Monday, December 17, 2012

From the Trenches: My self-centred 2012 in review

Excuse me while I indulge myself in my own 2012 work recap. I don't want to bore you, so here's a cool song from one of my favourite bands- to me it kind of sums up my year. Always running out of time, always feeling behind, and feeling like I'm so deep in the trench with bullets flying overhead, that I'm not gaining any ground, and perhaps missing life go by. So I guess that's why I'm doing this recap. There are countless people to thank for the help, love and support this year- I'm not going to list you, that will take some time (Really, you could just read the fine print on the inside of the comic covers) Rather, know this: If you're reading this at all, then a thank you is for you.

Probably one of my funeral songs if anyone's making notes ;)

 The day job puts the stress and squeeze in over the holidays, and there are a few illustrating jobs (and that damn thesis :S) demanding attention. I really hope to knock these aside soon, as last night I finished plotting the pages for Soldier Legacy #6, and I'm eager to get cracking on a few pages before 2013 begins...

 In a nutshell, I guess this has been the year.

Though the wheels have been wobbly post-Brisbane convention/marathon hours on Soldier #5 (I think my body finally demanded regular-ish sleeping time back) I'm pressing on, and hoping some of these good possibilities I'm waiting news on become a reality. If they don't, oh well. No knock outs here, only knock downs. You can get back up from those.

In the recap department, I've mostly got this covered previosuly anyway. Matt Emery's Pikitia Press interviews with Australian and NZ cartoonist and comic creators covered much ground:

and much of the news highlights this year are covered in the headlines of 'The Soldier' website

My recent editorial in the pages of November's 'Soldier Legacy #5' has Soldier-related 2012 covered, which I'll share a slab of the hyperbole here:

At ease, patient reader. Firstly, as always, I want to thank YOU, the fan and friend, for picking up a copy of this, and perhaps previous ‘Soldier Legacy’ comics. Without you having a little faith in the book, it would not go anywhere. True story 

Secondly, I’d just like to touch very briefly on some of the ‘Soldier Legacy’ news from the past year, with many adventures had, thanks to this little book.

Firstly, April saw the release of simultaneous Soldier works being available to the public (the first part of the year was super busy to say the very least). Soldier Legacy #4, The Soldier Legacy trade paperback edition Vol 1, and part 2 of the 1880’s Soldier Legacy/Dr Nikola back up feature in Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes #8 became available, as good friend and Black House Comic stable mate Christopher Sequeira and I was official guests of the Melbourne and Gold Coast Supanova conventions. This was my first time as a guest of any convention, and quite an honour to be on the list, primarily on the back of an Australian work. I shared the guest spots with some of my favourite artists and writers in the field, notably Tom Taylor, Tristan Jones, Stewart McKenny, Colin Wilson, Billy Tan, Brian Michael Bendis and Carlos Pacheco. It was a fantastic couple of weeks, and I was over the moon to be part of it.

Later in the year, Black House comics had a huge artist alley presence at Sydney Supanova, and I had so much fun seeing old and new faces, getting pics in front of the 9ft Soldier cut-out, and drawing my hand off.  It was great to share the tables with other Aussie comic creators, such as Jason Paulos, Jason Franks, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Bruce Mutard and Matt Emery. While I was there, I took the opportunity presented a few weeks before, to arrange to speak with Al, Sonya and Ray (with Ben calling the shots ;D) of the ‘Kapow’ Comic book review show. Thank you for the opportunity to talk a little about the book. For this convention too, I had just completed a 2012 comic book issue-sized Folio book, which I use primarily has my way to gain valuable feedback and advice when travelling through events like San Diego Comic-Con, but more on that shortly :D

Soon after, it was off to the inaugural Melbourne OZ Comic- Con, where I got the chance to be a guest again in the lovely city. Oz Comic-Con pulled out all the stops regarding Australian creators as guests on the card; for example, our Sunday panel was absolutely huge, as I humbly shared the stage with Nicola Scott, David Yardin, Jon Sommariva, Douglas Holgate, Dean Rankine, Wayne Nichols, W.Chew Chan, and Tristan Jones. You’ll have to excuse me for sounding a little like a fan boy recounting this- it’s something I cherish having the invitation to be there too. A great weekend, particularly capped off by Stan Lee’s enthusiasm over the ‘Soldier Legacy’ concept and books: sure, he’s probably heard “yours and Kirby’s work inspired this comic creation” etc. for many, many years. But, he was a gentleman, and seemed very genuine in his conversation. So, thanks again, OZ Comic-Con, I had a fantastic time- Again, my hand nearly fell off from the sketching, but you meet so many cool people while doing it. Totally worth it :D

I basically had two days at home before jumping back on a plane, this time to LA/San Diego for meetings, reviews and San Diego Comic-Con. Let me just say thank you again to my good friend Christopher Sequeira for our adventures and opportunities across LA, Burbank, San Diego etc. A nice little side note too, meeting Dave Elsey face to face (Oscar-winning makeup artist and cover artist of ‘Dark Detective: Sherlock Holmes’) was fantastic and enriching.

Getting back into the comic book making was a high priority when I returned from the states, and with only limited time, and my new casual lecturing position at the Queensland College of Art adding to the full timetable, it has made for quite a lot of juggling.
But, during this time, I managed to complete this issue you’re reading right now, and as a de-stress, I somewhat re-established myself in my old pastime of ITF Taekwon-do, and after some tournament success, I’m possibly off to Seoul, Korea next year, with a confirmed place on the Australian Taekwon-do team for the Open World Taekwon-do championships. This will mark my fourth time in a world championships, with Birmingham, UK in 2007 being my last venture. The best part about it is catching up with old friends from interstate, who were part of previous teams, and/or years of training together on the floor at various Master/Grandmaster seminars. You know when you see an old friend you haven’t seen in years, but it feels like yesterday? That.

I guess in a sense, it’s trying to find that work /life balance that alludes me (as they say, “this ain't the rehearsal”). It’s been a busy year, some notable payoffs, but the goals never waiver. Onward!

Lastly, to end of the great year, I’m a guest of Brisbane Supanova 2012, which is awesome- my current hometown, with a crowd that first gave the Soldier comics a shot back in 2010 when the first run of issue 1 was made available. I write this a week out, so I’m hoping it will be a blast (I’m sure it will be ;D)..."

And of course, Brisbane was fantastic, with Dinner with Sarah, Royd, Tim and Howard (later joined by Felicity and her brother), Saturday night, Howard Chaykin tearing me a new one (with respect) while looking over my work, Sunday night Chinese, and the crazy panel with James Brouwer jumping out in my mind at present. Thank you Tristan, David and Shane too.
Thank you to Sarah for your help and support at OCC Melbourne and S'nova Brisbane cons too xo.

Next year is looking busy, as I mentioned in the Pikitia Press blog post.
Making the  team for my 4th world championship next year was a surprise, and we'll see if and how that will play havok with the schedule next year. Already I'm luckily tapped for Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne OZ Comic-Con guest duties (Thank you OCC), Comic book workshop teaching in January for the State Library of Queensland, another local TV appearance on 'The Late Nite Show' in Jan as well (thanks Mr Black :D) and a Free Comic Book day stint with mate Paul Abstruse, thanks to the top guys at 'Gifts for the Geek' in Victoria. There are talks about another US trip- San Diego again? But we'll see.  Last year, and this year were fantastic, but the work continues in breaking that invisible barrier, and staying on radar. Times have changed, and the economic climate has made for different circumstances in how things operate. The main thing is soldiering on.

It's a busy time, and I always assume that posts like this are a bit wanky and superficial. But, it's honestly what's happening, and I'd be doing a disservice to myself and to the genuinely interested without letting them know "Hey, I'm coming to your state with Soldier stuff! Get your army boots- Let's roll!".

So in saying this, I must thank from the bottom of my muddied boots to the tip of my slouch hat, all the readers, supporters, and people who take the time to read any posts, news, pics etc. online and "like" them or share them- you're the lifeblood of keeping this show on the road, the reason why people pay attention, and you're also the hardest people to convince to stick around and support. So I'm glad you do ;D Thank you.

(I hope you've had a chance to see yourselves in a convention pic- try here: or via the facebook page albums: Or, check out the crazy long blog archive:  there's an indication of 2012- double the posting than last year. Busy!)

To my family who I've barely seen this year...and my friends....actually, let's just say the outside world in general. I can count my social outings on 1 hand ....I'm sorry, but thank you so much for your understanding. I hate having several day jobs and juggling drawing, writing AND trying to maintain a level of fitness to save myself from getting my head knocked off. My body has tested me on this on several occasions  and I've had to modify how I fight a few times purely because sitting at a drawing boards/computer for hours at a time verses kicking, sprinting etc. just simply doesn't work. I think I'm slightly OCD some days, where I skip a session (or getting up in general) to finish off an image. Probably not good for the old mindset, but work is work, right? It's been a little tough, more so in just finding the time than anything else, and I'm not quite where my mind wishes I was. In every aspect.
But, I have nothing more but to stick to the plan. I might break before something else does, but I have to keep the machine moving now. I've never seen or met anyone who has cracked anything solid in less than 5-10 years. I've been doing soldier for since 2010. I still have some time to go. I hope I can drop a commitment or two in 2013 because something bigger and stable has arisen. That's a goal. Hopefully, more lecturing. I really enjoyed that, and must thank QCA, Andi, and my class for actually listening too ;)

To the long list of comic creators and professionals that have given me their ear or encouragement or advice this year, both here and abroad, thank you so much. Particularly one of my closest mates Chris Sequeira, who helped create some awesome moments and great opportunities. Without my publisher Baden Kirgan of Black House Comics, this would all have not have been possible. This is all an experiment, a gamble, a roll of the dice to a game I'm not even sure I should be playing. But, I try.
Daniel, Royd, Tim, Missy, Felicity, Bruce, Quinny, Dion, Mark, and all the crew from Supanova Pop Culture Expo,
Carissa, Rand, Cordiela, and the crew from Oz Comic-Con, The Late Nite Show with Scott Black, Briz 31 Digital, Kaboom Comics Toowoomba, Geek Speak, Girly Geek Speak, Kapow! Comic book review show, Whatcha Podcast, Gifts for the Geek Geelong, Comics Etc. Brisbane, All Star Comics Melbourne, Pikitia Press, and everyone else who has gone out of their way to promote, sell, post, mention in passing etc. means so much to me. Thank you.

The brain is failing, I need to go have breakfast. Thanks for tolerating this exercise in self-service, have a fantastic Christmas and safe New Year. I hope you'll stay tuned in 2013, and dig what will be available soon.

As you were.

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