006: Don't delay, start today.
Wherein I share my hidden agenda...
One of my favorite quotes etched into a vinyl record, very small and only there for the passionate ones to find. It says “Don’t delay. Start today. Learn to play.”
Listen, let me preface what I’m about to say with, I know I have an overactive imagination. But it keeps life, and the act of living fun for me. So, in my day-to-day I like to keep an eye out from “signs” or “messages from the beyond.”
In this case I had been wanting to learn to play the ukulele for a long time, mainly just to learn punk-rock songs on the uke, because I thought it would be funny. But always in the back of my mind, it felt like “someday, maybe…”, or maybe I didn’t have the right tools or time to learn. I did have a ukulele, but just messed about with it.
Seeing that message was like… well, dude, the universe says quit wasting time and get to it! So I did. (note, I still cannot play very well, but I have satisfied my need to play punk rock songs on that happy little instrument.)
Now I pass this message from the beyond onto you. What are you delaying? What’s holding you back??? Forget all that. You can start where you are with whatever you have. Whatever this thing might be, you can spend even just a half hour a day on it and make progress toward your thing. But you have to start.
☠️ What motivates me more than anything
Memento Mori. “You could leave this life right now.”- Marcus Aurelius. You honestly never know when your time is up. Tomorrow, or “maybe someday” is not guaranteed.
In last week’s newsletter I talked about my personal pillars, and stoicism has become a big part of my compass. On days, just like this morning, when I’m laying in bed thinking “I could sleep in. I’ve done enough. I’ve earned a few hours more…”
And then another voice now creeps in to silence that. It’s the voice within that remembers my old friends who are no longer here on this earth.
I remember my old friend Dave Laws. He was one of the most talented writers and idea guys I’d ever met. He had BIG ideas. Big plans, and he was just starting them. On a nice July 5th in 2005, he was with good friends, wading in very shallow waters in the Youghiogheny River, only 3 feet deep, when that cursed river suddenly pulled him under and took Dave away from us. All of his big ideas and dreams washed away with him. He was 32 years old.
I remember my big brother, Lt. Scott Harbarger. We come from a broken home, and he always stayed in touch with me. He was one of the first people I ever saw draw a picture when I was 3 or 4. He would draw amazing helicopters and tanks, and went on to fly them in the 82nd Airborne. We hadn’t see each other in years and had re-connected online. In December 2010 we made plans for me to visit and bring my sons to meet him in the spring. But in February 2011, he went to the doctor with a sore throat and cough. Esophageal cancer. By May he was gone. That fast. I didn’t find out until he had passed, because he didn’t want anyone to know. He was 44 years old.
Someday maybe, may not come.
I don’t mean to sound morbid or depressing there. These men and their memories, motivate me. I wonder what they’d give to come back. What would they do with the days I have been given?
You maybe have stories like this in your own, and if not yet, you certainly will. It’s how it goes. For all of us.
Now, let’s talk about comics for a minute…
What a great segue! 😂 I see a big pattern in a lot of the recent conversations I’m having. Creators out there who “want to make a graphic novel” or they are never-endingly working on this and just thinking or sketching or working on character design. They even say “someday, maybe…” and the usual “I want to work on my graphic novel but I just don’t have time.”
Listen, forget all that noise. A graphic novel is a challenging endeavor! Not something for beginners to just dive into. Hell, even a 22 page comic has taken me far too long to complete, and I have personal experience starting “big” things and not finishing them. I hate that feeling. It can make you feel like you’re a failure or just not good enough.
I have a solution I know works.
“How do you eat an elephant?”
Instead of thinking about a large epic project like an 80 page graphic novel, think instead about starting with just four panels at a time.
Not many people remember or know that 4 panel, daily adventure style comics were some of the most successful comics of all time. My hidden agenda is to help bring that back. I’ll be talking more about that in a future newsletter.
In summer of 2019, I experimented in Pittsburgh with this idea, 7x7Comics. 7 local creators doing 7 new creator owned strips in this 4 panel format. I had to close it down after a year and the pandemic really threw a monkeywrench into our bigger plans. You can still see galleries of those creators works on the Facebook page. But the spirit behind it, it really worked.
Creators who hadn’t picked up a pencil in a long time, were suddenly producing regular work. Part support group, accountability, and knowledge share. I had had this idea of starting something like that for years. We’d always say “someday maybe” and even though I didn’t feel ready, and I was far too busy, I took action and launched it.
All of it was powered by that 4 panel formula idea, which I will share with you now. And who knows? Maybe it will inspire something much bigger….
I’ll talk about this more in the future, but the idea is very simple. A classic panel from a 4 panel adventure strip is the same proportion as “portrait” size for instagram, 1080x1350 pixels. Building blocks, capable of transmuting into many formats. Here is the explainer sheet I gave in the pitch to the other local creators…
In order to join officially, 7x7 members simply had to commit to just one installment per week on their specific day of the week. Once you start thinking of stories in this way, it opens up a whole new world for your creativity to blossom, and it will will make you a better visual storyteller.
This is the perfect format to get you moving again. I encourage anyone reading this to launch a new thing. Tell new stories.
There’s no “someday maybe.”
Don’t delay… start today.
When you do, let me know. I want to hear all about it.
This week’s prompt is “Vinyl Records or a Record Player”, as you wish. As always, if you do this and post it, please tag #drawordiechallenge on instagram , twitter or tiktok, and please feel free to message me anytime.
Until next time, I’m off to make new things. I hope do too.
See you soon,