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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Four Years of Blogging: My Story

Hey there!!


An early photoshopped pic I did of me :-)
As I was going through my blog posts a few weeks ago I realised something a little special.  

This Saturday will be four years since I shakily uploaded my first blog article.

As if I were a forgetful (read: neglectful) husband, and the blog were my patient ever-loving wife, I always somehow manage to forget our anniversary.  

But not this year!!  This year I have a very special surprise for my blog, and for YOU, this Saturday.


"I began my blog because I had dreams of being a world famous artist and writer..."

However, I thought I'd wistfully sit by the window and gaze through the fog of forgetfulness and down memory lane, from my very first post to what is coming next on this blog.

I began my blog because I had dreams of being a world famous artist and writer, and well, aren't weblogs what artists and writers do now that this new fad called "the Internet" was taking over.


My Original About Page
Thing was, I kind of was not good at putting myself out there, so when I tried to write an About Me section, as you do when you're writing a blog, it sort of turned into something else.

It turned into a story about ninjas trying to steal my About page, but were thwarted by me, the writer who had omnipotent powers in their fictional world.

In the end, that page did say something about me.  It said that I was putting my toe in this big brave world of the public eye, but not ready to take the dive.

You can read the article here: 

http://www.thelastkingofshambhala.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/ninjas-of-my-blog-and-about-me-section.html

After posting my "I can't believe it's an About Page" About Page, it was time to get writing articles, for that is what weblogs have.  

(P.S. It's perhaps interesting to note that it was only a few weeks ago now that I actually put up a real About Page.  Yes, it took just under four years to take the dive and become a real blog!!)

My articles that I began filling the blog with centred around my decision to ignore everybody's two cents and publish my almost completed novel myself, rather than going down the 'traditional' route.


"Now this dream ... has grown to become my own arts company..."

Funny thing is, today, self-publishing is quite common, but back when I boldly said I'm doing it myself, everybody thought I was flushing those years of late nights and early mornings down the toilet.  

Now this dream of solo artist and writer has grown to become my own arts company, named DGN Productions because I had no time to choose another and it does what it says on the label.  i.e. Productions created by Daniel Grant Newton.

It could also stand for:

Drawings and art
Graphic Novels and comics
Novels and short stories

That was something I came up with afterwards, but it works.  Point is, when I let my mind run wild, I see DGN Productions in lights as the love child of Disney, DC Comics and Dali.  It's quite a while away from that, but a boy can dream of the lights in the big smoke.

At the time, I also created a whole lot of articles encouraging others to follow their path too, like I was doing.  In my mind it was better to be a panda (i.e. someone who keeps their rare individuality) than a sheep (i.e. follow the crowd).

Hence I created posters like this that were ever so obscure:


Note: If you really are a panda, this website doesn't exist.  I'm sorry.  I made it up.  I was young.

Speaking of sheep, do shepherds ever fall asleep counting their livestock?  Something to think about.

Then, just as I was getting into this whole writing down whatever came to my mind for nobody in the world to ever read, somebody trolled me.  My first troll!!


"He said 'your a idiot' (sic), and as an idiot I believed I now had the qualifications to write 'An Idiot's Guide to Internet Trolls'."

And it hit me hard.  Every time somebody says something mean online it gets a little bit easier, but this was my first.

However, I'd like to thank user rondord because his comment inspired one of my only snarky blog posts I've ever written which has been one of my most popular posts.

He said "your a idiot" (sic), and as an idiot I believed I now had the qualifications to write "An Idiot's Guide to Internet Trolls".  Which at the time, according to my Google searches, was the first such guide to be attempted.

The guide included diagrams (like the one below), examples and tips.  You can read it here: http://www.thelastkingofshambhala.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/idiots-guide-to-internet-trolls-what.html

Definition of an Internet Troll.

I also began posting some old short stories, including one about a very average version of Adam West's Batman that lived in my hometown.  That one has been quite popular and you can read it here: http://www.thelastkingofshambhala.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/free-story-adventures-of-dainty-green.html

... however, that wasn't half as popular as the novella, Don't Shoot the Messenger, I released on my blog the very next year as I travelled through Vietnam, Canada, USA and Haiti.

The pictures I drew to go with this novella were straight up terrible.  Honestly.  The picture below was probably the best one (eeeek... that's the noise my sense of aesthetics is making right now as it spews up primary colours).

 


But the story really struck a chord with people, especially if they got to the twist in the middle of the book that blew it all open.  What was the twist I hear you ask?  You'll just have to read it here:



The Last King of Shambhala

In addition to releasing this online novella, I also finally released my first book on Amazon, The Last King of Shambhala.  It took me about 5 years of writing, re-writing and editing, because it's hard to find the time to write a huge book, dude!

And also, because your first novel always takes a bit longer I think.  Took me just three weeks (and six months of editing) to write the much shorter Don't Shoot the Messenger.  

Mind you, the amount of spiritual, mythological and historical research and thinking that went into The Last King of Shambhala was much more significant.  It really was as much a book about my own spiritual journey told in symbols as it was a good yarn.  





My Art Emerges...

After publishing those two books, I got stuck into my art (as far as I can tell, looking back at my posts - to be honest, that year was a bit hazy).  This was phase two, getting art onto my blog as well as stories.

(See how I said "phase two" like any of this random stuff I post has been planned!!)

A lot of this time I was travelling about the globe, so often my art was just pics of quick drawings I had done in my sketch pad, and most of them were terrible.

But I feel I should share at least one with you...

This one I EVEN coloured in :-P

Anyway, now onto 2014, the year I got serious.  "Why so serious?" I hear The Joker in my head ask.

Because 2014 I decided I wanted to be more than a guy who writes stories and creates art... I wanted to be a company that writes stories and creates art.

And so, DGN Productions was founded.

In addition to my art, I continued to write (novels that are not yet finished) and create comics.  Most notably these two:

Spies, Lies and Mysteries
     
Freaky Freaky Fridays


The first of which, Spies, Lies and Mysteries, you can get on the waiting list to get it free here:


... and which was displayed in my first ever art gallery exhibition, where I displayed paintings too, like the one below.






It is also perhaps interesting to note that the painting on the cover of Spies, Lies and Mysteries (issue 1) is actually a painting that I did myself.  But what do I do now that I have a painting of Hitler?  I hide it and hope no visitors find it and think they have uncovered a dirty Neo-Nazi secret.  Blah!

Also interesting to note that the main character in this comic comes from my first book The Last King of Shambhala.  So in a way, it is sort of a prequel series.

Freaky Freaky Fridays

Anyway, the second comic is an ongoing webcomic, Freaky Freaky Fridays, and has quickly become a reader favourite.  If you are a Friday Freak, you might be interested to hear how the series came about... which is lucky because I'm just about to let you in on that.

Here's a picture of Thea from my sketch pad.

Originally I had the idea of creating a webcomic that looked like those crazy unconscious doodles you make in the columns of your notepads or while you're on the phone.  And I wanted crazy storylines to match!!
"But as with all stories you write, the characters and direction takes on a life of their own."
I thought I'd make the story simple though, and just have only two girls who have very short 'one-off' adventures on their couch.  If there were any other characters, they'd have a one-off never-coming-back guest appearance type role.

But as with all stories you write, the characters and direction takes on a life of their own.

An original drawing of Friday from my sketch pad.

First, they found a chalice that meant they had to get out of their home.  My first plan already thwarted and more work on my plate.

Then they meet a cyclops who comes along for the journey with them, despite me only wanting the two of them.  Oh no you don't.  Not ANOTHER main character I have to draw.

My first ever sketch of Selena Cyclops, the guest appearance
that was dragged into being a main character by Thea and Friday.

Then they go into another dimension (so that they are even further away from the home I tried to lock them up in), and just in time so they can have an epic Christmas Special that took me two weeks of long full days to create.  Thanks girls :-/

Then finally when I get them home, their home gets blown up and all those pictures I've created of the home interior with it.

And then, as if to really mix it up, they make the cyclops the main character of the next arc and end up on an inter-dimensional space rocket.

Of course, I am kidding about not LOVING that Selena Cyclops became a main character or the rich fantastical adventures I've been through with them.  

I love love love how the story has developed, and absolutely every second drawing and scripting for those girls has been an absolute joy.  I feel like the three of them are the best fictional friends I've ever had!!

A page from the Nik & Mike and Freaky Freaky Fridays crossover series.

And this year, as they flew off in their inter-dimensional rocket towards the sun, another unexpected opportunity came my way.  I befriended an artist living in Boston, Pebbles, with her own zany characters (Nik & Mike), and we're creating a crossover series (which is super fun!!).

So not only have I made three fictional friends from writing the series, but one real live one too! ... as well as all the lovely people I have met online through my blog and through social media that I talk with every week.  (Perhaps you are one of these friends?)



So what now?

Full steam ahead.  I have a new webcomic that is coming out as soon as I possibly can that is something very, very special.  Like nothing that has EVER been done before.  So I'm very excited about that.

I'm also working on another season of Freaky Freaky Fridays which will introduce some more quirky stories, funny situations and epic adventures.  If you liked the first season of Freaky Freaky Fridays you will absolutely LOVE this one.

I've got Spies, Lies and Mysteries Episode 1 to release, and the second episode to work on if Episode 1 goes as well as hoped.  The second episode will introduce psychic spies.

I've always got art bubbling in my head, so you can expect that too. Especially now that I've got Procreate on my iPad and can create pics anywhere, anytime!

Here's a picture I drew on Procreate the other week to break up the text.

And I've got three half-written novels which I expect to release in the coming years.  They've got time travel, ancient aliens, demons and angels, history and mythology, astral travelling, dragons... they've got it all!

So, if you want to catch all of that, make sure you sign up to my blog at the very top of this page... OR by signing up by clicking here and getting a free copy of Spies, Lies and Mysteries while you're at it.


What have I learnt from blogging?

When characters go on epic quests they usually come back with some new knowledge or quality they can share with the world.  It's called character growth.

A scene from the Freaky Freaky Fridays finale.

For example, when Selena finally defeated The Greyness in Freaky Freaky Fridays she learnt to allow herself to let her hair down a little, be a little bit silly some times, and believe that all can be possible.

And so, although the adventure I call my "blog" has not come to an end, after four years of journeying I must've learnt something right?

Well, I've learnt that following your dream despite the naysayers can be hard, and some times you can be following that dream for a long time before anyone - just one lovely person - even takes notice... but that it is absolutely worth it.

I've learnt that being able to share yourself with the world, no matter how hard that can be at first and how many trolls tell you "your a idiot" (sic), can allow you to connect with beautiful people all over the world who love you for who you are, and truly love what you do.

And I've learnt that, although my blog - which is an outward representation of what's going on inside me - has changed over the years, the important things haven't.  

I still believe following your dream is the best way to live your life.  I still believe we should be our true selves and not conform to please others.  And I still want to create the very best art and stories for you, my beloved reader.

From the bottom of my heart, whether we've interacted or whether you just enjoy my blog from afar, whether you've been there since the ninjas stole my About page or have just landed on this page and had a laugh... 

THANK YOU for being part of my dream.

If you've read this far you deserve to know I wrote this whole post naked.  Just kidding!

See you on Saturday for my special Four Year Blog Anniversary post.

UPDATE: This special post is up, you can see it by clicking here.

Your friend,

Daniel Grant Newton

If you're wondering, what does Daniel Grant Newton look like. Here's a pic. You're welcome.


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