Looking Towards The Fall

Digital painting in progress, testing out the Cintiq / Photoshop + Midjourney mojo

The past months have been all about wrapping up the last of the active, big creative projects I had in the works, and they’ll transition into trying to get them out into the world more broadly.

  • I’ve had my focus on fulfilling the Tales From When I Had A Face Kickstarter backers, and wrapping up the “Limited Edition” phase of that project. Either I will find the right publishing partner, or figure out releasing it myself.
  • I’ve been getting the Tomorrow’s Forgotten Relics EP set to launch first on the 9th on Bandcamp, with streaming and perhaps other options to follow. I’m dragging my feet on building lists for college radio to contact and all that.
  • I did a little update of my website last week, as I’m gradually getting my workstation reassembled into its 1000th Final Form…
  • RPGs continue, and have in some cases provided a great springboard for Ai experiments (more on that later).
  • I know my Patreon info is at this point woefully out of date… I hope to fix that soon but it’s the one thing on the list I didn’t get to this summer.
  • I’ve been struggling in general with the realities of trying to promote music/comics/novels/everything I do in 2022, if I’m being honest. Trying to put one foot before the other, and see where that gets me.

All of this has me feeling like I’m synching up with the seasons, and feeling that first hint of autumn, that idea of chopping down and hauling out the harvest.

Speaking of “worlds” and “harvests”, this fall / winter in particular has some troubling potentials. I’m trying to keep my focus on what I can affect at this point, but I think it still bears saying. Clean water, energy, food production. These are kind of fundamental, civilization backbone things, and they’re all very rapidly approaching critical.

Yet it also seems like all we can do individually is throw our hands up and say “crime, boy, I don’t know.” (Sorry, it would seem you’ll have to pry my inappropriately placed Sorkin quotes from my cold dead hands.)

So, fuck, I don’t know… I guess in the meantime, between the present and collapse of industrial civilization, there’s time to kill. Now what?

Maybe unsurprisingly, I do already have a number of big project ideas banging around in my head, but this doesn’t seem to be the season to begin anything “big”. Keep them locked in a drawer. My housing plans are also all pretty much on standby as I wait for more, better data.

What it is a good time for is trying to turn my health in the other direction than it’s been going since 2019, or at least be a bit more fastidious about maintaining it like a gently crumbling mansion.

I’m hoping we don’t see another massive fall / winter surge, though I also see no reason to see sense in that hope. I have been struggling with establishing the routine I was managing previously precisely because of the seemingly endless crush of new outbreaks. Interruptions are a problem when Executive Dysfunction is already a problem.

Like everything else, it’s by ear right now — though I’ve had some really great flow sessions playing around with some rudimentary movement patterns from Silat, as I see how it converges and doesn’t with what I’ve already encoded from Xingyi and Bagua.

There is a last thing I’ve been putting a ton of hours into lately, although I’m still in what I’d call an exploratory phase with it. I am finding a great deal of interest in using Midjourney Ai in what seems to me to be its primary function: creative midwifery.

On the one hand, that means being able to really dig into some digital paintings as an open ended exercise rather than in the much more demanding process I just went through with Tales, of illustrating for a specific narrative. Just following the image and not being beholden to a story might be liberating for a while, although given my very strong penchant for narrative, it would be fairly predictable if I wind up discovering a story in the images.

Unless there’s a lot of $ on offer, a graphic novel is right out. The last one came out great but exhausting. I’m not even feeling it in me to take on even a comic issue until I’ve caught my breath. Some paintings though, that’s been a little more manageable to start getting into.

I can already tell that MidJourney has potential to speed up the comics production process, especially as it comes out of its beta development over the next year or so, and a dangling idea there is being able to vastly expand the scope of what we were doing with the BLACKOUT 2024 experimental webcomics. It was already moving in this direction… So, that may be a locus for attention later on. Guess we’ll see.

I already see the horses leaving the gate here. There’s a kind of early gimmicky push to produce comics completely with MidJourney, and everything moves so damn fast these days. But my interest is really in continuing to do what I’ve already been doing, with an additional tool in the kit. So if by the time I have something ready it’s no longer a big deal that Ai was involved in the production process, that’s 100% cool by me. The point is the results. I like talking process, but not because I think it matters all that much from where the end product is concerned.

I am finding a lot of sensationalist “takes” around the issue that are setting my teeth on edge a bit, so I’ve been taking notes for what might become an essay, or a small YouTube series , I don’t know yet. The intent will be covering those misconceptions, and then sharing my own process. Or perhaps I can find an outlet that might want to publish it…?

To me it’s like, this is a tool that can easily halve the time it takes to do a page. My tendons are going to thank me.

In the meantime, I will be sharing a draft of part 1 with Patrons only, on my Patreon. Entitled “Ai and the Arts: Are We Even Asking the Right Questions?”

It might be kind of a test balloon for what could likely be highly expanded upon with Skillshare or something like that, going through the process step by step with something like a cover design or comic page. I’d certainly want to see if there’s interest before putting in that kind of effort.

Well, that was already longer than I’d intended it to be. I’ll keep you updated with those things, and will try to be better about posting digital paintings in progress to my Patreon once I really get rolling. (Hopefully!)




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J Curcio

J Curcio


Author, multi-hyphenate Artist and Producer. These days, mostly an agender racoon living in a tree made out of production equipment and books. JamesCurcio.com