As I write this, it’s my birthday. One of those non-numbers, the important ones are everything up until 18, then 21, then 25, then 30 then you’re counting in 10s – 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and then 85, 90, 91, 92, and up it goes year on year until you’re dead. Happening as it does in the nothing-time between Christmas and New Year.
Anyway, I’m 52 this year. New 52, if you’re a DC Comics reader that’ll mean something, if you’re not it won’t. It’s a non-year. Only thing of significence I can say is I think I started blogging around ’99, aged 29, and broke in to comics about 2001, so this has been the the 20th year as a professional, but I left my day job in about 2008 – so have spent far more of my adult life as a working comic professional than not – but it’s weird, your brain sort of locks in things you know about yourself as “facts” when you’re in your twenties, so in my head I’m still Paul-wants-to-draw-comics (I’m also still a 32” waste, and fit enough to run everywhere a normal person would walk – sadly none of those things are true any more). Some deep part of me hasn’t fully accepted that this is my day job now and that no-one will take it away from me (though they might just refuse to give me more work…)
This past year though, has been pretty good to me, I started off not sure how it was gonna go, I think I’d started the drawing of the Lion and the Eagle, but I’d also got some 2000ad work out of the way, having done two covers that came out last year (doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve only really drawn about 6 covers for 2000ad in my career…!)
Chimpsky and Dept K came out, two series co-created by me – and ran concurrently in 2000ad for a while (this is beginning to be the story of my life, work I do running at the same time and effectively competing with itself, if you think it’s bad now, wait til the new year – oh boy!)
Now Dept K and Chimpsky are both Dreddworld tales, but it’s still cool to have actually made something that hopefully will have long term legs in 2000ad. Next stop I’d like something wholly new, but that’s a hard task to master.
Most of the year’s has been spent drawing Lion and the Eagle, and, 120 pages in I’ve still 40 pages to go. But I’ve also found something at DC – wasn’t the plan at all, and my fortune comes from my good friend John McCrea’s misfortune, so it’s tough to enjoy the opportunity knowing it’s born out of that, but John got hit by long covid – he’s fine, but one of the major effects of long covid seems to be a sort of brain fog that can make working/thinking hard – and contrary to rumours, drawing comics DOES require a certain amount of brain power. John was still able to ink, but had found pencilling slower going, so asked me to help, slowly this has gone from a couple of pages of pencils to peniclling and inking most of the book – again wasn’t the plan (John is getting better and back to work though). In the plus column, it’s meant this year I’ve had Soul Plumber in print, and hopefully it’ll be collected next year. It’s a fun book. It’s also helped me show DC that I’m a man with a pencil and an ability to both do the job and do it in a timely manner, something I’m hoping will lead to more opportunities down the line.
Other things of real note: I finally wrote and sent a script to 2000ad, one quick rewrite later it was commissioned and I drew it. (It’s a short four page horror tale) I’d also worked up about half a dozen other ideas to varying levels of fit-and-finish. I’d like to do more writing, but honestly, the past three months has been the busiest of my life for drawing. I also wrote a fun little one page horror script that may lead to something fun eventually, we’ll see.
I wish I could put a number on how many pages I’ve drawn this year, I THINK it’s in the 200-300 realm. I know next year there should be about 240 pages of my work in print, albeit I still have to draw about 80 of them (and I’ve drawn about 100 of them in the past three months) I feel like it’s safe to say I’ve drawn 200+ pages of comics this past year. A good haul, I’ve never had a year with as much work. I’m hoping I can keep the pace, and find projects rather than have projects stumble on me.
On a personal note, I’ve let the blog slide, I have a patreon, I’ve also let slide a bit – I’ve used it to post stuff I’m currently doing, since so much of it has to be kept generally hidden until launch, so patreon is a good way to just … talk about it.
I still would like to get blogging back on track and twitter – well, every year I feel like this I suppose – but twitter feels like it’s evolving beyond being something I enjoy, but I’ve said that before and stayed with it. Anyway, last dregs of birthday gone now. New Year’s Eve coming up, and I’ve said it before, it’s easily my favourite time of the year. New beginnings, things you’ve done wrong you can get right, new habits can form, you can believe you can change (even if you can’t actually change).