Ahh, The Lucid Nap is back at it again, with a sexy new look! So, why did I chose this theme? Mainly because it coordinates the branding already established on my website The Lucid Nap and business cards which use black, white, yellow and red exclusively.
I like the severity of it. It simultaneously evokes the stark despair of German expressionism and the shameless vapidity of pop-art.
Then there’s the fact that the staunch, flat dimensions created by the exaggerated contrast suggests a retro comic book feel, without being as obvious as, say a Roy Lichtenstein painting.
The comic tie in is important to me. My first venture online was creating a web comic, for a then paranormal podcast called Grimerica. The comic was based on a novel I had unsuccessfully queried.
The original work was a heavy-handed exercise in Victorian melodrama with sci-fi edge. These days, it would have been lumped in with the myriad steampunk works that line bookstore shelves. Back in the early 2000’s however, publishers didn’t quite know how to market it.
The web comic rebirth, “Lost Bread”, explored the same host of characters in a modern day setting. It centered around Napoleon Doom, an immortal with a failing memory, who has vivid dreams of a life, spanning 130 years, which he can only remember in bizarre vignettes.
One of the things I really loved about this theme was the opportunity to prominently display several such a vignettes, right from the get go!
The comic takes place exclusively in Napoleon’s dreamscape, which allowed me to delve into surrealist imagery and dadaist themes. Imagine a comic written by William S. Burroughs, illustrated by Salvatore Dali, that’s what I was going for.
The title was taken from the French term for French Toast, “Pain Perdu” or Lost Bread, because the strange, nightmarish adventures only come to an end when breakfast is on the table, or when Napoleon awakes in the morning.
The existential bleakness of this theme is so deliciously French, n’est pas? Can’t you just smell the ennui?
I did two graphic novels, which in the 5 years they’ve been in print have sold an embarrassingly scant number of copies. In my idealistic 30’s, I had 500 copied printed out, subscribed to the Writers Digest to better familiarize myself with the market, and set up a website.
I intended to make a killing at comic and sci-fi conventions. Unfortunately, no one there is particularly excited by emerging authors and artists.
This theme avoids the gauche look of eagerness! It has a beaten down by life sort of aesthetic that cleverly disguises the fact that I’m an emerging anything! They’ll never know that when I sell my comic at conventions, the dialogue invariably goes as follows;
“Oooo, you’re an artist? Can you draw me as Harley Quinn? I’ll give you 15 smackers!”
(They don’t usually say smackers, I added that. I feel it’s an underused term. Anyway…)
“Yeah, sure, whatever, I’ll take your money.”
Is my constant and cheerful reply.
It’s probably a bad marketing policy to pursue a demographic you have slowly become disenfranchised with and deeply resentful of, but here we are. I am relegated to this echelon of society. I’ve learned to numbly accept it with a permanent, insincere grin.
I feel this theme is just insincere enough to be relatable to me. Anything too precious or heartfelt would seem uncultivated in its earnest.
As for the 500 copies of my comic? My mom bought 10 copies and distributed them to the entire family. They grudgingly accepted the gift with forced smiles. This is the expected reception of my work at this point.
I’ve met two or three people who were outwardly very excited about the property. It turns out, they were only excited because I was a “female comic book artist”or a “body positive inspiration” which I have come to understand means, “I like you, because you’re not thin!”
It’s always deeply moving to have someone make an assessment of your art and writing based on your physical appearance. I lost 52 lbs when I quit drinking, and my sales have suffered for it.
I like that this theme looks a little chubby.
Time marches on and I decided to once again reformat my story from a graphic novel to an audiodrama. That change occurred when the Grimerica podcast, which I had been doing the web comic for, decided to take an “alternative news” bend in 2016. They asked me to be a contributor to what they referred to as their podcast collective.
I had innocently believed that “alternative news” was akin to Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast” or Whitley Streiber’s “Dreamland”. The actuality was a most unpalatable melange of Alex Jones’s “InfoWars, Stephen Crowder, Jordan Peterson and “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
I was raised in a large family, so I had quickly become acquainted with the idea that happiness was for other people and mine would be a life of endless compromise and suffocation. That allowed me to genially endure this landscape for nearly half a year, co-hosting one podcast, “Friends To Know” and writing two others.
“Friends to Know” was essentially what you call the Zoo Crew format in broadcasting. Two men, trying to see how far the phrase “boys will be boys” could be pushed and one feminine type person, (i.e. me) taking the brunt of their jokes and peppering the conversation with gems like “Oh boys!” and “That’s not nice!”
Because someone will simply have to ask, I have two X chromosomes, but fellow females brutalized me so effectively in childhood I disassociated from lady kind and favored male company. Having a penchant for action movies, goofball comedies, and comics didn’t hurt either.
That was all well and good until puberty, when I learned that my body alone left people with the distinct impression that I “wanted IT real bad!” I didn’t though. I was 11, and felt humiliated and trapped in my flesh.
At the time of the podcast, I used he/him pronouns, had adopted the name of my character “Napoleon Doom” and disguised my femininity as best I could. Unfortunately, no one saw me as a strong, assertive man, just a sexy tomboy- devoid of all the manipulative entrapments of femininity.
I was safe to flirt with and make salacious comments to. If I contested, I could be easily brought back in line with the phrase “Oh come on, don’t be like all those other girls, you’re cooler than that!”
I gave up on trying to prove who I wasn’t like and decided to just live my life for me. I don’t really care what gendered traits people ascribe to me. Call me sir, call me ma’am, I can’t be bothered, you’re just a temporary annoyance in my life. The people who really know and care about me understand who I am beyond my flesh.
All that said, I like that this theme doesn’t have any specific gender implications to it. The fact that one of the first pictures you see on the site features me, in a yellow swing dress, may read as a touch femme. Oh well.
I realized I was too femme to be taken seriously on the “Friends To Know” podcast, so I got through it by drinking heavily. We’re talking two fifths of whiskey or more a night. I would get drunk, and regurgitate talking points from clips of The Joe Rogan Experience I had watched online, or whatever shit-posting truth crusader popped up there after.
The black background of this theme reminds me of my days getting black out drunk and screaming into the abyss through a Snowball microphone.
While lucid, I tried to focus my energies into writing and researching for my other two podcasts.
The first, “The Defeated” sought to explain the motivation which drove histories defeated powers and villains. If we don’t understand how these people rationalized their beliefs, and simply demonize them, we can never hope to stop radicalization and destructive mindsets before they solidify.
I still think its a good concept, and might return to it one day. Unfortunately, the first episode I did was on the Confederacy and The Civil War. It attracted all the most bigoted, belligerent loud mouths the internet could dredge up. They thought I was championing their beliefs.
They clearly didn’t listen to the podcast, where I stated I did not condone nor sought to be an apologist for the actions taken by secessionists-but who cares about silly little details like that?
I like that this theme doesn’t have any overt, political alignment.
It was from my dismay at the conspiracy theorist mindset that I refashioned my novel turned comic into an audiodrama, Creeping Wave Radio!
The story now focused on Napoleon Doom’s waking life, where they work for a paranormal radioshow, taking calls from an assortment of lunatics. Unbeknownst to their co-hosts, Napoleon took the position hoping to uncover their past, and the bizarre and unexplained events buried there in.
Their journey, inspired by the conspiracies I was now well versed in and my own dreams, found Napoleon, or Nap, hooking up with a sexy lady Sasquatch,
battling Hitler’s Brain,
and signing their soul away to Old Scratch,
-and that’s just the first season.
I like that this theme has the definite aesthetic of someone who would hook up with Sasquatch. We both know you were thinking it.
For as much of my self as I’ve poured into the Lost Bread/ Creeping Wave project, the years I’ve spent negotiating with voice actors and coordinating with musical guests, I get one of these three comments;
“Oooh, I like it, it’s WEIRD!” Usually from people who carry both an AARP and a Hot Topic Frequent Buyers club card in their wallets.
That’s not meant as an insult either! Elder goths are my bread and butter for whatever reason. That’s all fine, so long as they don’t force me to listen to the auditory pestilence known as industrial music.
This theme has plenty of black in it for the goths to indulge their dark fantasies in!
Unfortunately, any group that prides itself on eccentricity is also under obligation to accept people on the full spectrum of weird. This means that while there are plenty of misanthropic poets who wear black in Gothtopia, you also have to open the door to maladjusted psychos who want to wear your skin.
But in essence, isn’t a web theme just a skin you wear?
Another terribly helpful critique I get on my audiodrama is “Uhhh…yeah…I listened to like two minutes of it, its like…whatever.”
I aspire to be less LIKE whatever and fully embody the enigmatic essence of actually being WHATEVER. This theme is very WHATEVER.
Then there’s the tried and true favorite, “Why don’t you just stick to drawing? Who cares about this podcast shit. It’s stupid.”
The last statement is usually uttered by someone who has the phrase “I’m seeking a community of like minded individuals” on their social media profile. A phrase that almost inextricably translates to, “I shame everyone with interests outside my own.”
These critics frequently refer to themselves as “empaths” a phrase which more genuinely means “I’m going to decide what you actually think for you, and if you try to defend your autonomy, I’ll tear you down till you acquiesce.”
I’ve learned to just smile, and graciously accept their reduction of my efforts to “shit” and “stupid.” So far as I can see, much of marketing is smiling, nodding and placating people’s egos.
I feel like this theme, while having the other aforementioned attributes, remains bland enough for people to assign their own values to it, which in the end, is what marketing is all about…
or am I to be taught otherwise?