Audible While You Work, and Three Great Books

Audible while you work. That’s my new workflow adjustment, and it makes me feel extra productive. Now I can absorb books while I draw. So my ears are consuming hours of fascinating knowledge while my Wacom pen flashes across my screen, and so I remain immersed and wholly engaged for three to four hours. Input: Coffee, an Audible biography about Alexander Hamilton, and output: Ergo comics, educational worksheets for kids, and disoriented collection of random ideas and notes. 

It’s been a chaotic month. But lately, thanks largely to the book Messy by Tim Harford, I’m a bit less self-criticizing of my messiness. Granted, things are a bit messier than usual, because I rather impulsively decided that now was the time to renovate my kitchen. And if I’m going to renovate the kitchen, then, well, I might as well throw out the old laminate floor too, and rip out some walls to make the apartment seem a bit bigger. 

Amidst that serene background, I started a new Printables Magazine, wherein I’m combining my Ergo characters with entertaining printable activities: connect the dots, mazes, word searches, etc. All the pages are sketched but I still need to ink and color a bit. It’s being published piecemeal. I’m also working on some Halloween stuff, including the Halloween spot the difference I posted a few days ago. 

Try Audible 

Tim’s Book Recommendations

Messy by Tim Harford – A look into why creative people are messy and chaotic, and how great ideas and business strategies naturally emerge from this tumultuous environment. I thought the part about Jeff Bezos and the creation of Amazon was the best. Format: Paperback

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – One of my all-time favorite books. A nostalgic look at childhood in the year 1928. Douglas Spalding, 12, experiences a Illinois summer filled with mysteries, imagination, and visceral memories. This is Ray Bradbury at his very best. 

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – This guy was amazing, even as Founding Fathers go. His prolific writing, especially his work in the Federalist Papers, helped interpret the Constitution, define Executive power, and shape the American identity. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton also established the American financial system, including the National Bank and the US Mint. While other Founding Fathers either ignored or actively participated in slavery, Hamilton bolding supported abolition. His life was fast-paced, epic, and tragically short. 

These are amazon affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage when you click on them and buy something on Amazon. I find it’s one of the best ways to monetize my work, since I’m only recommending things I’ve actually purchased myself.

Tim’s Recommendations: Comics, Gene Editing, and Space Architecture.

Want to get inspired with new ideas? Listen to TED while you work. This morning, while drawing a duck, yes a duck, I listened to three TED talks. TED is one of my goto sources for inspiration when writing Ergo. Chock full of cutting edge enlightening info about the universe and human ingenuity. What greater creative fuel could there possibly be?

Anyway, I thought they were awesome. Maybe you’ll like em too. Here they are:

1. Comics Belong in the Classroom by Gene Luen Yang. 

I’d never heard of Gene until I saw his talk. The guy’s really impressive. In this TED talk Gene talks about how comics came into, left, and came back into the classroom. An informative talk for people interested in comics, education, illustration, and writing.

2. Adventures of an Interdisciplinary Architect by Xavier De Kestelier 

I’m fascinated by how life on Mars or the Moon would work. In this video, De Kestelier describes the practical real-life innovations that are taking place. How scientists are going to use moon dust, officially known as regolith, to 3D print a moon base. How cool is that? And of course, a perfect bit of info to include in later Ergo comic strips.

3. How Humans Could Evolve to Survive in Space by Lisa Nip 

I really appreciate Lisa’s passion whenever she describes her research. In this talk she talks about the potential to use GMOs to alter human genetics in order to better survive in space. Sounds incredible, exciting, and a bit spooky.

Watch those videos. Learn, feel enlightened, and stay happy!

And if you’re curious about my duck, you can see him here.

Ergo: A New Online Comic Strip. Welcome to the Future.

The future is now. You’re in it. You see it every time you look on your iPhone. You witnessed it when Falcon Heavy’s twin boosters landed simultaneously in early February. And you’ll experience it again when driverless cars become mainstream. It’s happening fast, and it’s only getting faster. Most of the time it’s fascinating, sometimes it all feels overwhelming.

The near-future is the source material for my new online comic strip, Ergo. If you love reading about space exploration, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation, this is the comic strip for you. With a bit of humor and a dash of exaggeration, let’s take a look at where things are going. Let’s ask whether the road we’re headed is the road we really want to take, and how it’s going to affect us all in the end.

Ergo is going to be the vehicle for addressing these issues. Not an autonomous self-driving vehicle, but a human reflection on this rapidly modern world. What will happen when artificial intelligence stops being artificial and becomes sentient? How will the world change when the only thing preventing humans from dramatically altering genetics is the gray water of morality? Can we become biologically immortal, and if so, do we want to?

And of course, when all the robots take our jobs, what the heck are we humans going to do with our time?

Hopefully, you’ll all be reading Ergo. I imagine that cartooning will be among the last jobs to go extinct.

About Ergo

Ergo centers around a twelve-year old entrepreneur named George Ergo, who is determined to change the world with his fantastic inventions.

He starts a company, Ergo Industries, and builds a robot assistant named Arrowbot to help him.

With the ability to learn at superhuman speeds, Arrowbot analyzes all of human history, and comes to a stunning conclusion: human beings were happiest living as hunter-gatherers.  Much to George’s dismay, Arrowbot takes to the trees.

As Ergo Industries continues to grow, George begins to pursue more daring ventures into space travel, genetics, and robotics.

Meanwhile, George’s younger sister, Tessa, happily watches her brother work. While her ambitious brother races from goal to goal, Tessa spends her time drawing, painting, and daydreaming, ever in the present, and without a care in the world.

George’s father, Rick Ergo, watches his son’s far-fetched plans unfold with mild amusement. Sometimes he lends a word of sound advice, but most of the time he’s behind his old 1942 Royal typewriter, writing short stories.

George’s Mother, Sarah Ergo, shows more concern about George’s endeavors than her laid-back husband. George’s antics often cause her a great deal of stress. After a busy day working as a veterinarian at the Ergo Animal clinic, she’s hardly amused when she discovers George’s latest projects, which often end up exploding or causing damage in some bizarre and unexpected manner.

As George’s success starts to take form, he begins to be tempted by greed and power. Meanwhile he struggles constantly between his restless ambition and the realization that there’s more to life than wealth and work.

Day after day, George and the rest of the Ergo family discover what it means to be a family in a fast-paced modern age, where so much is possible. They learn how to handle the complexity of the day, and, often thanks to the observations of a little yellow robot, what it means to be human.