Montréal Comiccon

Last weekend I flew to Montréal for Comiccon. It was huge; definitely bigger than the one we went to in Boston a few years ago. There were costumes galore and lots of places to sit quietly and people-watch. I’d originally planned this trip because David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were both slated to make an appearance, but Gillian had to cancel. I decided to go anyway; I still wanted to meet David, and this con would be easier to wrangle than NYC.

Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) and William B. Davis (Cigarette-Smoking Man) were also there. I bought a selfie with Mitch; he was incredibly nice about making time for everyone, asking questions, etc. He’s very kind, and doesn’t talk through his teeth at all. Apparently he reserves that stoicism for Mulder and Scully.

The three actors also did a Q&A panel, which was underwhelming — it was advertised as a “Special Event” and tickets cost extra, which probably should have been a red flag. The moderation was sub-par and the fan questions weren’t screened, so there were a lot of repeats. I cringed, a lot. It wasn’t worth the cost of admission, but oh well.

Of course, I got a photo with David:

David freakin' Duchovny (and me)

It’s a picture of a picture so it’s not great quality, but who cares? JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE. I got a side hug. I’m never washing my sweater again.

The X-Files Poster Print Fan Art - The Light in Dark Places by Calobee Doodles

He also signed one of my prints (I don’t have a photo of the print with the signature handy, so you’ll just have to trust me!) Eventually I’d like to get Gillian Anderson’s autograph on the same print. Between that, and a photo with both GA and DD, and I think my fandom life will be complete.

But the best part of this trip arguably had little to do with Comiccon, and everything to do with my friend and colleague, Kathryn, who made for excellent company while I was in her home city. We had a couple A+ meals (sushiiiiii) and she showed me the most amazing dessert place.

In a wonderful bit of serendipity, she also found these two artifacts while cleaning her house this weekend:

The first is an August 1995 sci-fi magazine with the infamous all-white photo shoot. The second is a script for an X-Files episode that doesn’t appear to have aired. Maybe a spec script from Tim Minear, who wrote a couple X-Files episodes in 1998 (and wrote for a bunch of other shows as well). I can’t wait to read it!

I also had a chance to walk around the city a bit. I haven’t done much solo travel for fun, but I could see this becoming a thing in the future.

Aside

tales of a creepy doll carriage

91k0heExW0LI have a photo on another French book cover! This time a reprint of Un soupçon légitime by Stefan Zweig.

I took this photo in 2003 with a Pentax K1000 camera and slide film, then had the film cross-processed–probably at my local Target, since they never knew what to charge for processing film without prints, so they’d just do it for free!

This old-school doll carriage was my mother’s as a little girl, and it featured in a number of other photo shoots over the years. Now it sits in my office and occasionally amuses my kids when I let them play with it.

 

CalobeeDoodles.com gets a makeover

You know what they say about the cobbler’s children and their shoes? Well, I am the cobbler, and my websites are my children, and it’s been a while since they’ve had new shoes. I can’t remember the last time I designed a theme for my site that wasn’t a work project.

Speaking of work, my team is talking about small businesses, interviewing owners and figuring out what makes them tick. This also involves keeping an eye on our competition, and as a long-time Etsy seller, I already have a foot in that space.

It turns out that Etsy offers a free trial of their website builder, Pattern, so I decided to try it out in the name of research, and in hopes I’d come out of it with a decent website, too.

The result:

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.22.56 PM

What I liked

I’m impressed with how fast I was able to set up a site; with a few clicks, the whole thing was ready to go (not including the time I spent fussing over themes, colors, and fonts). I had the option to wait to publish it until it felt finished, but being me, I charged ahead and hooked up my domain name right away.

Now my existing audiences on both platforms can access the same products, and I don’t have to go through the process of re-creating 150+ listings with WooCommerce or Shopify. That’s a huge time-saver.

I’ve noticed a significant increase in traffic to my Etsy shop by way of the original domain name, which tells me combining the site and the shop was a good move. It’s too soon to tell if that uptick will result in sales, but anecdotally, I’ve had a solid sales week, too.

What I didn’t like

The primary drawback for me is the look of the site; it’s very vanilla. There are few themes to choose from, they don’t support transparent PNGs (welcome back to the 90’s?), and I’m itching for custom CSS to tweak a few things.

The blog feature is also basic; no scheduling, few choices, I can’t import or export content, so I’m effectively starting from scratch.

Pattern is obviously not designed with power users in mind, but I recognize I’m spoiled by WordPress’ ability to customize everything down to the last pixel, and I’m probably picky about my site’s appearance. 😉 But for $15 per month, I’d expect to be able to do more with the site.

Worth it?

So far, I’ve sold enough to make up my first couple months’ fees. That said, I could see myself moving to a more robust solution in the future; something that gives me more control over my site’s appearance. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for leveraging my existing connection with Etsy.

I’m also in the process of updating the shop with new goodies from Printful, a print-on-demand drop-shipping company that interfaces with Etsy to produce t-shirts, posters, mugs, and more. Now folks can buy the kind of stuff I sell through Redbubble or Teepublic directly from Etsy.

I hope it helps widen my shop’s reach a bit!

Dotcom Design in San Diego, May 2018

Remember how I said I was poised at the tip-top of the proverbial roller coaster a few weeks ago?

Well, I’m finally at the bottom of the ride. I came home from our meetup on Sunday afternoon and promptly crashed for several hours of much-needed sleep. Thankfully I had the foresight to take a couple days off to recover. Monday was spent in a time-zone-befuddled daze, and yesterday was spent in Bangor for appointments.

…okay, maybe I’m not entirely at the bottom of the ride, but I’m getting there.

Most of the meetup itself was spent planning and thinking and brainstorming, which explains the relative lack of pictures this trip. Sticky notes lose their visual appeal after one or two photos.

The kids struggled with my absence more than usual, and I’m feeling the sharp divide between work and motherhood. Pulled in multiple directions, it’s hard to know if I’m doing enough on either front. But it was good to spend time getting to know my team, and I enjoyed working against the backdrop of ocean air and spring sun.

I met up with my aunt and cousins for lunch on my last day, and a late flight out afforded me the chance to have some alone time in the city. I wandered around the San Diego Zoo, taking pictures of the animals so I could share them with the kids.

All in all, a successful meetup, but I’m glad to be home!