Saturday, September 17, 2016

Glad You Asked!

"How're the commissions coming?" - writer Nick Forristal

Nick's one of the good guys on the con circuit around here. We became friends a while back and we talk regularly. He's been a helluva cheerleader in keeping me on track getting all these commissions done for you guys. Do me a favor and check out his books. Buy some if you like. He'd appreciate it and so would I.

It's been a busy couple weeks between the day job and family stuff. Mom is hanging in there and so is Dad. There have been days where I couldn't focus enough to do the work and some days when I've been hyper-focused and getting lots and lots done. Up and down, the roller coaster goes round and round.

But that's the stuff that happens to everyone, it's nothing new. I know that well.

So, how ARE the commissions coming? I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I plan to work hard this weekend and through the week to finish up the run.

I can't thank you all enough. If you haven't heard from me, I'm heading into the home stretch. Everything should be going out in the next week to ten days. I'm trying to email everyone and I'm tracking stuff as best I can so I don't think I've forgotten anyone yet. If you ordered a commission and have NOT heard from me that I got it, hit me up here, on Twitter or on Facebook.  I've been posting scans and pics of the completed works there and sometimes on Instagram too. Follow along if you want to.

I'm getting some wonderful comments back from those who've already gotten their Velocity Stories in the mail, which makes me very humble. You all are so kind. Feel free to share pics on social media and if you want to use the #velocitystories hashtag, I'm cool with that. I'll look for them.

Okay, nose back to grindstone time. I'm going to have to fire up a newsletter as I've been threatening all year. And I'm going to be at Freestate Comicon on October 1 in Lawrence, Kansas, if you're in the area. That's my last scheduled appearance for the year and there will be a TON of wonderful people there and you'll be able to buy a con exclusive book that features sketches by the artists in attendance and a story by li'l ol' me.

So the next question is would any of you be interested in seeing a collection of these Velocity Stories? I've been toying with the idea on my daily commute. A pdf would be easy enough but maybe a print version would be cool. Let me know.

All right a couple things I've liked this week because there's too much hate out there right now: Star Trek TOS rewatch (I'm still in the middle of season 2); ARCADIA by Paknadel and Pfeiffer; the first volume of Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT (because of John Holloway's love for it) and discussions about coffee, whiskey and Baltimore.

Stay tuned. More to come. You're all awesome humans in my book.



Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Housecon Post-Con Debrief

Whew.

Photo by Mike Sullivan.
I spent the entirety of the Labor Day Weekend working on commissions that all you awesome, generous people have asked for. I made a good dent in them but I've still got a line to go.

If you were following along on Twitter over the weekend, you saw me make jokes about having panels with (I hope!) clever titles like: Mopping the Floors: Cats & Dogs; Washing the Dishes: How Long Can They Sit In the Sink?; and You Should Get Up To Move Around.

You also saw pics of some of the works in progress. If you're of a mind to be on Facebook, there's an album of them (also in progress) on The Jason Arnett Narrative. There are only a couple that are completely finished so I'll be doing the detail work this week before I send them out. None of them are perfect in my eyes but that's the charm of them, I guess. The little imperfections, the slight corrections you might not notice in an artists' sketch are a bit more noticeable here but that's okay. I created this on the fly and I'm only human. But I gave you my best. I even slowed down on the whiskey. (Though maybe that would've helped a little more...)

What you may have missed is that my brother from another mother Ande Parks has generously donated a sketch to the cause. It's currently up to bid on here. Feel free to share the link far and wide.

So #housecon was a rousing success as far as I'm concerned. It was a magnificent weekend where I did get stuff done around the house but I also got to spend the entire time writing stories.

If you all are interested I'll share the process another time.

But a couple more thank yous need to go out here. My friends over at Kansas City Comic Con (hi, Justin!) put the word out on social media and I'm grateful for them taking the time to do that. It means a lot. I just don't have that kind of reach.

To everyone who retweeted or shared the link to my original post, you're all kinds of awesome. I really had no idea so many people cared. I got several messages of support and sympathy and I hope that I'm gracious in my replies because I'm overwhelmed. There's so much love out there and so many great people. I am doing my best and I keep pushing to get better. I hope that's okay.

Finally, I told my parents over the weekend what I was doing. To say they were floored by the response to that post is an understatement. You guys, what you've done is give them some peace and a little security. I can't tell you how important that really is, but I bet you know. That's why you've done what you did. And Mom and Dad are grateful to you all, too. We all cried with happiness at how cool you cats are.

As for how Mom is doing at the moment: she's holding steady. She feels like she has the energy to get up and walk around and do things but it's near impossible because she can't keep her balance. But she looks good, still looks like my Mom though she's too thin and she doesn't eat much at meals. Dad is keeping the house running but also occupying himself with projects like installing new kitchen cabinets he's designed and built that Mom asked for over the last few years.

Their anniversary is this coming Sunday, the 11th. They'll be celebrating 49 years of actually being married but also more than 50 years of being together. I think she's strong enough she'll get there, especially with the love that's come from all of you.

Thanks for letting me be a little maudlin here. Thanks for your kindness and generosity and for spreading the word. You're all awesome humans. You can tell anyone I said so.

I'll continue to take commissions for the time being. Every little bit helps. See the original post for a convenient button to order one.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Heart Is Full

Wow.

You guys. YOU GUYS are AWESOME.

If you're just joining us, I'm taking commissions to raise money for my parents' medical bills. All the details are HERE.

I'm taking a moment before diving into working on Velocity Stories tonight to say thank you for the outpouring of support these last three days. You've given me commissions to keep me busy when it would be so easy to give in to grief and despair; you've shown me there is a shared community between comics and prose; you've humbled me with so many kind words and your sharing of my last post.

As I write this over 1400 people have visited to read about my parents and how I'm hoping to help them. People I've never met and who had never heard of me have written to commission stories from me. I'm going to be busy for quite a while as a result.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.

Without going all mushy on you, these folks have my eternal gratitude:

R.L. Naquin, Rob Schamberger and John Holloway jumped right in and boosted the signal. They're all good friends and have said nice things about what I'm doing. So has Dayton Ward, a friend and one of my table-mates at local comic cons, who also wrote nice things. All of them are responsible for commissions coming my way, and interesting ones at that.

I would be remiss to not mention the social media staff of Planet Comicon and Kirk Chritton in particular. They boosted the signal an awful lot today by spreading the word across every platform they're on. This is huge and I'm much obliged to them for doing it. I will be there next April, for sure.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has bought a story or reached out both privately and through social media. This is not about me; it's about making sure that the people who raised me to have an interest and be active in the arts are reaching some level of comfort they don't currently have. I will keep taking commissions as long as I can, as long as you all will wait for me to get them out to you.

If you would like to help them by commissioning a story, there's a convenient button below. I will email you back to tell you how long it will take but it could be up to two weeks.

Anything helps, especially letting others know. There are so many wonderful humans in the world and you're one of them.



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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Writing in Agony

My mom is dying of cancer.

I've tried to write this post dozens of times over the last two months. It's time to write it down and get it out. It's a long story and I hope you'll stick with me to the end.

In May of 2014 I was summoned to my parents' house and informed that Mom had Stage 4 colon cancer that had already spread across her liver and her lungs. She was preparing to begin chemotherapy which would maybe beat the cancer into remission. Surgery was impossible. Mom was positive though, and certain she'd have a good amount of time left.

That December, Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It was operable and in the spring of 2015 he underwent radiation treatments and surgery and was down for months. Mom cared for him day in and day out. All while getting chemo every other week. Her cancer markers dropped and dropped and she seemed to be doing okay.

Cancer doesn't care about that. Dad had been working - he hangs wallpaper and paints when people need a room or several redone - up until just before he started radiation. The last months before his diagnosis, Dad also found out he had arthritis in his hip, which explained the stabbing pains in his hip and back. He needed surgery for that, too. When he was healthy, he got his hip done and Mom took care of him then, too.

Mom has only ever raised me and my brother, kept house for her and Dad and worked for herself. Dad has been self-employed since the late 80s. They don't have insurance beyond Medicare because until Obamacare, self-insuring was more than cost-prohibitive.


So the bills were mounting. Flash forward to spring 2016. Mom's cancer markers started increasing again. The doctor decided to change her chemo cocktail to something stronger, to see if it would help shrink the tumors. Of course it made her sicker. Not cancer-wise but she got weaker and weaker on the new drugs. And they weren't helping.

Meanwhile her liver was starting to shut down, she started retaining fluid. The doc told my parents Mom needed a break from the drugs. He wanted to see if she could get some strength back. The fluid retention made her tired, kept her from getting up and around. The doc could only drain her once a week. Six liters at a time, sometimes more. Her discomfort increased.

In late July, the doc said that there couldn't be a return to chemotherapy. Mom was given weeks to live.

All they have is their social security. It's enough to pay the mortgage and keep the house running. They've put aside their pride and taken charity whenever it's been an option, but the bills are mountainous now. And Mom is nearing the end. As I write this she has great days where she's really strong and really engaged. She's the Mom I know and love dearly. She's the Mom who encouraged me to explore art and music and storytelling.

So here's what I'm doing to help them.

I write stories on demand at comic book conventions. I call them Velocity Stories. How it works is I get a prompt from the client - a phrase or just a couple of words - and then I run with that for 125 up to 350 words. I hand write the story on a 5.5"x 8.5" card emblazoned with the rocket logo. Or if it's a longer tale, it goes on a 9"x12" piece of Strathmore. There are two examples here on this post. On occasion I've added a drawing utilizing my poorer illustrative skills.

What Mom and Dad need is money to keep afloat. I'm looking for commissions to do in order to get them some much needed cash. The small cards (usually 100 - 150 words depending on the size of the sketch) are $15 including shipping and the large pieces are $30 including shipping. All proceeds go to help my parents. Send me an email (jasonlarnett&gmail.com [replace the & with @]) with 'Commission' in the subject line and your prompt in the body. I'll reply with a timeline and payment details. I like to work fast on these so unless I'm totally overwhelmed you should get it in two weeks or less depending on the mail. By the way, the two pieces shown here are for sale.


The other way you can help is to spread the word via social media with a link back here.

I understand we're not the only family going through this. Cancer affects more and more people all the time. Most of us know someone who's dealing with cancer. I hope that someday, with the right people in the right places, cancer can become a thing of the past. I hope that these pleas for assistance become unnecessary. Until that happens, any and all help is deeply and truly appreciated.



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Thursday, August 25, 2016

KCCC 2016 post con debrief

Photo by Nick Forristal
What a weekend!

First, THANK YOU to Matt Driscoll and Justin Cline for putting on a great show centered on Kansas City and the creators that abound here. You probably know how much it means to us all that you care enough to put on a convention like this. There just aren't enough words to express the depth of feeling.

Had a great time at Kansas City Comic Con this past weekend. August 12-14, 2016. (I'm woefully behind on so many things!) I got to share a row with good friends Holly Messinger, Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, James Young, Anita Young and a new friend in Jonathan Maberry. Across from us were buddies Nicholas Forristal, Thaddeus Nowak and A.R. Crebs. So many other friends were all around us that it felt like home for three days.

I scored a bunch of great reads, including Jim Starlin's Mystery in Space featuring Captain Comet (an old fave of mine) and the 1976 Howard the Duck Treasury Edition. I also acquired a collection of Marvel's Doc Savage comics from the 70s, but it was published by DC, who had the rights later on in the early 90s. I love it for the Ross Andru art.

Though I was only scheduled for two panels, I ended up doing three. My first panel on Friday got moved to Saturday due to some snafus in the airlines properly delivering Jonathan Maberry to Kansas City. Everything got rescheduled for the same time the next day and eventually he made it safe. On Saturday morning I moderated the writer's panel with guests Forristal, Nowak, Brian W. Peterson and new to the show writer J.B. Garner. It was lively and funny and the tables stayed on the stage this year.

Photo by Mindy Kinnaman. 
After the panel I was ready to leave when I was press ganged by the writers coming in after. They insisted I stay to moderate their panel. So the next writer's panel featured Messinger, Crebs, Bethany Hagen and Jae B. Wells. There were more attendees and the novelists talked about what it takes to be an author. It was livelier and entertaining and full of laughs. Seriously. Hagen is really funny on a panel.

Then it was back to the table to try and sell some books or hawk a couple of Velocity Stories for commission. Though I talked to a lot of people, not much moved off my table except for bookmarks either Friday or Saturday. I have to attribute it to the lack of new books written by me and the trends I see in my day job. Presidential election years are notoriously slow, with some parts of the population just holding on to money out of fear of whatever may come. New books will appear on my tables after the new year, at least three and maybe more, and the election will be resolved.

I pass no judgement on anyone but from an artist's point of view, it's frustrating. Luckily friends Kristofor Harris and Scott Drummond and C.W. Cooke were around to chat with and commiserate.


The gang at Arthur Bryant's, the BEST KC BBQ
But the high point of my weekend, and maybe my career at conventions, was the interview panel I had with Jonathan Maberry. We had messaged back and forth a little on Friday when it was clear he would not be in the building for the 4 PM panel but met early on Saturday. In preparation for the interview I read/listened to the first Joe Ledger book, Patient Zero, and the first book of his Rot & Ruin series. I'm not a zombie guy (Maberry is) but he told compelling stories with these horrors that made me a fan. After our panel together, and chatting off and on during the weekend, I'm a bigger fan of his. He's just one of the coolest cats you'll ever meet. Maybe I'll get to do more panels with him as I expand my catalog and con base. Buy me a drink and I'll share the stories with you.

There was a lot of BBQ involved, there was a great dinner on Friday with one of my oldest and dearest friends that's a KC convention tradition, and another dinner on Saturday with friends old and new, including Shannon Denton, Brent Peeples, Ande Parks, Andy Kuhn, Frank Barbiere and Bo Hampton.  I could not have asked for a better time. Justin and the team took exceptional care of me and the cohort in our row of Artists' Alley and I look forward to returning next year.

Hope you'll come out, too.

My next appearance will be at Freestate Comicon on October 1. Would love to see you there.