posts on children's books that had an impact on me as well as posts celebrating the birthdays of figures whose work had their own influences on me, and the dark reverse side of that coin, posts marking the deaths of those who meant something to me whether I knew them in person or only through their work.

I also began to give a look back stage into the processes that I go through in producing my own work, which led to a companion blog aimed at kids which introduces them to as much material as I can come up with connected to visual storytelling. With that spirit of sharing in the process behind why and how I do things to create my work, for this anniversary I've decided to direct you to some of the material that I've posted here from the past six years that I think is most significant to the evolution of this blog.

1. Fun with Scissors - While 2005 had no posts worth revisiting (or even initially visiting), in January 2006 I began a series of posts that would slowly peter out to a halt at 121 in November 2009. Most of these posts happened in 2006. This was a daily collage of various tv cartoon characters that I created in real time each day until I got too busy with other things and had to let it fall by the wayside. This proved to be a popular series, and if you search for any random cartoon character, you are likely to find one of my collages as an example (sometimes the only example) which made it something of a useful resource. It brought in a regular stream of visitors, some of whom still stop by on a regular basis and led to some sales and some commissions. Many of these collages are still available for purchase at very affordable prices here.

2. The Children's Book Display - I created for the now, sadly, defunct Shaman Drum Bookshop in Ann Arbor,  Michigan. This was the first time I'd ever constructed anything like this and I pretty much made up how to do it as I went along. I also took the time to record and share the process here from start to completion. This was the first time I shared the process of how I did anything. I did many more installations and illustrations for Shaman Drum which can be found here.

3. Countdown to Halloween - In 2006, myself and a handful of like-minded individuals independently posted our own 31 daily posts counting down the days to Halloween (my favorite holiday). Some of us were already in contact with each other, others found us (or vice versa) as the month progressed. The following year a formal list of links of participants was put together, followed by an official blog of its own. It is now an annual online event attracting over 250 participants last year and countless visitors. I'm proud to be one of the founding fathers of this event and to see it grow in popularity year after year.

4. Star Wars 30th Anniversary - In 2007, Star Wars (or as it's now known Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope) turned 30 years old. When that movie was first released I was at exactly the right age for it and it had a huge impact on me mostly because it was the first movie I'd seen set in a non-existent place that presented it that location as completely convincingly real. Unlike the usual gleaming, new, sterile white locations of most science fiction, in Star Wars everything looked, and sounded, like it really worked and had been used, and repaired a lot. This was a universe that real characters lived in. Every editor I've worked with, and many of my fans, have praised my world building abilities in my work. Thank this movie for it. For the entire month I put up a daily post on some aspect of Star Wars. In 2010 I did the same for the 30th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back no doubt I'll carry on in 2013 when Return of the Jedi turns 30.

5. Semi-Regular Features - Throughout the years, I've tried to settle into a schedule of regular posts of a particular type with mixed results. The first attempt, Random Objects in my Office never came close to having any regularity.  The second of my regular planned features, From the Archives grew out of my occasional postings of odd, or interesting items associated with some past project of mine. I later decided I was going to run this feature every Thursday, but didn't stick to that either. Right now I'm hoping to get it at least on a monthly schedule, and hopefully, bi-weekly. The most successful in both terms of regularly keeping to a set schedule, and usage, is my ongoing Ask Me Anything series, where visitors can literally ask me anything and I will answer. This post goes up on the first Monday of every month except October. My answers follow any time during the course of the month the questions are asked.

6. My second most popular post far above any other in terms of visits, except for this one which brought in more traffic over two days than this blog usually sees in months. Thousands of people stopped in to take a look at that collage thanks to Pee-Wee Herman himself, who kindly shared that collage on his social media sites including his facebook and twitter accounts.

So now, for the years to come, and in an ongoing effort to improve this blog, I ask you what you'd like to see that I haven't done yet, what you'd like to see more of that I have done, and what you'd like to see less of. Brutal honesty is best here.


Robert Pope said...

Congrats Buddy!

Stephen said...

Happy anniversary, John! Here's to six more (at least).

Todd Franklin said...

Happy Blog Birthday to one of my favorite blogs!

Dave Lowe said...

Happy Birthday!