Here we are—last call for 2018. And it has been…a year. A very full—arguably overstuffed— year.
I can pretty much trace the year in two very different, yet connected, narratives. The first narrative is the public one—what everyone saw. And that story was, truth be told, a great one. I have an abundance of things to be grateful for, and I am. With every fiber of my being, I am.
The year started off fast—really fast. My first novel, Black Star Renegades, was released on January 2, and that book has taken me on a rollercoaster ride that’s still chugging along to this day. And let me tell you—it’s been an amazing ride. I have loved the book world. I loved writing this book (and its sequel); I loved touring with it, making author friends, meeting booksellers, meeting librarians, and becoming—I hope—a good literary citizen. Becoming a published novelist, honestly, has been one of the best things that has happened in my writing career.
And let me tell you all something—I owe so much of that to you. Here’s a piece of publishing insight: Back when I was a young pup in the publishing world (meaning, February), my regional sales rep explained something important to me. She said that they key to a successful book is for it to continue to sell. Because the reality is that, of all the books that are published every year, only a teensy, tiny bit of them become bestsellers. What happens, waaaaay more often, is a book is released, it sells a few copies for a month or so, and then it vanishes. It doesn’t sell hardly another copy. Black Star Renegades has been out for a year now (it’ll be a year on Wednesday), and we have sold regularly and consistently for 52 weeks. In fact, this December—because the holiday, but still—was nearly as good, sales wise, as the month the book was released. And that, my friends, is why I express my deepest, deepest thanks to you. You have made my debut a success; you’ve made this thing I’ve come to love so very deeply a worthwhile endeavor. I can’t begin to say how much that means to me.
The same sentiment extends to Wasted Space, my comic series with the best people in the biz—Vault Comics. Not only did our dirty little space adventure release to blistering reviews, but the first issue sold out and went to three printings. That’s crazy. The second and third issues went back to second printings, and the other two would have done the same if their release wasn’t so close to the release of the trade paperback. I’ve had the time of my life writing this book and collaborating with, as far as I’m concerned, the best team in comics. Hayden, Jason, Jim, Adrian, Tim, Kim: I couldn’t ask for better. I feel like I’m doing some of my very best work on this book, and I can’t wait for it to return with issue #6 in January.
And, of course, this recollection wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Star Wars. Have I mentioned I’m a Star Wars fan? Is that news to anyone?
If I had to pinpoint a highlight of my year—one single moment—it was having my comic series announced by Lucasfilm on their panel at San Diego Comic Con. I was in the audience, as a fan, and when the Flight of the Falcon storyline was announced (that’s what I’ve been writing) it pretty much took all my will not to burst into tears. And no, I’m not kidding. A part of me—a big part of me—had been waiting for that moment all my life. To have it happen on the biggest stage in nerdom was unreal. I still almost don’t believe it. And now, seeing my name associated with Star Wars is something I can hardly comprehend. But I love every second of it; working with Lucasfilm and IDW has been nothing short of a dream—heck, I even visited the Lucasfilm offices this year!
And to top it all off—I wrote Archie! And Adam West Batman! I’ve been reading Archie for as long as I can remember; I remember, distinctly, the stack of digests I’d keep next to my bed and how I’d stay up at night, reading them with a flashlight, suppressing my own laughter. Strangely—and wonderfully enough—I’ve caught my son doing the same thing.
But, like I said before, it hasn’t all been roses. I can’t, and won’t, get into specifics, but I’ve had a good many professional hardships this year. I’ve struggled, a lot, with my role in the comics community, for a number of reasons. Truth be told, there were a number of times that I was close to calling it quits. I was so heartbroken, so frustrated, so…exhausted. Working in comics can be trying sometimes, let me tell you. It’s a small industry, and that can be great, but it can also be terrible. There’s a lot of, for lack of a better term, gaming that goes on behind the scenes—a lot of nastiness. I’ve likened working with a certain publisher to being stuck in Westeros—and that’s not exactly a compliment. And I guess I was naïve about all of this for a long time. But this year, I was exposed to a lot. More than I cared to ever see or know, and it affected me in a major way. Resultant, I was put in tough spots this year. I was lied to, led on, used, and disregarded by people I put my trust into, and that nearly broke me. There was a stretch this year where I was as low as I’d ever been in comics.
All of that stuff, combined with the relentless toxicity that everyone knows about (Comicsgate, of course), buried me. It really did. But, we all take our lumps sometimes. And part of this year, it was time for me to take mine. I learned a lot; I grew, and I recognized changes I need to make, in myself and for myself.
Which brings me to 2019—a year of change.
Change in what way? Well, my mom once gave me some sage advice: “Sometimes, to realize what you want to do, you have to find out what you don’t want to do.” Like usual, my mom is 100% right. And this year, I found out the hard way what I don’t want to do, and through that, I’ve gained maybe the best clarity I’ve had in my career.
What I want to do, first and foremost, is better. I feel—hell, I know—I haven’t produced my best work. No way, no how. And the only thing stopping me from doing that is me. I want to be better, I want to be more. I’m ambitious, creatively and professionally. I want more for myself, and if it so happens that my wings burn up before I get to where I’m going, I’ll live with that. And I won’t, for a moment, regret attempting.
Fortunately, after what I’ve experienced this year, I’m in a better position to do my best work. I know what I want and, hopefully, I know how to get there. I’ll be working harder than ever—doing a bit less, but working harder at it. This requires me to be off social media a bit (not that I’m on it a terrible amount), so please excuse my absence—assuming it’s missed.
I know this is nebulous, and I’m sorry I can’t be more specific. Much of this I either can’t announce, or it’s still very much a work in progress. But here’s what I can say about what’s to come in 2019:
-Wasted Space returns in January with issue #6
-The paperback edition of Black Star Renegades will be released this January
-And speaking of BSR, its sequel, We Are Mayhem, comes out in April
-My Battlestar Galactica series—titled Twilight Command—launches in February
-My Flight of the Falcon/Star Wars comics are being collected into one trade paperback, and that’ll be out in July
-The collected edition of my Archie Meets Batman ’66 is set for an April release
-I wrote the graphic novel adaptation of Artemis Fowl, and that’s out in June
From there…hold onto your butts. Because there’s some good stuff coming. Here’s some vague looks:
-A new horror comic series with my brother Tim Daniel—we previously collaborated on Curse and Burning Fields, which is some of the best stuff I’ve ever done, and this book we’re working on…it’s the best yet. Trust me. This book—I cannot wait for this book. It’s scary, it’s personal, and it’s going to knock your socks off.
-A horror/sci-fi series with one of my favorite horror writers—he’s written movies you love, believe me, and to be collaborating with him has been so damn cool. Our book is weird as hell, but it’s super fun and pretty darn scary.
-A horror novel! Can’t say much on that one just yet…
-An ongoing horror series, writing a very, very cool scary take on an awesome character.
-Two other things that I definitely can’t talk about, Yet.
So, that’s it. That’s my 2018. It had ups, it had downs. I took my successes in stride same as my failures, and now it’s time to start all over again. But this time—I’m doing it better than I ever have before. That’s my 2019 promise to myself.
All the best to you—have a great 2019!