Day 10: Favorite Candy

As I’ve gotten older, I find that I don’t care for candy like I did as a kid. But there’s one love that will never die.

Peanut Chews.


The wrapper of my childhood.

I don’t even know how I got hooked on them. It seems that Peanut Chews have always been in my life. Legend has it that when I was born, I thrust my tiny fist out into the world, fingers wrapped around a Peanut Chew bar, and the doctor clutched the bar and drew me out. (Note: may be an exaggeration)

They actually got to be pretty hard to find. You don’t see them much in grocery stores, and for a while I thought they were discontinued. Then I met Kelly, who also loved Peanut Chews, and had some magical way of making them appear. I still don’t understand. All I know is that if you want Peanut Chews, go to Kelly.

Or Rite Aid. Rite Aid seems to carry them. (Note: only in Maryland though? Still haven’t found any here in LA.)

Also… wow, apparently this is my 99th blog post. I feel like I should do something special to commemorate 100! …But alas, I’m pretty bad at celebrating things. o__o

Day 9: Favorite TV Show

A year or so ago, my answer to this probably would have been 30 Rock. But maybe not, cuz around then was also when I decided to give Parks and Recreation a try. I was tuning in to NBC on Thursday nights for 30 Rock anyway, so why not?

Ho man. It took one episode and I was hooked. If you are not watching Parks and Rec, you are doing yourself a disservice.

The exciting thing about Parks and 30 Rock both is that they star two strong career women in comedic roles. You don’t see that often in American TV. I love Leslie Knope, who’s always upbeat and optimistic, tirelessly dedicated to her job, and a huge nerd. Ben Wyatt is also a huge nerd, and that makes him pretty hot (and the perfect match for Knope).

Not to mention the best supporting cast ever to grace primetime television. “You had me at meat tornado.” Need I say more?

And I love how they portray Pawnee as hilariously (and creepily) flawed, but hey, it’s home, which makes it a great place. With an extremely racist history.

And now, my friends, I leave you with this. Watch at your own peril, for if you begin, you may not be able to stop.

Day 8 (lol): Favorite animated character

Whoops, got a little behind on the challenge! Time to play catch up.

But

…Seriously though, it just took me a week to decide who my favorite animated character is. I was set to go with Sailorjupiter. I’m pretty sure she was my very first animated girl-crush. But then I realized there’s another character I’m totally in love with at the moment: Naoto Shirogane from the Persona 4 game and anime.

Naoto, the Detective Prince. Aside from being a badass teenage detective, he’s terribly adorable, and has a pretty awesome backstory. I loved his dungeon in the video game, and what they’re doing with Naoto and Kanji in the anime is just… giving me all the feels.

This also happens to be one of very few animated characters that I just want to draw. Naturally I can never get him looking exactly right, which makes me want to draw him all the more. Alas, one day I’ll figure him out.

I just have one question. Who approved this kid carrying a gun? I know Inaba’s a small town but, you do know he’s a first year in high school, right? (j/k though he’s more badass with a revolver I wanna buy a PS Vita just to play P4 Arena asdfghjkl)

Day 7: Favorite Word

You know these feels.

You’re reading a book, or watching a TV show or a movie, and whatever, right? It’s just a story. Who cares? But wait. What are these feelings? Why are you crying?? It’s just a stupid story, it’s no big deal, why are you so emotional??

Those, my friend, are feels. At times it’s the best thing in the world, and as a writer, I aspire to one day bring out some feels in my audience.

It was pointed out to me that technically “feels” isn’t an actual word, but I have seriously been rocking it lately, so whatever. I honestly wasn’t even sure where to begin with drawing it, though. This comic sums up “feels” better than I ever could.

Day 6: Favorite Book Character

This book isn’t a movie yet, so that counts, right?

I was stuck between a few beloved characters. I was going to go with Hazel from Watership Down, but that was adapted into a movie, and the directions said it couldn’t be a movie (wasn’t sure exactly what it was implying, but I took it to include adaptations). Then I thought of Arya or Jon Snow from A Song of Ice and Fire, but eh, it’s been done. And then there’s Neef of Delia Sherman’s Changeling, but I couldn’t decide if I liked or loved her.

But Finnick Odair? Oh, I love Finnick Odair.

Finnick is from The Hunger Games series. He’s introduced in Catching Fire, so I’ll refrain from spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the books yet. The fanart I see of him never fits my head canon… and neither does this entirely, but it was fun to take a crack at drawing him. I don’t do fanart very often, especially not of characters I really like because I don’t want to screw them up. He’s got the obnoxious pretty-boy thing going on when Katniss meets him, and for some reason it appeals to me.

Next is a tough one, folks. Favorite word? I don’t even…

Day 5: Best Friend(s)

I spent entirely too long on this, but they’re worth it. I suppose.

Let me tell you how I met these clowns.

I met Melanie in sixth grade. We had Language Arts (English) together. She wrote a short story about a homicidal blade of grass. It was love at first sight. A couple of years later, we bonded over Sailormoon.

She lived on one side of the district line and I on the other, and while she went to one high school, I went to another. We lost touch until she called me out of the blue one day, and spent a long telephone call gushing over our favorite anime.

When I was sixteen we went to Otakon together. It happened that one of Melanie’s classmates was there, and she introduced us. Her name was Kelly. When we parted I promptly went to work forgetting she ever existed and saying “Who?” whenever Mel brought her up in conversation.

Senior year, I wanted to go to Anime Central but I didn’t want to fly to Chicago alone. Mel and I had gone through enough “Kelly who?” scenarios that she finally had etched a presence in my brain, and so I e-mailed her and asked if she wanted to go with me. We’d never really hung out before then. It was one of the best trips of my life.

So we graduated. Kelly worked at Suncoast, and as I recall Mel and I took every opportunity to go visit her there. Suncoast was loaded with anime you see, and at really good prices. But Suncoast was failing around this time, and in the fall Kelly and Melanie got jobs at Circuit City. One of Kelly’s coworkers from Suncoast also got a job there (I was the odd one out, working at a nursery and crafts store down the road). I think Kelly might have introduced us before, but I didn’t know her – she went to Kelly and Mel’s school and was a year behind us. But one night Kelly and Melanie got us all together to hang out.

And with Rachele, our group was complete.

There are two takeaways from this story.

1. Anime is magical. I’ll not hear a word otherwise. Speak against it in my presence and I’ll have you drawn and quartered.

2. I love these guys. We’ve gone to lots of cons together, ate a lot of crap and drank a lot of booze together, conspired and plotted against the world together. They annoy the hell out of me sometimes, and I’m sure I annoy them (and if I don’t, I should). But this is one of the few relationships in my life that I consider worth working to keep.

Also, do you like how I arranged us in order of skin complexion? #racist

Day 4: Favorite Place

A little late with this one, herpderp.

I only lived in Frederick, Maryland for three years, but at the risk of sounding corny, you could say I grew up there. It was my first real college experience. It’s where my career began. As a college junior, I became a freelance reporter for the local paper and got to see more of Frederick County than I ever could have thought existed in what was essentially cow country. I got my first taste of what it’s like to really love your job. It’s where I got my start as a serious artist. And, Frederick eventually led me to Ringling.

Aside from that, it’s just a beautiful place, artsy and colonial and tucked into the mountains of Western Maryland. I’m a small-town girl at heart. One day I’ll leave the city and move to Frederick or a place like it, live downtown or buy a house on a hill (there is one in Frederick, actually, it was the first thing I ever saw there), with a little library and a studio, and I’ll live out the rest of my life drawing children’s books and writing novels and be perfectly content.

Day 3: Favorite Food

Anyone who’s known me longer than a week knows I have a thing for pastries, and in my estimation there is nothing so divine as a good slice of cheesecake. Whenever I go to a restaurant that serves it, I’m obligated to try it.

To this day, the best cheesecake I’ve ever had was at a little Italian restaurant in Bradenton, Florida. I went there one night with Paola Paulino. It was a tiny little place and I can’t remember the name (it might have been Sicilian, actually). Dinner was all right – good but nothing I’d write home about – and of course, there was cheesecake on the menu, so I ordered it. I was disappointed when they brought it out; the price had been rather high, and the slice I was given was barely more than a sliver.

But then I tried it, and that shut me up. Ah, how could I describe perfection? Well let’s just say that they could have brought me out a spoonful and I would have thought it well worth the price.

It was a one-time thing. Somehow I never managed to get back to that restaurant. But I never forgot the cheesecake.

The Novel Café in Westwood also has a rather good cheesecake, as well as Open City in Adams Morgan, D.C. Oh, I could sing the praises of cheesecake for forever and ever, but I’ll try to contain myself.

Day 2: Favorite Animal

My friends know I’m pretty nuts over cats (not quite this nuts, but disturbingly close). But my favorite cat of all is the cheetah.

Y’all know I like to keep it honest, so full disclosure time.

When I was 12 or 13, I pitched a movie idea to Disney.

It was The Lion King 2, in which Simba’s kid befriends a cheetah cub. I sent them the whole plot and character designs that they could use. I know, I know, I was a generous little sucker, wasn’t I?

And Disney straight up wrote me back too! They sent me three postcards, and a letter thanking me for the submission and explaining that their film concepts are not developed by random teenage fans in Maryland. I am not ashamed to say I took the package to school and paraded it around for about a week.

Now that I think about it, that was my very first rejection letter. Wish I still had it. But I still have the postcards, hermetically sealed in my baby photo album.

When I was older and had a little more story sense, I developed another feature film idea, this one also about cheetahs. I’d been researching them for a class paper, and cheetahs have a rather depressing history. They have virtually no genetic variation in their DNA, meaning nearly every cheetah is exactly the same. Meaning all offspring are essentially inbred, and prone to illness and defects. Variation, of course, is how species evolve and survive, and cheetahs are pretty much incapable of it. As if poaching, habitat depletion and other man-made dangers weren’t enough, their species is genetically doomed to fail. My research inspired a story called Four Brothers about–you guessed it, a litter of four cheetahs. The youngest is small and lame, and when they reach adulthood and their mother leaves, they decide to stay together to better their chances at survival. In the tradition of Bambi, The Plague Dogs and The Fox and the Hound (the novel by Daniel P. Mannix, not Disney’s version), the story was rather bleak.

Then two certain movies came out within a year of each other and I put the idea on the shelf.


Day 1: Yourself

One thing I haven’t been able to find since I moved out to LA is my mirror, so this is less an accurate portrait and more of an educated guess. Also featured are my two accomplices in crime, Coal the cat and Buddy the terrapin. Both girls; it’s a bit of a hen house here. We moved out to LA together. A 3,000 mile car ride is hard on a turtle and a cat, but they hung in there like troopers, and five months later they’re finally getting over the deeply-rooted resentment for me that only being trapped together in a car for forty hours can spawn.

While I’ve got you here, I don’t think I ever mentioned that I started a webcomic! It’s called MFK and it updates Mondays and Thursdays. It’s still in its infancy, but go check it out anyway and let me know what you think!