Recap of 2014 as a Year of Writing

by ryankl

This has been an amazing year. I’ll flat out call it, it’s exceeded my expectations. The writing has gone well and it has been fun.
In March, I launched HEADSPACE at Monkeybrain Comics, with Eric Zawadzki cocreating and on main art duties, Chris Peterson drew addition pages, with Marissa Louise on his colours. Dan Hill edits the whole beast, and Chris Kosek designs our back matter – which consists of me prattling on about myself and my work. Then from issue #3, Sebastian Piriz flew in and has taken over from Peterson on extra art.
The book is about Shane, the sheriff of Carpenter Cove who comes to discover he’s actually inside the mind of a killer. So he has to figure out how he got there, why he’s there, and how he can survive to get out when the killer’s mind discovers the town and wants to purge it with manifested fears and memories. It’s sci fi/PKD pulp/thriller fun for all.
I actually spent most of 2013 writing HEADSPACE so it was nice to see it finally land. The 22 page/99c download debut from ComiXology was well received with reviewers loving it, readers digging it, and me not entirely loathing myself in its wake. There are currently 5 issues available, with the last 3 coming thick and fast in early 2015, and another piece of good news to follow. Without a doubt, HEADSPACE is the biggest book of my career, so far, and it’s possibly the one I’m currently most proud of.

DEER EDITOR was an issue I cooked up with Sami Kivela over a long period of time, and in between his other art responsibilities. Once finally completed, I decided to throw my piss into the wind and Kickstart the comic. I was staunch on needing this Kickstarter to have minimal-to-no postage. This was a digital experience, hence why I set my goal so low ($1000) – because I legit didn’t ‘know’ I’d make it.
However, we did make it, we made it at ~230% of funding and got the book into a lot of people’s hands. It was a scary and humbling and awesome experience. I’d definitely do it again.
This book has been a special project for me, something a little different with the black and white aspect of the art, and I’ve been humbled by the feedback it has received.

I think the GHOST TOWN tpb landed early in the year. I did that with Daniel J Logan, and Brian V Dyck on colours, at Action Lab Entertainment’s Danger Zone imprint. The trade has the issue #1 in it with art from Justin Greenwood and words by Dave Dwonch. It’s got some beats I’m proud of. If you can find it, hook in. But good luck, it’s nowhere — except on ComiXology for $7.

At the very beginning of the new year, I was invited to pitch for the Vertigo Quarterly series and was steered towards the Magenta issue. I was stunned and honoured to get the look in and was also determined to not lose it, so I set aside everything else (it was right at the start of the new year, at a new school, in a new role, I felt mentally swamped, so I managed to wade through the first rejection to land with the second). The resulting story was GLOVES, a story I did with Tommy Lee Edwards on art and John Workman on letters, and edited by the fantastic Sara Miller. I am exceptionally happy with this story, if I was going to debut in the big leagues with one short I’m glad it was this one. It’s a boxing noir tale, so it shows more of my wheelhouse than less, and it’s got a twist that I think works, and it’s a character deconstruction as well. If you picked up the Magenta issue of the CMYK anthology then I thank you, and hope you dug it.

After the stirring success that was the OXYMORON HC on Kickstarter last year, I was keen to get into the world of Joe Mulvey’s SCAM. THREE CAR MONTE is my story in the Ultimate Scam Collection HC with Adam Masterman on art. It’s a tale about a scam with three possible leads to take. The pages were broken down to chase all three leads at once, and in different narrative ways. This was a nice short to experiment with and try new things.

I continued to write back up material by way of essays. I wrote in a fair few issues of SHELTERED where I wrapped up my investigations on the way the world will end and I started a series of interviews with preppers. These interviews were each written in fury storms of words and thoughts and feelings and I’m actually really bloody proud of how they came out. Alongside this, I also has my back up essays about cryptozoology and weird stuff as featured in modern fiction/media run to the end of the first arc of STRANGE NATION in issue #8. Those were also wicked fun.

Just the other week, a package arrived from IDW and I had no idea what for and I found inside MLP: ADVENTURES IN FRIENDSHIP, an MLP collection of 3 one-shot issues put into this little HC picture book-style book and my issue runs first, with gorgeous art from Tony Fleecs. Pretty cool. The issue is technically from last year, March last year, but this presentation was too cool to ignore.

And then, to be honest, with all that stated above, the year suddenly doesn’t look that impressive. I’ve got HEADSPACE, and DEER EDITOR. Then some shorts. Or that’s how my brain sells it. I mean, hell, I even look slack. But here’s the dirty little secret:
Most of these things from 2014 were written in 2013. And a lot of 2014’s writing has been in prep for 2015. I hope.
At present, I am:
-polishing the second issue script of a mini with a beyond rad publisher that’s not yet been announced (I’ve also looked at prelim colours for the cover, and thumbnails for #1, and I am very happy)
-art continues to roll in for HEADSPACE, it’s going to end strong.
-polishing a script for a spy short with an artist I’ve wanted to work with for years – at present, it’ll just be self-pubbed
-waiting for art on three one-shots that have been placed with artists
-have a script for a one-shot unattached to an artist – it needs the exact right one
-another one-shot script just waiting for the attached artist to come back and be available again
-another half-issue script where I’m just waiting for that artist to come back and be available again
-waiting for word on a pitch an editor at an insane publisher asked for – and which I’m very aware will get knocked back, and I’m cool pessimistically saying this because if you knew the publisher, you’d know I’m actually just being pragmatic – and I’m also just honoured to have been asked to pitch and that they dug it enough that they wanted to see more, that’s the big win in this situation, trust me
-waiting on art for another short to be self-pubbed/uploaded
-waiting on art for another short already with a cool anthology
-discussing with an artist which of two projects we have lined up we might want to kick into high gear in the new year
-there’s this gargantuan writers room/multi-artist book that’s been ticking over for about 18 months now that I’m hoping and thinking might just hit in 2015…maaaaaaaaybe
-talking with two publishers who both want non-fic books about comics from me – which I’ll do, if I ever get the time
-and there’s also talk (mostly in my house, but there’s talk) of more prose work seeing daylight in 2015

So, yeah, if even half this stuff makes it to the page it’ll make 2015 look rad even though it was 2014’s hard work.
Writing is funny like that. We are two days shy of the year and I’ve already written and attached artists to more pages than I completed in total for 2014. You just gotta sit tight and wait and hope it all plays out, and also know it ALL can’t and won’t play out. Which is cool.

And as for goals for the new year. Well, I generally keep those close to my chest. My goals for 2014 were these two:

1 – get some more short work out the door…and I did.

2 – set up the next mini beyond HEADSPACE…and I did. Oh, boy, did I.

So for 2015, yeah, I have just one goal. Beyond finishing all of the above, natch, I have one goal. But that’s just for me for now.
Anyway, I hope your 2014 was busy and productive. I’m off to go ensure my 2015 looks like it should.

Write, drink coffee, and be merry.

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