2024 Project Launch Updates

It feels like only yesterday that I was jotting down notes for a New Year’s “upcoming 2024 project launch” blog post. Finally, in early June, I am making time to finish it! I have been working tirelessly, nearly seven days per week, for the past year to bring these projects to bear. Needless to say — I am tired!

The first major project is building up the framework and infrastructure for the reformed Minnesota Comic Book Association. The second project is a Kickstarter campaign to help fund MNCBA FallCon 2024 at the MN State Fair Grandstand. The third project is final preparations for the launch of my new webcomic, “Behind the 8-Ball,” which goes public on 2 September. It will update once per week.

The following post reflects my own personal opinions and perspectives. It is not intended to represent the views of the Minnesota Comic Book Association.

MNCBA SpringCon 2024

MNCBA SpringCon 2024 was, by nearly all measures, a resounding success.

We roughly doubled our MNCBA FallCon 2023 attendance from 600-700 to 1400-1500. The organization underwent a partial turnover of Executive leadership in November of 2023 immediately after the fall show. At that time, I moved into the Vice President role, in addition to my work as Creative Director.

MNCBA Shortbox the Squirrel Colouring Book

The SpringCon venue selection was finalized prior to the change in leadership, and I was not involved in that decision. While several of my apprehensions about the venue came to pass, the feedback we have received about the show has been almost universally positive. Fortunately most people have been able to distinguish between issues related to the venue and the actual execution of the event.

The two primary hiccups were the artificial turf of the Fieldhouse; my main concern. The complex also had several outdoor baseball games scheduled that were not disclosed to us when the Fieldhouse was booked in fall of 2023. Due to these games and our increased attendance, the available parking lots quickly filled once doors opened. There was little we could do at that point.

Not to minimize anyone’s distress, but in the grand scheme of problems to have, overflowing a parking lot is preferable to not being able to fill one at all.

While I can make no official statements, we are exploring other venues for MNCBA SpringCon 2025. Finding a venue that can accommodate such a large show while keeping ticket and table costs down is extremely difficult. I believe everyone would ultimately like to bring both conventions back to the MN State Fairgrounds, but securing dates and buildings there is a complicated process. Please understand that all of the MNCBA leadership is doing our best.

MNCBA FallCon 2024 Kickstarter Launch

For more than a year, I have been working behind the scenes to build a FallCon Kickstarter campaign around the mascot character I created for the new MNCBA: Shortbox the Squirrel. I, along with twenty-six other artists, donated artwork to create a 32-page colouring book as the main campaign backer reward.

MNCBA Shortbox the Squirrel Colouring Book

The colouring book, stickers, and prints are something that everyone can enjoy even if you are not a resident of the Twin Cities area. Backer rewards will initially be available for pickup at FallCon this October. However, the cost of shipping is included if you are not able to pick your reward up. Please pledge for yours!

Being a part of rebuilding the MNCBA has been one of the most personally rewarding — and professionally satisfying — experiences of my life. Any support you can offer is deeply appreciated by both myself and the other volunteers. The new organization has many longer-term goals, including archiving and preserving the history of Minnesota’s comic book community. There are plans to branch the organization out into more charitable and educational activities. I also hope to see it become a hub and resource for local comic book creators.

Getting the conventions up and running again is only the first step!

The new MNCBA leadership is beginning to gel together as a great team. I am excited about what we will accomplish going forward. Again, if you can afford to, please consider pledging today to help us host the best FallCon possible and achieve our longer-term goals. We need community now more than ever.

MNCBA Youtube Channel Launch

As part of the Kickstarter campaign, I offered written interviews to all of the participating artists. These interviews are currently being shared via campaign updates on Kickstarter and the MNCBA social media. However, I do plan to add them to the MNCBA website when I do the next major update.

Another element of the Kickstarter campaign has been the soft-launch of the MNCBA Youtube channel. I am conducting brief, in-person interviews to lift the voices of many of the volunteers who have been working in the background for years, alongside artists and vendors.

As Vice President of the MNCBA, one of my personal focuses has been on addressing the frustrations I experienced as a volunteer myself in the past. I set up and launched a new mobile and web app system for our volunteers to improve communication and scheduling. I am working closely with the MNCBA Volunteer Coordinator, Matt Walkosz, and other team leads to implement this system.

We are in the process of creating a Volunteer Handbook that can be given to all members. Additionally, volunteer roles are being clearly-defined, with designated shifts and coverage for breaks to ensure everyone has an opportunity to actually enjoy our events. There is an established chain of command to resolve any problems quickly. My experience in retail management has been helpful.

Watching people grow and become more confident is such a joy.

Creating these videos has been a delight, as is having the opportunity to talk one-on-one with many of the volunteers I am too busy to talk much with at the events. I plan to continue recording them as a more general “People of the MNCBA” series after the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign.

Behind the 8-Ball Webcomic Launch

Finally, as I announced earlier this year on my social media, Behind the 8-Ball launches on 2 September. I am behind on my pre-launch comic schedule due to my MNCBA work and difficulties at my day job, but I have set aside time in July to make up lost ground. I have worked most of the bugs out of my process.

Behind the 8-Ball No. 0001 by Jen Bateman

The comic will update every Tuesday afternoon on both my website and social media accounts. When the full buffer is complete, my Patreon subscribers will be able to read roughly three months’ worth of updates early. Patreon subscribers can read even further ahead via the analog rough drafts I share there as well.

Expect the first print collection in late 2025 at the earliest, though there is a small but non-zero chance I will have a few “preview” ashcans with me at FallCon.

Thank you all for taking the time to read today. I hope to see you this fall!


JC B8MN: A Mission and A Vision

The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection. The end of 2022, probably the most transformative year of my life thus far, is no exception. The past year required me to fight a powerful battle with external forces attempting to sabotage my progress and keep me trapped in my past. I made the decision to abandon everything that has ever been used to control or mentally imprison me and move forward in my own truth. Last May, I killed off my alter ego of more than twenty years. I am now working under my real name and JC B8MN.

New Life

This year began with a new job unlike any I had ever had before, which I carefully selected with my specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses in mind. I am happy to tell you that I have flourished in that position. Having the autonomy and authority to do what I do best: analyze, prioritize, reorganize, systematize, and recognize untapped opportunities has helped contribute to compounding improvements in my workplace. Senior management is impressed.

The combination of being medicated for my ADHD, and reestablishing stability with a suitable day job, has made me the most functional and independent I have ever been. My employment provides me with the physical exercise I need without mental depletion or sensory overload. At the end of my day, I have more energy for activities of daily living and creative projects. It feeds an upward spiral.

After we failed to get Dan’s SSDI approved, Dan began working again. He needs more outside support than me, as his challenges are greater than mine now. I am grateful that I am able to provide that. Our family is also amazingly supportive of both of us. As time passes in a healthy and nourishing family environment, the confusion and trauma of the past continues to lose power and fade away.

Dan and Jen's Wedding Celebration

Our wedding celebration in September was the most beautiful day of the year. Truly, we are blessed to have some of the most caring and wonderful friends that anyone could ever wish for. Dan is enjoying his group gaming activities and slowly resuming his musical projects. When not working on my art and comics, of late, I am back in the kitchen and completing other unfinished projects. All is well.

The JC B8MN Mission

Rebuilding from the ground up has given me a unique opportunity to achieve a mature unity of aesthetic and vision that my work never had in the past. Lessons learned, and experienced gained, from over twenty years of experimentation are now synthesized into one clear mission and voice. Disparate and incongruous projects are now combined into a few core series with shared purpose.

In the future, every new concept or idea must pass the following tests: Does this serve my mission? Is this consistent with my personal and moral values?

The JC B8MN Mission

JC B8MN’s mission is to advocate and educate for the rights of autistic and neurodivergent people, and to promote self-exploration for all people through art and creativity in daily life.

To that end, I now have a profile on SpeakerHub. My desire is to channel the effort I used to spend promoting myself at comic book conventions into education and outreach instead. The strange circumstances of my life have shown me to be unusually resilient. Consequently, I feel a responsibility to do what I can to help others living through struggles similar to mine. I am one of the lucky ones.

Over the course of my life, my artistic abilities evolved to compensate for my struggles with other forms of communication. I believe my visual language can be a valuable tool for revealing the autistic experience to those who do not live it. I believe my work can help bridge the “double-empathy problem” to increase compassion for neurodivergent people and facilitate better relationships.

The JC B8MN Vision

I am excited to announce the relaunch of my commerce and websites.

My new logos are complete, and custom sketch card commissions have returned for Patreon subscribers. My TeePublic storefront has been reopened, and I will be continuing to upload new designs as they are completed. For simplicity’s sake, TeePublic is the only print-on-demand service I am using at this time.

I expect to reopen my Etsy shop within the next few weeks.

JC B8MN Circle Top Hat Logo

My art and photo galleries are in the process of being refreshed and rebuilt.

JC B8MN Triangle Eye Logo

Finally, Dan and I are preparing to start producing videos for my new YouTube channel. My new efforts will be sure to incorporate the most-enjoyed elements of my past work, while also being more consistent and timely. You can also expect to see the return of Trashy the Rat, since I consider him to be the first major creation of Jen Bateman. I love writing for, and performing, Trashy.

New Work

Of course, I know the most burning question on everyone’s mind must be: But Jen, what about the comics? My new webcomic, Behind the 8-Ball, is on schedule to launch publicly in mid-2023. Unlike my past efforts, this series is an ongoing, narrative autobiography designed for print as multiple books from the outset.

Behind the 8-Ball is a chronological account of my life story, focusing on how childhood abuse, undiagnosed ADHD and autism, and other notable events and relationships have affected me. It is not always an easy read, but I think it is an important one. It is the heart and soul of my overarching mission to increase acceptance and understanding for autistic and neurodivergent people.

To avoid my past production issues, I am building in multiple levels of buffers before public launch. Each step is far ahead of the next: outlines, scripts, rough drafts, and lastly, finished comics. I am still testing various techniques, but the final product will be 100% digital. Digital inking is faster and more forgiving.

Subscribers to my Patreon can read “work-in-progress” comic drafts now.

Be one of the first to read my new autobiography by becoming a Patreon subscriber!

Many, if not most, of the important and influential people in my life are actively involved in the creation of this work. Feedback from my Patreon subscribers and test readers has been overwhelmingly positive so far. I am glad to not only share my story, but to thank the people who have been there for me at critical times and — in some cases — may have unknowingly helped save my life.

I hope you will choose to support my new work and JC B8MN in 2023.

May you all have a peaceful, healthy, and Happy New Year.


The Dead Will Rise

Greetings, friends! Rumours of the demise of “Jin Wicked” have been greatly exaggerated! I am navigating a period of transformation and transition as I enter the next phase of my life. In many ways, I feel as if my real life is just beginning. I am upgrading my studio for the return of my sidekick Trashy, along with new blogs and videos. As a result, I am taking a step back from social media and writing. Temporary withdrawal is a necessary part of my creative process.

I am continuing to read and learn about autism following my diagnosis in late 2020. I am still exploring the ways in which it has effected and shaped my life. Specifically, I want to better understand my strengths and weaknesses.

Above all, I want to hone my skills and live up to my potential.

Here is a quick look at some of the new art, crafts, and photos I have been working on! To see all of my work-in-progress, including new illustrations, as well as access my commission and sketch card waitlists, please consider subscribing to my Patreon for as little as $1 per month. Patreon makes my work possible. Subscribers also have access to patrons-only personal and project updates.

“Jin Wicked,” Dan Bateman, and Ben Cooper

I am pleased to announce my personal and professional partnership with Dan Bateman, pictured below. He has his own incredible and inspiring story to tell. I am looking forward to introducing him to you through my work over time. Dan is a musician first and foremost. Because of this, he brings a new dimension to my ongoing multimedia projects. You can listen to several of his albums here.

My relationship with Dan has renewed my own sense of drive, inspiration, and purpose. We are exploring the ways in which our work can be combined and interwoven in the future. The possibilities feel endless!

"Weird Like Me" Cartoon Sketch of Jin Wicked and Dan Bateman

“There [they] [go]. [Two] of God’s own prototypes. [Two] high-powered mutants of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” – Hunter S. Thompson, sorta.

Dan Bateman and Jin Wicked near Union Depot in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

In addition to my partnership with Dan, I have been collaborating more with my good friend, and Twin Cities-based photographer, Ben Cooper. Ben’s work focuses primarily on Minnesota landscapes and landmarks. Some of his most well-known images are breathtaking, starry night skies over Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Although it is not his usual fare, Ben works with me to create portraits that capture my vision of atmosphere, personality, and fashion.

What is next?

Now, what does the future have in store for “Jin Wicked?”

In the coming months and years, I have planned for release at least one hardcover art and illustration picture book, new webcomic collections in print, a poetry book featuring my floral illustrations and photography, and possibly a cook book with my favourite cookie recipes! I also anticipate more experimentation with music, video, and time-lapse as I continue to test my own limits.

Sour Cream Pumpkin Bundt Cake

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"Letter from The Great Pumpkin" by Jin Wicked

"Eye of Providence Pumpkin Head" by Jin Wicked

"Unbroken" by Jin Wicked

I am full of replenished energy, and bursting with ideas!

Note: This post originally appeared on my previous blog at JinWicked.com. It has been republished here for archival and informational/reference purposes.