Gig Hitchhikers

THE GIG ECONOMY HAS PASSENGERS

Have you have picked up a hitchhiker and wanted to know their story? Why is that person all the way out here, or what in the hell is this dude got going on? 

Okay, imagine that he Jason from Friday the 13th or that he is a little off. But, just a regular Joe walking down the highway and out in the middle of nowhere.

I wonder that sometimes when I see a person walking on the side of the road with their stuff, a guitar and or just their back pack and a dog or something. Where have they been and where are they going?

One time when I was in Canon City, Colorado we were working as Zip Line Guides (that was one of the funniest jobs I ever did) for this organization and we met a man from Italy, Lorenzo. Lorenzo was a photographer and professional kayaker and he would take these insane pics of people who were going down the white water rafting trips. He would get them in action poses and a lot of pics were of people falling out of the boat and for some reason those sold a lot for him. But, we instantly hit it off and we (my wife and I) would have him over at the house, feed him, let him hang out and just talk to this dude. 

Lorenzo (with his shoulder length dreads) had been traveling for 18 years and he had been gone from Italy since he was 16. WTF? He would tell us stories of his adventures, show us his tattoos (from the bottom of his chin to the last knuckle on his toes) from around the world, show us his picks from Nepal and from parts of Asia that I cannot even pronounce. But, Lorenzo hitchhiked his way around the world. No 9-5. No one to answer to, just freedom and the opportunity to explore and be free and work when he needed. 

Now, he had problems when it came to traveling, but they were not like life threatening or put him in too much danger.

I picked up a hitchhiker a couple of days ago. I gave him a ride and a Sonic Slush and we talked and had a great conversation. He was a guitarist who has been playing for about 20 plus years and was on his way to go and find some work and to get out of the hole he was in. All I did was give him a lift and a drink and listened. 

The opportunity to meet, greet, talk and learn was immeasurable. It opened my eyes to what I believe is an issue for some developers and talent out there. 

Like many site owners, or blogger or whatever you may be, when it comes to talent it can be hard to find and connect with the right people at a price that you can afford. There are a lot of people who travel and hitchhike to make a living and there are a lot of people with dreams and desires to make the next big thing, there is just a talent match that needs to happen or a bridge that needs to be laid.

There are a number of places on the Internet that will allow a hitchhiker to rest, make some money and find a little stability while they do what they want. Places like Deviant Art, Directory of Illustration, Fiverr, People Per Hour, Patreon and a few others are the mainstays of the industry. These beasts cater to the artistic talent world and the “Gig” type of talent. 

That Gig Talent is part of the Gig Economy, which is the new way that they describe the Freelancers of this time and space. But, the most impressive thing about this is, we are seeing a morphing of a type of talent into a real world meaning for talented people who are hitchhiking there way to freedom, or march to the beat of their own drum.

So, understanding this, I thought about what that means for me and my small company. I like hitchhikers or Gig (Giggies) or Gig People, and how can my small company be a part of this thing?

When people travel they get a chance to stay in camp grounds or sometimes in hostels for cheap. So, with a little play on words I would like to create a Gig Hostel where artists or talented individuals (tech dudes as well) that need a place to rest can work out a mutual agreement, or barter for services and space or something.

Now, I am not talking about building an IPO or doing something insane like the cra cra stuff that WeWork is doing (not sure that is going to work). But, a place to work, rest and whatever comes along.

Place your work on a site, stay temporarily, do some work for the host site, host your work, get a reference or make some coin and move on. Not sure how it works, but I would like to flesh this out and make something unique. Not an internship, but something unique.

A great example of this is WWOOF or World Wide Opportunities to Organic Farming. They do some cool stuff and people can see the world.

In my little space on the Internet, I could benefit from a couple of Gigsters, Gig People or whatever the may be called. My needs represent where I am at in my business and where I am trying to go. I can only imagine that there are people out there with skills that match my needs, and there are things that I have that can help them as well.

Gig Help

  • WordPress Developer/PHP and stuff
  • Comic Artist
  • SEO / Marketing person
  • Creative Content person / writer with a specific gift of gab

So, there is my pitch. I would LOVE to hear from you regarding this subject and to hash out something unique and real. If you want to share it, please do.

lance

FOCUSED…MY WAY

Putting it in motion

SN is the thing that has resonated in my mind for over 20 plus years. It is what I think about when I see something cool or hear a noise. I think of scenes when I hear a song on the radio or I see some kind of art and so on. 

This gift or curse is what I know that I was “Called to do”. To bring something as abstract and controversial as a guy with powers from God to the attention of the comic world.

Yes, there are many heavenly characters out there…but they lack imagination and creativity. I have had to years to see some of these characters and their labels to make the statement that I make. I know what is under the hood of their titles and believe/know my brand will be significant.

But, why is it controversial?

God is as controversial and whether you believe in a higher power or not. This belief of whether or not there is a higher power gives way to religion, versions of religion, profits and then the whole thing of mine is better than yours BS. 

My goal is to entertain and not convert. I do not care what you believe or who or what you worship. I am not selling Jesus, nor am I selling the faith I am introducing my vision of a hero that has specific gifts…that’s it. 

I struggle with my own faith and I struggle with the “Church” and the BS that goes on with it. But, the goal and the focus of this concept is to talk about how the fourth dimension of the known dimensions, that there is a significant universe of amazing and beautiful beings that we have no idea about. Beings that are so powerful that just a suggestion of their presence on Earth in our three dimensions could upset all of humankind and through us back to 100’s, 1000’s or 100,000’s years. 

This thing that I write about is not on the radar screen of everyday conversation. Even in the church or the religious halls, these things are not talked about.

A scene of giants in a battle scene. In many historical texts, there were different sizes of giants.
A picture of Atlantis. Was supposed to be this amazing place. Ancient philosophers talked about this place as if it was New Jersey.

To prove a point, go and ask your religious groups leader about the beginning of the world. Ask them about giants and fallen angels. Then ask about how many civilizations were there before the Flood and what happened to Atlantis? 

Ask just simple things and their answers may have you asking a whole lot of questions. 

There is something here and it is not a scientific topic nor is it as mainstream as it should be. But, regardless of what the world, media, scientist or the various spiritual groups out there, I write about beings in a realm that we hear rumors of and the beings in it are so powerful that it can manipulate our physical lives by just coming close. 

To prove another point; we have all heard of a ghost story, read about demon possession and everyone knows someone who has had some episode with the spiritual realm that has left them confused, scared or understanding that they there is something out there that we do not understand. In fact, there are TV Shows (most of them fake) that talk about investigating these phenomena and how people are unsure as to what it is.

Man Ghost Busters was a hit movie, c’mon…Ghost Busters.

That is the thing that keeps me up at night and dreaming of the stuff that makes me want to write about and bring my vision to light.

Making this SN Brand

The SN Brands first comic is Judgment the Calling. It is a huge message tied up in a little comic that talks about how “everyone” has a Calling in their life. I do not care as to what it is or how important someone thinks it is, everyone has a Calling and it is like a Butterfly effect on one life and another life and how they domino towards the end and they impact one another.

The Calling is a story of how a man is thrust into a super dimensional battle of Heaven and Hell and how this battle will take him to different lands, countries, planets, universes and beyond. This story is the second of the series and the Calling is setup up to how the series goes. 

the SN Logo

Man, it is a huge undertaking and I am so ready for it. Deadend jobs, unfulfilled work, a lot of people in the world that had no business leading me and a number of decisions to a life that sucked, but brought me here. I am just ready to get it on and I know what it is going to take.

FOCUSED

The title mentions Focused…My Way. It means that the way that I create this brand is not going to be the same way that businesses have done in the past. I am not the guy who is going to use all the business trending ideas, maps, and professional services and tried and true business models. I am not doing this to be a Forbes 100 business, I am doing this to finally capture my Gifts and my Calling and run this thing like I was supposed to – with reckless and unrelenting passion, creative vision focused on my craft and a no-excuse mentality with limited brakes on this beast.

When I get this thing moving, I am not going to stop it. I am only going to steer it. I believe that I have to crash through a number of neighborhoods in order to get to the open waters to chart my own course. In fact, take any action car chase scene that you want and see how hero or villain will wreck a town, downtown shopping area or some populated area to add an effect of determination. My goal is not to kill anybody, but I will go through some industries and make some noise on my way to the uncharted openness that I need to really make this thing take off. 

Focused. We are going to have to be focused on creating the most original stories that can come out of my brain. We are going to have to focus on creating the best and most appealing, most imaginative graphic arts and pieces that our little side of the industry has seen. We have to operate on our own terms and believe in our own goals in order to create something that is not here.

Many folks say that there is already a Christian comic book market and we are nothing new or industry-disrupting. 

First, we are not writing in Christian markets. 

Early on in my history with SN, I tried to market the comic as a faith-based comic and to communicate to the Mardels and other Christian themed retailers. I sent samples, comics, shirts, and other items in the hope of getting shelf space and a contract. What I got were denial letters and comments that said, “…we are not sure what market to put you in”, or “….we do not have a need for this” and so on. The best one was, “…we do not have a market for this. We follow the secular market in youth apparel and youth entertainment and we do not see this marketed in their markets.” 

WTF!? Are you serious? I had so many letters like that I actually kept them as motivation. I kept all of them up until about four to five years ago and then was like screw them, time to move on. 

Rejection after rejection led me to think, “…well damn, maybe this is not good and I need to rethink things.” It took a number of years for me to start to rethink my thoughts and to brush off that market snafu and think to myself that they missed the boat and I would make them really rethink that decision later on. 

I am not mad at them, just realized big box stores, whether they are Christian or not, do not put their buying powers on untested products. So, I needed to either become a household name or rewrite how I sold my product to customers. I decided to do both, but on my terms and after some years of figuring that out, I am here starting the engine once again. 

Steve Jobs…laser-focused

Never been a big fan of Apple or Steve Jobs, but I have come to recognize how Focused Jobs was. 

Jobs much like many ultra-successful people in the world have this laser point focus on their craft and they let nothing get in their way. 

Jobs was one of these humans that I have started to read and learn more about. “Make it Simple” was one of his focused points that resonates with me in 2019. He was able to focus Apple in the early days into this machine that created and gave the world his vision of tech for the common man. 

Much like Ford with the car, Jobs did the same thing with tech in the hands of the common man. So for me to take all of this blogging, contractor, artist, website designer, agencies, domain names, customers, products, sales metrics and so on is monumental for me. But, I just bounce that saying in my head repeatedly and try to whittle that down to what Jobs said, “…make it simple.” 

But, how can I make it simple? Well, that is the journey that I am going on and you are more than welcome to look over my shoulder as I ramble down the road towards my goal. 

Why is this comic any different than anything that Marvel, DC or the other BIG BOX Producers have?

I grew up reading comics, but I hated the old General Motors (Buick, Chevy, Oldsmobile, etc.) versions of characters; Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, X-Men, and other characters. They were all the same thing over and over again and their stories were predictable.

Early on I gravitated towards alternate comics that held my attention; Power Man, Rom the Spaceknight, Hulk, Iron Fist, Swamp Thing, Silver Surfer, and even DareDevil. They represented the realness of people, community and what being a hero was all about. 

All these dudes were not about huge money, gadgets, incredible tech or unimaginable superpowers (well Silver Surfer is another story entirely).

 They took care of a place or a community and they were citizens of their area. Now Batman took care of Gotham, but there was no way that I could relate to a dude. 

Then there was Flash, who was fast and could run and do all these things while running. Just was so far fetched it just did not resonate. First, it struck me that Flash was again a white guy. Why in the hell would you do this? That is like saying Native Alaskans would be better at the hunting Gazelles and African animals than the Native Africans that lived there. Uggg..! I get it, if you make the vehicle, you can drive it the way you want and sell it to whomever you want. I get it. 

So…I am going to make my own vehicle and drive it and sell it the way that I want.

But, one of the biggest things that bothered me was there were very few super heros that resembled me and my community of being Black, and being in and around Brown People. 

Power Man was one of the few Black guys (yes there was Black Panther). Iron Fist who you would think would be Asian was a white guy. But, he hung out in the inner city with Power Man, so I could relate with him with the whole Heroes for Hire concept.

Even further, there was the same skill set for heros. It became super redundant and the same recurring theme in all the comics.  There was brute force powers, mystical powers, alien and superintelligence. In addition, there were very few heroes that were not white guys, not rich, not business owners, not entrepreneurs, or some type of doctor, lawyer or financier adventurist. 

If you really want to take a deeper look into some of the ’70s and 80’s philosophies, you could see how a lot of what the characters resembled what our education and social system valued and deemed as successful, sexy, handsome and powerful back then. 

It was the American Dream, Leave it to Beaver, the Brady Bunch, Archie, Laurence Welk kind of thinking in my eyes and I hated it. 

Their version of a hero was out of my reach due it only looked like white males who had power, money and or some exclusive technology. As a young Black kid that was not me, I could not relate.

MOVING TO THE DARK SIDE

DC’s the Swamp Thing

So, I gravitated from their version of a traditional hero to other characters that were not perfect, but they were a hell of a lot easier to connect with than the GM Models (no I do not like GM cars. Used to like the Cadillac Brand, but they are so far behind that it is just dumb as to why they have taken this long to move away from Ma and Pa Smith).

Swamp Thing, was the craziest character that I read about back then. This guy (yes a white guy) died and became part of the swamp and had amazing powers due to the swamp. 

Then there was Power Man and Iron Fist. Urban guys who took care of the community. 

Then there was ROM the Space Knight. The dude was an alien guy in a suit and traveled through space and time. I could get with this. 

Marvel’s Power Man and Iron Fist

Then DareDevil. The dude was blind and had made martial arts skills. 

The Hulk was just cool to read about a dude that had serious anger problems and had a clinical DSM-III disorder that he used to his strength.  

Finally, there was the Silver Surfer who could do anything and had the Power Cosmic. He could travel faster than any super being, could scan your weakness, adjust the environment to work against you, did not need food, water or bathroom breaks, and had powers that were off the charts. BADASS!

These characters were huge in my foundation. They were some of the cornerstones of what I believe was cool and what should be in a comic. 

ROBOTECH – Oh, then there was Robotech and that whole thing got me so twisted up that I would twitch and giggle when it came on. I never missed a Damn episode when I was in 5th grade and I must have watched that thing two or three times. But, that level of creativity changed me.

So, when I made the SN Brand and the Judgment Comic, my original thoughts resonated around a character that was not the normal perception of America. He was smart but his smarts did not impact his great powers. Almost nothing he had or would become or be equated to his greatness from his previous life, economic or socio-economic condition. The only thing that I would say migrated over from his original self was his love for his kids and his immense focus on their safety and desires for them to be happy and successful based off of their definitions of success.

This was sort of me throwing my real-life desires for my kids into the story. My story as I mentioned was not the picture-perfect story. So, I made sure that even though I was in a crappy marriage, I made a promise that I would make sure my kids were able to know success and happiness even though I did not have it. It was my goal that they never venture down the emotional and relationship struggles that I encountered. 

The SN Brand of Hero that I am defining is not laced with traditional super-powers in the sense of brute force, technological skills, gadgetry or powers from an alien ring or craft. He would have skills and powers that came from a higher being and would be based on how he communicated with this higher being at first. So, yes they are off the charts and they make no sense to the human world.

Yea, you could say a Shazam or some other character resembles this, but I tried to stay clear of a lot of that type of character presentation.

DC’s Shazam

In my world, we play with the spiritual side of the planet and we deal with how God would provide a human or extraterrestrial beings greatness and significant powers to carry out insane missions while in His service.

The Judgment character is pretty heavy in spiritual power and Biblical references. Some of his powers are directly from what specific books in the Bible. 

An example is The Full Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10. If you read this verse, in any version or translation, it talks about how you have to figuratively put on specific garments and gear in order to do battle with rulers, authorities, and powers. That example is not an example of one type of force, but different levels of power or progressions of evil that you have to deal with. In this case, they are levels of bosses that you have to battle in order to be successful. 

This specific focus on defending against something talks highly of the power and influence that the forces of evil have upon this world. 

We all know the climate in 2019 with the issues of people shooting random people and causing significant chaos. We know what they tell us about the world stage and how the struggles for freedom and land where they can be free of violence is so crucial that people will do amazing things to get this peace. 

To me, these forces of good and bad are around us at all times. They, directly and indirectly, influence our world to either take us down to another realm of pain, misery or provide us with a glimpse of freedom and peace with immense sacrifice.

FINITO

So, to wrap it up, the SN Brand of Comics is different with its first title, Judgment, because it is a focused comic on the fourth dimension or the spiritual realms all around us and how they impact our lives on the daily.

In a nutshell, we made our first comic series that deals with the spiritual realms, good and bad and our focus is on how we see these battles and forces of good and evil do their work within our natural realms and the spiritual ones as well.

lance

All that to tell you this…

I made the first comic called Judgment the Calling in 1996. I wrote about the concept and it just took time to develop the thoughts and the ideas that surrounded it.

The comic was like nothing that I had read or heard about and I did not have the knowledge to do the things that I am doing now to push it forward.

Judgment the Calling is not about you getting saved and filled with the Holy Ghost or you learn more about the Christian Faith. In fact, it is comic about what I believe to be a way that the spiritual forces around us interact and try to impact our lives on the daily.

The comic is meant to be “rough” and not a pretty gospel choir kind of picture book. I wanted to comic to be very real and to reflect the problems that I had, others around, talk about the pain of losing and gaining love; the problems that life, money, sex, drugs, lust, and power can bring upon you if you are not grounded.

What I mean by grounded, is you are mature enough to know right from wrong and you have a way to decipher the voices in your head as good and evil.

The comic is going to become my life’s work. By that I mean it will be the things that I do. I have laid on this thing for a number of years, written tons of stories and collected a crap ton of artwork that I will display, sell and place on merchandise.

If you become offended and feel that I am wrong, you as many others are welcome to your opinion and I have learned to respect that. I just do not have to acknowledge it or be part of your beliefs. Remember, it’s a comic!

Comic thoughts from…the beginning

I started a comic in 1996. It was weird how it happened, I was sitting in my small home in Duncanville, Texas, with my then-wife, and four small kids. In all accounts, we were a happy young household who was living the American Dream (yeah right). 

But, I was miserable beyond belief. I was with someone that I did not want to be with, I did not love her. But, I messed up and I stayed true to me getting her pregnant and I raised my kids with a father.

 I was in a false relationship, but I stayed with her because we had kids and I put my “business” where it should not have been during a time that I had “total” control of.

In that little community and in that setting of the church, school, and work I held true to the titles of what I thought a “father” should be and be because I was a “Christian” church-going, man.

I struggled with my faith. I entertained having affairs, leaving, running off to find the one person that I really wanted to be with, and I just hated my life. I watched porn (tons of it) and fantasized about another life. I joined the military (Texas Air National Guard) and I did anything that I could do to just not be home with her. I even attempted an MBA but was so screwed up I just dropped out.

It was during this time that I read the Bible a lot and even though I read it, I thought the church that I went to and the people that were associated with it were full of shit.

Man, I could not stand this thing called religion or the Pentecostal, Non-Denominational faiths. Tithes, church dinners, prayer warriors, praises dancers, worship programs and all the time men and women are crying and in pain due to real-world situations.

A lot of the pain these men and women had was from issues with sexual problems, sexual addictions, family issues, abuse, drugs, anger or a score of other issues that they needed help on. But, like many of us, we put our faith in the hands of a man who knew God and I like many that were taught were supposed to take it to the “church” and leave it on the altar for God to take care of. Even then I knew that the church was only part of a solution and it was not up to the church to solve my problems. It was mine and I own it and by any means necessary, I was going to fix it.

As I grew, I learned that “no man” or human man can help you like you can help yourself. Having a relationship was the key for me. Understanding that I needed something that I was missing in my life was huge. It was not the church, it was not the Bible, but it was my insecurities with myself and learning to have my heart free to love again.

I had to have real-world conversations with the creator of the universe. I knew that there was something bigger than me and something that I could not explain what was there.

I was in pain and I truly hurt. I hated people, cities towns and I felt this darkness over me when I came into contact with certain people. I knew that there was something going on and I did not know what it was but there was something that was weird that I was not attuned to.

Then a simple inner voice whispered and said, “…if you have a conversation with God, learn to listen.”

Well, no shit Sherlock. What does that mean I yelled. What the F**K is going on, I would yell to myself. Of course, I would never yell this out loud due to the fact that I was a young minister of the church and I was supposed to be above all the petty bullshit that is going on with others. Well, I was just as screwed up, if not more, than them.

It was then that I kept reading and really having some conversations about faith, heaven and hell, life, spirits and the worlds that are in between the natural and heavenly realms. I just kept asking questions and reading and asking more questions. I learned how to research Biblical terms, places, seek out references and learned to understand what time periods books and other information. I learned historic context and I asked a lot more questions until something happened.

It was a Saturday afternoon in Duncanville, Texas. I was sitting in the living room with my four kids, an awesome dog named Snoopy and my then-wife. We were just hanging out and the kids were watching Scooby Doo or something and I was enjoying the time with my kids when I heard a voice clear as day say, “…Lance!”

Startled I look around and was dumbfounded because I did not know what was going on or who said my name in a deep man’s voice.

Then he said again, “LANCE!”

I answered in an irritated voice, “WHAT!”

Then he said. “Make a comic of heaven and hell and the spiritual forces in between the heavenly and natural realms.”

I said, “Ummm, I do not know how to make a comic, and I do not know what that even means.”

Then he said, “I will show you the way.”

Hell, HE spoke to me on a Saturday watching Scooby-Doo, that should tell anyone that this was something special.

Fast forward about two years later, I started to voice my vision and get people to help me draw out this vision of what the voice told me to do. Oh, understand, I knew who HE was, and I know what HE told me to do, I just did not have a clue as to what and how to do it.

But, years later, kids are grown up, Snoopy has passed on, my then-wife and I went through a bitter and heavily feuded divorce and I am here now, with a new spouse, and two more kids added to the mix, one her’s and the other one ours.