Its been a while since I have had the time to do this, you know, Blog. But I decided, after a breif respite from the seemingly neverending SHITE that seems to have rained down on my family for the last year, to see if writing about it might help to " Exercise the DEMONS!", so to speak.
The last year has been pretty rough. We have had to deal with unexpected Illnesses, financial woe, and a miriad of other things that are none of your business…;)
I know everyone goes through this kind of thing, and not for a minute do I think we are special, and beyond the reach of Ill fortune, or just plain, Bad Luck. Im just bellyaching a bit. Maybe hoping that my connections via Social Media might be Kindred spirits in this regard.
The first issue has been the all mighty Dollar. After a 6 and a half year run on 50 monthly issues of EX MACHINA, I decided to take a break. So we took a week long vacation with the kids to the beach ( after not having a vacation in many years due to my schedule ). It was bliss. But only now, after a few years since that book was finished do I see just how burned out I was.
I have been working consistently in Comics for over 20 years, and in all that time Ive only done 2 monthly Comics. STARMAN and EX MACHINA, respectively. ANd with good reason. Drawing a monthly book is hard. Very hard. It drains every bit of juice you have as an Artist. Especially if its a creator owned endeavor, as were both of these books. Because its "Your" baby. Its all you, and yer trying to put out your best possible effort as a creator. Doing Company Owned/Freelance work just isnt the same. At least not after you have done that for years, then moved to doing personal work.
So while you are on a monthly for one of the Big 2, the money is great. Regular work, and regular money. Plus I have done both of my monthlies for DC, and they are superb when it comes to paying out royalties. I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of 2 very successful Monthlies at DC, and the royalties on both series have been VERY good to me and my family. But that, is really what you hope for as a creator: That as you get older, the work and effort you put into a series will hopefully take as much care with you, as you did while creating and producing it.
So after I finished EX MACHINA, I eased up, and decompressed. Buy only after a few years did I realize how burned out I was. Nobody can sustain that kind of pace forever. At least not when you are older. I co-created and produced STARMAN in my twenties. EX MACHINA was done in my late 30's/early 40's. So I started to realize that my speed wasnt what it was. Mainly because I didnt have an Editor knocking me upside the head to keep me on track.
SO, we started to feel the pinch financially. And after a lot of soul searching, despair, late bills and just plain Bad Times, I realized I was in a creative slump. OK, so If you dont know what that is, or have never been through it, I refuse to try and explain it to you. Mainly because a LOT of folks just think its laziness. I assure you, it is not. Its the most painful thing a creative type can go through. Having no vision, creatively and not being able to produce, its just plain torture.
So being a Freelancer, and at the mercy of the level of production you are capable of, well, things can fall apart pretty quickly financially. And thats what happened. Slowly. Too slow to track it and realize what was going on. So you set about trying to figure it out. You sell Original Art, you take Commissions, and do whatever you can to get money in the door. But thats not the same as producing. Doing new work. Perpetuating your reputation as a creator and enduring.
So things fell apart. But I am an Illustrator. Its a badge of honor I wear proudly. So I had to find a way. A way to rebuild and fix things, take care of my Family and regain the respect from family, Friends and Fans that I may have lost.
So, after the WHISTLING SKULL was released by DC Comics ( thank you Ben Abernathy, Hank Kanalz and Jim Lee ) I decided that I would leave the Freelance life of working for the Big 2, and pursue ONLY Creator Owned endeavors. I found IMAGE COMICS. Through the suggestion from my lawyer and Contemporaries, I pitched CHIN MUSIC with Steve Niles to IMAGE. They loved it and we are on the Eve of the release of issue #2. With a commitment to do ROUNDEYE: For Love, to finish WAR HEROES with Mark Millar, and an open door beyond. Plus wrapping up my Chapter in THE GRAVEYARD BOOK with Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, I really feel like I have found my home. I am doing the work I always hoped I would get the chance to do, and am happier creatively than I have EVER been in 20+ years of drawing Comics.
So on the Eve of a life, upturned and trying to rebuild? Im thankful. That my family is in tact. We have food in our refridgerartor, a roof over our heads, and the opportunity and freedom to pursue the things we love. In my case, that would be comics.