Where I See Myself in Five Years (Summer 2014 Edition)


As I wrote last Monday, I’ve decided to resurrect weekly updates to this blog until at least this fall. With a self-imposed burden of 20+ entries to write, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to fill them. Since I haven’t regularly updated the blog in well over a year, I figured a “what I’ve been up to” entry would make for a good start.

So I reread the last update entry I did back in early 2013, and mulled over what’s changed since then. But despite the fact it’s been more than sixteen months, I don’t really have all that much to report. The Tonoharu: Part One paperback is coming down the pipeline, but that’s really the only significant piece of news I got. Otherwise I’ve been following the course outlined in the last update blog entry: trying to bulk up my savings, and chipping away at Tonoharu: Part Three.

So instead of writing about the recent past, I’ve decided to look in the opposite direction. The stock interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” seemed like a good jumping off point, so without further ado here are five significant changes I expect to see in the next five years:

1) I will quit my day job.
I’m currently wrapping up my third year as an English teacher in Japan. I’ve signed up for a fourth year, and will probably also do a fifth. But five years is the maximum tenure that my program allows. For better or for worse, come August 2016 I’ll be out of a job. But actually, I’m sort of looking forward to it because…

2) I’ll be an artist full time (for a while, at least).
This is the main reason I’ve saving so diligently for the past couple years. I want to have the flexibility to be able to devote myself to my art (once again) without worrying about a day job.
By the time my teaching stint comes to an end, I should have enough saved up to get by without income for two years. My plan is to only do art-related stuff for the first twelve months of that. In addition to actual cartooning, this would include marketing/art grant applications/convention appearances and other “business-y” things like that, but no unrelated day jobs.
After that, I’ll see where I’m at and decide where I want to go from there. No matter what, by the end of the second year I want to be bringing in at least as much as I spend. There’s a good chance that will require me to start working a day job again, which is fine. My hope, though, is that I can make ends meet working no more than half time. Full time employment just doesn’t give me enough free time for my artistic pursuits. With the the right combination of frugality and supplementary art income, I hope that I’ll never need to work a full time day job again. (Knock on wood!)

3) I will finally finish off and release the last part of Tonoharu.
I’ll be writing a detailed progress report for Tonoharu: Part Three in the near future, so I’ll save the particulars for that. But suffice it to say the next five years will see Tonoharu’s completion and publication.

4) I will streamline my process for post-Tonoharu work.
I’ve been working on Tonoharu for ten years. TEN YEARS. And it’s still not done. (albeit at least now the end is in sight). Since I aspire to create more than, like, three or four stories before I die, I need to speed up my process drastically. Worst case scenario, I wouldn’t want to spend more than, say, two or three years on a single project. But ideally I’d like to finish something significant every year.
This will require me to completely revamp the way I work, but as I say, it has to happen. I have some ideas about what I can do to streamline things, but we’ll get into that in a future entry.

5) I’m going to try to find a better balance between life/work.
I have to admit, it was a little disheartening to realize that the last sixteen months didn’t have enough interesting news to fill up a measly little blog entry.
I’m reminded of the Lennon quote “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. I have a bad habit of getting tunnel vision when it comes to my goals. Saving money and devoting time to my comics are important of course, but so are a lot of other things. It’s not like my life is on pause while I’m saving up this little nest egg, it’s ticking by day by day.
Now, to be fair: it’s not like I haven’t left the house for the past sixteen months.The focus of this blog is on my artistic work, so I’m not going to write about spending time with friends or trying a new restaurant or whatever. Plus trying to manage both a full time day job in addition to my comics isn’t a walk in the park, so I should cut myself some slack. But at the same time, I’m going to try to be more mindful that frugality and efficiency aren’t everything, and that I should loosen the purse strings and stop and smell the roses sometimes.

For better or worse, I’ll be in a very different place in 2019 than I am now. I’m excited to see how things will pan out.

“Tonoharu: Part One” Paperback Coming this Fall!


Tonoharu: Part One has been sold out for a while now, so I’m happy to announce that a new paperback edition will be out in just a few months!

The book will feature a completely redesigned cover (click above image to enlarge) as well as a new afterword. The retail price will be $14.95. More details to follow.

To celebrate the new edition, I’ve decided to resurrect this long-dormant blog until at *least* the paperback comes out (or maybe even beyond that, we’ll see how it goes). I’m going to post something every Monday morning. Many of these entries will no doubt be filler (like YouTube videos or pictures of funny Japanese products or whatever), but I’ll also have a a bunch of “significant” entries like Tonoharu: Part Three updates/art samples and the like. So stay tuned!


2012 Year in Review

Pictured: The key to happiness (apparently).

At the end of July 2011, I started teaching English in Japan for the second time. The first time was from 2003 to 2006; this experience that served as a basis for my ongoing graphic novel Tonoharu. I enjoy teaching (for the most part), but that’s not why I returned to it

As documented on this blog, I spent a couple years drawing comics full time. This endeavor was fairly successful when looked at through a certain lens. It spawned two sold out printings, a decent amount of media coverage, and French and Spanish language editions of my work.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t as successful in financial terms. I managed to make *some* money off my work, but never the opulent heights of a sustainable living wage. As such, my savings slowly but surely dwindled as the months went by. Eventually they reached an uncomfortable low. I needed to regroup, refill the coffers a bit, and decide where I wanted to go from there. It was time to bite the bullet and get a day job again. Teaching wasn’t my calling or anything, but it’s a decent way to earn a living. So back to it I went.

The teaching program I’m in has yearly contracts that are renewable annually for up to five years. From the get-go, I figured I’d do at least two years; I didn’t see the point in uprooting my whole life and moving to the other side of the world for just twelve months. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. I figured I’d see how the job treated me and decide based on that.

Flash forward to August 2012. I had just gotten back from a vacation in the US, and was starting my second year as a teacher.

At that point, I was feeling pretty lukewarm about my whole situation. I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, opting for a vague sense of security at the expense of what I really cared about. I had only just started my second year, and was already fantasizing about an escape plan once my contract was up.

But then in the weeks that followed, something changed. This change wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was profound enough to inspire me to not only to sign up for a third year, but to put me in a frame of mind that I’m seriously considering doing four or five. Continue reading

“Tonoharu: Part Three” Winter 2012 Progress Report

Above: Progress, one baby step at a time.

With 62 out of 124 pages completed, Tonoharu: Part Three is finally HALFWAY DONE! Yay!

So I figured it was high time to write an update entry to give you a sense of where I’m at in terms finishing the last half of the Tonoharu story. And we’ll throw in projected release date, as is tradition. Unfortunately, this time around, that projection is particularly distant.

Why, you ask? To answer that question I need to give you a little background info: Continue reading

Tonoharu/Kameoka Diaries November 2012 Update

Man, I haven’t written a new blog entry in forever. Here’s a little update about what’s been going on in the six weeks since my last update.

Tonoharu Update
For anyone keeping track: there are now less than 80 new copies of Tonoharu: Part One left in the world (to the best of my knowledge). On Halloween I shipped 69 copies to the distributor. That leaves me personally with FIVE signed copies left. Once those are gone, that’s it; no more copies left.

I plan to reprint, but I haven’t really even started the ball rolling on that, and probably won’t get around to it for a while yet. The new printing probably won’t come out the second half of 2013 or so. So I’ll just say it one more time: if you want a copy of Tonoharu: Part One (especially a signed copy) get it now!

Buy a signed copy of Tonoharu: Part One–only 5 left!
Buy Tonoharu: Part One from Amazon.com via 3rd party seller 

Kameoka Diaries Update
Here’s a bit of cool news I’ve been meaning to announce: the iBooks version of all my digital comics (Kameoka Diaries 1 & 2, and Young Men of a Certain Mind) are now available for sale for around $1 in 18 new countries:

New Zealand, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil, El Salvador, Panama, Chile, Guatemala, Paraguay, Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico and Venezuela.

It’d take me waaay too long to make direct links for all those different iBookstores, but if you search for “Lars Martinson” that should lead you to them, I would think.

Or if you’re from a country where the iBook version isn’t available (or you don’t have an iOS device), both volumes of the Kameoka Diaries digital comics are available as DRM-free PDFs anywhere worldwide for as little as $1 each:
Kameoka Diaries DRM-free PDFs

Speaking of the Kameoka Diaries, I’ve been meaning to upload another installment to the internet; hopefully I’ll be able to get to that within a couple weeks or so, cough…

“Tonoharu: Part One”—SOLD OUT! (Almost–see details below)

Just got some cool news from my distributor: they’ve ran out of the second printing of Tonoharu: Part One!

I intend to reprint, but I’ll have to do a lot of prep work for it, so it’ll be months before a new printing comes out. I don’t expect to have it out until sometime in 2013…

So if you want Tonoharu: Part One for the upcoming holiday season, get it now while you still can!


Direct From Me:
My distributor is out of copies, but I personally still have a couple dozen pristine copies left & available for sale. Not only that, but they’re from the first printing! AND a limited number of them (about 10) are signed! (I’ll update this entry if the signed copies run out.) I’m in Japan so I can’t sign more until I visit home next summer, so if you want a signed copy (or a copy at all, for that matter) order now!
Link to My Store>>>

From Amazon.com
As I write this blog entry, Amazon says they still have 2 copies. I don’t know if those are the very last two, or if they’ll be getting one last shipment or what, but either way, they’re scrapping the bottom of the barrel. There’s also some really, really cheap new/used copies being sold through third party sellers on Amazon. I imagine they’ll go up in price once the book is listed as out-of-print, so get ‘em now while they’re cheap!
Link to Tonoharu: Part One on Amazon.com>>>

From your favorite local bookseller
If they have a copy, grab it, because it’ll be a while before they get any more!


That’s it for now! My sincere thanks to everyone who supported me and picked up the book, making two sold-out printings possible! Here’s hoping printing #3 does okay too!

Oh, and there’s still a TON of copies of Tonoharu: Part Two left, so… pick that up too, won’t you? Ha ha…