Comics and Contemplation on the Road

This past weekend I traveled to San Jose for Silicon Valley Comic Con. Last year was my first time at the event as an exhibitor for A.L.Ex Studios’ flagship comic, MANIA, but this was my first time as just an attendee. Having the prior year’s experience under my belt I felt more prepared to tackle the con. It was Space Exploration themed which was really cool. I got to talk with scientists as well as creators and struck up great conversations and made some good connections.

The panels were also very interesting and relevant this year, dealing with things like emerging technology, robots, VR, AR, neural prosthetics, artificial intelligence, and their implications for humanity. A lot of themes that resonate with the vision for MANIA. I went to a very meaningful panel on Saturday called Classroom Crossover Event: Comics in Secondary Education which was a complete revelation. I met with a teacher after who purchased a copy of MANIA and was very enthusiastic about including it in her curriculum.

The themes present at the con really fired up my ideas for A.L.Ex and the new Paradigm of Passion. Another panel I attended on Sunday called The Future of Learning: 2030 gave me a whole new perspective on self-guided education and inspired passion training ideas for the future. All in all, I had a great time catching up with a lot of the creators I had met at previous conventions and I look forward to going back next year.

Silicon Valley Comic Con also provided me with the opportunity to road trip up from Los Angeles and stop at various local comic book shops to get copies of MANIA on store shelves. After our successful Kickstarter campaign it felt important to me to utilize the momentum and further MANIA’s outreach as much as possible. Throughout the round trip, I stopped at around ten comic book shops.

The experience was very rewarding. Not only did I get to chat with comic shop owners face to face but I got to stand there as they flipped through the pages. All the owners that got to take a look at our books were very impressed with the quality. With these guys, it was all business. I could sense their “would my demographic buy this?” type of reaction. But at the same time, I didn’t really have to ‘sell’ MANIA to them. The product really speaks for itself.

What I believe sold the owners who ended up taking a few issues of MANIA was just the human connection and the ability to hold and see the comic. That really makes a difference! The most valuable knowledge I took away from this type of outreach was really understanding the marketing approach that we will have to take with MANIA in order to get it in front of people. The more we learn how we stand apart, the more we can cater our marketing toward the ideal audience that will enjoy MANIA the most.

If you are in the Central-Northern California area, check out the following shops to pick up your copy today! And if you have a favorite comic book shop that you frequent, be sure to #askforMANIA.

Heroes Comics – Fresno, CA

Red Sky Comics – Merced, CA

Legends Comics and Games – Santa Clara, CA

Legends Comics – Fresno, CA

The Message Behind MANIA: A New Perspective on Mental Health

MANIA KS wtagline

Throughout the production of MANIA, the entire A.L.Ex Studios team has felt the pressure of what a weighty topic we are undertaking by tackling the concept of mental health. It has been incredibly important to all of us not only to be accurate and honest, but accepting and kind. This is because the purpose of MANIA’s theme is to remove negative stigmas from mental illness and make our small contribution to the large task of normalizing neurodiversity. Up to this point, we have framed the message of MANIA to align with that existing dichotomy of positive and negative. “Mental illnesses, neuroses and fears are not weaknesses but strengths” has been the basic byline. But the more we explore the potential of a comic that wants to change the way we talk about mental health, we no longer feel like restricting ourselves to aligning mental illness with either “bad” or “good,” “negative” or “positive.” Sticking with the existing framework for discussing mental illness just doesn’t suit the ambitious goals we have for the MANIA franchise.

We want to imagine a world where neurodivergence is treated as just another facet of someone’s personality and perspective. We want MANIA to inspire readers to fully know and accept themselves no matter what they are struggling with, because it is only through self-acceptance and love that we can be empowered and happy with ourselves. Our ultimate goal is to see more and more people find true happiness, share that happiness with others, and use it to uplift the whole world. Through MANIA, we want to spread the message that Different is Powerful, and loving yourself and what makes you different will give you the keys to unlock limitless worlds of possibility.

Be sure to pledge your support to this awesome new franchise and help us #KickstartMANIA on Wednesday, February 15th. 

Ship Update 122216

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to reflect on the last few months of our journey through collective collaborative creativity. Momentum is building for the Art and Learning Expedition and I feel we are ready to slingshot into the new year full of fuel to expand A.L.Ex into new realms of success. As the entrepreneurial Captain of this Ship, I’m so excited not only about the future but in looking back and seeing what our Crew has accomplished in such a short time. In addition to our stellar productivity, every day we are clarifying and distilling what the heart of A.L.Ex is, and it makes me so proud of what we are engineering for humanity together.

Continue reading “Ship Update 122216”

Nurturing Potential from Indecision

img_0108

What is an Artist and Why do we make Art?

My search for passion began as an investigation into clearing indecision away from desire.

There is a deeper message I want to get across without empowering the fear that the surface emotions express.

As an entrepreneur and business leader there is this traditional notion of what confidence is. The concept that I am embodying a lens that sees clearly down a straight path to success and business expansion. Always knowing the answers, knowing the path, and knowing what to do to get there.

Before starting the Art and Learning Expedition (A.L.Ex) I did not believe myself to be an artist. I wasn’t worthy yet. I wasn’t talented yet. I wasn’t allowed to be an artist. I couldn’t write a book, I couldn’t draw a picture, I couldn’t make a painting. This was the case both from a judgmental and subjective quality lens as well as from my own impatient personality that wouldn’t allow me to sit down to practice. Because of these reasons, I did not consider myself creative or even to have imagination. I’m not digressing down this path to inspire pity, but to demonstrate a paradigm of lack in my self-identification. Our beliefs about ourselves mold our experiences just as our thoughts create our reality. What I mean by paradigm is the world in which we craft ourselves and inhabit in our mind.

When I explored what creativity and passion meant to me I was met with a barrage of indecision and resistance. These two concepts were in complete opposition to how I was socially conditioned. I was taught to be safe, efficient, and automatic. In simplest terms, I was taught to avoid the unknown. This is where I believe a huge portion of people find themselves unable to cross a threshold in their own belief structures and routines. It is in the automatic avoidance of the unknown that we keep the union of spirit artificially separate as cognitive dissonance creates battles in our brain, causing dis-ease and pain in the body and chaos in our environment.

Continue reading “Nurturing Potential from Indecision”

Conquering Fears: “The Callingwood Suicides” and L.N. Conliff

callingwood-suicides-cover

As we have recently announced, the first horror novel from MANIA writer L.N. Conliff will be coming to the A.L.Ex Store at the end of this year. I sat down with the man himself, our friend and colleague Leon, to get some insight on the making of The Callingwood Suicides, the genre of horror in general, and what it’s like working with A.L.Ex Studios…

Continue reading “Conquering Fears: “The Callingwood Suicides” and L.N. Conliff”

October Observations

Whew! We’re all still reeling from the whirlwind weekend that closed out October at A.L.Ex. Going straight from Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con to our Halloween bash was a challenge, but we had an awesome time at both events.

LA Comic Con, formerly known as Comikaze Expo, was the biggest convention we’ve tabled at yet, and we learned a lot about how important good timing and organization is for such a popular con. Of course, no matter how much you prepare, things don’t always go according to plan (never underestimate LA traffic when there are three major events going on at LA Live, ouch!) It’s a testament to the flexibility and fortitude of our entire team that we had such a smooth, productive con despite some minor roadblocks. We were so proud to unveil our new, improved banners at the table, as well as debut the Variant Cover versions of Issue 001 of MANIA, with stunning cover art by our friend Sean Forney.

Jeremy and Leon were overjoyed to share the story of MANIA with tons of new fans; so many people continue to be touched and impressed by the narrative and characters we’re bringing to life. It’s an incredible experience to see someone’s face light up with interest and curiosity when we explain the premise of the comic to them. And it’s not just fun to experience the con culture as a creator, the whole team loves walking the floor and checking out what our fellow artists are bringing to the table! We always come home with new friends and beautiful new pieces of art. We can’t wait to continue making the rounds at conventions around the country and turn the ‘comic con circuit’ into a regular fixture at A.L.Ex.

halloween
Choose your side!

Finally, our Halloween party was the perfect opportunity to unwind after a busy weekend, and celebrate how far A.L.Ex has come so far! We got our scary on by turning the Blank Slate into a preview room for The Callingwood Suicides, a new horror novel from the writer of MANIA. A tableau of the main antagonist, complemented by little hints about the mysterious tale fit in perfectly on All Hallow’s Eve. We were joined by some of A.L.Ex’s newest friends for a night of #TeamJumpstart vs. #TeamMidna shenanigans, complete with a big game of Cards Against Humanity. It’s wonderful to see the Crew growing, and to welcome more and more people onboard the Expedition. Could you be next?

Heading into November, we’re hoping to kickstart some more events at A.L.Ex Dojo, continue building momentum for The Callingwood Suicides and percolate even more projects through the Studios and Agency, and of course, keep up the strong work with MANIA as we work on Issue 003! Be on the lookout for ways you can contribute to these and other projects…

A huge thanks from the entire Crew to all of you following our journey, we can’t wait to keep sharing our milestones with you as we explore every inch of our imaginations.

Elyse Wietstock
VP of Communications
Art & Learning Expedition

A.L.Ex Studios Brings Light to Common Stigmas of Mental Health in the Latest Release of MANIA

The second issue of MANIA: The Light underscores Art and Learning Expeditions’ mission to develop people, sustain their creativity, and expand their lives

Los Angeles, CA – October 20, 2016 – MANIA takes a fresh approach to superheroes amidst today’s issues of artificial intelligence, mental illness, government authority, and societal conditioning.  After its successful release of MANIA: The Shift, A.L.Ex Studios today unveiled the next step in its paradigm shifting look at superhero entertainment with Issue 002: The Light.

MANIA takes you to the year 2052 in New Renard, an automated super city where biotechnology, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence have become integral parts of daily life. However, a class of citizens rejected by this system – the Supermanics – is lurking, preparing for a clash with New Renard’s totalitarian government run by the tech corporation, Fahrenhiet. Fahrenhiet’s compulsory biotechnology, the ARC, seeks to suppress the individuality of anyone who doesn’t fit in New Renard’s perfect system. The Supermanics have been gifted incredible abilities because of their neurodivergence, but these powers have left them detached from the rest of society. Led by the hacker known only as Alex, the Supermanics struggle to reclaim their place in a city that wants to see them stricken from memory. To purchase your copy of Issue 002: The Light, visit A.L.Ex Studios’ website.

“MANIA is a story about people, about how what society commonly perceives as flaws – disorders, neuroses, stigmas, and fears – can be transformed into strengths,” said Jeremy Lasman, founder of A.L.Ex. “Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that only 25 percent of adults with mental health symptoms believe people care and are sympathetic to them. However, it’s what makes us different that truly gives us all our power. We are cultivating a community that embraces what we perceive as flaws and turns them into strengths that better our society.”

A.L.Ex Studios is the premier Mindful Entertainment module of the new Art and Learning Expedition (A.L.Ex) organization launched by Lasman, a former SpaceX technologist. A.L.Ex is a creative organization made up of leaders and artists from all fields, dedicated to prioritizing passion over money and developing individual talent through freeform collaboration. The end result is cultivating, empowering, and expanding a community of individuals pursuing their passions to revolutionize the way the world thinks about work and play.

A.L.Ex consists of several modules that take its members on a journey of self-discovery, empowering them to take charge of their own education amidst a paradigm of business, powered by passion and creativity. The modules include:

  • Studios: The premier Mindful Entertainment module of A.L.Ex, Studios makes engaging art that speaks to more than just appealing aesthetics, giving food for the mind as well as the eyes.
  • Dojo: An innovative passion training experience, the Dojo is inspired by the Montessori educational environment and martial arts training to empower individuals to trust their own intuition and creativity.
  • Agency: The creative facilitator of A.L.Ex, the Agency draws on its robust network of artists to make clients’ passion projects a reality while simultaneously enabling members to hone their skills and level up their Artistry.
  • Labs: At the forefront of research in the vastly unexplored field of metascience – the study of the relationship between the physical world and realm of the metaphysical – Labs’ mission is to upgrade humanity to a future where science and metascience work in harmony.

To learn more and join the Expedition, visit www.alexllc.org.

About A.L.Ex

A.L.Ex is a creative organization made up of leaders and artists from all fields, dedicated to prioritizing passion over money and developing individual talent through freeform collaboration. The end result is cultivating, empowering, and expanding a community of individuals pursuing their passions to revolutionize the way the world thinks about work and play.

A.L.Ex Contact Information

Name: Elyse Wietstock
Title: VP of Communications
Email: elyse@alexllc.org
Tel: (805) 886-2253

Behind the Screens: The Making of Issue 002 – The Light

cover_photoWe are constantly striving to streamline our creative process with each issue of MANIA. But due to the fluid nature of art, there are always certain intangibles to grapple with. As many are probably aware, we missed our initial deadline and had to push it back a few weeks. We take great pride in A.L.Ex Studios’ tagline “Mindful Entertainment” as it represents the culture of care and attention to detail we put into anything we release. We will not rush a product just to meet a deadline.

In our experimentation with this process, for Issue 002 we worked a lot more “solo,” letting each artist do his part at their own pace at home. We didn’t collaborate at the Studios nearly as much as we did with Issue 1 because after doing the initial brainstorming and layouts, we felt as though we each had a handle on our individual contributions. This was also because of our new streamlined approach to getting to the ‘solo work phase’ of Issue 002. Locking in the script and layouts went much more smoothly this time around. We also got well underway with Issues 003 and 004 with these new methods, hopefully ensuring speedier releases.

Communication and synergy are vital with any collaboration and because we were mostly solo during the process, there was perhaps a loss of momentum that played into the missed deadline. But personally I feel deadlines are more for motivation than for harsh completion timelines, especially when it comes to art. Deadlines keep you focused. Without them, procrastination seeps its way in like a virus. As we learn, grow, and evolve our talents and formulas, I am confident that our passionate pace will get faster. By utilizing more strategic collaboration, we can get each release to our fans sooner and sooner.