March 17th, 2015


R.I.P. The Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role-Playing Club (1994-2015)

I'm more than a year late on this, and it's far from what I'd hoped it would be, but at long last I'm finished with the principal cartooning on the second and last issue of the Eltingville Club wrap-up. Fingers crossed, we'll find only a few, minor goofs and gaffes to fix as Sarah compiles this mess in Photoshop --  I'm hoping nothing we find will require me to actually have to draw these characters again or re-letter more than a sentence or two. There's some clunky elements and more than a few things in the book I'm unhappy with, but with the sheer number of panels and jokes and bits of business in there, there's got to be something of interest in the mix to justify the comic's price tag, if not the ridiculous amount of time I spent on this mess.

I feel badly for all the work Sarah will have to put into making the second issue come together, there are a lot of disparate elements to be digitally assembled, the comic is a Frankenstein's monster of parts, paste-downs and patches. I have a tremedous urge to burn the pages as soon as they're all scanned. Dressed as a Universal Studios villager, pitchfork and torch. I hope the actual reading experience won't be as messy as the book itself. There's a bunch of good gags and some crazy crowd scenes, and some hopefully good shots at comic book behavior. It's not exactly the ending I'd wanted, I think the first issue works ends the series well enough on its own, but I always wanted to do a "ten years later" story, so, whatever. I can't wait until it's all really over and done with, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.

I can't blame comics for anything that went wrong on this comic -- I can't even blame the tumble I took down the stairs last February which screwed up my already-hurting drawing hand. It's all me, all the time, all the way down the rabbit hole on this one. Scott Allie and Daniel Chabon at Dark Horse certainly gave me enough rope, they were supportive and patient, bless 'em, and Scott's doubts I could turn both issues in on time were well-founded. The more I stressed it, the later it got, the later it got, the more I stressed it and added to it, the more I added to it, the later it got. A real mess, something I have to address on whatever else I end up writing and drawing down the line. I have no idea what that will be, but if I hope to get more comics out there I have to work on changing my habits, my process, my head. I have to make some kind of peace with my artwork, my writing, my limitations and overcompensating for them, my anxieties and lousy self-image and how my work reflects and affects those things. I'm turning 50 next month, I don't have as much time to fuck around with this garbage as I used to. I have notebooks and computer files full of story material and gags I'd like to see through, I know I'll never get to half of it, especially if I keep this "spend a year on a two month comic" bullshit going. And I have to make better money, there's no two ways about that, and I can't do that the way I'm operating. So, some things need to be addressed, unless I want to get a day job and do this as a hobby. Of course, I have no idea what I could even do for an actual day job. All I'm suitable for is human guinea pig or dressing up in a Statue of Liberty costume and standing on the sidewalk with a sign for an income tax joint. Whatever happens, I have to at least pretend to be an adult human being-type person much more often than I do now. Terrifying.

In the short-term, I hope to find some writing work to allow my hand to rest up. I simply can't draw much right now. My hand's a wreck and my arm feels like dead meat hanging from the socket. My shoulder and neck are in constant pain. I'm clenching my jaw again and find myself holding my breath more than usual. I can't sleep from the pain and discomfort. I still have some late commissions to deal with, and I need work, but I'm going to try to avoid doing a lot of finished art for a while. I'll hit MAD up for work, hopefully I'll dig something up there, they've always been good to us and specific, short-term drawings are about all I can handle for the time being. I'm hoping I can push some gag strips and stuff along slowly on the side, but unless I'm given an offer I can't refuse (House of Fun #2 for how much a page? Ha ha ha ha! Thank you, I'll get right on it!) drawing comics is basically on hold for a while.

It's super-weird, I feel sort of like I'm starting all over in this business. I have some pitches out there, but I'm having no luck getting an artist on one project, and so far there isn't much interest in the other. I'm working on another pitch for something Sarah and I have been kicking around a while -- a self-contained story/mini-series, I think it's got a shot -- and I'll likely send a few things out to other publishers soon. But I'm super-worried. My options are limited. I have no contacts at DC or Marvel, even if I was interested in doing anything there. I don't like to work on things I don't feel I'm right for. That's three-fourths of what's out there. I like to do my own stuff, but that's not super-viable for someone with a mid-carder following. The only jobs I've been offered as of late have been for terrible rates. I'm not fast enough or fan enough to take jobs that pay less than I was paid to work in 1991 -- and this new stuff involves work-for-hire with no royalties, to boot. I don't hack material out, my OCD won't let me even if I tried, so, volume isn't a viable option right now. I know I have to approach my work differently, work smarter, with something resembling confidence -- lessen the amount of material I stuff into a project, for one thing. But even then I can't see doing solid work I'm happy with for money I'm not happy with. This industry is a ball of confusion for someone like me, too old and in need of paychecks to do webcomics, someone whose strengths are short stories and humor -- two things nobody is clamoring for these days. I'm not a book guy, I'm an anthology guy. I want to write horror stories, humor stuff. I'm not a crowd-funding type. On top of that I'm someone who has trouble contacting potential collaborators or turning towards editors for help. And I'm even afraid of having a pitch accepted, because that means making decisions and making good. Crazy person! These are all things I'm working on, things I needed to work on decades ago, but back then, I was too busy making comics for it to really affect me. The phone rang, I never had to pitch, there were paying anthologies and opportunities came without my pursuing them. Smaller industry, different times.

In case anyone's wondering, yeah, I'd love to be working on Beasts of Burden scripts, but that project's in suspended animation. I can't write anything until the three sitting scripts are produced, and we've seen no new art since early last year. On top of that, the Reel Fx film appears to be a no-go, which is no great surprise given how those things go, but for a while there it looked possible for some more money to shake out of the deal. The book continues to sell decently, we're at a sixth printing, but it's been five years since it was published, and we're still far away from a second volume. It's a frustrating situation, to say the least. And I can't put together a Dork collection even though Dark Horse is interested, the time it would take would be a schedule and income killer. We already went through that with the Milk and Cheese book. It's definitely worth doing, and something I want to see happen, but we need to free up time to do it. Oy.

Anyway, we'll see how it all goes. I'm feeling down but not out. I'm going to celebrate putting Eltingville down by cleaning my office. Or not cleaning it. I'm pretty tired.