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.

The [Hidden] Real World

May 20th, 2020

I’ve spent weeks with this book, exploring the most vast multiverses, and the tiniest quantum worlds.

I just finished it.

And now I know everything.

I’m *kidding*. But I am really proud of myself for reading an entire book about math and physics of every major kind. This is adult-level book-reading goals for me, and I pushed myself along because it doubles (see what I did there?) as research for a project I’m creating that I care deeply about.

The premise of The Hidden Reality is misleading: it promises a look at the different kinds of parallel universes that could exist according to scientific theory. It does do that, but in order to get there, it has to teach you a whole lot about physics. It’s worth every page.

I discovered Brian Greene as I was deciding which guest to watch my first Joe Rogan podcast with. Everything I read about Brian seemed to be the exact thing I’ve been looking for in my life, and his 2+ hour discussion did not disappoint. I was electrified, and he doesn’t know it, but I tell people he’s my best friend now. I immediately ordered a few of his books (and a book on religion he recommended), and I dove in.

So — what kinds of multiverses are there? Let’s see: in this book, we cover Quilted, Inflationary, Brane, Cyclic, Landscape, Quantum, Holographic, Simulated and the (awesomely-named) Ultimate Multiverse. All of them are unique, they’re mind-bending and their descriptions will make you see and experience our own reality in an entirely different way.

To use a scientific phrase: it’s dope.

Honestly, while dealing with the very real micro-stress we’re all feeling during this unprecedented time, it was almost like meditation; imagining the vast expanse of space and the infinite stretch of time.

We’re so little, you guys.

And I learned so much, and I *guarantee* I will be the most interesting person at your next cocktail party.

Just make sure you send the invitation to the right dimension.

It’s Science

May 14th, 2020

I’ve been really into science lately. Deep.

I’m reading books about the universe (or universes?). I’ve learned so much about physics. General relativity, and quantum field theory, and string theory, and I’m finding a stunning symmetry to people.

When we encounter a force we don’t understand, we have to figure out an equation to explain it. We can only use the resources we have currently available to us, but we do it, time and time again.

As we grow and learn, and get better ideas and tools, we update our equation; our conception changes because we can see it more clearly.

And that’s what we do as humans.

We meet a person, and we try to figure them out. They become an equation — a list of constants and variables that make up who they are — and that’s how we explain one another. It’s how I identify you to me.

But then, just like in science, you grow and learn and you receive more data. Our highly subjective observational instruments — our hearts, and our instincts, and our memories — update and become more refined, more detailed in their information.

And the equation changes.

And it doesn’t necessarily change the previous problem. But it becomes a more complex one.

How beautiful is it that we get to keep becoming more intricate, for the rest of our lives? That every day, hour, second and moment forever adds another layer to the answer of who we are.

You’re never solved, even after you’re gone. It would take every person who has ever met you, ever heard of you, ever read your words, ever listened to your voice, all of them; they would have to compare notes and compile their extensive data and they still would never have the complete picture.

That is how unique you are.

You are an unsolvable equation made of a math that never existed until you did. You are a code made up of a singular body and soul that can never be completely cracked.

Get the idea that you’re not special just by existing out of your damn head.

You are composed of trillions of particles that found one another in you.

That is nothing short of epic.

Circle Of Life

May 10th, 2020

When I was in 5th grade, I started my first business.

I’ve always been a dreamer and a scribbler; that year, I started sketching full page portraits of Lion King characters based on (read: basically copied from) their trading cards. Some of the other kids saw me doodling these at my desk and really liked them. So much so that they were willing to pay for them.

This concept blew my mind. Kids were giving me whole dollar bills to recreate this art I loved on another surface. But I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand; a friend of mine (I can’t vividly remember who, but I think James?) suggested I should keep the originals and sell photocopies of those. GENIUS. His mom even had a photocopier at work that we for sure could use.

And then it all fell apart. I don’t completely remember why, but I remember feeling overwhelmed at first, at some increasingly imagined pressure. My excitement over the idea of the end result — me, sitting on a pile of dollar bills and being universally adored — slipped away like spaghetti through my fingers. I started being more critical of myself, and now understood that there was an audience, with expectations. I could potentially let somebody down. Somebody who had already given me their money, even.

This cycle has continued through me every single day of the rest of my life.

The only difference now is I’ve seen the end result. It’s not piles of dollar bills or mass adoration. But it is a sense of purpose, and it’s fulfillment. It’s a nice word here and there. It’s finding people who connect and feel the same ways that I do. It’s a random message or a fist bump or an affirmation: we’re going to be okay, you and me.

This is basically just a long-winded way of me saying: if I took a dollar from you in 5th grade and never gave you your Lion King drawing, please message me so I can Venmo your dollar back. I still feel really bad about this.

I Can Be Wrong, Too

May 6th, 2020

I think it’s good to admit when we are wrong about something. So, allow me to do so.

I just watched one of those videos that exposes the “truth” about what’s “really” going on out there. It made some dubious claims, the people involved were mysterious themselves, but it made a few good points, too. It didn’t change my life in any significant way, but I did do something after I viewed it.

I took the “Stay Home” banner off my profile picture. It seems small, but let me explain why.

Do I still believe we’re doing the right thing? I do. I think, with all the uncertainties about the pandemic, that what we’re doing is effective and the safest way of dealing with a violently erratic variable: people.

But do you know what that “Stay Home” banner was? It was a stance. One thing I do agree with is that a certain set of people benefit when we’re divided. No doubt that is true. And we all live in the same world, presented with the same material; having a hard position on what you decide is right for yourself is not who I want to be.

So, if I came across that way, I’m sorry. I really want to believe that we’re in this together, and telling you what to do is not a way to do that. The news that we watch can’t be completely true; conversely, those of you “digging for the real truth” and espousing that your dug up truth is 100% true, and that we are all sheep, are part of the problem, too. You’re just as much creating the kind of division they gain from. Remember that.

Anyway, I love you all. Be kind. Be aware and don’t be afraid to think and feel for yourself.

This is a picture of my face covered in peanut butter. You’re welcome.

One More Thank You, How To Read A Comic Book, It’s Release Day & My Birthday!

May 1st, 2020

“For the first 35 years of my life, I was a bit player. …When the time came, I knew I had to be more.”

– Dolores Abernathy, this week’s episode of Westworld

It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to. 😂 If you don’t want to watch 7 delightful minutes of my face talking words, here are the highlights:

A Final Thank You (But Not Really Final): Just wanted to give more gratitude to everyone who has supported me in any and every single way. Thank you from the bottom of my warm, dark heart.

How To Read A Comic: There are people who have never read a comic, AND THAT IS FINE. I’m here to help! It’s just left to right, like a regular book, and I show you how.

Something Personal: I talk about the deeper meanings and deeply personal connections I’ve made through this book. (Do I get emotional? You bet your beautiful bottom, I do.)

Today Is TWO Big Days: It’s the official release day of my graphic novel, The Weirdos, and it’s my birthday! There was supposed to be two parties this week; there ended up being none, and that’s okay. Wishing a happy birthday to EVERYONE who is celebrating at this unique and a little lonesome time.

Want to give me an absolutely FREE birthday present? Go to Amazon and give my book a review. It’ll take a minute and bring eyes to it!

Want to buy my book? It is available on dennisvogen.com NOW! Go get it!

Love you all. Have a wonderful weekend. Hope you’re staying well, safe and sane. 💜

Squirrel Life

April 30th, 2020

I’ve been asked about my obsession with squirrels, and I have to say: it’s everything. The aesthetic. The personality. The community. The particular and peculiar ways they create uncontrollable chaos in a world that demands control.

But the biggest thing is their lesson.

Every day, somewhere, a squirrel decides to cross a road. This happens millions of times. And, more often than not, a massive problem comes hurtling at them, giving them just moments to react.

In this situation, a squirrel has three choices:

1. To go back to where he started.

2. To get hit and be destroyed on impact.

3. To keep going and get to the other side of the road.

And that’s life.

When we face an obstacle or unfortunate circumstance, we can let it set us back, we can let it destroy us, or we can let it push us forward. It’s so simple and beautiful and it makes me proud to be a squirrel in tune with the universe, and happy to call you a fellow squirrel.

Sometimes you see the sign of wildlife who didn’t make it, but it serves as a reminder of this basic understanding of life.

So, the next time a problem threatens to run you over, take a moment to remember there’s just three ways out, and that you are a capable creature.

Purple Rain

April 21st, 2020

Four years ago, something sad happened. Something crazy happened. Something amazing happened.

Four years ago, Prince passed away. I miss that dude. Especially as I remember today. His fearless and peerless innovation. His boundless talent. His pancake-making skills (which I never had the pleasure of eating but I have HEARD, man).

Four years ago, I had free tickets to see Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü at the Turf Club. I thought I could work that day and head straight to the club afterwards; during my shift, we found out that Prince had suddenly died. My heart broke. My shift went long, but I still felt like I could make the show in St. Paul.

And I f***ing missed it.

Bummed, my buddy Brian suggested that since I was already in town, I should go with him to Day Block. It was the first time I saw the new Vikings stadium. And then he said, even though he couldn’t go himself, that I had to take the train to First Ave, to see what Prince had done to his city.

So I did.

Four years ago, I walked down the street, hopped on a train, and was accepted into one of the most emotional and inspirational groups of people I have ever encountered. It was transcendent; a spiritual experience. I will never forget it, and there was no way it happened by accident. It was by divine invite, and Prince had sent me a card.

So, here’s to the afterworld. Let’s stay crazy and let’s stick together.

It’s Here

April 17th, 2020

IT’S HERE.

The Weirdos are here. The book is glossy and bright and dark and beautiful.

The release date hasn’t changed: May 1st, 2020. The first shipment will be sent out the first week of May to donors. I can’t thank you enough for everything (but damn will try).

If you are not a donor and would like to purchase a book: they are now available on dennisvogen.com for $30 each! They, too, will be shipped the first week of May.

“Why $30?” For a few reasons. One: this is the amount the donors had to pay to get their copy. I think it’s highly unfair to offer them at the same time for a discounted price. Two: shipping. The price of packaging and postage and the time involved evens this thing out. Retail price is $20, meaning that will be the price at conventions and shops when they reopen. That’s to support the places I truly believe in.

So to reiterate: they’re here. And you can buy a copy NOW at dennisvogen.com — while supplies last, obvs. 💜

P.S. Shout out to Comix Well Spring for their amazing job from start to finish on this project. I really love it.