Whew! What a year it’s been. I recently posted about my favourite and least favourite films on the webcomic that I do with Nicole, which is in itself a good indicator of how comics have come to take a greater role in my life again. I’ve been reading more of them, getting more involved in the community of them, and most importantly, making more of them. Here are the highlights, in no particular order:
1) the iPad and digital comics. It was a little under a year ago that I picked up an iPad 2, partly to experiment with making comics in a format that would work with it, and partly to experiment with reading comics on it. I am pretty pleased with the experience of both, and with the device in general. I use it for gaming, streaming video, writing scripts, social media stuff. I don’t use it much for drawing but am hoping to do some more this year.
Digital comics purchases have not dominated my buying habits by any means but I have taken advantage of comixology sales and kind publishers who send me galleys, allowing me to read stuff like Saga, Morning Glories, the first volume of the Scott Pilgrim Color Edition, Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Eddie Campbell’s The Lovely Horrible Stuff, and Lucy Knisley’s upcoming Relish.
This year also saw a number of high profile attempts to get into the digital comics business, like Mark Waid’s Thrillbent and a variety of Kickstarter projects. One of my favourite discoveries of these is Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, published through Monkeybrain Comics.
2) making comics. Or perhaps more accurately, making the time for making comics. This year I managed to finish a new all-ages mini-comic called the Five Seconds Summer Fun Special, and get a good start on a new weekly webcomic called Time Wounds All Heels. I did both in Manga Studio EX, slowly overcoming the learning curve both for the application and the lovely Wacom Intuos 4 tablet that Nicole got me last xmas. As I write this, the webcomic is closing in on 20,000 visitors since it started in August, which makes it far an away the most-seen thing I have ever written or drawn.
My goal for this year is to continue working on the webcomic, improving my skills in general, and maybe get started on another project on the side.
3) the community. As I worked on making more comics, I naturally found myself sitting at my computer more, watching shows and movies on Netflix with a Twitter application updating in the corner. I started following other comics people from many sectors of the business; amateurs like myself, webcomickers, indie pros, mainstream artists, a few publishers and agents. I think that I probably now follow as many comics people as I do non-comics people, or close to it. Having that Twitter feed feels like being more immersed in the community, and has led to some nice exchanges and discoveries.
I also managed to make it to the inaugural Harbour Con-Fusion here in Saint John, a relaxacon where I exhibited for the first time in years. I had hoped to also make it to TCAF and the new Dartmouth CAF, but unfortunately could not. I hope to attend and/or exhibit more this year. After the convention I created a facebook group for Atlantic Canadian cartoonists to discuss their work as well.
I have also just recently gotten a little bit more involved with Reddit, initially to promote the webcomic, then to promote this blog a little, and finally as a regular reader of some subreddits that interest me. Reddit seems like it could be a gigantic time-sink if I let it, so I wish I could spare the time to do more there, but it’s a start.
4) women in comics. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the headlines associated with this topic this year: the rant by an artist about female cosplayers being “fake geeks”, the treatment of female artists by major publishers, the popularity of tumblrs like Escher Girls, and much much more. Not to mention the strong voices of female creators like Gail Simone, Hope Larson, Kate Beaton, Kate Leth, Faith Erin Hicks, and others discussing everything from current working conditions to rape culture.
All of this, along with other personal matters, weighed on my mind more this year than any other. I want women to be treated fairly and equally, and respected. As someone who draws comics about relationships, it was important to me that they be done properly. That’s why it was important to me that I collaborate with my partner Nicole, educate myself about feminism a little more, and just generally think before I write or draw. Can’t guarantee I will always succeed of course, but I’ll do my best.
5) really good comics movies. The Avengers, the last Dark Knight movie, Dredd, Amazing Spider-Man. None of them perfect, but generally a vast improvement on their predecessors.
6) really good comics in general. More than before I feel like I live in a golden age for comics, where it doesn’t really matter if Marvel or DC or whoever else cranks out any good stuff (though I realize sometimes they do). There is so much good stuff coming out from independents, from alternative publishers, self-publishers, webcomickers, and so on that I don’t really have time to read it all. It’s inspiring and energizing to walk into a great comic shop like The Beguiling or Strange Adventures and see the new EC artist collections by Fantagraphics next to the latest issue of Pope Hats, Kirby fourth world collections, auteur graphic novels, Love and Rockets, Archie digests, and so much more.
So, that’s all I can say for now. Gotta get back to making those comics. If you’ve been reading them (or this), thanks. Here’s to an even better year ahead.