NEWS YOU CAN'T USE

Hey! Here’s an update on where ya boy is at and when and what and why:

VAGUEBOOK THE FIRST: Currently I’m working on a really cool project for a fellow musician. It’s amazing to me that not only do people like my artwork but they want me to draw stuff for them. This project will be really cool and I cannot WAIT to reveal it to you. Yeah, it’ll be worth it. Trust me.

VAGUEBOOK THE 2ND: I’m also doing art for the video of an artist I truly admire. I can’t reveal it yet but damn son when it’s done you will be as amazed as I.

BUNNYHEAD: Yeah, I’m still working on it. 10 issues in all. Currently the mini-comic and album I’m doing for Component must be done before I resume work on Issue 4. “Enter The Doom Pit” will be out in early 2020. Given that it will be over a year since issue 3 expect a significant improvement in the artwork. I’ve been sketching up a storm and busting my ass to fully realize this weird tale. I want it to blow your mind. And it will.

MUSIC NEWS: As always I’m making bleeps and bloops and squeaks and squoops. It’s happening in lots of different ways and places. In order:

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BRITTNEY SPARSE: SNACKS EP. The mistress of disaster techno is back with two songs. Well, three if you buy it through my bandcamp because Condition Human gets all the money. And so do I. Expect lots of 909 and bass.

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CATHODE RAY TUBE: NULL CONTACT EP. Yep. 5 songs. Very pumped about this. I’m covering some newer, weirder ground and I want to inflict it all on you. Lots of good stuff up in this bidnatch.

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CATHODE RAY TUBE: DARK ROADS FOR THE YOUNG MAGUS. Very, very, very excited about this new full album! This album will drop in November 2019 on Truth Table out of Sheffield, UK. This is as close to a paean to my heroes Autechre and Cabaret Voltaire and you can get! As with the Null Contact EP there’s a lot of new stuff happening. Part of it is a return to melody and “songs” so to speak. The other is embracing more chaos and weird tunings.

That’s it for now. Keep an eye out for release dates for all of the above.

Be well and be weird!

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MECAF 2019 ROUND UP

A man and his robotic creation.

A man and his robotic creation.

So MECAF 2019 went down this past weekend and it was a blast!

I’m sure I‘d have enjoyed it more were I not recovering from whatever cold/flu/plague swept through my household the week before. Nevertheless, I got up, loaded Ol’ Lazarus the Subaru and got my ass there five minutes before opening and setup in record time!

It was good to see new folks and reconnect with others. These seem to be part reunion part showcase. I sold some books and comics and gave away a lot of free stickers and stuff. I wish I could’ve sold more but hey this is the way for the creator of an independent comic.

A few things made it all worthwhile.

The first was a kid of about 13 or so with a bunch of punk rock band patches on his jean jacket. We got to talking, and he told me a tale I’ve heard before which has been told by many: boring small town, nothing to do but draw and make art. I told them that exactly, and it seemed to help. Then they showed me their sketches, and I encouraged them to keep drawing. I love to show them that Here I Am this 50-year-old newbie in the comics game and that they’re doing the work now which will benefit them later.

The second was a younger kid of 10 maybe who came up to the table, flipped through the first issue of Bunnyhead and said, “Oh, I‘ve read this.”

“Oh yeah?” I said. “Where?”

“At my doctor’s office,” he said. And inwardly I cackled with glee.

I put several issues of Bunnyhead in the waiting room of some doctor’s offices around town, knowing that the kids waiting there would pick them up. Sure enough, my man R had done so and here he was! His dad bought him all three issues, and he grabbed a sticker, too. So why do I love this so much? Well, young R. connected with my comic for one. Two my marketing plan worked. And three it‘s always awesome when young kids like my comic. 

The other thing was a great conversation about horror films with a guy where we both told each other about great movies the other needed to see. This was cool because while M was clearly a bigger horror fan with more knowledge than I, they still didn’t know about (A Dark Song, if you‘re curious).

And then talking to all the other creators, fans and artists. Connection, connecting, connections.

One big takeaway is streamlining my table so I can display my wares, promote myself and also make my setup and breakdown so much easier. 

Until then I’m binge watching the Sopranos and trying not to think of the brownies cooling on the counter.

Until then be well!

- CHANG

Musing on the Muse

As I announced the recent release of my latest novel Tribal Malfunctions a friend said they admired my prolific output. I was humbled and gratified. Also puzzled to a degree. 

But they were right, for sure. As of this writing I’m about to finish issue 3 of my comic Bunnyhead which I write, draw and color myself. I’m figuring out which songs are going on two albums due out in the beginning of next year (2019). I’m working on issue #4 of Bunnyhead and have also written the script for a new comic about a gangster. Oh and I started writing prose for the first time in a long while last night and it looks like that will become a full blown novel. 

Yeah that’s kinda prolific. 

Also kind of insane.

I guess you could say I’ve learned to tame and use my muse instead of it being the other way around. I’ve long held the belief instilled in me by Mary Robinette Kowal that your muse isn’t in control of you like some flighty spirit; your muse is in fact a muscle that needs to be exercised and developed to work best for you and not you for it. 

And I’ve done that to a degree. If the rest of my body looked like my writing muscle I’d look as ripped as Matthew McGonaughey in Magic Mike. I’m working on that but anyway I’ve got a solid writing muscle and know how to use it. In fact I daresay I’ve gotten it so well-tuned and adjusted that I don’t need to work it as regularly as I used to in order to make it work. I’m not saying I’m Tolstoy up in this piece but I’m pretty good at banging out the words as needed on time and within the limits prescribed. 

While currently not professionaly published I have self-published five novels to date - in addition to the comics - and written at least two dozen short stories (They’re all making the rounds and my Pulitzer and Hugo acceptance speeches are constantly being finetuned and updated). By my own estimation that’s put me at over half a million words. And since I’ve been doing this writing thing hardcore for the last ten years…

Well I’m not going to call myself a master per se but let’s just say I know how to put a sentence together.

But back to the prolific thing.

As I said I’ve gotten to the point where I can write as needed. The muse does strike though more often than not I must sit and work storylines and plotholes out like knots in wood or lumps in gravy. I keep notes on story ideas and works in progress so they’re readily available when needed. I don’t need the muse to srike but when it does I go to work with quite a bit more charge and fervor than usual.

When the muse does strike hard it’s weird. For instance this new story I’m working on came to me as the germ of an idea from a single line. From that line I saw an image, a scene I could write about. I let it run around in my head for a bit before I felt I could write in a few sentences after it. Once I started that first line the next couple sentences came with a little coaxing. Then the first paragraph was done. The next paragraph came a little easier. And the one after that a little moreso. Before long I had a page and was digging where I was headed. 3,500 words later I had the beginning of a new novel. Hot damn!

But it’s not always like that. In fact sometimes it’s a drag.

The best way I can describe it is… Well there’s this movie from 1971 called Cold Turkey with Dick Van Dyke about a small town in Iowa that quits smoking. And there’s this one scene where DVD is at the breakfast table chewing carrot sticks to fight off the urge to smoke. He’s listening to the radio and this show is on and - well here’s the link to it. Just watch and listen.


So that’s me and my muse: Dick Van Dyke banging his redhead wife to keep from smoking! I never said I was classy (By the way that’s Bob & Ray playing the radio annoncer and guest!). But it really illistrates my image of how it works when a story or idea grips me. It’s with an almost grim determination that I have to do my duty to my craft, get up off my ass and go write or draw or what have you. I love it, I love the feeling of being inspired enough to create while at the same time it can be a little daunting. There are times when I’d rather be doing something else or need to get something else done but the story or comic is beckoning. And I know that despite training, working, developing and flexing my muse I really can’t do anything else but give in, let it take me upstairs and do with me what it needs to do to get things done. 

Maybe I should take up smoking?

Nah. The muse is stronger without it.

Now if you’l excuse me I have to go make up a few thousand words about an imaginary thing.