We’re coming up on New York Comicon, the very first New York Comicon since New York Comicon happened last year. Much has changed for me since the last New York Comicon last year. (I’m just going to keep typing New York Comicon as many times as I can.)
At NYCC (couldn’t do it) last year, I was a guy a few of you had heard of, but most of you hadn’t. I had a well-received Image series called 27 in 2010-2011, and prior to that I had a book come out through SLG called Strongman. While I had deals for two other creator-owned projects (Strange Attractors and Letter 44), neither had arrived yet. I knew a lot of creators (which remains one of the best things about being a comic book guy, and I suspect always will be), but I didn’t have much of a foothold in the mainstream comics world. That was fine. I figured Strange Attractors and Letter 44 would come out, and maybe the next thing after that, and maybe by then my profile would be high enough that I would start having conversations about Big 2 work. No rush.
And then I was introduced to a DC editor who asked me to pitch on Swamp Thing. I ended up getting that job – it all locked into place around the beginning of December last year. Still, it feels to me like NYCC 2012 was where what I’ve been calling the “crazy year” started. As of the announcement yesterday that I’ll be working on a relaunch of She-Hulk for Marvel with the incredibly talented Javier Pulido, I have six ongoing titles, five with the Big 2 and one creator-owned. SIX. I say that not in a “holy shit, look how awesome I am” sort of way but more of a “holy shit what is happening???” way. They are, listed in the order I began to work on them:
Letter 44 (Oni)
Swamp Thing (DC)
Red Lanterns (DC)
Superman / Wonder Woman (DC)
That is a wide spread of material. Realistic sci-fi/political thriller; supernatural weirdness with strong horror overtones; aggressive space opera; street-level antihero super gang; superhero epic with a romantically involved lead couple; and a superhero legal drama.
None of those are like any of the others, and that is, frankly, one of the only reasons I am able to handle this workload. My Red Lanterns mindset doesn’t take up the same headspace as my Superman / Wonder Woman mindset. So, ideas don’t really bleed across books, and I can snap myself into whichever one I need to focus on at the time. I’ve also become a pretty lean, clean, writing machine. Not a lot of fat in my schedule right now. Part of that is, of course, my increasingly-mentioned day job, which I discuss in more detail here. In the abstract, it might sound a little intense and focused and miserable, but in truth it is only the first two things. Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time as possible doing something they love?
It all seemed to happen very organically. I could draw you a road map on the way one gig led to the next, which you might find a little bit surprising. I can tell you that there’s a LOT that goes on behind the scenes that never gets out there, which is as it should be. Still, the tricks to doing well in mainstream comics seem to be the same as doing well in life in general – be cool, do your best, do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it, and help people out when you can.
Another tip – work with great people. The artists, editors, colorists, letterers I get to work with… holy goddamn. They are magicians, and yet they are mostly humble about their incredible powers. It’s awe-inspiring.
Now I find myself in a strange position. I have the storytelling platform I have always wanted. It’s not necessarily about going higher for me right now. It’s about going deeper. Seeing if I can get better, seeing if I can find new angles. Navigating the weird waters of having a wide audience – especially one that feels very free to comment on my work to me directly (follow me on Twitter!) Figuring out how much of myself to put out in the world (or in the stories), and how much to hold back (you don’t get to have everything!!) Thinking about things like the creative impulse, and where it comes from, and how in the world to sustain high-level work over a career. Thinking about the next round of stories I want to tell.
Strange Attractors came out in May, Letter 44 hits next month (and people seem pretty excited about it, which is awesome), and so I’ve been thinking a lot about the next stories of my own I’d like to tell. Here’s what I’m mulling over right now:
–A battle of wits
–A common cause
–A story in the water, that will be very hard to draw
–A terrifying Thanksgiving
Who knows if any of that will come together, but it’s nice to think that it could.
So that’s where things are these days. Amazing what a year can do. My next post will be all about New York Comicon (got one more New York Comicon in after all – no, two!), which is just a few weeks away. See you there!