Burning with Optimism’s Flames

Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
-David Gilmour


Yeah, it’s been a while.

I’ll never get used to the roller coaster of high spikes of optimism and the gradual, steady and inevitable reappearance of reality as I push my life (in what feels like a Sisyphus level of effort and futility) into the world of professional cartooning.  It wasn’t that long ago when I was asked to submit more samples of a proposed Retros comic strip to a certain newspaper syndicate, but it was back in March.  I haven’t heard back, one way or the other, but it took about six months for this syndicate to review and respond to the proposal the first time around, so I remain optimistic but the manic thrill of POSSIBILITY and MAYBE, JUST MAYBE has settled.

But that, ultimately, is a good thing.  If I lived my day constantly checking my email for messages, of any sort, I would lose my mind.

I’ve been submitting my picture book ‘Bear and Rabbit’ to agents and publishers on a steady basis for the past few months.  Like, a LOT of agents and publishers.   There’s been some interest and I’ve chatted with a few agencies and I am committed to exhausting every resource and opportunity that I can, but there will be a time where I will have sent my book to every prospective agent and publisher that I could find.

I started with trying to find an agent and will continue to do so, but at this point I’ve either been passed on or the “if you haven’t heard from us in six months, please assume that this book isn’t the right fit for us” time frame.  So I started moving onto prospective publishers.  You’d think there were a lot of opportunities with different publishers, but based on the research I’m doing, there’s about half as many publishers as there are agents that accept unsolicited, unrepresented/unagented picture book proposals.  I have about ten more publishers to send my book to, and I’ll continue to look for more opportunities and editors to send my book to, but I expect the bulk of shopping the book around to be done by the end of July.  Most publishers have about a six month review period before one can make the conclusion that they have passed on it.

22 final

Page 22 of ‘Bear and Rabbit’

I’ll continue to look for more agents and publishers, and attend the Rain Taxi Book Festival this October and hopefully chat with potential agents and publishers there, but unless something happens by the end of the year, Bear and his pal Rabbit will remain nomadic.

To quote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, “Well, I tried, didn’t I? Goddamnit, at least I did that”.

No matter what happens, I’m proud (and a little surprised) at how I haven’t given up.  I did my research, I wrote and rewrote and redrew my book, I wrote a good proposal, I read submission guidelines carefully and I followed through on my goal of trying.

I sound bitter and frustrated, but I’m really not.  Yes, I would like to find a publisher, but I know that I am doing the equivalent of trying to reach the moon by building a rocket made out of Lego and hope.

The key (at least for me) to not getting too discouraged is keeping busy with other projects.  I am about to start the third round of samples for the Retros newspaper strip.  No one asked for it (at least not yet), but I have an idea for the next round and since it doesn’t really fit in with the regular webcomic continuity, I figure why the hell not?  I know once I start penciling that story, all of my optimism and excitement will be channeled into that.  And off I go in that direction.

s2 s2 color.jpg

Sunday strip from the second round of samples

This is my irresistible past time.  I can’t stop drawing, I can’t stop being hopeful, I can’t stop sending art samples and book proposal to editors, agents and publishers.  Too optimistic or too naive to quit.  It’s one and the same.







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