What a difference a few weeks makes.
Been nursing a collection of bad vibes, in the wake of convention season, and have spent the past three weeks running away from the prospect of writing about it, pushing it back with interviews, skip weeks, and reviews. It was either that or risk posting a column that was notable mainly for its misery quotient, frustration spilling all over the place, and hollow threats of giving up everything once and for all. “Writer no more,” or some nonsense. Writing about how I was going to quit writing, and ignoring just how ironic that would’ve been. But it’s all good now, a passing phase that I’ve gone through before, and likely will again, because imagination goes both ways, and only a naïve fool spends his entire week thinking about all the good stuff that could happen. Which actually explains how all this started anyway, following that double dose of conventions in Chicago and San Diego.
Attending both of those things always bleeds my bank account dry, but from a professional standpoint, they’re essential at this stage of the game. An increase in visibility is my next main focus, putting a hopeful end to this stick and move nonsense, which means matching faces to names. But even if I wasn’t busy trying to fit my “professional” badge, there’s just something about the entire con experience that makes the eventual lack of funds worthwhile.
Reading anything is intensely personal, let alone comics, the red headed stepchild of the pop culture collective. So many of us are conditioned that no one actually reads comic books, or that there’s something wrong with the people that do, and conventions are always good for putting that theory to rest. Thousands and thousands of people that dig the exact same thing you do, and hold the creators and the characters and the ideas to the high standard they truly deserve. There’s a current running throughout the entire place, even on the final days when everybody’s exhausted and run into the ground, and it’s all because nearly everyone there just loves them some comics. And that’s some special shit right there.
It’s hard to be immersed in something like that, and not come out the other end incredibly inspired. Not only that, but there’s the justification factor, proof that there’s a reason for being at “work,” and jotting crap on pieces of scrap paper, willing to write on my hands if necessary, for fear of having that great idea spun in the wrong direction, because someone just asked me where the Da Vinci Code is. Something to rationalize never being separated from my notebook and pen. This is the only thing I know how to do, the only thing I know how to want to do, and there’s a level of comfort from being surrounded by other cats driven into excitable fits by Wednesday afternoons. And everyone’s relationship and connection to the material is unique in some way, how they discovered it, why they stay with it, what did or almost took them away from it. Shocking you with its skillful execution one minute, breaking your heart the next when it stops thinking or propelling itself forward.
Just feels like where I’m supposed to be, and that there’s so many chances at progress, with absolutely no excuses for falling short. This time next year, cats need to know who Damon Cross is. They need to be afraid of what Cam Ricks is gonna say when he opens his mouth. They might even know what The God Complex is. On the floor, in the panels, and even after the doors close for the day, leading things to the varied after parties, it’s nearly impossible to think of any reason why you wouldn’t. Too many possibilities out there, and it’s not about being the biggest, but about saying something relevant and unique with the work and the characters. Is the industry really ready for “the new color of comics?” Try telling me it’s not, around that point.
Which made the last several weeks that more disappointing, because cons can show you the apex, but returning back to the beat down laptop, creator owned projects that can never come together fast enough, and hoping to land on an editor’s priority list, bring you crashing down to Earth. I try to leave the mistakes in the past, but usually find more luck leaving the successes there, so stalling out, or worse, moving backwards, is something that doesn’t make for a happy writer. Wish that wasn’t so relevant, but I inject myself into the material, and that’s an unfortunate byproduct. You know what, scratch that, substitute the word “hopeful” for happy. A hopeful writer can ignore life’s personal distractions and get good work done, because of the belief that the uphill climb is actually leading somewhere. And for just a bit, I was getting a sinking feeling that it wasn’t. At least not anywhere I thought it should.
But as of last week, I got that swagger back, due to some encouraging mail, finished artwork that originated from my scripts, and that fervent, and irrational thought that there’s no stopping this now. People can keep finding new and more inventive ways of telling me, “No,” but I’ll just keep coming, devouring things like Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run for intellectual fuel, and emerging from the other end stronger.
And for clarity’s sake, the aforementioned “encouraging mail” has nothing to do with Bill Jemas’ new venture, though that sounds like a really nice idea. Thanks to Rich Johnston for mentioning me in his column, and to Mark Millar, who did have a hand in some of this week’s good mail. Gail Simone (buy Birds of Prey) and B Clay Moore (buy Hawaiian Dick) were also right there when I wanted to vent and solicit advice, and editor Craig Johnson had my back when I needed a breather. But right now, I feel that convention style electric current again, new possibilities staring me in the face, so please be so kind as to wish me luck. For what, you ask?
Well, that would be telling wouldn’t it?
Back in seven days for the column I’ve been secretly writing for the last three months, as it’ll probably be good to go.