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 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.

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