Motherhood: Being Who You Can

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


By Heather Amos

Motherhood. I was a single Mom for 5 years. I was a young mom having my first child at the age of 19. Currently I wear the badge of stepmother as well. I suppose I have covered lots of Mom roles over the course of years.

Being a mother is absolutely not definable. Is that even a word? It is a medley of poems linked together in no particular order, all the while sounding lovely. It is bearing the life of another and always putting that life before yours.

It is not enchanting, this role, but it is magnificent.

The Amos Kids

As a mother you are expected to sow and sow, some screams and prayers included, and hope that eventually you will see the fruit develop from your child or children.

In some cases, we aren’t afforded that. Death, addictions and other choices trump those words we spoke years before. If we are granted the awesomeness of watching them flourish…wow. I would say what an honor.

Personally, I am thankful to my 18-year old daughter. She pulled open a tab in my life folder that I never even knew existed. She made me better. Not like the lame love songs, like for real, legit, agape love.

She sparked within me the challenge to show her what life was all about. Dreams? Goals? Early on, I was only able to show her what hard work was, as I put myself through night school and worked full time during the day. I think maybe she sees now, I did it for more than myself. Did I fail her on the regular. of course. But, I would like to cling to the hope that maybe some scraps of my nagging and preaching made their way onto her plate.

Now I am a stepmother also. I see that motherhood yet again requires adaptability to be who someone else “needs”. I do not fill the role or have to be the dream shaper or disciplinarian (even though I nag enough for both), but what I am assigned to be is an encourager.

In any form of mother-hood you are addressing, you will find that you are hated, and not validated at all.

This can be even more clear in the step parent role, but I have learned over the years that you have to remember who you “can” be for them, and not who they wish you were.

Heavy stuff, huh.

My youngest son is medically fragile. He has spiced up my mask changing exceptionally. The constant awareness of mortality and 24/7 care, not really required to that intensity of the others, brings forth even more new victories with each battle.

I know that some women refuse to be defined as anything specific, as not to change or challenge their individuality or accomplishments, and I agree for the most part.

However, I know, KNOW, that I have been a better woman, friend, daughter, spouse etc., because God made me a Mother.

In every capacity and all that it is. This position is highly valued, coveted and favored. So don’t down play the excellence therein.

I wish all of you others out there a blessed day to celebrate to hard times, the good times, the in-between times and just be in awe for a few seconds before someone yells and needs something to examine the fact that you brought forth life my dear.

How awesome.


A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Heather holds an associate degree in science. The mother of two special-needs children, she has eight years of experience in complex home care and is the veteran of seventeen years of special-needs care. She was motivated to collate the stories in I’m Not “OK” to benefit others in her situation, using her experiences to foster a strong and powerful community of caregiving parents.

Surf’s Up: The Ebbs and Flows of Motherhood

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


by: Le’Shae Robinson

“Your son doesn’t live with you?” is a question I’m often asked and I can see and hear the judgment when it comes up. No, my son doesn’t live with me. He lives with his father. No, I’m not a drug addict. I’ve had the same car for years now. I’ve had my current address for over a year. I have a BA in Communication. I have kept a 9-5 professional job since 2013. I freelance and help small business owners occasionally. Nothing is wrong with me.

My son lives with his father. It’s a really long story but basically my son’s father and I are no longer together for a number of reasons so we are working to learn how to co-parent while creating some form of stability for our child, hence the reason why he lives with his father.

Parenthood doesn’t come with a manual and I really wish it did.

Le’Shae & son Andre

It’s been trial and error for me. My son is only two years old but these two years have flown by and I have grown so much. I love being a mom. My son brings joy to my life. He is smart, funny, curious, caring, a natural born leader, loves to eat, sings all the time, and so much more. That’s what I know for sure today.

However, that wasn’t the case the first three months of his life. He couldn’t talk so he cried for things he needed. Sometimes the crying stopped soon if I could figure out what he needed. Sometimes there was nothing I could do to make him stop crying and so I would cry too. I felt defeated, sleep deprived, and sometimes depressed.

I breast fed him and felt so much pressure about making sure he had enough milk just from the time he was born until I stopped. I remember the lactation nurse coming in my room at the hospital and aggressively talking to me about how I might have to switch to bottles because my son was losing weight. My son was only a few days old! To add to that, I lived in a city with no family. My mom and I were disagreeing about things so we also weren’t speaking. It was really the perfect storm to put a damper on other things in my life and that’s exactly what happened.

So at the start of the new year, I moved out on my own. We made the agreement that I would get my son on the weekends. It was heartbreaking not to see my son everyday. It still is. It was difficult in other ways too. I live on the third floor and there isn’t an elevator so when I do have my son with me I have to lug him and whatever other bags we have up those stairs. They live 45 minutes from me and often I have to drive there to get him. It’s a far ride, completely out of the way, and it is a good bit of gas. I don’t have the relationship with his daycare teachers that I would like. I don’t get to spend every holiday with him anymore because we share every other holiday.

Sometimes I worry about what kind of meals his father makes him. Is it full of nutrition? Are there enough fruits and veggies in his diet? I have a lot of fears and worries about not seeing my son everyday like I used to. However, it it through the ways that I have learned to take better care of myself that I have become a better mom to him.

This isn’t a Tyler Perry film but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had to get in touch with God again. I don’t actively go to church anymore but I have a much stronger relationship with God then when I left that house. I lost a lot of friends after leaving. Some of my family members judged me. I felt alone and I was so it was really easy to just start talking to God openly about things.

I started changing how I talked to myself. I cut off statements of “I’m poor” or “I’m so fat”. I’ve replaced negative statements with “You’re worthy”, “you’re that chick today!”, “you have all the resources you need”, “can’t stop, won’t stop”, “today’s a good day to have a good day” and many other positive mantras.

In turn, when I started saying the opposite I started making the real changes to manifest the new positive things I was telling myself. I got a personal trainer who is awesome! She would pump me up in the gym. She would text me positive things. I started following her fitness group online where there was more positivity. Then in turn, I started losing weight. I started purposely choosing new friends who were positive. I started going out to public events that promoted positive messages. I even started a new business!  

While these are all good results, it’s come with a lot of personal growth. For example, I overcame anxiety and negotiated a higher salary. I’ve had to professionally confront people on rumors that weren’t true in order to protect my reputation. I’ve had to barter services with people. I have completed and pushed projects and ideas that were near and dear to my heart that didn’t get the results that I wanted.

I’ve survived two months with no job. I’ve even had to let some friends go. All of these things were difficult for me to do. However, it is through a closer relationship with God, supportive family and friends,  and daily positive affirmations that I have had pushed through these tough situations.

I use these same tactics when it comes to parenting my son now. I pray to God to heal my son when he’s sick and there’s nothing I can do for him. I make time with my son intentional by making sure we are surrounded by positive family and friends who support us.

If I get overwhelmed, I repeat positive affirmations over and over.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned through being a mom. The greatest one is that in order to better serve your children (or anyone) you have to take care of yourself first so that you can develop mental endurance. Life will still continue to happen so how will you ride the wave?


Le’Shae is a mom, author, market strategist and business owner of Hair to Door online wig subscription service.

Follow Hair To Door on Instagram.

Life, changes.

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


By Celeste | @parentingandheels

As I was listening to “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett, I was thinking about how relevant it was to my life. When Shawn and I got married we had this idea about how life would go. Well we all know life never goes the way we plan……

Over 8 years ago I began my journey in motherhood without even realizing it.

At the time we were traveling to Aruba and Las Vegas and here and there having a good time as husband and wife. One day (I can’t even remember how we found out about this) we decided to travel ten hours to Wilmington, NC. There was a promotion for a free stay and dinner if you booked an appointment to see a residential development they were building. We thought why not?!! It’s free and who knows maybe we will buy a house there! If you’re not familiar with Wilmington it’s a beautiful historic town built on the Cape Fear River and next door to Wrightsville Beach. Well we absolutely fell in love with this little town and when we returned home we decided to sell our first home and move to the beach!!!

Well like I said before, life changes! Not two weeks after we sold our home and was packing up, I found out I was pregnant. Keep in mind that we were moving on a whim. That meant we were quitting our jobs and just moving! Obviously I couldn’t just quit my job being pregnant; we needed to keep our insurance. Besides the fact that my mom would kill me if I moved far away with her grandchild! We made the responsible decision to stay and look for a home here. We ended up moving two houses down from our old house. Our neighbors must have thought we were nuts!!! They were kind of right.

We were bummed about not living by the beach but we were excited about this new adventure!! We were thrilled when Audrey was born and loved her more than the beach (that’s right; I said it!).

It was about two weeks in when the realities of parenthood hit us hard. She had colic, and I’m not talking that one hour a night of crying. If she was awake, she was crying. She took three 30 minute naps a day. You can do the math. She cried ALL the time. She also went through a 6 week period when she woke every hour on the hour throughout the night. We were utterly exhausted. I obviously still loved her, but I needed a break!! We both did!!
Luckily she eventually grew out of her colic and is the BEST kid now! She’s so responsible, so sweet and compassionate. But, we decided NO MORE kids!!! We just couldn’t do the “baby thing” again.

The picture above is the vacation we took in 2017. We took Audrey to swim with the dolphins, took a sunset dolphin cruise and had the best time!!! It was the first vacation we had been on that we could actually relax because she was older and more self sufficient. It was AMAZING!!! I remember watching families with young children thinking “Shew, I’m glad we’re done with that stage!” Little did I know, I was pregnant with Brooklyn at the time. Talk about life changing!!! I had no idea what we were about to be hit with when we got home.

Celeste & daughter Audrey

It wasn’t until three days after we got back that I found out. I was going on Audrey’s school field trip as a chaperone to the orchard but that morning I woke up SO sick!! I could barely get dressed and I had to monitor 24 kids that day!

I pulled myself together and made it there (barely). A friend of mine was there chaperoning another class. She said, “You look awful. Are you ok?” I told her how sick I was. She said, “Are you pregnant?!” Umm no! Don’t be ridiculous!!! I’m almost 40 years old! No way, no how!! The whole day she kept asking me if I was ok and trying to persuade me to take a pregnancy test. I think I finally agreed when I dry heaved on one of the kids!

TRUE STORY! Later that afternoon she bought a test for me and dropped it off. It was like a scene from a bad 80’s movie…taking a pregnancy test and keeping it under wraps.

Our lives changed forever that afternoon. The lines on that test couldn’t have been clearer. I remember texting Shawn a picture of the test at work. Yeah I know. I could’ve been much more eloquent about it, but I was in total shock!! He called me and said, “Soooo….how do you feel?” I said, “I feel better now that I’ve had some crackers and ginger ale.” He said, “No I mean…how do you FEEL??” Well I was scared and shocked, but I knew God had a plan and I had to trust that. My whole pregnancy I was a nervous wreck. I thought, “There is no way I can do this again! I’m completely starting over and I’m almost 40 years old!! What am I going to do?!” We had even given away EVERYTHING! We had to buy all new baby stuff. We were literally starting from scratch.

Now we have two beautiful little girls (7 years apart) and wouldn’t trade it for the world!!! Side note: Brooklyn was such an easy baby compared to Audrey. We had a lot of people praying she would be much calmer and it definitely worked!!

Now we‘re not living our dream of spending days by the ocean but we’re living a dream we didn’t know we wanted until we had it!!!

I couldn’t imagine my life without my two girls and my husband. Days are hard sometimes, but it’s all worth having those big smiles in my small little world. Life definitely changes, but sometimes those changes are bigger than us and exactly what we need!!!


Photo by @momentscapturedbyhannah

Hi!! I’m Celeste, a KY blogger, wife and mom of two girls who are 11 months and 7 years. That’s right! I’m starting over in the baby world.

 I am about creating balance between self and family. My passions are my family of course, fashion and food. 

I have been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years with my two girls. I am both in the school age world and the baby world. 

 I love to share what I have learned on this journey called motherhood! I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, but I love talking about my experiences over the past 7 years as a mom!!

Moms need other moms to support each other and that’s why I love what I’m doing!!

Life beyond our prisons: A mothers story

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood. 


By Joy Bolton Berry

My name is Joy … And I’m the mother of three adult children ages 29, 27 and 23. My oldest son was convicted of a horrible crime and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Chase my first beautiful son has battled mental and intellectual issues primarily all of his life. He was also much larger than most kids his age and was a victim of bullying. He lost his father unexpectedly before he finished high school.

Joy Bolton-Berry

After two knee surgeries within two years it was no longer eligible to play basketball and became depressed and lost. This was a connection to kids that accepted and looked out for him. He was now forced to find another peer group to do the same. This peer group was kids that turned to drugs to soften the blow of life.

The background information is not for sympathy but a brief synopsis into the life of a good human being dealing with difficulties and ultimately making choices that impacted not only himself but his entire family.

For the past 14 years… I have attended court proceedings, talked with psychiatrist, made multiple calls to attorneys, made weekly jail visits (some entailed a three hour round-trip drive), accepted weekly phone calls, deposited money in jail account, and updated family members with pertinent information for 14 years!!!!

I dealt with sadness, anger, depression and most of all guilt. I was constantly thinking that I must have hurt Chase so badly that I caused him to behave so recklessly. Where did I fail at being a good mother? I felt so much pain for so many years. I was angry at everyone. No one is fighting for Chase but me.

I was tired. Change arrived in the form of a divorce, discovering self-love, and most importantly… my new relationship and faith in God. Anger, anxiety, exhaustion, fear, frustrated and was given over to God. I began to see my life outside of my sons incarceration.

I have fought so long for my son that I forgot to fight for myself.

Joy Bolton-Berry

There’s so much more to discuss as it pertains to intellectual disabilities and incarcerated persons, mental health care in prison facilities, delayed and nonexistent services for individuals reentering society, predatory phone in prison services, etc. you simply cannot fight everything and everyone alone. And I cannot dissect every moment of my life to try to figure out how things could be different.

What I’ve learned is to find balance. You have to find the joy in every circumstance. I hear the joy in my sons voice, laugh and smile. I will not feel guilty as I experience joy in my own life.

There’s so much to experience that I can give to chase, to uplift and motivate him. He is excited for me in spite of the circumstance. I could be excited for him as well.

Chase will be eligible for parole soon. I pray for his opportunity to make a better life for himself. He wants me to be proud. He talks about photography, animals and having a family.

Incarceration has damaged my family but there is still joy in the aftermath.

For that I am thankful.


Joy is the co-host of local show “The Joys and Lowes of Relationships” on Lexington Community Radio on WLXU 93.1FM and local columnist for The Lextropolis.

She is a vocal advocate for families affected by incarceration, neglect and abuse and a fierce community leader among women of color.

No Milestone Left Uncelebrated: A Note on Being an Autism Mom

Octane is built on authentic communities and founded on acts of selfless service. Mothers of May is a month long celebration of moms from all aspects of life. By hosting a space for ‘each one teach one’ women share their own unique perspectives and lessons of motherhood.


By Cicely N. Carter

When I was first thrust into the realm of special needs parenting, I feel like many of the articles I was able to find about being a special needs parent or Autism mom specifically we’re a little bit gloom and doom. Of course they spoke to hope and how the diagnosis is not the end of the world, but I didn’t find too many people who were truly celebratory. They celebrated their children of course, but no one truly took hold of the special needs parent title and embraced it. I now realize it may have been because at the root of it all, we are all still moms. No less than other moms, just different.

We are now almost 7 years into Liam’s diagnosis and I will say that the challenges we face today and the hope I feel for Liam’s future are a stark contrast to how we started out. I did not know what Autism really was at the time, but I do remember feeling very sad and grieving for the normal life I thought he would never have. Here he is turning 10 later this year and living his best life. Of course he and we have faced struggles and obstacles, but from some of the things I heard along our journey, the outlook wasn’t very good.

I remember when he was about 3 and ½ years old and we went to a meeting about SSI because as a single parent who worked and was in school, I still needed additional income to help pay for daycare and to meet our daily needs. As a part of the SSI application process, they send you to a third-party agency to do a psychological evaluation. Much of Autism diagnoses and evaluations are done simply by observation. The woman who gave him the third-party diagnosis, also told me that he almost certainly had ADHD and I should probably get that checked on and get him medicated for that as well.  I remember seething internally and believing that there was some sort of racial or cultural bias because all the things I had read and observed from him at that point said nothing about ADHD. I ignored what she had to say and at 9 years old, there is still no ADHD diagnosis and Liam is not on any medications.

Cicely + Liam

Being Liam’s mom has made me grow and expand into roles I never knew I would take on. I have become Liam’s number one advocate. If I don’t believe something is pertinent to him or relevant for the challenges he faces, I speak up and say something. Although he is the one experiencing Autism and I am the one on the outside looking in, I have to use both my mom intuition and my knowledge of my child to make the most informed decision that I can about his life. Turning into an advocate has also given me strength and confidence in myself and in other areas.

While so often the focus on the struggle of Autism parenting, there is so much joy that Liam experiences in his life and joy that he brings to mine.

Due in part to Autism and to heredity, Liam speaks his mind and holds nothing back. He has said some things that have put me in slightly awkward situations, but it’s really nothing that I haven’t been able to laugh off and get over. Liam took his first international trip at 6 to the Bahamas and I’m not even sure he had one meltdown that entire trip. That was such huge progress for him. He got on a plane, we stayed at an Airbnb and then we boarded a huge cruise ship. Everything except the plane ride was completely new to him. He scaled that obstacle without a hitch.

There was the time a year and a half ago that Liam decided to play basketball for the first time. Although he complained about going to practice, he got better at dribbling and shooting and towards the end was finally engaged in the game. He decided not to continue his future NBA career, but I applaud him for trying because it was his first time doing a team sport and I know it caused him a lot of anxiety.

If being an Autism mom has done nothing else for me, it has made me appreciate and celebrate every milestone no matter how small.

Every single time Liam shows progression and overcomes an obstacle, I am his biggest cheerleader. I want him to know that there is cause to celebrate every triumph. I have experienced this life with him right by his side. I can’t be everywhere, I can’t know everything and I can’t ever see thing through his eyes, but I can be the support he needs. If that’s all I was ever meant to do on this Earth, I am more than happy that I was divinely chosen as his mom.


ABOUT CICELY

Cicely is a mom, a graduating nurse student, MUA and blogger behind @bougiebeautybabe. When not the co-host of the #MoreThanGraphics podcast Cicely is raising curiosity and exploration within her beloved son Liam. Follow her on Instagram.

Six Bomb Boards Feature: Bryce Oquaye

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the SIX BOMB BOARDS LIVEART CON AT MOVIE TAVERN APRIL 27, 2019 FROM NOON TO 8PM.


Your name: 
Bryce Oquaye

Where do you live: 
I’m originally from Queens, NY but I also went to high school in Richmond, KY

Your current / past project(s):
Some comics I worked on are Herman has Superpowers for the Webcomic Factory, BRAWL! which I self published, Wardens Watch, and I have a upcoming comic for the summer called Kaiju Killer Dante

I’ve worked on Marvel cards for Upper Deck and I’ve done design work for companies like ZOX.

Website for readers to find out more about you:
Instagram:@bmad100s
Twitter: @mrmad100s
Website: bryceoquayeart.com

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Pretty young actually. I remember reading Spiderman and Appleseed as a kid and thinking that I wanted to tell stories too. I don’t think I actually took the steps to really learning how to do it until I was a bit older, but I always had the goal in mind.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

I think the biggest influence on me is my mother. She worked really hard and showed me what hustle can do for a person that refuses to quit. I can’t say that I’ve seen anyone work the way she does. That’s why I don’t mind to lose sleep!

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Wow, this is a tough one! I’d say my biggest influences as an illustrator have been Lesean Thomas (Boondocks, Cannonbusters) and cats like Joe Mad and Damian Scott. Lesean Thomas’s journey has been really dope to see over the years. I’ve always leaned towards more stylized and animation inspired work, so seeing cats like them beast out inspires me to go nuts!

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Read new comics, check out new and some of my favorite artists, play video games, and run around with my kids. They always have the best stories to tell!

Describe your typical work routine.

I have to have music! I queue up my playlists and start to sketch random whatevers for a while. Then, I usually pick a task and start to zoom in on that. I like to start with more conceptual things like storyboards and designs and then I move on to doing more finished work and line art after I’ve warmed up. In the end, I usually eat some snacks and celebrate my artistic victory by Milly Rockin over my drafting table.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

I used to work only digitally, but then when I became more comfortable as an artist I started to lean into more traditional work. Now, I have a mix of both depending on the gig. Digitally I use Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop for cleaning line art and coloring. I like to do my line art traditionally.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

When I can look at the finished product and see where all the time went!

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

When I finished the mural for Atomic Ramen. The responses and reactions to it made me really proud. It really pushed me forward as a creator.

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Keep doing what you do. Make what you want and do it however you want to. Your audience will find you.

– Justin Stewart. Six Bomb Boards Founder / Comic Artist

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

That no one can box you in or keep you from doing anything you want to accomplish. I’ve heard a lot of people tell me over the years that what I do or aspire towards wasn’t for me. It’s because there weren’t many people that looked like myself in the conversations, and that’s both creatively and in the materials themselves.

Over time I learned that no one can tell me what I can’t do. If you push forward through whatever difficulties come up, you can do what you want.

Don’t quit when things get difficult and learn from your mistakes, but NEVER let anyone or anything dictate what you want to do.

Six Bomb Boards Feature: Will Hensley

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the SIX BOMB BOARDS LIVEART CON AT MOVIE TAVERN APRIL 27, 2019 FROM NOON TO 8PM.


Your name: Will Hensley

Your published credits:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7NbMiQ6gNo&t=2s

Where do you live:
Lexington, KY

Your current project(s):
I’ve got a couple of ideas brewing but nothing is quite announcement ready yet. Stay tuned though, I’m 99.9% certain there’s another Will project involving robots, monsters and possibly sentient food heading down the creativity pipe.

Website for readers to find out more about you:
Instagram: @willhnsy

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Well, It’s not something I really decided to have a career in, as much as it is a hobby I dabble in. As far as WHEN I decided to dabble, it dates back to about 2007ish when I would make very very simple one page comics using only mechanical pencil and SUPER rough sketches. They were really dumb and fun, but and I always had fun making them.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

I suppose my biggest influence outside of comics would be my buddy Josh. He’s constantly pushing me to do better and is always teaching me new tips and tricks to improve my artwork. Whether he realizes it or not he often gives pretty great sage-like advice too.

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

I don’t know that I have just ONE biggest influence, but rather a myriad of creators and artists I often strive to imitate and reference in my personal work as often as possible. Here’s a shortlist though for those who are curious: Matt Groening, Osamu Tezuka, Ralph Bakshi, Jhonen Vasquez, and Ray Harryhausen. All of them have influenced my drawing style or even just the way I view things from a creative standpoint in some capacity.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I like to re-watch or re-read something I really love in order to get ideas or even just analyze what it is that I love about it and see if I can plug that into my own work at all.

Describe your typical work routine.

My typical “art time” setup involves playing podcasts over a bluetooth speaker and making sure I have a Batman mug full of something caffeinated. Then I’ll make a pile of all the pens and markers I plan to use on a little side table next to my drafting table. Usually I’ll have a sheet of paper or a big piece of mat board or whatever all ready to go.

Once I have all of that stuff one of 2 things happens: I either mess around and make a bunch of nonsense doodles to work myself up to a serious project or I’ll just jump right in and get cracking on whatever the project at hand happens to be.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

I’m an analog guy all the way, I use bristol board, pentels, microns, a 2H pencil and various types of markers. I’ve always enjoyed the hand drawn / rough look of artwork and older comics. For whatever reason I happen to like working in this way and find that it suits my art style.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

The finished product, or rather what I end up referring to as the finished product gives me so much satisfaction. There’s nothing better to me than the feeling of an art session that I know was not only productive, but also provides me with this thing I made that I can be proud of and show off if I feel inclined to.

In fact there are even times where I can’t help but share the things I make that make me laugh as well because of how strange I made certain characters look.

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

My most rewarding project was easily my aforementioned student film I made back in 2012. That was my first taste at working with a team and overseeing the execution of a vision I had, and somehow bringing it all together and making something kind of entertaining. It made all the stress, long nights, and hustle of that project so worth it!

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

One time I was at a Bruce Campbell book signing with a friend and when my friend went up to meet him, he told him he was an aspiring filmmaker. Bruce Campbell’s advice to him was very simple: “Don’t suck.”

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Ooh, that’s a tough question, but I’ll do my best here. Probably the most important high concept life idea I’ve learned, kinda goes back to my previous answer (the “don’t suck” answer, remember?). That big idea is the fact that more often than not rejection is a big part of any sort of pitch you could potentially make to a big publisher or studio depending on which medium you’re shooting for. Always keep grinding, always keep up the hustle and never ever give up on your dreams, no matter how often you hear the word No.

SIX BOMB BOARDS: Jae Johannsson

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the SIX BOMB BOARDS LIVEART CON AT MOVIE TAVERN APRIL 27, 2019 FROM NOON TO 8PM.


Your name:
Jae Johannsson

Your published credits:
None (YET!!!)

Where do you live:
Lexington

Your current project(s) that we should mention:
I’m making mermaids for a show at Limbo Bar in Louisville. Its for Mer-May. Haaaaa

Website for readers to find out more about you:
Instagram: @starfall_art
Facebook: @starfallart
Etsy: Etsy.com/shop/starfallart

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

I wish I made comics. As it is, I am working towards getting my nursing degree, with the hopes of getting into medical illustration!

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

My biggest influence would have to be my therapist. Is it weird to put therapist? My past was not so great, and she helped me through some really dark times, as in I wouldn’t be here without her interventions. She was the one who pushed me into art to help process my trauma.  She gave me the tools I needed to become who I am today. There is no shame in my mental health game. ( And no shame in anyone else’s! Do what you must, get the help you need if you need it!)

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Freaking Joshua Penrose and Justin motherfucking Stewart. Josh introduced me to all these amazing creatives I’m lucky enough to call friends now, and Justin, well this guy has been dropping great hints about things to think about in my art. Without these two dudes, my art wouldn’t be what it is now.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

I like to pretend I’m in a quiet room and no one is touching me. But since I have kids, husband and pets, I usually try to veg out with them, doing something requiring no brain power.

Describe your typical work routine.

Sketch a few thumbnails of what I want to do. Decide on one. Realize that idea was shit. Start over with a different thumbnail. Second guess myself. Yell at myself in my head to just go with it. Starting over 12 times is a wee bit overkill. Tell Kira ( youngest daughter) she cannot use the copics or my watercolor paper. Yell at the cat for jumping on my desk. Start painting. Stare at the cat who is now drinking paint water…. (whhhhhhyyyyyyy) push cat off desk. Look for cat hair in the painting. Dig them out. Repeat until painting is complete. Put the painting away because otherwise a kid will draw on it.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

It depends on what I’m feeling for that piece. I use Bombay inks, watercolors, iPad Procreate, copics, acrylic paint, pencils…. some weird amalgamation of all of the above… just depends on the textures and feeling I want in that piece.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

My favorite part of my work is when I work in watercolors or ink, and the colors swirl perfectly. I paint a lot of wet into wet, and I’ll get wildly excited when I see textures coming through or colors blending in an unexpected but wondrous way.

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

Well this will be silly. But my most rewarding project was making a piece of art for the LexArts public works project. I found out The Nest selected it for use in their building. I cried when I found out, because it’s like my art has come full circle. I started creating as a way to deal with past abuse, and here is my art, now hanging in this place created to help families through the worst of times, including escaping abuse. I can’t begin to explain how meaningful this is to me.

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Find your community. Your community will raise each other up, and help each other grow as a person and artist. And if someone says, let me introduce you to this person, let them. 🙂 Making friends and connections is important. 

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Stop comparing yourself to other artists. Everyone has their own style, find yours and run with it. There’s enough room in the world for all of us. (Even you paint cup dump artists.)

Six Bomb Boards: Alex Robinson

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards LiveArt Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 8pm.


Your name:
Alex Rhys

Your published credits: 
Bingo Love: Jackpot Edition, Cash & Carrie Book 2, Robin & Cat: Falling In Like With You (self-published)

Where do you live:
Junction City, KY

Your current project(s):
Robin & Cat, my ongoing LGBT romance webcomic.

Website for readers to find out more about you:
robinandcat.com
Twitter: @robinandcat
Instagram: @heypizzaking

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Like just about every artist ever, I’ve been drawing all my life. But it wasn’t until, like…2013? 2014? Around that time that I wanted to create comics for a living. It was around the time I found out who Harvey Pekar was and watched “American Splendor”. I was also big into Daniel Clowes at the time, and I picked up the “Daniel Clowes Reader”. Both of these things, the movie about Pekar’s life and the book discussing Clowes’ work, showed me that a life in comics was possible. That I could tell my own stories and it didn’t have to be about superheroes. And that even if the life isn’t glamorous, it’s fulfilling.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

Easy answer is my parents. They never scoffed at me for taking art classes in school, and going into an arts field in college. They even encouraged it. I think they knew I wouldn’t be happy with anything else. The “I really had to think about this” answer is Satoshi Kon, the animation director. He was pushing his field further than anyone else at the time. And when he died, it brought me to tears. There was like this connection, and it made me realize how little time we might have. So draw, write, and create with the days we’ve got.

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

There are two…no, three people who have helped me tremendously. The first is Johnathon O. Rose-Lyon, who has been a fountain of encouragement and knowledge. He wrote some comics like Neon Noir and Superhuman…they’re really great! The second is Justin Stewart, the master of Six Bomb Boards! Thanks to him, I’ve found my community, and he’s always pushed me to go out there with my ideas. And number three is Shawn Pryor. He has taught me so much about having confidence in what you do, and to go after what you want. He’s my friend, and he believe in my work, so I have to believe, too! I wouldn’t have had the chances I’ve had in the comics industry without him.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

When nothing is going right creatively, then I zone out with a video game. Usually a classic JRPG like a Final Fantasy, or a fun, relaxing game like Kirby or Animal Crossing. But sometimes I have to throw myself into something new to get the creative juices flowing. Like watch a horror movie that would have scared the Baby Alex from 5 years ago. Or read a new manga series because the art looks cool.

Describe your typical work routine.

I have a full-time day job, so the comic work is all done in the evenings and weekends. I post new pages of Robin & Cat on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so each week’s pages have to be done on Monday and Wednesday respectively. Thursday and Friday are veg days after the comic posts. I’ll do either nothing or draw something just for me. Then Saturday and Sunday is writing and drawing time wherever I can fit it in. Usually with plenty of samurai and anime movie breaks.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

I mostly work traditional. Pencil, paper, ink. For my comic, I color digitally, but for everything else I color with copic markers, paint…I’ve been really into white gel pens lately. They add a nice after effect to traditional work. But at the moment, I’ve been experimenting with adding more of the impressionist-esque painting style I do at Live Arts with what I usually do at home with copic markers. I’m having a lot of fun blending it together!

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Trying something new, and it actually working, is the biggest joy I get from my work. Experimenting with style and tools is a lot of fun. But when it comes to my comic, Robin & Cat, it comes from seeing someone totally get what you’re saying. If they felt the emotion I was going for, then I’m doing something right.

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

It has definitely been Robin & Cat, my webcomic. It just reached it’s 5th birthday of being published online. I’ve never seen anything through this long. And I’ve met so many incredible people from this project! It’s really changed my life.

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

In the immortal words of Jake the Dog: “sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” Just start that thing you’ve wanted to work on! It will probably be bad! But the more practice you put in, the better you get. And find your community. Find people who can help you find what you’re great at, critiques what needs improvement, and lifts you up to doing better.

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Failure isn’t the end. You’re going to fail. A lot. But that’s how you learn and grow. So don’t be afraid to mess up a lot. Because a bad drawing is just a first draft of a good drawing.

Six Bomb Boards Feature: Joshua Penrose

Throughout April Octane is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kentucky’s elite group of comic art creators, the SIX BOMB BOARDS. Get to know them and celebrate with them on Avengers Day at the Six Bomb Boards Con at Movie Tavern April 27, 2019 from noon to 10pm.


Your name:
Josh Penrose

Your published credits:
None in the comic world, I have diagrams in a science journal out there.

Where do you live:
Lexington, KY

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career? 

I never thought of it as a career.  I did run the comic book club while I was in college and we published some anthology stuff as a collective.  We also participated in some 24 hour challenges.  Recently I have just done some stuff with comics like promo art for a friend but nothing too much like a career.

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?  As far as influence on my life I would have to say my partner Mouse.  She constantly pushes me to keep creating and supports me when I am feeling down on my art.  Not to mention supporting me on my career choice which is not always easy.

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

As far as artists that influence me I have a couple:Frank Miller:  The art in Sin City really made me want to work in the high contrast style that I am currently exploring.Alan Moore:  His writing and strict devotion to his creations is an inspiration.  To be able to write fiction based on fictional characters being brought together is impressive.  His work has always entertained me and I could reread any of it over and over.Ralph Steadman: My favorite artist of all time.  I grew up loving the Gonzo art and later became completely enthralled with anything he created from children’s books, artwork, political cartoons, to his writing.  He will always be an inspiration to keep working on my style.

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Coffee.  I am a big time coffee drinker.  Even the act of making the coffee has some recharging power for me.

Describe your typical work routine. 

Sitting down in front of my pencils.  Looking confused at my pencils.  Putting ink to the paper.  Messing up that ink.  Not caring that I messed up.  Moving on to the next one.  Inking is my favorite part and I often just go for it no matter how confusing I made my pencils.

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you? 

INK!  I use ink and brush while at home mostly.  When I do events like live art I move to markers.  I found some markers that I really like UNI Posca’s.  I burn through so much ink though that I have gotten used to re-filling them with Montana inks.  Really for me any tool has a purpose and it is just waiting to be found.

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction? 

It’s hard to describe this.  Once a piece is finished there is joy that it is finished but the real satisfaction I think comes from making it.  That being said I don’t like doing pencils so I guess the REAL satisfaction is when I can finally put ink to the paper.

Josh Penrose

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why? 

If I were to look at my career in terms of my art I would think that the most rewarding part is when I see people post pictures of my art hanging in their house, or hearing that people were very happy with their gift (my art).

We’ve seen very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator? 

Keep creating.  It’s hard to stay positive but the real truth is that you need to keep creating.

Let’s get deep: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important? 

To let the past happen and not keep it in the present.  Learn and move forward, always forward.

That and, always have an out.