How I roll.
I think I always knew, in the back of my creative mind that I wanted to do Original Material. Hindsight is 20/20, so maybe not. All I know is that I have always had my own stuff rattling around in my head from day one. Shit, that is how I got into the business. I did a creator Owned book called B.L.A.D.E. with my best friend Seaborn Mercer, back in 1989.Google it. It's interesting. Or if you have a copy of my Art Book: TONY HARRIS~ Art and Skulduggery( and , YES, i DID spell that correctly), look in the front of the book and the entire first issue is printed there for your pleasure. So I think that I always Intended to do Original material as the opportunities presented themselves to me. I just didn't know that when I was trying to build my empire one failure at a time. So I did what I had to. I took ANY job that came my way, no matter what the character, or size of the gig. Because that's what you do. Then, I guess as you do more work, and you build relationships with publishers, and Editors( that you hope will be lasting), you begin to throw yer weiner in the middle of the road. Hoping it won't get squashed in the process. That can be crushing. To your Ego, and to the Notion that you have Ideas that are Valid. Every time you hear a "No" it crushes you. You re-think what you thought was cool, or good. You start to take the story apart in your head and ask a whole buncha questions that really are not valid. Then you have to muster whatever confidence you have and tell yourself that your Ideas have worth. Just because "That" guy, or "Those dudes" didn't dig it, it doesn't mean it isn't good. Things change. People move on from a position of power, to elsewhere. So opportunities arise. Sometimes ones that you thought were gone. Sometimes, otherwise. There is NO game plan. No formula for getting something looked at, or even picked up. So you chip away at the Mountain. You pay attention to the cracks, and you wait. Sometimes you take a nugget from a "Rejected" pitch, and you pocket it. Then maybe you do that a number of times( which is likely) and you bankroll those Ideas until another opportunity presents itself to you.
Of all the books I have pitched, that were rejected, I have eventually re-worked them and folded them into something else. Every time. Because If they are good Ideas, they will find their place in time. They never flounder long.
I have always done enough mainstream work for the BIG 2 over the years to stay relevant. And whatever success I have had on ANY of those books, I have parlayed into attention for whatever Creator-Owned work I wanted to pursue. And I have been fortunate enough to have done a good bit of that over the years.
Part of that success is understanding what it means to be relevant. You can't become complacent. As cheesy as it sounds, you have to keep up with contemporary Music, Fashion, Current events and ALL things NOW. If you do that, then your Art will never look Dated or Old. there is a definite difference between "Old-School", and "Old." Don't let yourself fall into the latter. You are Dead, if you do. About every Decade or so, the Big-2 will pull out their Brooms and start trying to sweep out the "Old". Go back 30 years and you will see that I am right. The only guys/gals who stick around during these transitional times are the ones who stay RELEVANT. Case in point: STARMAN was the ONLY book to NOT be cancelled from the "0-Hour" EVENT. Not because James Robinson and myself were necessarily better writers or Artists than our contemporaries during that time. But, because we were MORE RELEVANT. To that period. We just hit with the RIGHT thing at the RIGHT time. Again, we could have washed out with everyone else. But we were LUCKY enough to hit some resonant frequency with people at that exact time. And THAT is what makes up a huge part of what success is regards to creative endeavors . LUCK. You could craft what you think is the strongest work of your career, then put it out there for people, and it FLOPS. Then, conversely do something you din't think was your best effort, drop it, and people go CRAZY for it. There is NO rhyme, nor reason. You just have to keep trying. keep telling stories, and hope they ring peoples bells. If not, Then you are yesterdays toilet paper, covered in your own worthless shit. And then you get flushed.