Ambidextrous #283- Seal the Deal

Ambidextrous #283- Seal the Deal

2009 is all about the unfinished business…

Around this time last year I was fully convinced that ’08 would finally be the year that I would achieve some level of momentum with this whole writing thing. The launch of Miranda Mercury was imminent, my little Robin story was actually being collected in an upcoming trade, and I was feeling better about this column than I had in a long time, either because of the response to the OMD column, or perhaps despite it. My personal life was also making sense for the first time in forever, anchored by a new girl, a new dog, and a new apartment. Instead of assuming this vibe was only an obvious warning sign that I was past due to have an anvil dropped on my head, I honestly thought this was when things would start to get truly exciting. I know, I know…it does seem like a bag of dumb thoughts in hindsight, but I’ve tried to become less cynical in recent years. But yeah, I’d have to admit that I thought it was that proverbial “time”.

Instead, my trend of false starts and periodic disappointments continued in relative earnest, beginning with Miranda’s initial launch in late February. Given that we solicited in December, about two weeks of the normal promotional window was eliminated right off the top, simply because of the holidays. Flattered as I was, there’s a reason that I was able to run three columns in a single week to close last year out. There’s just significantly less going on around that time, and I did not adequately prepare for it beforehand. Then I lost about a full week moving into my new place (this was a recurring theme for Miranda creators, by the way) and made a number of other small mistakes that contributed to a lack of information in that ever so critical Diamond ordering window. But in the next couple months, there will be an entire column on Ways to Screw Up Your Comic Books’ Launch to ponder and shake your head over, so I should probably stop here. The gist of it all is that things did not go quite according to plan on this particular front.

One thing that did was the actual consumer response to the book. The people that could find it really seemed to dig it, which was great to hear. Because when you’re working on it, you kinda feel like it’s something that people have been unknowingly asking for, but you can never be sure until it exists outside your own head. Hearing some positive things about #295 made us feel very good about our future, as every single person will tell you the work there paled in comparison to their work on later issues. Which is something even more interesting when you consider that the work on that particular issue scored a number of us paying assignments from other companies. Hell, Lee has drawn issues of Sheena and Zen, is currently wrapping up art chores on Top Cow’s Cyblade mini, and already has the first script for his next gig, which is a massive one. And he looks back on that stuff and just cringes…probably about as hard as I do when I’m faced with just how many word balloons I asked to be smashed onto those closing pages. But with a few more issues in circulation, who knows how much differently this year could’ve gone?

Obviously, it wasn’t quite “time” yet and Archaia ran into some financial problems that halted publication of the book. Finding a publisher is always slightly stressful for unknowns because you don’t get the immediate look that comes from having a decent résumé, and we’re still very grateful ASP took a chance on us. This project was met with a load of skepticism from a lot of people, and it’d be nice to give them another signature property as a reward for being brave enough to take a chance on it. But it was a tough situation, as we all made Miranda Mercury our staging ground of sorts, and again, there’s only so much talking I can do about it here. And this should also mark the last time I groan about the hiatus in public, as we’re going to push forward, and honestly, this was far from the worst thing to happen in ‘08.

Shadow passing away was probably that---a difficult situation made even more so because I was in San Diego during his last week. Cons are always a weird time for me anyway, because of the inevitable crash that often happens when I get back home, but I couldn’t wait to get off the plane this time, and spent a lot of time thinking seriously about skipping the whole thing next year. The day after I got back was the one where we put him to sleep, and you know, as upsetting and demoralizing as it was to get the news about Archaia’s restructuring, it just wasn’t a fair comparison between the two. One was just incredibly insignificant in the face of the other, and I truly realized that when I worked up the nerve to post a column about him here. Know I said it back then, but the response was really overwhelming, and it was just refreshing to see that it connected to so many people. Every time I get real personal I tend to regret it, but this was the one time where I had absolutely no qualms about exposing myself a little.

And when I did get back to writing, I was just on fire. I started getting ahead of schedule on Ambi, the This is Why series was kicked off, and in general, I just stopped stressing as hard over the publishing fate of Miranda. I knew the book was going to keep going, Lee knew it, and everyone else close to me seemed to know it. I’ve never really stopped working on it over the years, and this hardly seemed like a good reason to start. So I dug in, waited until a good (though somewhat expected) opportunity presented itself, and just kept writing in the meantime. Big thing I was told to keep in mind…get it right this time. So that’s the first huge thing on this year’s brief to-do list---take full advantage of this opportunity to (re)introduce comics to The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury. There were a couple of things we did right, a number of things we did wrong, and it’s all going to influence our approach coming out the gate this time.

Don’t know the exact month we’re back yet, but official announcements should be hitting over the next couple months. The actual publisher won’t come as too much of a surprise to folks, but in the meantime we are working hard to get this battle station fully operational. Some of us are in slightly different places both personally and professionally, but our commitment to the project remains the same and we think it’ll show. I’m writing new scripts and brainstorming on better ways to get the word out to you guys (and retailers especially), as it doesn’t appear that the rumor of comics being recession proof is the least bit true. 2009 should be a very interesting year for the business in general, and I want to come up with as many viable marketing and promotional avenues to make this book one of the true success stories in independent comics. Ultimately, this hiatus will only be as detrimental as we allow it to be.

But the re-launch ties into another larger goal of mine for ’09, which is to have at least six comics published during the year. My inability to create even a marginal level of momentum is something that I’m confident is holding me back and allowing people to continually discount my abilities and potential. When #295 hit, everyone was really excited and supportive, but I could feel that the overall vibe was, “Okay, this one was pretty good…show me what else you got.” And my response was to write a whole lot of columns, which is fantastic, but trust me when I say that my ability and willingness to post these articles has little impact on my ability to secure steady comics work. Despite what you may have heard. Without a sizable background in other medium, the best way to get noticed and stay noticed is by producing steady comics work, always easier said than done, but far from impossible. Realistically, how else are people going to know if you can actually write (or draw) comics? So Miranda should give me at least five, and getting another book out along the way should be doable.

I also want to continue to build up my website and write at least one full script every month. I have notebooks filled with ideas, titles, and plots for almost a dozen new projects and it’s past time some of them began turning into actual scripts. Back in college, when I first started experimenting with the format, I used to write these little five or six page stories every week, and I want this to be a natural, more developed extension of that. Something to keep my hands and my brain moving in the right direction, because I’ve never finished a script without learning something valuable from it. On top of that, I’m still nursing the idea that one day I’ll be writing a monthly book, and what better way is there to find the rhythm and balance necessary to get it done. If I can’t get it done around my day job and my so-called life when no one’s watching, then why assume getting paid and having an editor is going to make it so much easier? I think it’s a state of mind and I’ll keep you posted on my monthly attempts at proving it.

And what else…? Oh right, allowing a beautiful woman to make an honest man out of me…or do I have that one backwards? And paying off my credit card bills in anticipation of my thirtieth birthday that’ll effectively end my Not-so Roaring Twenties. And completing Drake’s Jedi training. And figuring out exactly where we’re moving so I won’t have to be irritated by sub-zero temperatures five months out of the year. And writing shorter (ha!) yet better columns. And reading more. And eating better. And getting in shape.

Still seems like something’s missing there, but it’ll come to me two seconds after I fire this off to Matt Brady. Bottom line of all this is that this week we’ll have seen Barack Hussein Obama inaugurated as the next President of the United States, and as far as I’m concerned, that means that literally anything is possible…even me stringing together a couple of wins. It’s like the man said---“while we breathe, we hope…”

Thanks for dropping by, and I wish everyone much luck in their own respective pursuits, as we take to conquering this new year one day at a time.

The Fiction House

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