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Von Oech’s Four Roles of Creativity

ancient antique armor armour

Roger von Oech encourages people to adopt four roles to further their creativity: the explorer, artist, judge and warrior. These roles need to be applied in order and without interference from the other roles for the most part.

The explorer starts at the beginning. She gathers information, observes the world, asks questions and finds out what is needed and what there is. Exploring allows you to find the raw materials that you need for the next role. The more you explore, the more you learn, but don’t be caught as the explorer only. You’ve got to put all that information to use somehow.

The artist comes up with ideas. This is where brainstorming, and imagining what there could be, comes in handy. Come up with as many ideas as you can. When you have a lot of ideas, its time to call on the next role.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to keep the judge out of it up to this point, though some would argue that judging ideas as they occur makes them better. Whatever your view, how you deal with the judge is important because he may keep you from performing any work at all. The judge is important though for making sure that ideas are practical. So, let your judge be gentle with you and your ideas, but also know that some ideas may have to wait for later when they are feasible.

The warrior is invoked to fight internal and external enemies. Your warrior will need to be strong enough to fend off your own insecurities and anxieties while defeating those who would stymie your creative efforts. The warrior puts the work in every day and makes the idea a reality.

You’ll have to find the right timing for calling on each of these roles for you and your process, or maybe you need to develop your own metaphor. Whatever it takes, call on your inner guides to become more creative.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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The ABCs of Creativity: Question

child on shoreline

When you were young, you probably asked a lot of questions: Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from? Why do I have to eat broccoli? Why do bees buzz? Why? Why? But why?

And you were probably met with: Because I said so. Because they do. Because it is. I don’t know. Be quiet. Shut up. Children are best seen and not heard. Stop asking questions. Now is not the time…

It didn’t get better in school – a place you were supposed to be to learn things. Unfortunately, many of the things you were supposed to learn were what the teacher wanted to teach you or, if you were really unlucky, what was required by standardized testing and curriculum. There was a right answer, and it was whatever the teacher said it was. There was no room for deviation or questioning. The best pupils were quiet and accepted what they were told. Questions were unwelcomed because they took time away from the subject at hand and caused other students to question what they were learning, which caused confusion for the less inquisitive.

But ultimately, questioning is a good thing as long as the questions are asked with an honest intent to learn and understand. Questions like “How does a burr attach to clothes?” “How do I improve shoes for athletes?” and “Why isn’t there a place for adults and children to have fun?” have led to multi-billion-dollar companies. Questioning improves creativity through its ability to spark deeper thinking.

The question “Why?” is powerful, but you’ll still be met with resistance. “Why” is often seen as threatening and accusing. Many people will respond with “because it’s always been done that way.” “Why not?” can be just as powerful because it can free you to try something new.

With the Internet, you should be able to find out the answers to many questions, but that’s not enough for creativity. You must make sure the information is accurate and that you didn’t just accept it because of confirmation bias. Then you must assimilate the information and allow it to change your behavior and thoughts. Learning from your questions is only part of becoming more creative, but it’s an important part.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Read how the Internet affected Cathy Cooke’s creativity.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Practice

That’s all this stuff is… It’s just practice, you know, and you continue to practice.

Tim Perkins at Malta Comic Con 2015

You were creative once. School, authority figures, and a system that punishes mistakes and failures, while rarely rewarding those who create, beat it out of you – or rather, it beat the belief that you are creative out of you. But that’s where your ascendancy in creativity starts: Believe you are creative and start practicing. Creativity is a skill. Some people have more talent at it, but everyone can become more creative. All it takes is practice.

Practice your problem-solving skills, look for more than one solution, even if you find one that will work, go an extra two or three steps and find more ways to solve the same problem. The more solutions you come up with, the more likely you are to hit on one that will be better than the others. However, even if your first solution is the best, you’ll have explored other options and exercised your creative muscle.

Practice coming up with ideas. Keep the idea process flowing, track them, and make the ideas important. Then choose one to implement. While you’re implementing the idea, don’t stop coming up with new ideas. As long as you track them, they’ll be available when you finish implementing the first idea.

When you do implement that first idea, it won’t be great. It’s not supposed to be great. If this is your first foray into the realm of a creative endeavor, you will probably make mistakes, and the effort will probably fail. That’s okay. It’s like walking when you were a toddler. You probably fell hundreds of times; you’ve probably tripped and possibly fell recently. That didn’t stop you from getting up and going again.

Write every day. Draw every day. Do something creative every day. You will get better at it.

Of course, classes, mentorships and knowledge about your chosen area are essential to being more creative. If your new to physics, you’re not going to know enough to be creative in the field though you could be creative for yourself. Once you have a could base, it’s just practice, practice, practice, even if you’re Allen Iverson.

For more on creativity get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate: Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Penguinate Makes Epic Comic Convention Trek in just One Month!

Booth set up for Lilac City Comicon

It’s just one month until we board the train in Blagoveshchensk to head to Khabarovsk. From there we’ll fly through Seoul and Honolulu to touch down in Portland, OR as we make our way to Lilac City Comicon 2019. Before we get to Spokane though, we’ll make a stop in Independence, OR to get our supplies and make any last-minute preparations. (If you’d like to see what we did last year, check out our archives and videos.) At Lilac City Comicon, I’ll be presenting the sequel to “Disneyland Is Creativity” with the release of “The Haunted Mansions Is Creativity.” Come see my panel “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

From Lilac City Comicon, we’ll head toward Salt Lake City, with a short stop in Idaho to relax, for my author signing at City Cakes and Café on June 5. I can’t wait to see what they have for dinner, and I’m sure I’ll grab some great vegan pastries.

Ogden UnCon 2019 will be from June 7 to 9 in Ogden. The stars of “Black Sails” will be on hand as well as stars from “The Land of the Lost” – talk about retro! Drue M Scott is scheduled to be at our table, and we may have another special guest. On Sunday, I’m schedule to present “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity,” which will give attendees ideas for habits and activities they can do to become more creative.

When we leave Ogden, we’ll head over to Moab in the hopes of seeing Arches National Monument. After that little bit of relaxation (and celebrating Jenya’s birthday), we wind up the tour at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con 2019.

Of course, this travel schedule may seem epic, but it won’t truly be epic unless you show up. Come by and say “Hi!” If you can’t make it to one of our events but are in the area, let me know I’ll see of I can make it work to meet up. We have some time after Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con to set up other events if you have a lead on something in the west that’s inexpensive. For those who want signed books sent to them, just use the order form on this website and we’ll get them to you as soon as we arrive in the U.S.

If you want one of our books or penguins, preordering will ensure that you get what you want. Our supplies are limited, so click on the event links above and order what you’d like. We’ll have them ready for you at the event, and you won’t have to worry about us being sold out! Remember, everyone of our Patreon Penguinators gets a discount on items bought at our events. Join today at any level!

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Rod Serling’s Original “The Twilight Zone” a Relevant National Treasure

Rod Serling’s original “The Twilight Zone” is a timeless television show that continues to be relevant and thought-provoking. I have wanted to own the entire series for a very long time. With each trip to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in Disneyland, I looked at the collected series and its price, and decided I just couldn’t afford it. During one of my brainstorming sessions, I thought about adding Rod Serling and “the Twilight Zone” to my “… Is Creativity” series. That gave me the excuse to get the series on DVD, and I’m so glad I did.

I waited until recently to open the DVDs because I was working on “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (to be released June 1, 2019 at Lilac City Comicon 2019). Now that I’ve started watching them though, I’m so glad I bought them. “The Twilight Zone” is hands down one of the best written series I have ever watched. In 30 minutes, Rod Serling creates characters that you can engage with and stories that move you.

Nothing may ever come of my wanting to do something with Rod Serling, creativity and “the Twilight Zone,” but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the was a man who wrote such wonderful stories for the betterment of the world. I may never attain the stature of Serling, but I’m glad that I have been able to see the fruits of his labors.

For more on Rod Serling and his creativity, get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.”

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Wicked Comics Goes to the Movies and Every Comic Store Should Follow Suit

I have been to enough comic conventions to know that people who love comic books complain about the people who love the movies but don’t buy comic books. There’s a whole faction of geeks who love every issue of their favorite comic and consider someone who only knows the character from the movies and abomination.

Comic stores say they haven’t noticed an uptick in individuals coming into their store because of the film. For them, there just is no crossover. Perhaps, that’s because the comic stores need to take more initiative. Call it “The Avengers Initiative.”

A majority of movie-goers don’t go to comic stores. They probably don’t even know where the comic stores are. The simplest way for a comic store to attempt to harness the movie-goers who love the movies is to pay for an ad before the movie. Most movie theaters offer the opportunity to be in a slide show before the trailers. This offers an easy and less expensive way to get the word out about the shop, and placed before a “comic book” movie, it hits the target audience right where they live.

If the comic store can afford it, a comic store trailer, shot in high-def, should be appropriate for the movie screen. A trailer will even reach more people in their seats. Still, this isn’t the most effective way to reach people because most movie goers probably don’t have a reason to go to the store.

Setting up a booth with items themed to the film is the single best way to provide movie-goers an opportunity to find out about the comics. Any comic store that has also participated in a comic convention should already have the tools available to create a booth. By targeting the movie(s) in the theater at the time, a comic store can create an impulse buy and point of contact for new fans. Include a business card with every purchase, and you’re all set for getting new people involved in comics fandom.

It won’t be that easy. “Avengers: Endgame” openings promise to be chaotic. Imagine Free Comic Book Day without the giveaways. That also means more opportunities to generate revenue from the event.

National chain theaters may be less willing to give up lobby space for a booth. Of course, DC and Marvel could step in because it would be good for their comic sales and their movies. The theaters could see a rise in movie goers if the comic store is able to bring their patrons to the movie. Theaters also get the good will of comics fans and the advertisement that comes with the promotion of the event. A local theater may be more willing to partner with a local comic shop, and both could benefit from the exposure.

Most shops are run by one or two dedicated people. Having to give up a weekend, move everything, set up and take down is already a lot of stress. The change in routine, in addition to the increase in dealing with people who may not know what they want, can also be daunting, especially when there may not be any return. The keys to a successful theater run for a comic store setup is a willingness to get out of the comfort zone and a desire to improve sales at the store. Even if there aren’t any sales at the theater, the chance to meet people who love films can be worthwhile in and of itself.

Wicked Comics in Malta has partnered with Eden Cinemas for the opening weekend of “Avengers: Endgame” for Comic Fest. They will have booths, cosplayers, retro-gaming, performances, local artists’ booths and comics. It looks like they’ve organized a mini-comic convention to celebrate “Avengers: Endgame.” Wicked Comics organizes the annual Malta Comic Con, so they have a head start on any comic store that may not have organized events outside the store before.

Private showings are already sponsored by larger comic conventions like Salt Lake’s Fan X’ “Avengers: Endgame” screening. They could add a comic store component to the screening, giving people more opportunity to purchase from local businesses.

It may be too late for comic stores to partner with movie theaters for “Avengers: Endgame,” but it can be something to keep in mind for the next big movie. Of course, it doesn’t have to be applied to just Marvel movies. Disney’s “Frozen 2” and DC’s next film could also make for good opportunities to partner with a local movie theater.

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The Secrets of Creativity: Play (and the Haunted Mansion)

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

When Walt Disney assigned Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump to the Haunted Mansion, he gave them time and space to play. Gracey and Crump were assigned to come up with ideas and effects for the Disneyland attraction. They would come into the studio and work on whatever they felt like. As Marty Sklar put it in the forward to Jason Surrell’s “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” “Yale and Rolly Crump, especially, were free to experiment, to try out their wildest haunting ideas… to ‘play ghost’ if you will.”

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‘Domovoi’ Movie Brings Legend to Life

Domovoi are the house elves of Russia. They live in the home, and as long as the people in that home are peaceful and respectful, Domovoi will help the family. If they are unhappy, Domovoi can become mischievous, petulant and violent. Most Russians cherish their Domovoi and will invite the house elf to come with them to a new home when they move. If the Domovoi is abandoned, it can spell trouble for the next family.

In “Domovoi” (2019), this all gets explained, which makes the film a good place to jump into Russian fairy lore. A mom and her daughter find the perfect place to live, and it’s sold to them by an unscrupulous real estate agent, who has made use of the angry Domovoi to resell the same property over and over.

Slapstick comedy ensues as the Domovoi fights against the mother and the cat for dominion over the house. Only the daughter offers a voice of reason, which goes unheeded by the mother, but softens the heart of the Domovoi. The strange characters in the film and its effects create a nice fantasy world for “Domovoi” with enough Russian culture to put this out of your ordinary world experience (if you’re not one of my regular Russian readers; though those familiar with Germany and Austria will recognize the Domovoi as akin to wichteln, and Britain has house elves.)

Explore the dual nature of fairies (something Lilac City Comic Con alum Ty Hulse talks about in his book “A Writer’s Guide to Fairies, Witches, and Vampires from Fairy Tales and Lore”) and see one story about the mythical creatures who inspired “Penguins in the Pipes.”

Watching foreign films is a good way to improve your creativity, especially when they are fun. Let “Domovoi” help you gain a new perspective, spark new ideas, and replenish your creative well.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Open

Open to new experiences

If you want to be more creative, you have to be open. You have to open yourself up to new experiences, new ideas and remain open minded. People are naturally closed. They want to confirm their beliefs and be comfortable, which is counter to creativity. Creativity challenges. Creativity is uncomfortable. Creativity is scary because it leads to change, and no one can really predict where the innovation will take people.

Open to New Experiences

New experiences are the basis of new ideas. Having the same experiences day and day out only leads you to becoming an expert in whatever your experiencing or becoming extremely dull depending on the experience. At some point, you need to step out of your everyday activities and work on something different. It can be as simple as putting together a puzzle or as complicated as taking a zip line in a foreign country where safety rules might be more like suggestions. Even something small like changing the route you take to work is good for your brain.

Open to New Ideas

If you continue to cart around the same ideas day after day, your mind will become stale like a cart full of bread. Your thought processes will mold, and you’ll be faced with the prospect of not being able to feed your mind. New ideas are worth entertaining, they’re worth looking at, and they’re worth evaluating. You may have to discard ideas that don’t work. You may have to discard ideas that you can’t accomplish. You may have to discard ideas because you’re not ready for them, but where you need to discard them to is a journal. Capture all of your ideas by writing them down, and then have new ones.

Open Minded

New experiences and new ideas won’t matter, however, if you go in having already made your judgement about them. You have to have an open mind to the experience and to the idea in order for it to be able to grow. If you shut it down to soon, it’ll shrivel up, dry out and leave no lasting mark on you. That’s not good for creativity. Open yourself up to the experience, to the new idea and let your creative self flourish.

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life

In the Nostalgia Critic’s tribute video to Roger Ebert, the Nostalgia Critic unpacks a lot of wisdom and lays it out for the viewer. What he sees in Roger Ebert is amazing, and what the Nostalgia Critic sees should be what we all strive to be.

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