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Reintroduction

Howdy.

September 6th, 2019

Some people need no introduction. Some people beg to be reintroduced. So whether you’ve never even heard of me or you feel like you know me intimately, this is my #fridayintroductions — and maybe we’ll all learn something new today.

My name is Dennis. I’m the guy in this photo. Not the guy with his back to you. I’m the guy sitting at the table, working on his dream.

I was born in the 80’s and am a lifelong comics and pop culture fan. Both have saved my life countless times. I’ve expressed myself artistically in a lot of different ways over the years — I released a trio of albums when I was a puppy, I started publishing my own books soon after with the help of Kickstarter, I started Awesome For Hire — and I always wanted my strange journey to lead to comics. In August of 2018, I released my first comic book: The Flying Squirrel, which is part of a flawed superhero series called The Weirdos. In February of this year, I released two more books in the series: The Sketch and The Blue-Ringer. And finally, just this August, I released the fourth and fifth books: The Wait, and (the grand finale!) The Weirdos. I write, draw and produce all of my own work. I went to art school for a minute, said, “Nah, I’m good,” and am mostly self-taught. I write books for adults — that look like they were drawn by a child.

I’m always getting better, though! I write about people, with problems, who have potential. My books explore adult themes — alcoholism, cancer, depression, mental health, physical illness and more — with a hopeful, realistic and fantastical lens.

The back of my business card has my motto: “Always Love.” It means to try to make your decisions based on love, as opposed to fear, or hate. I really believe in that.

I love my dog, I love art — and I ❤ you. And that’s it.

Defund Me

July 1st, 2020

Sometimes, people just need a really big problem broken down to its simplest form. So I’m going to try.

For a long time, my way of living — my entire system — was broken. And I refused to address any of my problems in a fair way, to myself or others. This led to pain, and anger, and guilt, and every other noun it takes to get to the Dark Side.

I kept telling myself, for years and years, that “not every drink was a bad drink”; but the way that I used drinking was rarely for its intended purpose (for lack of a better term). I used a drink for every tool that I lacked in my life; as I’ve learned, I was lacking most of the tools required for a healthy, successful adult.

So I had to change. I wish I could say that the changes were small; but I had to absolutely defund my way of life, and use the time that allotted to make myself better.

Where I used to drink, I now try to help.

Where I used to drink, I now use my words.

Where I used to drink, I now ask for the things I need.

Where I used to drink, I now try to be honest.

Who I am as a person didn’t drastically change; the way I acted and reacted did. My ability to learn and adjust and adapt did. My shed, which was once just full of cobwebs and half-empty bottles, now has a full shelf of tools that I (mostly) know how to use; and I know where the drawer full of manuals is for the ones I don’t.

But none of this came from keeping things “normal.”

“Normal” did not work.

“Normal” was killing me.

And if you’re glad that I’m still here, then know it was only because I defunded the parts of myself that were destroying me — and that I had to build new parts to make a better self, and give myself a life.

yolo

June 27th, 2020

Hi. I’m doing my best.

As far as feeling like I’m in the middle of a dark forest that’s burning inward from all possible sides, I’m relatively fine. To manage my anxiety, I tend to turn inward and find personal value in pop culture — right now, my favorites are Green Lantern, Doom Patrol, The Bachelor’s Greatest Seasons, To Tell The Truth, Floor Is Lava and anything Disney Afternoon — but I really want to talk to you about something.

I want to talk to you about intent.

Let’s play an uncomfortable game. Let’s say that tomorrow, you simply cease to exist. Poof. You’re gone. And the only thing left that people can actively use to hold onto you and your memory is your social media presence. For the rest of their lives, all anyone will ever know of you is what you’ve managed to already display on your multitude of digital profiles.

How content are you with what is here?

When I find myself frustrated or feeling empty as I scroll, I realize it’s because what I’m seeing is void of intent; it’s just pages of mindless copy & pasting, dutiful production of meaningless content. However, when I find myself engaged, or inspired even, it’s because I’ve stumbled upon something special: a person thoughtfully expressing themselves in a way that feels genuine. Human-like, even.

Intent does not always mean important, at least not in a traditional sense; your picture of a tomato, paired with a paragraph about your struggle to grow a single plant, could make a day.

I scroll through my own posts, and I feel like I’ve wholly put myself in them. People who go through them will see: He’s dramatic. Uses too many words, could possibly use an editor. Way too excited about way too many things. But he’s passionate. Complicated, and a little tortured. He’s a writer. Obsessed with his dog and comic books. Dresses up like an idiot, and frequently. Avoids sitting in boxes. Loves hard. Works hard . . . on occasion.

Rarely in the history of human beings have we all been allowed to create long-form obituaries in an autobiographical format. That’s not meant to sound grim, but we are all going to die at some point. And at your funeral, people are going to talk about who you were.

Maybe you’ll be a collection of memes. Maybe you’ll be a sprawling mural of art or photography. Maybe you’ll be an inspirational wall of poetry. Or maybe you’ll be remembered by people mostly for what you did in real life.

Whatever it is you are here after life — I hope it’s because you lived it intentionally.

The Weirdos on ComiXology

June 24th, 2020

Happy Wednesday, and Happy New Comic Book Day!!

ComiXology is the premiere digital comic book store, period. It offers a massive array of comics and graphic novels, from every major publisher — Marvel, DC, Image, Archie, Boom, Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW, Top Shelf, Valiant, and Weekly Shonen Jump, to name just a few.

Honestly, the only way ComiXology could get any better is if they offered The Weirdos in their shop.

And DO YOU KNOW WHAT: as of today, my graphic novel is available digitally on their service for just $9.99! (I am super excited AND humbled by this development.)

The Weirdos on ComiXology:

https://bit.ly/2BnVKGM

On top of that: I updated my personal store, so if you’re looking to pick up a paperback copy of the book, it’s now just $25 (20% off!) — AND I added a brand new Weirdos Collector’s Convention Set!

Since conventions are (rightfully) shut down for the time being, I put together a box of what you could expect to pick up if you attended one: an autographed copy of the book, a MN Nice mug and a set of two Lake Mary pins (all pictured) for $35. It’s a great way to start your collection, or to gift this series to someone else in your life who you think would dig it!

My Official Shop: https://sleeping-kitty-productions.square.site/

I hope you’re all staying safe, and sane, and weird as hell. ❤

SWM

June 23rd, 2020

I’m a writer.

I’m a straight, white male.

Every time I come up with a new character, he starts off as a straight, white male. Even if I imagine her as a red-haired young woman, on the inside she is a straight, white male.

For her to be anything else takes work.

The work varies. It may be that I have to just let her be whoever she is. It may be that I have to walk in her shoes for a while, be in her thoughts and feelings and her very specific way of living.

I have to be empathetic to who she is, where she came from and where she wants to go, which requires extra work from my end.

Empathy requires work.

Which is why, I believe, the people who resist change do so.

You might argue that empathy is natural for some. You could argue that but, the fact of the matter is, for most people, their lives are easier when they don’t select empathy. Choosing empathy takes emotional work.

When I came up with my band of superheroes, they were all boring, straight, white ass men with neat powers. Do you know how stupid easy that book would have been to write?

Stupid, stupid easy.

Instead, I wanted my world to reflect THE world. I find nothing scary about people the way they are; I find our collective, colorful world freeing, liberating, exciting, diverse, limitless, infinite . . .

And I find that our most intimate, personal hopes, dreams, problems and failures are the same.

I put in the work, and I found that for this story, the one straight, white male was enough. The rest were something more in every single way.

For a person still trying to take the easy road, I’d only have one question to ask: why?

Why not be limitless, why not be liberated, why not be compassionate, why not have empathy?

Your effort could be the hand that holds up another.

Put in the work.

The rewards will be infinite.

People Not Problems

June 10th, 2020

Do you want to know why some folks love statistics so much?

It’s because numbers are not people.

Tell me which is easier for you: is it more agreeable to look up printed percentages that meet up with what you want to think and believe, or to watch even eight minutes of a man being murdered right before your eyes?

Which is easier: to present numbers in a way someone wants them to look, or to fabricate hundreds of years of documented human behavior?

Which is easier: to put people into large groups that make ideas like genocide and racial discrimination easier to digest, or to think about each precious, literally one-of-a-kind existence being extinguished one light at a time?

Do you see where I’m going here?

Math is awesome. Science is wonderful, and it posits that the world we know around us is made up of math.

But we, the people, are not made up of math.

We are made up of laughs, and tears, and jokes, and inside stories; we’re made up of families, our parents, our children and the bonds we make outside our blood; we’re made up of our favorite foods, our vices, our sins and all of the great things that we can do.

We’re people. All of us.

And when you deny that — when you use a chart or a graph to defend the degradation or loss of any human life — you lose. You lose sight of what’s important, you lose sight of what’s valuable — you lose sight of what’s real. It might be something that’s learned, or something you forgot, but you can always come back.

And when you come back, and you see the worth of each individual, no matter how difficult it may be?

That’s when we win.

Progress Not Perfection

June 3rd, 2020

Every single morning, especially since I’ve been sober, I wake up and I prepare myself to be called out.

What will it be today? I don’t know. Yesterday, it was because I used the wrong hashtag; it was an honest mistake, and I fixed it immediately.

Some of you may understand. Some of you may wonder why I start my day already telling myself I will do something wrong.

It’s because I will.

I put myself in that charged space so when it inevitably arises, I’m not taken off guard. I’m hopefully not irrationally defensive. I’m ready to listen.

Am I always wrong? Objectively, no. Am I always right? An even bigger no.

I could get called out on any or every single thing, and I try to tell myself that it’s a positive interaction. Because it either allows me to further elaborate on what I feel or think or believe, or it allows me to learn something new that I didn’t know before.

These are both good outcomes.

I have a few decades of life behind me, and in them I have all the grays, from tints to shades. There are things I’ve done that I am really proud of, and some that were absolutely terrible of me. I wouldn’t take any of them back, in that I’ve learned from every single one.

And I’ll continue to learn from every single one.

If there’s one simple thing being called for right now, it’s listening. None of us will get it right every time, but that’s not an excuse to continue getting so much wrong. This is a process, and it moves as quickly as we cooperate; isn’t that what everyone is asking for to some degree? Cooperation?

If you don’t wake up every day thinking you deserve to be called out for something, why do you think that is?

Because it couldn’t be that you are perfect.

And admitting that is a very good first step.

Why Didn’t You Fix This?

June 1st, 2020

I got into a heated discussion with my dad yesterday about what’s happening right now (don’t worry, we’re fine!). While we were making scattered points, I blurted out something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week.

“Why didn’t you fix this?”

As I see people from generations older than mine criticizing the state of life right now, I can’t help but wonder: why did you not do the right thing, when you had the chance, together? I imagine many of you, when you had children, told them, and yourself, that you would make a better world for us live in.

Why did you break that promise?

Why are we left to unlearn all of this bullshit, and why have you made us the teachers? Why are we trying to make you understand that people are not groups, but they are individuals; that each single human is a priceless life that can never be replaced? Why did you put that burden on us?

This isn’t the first protest, or riot. This isn’t even the hundredth. Many of you lived through the civil rights movement, so I ask:

Why didn’t you fix it?

Why did you leave this problem, along with so many others, for your children to deal with?

You can’t answer it, and we’re not expecting you to. All we’re expecting from the people who failed us is to get the hell out of our way.

My son will grow up in a world better than mine. And it won’t be because of the people who came before, who let things get to be this way.

No, it’ll be because of us.

So, I won’t ask you again why you didn’t fix this. Putting that burden on you is only hypocritical.

I will only ask that you allow us to try.

George Floyd

May 27th, 2020

I don’t know what to say.

I always have a lot of things to say but it’s usually about things that don’t matter.

Black lives matter.

My lack of an immediate response isn’t because I’m not feeling anything; I’m feeling too much.

I’m sad, and I’m disgusted, and I’m fucking angry.

For those of you asking for “all the facts”; the police made an official statement before the video was released, and it addressed nothing that we saw. There’s your fucking facts.

And I see all these petitions, and places to donate, and lists of things white people can do to make our neighborhoods a better place for others, and none of that stuff seems to matter.

Because none of that stuff will have stopped George Floyd, begging for his mom while having his breath taken away, from being murdered.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know what to say.

But I know that putting the people responsible for this away is the first of many, many steps we can take. Not for justice, because George Floyd was never allowed that grace. No, towards showing the world that these coward racists, who are emboldened from our current establishment down, do not represent the majority of us.

Let’s say George Floyd’s name so we can put an end to this list.

New Directions

May 25th, 2020

What kind of doofus would release a book about connecting to one another at a time when we’re so far apart?

This kind of doofus.

A doofus who could absolutely use some of your knowledge and wisdom.

As any writer does, I spend time reading about sales and the “art” of selling, and have found some refreshing counterpoints to the idea that a book has to sell 10,000 copies in a week to be successful.

It’s about what you want your book to accomplish; it’s about targeting the people who will get the most from it.

So, help me find them.

If you know someone who needs to read this book, let’s talk. Maybe they’re a reviewer who is looking to be one of the first to share new or local titles. Maybe they work in entertainment and are looking for the next thing. Maybe they work in a mental health field and are looking for ways that are not impersonal pamphlets to start conversations. Maybe you just know someone who is going through a tough time and this book would help.

If you’ve got something, let’s talk.

Despite nearly no access to physical stores or conventions, I’ve already ordered a second printing; The Weirdos are moving at a surprising rate, considering the world. But you all have the ability to push and gust this in new directions.

And I can’t wait to see where this goes. ❤

The Weight of the World

May 21st, 2020

Imagine an enormous boulder on your bathroom scale. If you snuck underneath it, you could see its weight.

If a single raindrop fell from the sky, and landed on the boulder, it would not change its displayed weight at all.

This is how I imagine most people feel they affect the world.

Now, imagine an enormous boulder on the very edge of a cliff. It’s teetering, bordering on release, at the peak of its potential energy.

If a single raindrop fell from the sky and hit the boulder on just the right spot, it could cause an avalanche.

And that is what we actually are.

A string of your words could inspire somebody to do something great, to achieve a goal, to go after their dream. Conversely, your post could be the shove that finally pushes somebody off of a ledge.

I am sure I am guilty of both.

But we’re all raindrops. Tiny, significantly powerful raindrops.

And as we all fall from our clouds, side by side, we need to take care of how we land.

Because some avalanches are avoidable, and some soil could use our gifts.