Zubby Newsletter #45: Get ‘Er Done

The above flowchart meme has been floating around and a lot of people empathize with it for good reason. It encompasses a common unhealthy cycle that creative people can get pulled into.

If something is a hobby or just experimentation, have fun exploring things without finishing them. Seriously– no worries or guilt required.

If you intend to make a career out of something – finishing is crucial.

Finishing things, releasing them out into the world, evaluating the results (of both the work and release), learning from it, and then doing more is the loop you need to look for. No one is perfect and there are times when you need to cut your losses and move on from a project, but wherever possible you want to complete the work to get the most from it.

I completely understand jokes about avoiding that step, and I’ve absolutely been there, but don’t let memes dictate your end result.

If you consistently struggle with completing the work, you may be starting too big. Make the scope smaller so you can see it through, and build up momentum for larger-longer projects.

At the start-
Short stories instead of novels.
Focused studies instead of large rendered images.

If it’s a collaboration with other people, this also gives you the chance to finish something together and evaluate how that worked – quality, communication, etc. It’s the equivalent of a couple dates before a long committed relationship.

If I want to be a marathon runner, I don’t buy running shoes and then immediately try to go 5km. People usually understand this when it comes to physical training, but rarely frame other skills, especially creative ones, in the same way.

Start small, build the habit and results, and then push forward with more ambition.

Sometimes the small thing becomes a ‘proof of concept’ for a bigger project. Other times you realize you just needed to get the small one out of your system and its fine on its own. Either way, you will benefit from a better creation cycle.

Transcribing The Process

That exact subject, building things and finishing them, is a big part of a discussion I had with Kieron Gillen a couple years ago. In the midst of lockdown I reached out to several comic professionals and chatted with them about their work and influences, and then posted those interviews to my YouTube channel along with other comic writing tutorials. The talk I had with Kieron is one of my favorites, but there’s always been a barrier for people when watching it – Between Kieron’s accent and the speed at which he talks, it can be dizzying at times trying to keep up.

Good news – over the past few weeks I painstakingly went through the auto-generated transcript for that video on YouTube and overhauled it so every comic, gaming or philosophy reference Kieron brings up is now clear in the closed captions.

We cover a LOT – the do-it-yourself culture of indie comics, getting started, the stresses of working on commercial properties, British comics, superhero books, the magic of tabletop RPGs, and I include samples of Kieron’s indie work no longer available and excerpts from some of his creator-owned comic scripts so you can see how he writes.

If you have some time, I highly recommend you give it a watch and, if Kieron’s going too fast, turn on the closed captions and enjoy-

The Ancestors’ Blessing

Over on my Patreon, I just posted the full script to Conan the Barbarian #21 (legacy #296), released in 2021. Part 3 of Land of the Lotus is jam-packed with action and supernatural fury, including this-

Learn how comics are made for the price of a coffee. There are over 300 scripts in my Patreon archive.

Ukrainian Comfort Food

In past newsletters I’ve included a few of my recipes. Click here and scroll down for –
Grandma’s Pierogies, Japanese Chicken Karaage, or Garlic Lemon Pasta with Salmon.

This time-

Cabbage Rolls (Holubtsi)

Over the weekend I went on a Ukrainian comfort food cooking binge. On Saturday, we made a huge batch of cheesy potato pierogis, and on Sunday, for the first time, I made cabbage rolls and they turned out really good! My pierogi recipe is pretty strict to my grandma’s method, while here on the cabbage rolls I went a bit rogue and amalgamated some techniques I saw in a few cooking videos into the mix.

Ingredients (14-16 rolls)

• 1 cabbage (Napa cabbage works really well, but any is fine)
• 3/4 lb. ground beef
• 1/4 lb. ground pork (or pork loin cut into tiny pieces)
• 1 and a half cups of white rice
• 3 cups of pureed tomatoes/tomato sauce
• Half a large white onion
• 3 cloves of garlic
• olive oil/butter
• spices: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, paprika

1. Cook up a batch of rice and let it mostly cool off.
2. While that rice is cooking, chop up the half onion into a small dice and mince the garlic.
3. Sauté the onion in olive oil or butter in a non-stick pan for 4 minutes, then add the minced garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
4. If you’re using Napa cabbage, carefully peel off 16-18 outer leaves and blanch them in a pot of simmering water for 10 minutes. If you’re using regular cabbage, you’ll need to carefully cut the root-core out and dunk the cabbage top-down in a pot of boiling water and cover the top, simmering it for 10-12 minutes.
5. While the cabbage is steaming, mix together your cooked onion and garlic with the raw ground meat, cooked rice, a 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, and spices galore – pepper, salt, basil, oregano, thyme, paprika, and a big swack of chopped up parsley. If you’re worried about your ability to measure the filling equally, portion them out into mounds based on how many cabbage rolls you want to make.
6. Carefully pull the cabbage leaves from the water and shake off excess water. If it’s a regular cabbage, you’ll need to carefully peel the leaves off at this stage.
7. Pre-heat your oven to 350° F.
8. In a 9″ x 12″ baking dish (or any casserole dish/oven safe dish), ladle in 1/4 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom.
9. Lay a leaf out, add a mound of filling about 1/3 of the way into the cabbage leaf, then tuck in the sides and roll it toward the 2/3 section, like a very small burrito. For me, this is where the Napa cabbage leaves prove their worth because their long shape makes rolling very easy. Place that roll in your casserole dish and, as you finish each one, tuck it in next to the others until your dish is packed.
10. Ladle the rest of the tomato sauce over the assembled rolls.
11. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place it on a baking sheet (just in case it bubbles over) and then place it all in the 350° F oven.
12. Bake for 90 minutes.
13. Pull your baking dish out of the oven, remove foil, and let stand for 5 minutes or so before scooping each roll out and serving!

Leftovers can be wrapped in aluminum foil and frozen, so you can just pop the foil back in the oven to reheat and enjoy again.

Current + Upcoming Releases

Links and Other Stuff

• Colleen Doran continues to post all kinds of incredible advice in her newsletter, most of it framed through her experiences in the comic industry over decades of hard work. Her recent ones about the perils of fame and people’s assumptions are top notch.

• Samwise pointed me toward The Cybrarian, a YouTube channel with dramatic readings of pulp stories by Robert E. Howard. I’ve only had time to listen to a couple so far, and they were quite sharp.

Have a wonderful week,

  1. Your cabbage roll recipe is almost the same as my moms. (No garlic in hers.)
    Good food for sure.

    Do you know if your Fortune finder series will be issued in a collected edition?
    Can’t get any of them on Amazon Japan. 🙁

  2. Great news!

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