I've been having some weird confliction lately.
I don't usually make posts like this, but I felt the need to put some of what's on my mind out in the open. In between waiting to hear back about jobs and hoping and praying that something will work out, I've just been continuing to work on TOME and one freelance gig that will "last me" until the summer. Additionally, I've gone through a lot of questioning on exactly what I should be doing from here on out, which really is a stupid question considering the real answer is "whatever I want", but I only wish it were that simple. I'm nearly one year out of school and I need to make money, continue to make a name for myself and progress as an artist, as well as get to the next level in my career. I'm not in a position anymore where I can simply make whatever I want with no real thought put into what it's going to do for me.
Now I mean NO offense by this, so I hope anyone that was more emotionally affected by these tragedies than I was won't take this the wrong way...but strangely enough, the passing of two fellows artists, Randy Solem and Edd Gould, have been more thought-provoking to me than I expected, because of what they represented to me. Randy and his work on Video Game Director's Cut represents what I did for several years when I started on Newgrounds: using "sprites" and pre-existing video game characters in cartoons to make people laugh by way of things an audience is already familiar with. Edd and his series Eddsworld, represents what I'm trying to do now, and it was proof to me that you CAN be a success in making your own original animated material. When I talk about what they "represent" to me, take note I DO NOT intend this as a trivialization of their passing. What these two folks did were incredible in their own ways and impacted me a lot for the last decade of my life.
So now I ask myself yet again...what do I next? A lot of the answers people give me are "create what makes YOU happy!" Here's my confliction: TOME -is- that. Regardless of peoples' opinions on it and the stress I go through making each episode, creating TOME makes me really happy. I love just thinking, writing and drawing what's going to happen with these characters and I get excited about introducing new ones as well as delving further into this grandiose story I've been cooking up. This is the type of thing I've ALWAYS wanted to do since before I even touched Flash: making original cartoons. All the years of me doing Parody Rangers, NiN10Doh! and everything else that was also satire on pre-existing material, was long-story short? A distraction. It was a distraction from what my real goals and aspirations were in the first place. At the end of the day, the only sure thing I can depend on is that I'm GOING to finish TOME Episode 04 even if I have to do it by myself with no funding, so I can fulfill my obligation to everyone who donated for background characters.
Otherwise? My mind is at a complete blank. It's like every other question I ask myself gets an immediate answer from my mind, shooting it down. [What if I go back to making stupid video game parodies that I was ridiculed for YEARS for doing? Everyone else is doing them, including many artists that I look up to, maybe it's more acceptable now! Maybe I was imagining all of that flack for doing video game parodies and it was just from haters that never mattered. -> No, wait! I just spent a whole year working on this original thesis film I always wanted to do, I've finally gotten to a point where I wanna be with my work! I can't just go back to doing stupid parodies that take a week to make and then get a million views in 24 hours, that'd be dumb! Who cares? As long as you're getting popular or making money, right!? -> No, wait! It's wrong to make money off of characters and concepts you didn't make, so don't do that! Keep doing TOME, people DO like it! -> But wait! I'm not making any money and have no idea if I'm furthering myself as an artist doing it, not to mention gaining little to no respect from my peers! Do I quit and try doing something ELSE original, or will that just piss off the people who DO like TOME and the people who -didn't- like it and just wanted it to improve will think I'm a quitter? If I DO another original series, will it even be any good or just a waste of time? -> Or maybe I should just say screw it and make a ton of 60 second "Sonic & Mario go to the store" and "Solid Snake eats a hamburger" movies with the most beautiful animation I can possibly muster and have them be about real serious modern gamer issues. -> No that's stupid. -> BUT THAT'S STUPID TOO. -> Maybe it's all stupid. What do I know? I can barely draw a human body with any accuracy anyway.]
^ That entire last paragraph? That's the type of stuff going through my mind on a weekly (sometimes, DAILY) basis. All the while, hoping that something will finally work out with an actual JOB in the animation field and I can make the -real- next step in my career, instead of doing what I fear: going BACK a step in my career. I've long-since realized I'm not just a kid on the internet making cartoons for the sake of making cartoons. The simple question I still can't find the answer to is...what next?