Letters to Holly

Friday, October 15

New Art Project

It can't all be baby stuff, you know.

When I registered for next year's Fanaticon, I was asked about a collector-card marketing idea. The organizers would gather specially made art from the con artists and distribute them throughout the area to promote the show. I liked the idea a lot. It would also be an ad for my material and put my name in people's heads. I decided to make a card promoting the comics I'll make and sell next year; they'll feature this year's heroine (Focus) and next year's (eMMA). The two heroine comics will be connected.

The card will be 2.5 x 3.5 inches, and I made a cardboard frame to sketch out my ideas. The initial idea was solid enough; it allows text space on the top left, which I plan to run diagonally.

eMMA's pose was right from the start, but Focus was crammed in that corner. I sketched out more poses for her.

Also, I needed to flesh out eMMA's championship belt, which holds a significant place in her origin as a professional fighting robot. Her organization is called SCRAP, a play on junk metal and fighting, and I wanted the belt to be over-the-top and aggressive. The WWE has a Diva's championship, and while I like the design, the feminine aesthetic isn't where I'd lean for eMMA and her adversaries.

I wanted to get away from traditional belt shapes too. Really play it up for a "comic book" flair.

My design ideas temporarily lead me to resketch the card as a champion pose, but it felt very similar to what I did for MetroBEAT some years back.

Soon, I had the belt design, and that led to ideas for more stories. I also played with text for the card.

I doubled the card dimensions for a tighter sketch and soon thought the poses were a bit stiff. I made arrows to suggest how to turn the figures for better effect before reconsidering; I decided I'd obscure the costumes too much. Not that eMMA's is a complicated design. It's a basic work-out outfit, like what real women fighters wear. I removed the sponsor logos though. eMMA will ditch those soon after she leaves SCRAP.

I got some reference pics from Your Game Sister before measuring out large dimensions on a cardstock page for the pencils. This scan was color corrected; the pencils are black, not blue. I'm overthinking eMMA's torso muscles and overworking her hair. Focus was a breeze to draw.

Unfortunately, instead of happily posing for battle, I see them dancing. This scan points out other tweaks I need to make. I may start inking this weekend. Your Sister is still hoping to join the motorcycle run, and I'll stay home with Keebler.

I made reservations for next year's DragonCon in Atlanta, and the hotel offered us a free playpen/crib for the sidekick. Double score! He again refused to listen to me read to him, and I was reduced to singing The Police before putting him down.

Still haven't heard anything about the roller derby logo.

Thursday, October 14

Problem Solving

After three months, I'm still trying to encapsulate what it feels like to be a parent. The closest analogy I can get is a video game, a more tactile version of Tamagotchi.

When the deputy is content, you can take him anywhere and do anything. When he's a little antic -- when he becomes Mister Everywhere -- you set him down and let him flail. When he's crying, the mental checklist pops up. You inspect him and change the fluids and see if that quiets him. He's a constant experiment in problem solving. When he's not currently wailing, you check your supplies. It's exactly like a role-playing game. Replace bullets and arrows with diapers and milk.

Such games were crucial to my development. The lessons of constant evaluation and trial-and-error, those sprang from the Nintendos and Segas. Competing with my previous scores burned away my weaker tendencies to stomp around and decry the game as crap and broken. I noodled through. I learned how to focus and adopt a zen mindset to get the job done. That's simply what we do with the kid. Our baby books are cheat manuals. None of this of course considers emotion, excepting frustration. He still throws curveballs, usually right when you think you've got the pattern scouted.

Last night, for instance, he had a bad dream. He bean crying in his sleep about an hour after we put him down. That can suggest a bad diaper, but he was changed just before he nodded off. So that's an eliminated option. He couldn't be hungry after downing six or so ounces before nodding off. He was dressed warmly, so he wasn't cold. His outfit wasn't new, so he shouldn't be any hotter than he was the previous night. This was a different experience for us. But I noticed his eyes were still closed, and that's unique. Even in his most violent tantrums, his eyes are open. I figured he was having a bad dream. I put my hand over his torso to comfort him, and he grew still and quiet. His snoring resumed, and his crying was done. He stayed out for another ten hours. Bad dream? I guess so. Now we know that's possible for him and how to handle it.

I haven't been able to finish the book I chose to read to him. He gets cranky within a few pages. I close up the book, scoop him to my shoulder, and walk around the nursery. I sing to him. I don't know what Your Sister serenades him with, but I'm going with Radiohead and Alan Parsons Project. Progressive rock not only contains gentle harmonies, it also can put you to sleep quickly. It works, I'm here to tell you.

She's debating when and how to make him curious about solid food. His new bedtime removes him before we sit and eat, depriving him of the spectacle that's supposed to entice him to want our food.

I chose a new recipe last night and discovered in almost every step of the way required more work than the length of the recipe suggested. For instance, the rice had to be cooked beforehand. That's another half-hour needed. Boiling the peppers seemed easy enough until the cookbook demanded it be done in a kettle. A kettle? I scoured the kitchen to find one, and what we have will only accommodate three peppers at a time. Now I had to schedule the boiling and subsequent cold shock in ice water alongside the rice and combining the raw ingredients. This was more than I expected, but the dish came out without tasting too horrible. It's essentially lasagna with rice instead of noodles. It's simple, really, but it ain't quick.

Your Sister is annoyed that a local private school didn't inform any other area schools about their planned motorcycle run this weekend. She wanted to join in. But with such short notice, she doesn't think it's feasible. Also, she confesses, she's not sure she can handle a 150-mile ride after being away from the bike so long. She just got it inspected anew this week, her first time on it since she learned she was pregnant.

I'll soon post my art in progress for the convention collector card. I'm seriously thinking about getting a second drawing table for the main part of the house.

Picture of the Day
The new behind-the-scenes book on Empire contains a heap of new photos, like this one. I couldn't get my hair to do that. Is that lock feathering?

Tuesday, October 12

Medical Mysteries

Constant Reader writes:
sounds like you guys are handling the colic, which was described to me in a family medicine on-line learning module as "sometimes some babies just have a hard time adjusting to digesting and absorbing their own nutrition through their newly colonized GI tract...it was so easy to get it from the placenta. Some kids just take longer to adjust." or something like that.
The various baby manuals we collected are vague to the point of enraging us. With so much detail on development stages, the colic comments fall back on probabilities and differing opinions and random remedies. Our sources consider colic to be as mysterious as spontaneous combustion. And the suggestion that white noise will "cure" colic is horsefeathers; it's employed to drown out the child's crying. There is more ink devoted to how to suffer through it than possible causes.

What you wrote makes sense. I suspect our boy gets it when he switches from milk straight from the tap to the bottled stuff. We shake up the bottles to eliminate separation, but I wonder about lingering settlement. We would switch most often in the evenings, and his colic would flare about ten minutes after he finished a bottle. Also, he might have been too full for comfort. Either way, whatever the cause, he's been almost completely free of it for a week now.

He did wake up last night at 3:30, the first time he hasn't made it through the night since Friday. I blame that on him eating without going straight to bed. He awoke hungry.

We both had Monday off, and I made inroads in my convention card art. I ran my old route downtown so as to force myself to run for at least 30 minutes. Your Sister took a quick look in the local consignment store but found nothing new for the deputy. Your Parents have him today, and, hopefully, Your Sister can catch her breath. She spoke with a teacher recently, and she's already feeling the pressure to be prepared for her return to school next fall. Also, she wonders if she can leave the boy at daycare. I'm pretty sure we can and will. She's surprised at how attached she is to him. I had no doubt she's be an affectionate mom. Not one.

Picture of the Day
Russia apparently like to read books on House.

Monday, October 11

Schemes and Designs

The sidekick now has a bedtime.

Your Sister suggested it a few nights ago, and the weekend felt like the best time to try it. I always thought it was for the benefit of the child: He gets his minimum amount of sleep which builds his mental and physical well-being. Now, I'm positive this is solely for the parents. Once the deputy is down for the count, we're off the clock as parents. We have our evenings back again, able to wind down and breath deep once more. We have begun whittling away at our DVR list of movies and shows. More important, we can retire to our own beds in a tranquil manner instead of racing to sleep before the baby erupts again.

Our design is to get him down by 8:30. We take him to the nursery, put him in a sleep outfit, and read to him. We'll each adjust our specific formula, but the setting and basics of the cycle will be the same. Last night was my turn. I tried to read to him, but he was already cranky, and I held him close as he nodded off, tucked him in, turned on the heart-sound bear, and made the notations in our baby journal. He was out by 8:40.

This deadline isn't random. His colic attacks were virtually all after 8:30. By feeding him and soothing him to sleep before that average time, we've avoided further attacks. This is win-win. He slept this morning until 6;30. That's ten hours. That's all night. We can only hope this continues.

In his waking hours, he's developing his curling muscles. He can grab his feet now (that yoga pose you cited), and he can arc his stomach off the floor. I'm not sure that he intentionally props himself on his elbows, but he has repeatedly lifted and turned his head from the floor. The curling will help him eventually roll over. As of now, he can only roll to his sides if we do it for him.

We officially announced this year's pumpkin-carving party, and we scheduled it around my 5k. we're trying to relocate the wireless internet hub in the house. Now that I have a laptop and can move around, there's no reason to keep the hub in the workshop. I'm home today and plan to crank out some art stuff in the workshop.

Picture of the Day
Halloween creeps ever closer.