I don’t do ‘Cold Readings’ anymore. I don’t tell fortunes. I don’t read tea leaves.
And I do not do contact ‘the other side’.
Look, don’t judge me alright? It was an easy gig. I mean, the first time I did it, it was a joke. I did it just to impress a girl. You’ve been there right? It was something I’d read about online and I thought I’d give it a go.
I feel like it’s time to talk about Apollo and her wobble. Take a good look at that damn smiley face on her side and let me tell you why you should never, ever buy a spider morph.
My girlfriend and I started out with one beep, a normal named Cecil. I have leopard geckos and my mom had a beep while i was growing up, so I was pretty comfortable with my care of ball pythons. I’d read online about them for days and I made sure that my animals were happy and well taken care of. We were pretty excited about other morphs, but we hadn’t come across anything about spiders in our research. Or if we did, wobble was never mentioned.
We were in the mall pet store when we saw Apollo; it had been probably the third time we’ve seen her there and her price was marked down significantly. With her was a super pastel that was also marked down quite a bit. She’s a bumblebee, so they had her at a higher price than the super pastel, and excited, we did a bit of research on prices before choosing the super pastel.
The mall pet store workers were not trained in any way on reptiles and the manager was the only one who touched them. We knew their practices were subpar, but we weren’t prepared for how subpar. The manager not only sold us the more expensive morph at the cheaper price, thinking she was the super pastel because she was “lighter”, she also told us that Apollo was “nippy” and proceded to roughly grab her with a towel to get her out of the enclosure and into a box. Which she then taped closed and stabbed a few holes in. We were pretty horrified, but at this point, we weren’t leaving Apollo there and we were getting her at the reduced price of the super pastel, so we thought we were lucky to be able to save her from that awful place.
We realize now that they’ll just keep selling snakes they know nothing about, but we had no idea what we were getting into. We asked what they were feeding her. She was about a foot long. They said live adults. When Apollo yawned, she had trouble closing her mouth because of that for a while. But the messed up jaw wasn’t even the half of it.
We started reading about her morph, curious about the genetics, when we stumbled upon a forum discussing wobble. I stared at that smiley face on her side and my chest ached. Some snakes get it so bad they have to be put down, it said. The thought of my baby corkscrewing on the bottom of her cage, no sign of stopping just broke my heart.
It wasn’t bad at first. It was just a little wobble from side to side when she got excited for food, and sometimes she’d misstrike, but otherwise she was okay. Maybe Apollo wouldn’t be one of those spiders that got bad. Maybe it’d stay like this.
She grew slowly, and her wobble got slowly worse. It was slow, but I watched. She’d wobble a little more, she got a little less coordinated. Sometimes she’d cock her head in odd positions and just sit like that, staring.
Then she shed and started to brown out. We were excited, she was looking so healthy and vibrant. She gave me a full shed. But something was off. A few days later we found her sitting on her driftwood, corkscrewing away against the glass. I took her out and she stopped, and she seemed eager to explore like always. Another day we found her corkscrewing, my girlfriend called her name and she stopped, but she was staring at her upside down.
She only seems to do it when she’s excited or hungry, but it’s really distressing to watch. The change was so sudden that I’m afraid that I won’t be able to keep Apollo much longer. It will crush me if I have to put her down. And I’m not cruel enough to keep her alive when she’s obviously stressed, but we’re going to try to limit her stimuli and add more plant cover to her tank (it’s already pretty covered) and hope for the best.
But I want anyone who thinks it’s okay to breed spiders to look at Apollo’s damned smiley face and consider is it worth it? Is the money worth causing emotional pain and suffering when someone has to put their snake down because it can no longer eat because of it’s wobble? Is it worth it to put an animal into the world that may not live it’s full lifespan or live a life full of constant stress due to something internal and completely incurable?
Don’t buy a spider. They’re beautiful animals, but they should not exist. And they especially should not be bred into existence. Insist on the super pastel.
An instructor with experience is everything. I went to a highly regarded art university, but didn’t learn much in the areas where the professors lacked industry experience. Storyboarding especially. After college, since I had already moved to Southern California, I took cheap classes at the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, and learned from professionals I’d admired for years, including Louie Del Carmen, who ended up being my Head of Story at Sony after the class. I highly recommend the CDA if it’s at all close to where you live.
If not, my story mentor, Ian Abando, who has an amazing wealth of knowledge and ridiculous drawing ability, often teaches an online story class through CGMA. If you ever get a chance, drop everything and take Ian’s class. I’m not sure if Ian’s teaching again next time, but if CGMA got him, they might have nabbed other great artists.
In general I’d say research online classes that aren’t part of a larger college program, and don’t choose by school, but by instructor. You want to google that person listed as the instructor for a specific class, and see if they are still producing new art that you like. Then, go on IMDb and see if they are actively involved with the type of animated work you most want to do. If you like that they have Dreamworks feature experience, but that experience was in the 90s, and all their most recent credits are for educational material for online games, they are in a totally different world now and won’t be able to help you as much. The industry changes fast, so if someone branches off into storyboards for AAA games for 8 years, they’re probably not up to date on how things are done at Disney TV.
There are a lot more super talented industry artists lending their time to obscure online classes than you’d think. But, us industry artists aren’t always the best at marketing ourselves,
so you might have to dig a little. Keep your eyes open on social media, I’ve seen a lot of my friends posting announcements for online classes that I’d still take myself. Of the industry-pro online classes that I know of off the top of my head: Sherm Cohen teaches a class, Steve Ahn has a drawing workshop, Leo Matsuda has some online videos, and Kris Pearn has Schoolism classes, but I highly recommend shelling out for the critiqued Schoolism sessions if you want to get the most out of it.
In general, in-person classes and online classes with heavy back and fourth interactive set ups are the best. Not only do you get to ask the instructor for follow ups on feedback, but you can show your classmates how charming you all are and network ;D