#2: Finding community

I was going to wait and write the next newsletter in two weeks – except I actually looked forward to writing this morning.

Usually writing a blog post is a big to do. I have a specific topic in mind, which tends to involve research. It has to be well-written and well-organized (writing is a kung fu skill of mine).

And some of the writing lessons drilled into my head in my freshman high school English class (introduction, arguments, substantiation, conclusion) rear their heads and make sure that I don’t half-ass it.

Mr. Reidy was not this entertaining but he was a bit of a hardass.

Thanks Mr. Reidy – I learned maybe 3 things in school that I remember and use to this day. Researching & writing is one of them. I can still hear him: “Substantiate, people – substantiate!” Dude – you better believe I fucking substantiate now. I substantiate the hell out of shit. The big thing I do differently: I don’t write using long words and impressive, flowery phrases to impress a teacher and feel intellectually superior to my peers.

The point is that writing a blog post is something that takes me anywhere from 4-8 hours. Writing the newsletter last week, off the cuff, and within a couple of hours, was fun. I like writing a lot, always have. I used to like it because everyone told me I was good at it; now I just enjoy putting thoughts on paper.

cheerful woman using laptop for leisure
Some stock photos are ridiculous but this is an accurate portrayal of me right now. I’m shocked they got the nose strip right.

Today I’m writing while having my morning coffee (which contains some 20g of protein, 3 spoons of local honey, and some butter, in case you were wondering how I liked my coffee) because I couldn’t wait to get started. I was tempted to write earlier in the week (partially to procrastinate from working) but held off until today. Maybe this will be a weekly thing – a combination of ritual and therapy.

Well, that’s enough about what I’m thinking – let’s move on to more stuff about what I’m thinking.

(I physically cringed from writing the last line, it’s so so bad.)


Stuff I’m working on

A short comic for publication this week

Before Mamala this was the one & only Kamala.

I wanted to write, draw, and complete a short comic on Kamala Harris & the inauguration this week. I’ve done the writing part 3 times already and I’m hopeful I can draw it today and get it done before the week is officially over. I’m trying to make more short comics consistently, partially to work on my craft, partially to get faster at it, and partially to get readable work out there to find my super fans.

Comicking takes me a long time, much longer than writing blog posts. I have perfectionism about my writing as it is, where I’ll agonize over a single word and try trim all the excess fat. But the perfectionism over my art is an order of magnitude worse and something I need to let fn go.

Every year I want to participate in Hourly Comic Day (Feb 1), where folks make comic panels for every hour they’re awake that day and every year I don’t do it because letting go & simplifying is hard af. Maybe this will be the year, especially if I can get this short comic done today and get the monkey off my back.


Stuff I’m thinking

An auntie in the White House!

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford And Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Testify To Senate Judiciary Committee
The Mitch Please look. FYI I welcome differences of opinion on policy (if you can take it when I call out your bullshit) but not differences in reality.

What a week, with the first Indian-American in the White House. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime – maybe in my kids’ lifetime but not mine. And when I say I ‘never thought’ of it, I literally mean the concept has been out of my mind for decades because Indian-Americans in public positions of influence is a recent thing. (This is what the short comic is about.)

I’ll give you one spoiler though: I cried when she took her oath. I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.

This newsletter needs a name – can you help?!

I spend a lot of time thinking about marketing and making a living off creative efforts. That’s why I decided to revive this newsletter (I certainly surprised some folks because I had 5 unsubscribes last week – but that was completely overshadowed by a fan writing back to me 🤩).

couple of birds resting on tree with colorful blooming flowers
This came up when I searched stock photos for ‘blunt.’ All the other images are … something else.

I’ll be blunt: as much I enjoy writing and expressing myself, my main objective with this newsletter is find and build relationships with fans (basically to find & create community). Fans who will hopefully be interested in buying stuff from me some day so I can quit my day job. A lot of creators are anti-marketing, and I don’t blame them. There are skeevy marketers everywhere. Most of the websites on the internet are trying to sell us something.

The issue is whether we creatives can do it without an infomercial vibe. I absolutely believe we can, by being ourselves and trying to genuinely build relationships with people. Put yourself into your art and attract like-minded people. That’s my goal with my newsletter.

Now the reason I want a title for my newsletter is Substack. Substack is a platform that allows people to create and monetize newsletters. I don’t want to monetize my newsletter, but I do like a couple of things that Substack has done:

1 2mevmjflhkoee4vb5e8qoa
Substack is a good idea that I’m going to steal from.
  1. Each newsletter has a title, just like you’d title a blog or website
  2. When you sign up for a newsletter, there’s a link to read existing newsletters first to see if you’d like it

I’m working on #1 now, and #2 is going to be added to my site later.

So far my title idea is Saturday Morning [something]. I’ve always liked the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. I’m writing on Saturday mornings. So there’s got to be something there, no? Here’s a couple of ideas:

  • Saturday Morning Cup of Coffee
  • Saturday Morning Coffee
  • Saturday Morning Coffee with Arp
  • Saturday Morning Kaffeeklatsch (jk, this screams privileged middle-aged city clicker)
  • Saturday Morning Coffee Pot
  • Saturday Morning Coffee Break
  • Saturday Morning Cup of Joe
  • Saturday Morning Cup of Arp
  • Saturday Morning Bright & Early
  • Fresh on Saturday Morning
  • Saturday Morning Coffee & Comics

What do you think?


The importance of community

I’ve been watching a lot of Community after mentioning Dan Harmon last week. I chose this pic specifically because the old white guy is blocked by the younger & more talented black dude.

Being stuck at home for most of the past year has been hard but revealing. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit because I have stuff to keep me busy (when I’m not avoiding it out of fear and other nonsuch). But this drastic shift in lifestyle has illustrated how many shallow relationships we have with people. There are so many people I haven’t reached out to & vice versa. The circle of friends/acquaintances has shrunk. Some of this is due to politics. Lockdown and the stress of shit hitting a new and bigger fan every week of 2020 combined to make people reveal whether they’re beholden to privilege or propaganda or other shit.

The fact is that we have limited time & attention. A few years back I made a conscious decision to drink less alcohol & focus on whether I had fulfilling discussions and relationships with people. It might be briefly distracting and entertaining to talk about beer but it’s not a foundation for anything fulfilling (and I’m not talking about deep discussions on making beer etc, I mean the vapid discussions about beer that have replaced discussions about the weather).

two smiling women sitting on wooden bench
“And then they started talking about beer!”

I don’t want to talk about beer, or sports, or the weather – at least not beyond a quick ice-breaker or check to see if I’m talking to a psycho or not. I’d rather have substantive discussions about things that matter to me: comics, art, writing, comics, entrepreneurship, creativity, comics, politics, not being poor as fuck, comics, etc. Lockdown has made clear who my real friends are and who my like-minded people are (not just creatively but also intellectually and ethically).

I want more of the good stuff in life and less bullshit.


Kids Comics Unite – a social network for creators of kids comics

Kids Comics Unite

One thing that has made my lockdown life more fulfilling is Kids Comics United (referral link). I chanced upon KCU via a ComicsBeat.com article. It’s a community for people who (want to or already) make comics for kids created by industry vet Janna Morishima (she co-founded Scholastic’s Graphix imprint, for starters). She’s done a fantastic job of fostering a community but there’s more, all done by zoom: interviews with industry folk, lunch & learns on various topics (I have one coming up next month), book clubs, critique groups, and more.

The biggest thing is just talking shop and hanging out with peers. Some of us like beer, but we don’t waste any breath talking about it (though there are a number of people I’d love to have a beer with while we talk comics). We’ll share and discuss articles and stuff we find online relevant to making comics (like Facebook, but without the bullshit).

Best of all, the relationships are extending beyond KCU. We’re following & engaging each other on Instagram, Twitter, & Fb. We’re sharing new creators to follow and new books to read. We’re supporting and inspiring each other.

This is more of the good stuff I’m talking about! If you want to make comics for kids, you need to check out Kids Comics United (referral link).


Stuff I’m reading

Sorry – this is a lot longer than I intended! I didn’t want to finish without sharing some of the good stuff I’ve been reading.

The Old Guard Book One Opening Fir

The Old Guard

I read both entries in The Old Guard series by Greg Rucka this past week on Hoopla Digital. I watched the movie on Netflix (recommended) a couple of months back (and rewatched it last night with Trish) and figured I’d give the comics a shot. It’s a damn well-written series with outstanding art by Leandro Fernandez.

The movie stays true to the story, for the most part. Rucka wrote the screenplay as well (he got to finish it after Charlize Theron thought she could do better but failed) and made some changes to the benefit of the movie. Both comic and movie stand well on their own; I like both.

I hadn’t read any Rucka before, but I immediately started reading Lazarus, about a fascist, feudal world run by the ultra rich (we’re talking well past The Hunger Games). I like reality pervading my fiction, even when the discomfort hits too close to home (particularly since we came *this close* to becoming a fascist country this month).


That’s it for this week

I wrote for roughly the same amount of time this week but finished way earlier in the day, so that’s a win! And I still have topics for future newsletters that I didn’t get to this week. Maybe next week I’ll talk about my ideas for a fan club and building my own Patreon. And how to use corporations more than they use us.

Remember: because you guys are kind enough to subscribe to this newsletter, you get to read it hot off the presses while the website version will be published on Thursday.

Hopefully this wasn’t boring, but it would be super helpful if you let me know what was & wasn’t boring by replying or leaving a comment.

Peace out, or something.

Photo of author


Arp Laszlo

Hi, I’m Arp! I make comics and write about life as an Indian-American with late-diagnosis ADHD. I’m a self-taught and self-employed creator so I write a lot about art, learning, and entrepreneurial stuff that I’ve picked up along the way.

My stories are kinda weird, because that’s just how I am. My formative influences are Indian mythology, Batman, Tintin, 70s Bollywood, Ray Harryhausen, and Monty Python. There’s no way anything normal could come out of that, right?

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