Travel


Interesting month!

My first issues of Red Lanterns (#21) and Thunderbolts (#12) hit the shelves, along with another installment of Swamp Thing (#22).  My first opportunity to write Batman, a three-part Legends of the Dark Knight story called “Riddler in the Dark” went live over on Comixology, and I couldn’t help but notice tons of commentary on the Superman / Wonder Woman title I’m writing now (first issue hits in October), both negative and positive.

I’ve been tempted to jump into the fray a bit beyond my last blog post, but I decided that the best course of action would simply be to let the book speak for itself in October.  Anything else is just an expenditure of time and energy that I’d rather put other places.  Both of those are very limited for me right now, and they’re both a zero sum game.

So, on to more interesting topics (at least to me) – my schedule for San Diego Comicon 2013! For many reasons, I expect this to be the most action-packed SDCC I’ve ever had, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m sure it’ll be exhausting, but hey, it’s the big show.  If you aren’t bone-weary when it’s over, you probably didn’t do it right.

The biggest note is that my fall ongoing series from Oni Press, Letter 44, will have a black and white preview version of Issue 1 available at the show.  I’m not sure how available it will be, but hey, the hunt is part of the fun, right?  It’s your chance to check out what I honestly think is the best thing I’ve ever done many months in advance (the series doesn’t actually begin until October.)  Beyond that, my latest OGN Strange Attractors will be at the Archaia / Boom booth, so make sure you check that out, if you haven’t already.  I’ll happily sign anything you put in front of me.  Anything.

Here’s my schedule so far – I expect it to change as we get closer to the show, but I’ll update the post accordingly if that happens:

Thursday, July 18

(My birthday! I’ve heard tales of birthdays celebrated at San Diego, and if I’m incoherent and/or not present for the rest of the con, you’ll know that those tales are true.)

4-5 PM – signing at the Archaia booth

6-7 PM – signing at the DC booth

Friday, July 19

10-11 AM – signing at the DC booth.

11-12 AM – Writers Unite Panel, which is a comics writing tips and tricks panel I’ve done a bunch of times in the past at different cons around the country.  It’s always a blast, and we focus on not just tips for getting your stories done and making them good, but also ideas about how to break into the industry.  The panel always includes some of the best new(ish) writers in comics (myself excepted – I just happen to be pals with the moderator), and this year follows in that tradition and then some.  The panel will be run by Jim Zub (Skullkickers, Pathfinder), and the other writers besides me are Rob Venditti (Green Lantern, Surrogates) and Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, tons of DC stuff).  If you’re a writer, or want to be one, this is WORTH YOUR TIME.

Also in this window, just towards the end, I’ll be popping into the Oni Press panel, which will include a serious first look at Letter 44. I’m told you might have a chance to score a special variant edition of the first issue, which won’t be out until October!

3-4 PM – signing at the Marvel booth. Bring your Thunderbolts issues and I’ll deface them for you!

4-5 PM – Signing at the Oni Press booth – if you don’t make it to the panel, come to the Oni booth to get your advance copy of Letter 44 #1, a San Diego Comicon exclusive!

5:30 – 6:30 PM – DC New 52 Panel (Room 6DE) – we’ll talk about all the exciting stuff coming up in the New 52.  Always illuminating and entertaining.

Saturday, July 20

11 AM – 12 PM – signing at the Archaia booth! You can get my latest OGN Strange Attractors here, inscribed with a special message from yours truly (which will probably just be my name, but hey, that’s something.)

12:30-1:30 PM – Green Lantern – Recharged! (Room 6DE) – panel discussion about the new creative teams and direction for the various GL titles.  I’ll be there, I’m sure Rob Venditti will be there, and I would guess we’ll see some of the other GL writers and artists as well.

1:45 – 2:45 – Infinity / Avengers Panel – the Thunderbolts title I’m writing ties into Marvel’s big summer Infinity event, and here’s where you’ll get to hear more about both the event and the individual titles related to it.

4-6 PM – signing at the Oni booth! Your last chance to get a signed con exclusive Letter 44 #1!

Sunday, July 21

I leave around mid-day on Sunday, so I probably won’t be doing any signings or panels, but I’ll be with you all in spirit, as you stagger around the show floor, trying to squeeze that last little magic out of the convention before bidding adieu until next year.

Next con for me past SDCC will be Baltimore in September, and then NYCC, and then that’s pretty much it for the year.  While I love the cons, I love writing too.

Well, I really wasn’t planning to go this year.  San Diego Comicon, or SDCC as veteran con-goers call it, is one hell of a show.  It’s the biggest, most action-packed comic-related event of the year, with the best parties, incredible networking and immense numbers of fans.  It’s also by far the most expensive.  Hotels that normally cost $50/night are charging $250 with a straight face.  Airfare, food, table fees… all of it is jacked up.  However, it’s the big show, and so to a certain extent that’s to be expected.

I originally thought I’d go once every other year – after all, I live in NYC, and it’s not like we don’t have a massive convention of our very own (NYCC in October).  Since I went last year, this was supposed to be an off year.  But then, around May/June, something mysterious happens – the scent of SDCC starts to waft through the air, and everyone asks everyone else if they’re going.  I got an email about a nice table I could have at a great rate, I got asked to appear on a few cool panels… and soon enough I’m throwing caution (and fiscal responsibility) to the wind and booking a ticket.

So, yes, I will be at San Diego Comicon 2012!  Here’s the info on where I can be found:

Most of the time I will be tabling at the Image booth, which is 2729.  I’ll have plenty of cool stuff available, including plenty of 27, Strongman and some advance looks at Strange Attractors.

I’m also doing some great panels:

Saturday, July 14, 7-8 PM, Room 23ABC – I’ll be on the Writer’s Unite! panel along with a host of award-winning and best-selling writers, including Cullen Bunn, Ray Fawkes and Jim Zub, good friends all.  If you’re an aspiring comics writer, this is the one not to miss.  We’ll discuss pitching your indie comics, writing tips and process, and a ton of other cool topics.  I’ve done this several times before, and it tends to be a really informative, fun time for all.

Sunday, July 15, 2-3 PM, Room 4 - Kickstarting Your Webcomics Career: Keenspot 2012— Pioneering webcomics publisher Keenspot returns for their insane 12th annual Comic-Con panel to drop some knowledge! Get words of wisdom from the man behind the second most-funded Kickstarter comics project of all time! Learn how a popular Image Comics creator doubled his book sales at cons by giving his comic away for free online! Hear an amazing major announcement about the future of comic books! Creators scheduled to appear include Thomas Fischbach (Twokinds), Jim Zub (Skullkickers), Benny Powell (Wayward Sons), Brion Foulke (Flipside), Jennifer Brazas (Mystic Revolution), David Campiti (Exposure), R. C. Monroe (Out There), Chris Daily (Punch an’ Pie), Charles Soule (27), and Bobby Crosby (Last Blood).

I have a signing scheduled at the Archaia booth (#2653) on Friday, July 13 from 4:30-5:30 PM, where I’ll be signing some exclusive Strange Attractors teaser posters, which I’ll have in very limited quantity.  These guys:

So, that’ll be San Diego.  It’ll be over before I know it, and I’ll be half-dead, I’m sure.  I’m taking a redeye back on Sunday night, landing at noon, and then heading to band rehearsal at 5.  Lovely.

See you at the show!

I’m knee-deep in the spring convention season.  I got back from Emerald City Comicon in Seattle about a week ago, spent Easter weekend in Montauk (my first time, and highly recommended), and I’m headed to Chicago this coming Friday for the big C2E2 con.  By the time I get back from Chicago, I’ll have been away from home for 11 of the previous 16 days, in three cities.  I’ve even got another con two weeks from C2E2, but that’s a local show (the fantastic MoCCA con here in NYC), so at least I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, and I won’t have to deal with any airports.

Anyway, busy busy.  I won’t be tabling in Chicago, but I’ll be around.  I’ll be on two panels on Friday, and I’ve got a signing on Saturday.  I’m returning to NYC on Saturday evening, so it’ll be a quick trip for me.  Here’s the schedule:

Friday, April 13, 2:45-3:45 PM, Room S401abc – Archaia Panel.  I’ll be formally introducing Strange Attractors, my epic OGN scheduled for this coming fall, including some first looks at the incredible interior art from Greg Scott.

Friday, April 13, 5:30-6:30 PM, Room N426b – Comics and Pop Music.  Along with a really cool batch of fellow panelists, I’ll be discussing the way music has been addressed through comics, and where the two mediums might intersect in the future. Should be fascinating.

Saturday, April 14, 11 AM – 12 PM, Booth 529 – Archaia.  Signing advance teaser posters for Strange Attractors and answering questions about the book.  This is probably your best chance to get anything else you might want signed by me, since I’m not doing any other signings in Chicago.

Of course, feel free to say hello if you see me on the floor.  If you don’t see me, and you want to catch up, best way to get me is probably to give me a shout on Twitter – the handle is @charlessoule.

Looking forward to it – Chicago’s always a great time.  See you there!

My 2012 convention season will start up this weekend with the phenomenal Emerald City Comicon in Seattle.  This will be my third time attending the con since 2009 (I had to skip 2010, otherwise I’d definitely be four for four.)  Emerald City is one of the cons on the circuit that’s totally focused on comics (very little in the way of video games, movies, etc., unlike some of the other huge conventions, which have become pop-culture adventures instead of comic conventions).  Artist’s Alley is always filled with some of my favorite creators, and the setting can’t be beat.  I’m actually going to stick around for a few days after the con to check out Seattle.  In years past, I’ve flown in for the con and then left right after, which provides limited opportunities for seeing much of anything beyond the convention center and downtown.  This time, hopefully, I’ll get out into the wilderness around the city.  I understand that if you drive half an hour out of Seattle in any direction, civilization disappears (except for, presumably, the road you’re on.)  For a guy from NYC, that sounds pretty appealing.

I can be found at table C-10, sharing it with the super-talented Kurtis Wiebe, and next to the marvelous Jim Zub.  I will have a bunch of stuff available, including all my previous work (Strongman, Strongman 2, 27 First and Second Sets) as well as a convention debut of a beautiful promo for my upcoming Archaia OGN Strange Attractors, and whatever else I can fit on the table.  Ask me about The Spark, and I’ll show you some killer art for something new I’m working on that hasn’t been discussed anywhere yet.

I’ll be on at least one panel for sure, the “Writers Unite!” panel at 3 PM on Saturday in room 201.  It should be fantastic – the panel includes me, Jim Zub, Kurtis, Joe Keatinge and Ray Fawkes, and we’ll spend the hour talking about how we approach pitching creator-owned projects.  We’ve all had success in that world with various publishers (within that group, we’ve got projects with Image (both Central and Shadowline), Oni, Archaia, SLG, UDON, Marvel and probably others I’m not aware of yet.)  So, it should be a great chance to get some informed perspectives on getting your projects out there in the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I drop in to the Archaia panel from 2-3 on Saturday, also in room 201 (after all, it’s right before the writers’ panel, in the same room, so why not?)  Archaia’s putting out Strange Attractors, as I mentioned, and while we haven’t started the full-court promotional press, it might be a good time to start chatting it up a little.

Beyond that, it’ll be about meeting and greeting, trying to get occasional bits of sleep, and reacquainting myself with the insane world of comic conventions.  There’s nothing quite like them.

Apparently I like it, though, because my convention schedule for this year is shaping up pretty nicely.  I’m finding a balance between local conventions and bigger, cross-country cons.  At the moment, here’s my list:

Emerald City (Seattle) – March 30-April 2

C2E2 (Chicago) – April 13-14 (I’ll just be in for a Friday panel, and not tabling, but I’ll be around Saturday for a bit.)

MoCCA (NYC) – April 28-29

Asbury Park Comicon (Asbury Park, NJ) – May 12

Granite State Comicon (Manchester, NH) – June 10

Heroes Con (Charlotte, NC) – June 22-24

That’s “all” I have for the next few months, but SDCC is still a possibility and NYCC’s a certainty.  I’m also thinking about Toronto FanExpo in August and Baltimore in September.  I have a bunch of new stuff hitting in the fall, and I’ll want to make sure that I have some cons at which to show it off!

Oh, and while this post has been con-focused, man, do I have lots of cool news to share.  The final cover and release date for the 27 Second Set trade.  Brand-new Strongman material (not Strongman 2 – that’s done – this is something else, a super cool something else).  27′s first tentative steps out into the world of film.  Info about Strange Attractors and lots of delicate teases for the other stuff I have in the works… but all of that’s for another post.

See you in Seattle.

 

December 2011 was absolutely insane for me as far as travel.  I spent most of the first week out of the country for a work thing, then most of the second week in Los Angeles (which I wrote up here) and then most of the fourth week home for the holidays.  Now, I love going places.  If offered a choice between an amazing new TV and hi-fi setup, or the equivalent value in travel, I’d take the trip pretty much every time.  I think new places add richness to life in a way that “stuff” doesn’t.  Personal preference, that’s all.  But man, that was a lot of being out of town for one month.

I didn’t realize quite how intense December’s schedule would be when I scheduled a signing for the first weekend after New Year’s at the amazing Third Eye Comics down in Annapolis, Maryland.  Truth be told, I was a little burned out this past week, and I had to gear up a little to get excited for the event.  I had a signing experience when I was in Los Angeles that wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be, and the idea of slogging down to Annapolis for a repeat of that scenario didn’t sound too appealing.  Now, when I do one of these events, I’m not a prima donna about it, really.  I know that I’m not anything that special in the comics world – there are tons of incredible creators out there, most of whom have bigger followings than I do.  So, I don’t need to be treated like a king, but it’s still time away from home, and expense, etc.  For me, it’s about everyone acknowledging that we’re all in it together and everyone doing their best to make it work out well.

I set up a signing at Third Eye on the advice of Jim Zubkavich of Skullkickers fame – he told me it was one of the very best he’d done, and he couldn’t have been more correct.  The folks at Third Eye went WAY above and beyond.  I might not need to be treated like a king, but I’m human – it’s pretty nice when it happens.  Allow me to explain…

Third Eye isn’t the biggest shop I’ve ever seen, but it’s extremely well-organized and laid out.  The store never feels cramped, even though it contains just about everything you’d ever want as a modern comics buyer.  It also has what I would consider to be the secret weapon for a successful direct market – a guy behind the counter who goes the extra mile to make sure his customers are finding exactly what they want, as well as what they don’t yet know they want.  That’s Steve Anderson, the owner.  He’s extraordinarily enthusiastic and upbeat, and very smart about how he positions himself and his store.  He greeted every person who walked in, often by name.  He stepped out from behind the register many times to hand-sell books to people based on things he knew they liked.  Does it take a little extra energy, and a particular type of person to make an approach like that work?  Of course it does, but from the conversations I had with Steve over the course of the day, it pays massive dividends.  He passed along the numbers he moves on some of his titles, and it’s phenomenal.  There’s no question that, well, giving a shit seems to work.  If we had a few hundred more guys like Steve running around in the DM (and I know he’s not alone in his commitment and skill as a comics retailer, but there can never be enough) the industry would be in phenomenal shape.  Comics don’t sell themselves – not these days.  They’re specialty, almost luxury items, and smart salesmen (like Steve) approach them that way.

So, that’s the type of store you’re dealing with. On to my particular experience there:

I came into the DC area a day earlier for some research on a new project (more on that after the signing writeup), and drove down to Annapolis early Saturday morning.  The weather was incredible all weekend (mid to high 60s, which is weird for early January, but I’ll allow it), and when I got to the store around 9 there were already people lined up waiting.  Considering the shop didn’t open until 11, that was a very solid sign.  Steve had made sweet mix CDs for the first 15 people in line (he tends to do clever stuff like that), but it was still a cool thing to see.

I killed an hour reading the paper, then walked in at 10 to get set up.  I met Steve, his wife Trish Rabbitt and their very able co-worker Torma, all of whom helped to keep things running like clockwork for the whole day.  I didn’t take any pictures, which was dumb, but the signing area was set up with a sweet display of 27: First Set trades and the Second Set floppies.  We added in some Strongman Vol. 1s and some 27 t-shirts I’d brought down with me, and we were good to go.  Spent the next little while shopping, since I’d missed getting to my NYC shop that week and Steve was giving me a killer discount.  Landed some trades I’d been meaning to get for a while (Witch Doctor, Return of Bruce Wayne) and one I hadn’t heard of – Chase, a collection of DC stories drawn by JH Williams III from the 90s that looks incredible.

Doors opened at 11, and wow.  Line stretched through the store, and I was busy signing and talking to people for the next three hours and change.  We had a few dips here and there, but by and large traffic was very steady.  Steve and his team made sure everyone knew what was happening, who I was, and what 27 and Strongman were all about.  It was a great mix of people who were already fans and had brought in their issues or trades for me to sign, plus folks who were hearing about my stuff for the first time.  Totally gratifying and fun. I’d take my books down there in a minute, and I know we’ll do something again once Strange Attractors, Letter 44 and my other 2012 books start to hit.

I could say more, but the whole thing just left me with a really optimistic feeling about the industry.  Just a great rah rah “go comics” sort of day.

Other items – happy new year!  2012 will be epic, I think.  In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I finally got a greenlight for Letter 44, a project I’ve been working on for nearly a year, and pitched back at NYCC.  I can’t quite announce who it’s with yet, but I’m extremely excited about it.  I’m deep into research, some of the heaviest I’ve done since I wrote The Land of 10,000 Things back in 2000-2003.  I like research, though.  It feels like I’ve enrolled in a self-guided adult education class about weird, hyper-specific things.  In this particular case, I’m researching:

  • Executive branch procedure
  • US government covert action and black-ops
  • Bleeding-edge plans for manned spaceflight

I know something about all of those subjects already, but as I’m going through the research process, I’m learning how much I don’t know.  Still, it’s fun.  Once we’re grown up and sort of set in our lives, reasons and opportunities to gather in-depth knowledge about new subjects are rare.  Life is busy enough just trying to keep the lights on, without tracking down a copy of Executive Order 12333.

I came down to DC a day before the Third Eye signing in order to get some in-person perspective on US government.  That included a visit to NASA Headquarters (just the lobby so far, but still cool), the Capitol, National Mall, and the Air & Space Museum.  I only had a single afternoon, so I’m sure I’ll take another trip, but it was definitely worthwhile.  There’s no substitute for actually going to a place you’re going to write about.  Your observations aren’t going to be the same as anyone else’s.  For example, I was impressed with the scope of DC.  The streets are quite wide and the buildings are generally low, so the sky seems broad and endless (unlike in NYC, for example).  A small thing, but a detail I wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of without the visit.  And of course, Air & Space is absolutely incredible, and I’ll go there every chance I get whether I’m writing Letter 44 or not.  Apparently they’ve just opened up a secondary location down in Virginia with bigger air/spacecraft they can’t fit into the main museum, and I can’t wait to check that out.

I’ve got six serious, active projects right now (by which I mean projects that have other people involved, with deadlines and publishing plans and money in the mix, no matter how few or how little), and I’m in a phase I recognize from times I’ve been in this situation before – one where I’m always, almost unconsciously, evaluating my activities minute-to-minute to decide whether they’re “productive.”  So, I justify writing this blog because I consider it to be productive in that it’s connecting with readers and potential readers – it’s marketing/outreach.  I chose to take a train to DC and back because I would get the 3.5 hours each way to work.  I let myself do something for entertainment purposes only if I decide that I need to balance out work with something “fun,” in the way that you sleep in order to recharge to be able to get things done the next day.  I’ve been turning down social occasions unless I think there’s a secondary purpose to going (which is just awful, I realize.)

In the past, this type of situation has been temporary.  I get through the crunch and I can let go of the reins a little bit and let life just be life.  It feels a little different this time, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get to downshift again.  This is okay for a few months, but I could see the fun factor starting to fade a bit if it goes on too long.

Wow, after the exciting stuff at the beginning, this got a bit depressing, eh?  To end on a high note, here are the six projects I’m working on, in greater or lesser detail depending on where they are:

1. Strange Attractors – OGN about a guy who turns NYC into a sort of engine, and what happens when he turns the key.  Due Q3/Q4 from Archaia.

2. Letter 44 – limited series about the research items I mentioned above.  Coming Q4 from[_________]

3. [Project Jazzhands] – 6-issue series being drawn by [____________]. My first foray into superheroes, sort of.  Inspired by old Stephen King books.

4. [Detroit book] – 5-issue limited series about bringing Detroit back from the brink.  Probably out Q2/Q3 2012.

5. [Untitled Edie Sedgwick project.]  Basically what it sounds like.  Due later this year, I think?

6. [AR] – sci-fi action adventure.  Just about to start scripting, probably 6 issues.  Release date unclear.

So if I turn down an invitation to do something ostensibly fun, now you know why.

This is going to be a hell of a year.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Los Angeles.  I live in New York City, and I’ve been here for fifteen years.  While I have my issues with this town from time to time as well, it’s home, and I wouldn’t stay if I didn’t love it to death.  Los Angeles has always felt very unnatural to me.  In its own way, it feels just as tough to inhabit as NYC can be, but since it’s not my kind of tough to inhabit, I just end up asking why the hell people live there and put up with all that crap?

However, I’ve ended up in town from time to time, and last week I zipped out for six days to have a few meetings, see friends, do some writing and take care of some other business.  It was an entirely comics-focused business trip, which I thought was pretty cool.  First time I’d gone out there for that reason.  I hadn’t been to LA since I was on Jeopardy in 2009, so about two years.

First night, I swung by a comics shop to pick up the latest issue of 27 Second Set (#4, if you’re counting), and who happened to be there but Brian Michael Bendis!  He wasn’t doing a signing – he just stopped by to look at comics.  I don’t know Brian very well, although we’ve briefly met a few times here and there.  Super gracious guy, and it was fun to chat with him for a minute.  The experience well and truly reinforced the LA stereotype that you see celebrities everywhere (even though he’s from Portland, and I didn’t see any other celebs while I was there.  Still!)

I had an honest-to-goodness Hollywood meeting the next morning, which was pretty much as advertised.  Nothing life-changing even if the opportunity comes through, but it was good to have the experience.  I think one of the things I really took away from the LA trip is that ideas are capital out there (other places too, of course, but really out there), and it’s worth thinking about what my own ideas are worth and how I can use them.  Personally, I think it makes more sense to write a great comic that I own (or share with the artist) rather than get paid a small amount to write something for someone else.  I’ll do hired gigs when they come by (and I picked up two while in LA that I’m very excited about), but it has to be made worth my time.  I mean, I could spend that time working on one of my own stories, for better or for worse.

This attitude was generated in part by a conversation I had with a good friend of mine out there – a comics writer who I’ll decline to name at this point.  In a nutshell, he helped me to the realization that if someone thinks your ideas are worth something, then don’t sell them cheap just because you’re excited that someone will pay you at all.  There are a lot of ways to get screwed in the business (for example, write a work-for-hire comic that gets turned into a movie, and the upside belongs to the person who hired you, even though they can hire you for basically nothing to write the comic but would have to pay five figures to hire a Writer’s Guild person to write them a treatment, and more for a script.)  Anyway, it just made me decide to be a bit careful about the jobs I take, assuming I continue to get offered stuff at all, which is not a foregone conclusion.  I have a ton on my plate right now, which is phenomenal, but that doesn’t mean people will keep putting things on it.

Returning to the LA trip rundown – I checked out the La Brea Tar Pits, which were super cool and weird.  In fact, here’s a photo!

TAR. EVERYWHERE.

I’m sure Los Angelenos think that’s no big thing, but for me, the idea of a huge lake of tar filled with the corpses of Ice Age animals is wild enough, without sticking it right in the middle of one of the largest cities in the US!  The air smells like new asphalt, and the little museum (just visible in that photo in the upper right) was very interesting, particularly the restoration room in the middle, where they’re actually working on the bones found in this and other pits.  By the way, those elephant-looking things must have just escaped from the circus.  I thought it was pretty sad that no one was doing anything to help (that baby creature in the middle there was obviously super bummed), but what can you do?  I guess if everyone helped the animals to get out of the pit the museum would go out of business.  One of those moral conundrums you hear about.

Also while in Los Angeles, right across the street from the lake of tar, I visited the G4TV network offices to tape an appearance on Blair Butler’s Fresh Ink Online.  Really fun.  We each ran down our favorite five recently-released single issues, and then I did a little bonus interview on breaking in, some upcoming projects, etc.  I like Blair a lot – she’s very genuine and truly, truly loves comics.  The shows are up, if you care to watch.  Here’s the first:

http://www.g4tv.com/videos/56714/charles-soule-reviews-walking-dead-locke-key-batwoman/

and here’s the second:

http://www.g4tv.com/videos/56713/charles-soule-bonus-interview/

Other than some good times with various awesome friends and colleagues who live in the city, the other part of the trip worth noting from a comics perspective was a visit to the offices of Archaia Comics, the publisher of one of my next big books, Strange Attractors.  I’ve already shown a bit of artwork here, and I’m excited about how the book is coming together.  This was the first time I’d gotten to speak with the book’s editor, Rebecca Taylor, about the finished script, and it was extremely enjoyable.  You never know how it’s going to be when you get notes from an editor, but Ms. Taylor (or Tay, as she’s known around the office) had some excellent thoughts.  Pages are coming in on that one steadily, and I think we’re on target for a mid-2012 release (or so).  More on that soon.

So, that was LA, pretty much. Saw a few movies (you have to, right?), left with enough new projects to pay for the trip and then some, and got to hang out with friends I don’t see that often.  I’m not going to say it flipped my opinion around on Los Angeles – it’s still a weird town – but it was definitely one of my better trips out there.

If you’re reading this on December 20, 2011 wish me luck.  I’m supposed to get a phone call or email today about something big that I’m dying to have come through.  Fingers crossed.

This post was spurred, in part, by this article, about the upcoming debut of Brian K. Vaughan’s new title Saga, with Image Comics.  I read the article, and I looked at the preview pages, and I was struck by a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while – I’m genuinely excited in an unabashed fanboy way for the debut of that book.  BKV (as he’s known around the comics biz) is one of my all-time favorite writers in comics, up there with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis.  The other thing he shares with those folks is that I haven’t met him in person (although we’ve emailed a few times.)  More on why that matters in a moment.

I thought for a minute about how thrilled I am that soon I’ll be able to read new comics work from an ultra-talented writer whose stuff I’ve loved in the past, and was surprised that I hadn’t felt exactly that way in a bit.  Now, that absolutely does NOT mean that I haven’t been excited about new work from other creators.  I read tons of comics, and I absolutely get jazzed when I see a new issue from Jim Zubkavich or Josh Fialkov or B. Clay Moore or Nathan Edmondson or Cullen Bunn or any of the many other writers whose work I love.  The difference is that I know those guys personally, in either a big or a small way.  And while I can’t totally pin down why it’s different when we’re all sort of putting out work together as opposed to me just being a guy at home finding new books and digging them, it absolutely is.  I suppose it’s the difference between on a sports team and rooting for it to win and rooting for the Detroit Lions.  You can do both, but the reasoning behind each is different, as is the way each one feels.

In a way, I sort of miss the old days, because for some reason I don’t get as much of the ‘holy shit I can’t wait’ feeling anymore (Saga and books like it being something of an exception).  I’m rooting for the people more than I am the books, because I think that any one book isn’t (or shouldn’t be) what defines your career.  I want all the guys I know to succeed (which is a thing that’s pretty cool about comics – I don’t see a lot of petty jealousies and rivalries, for the most part.) That’s not to say that there’s not a sense of healthy competition between comics writers, of course.  There’s definitely some, “what’s he doing that I’m not?” when people level up, or get a nomination, etc.  But as long as the people getting those bumps are cool (and they are) and talented (and they are), then it’s usually just a reason to buckle down even harder on my own work to get myself to the next step, whatever that will be.

I meet more people in the business all the time, at all levels, and it makes me wonder if things will continue to evolve this way.  We’ll see.

In other updates, I’m headed to LA this coming weekend for a bunch of adventures.  I’ll be appearing on Fresh Ink Online this Thursday with Blair Butler to discuss this week’s coolest new books (and perhaps a certain final issue of 27: Second Set hitting shops tomorrow, 12/14), I have a signing at Meltdown Comics on Saturday, December 17 from 3-5 PM, and I have meetings with a number of very cool people about a number of very cool projects.  2012 is looking quite good from a new stuff standpoint, actually.  I have two things already locked down, and by the end of the week I could have another four set up at various spots.  That’s not even including two or three projects in the pitch development stage… busy!

In about 36 hours I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying out to what has been variably called nerd prom, conpocalypse, the biggest clusterf**k since pop culture cons were invented, the most exciting weekend all year for fans of geeky stuff, or just plain old San Diego Comicon.  I’ve only been once before, in 2009, just a few months after Strongman Vol. 1 was released.  I remember it being a pretty epic, intense time for a variety of reasons, but I had a blast.  The scene was all pretty new to me, at least on that scale. I wasn’t running around trying to network like crazy or trying to track down people I knew (as I only knew a handful of people in comics at the time).  It was almost… innocent.

This year, my laws, so different.  I’ll try to see everyone, talk to everyone, have drinks and dinner and lunch and breakfast with everyone, party with everyone, buy everyone’s book, sign everyone’s book, see everything, do everything…

…and try extremely hard not to die in the process.  I hope some of you will be doing some of that with me, and with that in mind, here’s my San Diego schedule as I know it so far (I’ll update it over the weekend as things evolve):

Thursday, July 21

1-2:30 – Signing at the SLG Booth (#1815).  I’ll have a VERY LIMITED set of Strongman 2 advance copies.

4:30-5:30 – Signing at the Image Booth (#2729).  I’ll have the 27 trade available, 27 t-shirts and a sneak peek look at 27: Second Set!

8:00 – I know I’m going to attend the Image/CBLDF party at the Westgate hotel, and we’ll see where the evening goes from there.

Friday, July 22

1-2:30 – Signing at SLG

6:00 – I’m planning to hit the iFanboy happy hour up on the roof of the Andaz hotel, at least to start.

Saturday, July 23

1-2:30 – Signing at SLG

Sunday, July 24

(probably some more time at Image/SLG, but I’ll have to figure out the details.)

I will also make announcements on Twitter (www.twitter.com/charlessoule) and possibly on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=557991766).  If you want to get in touch with me, those are probably the best two ways, but you can also shoot me an email at csoule at rocketmail.com.

See you this weekend!

Some years ago – I can’t remember exactly when, but it was probably at least fifteen years ago, maybe more – I was in an airplane headed in to land in Chicago.  The approach path was long and low, and so we spent what seemed like a long time flying over the suburbs on our way in to O’Hare.  From that viewpoint, you could see every house, and every yard, and every fence and barbeque – cars in driveways, toys in backyards, that sort of thing.  There were hundreds of houses, and from where I was sitting, they all looked basically identical.

It made me think about the difference in perspective – if you were in one of those houses, you couldn’t really see the houses next door because of the fences, and even the view across the street would only give you a few.  And if you decided not to look out the window at all, then you could at least occasionally feel that you and your family were the only people in the world.  Certainly, the idea that there are probably hundreds of thousands of homes just in Chicago alone, millions across the country, and billions across the world that are fundamentally similar in their makeup and aspirations – well, it’s unthinkable.  Not only is it hard to cognitively process, you don’t WANT to process it.  When you think that there are that many people all striving for the same thing you’re striving for – money, success, possibly fame, their piece of the pie, essentially – it’s overwhelming.  Defeating, really.  To function in modern society, we have to buy into a sort of polite fiction which ignores all of that.

So, back to this flight – when I was up in the air with all of these houses spread before me, it became impossible to ignore the truth that there are SO MANY DREAMS in the world – and every single person dreaming those dreams thinks they’re achievable, at least on some level.  Obviously, they aren’t (in full, anyway), whether because of lack of drive, luck, talent or some combination thereof, but it’s still amazing to think about.  On the plane, my filter from all of those dreams disappeared for a minute or two, and the the experience was almost assaultive.  I could just about feel the weight of it, and the idea of trying anything at all seemed just ridiculous.  (And yes, I realize that this post is also a bit ridiculous.)  The sensation passed, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Anyway, that’s what cons are sort of like these days.  Dreams everywhere, and it’s overwhelming, inspiring and sad, all at once.

Oh, speaking of cons, see you in Chicago this weekend for C2E2 – table F7!

NOTE: I’ll update this post with information on where I’ll be signing at ECCC over the next few days.  Right now, it looks like you’ll probably be able to find me at the Image booth, the SLG booth, and possibly the Cellar Door table from time to time.  I’ll also be updating Twitter through @charlessoule if you follow me (and perhaps that’s an incentive if you don’t!)  UPDATE 1: I’ll be signing at the Image booth from 5-6 PM on Friday, and other times as they get locked down.

I’ll be flying out to Seattle tomorrow for the Emerald City Comicon – very excited.  I’ve only attended this con once before, two years ago, just after Strongman Vol. 1 was released.  I had a fantastic time, not just because I have some family in Seattle, but because this con (which I’ll call ECCC to save on a bit of typing) is one of those great conventions focused on comics as opposed to movies, video games or other pop culture distractions.  I mean, I like that stuff as much as the next guy, but I’m going to talk books, see other people’s books, network, etc. and having the focus on comics is nice.  It draws a great crowd, too.

This will be my first con since 27 was released, and I’m really looking forward to getting out in front of people who have read it, and introducing it to people who haven’t.  I’ll have copies of all four issues, too – while #4 hasn’t hit stores yet, and won’t until March 9, I got my comp copies in the mail yesterday.  It’s fun to read the series again all the way through, in the way it was intended.  I haven’t really done that for ages, and it’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten some of the details.

I’ll probably also have some material from Strongman 2 (and I have it on good authority that Allen Gladfelter, the artist for the book, should have the last page of pencils – page 148 – available for me to see at the con.)  I couldn’t be prouder of Strongman 2, honestly.  It’s one of the strongest things I’ve ever done, in my opinion, and the rest of the team is bringing their A games as well.  I’ll be seeing the guys from SLG this weekend as well, and I should have some information on the release date soon.  The book will be completely done within the next 30 days, I think, so it shouldn’t be too long.

Depending on how the weekend goes, I may be able to make some more announcements, but some of that may need to wait for C2E2 in a few weeks in Chicago.  Big month for cons for me!

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