For a few weeks, every notification of an email or checking the real mail brought a thrill of “what if this is an email from a publisher interested in ‘The Retros’? There’s a sense of excitement once you have submitted a project to a publisher that at any moment, a miracle could happen. When I received the notification of an email or had a voicemail, I jumped on checking it as soon as I could. A week ago I was in a meeting and my phone was buzzing like crazy. I could tell from the vibrations I had received a few emails and a voicemail. Of course, my mind raced with excitement as I daydreamed through the meeting about hearing from a publisher. In the end, the emails were nothing exciting and the voicemail was from my dentist reminding me of my upcoming appointment.
I have submitted ‘The Retros’ to twelve publishers and most of them have passed the “if you haven’t heard from us within ________ weeks, then you should assume your project is not right for us at this moment” time frame. I try not to let my hopes get up when it comes to stuff like this, but I have to admit I had that…a sliver of hope, of optimism, of possibility.
So, I am reminded of Jack Nicholson’s character from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ when he says “Well, I tried, didn’t I? Goddammit, at least I did that.”
Now I move on. I will start submitting my next project this week, a newspaper comic strip of ‘The Retros’. As excited I am about my submission, I know the odds are against me even more so. Even though I feel the newspaper pitch is stronger than the book I shopped, there are fewer editors to send it to.
A few months ago before I started to submit the book and the strip, I knew that it was unlikely that either would be picked up. I knew that. God, I knew that. I dove into creating what I thought was a fun pitch package and creating the comic strip knowing that it would likely not go anywhere. But I love, love, love drawing and I love working on ‘The Retros’. I happily created these things knowing they wouldn’t go anywhere. I suppose this is one of those ‘the destination is the journey’ type of thing.
However, when I told myself that the pitch and the strip wouldn’t go anywhere, i shrugged it off and told myself that I would just need to create something else and try that. But the other day I realized that I don’t see myself creating another comic project. I do plan on working on ‘The Retros’ for a long time (I just plotted out the next five-six years), but I don’t think I’ll ever do another comic project. ‘The Retros’ was born partially out of a desire to write stories and create characters that didn’t fit within Uptown Girl’s world. With ‘The Retros’ I feel that I can do anything I want and still fit within the sensibilities of the book.
So, if ‘The Retros’ doesn’t make it, I…well, I don’t see myself being published in the comic book/strip world. And that sucks. Because I want to. I want to make comics and see them in the newspaper or on the shelves of bookstores without self-publishing them. I suppose I could try to create another comic series and give that a shot, but I don’t see that happening. I suppose I could try redoing ‘The Retros’ into a different format as perhaps the four panel grid isn’t attractive to a publisher, but it’s more likely the way I draw and how I write just isn’t marketable.
And that’s fine, nothing is going to stop me from doing what I love, and I love what I do, I love how I draw and write. The likelihood of me not being good enough in the eyes of the comics publishing world won’t stop me from working on ‘The Retros’. I just need to work on something else that has a shot. Something that isn’t comics.
But again, that sucks. I am right now kind of grumbling about this right now and I will for another week or so and I will move on. This all sounds more dire than I intend it to be, but I feel that writing this down helps with accepting this.
So, what’s next? I wrote previously about how I wanted to focus on comics as opposed to a non-comics project specifically a picture book, as I didn’t feel I was ready for such a thing. But my mind is swinging back to maybe giving it a shot. I have spent most of the year painting and falling back in love with it. I have been trying different styles and techniques for most of 2017 but haven’t always been posting what I have been doing. I’m having fun with it, it’s fun to expand your horizon. I think starting in January that I will take a crack at this bear book and just try like hell on creating it. Over the last few weeks I’ve done a few different page layouts and played around with style, design and things like that and I think I’ve touched on how I want to the book to look. The drawing on the left was my first design, the one on the right is the new design I am going to go with.
Whenever I’ve thought about the book, I wrestled with details, such as should the animals in the book wear clothes? Should they live in a city or the forest? Should they have jobs? Should I do simple layouts or cram as much detail as I can into the page? Should I have a strong outline (such as the bear on the left) or use a feather effect with a brush (on the right) to suggest fur? How stupid looking should the rabbit look? Should this be painted or digitally colored?
Making a decision on one often affected another question. For example, if I decided to cram as much as I could into a page, then coloring it digitally would look better. If I set the book in a forest, then could I still have non-forest animals in the book?
Over time I slowly and methodically decided on most of these things. I did it by not thinking too hard about it. I did it by looking at other picture books and saw what I liked and what I didn’t. I think I know what I want to do.
So, why wait until January? I want a little time off, to be honest. Right now I am feeling the…well, everything that goes with the frustration and acceptance with everything written about in this post. I want to take a little time, paint more, think (and not think) about the bear and rabbit and not jump into anything else right now. I want to spend a lot of time on the book and not have other projects (besides ‘The Retros’) going on, such as the daily paintings I’ve been doing, next month’s Inktober and the upcoming holidays. A new year, a new project.
So, that’s that. I’m going to Kinkos today to print off the newspaper submission and will have that sent to syndicates and editors this week, but I am prepared for this to not go anywhere but…you know, I really hope it does.
How cool would that be?