2016. I think it’s easy to say this was a tough one for all of us, or at least those of us that are left. It seems we lost a lot of incredibly talented people this year. Locally, we can still feel the loss of Prince looming, also that whole election thing. Maybe you heard about it. I think most people were over 2016 by April. And while I am sure I said something similar, in the end I can’t call 2016 a total bummer for me. My favorite baseball team finally won the World Series after 108 years. So there’s THAT at least….. but yeah, it’s was a trying year but also one that seems to be leading to some greater good. A recap…
Writing last year’s wrap up was tough. I had already received the news that my first ongoing book at Marvel, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., was getting cancelled. While it was a huge bummer, it wasn’t a shock. I loved the book but it had an uphill battle in the tough comics market. We didn’t really have a hero in the book that was particularly well known, and Marvel monster books tend not to be big sellers. Regardless, I am still proud of the amazing team who worked on it. We wrapped the book and I jumped over to Ant-Man for a few issues, which was a blast. I really grew to love that character and hope I get to do more with him again down the road. This series taught me that pretty much any comic I work on moving forward needs a little comedy in it. Probably all the years of reading Mad Magazine as a kid.
After a good few years of doing comic book work, a rather large commercial job came at me that I couldn’t pass up. The timing was perfect as it hit when certain comic projects were ending and I didn’t have anything to jump right into. This type of commercial job is a long term freelance gig that takes several months to a year. I may not post much from it, but it’s been a great opportunity for our family and also allowed some much needed change to my work and our family schedule . Nicole has gotten the chance to spend more time at home and not travel as much for her job. This has been great as I think we were both getting pretty exhausted from the grind of being on opposite work shifts. The other great thing is that the long form project should allow for more time to devote to my own work. Which is something I have been struggling with for years. I’ve always wanted to try a creator owned comic project but the biggest fear of that is the financial aspect of it. I can’t devote half my year to a book that may or may not see a return on the investment. But now I can hopefully take a shot. I am pretty excited to see where that opportunity takes my art. I am also happy to start doing morning warm up sketches again.
One of the other highlights of the year was getting a Cintiq Companion. I purchased one from my college comic art instructor, Peter Gross, and so far I’ve enjoyed working on it quite a it. I need to put more time on it to really get comfortable, but feel confident it will come. The idea of creating more out of the studio feels very appealing.
In November, I learned that an article I contributed artwork for titled, Return of the Rapids: Could the Upper Mississippi River Run Wild Again? in Growler Magazine, had won Gold at the MMPA Awards from the Minnesota Magazine Publishing Association. Which was a huge and unexpected honor.
I also traveled quite a bit. I hit the conventions pretty hard this year. Chicago, Phoenix, Florida, and New York. Also a few local MN shows and in store signings. It was a lot of fun getting to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and also connecting or making fans in places I have never been to before. Huge thanks to all the conventions that had me, I had a blast attending them. We truly do live in a glorious time for high quality comic shows.
I am really looking forward to 2017. I think it’s going to be a great year. If I had to guess, maybe a quiet one. I look at it as an investment year. Put the time in on projects I believe in, be a little pickier on what I do and work my butt off on the ones I do choose to be on. I think I am going to pull back a bit from conventions. Maybe only doing two outside of Minnesota, the goal is to really slow down and lay the foundation for some new projects. With the benefit of some stable freelance work I’d like to get a more fixed schedule, less late night work sessions, allow some more time to hit the gym, and at least one day off on weekends. I’d like to cut out some time for more personal sketching as well as tend to things like my web store more and expand the shop a bit.
As always, thanks so much for checking out my blog and website. It means a lot. All the best to you and yours in 2017.