Another year comes to a close. This was a really busy one for me.
I turned 37 this year, and I felt the numerology was in my favor to do some ambitious projects. First and foremost, I put together a team and produced a new comic series called CRISIS VECTOR. Things kicked off in January, and I worked at a breakneck pace to get both issues #1 and #2 through production simultaneously, like Peter Jackson filming Lord of the Rings, but with less New Zealand. The end result: 50-odd pages of full-color glossy comic book adventure spanning time, space, and the soul. I pitched it to publishers, they all said no, so now it is truly forever mine. Honestly, it’s the type of story that only could be mine. The genesis for Crisis Vector was the passing of my grandfather last year, and the benevolent ghost of his memory hung overhead throughout a lot of what I did in 2018. CRISIS VECTOR didn’t come from a place of the brain. When asked “What’s it about?” I often flounder like a fish out of water. I honestly don’t know what it’s about. I just did it. And now it exists, with thanks to fantastic artistic partners Samir Simao, Ross Taylor, and Micah Myers. I originally had CRISIS VECTOR slated as a one-shot, then a three issue miniseries. As I look ahead, I think maybe it will be a quasi-ongoing container for my self-published comic ambitions for years to come. My little sandbox in the graphic novel universe. I have issue #3 mapped out, which I thought would be the conclusion, but it seems to have spawned even more beginnings. That’s life for you.
An unexpected assignment came through mid-year, with a chance connection to the editorial staff at Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I landed two articles in the esteemed publication founded by Forrest J. Ackerman, tackling RETURN OF THE JEDI and THEY LIVE. I love movies, I love monsters, and I love Famous Monsters of Filmland, so the experience was pure joy. It also rekindled my freelance writing desires, and reminded me how fun it can be. I hope I get the opportunity to contribute again next year.
On the personal front, we made some major renovations to our 100 year old New England house. Living amongst a squad of contractors and seeing your home literally ripped apart and slowly put back together again is a next-level kind of stress. Not necessarily bad, but definitely a noteworthy experience. My sense of well-being is disproportionately tied to my physical dwelling (I guess this is a good a time as any to admit I’m a believer in astrology, and I’m almost a stereotypical parody of a Cancer). Gone is our mish-mash of a century’s worth of different exterior materials, the faded white of the house replaced with a clean and cool blueish-grey. Our little barn with its rusty metal roof now looks nicer than the house itself, decked out with smart asphalt singles and matching blue-grey siding. The roof of this place is slate, which requires specialized contractors, basically like masons in the sky. We fixed a bunch of issues up there, too, including repointing our funky chimney. I never anticipated living out an arc of This Old House episodes, but here we are.
When not writing, making comics, going to conventions, and juggling home renovations, Jessika and I managed to travel quite a bit. We went to Uruguay in the beginning of the year, visiting Jessika’s home city of Montevideo down at the bottom of the world. I’ve been enough times now that it almost seems familiar. It’s a truly unique place, and Uruguayans have a truly unique culture that is not easily describable or subject to any of the ideas most North Americans might have about South America. If I ever make my escape from the US empire, Uruguay is my likely refuge.
My lifelong infatuation with the US Southwest came back with a vengeance this year, and Jessika was kind enough to indulge not one but two trips to the region. First, I was in Las Vegas for a work conference, where I met up with my old Florida buddy Gordon Jonze and romped around the rapidly-expanding city. Gordon gave me a great look at the bizarre underground network of service workers who power the city. Nothing like seeing a place with a local, or enjoying heavily discounted food nearly everywhere. We parlayed Vegas into a trip to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Phoenix. On trip #2, we went back to Arizona and spent yet more time in Phoenix, and I spent my birthday in Sedona, one of my favorite places on Earth. Those red rocks are otherworldly, but Sedona proper has gotten mighty posh over the years. As much as I like dining in the same restaurant as GMA’s Robin Roberts (happened on my birthday), I equally enjoy the towns below Sedona in the Verde Valley, including Cottonwood, where I lived for a dazed and confused year in my early 20s. Good wine, good food, good people, and the amazing vistas of the desert. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
The tail end of the year saw the publication of Famous Monsters in October, which served as a kind of fuel injector for celebrating Halloween in a big way. I also landed a prose piece in an upcoming anthology, PROS AND (COMIC) CONS, coming from editor Hope Nicholson and Dark Horse Comics in May 2019. CRISIS VECTOR #1 got picked up as the “Pick of the Week” by Newsarama writer supreme Pierce Lightning on the New Number One podcast. I’ve been connected to Pierce online for years now, and am a big fan of their writing, so I was thrilled by that. I closed out the year by being a guest on the SCI-FI SATURDAY NIGHT podcast, which was a first for me. It was interesting to try to put together the sprawling puzzle of my “career” in a way that makes sense to normal people. Not sure I succeeded, but it was a fun experience and I’m grateful to host Dome and his team for the invite.
As I look to 2019, I feel like I kind of want to let my foot off the gas for a bit, sort of coast through the year and make the day-to-day more enjoyable. However, CRISIS VECTOR #3 is nagging at me in a big way, and I read a short story by my friend Ben Joe that for some reason immediately struck me as something that would make a really cool short film. So, with Ben’s permission I took a stab at converting the story into a shooting script. I may try to film this thing in the spring of the new year, adding another expensive and thankless creative output to my agenda.
I’d like to write more in 2019, perhaps contribute to a few new anthologies, magazines, or websites. That includes this venue, too. I blogged too infrequently in 2018, and I want to make these kinds of posts part of my routine. I get irritated and angsty when I don’t write, and this is my prime spot to do that. So no one to blame but myself on that front.
Not really of consequence to many- but I stopped eating meat around September. Not as a political act or anything, just a personal choice. It’s been good for me. I’m constantly surprised by how little I miss it.
Lastly, in attempt to cultivate a more honest and focused digital representation of myself, I’ve cut down on the social media channels. I’m off Facebook and Instagram, solely sticking to Twitter. And on Twitter, I’m making a conscious effort to talk to you all the way I really speak. There’s more than enough “Internet” voice out there and it’s so easy to fall into that pattern (I’m guilty of it). But that’s not my thing. All I can be is me, and that’s what I’ll strive for most in the new year.
Hope your 2018 was solid, despite the state of the world, and here’s a virtual toast to a happy and prosperous 2019.