My plan this year was to work.
I did a lot last year, but it was in a less intensive way than I’ve regularly done. I moved house. I got married. And due to all the creator owned stuff not actually being ready to start drawing, I didn’t press writing them. I think I wrote 44 scripts last year. Of them, three scripts weren’t for Marvel. That’s just shy of 900 pages, or 3 3/4 books a month. Last year, I also found my work patterns distorting. Especially towards the end, I fell into boom and bust rhythms which simply weren’t sustainable.
This year, I’d be slow and steady. Picking up on Brubaker’s mantra, I’d do five pages a day first thing in the morning. Afternoons would be for everything else (not least rewriting), but five new pages would emerge every workday. I planned not to work weekends, partially to make sure the beat was properly sustainable, partially to leave free space in the periods when something was needed fast and partially because I love my wife. If I kept up with that rhythm, I’d so 25 pages a week. Because I wanted to do all my Marvel commitments and clear my plate of my own stuff, that’d shake down to 25 pages a week. My aim was, basically, 1200 pages for the year.
Counting up now, I did 1125.
That’s 53 scripts. 36 scripts (or equivalent thereof) for Marvel and 17 of my own projects (plus assorted B-sides for Phonogram). They’re divided nearly equally between finishing Phonogram 3, THREE and Unannounced Avatar Project 2.
So I didn’t hit the target, but that wasn’t really thinking about little things like life. If you take a standard British 20-plus-bank-holidays holiday time and subtract it, and it averages more than 5 pages per weekday. Which is, of course, the point of “at least” in the rule. If you’re on, you’re going to write more because you can’t help yourself. By setting a minimum, you ensure at least something gets done.
Worth noting that the average isn’t *enormously* above the 5 does show how much life gets in the way. Looking on a month-by-month basis, it’s hardly even. The highest (July) has four times as much written as the lowest (October).
That’s just numbers rather than anything glamourous. But this year wasn’t really about glamour. It was, as I opened with, work. I had things to do and I’ve done them. I end the year with (bar the ongoing commitments to Unannounced Avatar Project 2) a clean slate of creator owned projects. I’m in the position where I can decide what to do next, and even have the chance it may come out before the end of the year. The lack of anything other than my work for Marvel is the year’s big regret. The silver-lining there is that because it’s all in the can, when it comes out I’m going to look like the most productive man in comics. Unannounced Avatar Project actually is just about to be announced, and there’s the equivalent of seven issues drawn already. The last William told me was that THE HEAT may have a new artist, which means that may join everything else. So alongside YOUNG AVENGERS and IRON MAN, there should be THREE, the 2 avatar books and (eventually) PHONOGRAM: THE IMMATERIAL GIRL. Plus some other stuff which isn’t signed off on yet.
That’s a lot of numbers. How am I feeling?
I’ve been up and down this year. Brutally. I publicly thank the small group of people to whom I actually properly vent for putting up for me. It’s a full range of triumph and tragedy. Most of the former came within inches of the latter. My biggest mistakes have been born of some of my better traits. But as any biologist knows, “better traits” don’t exist without a specific context. If you’ve a pair of wings and live in a world populated entirely by wing-eating bio-tanks, you’re fucked.
But I think I’ve learned from the experience. Not quick enough, of course, but I never said I was particularly smart.
All in all? The best work was as good as anything I’ve ever done. The worst work was as good as it could be. You have to be happy with that.