I haven’t had much to say here in the last month, but with 27 #3 due to be on shelves in four days, I thought I might as well put something up. I could, of course, put up another installment of Agree to Agree, my ongoing series of posts about the ins and outs of creator contracts, but… nah. I’ll try to get to that this week, though.
One of the things I’ve been working towards for the entire seven and half years I’ve been breaking in (I just looked, and what I consider the first real step I took towards being a comic writer happened around fall 2003 – wild) finally came through in January. I’m not going to get into specifics, but if you look at the trajectory I’ve been plotting out ever since Strongman, and you’re familiar with the comic book creators’ world even a little bit, you’ll probably figure it out. Essentially, it’s the next big step from where I am now, and I’m on pins and needles about it. Why, you ask? I mean, if it’s such a Great Leap Forward (hopefully not in the literal sense – the Chinese GLF was a horrorshow), why am I not too excited to sleep?
Well, I am, but there’s more to it. To try to illustrate, there’s a book I read some time ago that had a conceit which I think applies here very well. Forgive me for not recalling the title, but if it comes to me I’ll update the post. Great little sci-fi thriller, which had as its central gimmick the efforts of a team of scientists to invent a sort of device that generated perfect luck for its user. When you strapped it to your wrist, everything went your way, no matter how improbable. If you needed to navigate a hallway of armed guards, you happened to walk through it at exactly the moment each guard chose to look up, tie their shoe, sneeze, etc., so you could slip through in that split-second. It would work over and over again, giving you exactly what you needed.
The gadget worked by allowing its user to select between quantum realities. There’s a theory of cosmology that suggests that an infinite universe within a matrix of infinite parallel universes must include EVERY variation not just on what’s in them (say, a redheaded Charles, and an Asian Charles, and a green-skinned Charles from Mars), but also on what happens in them. So, there would be a universe in which a Charles, identical to me in every respect, blinks right…. NOW, as opposed to when I actually am going to blink, which is right…. NOW. (Yes, I really blinked on cue.) That would be the one and only difference between those two universes. Heady stuff.
Anyway, so, back to the gadget in this mysterious book. At one point, the main character has to break into a heavily fortified facility. He basically just walks in, selecting universe after universe as he needs them – one where a security camera happens to short out, and then one where a bullet JUST misses him and hits a bad guy, etc. The problem he faced, which I thought was interesting and will momentarily allow me to bring this post back full-circle, was that the more he used the gadget, the more he felt an increasing certainty that he was just getting luckier, and luckier, and luckier. It was a psychological barrier that had nothing to do with the function of the gadget. In an infinite universe, all things are possible, and so selecting the “right” universe each time wasn’t luck, it was actually pretty mechanical. After using it long enough, he became crippled, convinced that the next time he used it his luck would “run out.” Good stuff.
So, that’s sort of where I am, except that I don’t have a quantum tunneling device helping me along. I know it’s not (entirely) luck – years of hard, consistent work play a role, as does getting my face out in the scene as much as I can at cons and so on, and of course, the amazing collaborators I’ve been so fortunate to work with. I can’t help but feel sometimes, though, that I’m inching my way out on a branch that’s getting thinner and thinner, trying to make my way across some sort of chasm to the fabled “other side” where all of my dreams come true (the ones that haven’t already come true, that is.)
But it’s not like I’m going to stop, either. Even if I am somehow burning up my cosmic store of luck, this is exactly how I want to use it.
(You know, I originally thought I would make this post a progress report on Strongman 2, which I do believe may be the finest piece of work I’ve ever had a hand in. There’s trouble in paradise, though – and that’s where this post’s title came from. Oh well – perhaps next time!)