The Journey of a Book

Hey, Team!

We recently sent out our first children’s book, Peas and Luv, so I wanted to use this week’s post to go into the adventure of making it.

I had posted this to our Patreon before the Kickstarter, just to show the process of making the pages of the book itself.  Well, the art at least:

The prose had been edited by my mother, along with a few friends…  But I was still really nervous about it.  I was nervous about my art too.
I tried my best to have contingency plans for every step.  That meant scanning every single pencil sketch into my computer, JUST IN CASE I messed up the watercolor so terribly that I’d have to do the whole thing digitally instead.

This was an actual thought that lived in my brain.  Thankfully, that isn’t how it went down.  Either way, I had to power on through regardless.  It had become a matter of principle.

So, this happened:

By August 2nd, we were already at 36% funded for Peas & Luv!  And I was STILL really scared.

I used that first Kickstarter update to say thank you and to show everyone something dear to me.

See, a million years ago, Mom and I took a knitting class together.  My goal was to make arm warmers, but I wound up using it to make the body of a self-portrait doll instead!  (I had streaks of red in my hair at the time.)  I suppose it’s another example of how arts and crafts were always such a big part of the time Mom and I spent together.

I thought about using this image as my author picture toward the end of the book, but eventually opted to put the dedication to Mom there instead, and kind of leave me out of it.

The dedication itself mentions Mom’s love of teaching and the lives she changed along the way.  I made the corresponding picture as though I’d made a doll for her.  It’s digitally done but still in the style of the book as that’s… just how I draw, regardless of medium.

Orange was Mom’s favorite color, with blue as a close second.  I took care to pose the doll to have her look curious and friendly.  Above all else though, this doll needed to have a BIG heart!

We were 45% funded at day 5, which was amazing.

The Kickstarter update that day was about the cover design.

I mentioned that the most editing done was eliminating some errors from scanning, or any glaringly obvious pencil marks in the original paintings, but otherwise the pages were as painted.  The cover was a little different.

The cover needed something to really pop.  As a result, the original painting for the cover wound up more like a painted sketch.

I wanted the text to be bigger, and my husband realized that the background was awfully plain, given that the pages inside are all full illustrations.
Also, the original has my pen name on it.  I used my real name for this project because so much of it is for my mother.  Since marriage, Micki Groper and I obviously don’t have the same last name anymore, but it still seemed like the right way to go.

Eventually, my husband Rob and I (mostly Rob, but he’ll say it was mostly me) came up with this:

Otherwise digital, the heart itself is still watercolor scanned in.

This worked as a nice medium ground too, because the dedication for my mom has that digital image near the text.

On day 7 and we were 50% there!  This didn’t keep me from feeling overwhelmed and terrified.

Since Team Manticore is known for making plush toys, having dolls in this campaign was no surprise.

Here, you can see the process of prototyping until we get our final version:

Ultimately, the final is somewhere between the painting and the prototype, with a better overall shape, and eyes that fit the head a bit better than the painting actually had.

By August 25th, your support helped us reach our goal!

After that, we didn’t reach our stretch goal, but that doesn’t really matter.  The book got made, and we still have enough books on hand to give to charities like I wanted, even if it isn’t as many as I would have liked.

Then, we got the PROOF!  Kinda.

Generally, a proof means it would be exactly what we’d be getting 500 copies of, so we approved it.

The company then let us know of some possible printing issues, and asked us to fix the files.  This was a little confusing, as it meant the proof was not actually manufactured the same way the final books would be.

The company was very helpful though, and did eventually send “samples” from the larger print load… but by then they were just nice to have, and not actually useful as a proof per se…  BUT WHATEVER, they got here and they are good.

The printer was in China, which meant the books would need to go through two different sets of Customs before they made their way to me.

It was a long wait, but we used the time to get to work on the dolls to accompany the books for those who gave for that tier:

There were eleven pairs of dolls to do, plus a couple custom (not Peas and Luv specifically) dolls to make.

All the books got here, safe and sound.  16 boxes total!  I was worried about water damage from the snow, but this printer packages everything with a separate layer to prevent exactly that!

Books for daaaaayssss.

So that was it!  We packaged everything, shipped everything off to where it needed to go, and I’m exhausted.

In March, there will be a reading at my temple, and the Parenting Center will be dedicated to Mom.  Let’s see how well I hold together for that.


OH!  If you missed the Kickstarter, you can still buy the book at !


Thank you and rock on,


New Comic and an Update About Our Patreon

Hey, Team!
Rowyn here with some fun news!
We’re revamping the Patreon a bit for 2018, (by the way, we HAVE a Patreon for those who didn’t know!) and using it to concentrate more on upcoming projects.
In order to do that, that means our “behind the scenes” will be on lower tiers, so more people can enjoy them!  We’ll also be simplifying the tiers in order to do that, which will be good all around.
This ALSO means that for a while, the Patreon will be all about Boop in the Night, which is a family friendly comic Rob and I are collaborating on. 
It’s the story of a little girl and her monster-from-under-the-bed.
We’ll show you all the character sketches as they are developed, and you’ll see the finished comics posted here before they go to LineToon/WebToon.
As an example, you can see some back and forth between the two of us about the monster, Icabod:
He goes by Icky.
You’ll also get a chance to help us decide what else the characters should be doing!  We’ll have a vote now and then when we’re stuck on which we should do next.  This will also include votes on what kinds of monsters we should see in the comic!  After all, Icky isn’t all alone, is he?
Rock on,

How to Keep Your New Years Resolutions in Six Steps

Hey, Team!

It’s getting to be the end of the second week of January now, so I’m wondering how everyone is doing with their resolutions for the new year?
(Can my resolution just be to keep warm around here??)

I’m bringing back an old process I use that has served me well.  It’s about making new habits, and keeping an actionable schedule.

Here we go!

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

1.) Make a List:
• Write down everything you wanted to change and/or accomplish this year.
• Then cut that down to achievable, reasonable things.
o No, seriously. If your goals are super lofty to begin with, you’re just setting yourself up for failure, which will make it hard to do anything at all.
• For example, “eat healthy” might be better than, “marry that movie star.”
o BUT that’s still vague. So let’s fix that with the next part:

2.) Detail That List:
• Having things like “Go to the gym more often” wind up meaningless really fast because they are unclear, and therefore make it easy to come up with excuses to avoid.
• Instead, write actionable things like, “Go to the gym X amount of hours, X amount of days a week…”
Even specify which days that’ll be, and write exactly what you plan to work on while there.
o Also helps to literally write this on your to-do list, and on your calendar as a scheduled appointment to yourself.
• You can even go to someone who works at the gym the first day and ask what kinds of exercises or machines you should use to achieve your goal.
o Then write that down too.
o Yep. All of that. Write it down.
o No, you will not remember.  Just- Just write it the Hell down, okay??

This process works for pretty much any goal, not just working out!

• Want to diet?  Ask a nutritionist, a dietitian, your primary care physician, and so on.  …And then write stuff down.
• Want to draw more?  What will you be drawing?  What kinds of references do you need?  Find some online tutorials.  Ask an artist you like and admire for tips.  WRITE THOSE TIPS DOWN.

Then turn those actionable tips and tricks and all that scheduled stuff into the next step:

3.) Mini Goals:
• Having mini goals along the way can help you remember that you are making progress, which will help your desire to continue.
o This means aiming for only three weeks before we actually say THE WHOLE YEAR.
o Oh, and that stuff you put on the calendar?  You’ll be able to mark off as you go, and check out the amount of days you did The Thing later on.
• Mini goals also give you something to build on in order to get to another level or step of your ultimate goal.

Heeey… Here’s an important question when it comes to our goals:

4.) Check in With Yourself.  Do You Wanna?
• Make sure you actually WANT to do the things on this list, or that they will make you healthier, or better your life in some way.
• If not?  Rearrange!  Pick other things.

ONLY pick things you really want to do for YOUR life.  Not someone for else.
Sometimes, we say we’ll do things just because other people want us to do them.  This makes it less likely to actually stick to it, for obvious reasons.

•… That being said, if something is on your list because a friend is doing it also and wants a buddy, you should probably stick to it if you think it’ll be good for you too.  That’s just nice. 

5.) IN FACT! Have a buddy:
• It isn’t necessary, but having someone else hold you accountable and having the drive to stick to it too will benefit you both.
o This can be in person or online.
There are other kinds of buddies too.  Help is good!
• In some cases, you may want to go to your doctor to see what the healthiest way is to achieve your goals.
o Do this especially if your goal involves ANY kind of diet or exercise plan.
• In other cases, you may want to find and go to a counselor or a psychologist if your goal involves facing a long standing fear or even attending to social struggles.
o Please remember that it doesn’t have to be something huge in order to seek professional help.
• In fact, asking for some kind of help is always recommended, no matter what your goals may be.

6.) All Else Fails, (Break Glass) Think About This:
• If you can find an excuse to quit, you can find an excuse to continue.
o Make up a reason why it would benefit you to stick with the resolution, even if it is just a sense of pride and bragging rights.
• Along those lines, if you don’t really want to eat more healthy or keep track of something else medical but your doctor tells you to do so… You might want to just suck it up and try it anyway.
Who knows? Your doctor might be right and you might start to feel awesome.
• If you find that it isn’t working out, you can change something about your routine.
• Ask around and see how other people achieved similar goals.
Form a habit!
• Like brushing your teeth, if you do something every day, eventually you’ll do it without even thinking about it.

In Summary…
Do research!
This works for above examples, as well pretty much everything else in life.
• Want to learn a new skill?  Find a teacher or online tutorials.
o What does it take?  What supplies will you need?
o Start small though.
!!! Getting too involved, too fast may cost you a lot of money for something you might wind up not actually enjoying.
o You can always build up on supplies once you know that you want to continue.

I love writing lists.  Can you tell?  So, write down your progress:
• Like I said earlier, on a calendar, or even sticky notes, write down every single time you accomplish a part of your goal.
o Even a tiny accomplishment.
o Say how many hours you did it, or what mini goal you met.
• If you organize your main goal, mini goals, and steps to get there “by date on the calendar” to begin with, this will be easy to see.
• You can always add goals throughout the year.
Every day is a new day, so we don’t have to wait for the next year to make goals.

This makeshift system has helped me accomplish quite a lot, so I hope you can benefit from it as well.

Rock on,

Upcoming Year Events

Hey, Team!

It’s the first big snow storm of the year here.  Rob and I have been bundled up inside all day, in an attempt to hide from any looming fevers. 

We’ve also been going over our convention schedule this year!

(Huh.  I’ve got a fleye face-planting in both posts so far.  Whelp!  Guess it’s gonna be that kind of year.)

As a rule, Rob tends to avoid scheduling us for events that happen out of state during the coldest Winter months.  This is to avoid getting snowed in and missing said events, and…  Well, I’m basically an indoor cat as a person, so I’m not a fan of the cold in general.

Last year, we traveled to nine different states for a total of twenty conventions and events!

This year, we’re slated for seven so far.  This includes an event in my home town, where Team Manticore’s first children’s book will be read.  My father will be visiting for that, and he’ll be the one reading the book in honor of my late mother.  I’m as excited for that as I am nervous.  Selling stuffed animals is much less emotionally taxing. 

Our hope is to do more horror conventions, as well as events created specifically with indie comics and books in mind.

As an example, we’ll be at Dark Side of the Con in New Jersey come March!

If you have an event you’d like us to attend, please let us know by commenting/messaging us.  Even better?  Let the event coordinators know you’d like us to visit too!

We’ll let you know specific details on the Events page of as we get them, so keep a look out.

Rock on,


New Year and New Blog

Hey Team!

Welcome to the Manti-Blog, (unless we figure out a better title for it…) where Rob and I will be sharing news about projects, upcoming events, peeks behind the scenes, fun videos, Let’s Plays, tutorials, speed paints, funny shorts, and lots of other exciting stuff!

We’re kicking off this new year of 2018 with solid goals and a fresh take on life/business/marriage/everything.

This includes revamping/adding new things to the store too!

OH!  We’ve still got our Patreon if you’re looking for behind-the-scenes before anyone else gets to see them, and some other special offers,
as well as a brand new Ko-Fi, if you don’t want the commitment of a monthly thing.  Ko-Fi is basically a tip jar, and it lets us have more resources to make more stuff!

Rob and I are so happy you’re here with us on this journey.


Here’s to the new year!
Rock on,