Untold Obligations

Hello friends.  I know it’s been a few weeks since I’ve blogged but…I’ve been busy.  I know we’re all busy and really, it doesn’t take long to write an entry and let people know I’m still alive, but the lack of progress on different projects have made me less than excited about updating my blog.

It has been an interesting year.  Next week will be the one year anniversary of The Incredible Retros.  Next month is a different anniversary as it mark a year since I found out I’d be laid off sometime in 2016.  These two change to my life have really affected me in ways I didn’t anticipate and it’s caused some temporary shifting of priorities.

Let me explain.

In December of 2016 I was told I’d be laid off and my last day would be sometime this year.  May 20th ended up being my final day and I was lucky to find a new job and start a few days later.  I spent the first few months of the year interviewing and updating my resume and all that, but still making decent progress on Uptown Girl-The Lazarus Heart as well as keeping up on The Retros and the rest of my priorities.

Summer bounced along as usual but at the end of the summer a new job opportunity opened up and I was lucky enough to get it.  This new job is exhausting me in ways I’ve never thought possible.  It is now not unusual to leave the house at 5:45am and get home around 6pm.  This happens several times a week.  Now, I’m not complaining, I am lucky to have this, and really, any job, however this is wearing me out.

I spend the evenings and weekends catching up on being a dad, a husband, a friend and a cartoonist.  With the time and energy I do have, I have to prioritize what I do.  Sure, the trim needs to be painted but I haven’t gone on a hike with Sophie in weeks, so out the door we go.  I haven’t seen a friend in a month but it’d be nice to go out to lunch with my wife.  I have an hour to draw and I really want to wrap up the Uptown Girl book, but I need to get ahead on The Retros.  The Retros takes priority because it is updated daily and requires more work, like coloring, than an Uptown Girl page.

All of this got me thinking about obligations and priorities.  I think anyone would understand why I would spend time with my family over drawing given the little free time that I have because we know what it’s like to have family obligations (I say obligations like its a bad thing, I really do love my family).  But does a cartoonist have obligations to their audience?

Well, sure.  Of course.

Neil Gaiman once defended George R.R. Martin on the topic of the length of time it’s been since new books have come out in his Game of Thrones series. “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch”, he famously and accurately writes.  Click on the link, it’s an interesting read and I agree with it.  I also agree with what Shigeru Miyamoto said about late video games.  “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.  Another fair point.  But for me, I have a little (a lot) of guilt about not making much progress on ‘The Lazarus Heart’ as I would like.  I feel if people are waiting for something, you as the creator have an obligation to be working on it.  Even a little bit of progress.

I also feel that a creator has an obligation to stay faithful to the spirit of a book or a series.  Uptown Girl has been pretty consistently rated PG since the the first issue and I feel that it would be a disservice to her readers if suddenly the tone of the book changed and was no longer appropriate for an all-ages audience.

This slow down of progress hasn’t been all bad, though.  Having some time away from a project allows you to see it an think of it in a different light.  There was a six page (or so) sequence I needed to go back and add but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it didn’t really add anything to the book and took the focus away from the main story and characters.  So, out it goes.  Not only does editing out this part save a week or so of drawing, but it really slowed the momentum of what else is happening at the point of the story.

It’s been depressing not making the progress that I ‘d like to be making.  I had hoped I’d be wrapping the book up by the end of the year but that is not happening.  However, my personal deadline of March 1st is still realistic.  My life will slow down around Thanksgiving and even more so at the beginning of December.  I will be back on track this time next month.  Promise.

After rereading this post I realized that I might be missing my point.  I guess the long and short of it is that I still fully expect the book to be out in May of 2017 and it’s likely no one would know about this temporary lack of progress but I want you to know that I appreciate everyone who reads what I create.  I don’t have a ton of fans but I don’t take you for granted.  I feel it’s my job to create the best work possible if you’re going to spend money on it or spend time reading it.  I never feel that the book will be done when it’s done.  I know what it’s like to wait for something to come out and I am lucky to have people in my life that are excited about the next book or page of anything that I do.  You as a reader are a priority.







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