2016 A Year In Review
I checked the records, and I started this blog in 2006. So, it's been 10 years on here and I guess I should say a few words.
Yep, I've been an artist for a long time and...it hasn't been exactly easy. But, what is? "Freelance artist". Working in an industry where you get more love and affection for drawing...I dunno...a Suicide Squad back-up story or something, than 20 years of creator-owned and self-published work. Where you get more attention and notoriety for drawing a Deadpool cover than..I dunno...all this stuff.
Does that sound like jealousy? Nuh-uh. Given the choice to work on Saucer State or some corporate superhero thing, the answer is obvious. But all the adoration given to corporate stuff over new, original work is a little annoying sometimes.
I'm thankful for every job I get. Even the commissions, which you can see here. I'm lucky to be an artist and do what I love. I wanted to draw comics when I was 5! But I have "down periods". Periods where I feel I'm no good at this. And then, somehow, I do it for a little bit longer. NY4; Saucer Country; Three; Survivors Club; Cry Havoc....They've all pretty much sold the same. So, is it me? Do I suck? Is it the industry? Are the Big 2 choking off readers? Are they growing readers? What's going on, comics?
11 comics in 12 months. 11 full 22-page comics. That's worth noting right? But, the burn-out is real. It's why a lot of artists that came up at the same time as me are now writing, doing covers, single images--the occasional issue or mini-series. Drawing single images are more rewarding. You draw one, put it on the internet, get likes, editors see them, and the rewards flow in. Drawing story pages are a slog and there are long days wondering: when does it pay off big? It's with you all the time: Where's the pages? Can we get more pages? How are the pages? Get the pages in. Pages, pages, pages.
But I still do it. I like my job. It's not hard, it's just a challenge to keep that level of creativity up every day. I'm not the best artist in the world, but I'm not the worst. That's my motto. So, here's 2016...
CRY HAVOC #3-6 (Jan-May)
"The inks for pages 1-13 have been uploaded to the Episode 3 folder" is how I began the year 2016. And, all the final inks for Cry Havoc arrived in mid-May. So, that's essentially 4 issues of Cry Havoc drawn this year, but let's be fair and call it 3.5.
This was an amazing project all around--a book packed with talent--but It left me pretty battered and bruised and lacking in sleep. And when it was done, I wanted to crawl under a rock. Drawing two series at once--full art--is not recommended. But I was doing it. Will I ever do it again? Plainly, No.
Outsourcing inks was not ideal, but we wanted everyone to get their serialized comic books on time. Thankfully Barb Guttman and Miguel Montenegro helped and did a wonderful job and helped make the deadlines.
SURVIVORS CLUB #6-9 (Jan-May)
Survivors Club was launched in October 2015 and the cancellation call came in December 2015. So, when I read people on twitter backing the notion that the life and death of a series firmly relies on trade paperback sales, all I can say is we need to have a talk.
I won't lie, at the time this was challenging...But now I look at it with a big grin on my face. It's such a crazy, insane book. It's just so...maniacal. And I love seeing it on my shelf with all the others. I'm glad Shelly Bond put me on the book. When I say I drew 4 issues this year, I mean I couldn't have done it without Peter Gross and Mark Farmer. By the time we got to issue #7, we decided we should get some inkers in order to finish on time. I actually loved having inkers. It allowed me to take time on the pencils and do a really good job. I liked their inks more than mine!
UNFOLLOW #10 (June)
So there I was: Drawing Survivors Club and Cry Havoc, completely on top of each other, day and night. Everything was due at the same time. When it was over, I intended to take a break. But, I magically got a call to draw an issue of Unfollow soon after. The job kinda came just as I became "open". It's a really neat book, and I'm glad I participated. I finished it and took a much-needed week off in the woods.
Home Repairs (July-August)
I basically lost 2 whole months to fixing up our house for sale. Cleaning, painting, pulling weeds, applications, filling out purchase agreements....But it paid off and we got a new house in September. And for the first time, I have a room of my own. A studio! And I have a trophy room where I keep all my artwork. Also: I did a lot of commissions at this time, as you can see on this blog, so I wasn't totally out of it.
RED THORN #12-13 (Sept-Nov)
Just as I needed help on my books, artist Meghan Hetrick needed some too, so I came on Vertigo's Red Thorn. It's a fun book with amazing visuals. I was to lay out the final 2 issues--and I did--but then I took on full Pencils/Inks, so a bunch of pages are all me.
SAUCER STATE #1 (December)
I'm a little behind on this one, only because I've been having trouble "getting going again". It's hard to turn on the switch when you're feeling creatively bankrupt. But, I've been in this place before, and I know I'll get in the groove again. I have inks done. The first few pages of anything are always a hardship. Look for this sequel to Saucer Country next year from IDW.
So, That's It...
Basically 11 issues drawn this year and lots of commissions too. Its been a rough year and the election has put me in such a deep malaise, that I barely go on Twitter any more.
It's getting close to 2018, which will mark 20 years as a professional artist for me. I plan on celebrating 2018 with a massive Funrama art book on Kickstarter with tons of rewards. Stick with me! It will be fun.