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Year In Review

XMas2012
Stacy and I on Christmas Eve at my Aunt and Uncle’s

It’s time again for my year in review post. I’ve been doing this for the past three years, looking backwards and forwards, trying to gauge where things have been, where they are now and where I’d like them to be in the year ahead.

2012

Last year I said 2011 was one of the “busiest and most intense years I’ve ever had”. I thought 2012 would calm down but I was wrong. Without a doubt, 2012 was the busiest year I’ve ever experienced. Invigorating and exhausting at the same time, it was a year of big milestones.

Marriage. Two years married and Stacy and I are doing very well. Our schedules can get sideswiped with responsibilities and last minute deadlines, but we’re still able to come together and provide love and stability to each other. My marriage is so incredibly precious to me. I have a hard time expressing that without falling into cloy prose that’ll send you all into sugar-shock. In short – it rocks.

Career. Um, yeah. I put my nose to the grindstone and wrote more this year than every other year combined. 2012 was a tornado of productivity writing and lettering over 150 comic strips, writing 16 issues, 14 tutorials, and a graphic novel, attending 15 conventions, running a comic talent contest with 300+ submissions and helping create a booster pack of game cards for Munchkin. This was the year I really pushed to get my work out to a wider audience and it looks like it’s working.

Travel. In late 2011 I said that I tapped myself out on travel, but 2012 was my most intense travel year yet. England (London), USA (Albany, Anaheim, Boston, Indianapolis, London, Los Angeles, New York x2, Northampton, Oakland, San Diego, Seattle x2) and Canada (Calgary and Halifax x2). I don’t want to make any predictions for 2013 based on how bonkers this year was, but I’m planning on being home more often.

Looking Ahead to 2013:
With ongoing commitments to Skullkickers, Birds of Prey and Pathfinder along with Klonoa and Wonder Momo for ShiftyLook and Makeshift Miracle Volume 2 as well, it looks like 2013 will be just as busy as 2012 on the writing front. Add that to my coordinating and teaching responsibilities at Seneca along with UDON projects popping up from time to time and things are looking decidedly work-heavy.

In 2013 I need to make sure I don’t miss all the social stuff. Family and friends need to be a priority in the coming year. I did a great job focusing on getting projects done in 2012 but a balance needs to be struck. I can already see that making time for rest and fun times will be a challenge, but I have to make sure that happens or else I’m going to burn out.

Things I’ve learned/mantras on my mind for 2013:

Communication is invaluable. If you can impart your message with confidence and clarity you’re ahead of the game.

Self motivation is a renewable resource. A short break, a nice meal or a good night’s rest can make all the difference when you need to pick yourself up and take another crack at something.

Hard work is more valuable than luck. Don’t expect something to happen just because you ‘hope’ it will. You have to build it yourself. Any help you get from outside is a bonus, not an expectation.

It’s incredibly difficult for me to sum up the experiences and emotions this time out. Picking a few key moments from the year doesn’t seem to do it justice but I don’t want to ramble endlessly either.

Okay, how’s this:

2012 was the year I felt like I could actually call myself a ‘writer’.
In 2013 I’m working hard to get good at it. 🙂

Year In Review

Almost a year ago to the day I posted up a Year In Review for 2010 with thoughts on how the year had gone and intentions for 2011. 12 months later, I’m here to see how that went and do it again.

2011

2011 was one of the busiest and most intense years I’ve ever had. 2010 was a juggling act between personal and professional while this year was almost entirely career-focused. It was a roller coaster ride.

Although I’ve been working for UDON since 2003 on a variety of professional projects, this was the year where I felt like I finally stepped out and made my own personal work a priority. I kept UDON projects rolling, but Skullkickers and Makeshift Miracle were at the forefront and it felt great. As difficult as it could be at times, the well of energy I can draw upon is much deeper when I’ve got such a large personal stake in things.

Marriage. Stacy and I were, quite literally, in the Honeymoon phase of the marriage and that’s been wonderful. Even when things are nutso we’ve both been pushing to make sure our joy together and communication is a priority. Having the marriage as the rock bed of our life has been stabilizing and reassuring despite all the other ups and downs.

Career. A focused and dedicated push forward with creator-owned comics along with a slew of UDON projects, teaching/coordinating and planning future projects aplenty. I’m learning a lot about myself, the industry and making new friends throughout it all. I’m hopeful that it can all continue to grow.

I did a ton of promotion/interviews and a lot of them went really well, but I have to call special attention to the chat I had with Guys With Pencils (part one and part two) and the swap-interview I did with Cullen Bunn (part one and part two) as two absolute standouts. They struck the right note and delved a bit deeper.

Travel. Another crazy year on the move. England (London and Teesside), USA (Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Charlotte, San Diego, Indianapolis, Chapel Hill, Annapolis, New York), Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone, Nara) and Canada (Calgary, Banff). I thought last year was the peak for travel but I managed to go even further in 2011. I do honestly think I travel-tapped myself out, mentally, so 2012 isn’t going to be quite as ludicrous. No, really.

Looking at last year’s list of goals for 2011, here’s what I had listed:

Communicate joy. I made some progress here but it’s still a goal to expand this in 2012. It’s easy to get caught up in negativity and psyche myself out but I want to keep a positive attitude as much as possible and let other people know how much they mean to me.

Buy less and buy smarter. This worked quite well in 2011, actually. Stacy and I made a conscious effort to buy less overall and I feel like we didn’t impulse shop.

Cook more. I did cook quite a bit but when time was crunched it was way too easy to fall back on the foods I already know how to prepare. I’m hoping to push my culinary skills a bit more in 2012.

Keep going. Simple, right? Don’t stop.

Looking Ahead to 2012:

Stacy’s creative projects continue to move forward and I’m hopeful next year will be her breakout. If you’d read what I’ve read you’d know exactly how wonderful her stories are and the pitch-perfect balance of engaging characters/snappy dialogue that permeates her writing. She’s rocking it.

Seneca will get more of my attention in the new year. The school has been running well but I feel like we’ve been navel-gazing and focused on making internal changes. In 2012 I want to really show off the great work the students create and let the animation industry (local and abroad) know what we’re capable of.

Skullkickers will continue and we have big plans. We won’t be able to put out 11 issues like we did in 2012, but the third arc of Skullkickers will be so jam-packed with good stuff that I think it’ll make up for the frequency. That arc, ‘Six Shooter on the Seven Seas’ will finally tip our hand a bit, answering some of the big questions (How does the big guy have a gun in a medieval fantasy world? Is there a bigger story being built?). I feel like it’ll be our best chance since the comic launched to grab new readers and keep them intrigued. Munchkin-Skullkickers arrives midway through the year and it will be another great chance to expand the readership. The gang at Steve Jackson Games have been incredible to work with.

Makeshift Miracle also continues with chapters 3+ arriving online. The first printed Makeshift book will also arrive late April/early May and the cover and pages to come are just as jaw-dropping as what you’ve seen so far, trust me. UDON has committed to at least 2 books for Makeshift to tell the newly expanded story and, if it goes particularly well, I know where I’d like to take things beyond that. Fingers crossed. Once the pre-order info is live I’ll be relentlessly pushing that through every social channel I know and your support will be unbelievably appreciated.

Beyond that, I’ve been working with an incredibly skilled artist in Chicago on developing a kids graphic novel adventure series. The pitch was completed last month (story outline, character designs and 6 finished coloured/lettered pages) and I’m incredibly proud of how well it came together. I’ll be pushing hard in 2012 to get it attached with a publisher I think really understands what we’re going for. I’d rather take time and make sure we find the right fit rather than jump in too quick and waste this opportunity.

Other stories are bubbling around in my brain, I’m just looking for the right art collaborators to make them a reality – a generational horror story, a deadline-driven supernatural suspense mini-series, a modern-spun fable with stage magic and faerie folk, a super-powered sci-fi survival tale, a black-hearted violently sarcastic look at movies & media, a rapid-fire deconstruction of heroes and their adoring public… working on Skullkickers has helped me push past some of my creative fears and over the next few years I’d love to develop all of the above, one way or another.

Things I’ve learned/mantras on my mind for 2012:

– You’re the only one who can move your creative goals forward. Make it a priority. No one else will do it for you.

– Don’t make unrealistic plans. Those can only lead to disappointment. Compartmentalize your goals and set achievable milestones.

– Don’t expect someone else to throw you past the goalpost and tell you ‘You Scored’! You have to build your own momentum in 2012.

– We all want that end result and wish it was easy. We’re all scared, nervous, jealous, unsure. We all have good days/bad days.
Keep pushing.

Year In Review

Some times I get a chance to bang out thoughts on the year that was, but I don’t do it as often as I should. So, here goes…

2010

2010 was, unarguably, a banner year. It’s one that will warm my heart in possible future chilly times and a year I will never forget.

Marriage. A relationship that’s grown in depth and joy the longer it’s gone on. I’m unbelievably thankful for the love and support Stacy has brought to my life. I wake up each morning and don’t feel complete until I have my wedding ring on. Seriously. I know that’s the kind of afterglow that comes with 2 months of happy marriage, but the deep bond I feel surprises me time and time again as we embark on this amazing journey together.

Career. UDON celebrated 10 years and released a commemorative anthology/tutorial book I spearheaded. Other UDON-related duties included writing a 4 issue Street Fighter mini-series and managing high profile projects including ad/concept work for Inception, Clash of the Titans, Godzilla, Alice: Madness Returns and Suckerpunch. The company is focused and the books the studio has lined up for 2011 are looking sharp.

Career. I wrapped up my 2 year probationary period for full-time employment at Seneca, so I really am a Professor and Coordinator now. Crazy. The college has been incredibly supportive of my work schedule and other pursuits. The students continue to inspire and challenge.

Career. I launched a creator-owned comic series at Image called Skullkickers that has been an exciting roller coaster ride. I’ve built up fantastic new working relationships, pushed myself creatively and am doing my best to make a mark in comics bit-by-bit. In an industry where original properties tend to die, we’re fighting the good fight and getting some decent press coverage while Image puts some extra muscle behind the trade release coming in March. I tentatively pitched SK as a mini-series but it’s now expanded in to an ongoing that will be keeping me extra busy in 2011.

Travel. England (London and Teesside), USA (Seattle x2, Dallas, San Diego, Hawaii, Portland, New York, Baltimore and Boston), Japan (Tokyo) and Canada (Calgary and Quebec City). This may have been the most travel-centric year I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t even realize how many places I’d been to in 2010 until I went back through my calendar and photos.

I keep telling myself that 2011 cannot be as crazy as ’10 was. The fact that we made it through so much astonishes me. If Stacy and I can handle all of that and still arrive at December 31st with buoyant energy I know we can handle whatever 2011 throws at us.

2011 Goals

Communicate joy. Tell people how much I appreciate them more often. Compliment the people around me who are doing great things. Engage creative people online and let them know that their work is inspiring.

Buy less and buy smarter. Stacy and I have been talking about how we don’t need as much “stuff”. Question purchases and ensure that what’s being bought is needed and decent quality. Our money is better served paying down the mortgage and having new experiences rather than just piling items in to our home.

Cook more. I enjoy cooking and find it challenging and rewarding. I want to cook more and try new foods.

Keep going. Keep doing the things I love and put myself behind the work, day in and day out. The plan (is there a plan?) is working. Keep going. Don’t stop.